Victims of car accidents in California should try to take certain crucial steps immediately after the incident, though they may understandably not be calm enough to remember all of them. These steps, though, can make it easier for victims afterwards to file a personal injury claim.
Having the police write a report
First, victims should assess the situation, call for an ambulance if anyone was injured, and call for police. Officers can ensure that everyone cooperates, and even when there’s no conflict, officers can be of benefit in one specific way: They can write an incident report that victims can afterwards file with their own insurance company.
Cooperation becomes easier when victims limit their interactions with one another, not pointing fingers but not admitting guilt either. Victims must, however, exchange their names and insurance information. They must also communicate with eyewitnesses, taking down their contact info. It would be good to have the police officer’s name and number as well as the number of the report.
Documenting the details of the crash
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners offers a free app called WreckCheck that can time the incident and allow users to create written and audio records of what happened. If victims don’t have this, they should take a pen and paper to write down the events while they are still clear in the memory. Draw a diagram to show, for example, what direction the other’s vehicle came from. Victims could also photograph the damage and the injuries.
The next step is to know what insurance will cover. There’s property damage and bodily injury liability coverage, and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage may come into play as well. A lawyer may better explain the complexities.
Legal representation for your case
If you want to pursue a personal injury claim, it may be wise to have a lawyer perform an evaluation. If the case seems to hold up under California’s comparative negligence laws, you could file your claim against the other driver’s insurer and seek economic and non-economic damages.