Each state has its own laws that dictate how you and your fellow passengers can make a recovery for injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. After you get hurt in an accident, it’s important to understand your rights and to take steps to protect your interests. If you wait, important information could be lost. Furthermore, you need an experienced car accident attorney in Los Angeles to advise you on the statute of limitations in your case. This deadline is the last day on which you can file a lawsuit and pursue a claim for these injuries.
Understanding the Legal System in Your State
All fifty states have a tort system which affects how personal injury lawyers can help you pursue a claim against the defendant driver. For example, some states are no-fault, which means that drivers and vehicle owners automatically use their own personal injury protection (PIP) benefits for their injuries. In this type of tort system, it doesn’t matter who was at fault in the accident. Each party’s insurance policy covers their first round of medical bills. In the second type of tort system, you don’t have PIP benefits, and you must try to recover medical damages directly from the at-fault driver’s bodily injury policy. In this type of state, early involvement from a personal injury lawyer is advised. However, when you hire an attorney, keep in mind that he or she will be paid out of any settlement or jury verdict secured on your behalf for these injuries. Typically, lawsuits will include the costs of the accident that could have been avoided, including estimates of your pain, suffering, lost wages, and medical bills. If you take certain steps, you can protect your claim and help to safeguard the evidence that will support your case. If you don’t take appropriate steps, it will be difficult for any insurance company to take your calim seriously, and an experienced car accident attorney may not take the case.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Getting hurt in a car crash is traumatic. It’s typical to worry about many issues, such as who will pay all the medical bills and when you will be able to return to work. We understand that your pain was caused by someone else’s negligence. It’s vital to take steps to protect your financial future. For example, you don’t know how many years it will take to recover from these injuries. If the crash was serious enough, the effects on your health could be permanent. These tips will assist you with protecting your rights:
1. Exit your vehicle and verify that all are safe.
Every driver and passenger involved in the crash may need assistance. Call 911 for immediate medical attention. A car can catch on fire or worse. One or more occupants could be trapped in their vehicle. Be careful to avoid glass and other debris on the road that will serve as important evidence about what happened at the scene of the accident. Try to discourage onlookers from getting in the way.
2. Determine when you will need to obtain medical treatment.
You may refuse the ambulance service, but you should follow up as soon as possible with the local hospital or emergency clinic. Some medical conditions need to be addressed, including broken bones, wounds, and head injuries. Since you are in a daze after the crash, you don’t want to attempt driving. Ask a friend or family member to help you note all medical providers who treat you following the incident.
3. Report the accident.
If possible, don’t leave the scene until law enforcement arrives. Insist that the responding officers document the crash. If a driver leaves the scene of the crash, he or she could face a charge of hit-and-run. The law enforcement officers have the obligation to determine who was at fault and to take the information of all parties and witnesses. Ask for the accident report number so you can get a full copy of it later. There is also a chance if you leave too soon that you could be blamed for the crash.
4. Share information with all vehicle operators.
You can ask for each driver’s name, address, driver’s license number, tag number, phone number, and auto insurance information. You will also be expected to provide this information with other parties to the crash. Be sure not to admit fault for the crash. Your statements could be used as evidence later to assert that you caused the crash.
5. Record any physical damage and environmental indicators of the crash.
This means taking pictures of the roadway, including tire tracks, brake marks, relevant traffic signs and signals, and debris on the road. You also want to obtain photos of all damaged vehicles. If you have any physical signs of trauma, you also want to take pictures of your bruises, cuts, scrapes, and scars. Even surgical incisions are evidence about how the accident has affected your life. These types of evidence are easily lost, which means that your attorney wouldn’t have down the road them to share with a jury at a civil trial.
6. Note any witnesses.
Some law enforcement officers are more diligent than others when it comes to following up on who saw the accident. Ask witnesses to stay at the crash site until they can provide their contact information to law enforcement. Note if there are any surveillance cameras in the vicinity that could reveal additional details about the crash. Your personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles can request this footage at a later time.
7. Maintain an account of events.
Following a car accident, your mind will be in a daze. It’s easy to forget what happened at the scene and to mix up the order of events. Record all details that occurred, including what you saw, what statements the other people said to you, and which evidence could be recovered by an investigator. Keep in mind the other driver in this case could claim that you were at fault and his or her attorney could start building a case against you while you recover from your injuries.
8. Hire an experienced personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles.
At West Coast Trial Lawyers, we know only California licensed attorneys are qualified to explain the rights of car accident victims. When you hire an attorney, you will no longer need to worry about maintaining regular communication with medical doctors or insurance companies. An attorney will strive to collect all details about the crash. However, you could require an attorney that specializes in high-value cases, such as when an accident is caused by a tire blow-out or a drunk driver.
As an injured victim, don’t wait to take action in the days following the crash. We understand that this happened because of another driver’s negligence. Because your injuries could be permanent, we believe that you deserve justice. Without collecting every piece of evidence, you could endanger the value of your potential claim and make it hard for the insurance companies to offer a settlement. Be sure to complete all medical treatment and determine which attorney is amply experienced in this specialty of the law. For further details, please contact West Coast Trial Lawyers.