INJURED? What to do and when to do it.

INJURED? What to do and when to do it.

By,

Robert L. Driskell, Esq.

You haven’t planned to have an accident; in fact, you’ve probably done all you can to guard against it.  Your brakes and tires are good and your car is running well.  And, responsible driver that you are, in the unlikely event you do have an accident, you’re prepared.  You have your proof of insurance; your driver’s license; airbags in your car; and you’ve just buckled your seatbelt.  You’re off!  What could possibly go wrong?

CRASH!!!!!!!!! Ouch.

It can happen to the best of us, and now, unfortunately, it’s happened to you.   Suddenly all of your preparations may seem inadequate as you’re faced with the question, “What do I do NOW?”

Of course, if there are serious injuries, a call to 911 is the first order of business.  The second, even if the accident is a minor one, is to exchange contact and insurance information with the other party.  Now, you may become a bit flummoxed.  Do you move the vehicles?  Take photos?  Call the police?  Call your insurance company?  Go the doctor ASAP to get checked out?  Call an attorney?  Go home and go to bed?There are a lot of questions.  Here are some answers that should help.

DO I CALL THE POLICE?

Yes.  Even a minor fender-bender may result in one or more party’s claiming injuries, and the police report is very valuable in assessing fault and damages.

DO I MOVE MY VEHICLE?

Only if it’s in a dangerous spot.  Otherwise, leave it where it is until the police arrive.

DO I TAKE PHOTOS?

Although the police will probably take photos, it can’t hurt for you to do it as well.  Just be careful – you don’t want to get hit while standing in the street and snapping pictures!

WHEN DO I GO TO THE DOCTOR?

If you’re in pain or have obvious injuries at the accident scene, go to the doctor or E.R. immediately.   However, if you have soft tissue injuries, you may not have pain or discomfort until a day or two after the accident.  You should then see your doctor ASAP.  If you need some alternate form of treatment such as chiropractic, see a physician first for a referral.

WHAT DO I SAY AT THE ACCIDENT SCENE?

As little as possible! Do not admit blame.  Even if you suspect you were at fault, once the facts are known, the other party may be partially liable.  Do not assure anyone that you’re uninjured.  If you feel all right  immediately after an accident but can barely climb out of bed the next morning, you don’t want to go on record as having cheerily proclaimed at the scene, “I’m fine; I think I’ll go dancing!”

DO I CALL MY INSURANCE COMPANY?

Tempting as it may be to handle it yourself, reporting the accident to your insurer is probably a good idea.  Although your premiums could be raised if the accident is determined to be your fault, your policy robably requires you to promptly report all accidents, and your insurer theoretically could deny you coverage if you fail to do this. That’s a mess nobody needs.

SHOULD I CALL AN ATTORNEY?

Almost all personal injury attorneys offer a free initial consultation, and will accept your case on a contingency basis:  if you don’t win the case, you don’t pay!  So, yes, call an attorney – you have nothing to lose.  And don’t delay—there’s a time limit (statute of limitations) on how long after an accident you can sue.

Good luck, and drive carefully.

Robert L. Driskell is a founding partner of Driskell & Gordon in Glendora, a civil firm handling personal injury, products liability, business law, real estate law, contracts, probate, conservatorships, trusts, and wills.  He has over 34 years experience as a litigator and trial attorney in Southern California.  He can be reached at (626) 914-7809, or rdriskell@driskellgordon.com.

 

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