An auto accident is by far one of the most frightening experiences you will ever endure. It is difficult to know how to handle such situations; emotions are high and there is just so much to juggle that things can easily get lost in the confusion, weakening your chances of recovering compensation. That is why I am here. I have seen many auto accidents in my days as a personal injury attorney in Sherman Oaks, California, and I know what needs to be done at the scene of the accident, as well as after, so that you can recover physically and financially.
What is the very first thing you should do after a vehicle accident?
You should make sure that you and everyone involved is safe. You can make a quick assessment of your physical condition. Do not hesitate to call 911 for an ambulance. It is better to be safe than sorry, as the saying goes. Many people do not call because of the cost. In Los Angeles, an ambulance will typically cost around $1,000 to $1,100 dollars. However, Medicare and private insurance generally cover part of the cost, but coverage varies from policy to policy. If you do not have insurance, we highly recommend that you put this on the top of your list so that you are not left high and dry in the event of a car accident.
There are some basic things you should know about our state’s ambulance service. Once you call 911, the dispatcher will contact the ambulance company responsible for the zone that you are in. Ambulances are required to arrive in less than nine minutes from the time they are dispatched by 911. You will generally be accompanied by an emergency medical technician, or EMT, and a paramedic who can perform a wider range of medical procedures.
An ambulance will take you to the nearest hospital that is equipped to treat your injuries. Unless time is of the essence and a few minutes could mean the difference between your life and death, accident victims will be taken to the nearest hospital that is best suited to treat trauma, even if there is another hospital that is closer. An ambulance’s goal is to connect you with the help that you need, thereby increasing your chances of survival. You may have a say in what hospital you are taken to, as long as it won’t put you in even more danger and as long as it is not too far out of their service area.
Cathy Chidester, director of the Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency, says that there are a couple of things you can do to prepare in advance for an emergency. For instance, you should keep your medical information handy and easily accessible by paramedics (ICEBlueButton is a great smartphone app that she recommends). She also recommends that you know which hospitals in your area are in your network so that you can direct an ambulance accordingly.
If the other person is injured, the law requires you to assist that person. This may mean calling an ambulance, driving that person to the hospital, or giving first aid, if you are trained. You should also take the necessary precautions to warn other drivers of the accident.
What information should I gather at the scene of the vehicle accident?
After you have made sure that everyone is safe, you must gather as much information as you can at the scene of the accident. Here are the main things you need to make sure to record:
- The other driver’s information, such as name, contact information, driver’s license number and expiration date, and insurance company
- The other car’s information (make, year, license plate number, etc.)
- The same information for the other car’s registered owner, if different from the driver
- The same information of the passengers in the car
- The contact information of any witnesses; ask the witness to stick around to talk with the police, but if they insist on leaving, ask them what they saw and write down everything they say
- If witnesses will not give their information, take down any bits of information that can be used for identification purposes, such as license plate numbers, so that they can be tracked down later for more information on what they saw
- The name and badge number of the law officer who reports to the scene; ask for an accident report
- Try to sketch out a diagram of the accident scene if possible, such as the location of crosswalks, traffic lights, skid marks, and such; take as many pictures as you can of the accident scene
- Record as many details as possible from your own observation: weather and road conditions, time, day, and location—the more information you have, the better.
One of the most important things to remember is to never admit to anything. We recommend that you say as little as possible. You must exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident, as outlined above, but aside from that, do not admit to any fault (even if you think that you were to blame). Do not volunteer any information that is not asked of you, and even then, be careful with how you answer questions from the police, only giving facts that you are sure of. Do not agree to pay any damages or sign any papers (besides a traffic ticket or an agreement to appear in court if asked) until you have spoken with a personal injury lawyer who can advise you in the event of a car accident.
The State Bar of California is a great resource where you can find more tips and information on California law when it comes to auto accidents.
Contact the Car Accident Lawyer at Drake Law Firm
You have the right to representation by a lawyer. I can help you. I have helped many injured people of Sherman Oaks and the surrounding greater Los Angeles area, as well as San Francisco where I also have an office. I have represented the following types of auto-related accidents:
It is my job as your personal injury attorney to prove that the defendant was at fault, that his or her negligence and recklessness caused the accident, and that the accident caused your injuries. As you wait to act, however, the window of opportunity is closing, and the compensation you need and deserve moves further out of reach.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Burbank, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Los Angeles, or the San Francisco Bay Area, contact the “family lawyer” at the Drake Law Firm. As an experienced auto accident attorney, I believe you deserve justice and will work with you personally to ensure the best possible outcome. You need a car accident attorney with compassion, skills, and experience who will fight for your rights and give you relevant and up-to-date advice, all while remaining truly accessible. Contact the Drake Law Firm today.