Last Updated on September 22, 2020
After being injured in a car accident that was caused by the carelessness and negligence of somebody else, you have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and damages. There are certain steps that you must take to preserve that right though. Here are the things that you must do to protect your best interests:
Report the accident to 911 immediately. Ask that police be sent to the scene to document the crash. As you’ve been injured, ask the 911 operator to dispatch paramedics to the scene too.
The investigating police officer will interview witnesses and make a record of the damage to the vehicles. Paramedics can stabilize your condition and note any visible signs of injuries. Never get talked out of calling the police after an accident under any circumstances. You’ll stand little chance of any compensation for your injuries and damages without a police report.
Seek Immediate Medical Care
You’ll need to get to an emergency room right away by ambulance or otherwise. Emergency room personnel will perform diagnostic tests and treat you. Don’t delay in getting to a hospital for emergency treatment. This is critical in showing that your injuries were indeed caused by the accident.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Regardless of the fact that your accident wasn’t your fault, as soon as you leave the emergency room, contact your insurance company to notify it that you were in an accident. This can be done by phone, online or by certified mail, return receipt requested. After that, the best thing that you could do would be to arrange for a free consultation and case review with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney from our offices.
Unfortunately, many people don’t do that right away. Some even wait until such time as they’ve harmed or devalued their case.
The Uninsured Motorist
The person who caused your accident might show police an insurance card at the scene, but you might later learn that the individual was really uninsured. If you have uninsured motorist insurance, you’ll want to notify your insurer accordingly and make a claim through that coverage. Even if your accident was a hit-and-run, you’re still covered with your uninsured motorist insurance.
As an aside, if you don’t have uninsured motorist insurance, get it now. About 40% of all car accidents in Los Angeles involve hit-and-runs. Only a small percentage of those cases are ever solved.
When the Other Driver Was Insured
Assuming that the driver who caused your crash had insurance, you’re likely to get a phone call from its adjuster a few days after your accident. Be forewarned. That individual might sound friendly and sympathetic with your plight, but his or her job is to get rid of you as cheaply as possible and as soon as possible. That job starts with that phone call, and here’s what the adjuster will do.
“You Don’t Need an Attorney For This”
If you believe an adjuster’s statement that you don’t need an attorney to represent you in an injury claim, you’re relinquishing control of your claim over to that adjuster. You’ll unknowingly make mistakes that will operate to devalue it. Those mistakes can be used against you, even in a personal injury lawsuit in court.
If you’ve already retained us to represent you, tell the adjuster that you’re not answering any questions and to call us. If you haven’t yet retained us, tell the adjuster that you need to speak with your attorney before answering any questions. After that, end the call and call us.
The Request for a Statement
The opposing adjuster will probably tell you that their insured person has already admitted fault. For purposes of “nailing down liability,” your version of events is needed. The adjuster already has your version of events from the police report, so why is it needed on tape?
It’s needed in order to call your credibility into question in the future. You’re going to be asked a scripted series of leading questions without an attorney being present on your behalf. There’s a good chance that you’ll damage your case.
An experienced and effective car accident lawyer from our offices wouldn’t let that happen. A statement to an opposing insurance company isn’t required under California law, so you wouldn’t be giving a statement anyway. If you’re contacted by an opposing insurance company’s adjuster and asked to give a statement, politely refuse.
If he or she says that your claim file will be closed without that statement, tell that person to go ahead and close it. After you retain us to represent you in your injury claim, your Los Angeles personal injury attorney can have your claim opened again in a matter of minutes.
The Medical Authorization
Aside from the adjuster’s phone call, you’re likely to have a medical authorization mailed to you for signature and return. Don’t sign it, and don’t return it. You’d be giving that adjuster full access to your medical records since birth.
He or she is on a fishing expedition looking for a prior injury to the same part of your body that you injured in your accident. If one is found, it’s going to be argued that you had a preexisting injury, and the opposing insurer need not compensate you in full because of that prior injury. Don’t consent to full access to your medical records.
Your car accident lawyer knows what bills, records, and reports will be needed. If we’re retained to represent you, those will be supplied by our office.
After being seriously injured, you’ll have medical appointments. You might even need surgery. It’s extremely important for you to attend each and every medical appointment that you have scheduled.
Doing so shows that you were injured to the extent that you claim. If you cause gaps in your treatment, it’s easy for the opposing insured to argue that you weren’t injured to the extent that you claim.
Types of Treatment Gaps
There are two types of treatment gaps that personal injury claimants need to be concerned about. The first is a gap in treatment from the date of the accident until the date that he or she first treats for the injuries claimed. The second type of gap can occur when an injury victim stops treating without being discharged and starts treating again weeks or months later. In either case, if there are one or more gaps, the opposing insurer will argue that you weren’t injured to the extent that you claim.
The adjuster on the other side of your case is going to search you out on social media as soon as your claim is opened. Most judges allow social media posts into evidence in personal injury trials. Whatever you say or post on social media can be used against you, especially if it’s inconsistent with your version of how your accident occurred or the injuries that you say that you suffered. We can’t keep our clients from using social media, but we can certainly advise them not to post anything at all about their accidents or injuries there.
Maintain an organized file on your accident and medical treatment. Keep your police report, bills, medical records and reports in it along with the contact information for the adjuster assigned to your claim. Most importantly, protect your right to the compensation that you deserve.
You’ll best do that by retaining a Los Angeles personal injury attorney from our offices. Arrange for that free consultation and case review with an experienced and effective car accident lawyer from our offices right away after being injured in an accident. If we’re retained to represent you, no legal fees at all are due unless we obtain a settlement or award on your behalf.