In the United States there are over six million car accidents each year. For the most part, these accidents primarily involve property damage claims. Unfortunately, roughly one in every three auto accidents do involve a personal injury, sustained by either the driver or the passengers involved. According to the California Highway Patrol there were 223,128 people injured as a result of an auto accident in the state of California in 2013.
Now most people are under the assumption that auto insurance carriers will help you if you are involved in an auto accident, however that is only true in some cases. The truth is there are many factors involved here, such as which insurance companies are involved, and the corresponding coverage that may or may not apply. The most important thing you can do after an auto accident, is protect yourself and there are several ways you can do that.
If you are involved in an automobile accident, there are some very important things you can do to protect yourself and your interests. First and foremost, after the accident, you want to make sure that you pull over safely to the side of the roadway. If your vehicle is able to be moved from danger, you should do so, this is important for the safety of everyone involved including those additional drivers approaching the accident scene. Once you and your vehicle is safely secured you can now begin the initial steps in this process. Of course you want to exchange your insurance information with all parties involved and you will most certainly want to notify the police department of the accident, however there are additional steps you can take to protect yourself.
Although it doesn’t seem like it now, as soon as you exit your vehicle, the auto insurance claims process begins. I say this because there is important evidence that you can immediately protect at this time. Often times after an auto accident the at-fault party has no problem admitting their liability in the matter at the scene of the loss. However, after a few days have passed, and after they’ve spoke to their friends, family, or another attorney, their story might (and often does) change. If that’s the case, then you are now left battling the insurance carrier over who is at-fault for the loss; which is why it’s so important to photograph the loss location area. Please photograph the loss location in detail, e.g. street signs, the lanes in the roadway, the vehicle positions, and most importantly the vehicle damage sustained to both your vehicle and the other vehicle involved.
It should go without saying that you need to contact the police immediately after the auto accident, regardless if you feel the damages or the accident itself warrants police involvement. They will make that determination once you have called in to file the report. If an ambulance is not needed, and if no one is reporting an injury at that time, they may decide to do an information exchange only. Of course you want to comply with the insurance information exchange. However, in this particular incident it is incredibly important that you document the scene of the loss as described above. In instances where there is no police report available it is often your word against the word of the other driver involved, and this is where you need to protect yourself with gathering as much evidence as you can after the accident has occurred.
If you’ve been involved in an auto accident, and you have some additional questions not covered in this post then please contact one of our personal injury attorneys for more information.