What to Do If You Are in a Motor Vehicle Accident
In 2000, there were a total of 17,663 crashes caused by drivers with aggressive driving behaviors.
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California leads the nation in motor vehicle accidents. If you have been injured or if a loved one suffered a wrongful death in a car accident, truck accident, SUV rollover, or motorcycle wreck, please contact the Law Offices of David G. Smith today for a free consultation and case evaluation.
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To learn more about the legal aspects of motor vehicle accidents, please review the general information below. To find out how our law firm can assist you, please visit our auto accident practice page.
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What to Do If You Are in a Motor Vehicle Accident
When you are in an accident, you have immediate, important decisions to make. Think about these decisions as carefully as possible, and consult an attorney as soon afterwards as you are able. For help with your questions and concerns following an accident, consult a personal injury attorney from David G. Smith in Oakland, CA.
Immediately after the accident
The first thing you need to do when you have been involved in an accident is stop your vehicle. Try to get out of traffic if you can by pulling over to the side of the road; this may not always be possible, but it is helpful for fellow motorists and first responders alike. Most states make leaving the scene of an accident a crime, so never drive away without stopping.
Check to see whether you or your passengers have been injured. See if the occupants of the other vehicle(s) are okay, too. If anyone is injured, call an ambulance; it is usually best not to move an injured person yourself unless it is absolutely necessary. You can prevent additional crashes and injuries by making your vehicle visible. You should set out flares, turn on your hazard lights or raise the hood of your vehicle.
States have different rules about when people who have been in accidents need to call the police. To be on the safe side, you may want to call any time you are in an accident. The police can then decide whether they need to come to the scene.
Meanwhile, exchange information with the other driver. Write down the driver’s name, address, telephone number, license plate number, driver’s license number and full auto insurance information. Provide this information on yourself to other drivers, too.
If there were any witnesses, try to get their identifying information. In addition, make note of the circumstances of the crash and anything unusual that you noticed. Record the weather conditions, the speed limit on the road, your speed at the time of the crash, your estimate of the other driver’s speed and other such elements. This will be important if the case ends up in litigation or there is an insurance dispute.
Do not admit fault, even if you think you may have caused the accident. Do not apologize to other people involved; be cordial and polite, but brief. The determination of fault, if any, will be made later. For now, focus on safety and proper accident procedures. Do not sign any waivers offered by the other driver or the insurance company without consulting an attorney first.
When the police arrive
You should fully cooperate with any police officers and other first responders who are at the scene of the accident. Provide them with whatever information they request, including information on injuries and witnesses, but avoid making editorial comments or admitting responsibility for what happened. Legal liability is complex, and you may not have the facts you need to determine who was responsible for the accident.
Make sure to get the business cards or names and badge numbers of the police officers who investigate. Ask for the incident number, too, so that you can get a copy of the accident report (and so that you can give this information to your insurance company). Do not leave the scene of the accident until the police officers tell you that it is okay to do so.
Soon after the accident
Even if you are only in minor pain, it is best to be examined by a physician. Injuries may not truly show themselves until later, and early treatment can prevent significant pain or other damage. It is also possible to have suffered serious head trauma or brain injury with few outward signs. In addition, an insurance company could argue that your failure to seek medical treatment aggravated your injury, or even that your injury did not arise from the accident at all.
Contact a personal injury attorney
Try to consult an attorney as early on in the process as possible, and do not sign any documents or checks from a insurance company before you have spoken with legal counsel. In the meantime, keep track of all the costs related to the accident, such as renting a car, lost wages, medical bills and other expenses. When you meet with a lawyer, bring all of your automobile insurance information and any documentation you have gathered with you. An experienced personal injury attorney from David G. Smith in Oakland, CA, can help you sort out all the losses related to your accident.
DISCLAIMER: This site and any information contained herein are intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.