Every time you get into a vehicle, you are at risk of being in a car accident. The first piece of advice a good San Diego car accident attorney will give you is to treat each accident as a serious one. It’s easy to let the feelings of shock and relief that you weren’t more seriously injured prevent you from taking an accident seriously. You may be tempted to just go home and let it go. But taking a proactive approach to gathering information now will benefit you a great deal down the line. Following the tips below will help you lessen the impact of a car accident after you have realized the true extent of damage it has caused.
1. Get the Facts – Even if you feel fine and the damage to your vehicle is minimal, don’t assume there are no real damages or injuries. This is the perfect time to find out as much as you can about the other driver. Get their name and contact information and the name of their insurance company. Use your phone to take photos of the damage to both vehicles. Look for skid marks on the road and take pictures of those as well. If there are no skid marks to indicate that the other tried to stop, take pictures of the road where they should have been.
Get pictures of the license plates of all cars involved and any other objects that may have had an impact on the accident. If you spot any beer cans or open liquor bottles in or around the other driver’s car, be sure to take a picture.
Take photos of any obvious injuries at the scene. Once you are home, take a head-to-toe survey for other signs of injury. This includes bruising from the seat belt or burns from the airbags being deployed. These images may help to prove the intensity of the impact and the cause of injuries that occurred to tissues and bones below. Once you go to the doctor, ask them about taking photos of your injuries to include with your medical records. This will provide a document of the date that you had these injuries along with the medical description.
2. Don’t Talk About Fault – Be careful about what you say to the other driver. Don’t try to make them feel better by saying you feel fine, even if you do. There are some injuries that produce delayed symptoms that may end up having a greater impact than you imagined. For example, injuries to the vertebrae are common auto accident injuries that may not cause pain for hours or even days. Your San Diego car accident attorney will have an easier time proving your injuries later if you don’t provide the other driver with statements they may use later to prove you weren’t injured in the accident.
3. Seek Medical Attention – There are two reasons for getting immediate medical care for your injuries. The first is to identify any injuries that you may have received for which you haven’t begun to have symptoms yet. You may also learn that some of the symptoms you do have are more serious than you thought. For example, bruising on the surface of your skin may be an outward sign of an internal wound that is bleeding. A doctor will know what types of injuries are common after an accident. Only a medical professional has the equipment and the skills to find the damage that has occurred below the surface.
The second reason to see a doctor is that you need a well-documented record of your injuries and treatments from the time of the accident. It is a common ploy by insurance companies to claim that your injuries were already present before the accident or that you weren’t injured at all. Medical records showing your diagnosis and treatment will help. You should also follow all of your doctor’s advice and take medications as prescribed.
4. Schedule a Consultation with a San Diego Car Accident Attorney – The initial consultation is your chance to present the evidence you have collected to a legal professional. The attorney will look at your case and determine whether you have a good chance of getting compensation and what expenses might qualify for compensation. This is also a good time to decide if an attorney is a good fit for you.
5. Determine the Value of Your Claim – The amount of a claim is not just chosen at random. In spite of some people’s belief, a personal injury suit is not just a way to try and get exorbitant amounts of money. The sum should reflect the genuine amount of money that you deserve. When your attorney negotiates a settlement on your behalf or determines the amount of compensation to ask for, they usually rely on a specific formula. Medical expenses, property damage, loss of income, and pain and suffering are just some of the figures that will be calculated into the formula.
6. Don’t Negotiate with the Insurance Company – Insurance companies are not there to help out their clients or the victims who file claims against them. They are there to try and keep as much of their money as they can. As a result, they will often make an initial offer that is well below the actual value of the claim. Never deal directly with the insurance company. Your San Diego car accident attorney knows the value of your claim. They will negotiate with the insurance company to get a fair settlement or else go to court to fight for your rights.
7. Don’t Worry About the Expense – To some people, hiring an attorney sounds like another expense that they can’t afford. Adding legal fees to a mountain of medical bills doesn’t make sense. They don’t realize that personal injury attorneys don’t require any payment upfront. If they take your case and you don’t win, they don’t charge any fees. There is never a financial risk or burden placed on you for filing an auto injury claim.
8. Expect to Be Emotional – Some victims of car accidents are confused by the emotions they feel in the weeks or months following a car accident. The impact of the accident, their injuries, and the steps they have had to take to pursue legal action can go well beyond the initial trauma. Although these emotions are normal, you may need to get help dealing with them if they persist or become overwhelming. The important thing is to get the help you need to get past these emotions and start living life to the fullest again.
If you do end up getting help for emotional distress, provide your attorney with the records, including any medications you are given. Although this type of pain and suffering is more difficult to prove than physical injuries, it may be considered as part of your settlement. Even if you do not pursue treatment, be prepared to explain the impact your emotions have had on your life. Depression, insomnia, and anxiety are some of the problems that car accident victims often experience. These are just some of the emotions that can prevent you from being able to work or enjoy normal activities.
9. Don’t Delay Filing a Claim – There are many reasons that people who are victims of car accident injuries fail to file. They may think their injuries are not that severe or that the accident isn’t totally the other person’s fault. Even if the latter is true, they may still have the right to compensation for a portion of the total value of their damages. If they fail to get all of the information available to them about their legal options, they may run out of time.
You have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for injuries you received as a result. If you wait until after that time period, you will lose your rights. That is why you should find a car accident attorney to advise you right away. Your attorney will be able to advise you on whether you have a valid claim. In either case, you have nothing to lose.
10. Choose the Right Attorney – Nothing is more important to your case than choosing a San Diego car accident attorney who has in-depth knowledge of California personal injury law. Auto accident law varies from state-to-state and details often vary from one case to the next. For example, California has a “Comparative Fault” law that may place part of the blame for the accident on you. An attorney that has a successful track record handling cases similar to yours is your biggest advantage in proving your case.
No other law firm has more experience or a more successful track record than Batta Fulkerson law group. If you are the victim of an auto accident, don’t wait. Contact us today for a San Diego car accident attorney you can count on.