- Please check and see if anyone is hurt, including you. The health and safety of everyone should be your top priority. If you learn that someone is experiencing pain, please make sure to call 911 to request emergency services. Most of the time, adrenaline will be flowing. It is not uncommon for people who have suffered an injury to not even realize they have been hurt until hours or even days later. Even so, it is important to check-in with everyone involved in the crash to make sure they are OK. Even in the case of a minor car accident, injuries can potentially be severe. Take a moment and stop to gather yourself.
- Do NOT leave the scene of the crash. If your car is presenting a danger to others, please make sure to move it to a place of safety. Do make sure to note where it came to rest after the crash. Notify law enforcement. Take time to call local law enforcement. Depending on the severity of the crash, a patrol car may or may not be dispatched to the scene. Either way, it is important to notify the police to make a police report. This creates a record of the crash that can be used as a reference in a potential claim.
- Gather information. It is important to get the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the parties and witnesses involved. Please make sure to obtain the auto insurance company information of all cars involved in the crash, including the name, address, contact and policy number. To obtain this information, ask to see the Proof of Insurance card and take a photo of it, if you can. This will be important information to have should a claim be filed.
- Take pictures. If you have a camera or smart phone available, take pictures of the damage to the vehicles involved in the crash. Take a lot of photos from different angles as well as several photos from different perspective of the scene of the crash. You really can’t take too many pictures. Things such as time of day, road conditions, and unknown hazards can all be important factors in helping to understand what happened. It is still important to visually document everything that you can.
- Notify your insurance carrier. After a crash, you want to notify your own insurance company. At that point, they will open a claim for you. Depending on your insurance, your insurance company may have other resources available to you. They may direct you to gather other information that you may have forgotten to gather.
- Be timely. There are strict time limitations within which you must act to protect your rights. A failure to timely act may bar forever your right to recovery. If you intend to pursue a claim, you should act immediately and without delay. An attorney can be invaluable in understanding your rights in this regard. The sooner they become involved in your claim, the better they can investigate and develop your case.
- Seek legal representation. Once you retain an attorney, he or she will begin the process of investigating your claim. At the appropriate time, your attorney will negotiate a settlement or pursue litigation on your behalf. An attorney can help ensure all of your rights are being protected and you are being properly compensated for your damages and injuries.
The law firm of Ghitterman, Ghitterman and Feld helps employees in the areas of workers’ compensation, social security disability, disability retirement, personal injury, labor and employment issues. Founded in 1956, the firm now has offices in Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Kern County, Tulare County, and Fresno County. The firm is proud to continue this tradition of securing all available rights for the injured and disabled in our community. For more information about what we do, how we might be about to help, or resources, see our website at www.ghitterman.com.