1. Call the Cops
It happens all the time. The person who just hit you says there is no need to call the cops, and they’ll give you their information. They are SO sorry for hitting you. Coming from a lawyer who has done hundreds of claims, I’ll tell you right now you can’t trust this person! They might blame you when they talk to their insurance company, and now it’s word vs. word. Sometimes, their insurance company will try to deny liability on a technicality even if that person was honest about causing the crash.
With a police report you have protection from this crook. Sometimes the police will arrive and tell you that they don’t do reports for “minor” accidents without injuries and they will do an “exchange of information” report only. With all due respect to the police, they are not your doctor! Who are they to say you were not hurt after being tagged with 3,000 lbs of metal? Politely but firmly insist on a police report. You must strike a delicate balance between respectfully asserting your rights, while not making the police angry with you (in fact, your demeanor and anything you say just might be reflected in their report).
2. Photograph EVERYTHING
Everyone has a smartphone in their pockets, and this is the most powerful weapon at your disposal. No need for pen and paper. Grab that iPhone and start taking snaps. Here is what I need to maximize the value of your case:
- The accident scene
- The damage and license plates of every involved vehicle (not just your own car). Did the airbags deploy? Definitely get us photos!
- Photos of the insurance cards, vehicle registrations, and driver’s license of every driver. Ask for their cellphone numbers as well.
- If an ambulance comes to the scene, take a picture. Even photograph emergency personnel responding to the scene of the incident. These will be crucial to proving the seriousness of your claim down the road.
- Your visible injuries, including bruising and any bleeding.
Remember, when in doubt take a photo – “shoot first and ask questions later” should be your motto.
3. Seek Medical Attention
Your injuries may be more severe than you think. Many people do not get prompt medical care after an accident, and this results in lifelong injuries. Don’t be one of these people, get appropriate treatment the same day. This might include an emergency room for serious pain, a local urgent care, your primary care doctor, or a physical therapist or chiropractor. If in pain or in doubt, call an ambulance. These medical professionals will advise you what is wrong and how you can get better – fast. They will also document your claim so that there can be no dispute about your injuries later on.
4. Don’t Talk About the Crash to Anyone and NO Social Media
When the insurance companies call (yours or theirs) and trust us, they WILL call, do not talk unless you have consulted with a lawyer first. Watch what you say and do on Facebook and Instagram.
This is a true story: One former client posted a photo of their wrecked car (complete with shattered windows and airbag deployment) and said “thank god we are OK” in the caption. That client had major surgery due to their back injuries later on. The defense used their photo as a basis to deny the claim, forcing a lawsuit. Everyone knows that “we are OK” is a figure of speech, but an insurance company’s job is to reduce the value of your claim. Don’t help them.
5. Talk to a Lawyer
No reputable personal injury lawyer will charge you for advice on your accident. This is free! In fact, we don’t charge you anything unless we win your case. Whether you choose to engage a personal injury lawyer in Orange County to fight for you or not, it’s always a good idea to talk it over first. I’ll personally take your call 24/7 at (949) 565-2344.