More than 15,000 California residents sustained serious injuries from car accidents in 2020. That’s roughly two victims per hour annually. After being injured in a car wreck, the recovery process can be long and challenging, leaving many with unanswered questions.
What should you do after an accident occurs? How can you take care of your physical and mental health? What evidence do you need for an insurance claim, and when should you think about hiring a lawyer? Answer these concerns and you can regain control of your life after an accident.
Here are seven essential steps to take.
1. Contact the Authorities
California Vehicle Code section 16000 requires that drivers report any accidents that result in injury, death, or property damage of more than $1,000. You have 24 hours to contact your local police department and 10 days to talk to the DMV.
Even if no one appears hurt or if no property has been damaged, you may want to contact the police. This creates a record of the accident and gives you an opportunity to describe your version of the events.
Call 911 as soon as the accident occurs. Ask for the police, then describe what happened. However, just share the facts, and do not make statements about what you “think” happened or how you think the accident occurred. If your injuries appear severe, request an ambulance, as well.
2. Exchange Information With the Other Parties
If another driver was involved in your accident, you should get their information. Write down their name, mailing address, phone number, and insurance details. You should also take a photograph of their license plate, driver’s license, and vehicle registration.
If the driver fled the scene, you must call 911 and report them. It is a crime to flee the scene of an accident that causes injury or property damage. Describe what they and their car looked like.
If a witness saw the accident, you should also get their details. They can give you their testimony that shows you were not at fault for the accident. You can then give this testimony to your insurer or use it in a civil case.
3. Receive a Medical Evaluation
According to the CDC, symptoms of a concussion or brain injury can take hours or days to surface. If you do not get timely treatment for a concussion, you risk having major cognitive problems, like difficulty remembering things.
You should get a medical evaluation from a paramedic immediately after the accident. Ask them to check your head, neck, chest, and abdomen for any signs of injury.
If you have a major injury like a concussion, you should go to the hospital. Even if you have minor injuries like cuts and scrapes, you should still get treatment because your cuts can get infected.
4. Focus on Your Health
A 2020 study of car accident survivors finds that almost one-third of survivors report symptoms of PTSD one month after their accident. More than one-sixth also report symptoms of depression.
Even if you were not physically injured in your car accident, you can develop mental health problems. Go home and rest for a few days. Talk to a psychiatrist if you have difficulty sleeping or experience extreme anxiety.
Minor injuries like whiplash can take a few days to recover from. A broken bone can take between six to eight weeks to heal. Be patient and follow your doctor’s advice so you don’t develop complications or experience pain.
5. Develop Your Case
California has a two-year statute of limitations for car accident claims. This gives you plenty of time to recover from your accident and develop a case for yourself.
Compile all of the documents related to your physical injuries. These documents can show you experienced extreme pain as a result of your accident. They can also detail how much you spent on treatment and how much money you should receive from your insurer.
Connect with the witnesses of your accident and ask them to write about what happened. You should also write your own version of events, clarifying what you saw and did during the collision.
6. Hire an Attorney
A personal injury lawyer can help you in several ways. They can speak with your insurer and help you get compensation from them. If your insurer denies your claim, the attorney can file an appeal on your behalf. If you want to pursue a case against the driver or if a case is being pursued against you, your personal injury attorney can represent you in court.
Find an attorney with experience in car accident cases, as they are more knowledgeable about driving laws. They can also use previous cases to inform their strategy for your case.
Spend time looking at a few options for attorneys. Consider some factors when selecting an attorney like their experience and credentials. Schedule consultations with each one and ask them questions about their background, courtroom strategies, and interpretation of your case.
7. Contact Your Insurer
Once you’ve found an attorney, you should ask them to reach out to your insurer. If the insurance company sends an adjuster, you should ask them to speak to your lawyer. During any meeting with your adjuster, your lawyer should be in the room defending you.
Give the most recent documents related to your medical treatments to your insurer. You can claim compensation for ongoing physical and psychological therapy.
Take Control of Your Life After a Car Wreck
Once a car wreck occurs, you need to call the authorities. Get information from everyone injured in the accident and from any witnesses. Then get help from a paramedic and give yourself a few days to rest.
To get compensation from an insurer, you need evidence of your injuries and the money you paid. You also need proof that you didn’t cause the accident. A lawyer can be your best advocate, so consider hiring someone once you’ve gathered evidence.
Look for experienced attorneys in your area. Angeleno Accident Lawyers serves Los Angeles residents. Contact us today.