An accident could happen at any moment. Its important to be prepared for those unexpected events. Guldjian has created a step by step guide to assist you through the toughest situations.
What to do immediately after the accident
When you have been in an accident, immediately afterwards, take stock of the situation. Stay calm. Call the police and proper emergency services to respond and document the incident as is applicable. Render aid where needed. Get the medical care that you need. If you are hurt, get medical attention as quickly as is possible. Not only does this get you the care you really need, but it also documents your injuries and shows when they were suffered. A common insurance tactic used against those who wait to “tough it out” is that they may not have been hurt in the accident, but were hurt later, then trying to blame it on the accident. Protect your health and case by getting the care you need.
Get an attorney as soon as possible: Protect and Document the Evidence
As soon as is possible in significant injury or death cases, hire an attorney to investigate and document your case. Visiting the scene of the accident, or the location to which involved vehicles have been removed, is critical in serious cases – sometimes with the help of professional accident reconstructionists, mechanical experts, or experts in the cause and origin of vehicle fires. All of this is done where appropriate in hope of preventing the loss of important case evidence. Failure to preserve evidence can damage your case, or perhaps even destroy it. Sometimes it can be very important to insure that any possible defendant is given access to this evidence as well. These are extremely important issues. If there is a product that harmed you, save it and get legal help to protect the chain of custody of it. If you suspect that you were injured by a defective automobile, protect the vehicles involved and do not let anyone adulterate it or access it unnecessarily – secure it in a locked environment and protect its chain of custody. Note that this may take immediate legal action, including the securing of a court order to protect and preserve the involved vehicle/product if you do not have control or ownership of it. Get immediate legal representation if this is the case. Take photographs of the involved vehicles and your injuries when possible. Review your insurance policy to confirm your obligations under your insurance coverage. Document as much as you can about the incident and your injuries/recovery, and get legal representation as soon as you are able, or someone else is able to do so on your behalf. If you have had a very significant injury and recovery, professional photographic and video documentation may be appropriate. You may want to keep a diary or log of your treatment and suffering too – but remember to be very careful what you write, keeping it succinct, free of anger or mention of the accident, and accurate. This may ultimately be an exhibit in your case, read by opposing counsel, the judge and the jury.
Medical Bills and Lost Wages in Auto Cases
Each case can be different. Sometimes, there will be “Med Pay Benefits” available for payment of medical bills stemming from accidents in California. Other times, your attorney can help you seek medical treatment through a medical lien or advise you to utilize your health insurance, if acceptable. Other than medical bills, there are also lost that can be demanded from the adverse party’s insurance company. Seek the attention of a qualified attorney in order to maximize recovery of all damages and benefits under all (different) sources of insurance coverage.
Beware of Recorded Statements
If you provide a recorded statement without legal representation, it could harm your case. Sometimes one is required to give a recorded statement by an insurance policy provision, and other times it makes sense to provide one in certain circumstances. No two cases are exactly the same. This is an important decision that you should discuss with legal counsel – who should participate in the statement process if one is given, and be provided a copy of any statement given.