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Auto accidents occur each day on roads in every state, county,
city and town. While many auto accidents are simple "fender
benders," others result in substantial property damage and
serious injury. Many injured victims of auto accidents are overwhelmed
by the avalanche of telephone calls, insurance forms, accident
reports, medical bills and general correspondence that is received
immediately after an auto accident. Further, those suffering from
a car accident injury may not be in the proper frame of mind to
deal with inquiries from insurance companies, whether written,
recorded or verbal.
Accident victims should appreciate that, while they are still
receiving initial medical treatment, the parties at fault have
already notified their insurance company of the accident. Every
insurance company has a team of adjusters, investigators and attorneys
whose primary responsibility is to limit the liability of the
insurance company and minimize the amount of money to be paid
to injured parties.
In many states, auto accident victims who have suffered personal
injury may be entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering,
emotional distress, disability, permanent disfigurement, dismemberment,
wrongful death, scarring, loss of opportunity to enjoy life, interference
with marital and/or parental relationships, and other types of
general damage. Many states also allow for recovery of "special"
damages, such as past, present and future medical bills, wage
loss, loss of earnings potential and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Some states also require that certain "no-fault" benefits
be paid following a traffic accident. This type of benefit may
serve to pay a portion of lost wages and medical bills.
A car accident lawyer can help "level the playing field"
by providing auto accident victims with information regarding
the practical and legal aspects of personal injury law and auto
accident claims. For a review of your claim, please click the
"Report Your Case" button and completely fill out the
Even the best drivers are subject to automobile accidents. Therefore,
we should all know what steps to take immediately following an
accident to protect the life, limb, property and legal rights
of those involved. Doing the right thing, in the right way, at
the right time may save a life; it will always minimize, and often
avoid, legal problems.
Here are the steps you should take if you are involved in an
accident with another vehicle or a pedestrian:
STOP YOUR CAR
Never leave the scene of an accident in which you or your car
were involved. No matter how slight the collision, if you fail
to stop you may subject yourself to criminal prosecution, even
though the accident was not your fault. Stop you car as soon as
possible without further endangering any person or property, and
without obstructing traffic. Do whatever is necessary to warn
oncoming traffic in order to prevent further accidents. If possible,
station someone in position to warn approaching vehicles. At night,
use flares or reflectors or your flashlight, if available.
GIVE AID TO THE INJURED
If any person has been hurt, call a doctor or an ambulance, or
both. Until help comes, do all you can to help the injured, but
be careful. Unless you are proficient at rendering first aid,
don't try it. You may make matters worse instead of better. For
example, moving an injured person may aggravate the injury.
CALL THE POLICE
Policemen are trained to handle any situation that may result
from or arise after an accident. If you are involved in an accident,
even though you are not physically injured, you may suffer from
shock and excitement which makes it difficult for your to think
clearly at the time. Let the policeman take over when he arrives.
He will handle any emergency and investigate the accident. His
report of investigation may be helpful to you later if you are
sued, or if you decide to sue someone else. If the accident occurs
within the limits of a city, village or town, call the municipal
police. If it occurs on the open highway, call the nearest State
Police Station or the County Sheriff's office.
THE LAW REQUIRES INFORMATION
The motor vehicle law of California requires the driver of any
vehicle involved in an accident to give his name, address and
the license number of the vehicle he is driving to the other party.
If it is requested, the driver must exhibit his driver's license.
Leaving the scene of an accident without furnishing such information
may subject you to criminal prosecution.
If you collide with a vehicle which is unattended, the law requires
you to locate the operator or owner of the vehicle and tell him
your name and address. If you cannot locate the owner, leave a
written message stating your name and address and the circumstances
of the collision in a conspicuous place or in the unattended vehicle.
The best policy is to give no more information than the law requires.
Do not comment on the cause of the accident, and do not admit
fault even if you think you were in the wrong. You may discover
later that the other driver was equally or more to blame. In addition,
immediately after an accident you will most likely be emotionally
or physically upset to such an extent that you will be unable
to accurately appraise the situation. There will be a time for
explanations later. No one has the right to force you to give
an opinion as to the cause of the accident, at police headquarters
or elsewhere. You have the right to consult a lawyer before making
OBTAIN PROTECTIVE INFORMATION
Just as the law requires you to give certain information, you
are entitled to the same information form other persons involved
in the accident. Do not fail to obtain this information. In addition
to the names and addresses of the persons actually involved, make
an effort to obtain the names and addresses of all persons who
witnessed the accident. Witnesses may be important later if legal
action becomes necessary. Also, if reasonable to do so:
- Make notes of the important aspects of the collision to help
you remember them.
- Diagram the exact position of the vehicles before and after
- Step off skid marks and other important distances.
Such precautions may prove invaluable in the event that legal
SEE YOU DOCTOR
If you have any doubt at all about your own condition or that
of the passengers in your vehicle, see your doctor immediately
for an examination and ask your passengers to do likewise; then
be guided by the findings.
FILE ACCIDENT REPORTS
Notify your automobile insurance company immediately and cooperate
with your insurance representatives in their investigation.
In addition, California law requires you to file a written report
of any accident in which you were involved which resulted either
in the death or injury to any person and in most accidents where
property damage occurred. Failure to file a report may cause you
to lose your license. A report form may be obtained at any police
station or sheriff's office. The place where the report should
be filed appears on the form. The filing of the report should
be within ten days after the accident.
An arrest, either of you or the other party, does not necessarily
indicate liability for the accident. However, a statement of guilt
or a plea of guilty to a traffic ticket, may be used as an admission,
so it is important that you obtain legal advice if you are arrested.
Receiving a ticket is an arrest.
If you are not certain of your rights, consult a lawyer of your
personal choice. Your insurance company will always be represented
by trained adjustors or by an attorney. You should ignore any
attempt by a representative of the other party to influence you
against the advice of your own attorney. Furthermore, beware of
an attorney or anyone representing an attorney who approaches
you with a request to handle your case. Solicitation of business
is an unethical practice in the legal profession. Solicitation
by non-lawyers is illegal and a violation of state law.
If you lose work, sustain injuries or have other losses, you
may be entitled to reimbursement under your own policy of insurance
if the conditions have been met. You may also be entitled to damages
from the other party to the accident.
Awarding monetary damages is the law's method of putting the
wrongfully injured party, as closely as possible, into a position
equal to that position before he was injured. If you are in the
right you may be entitled to recover money for the following:
- Nature, extent and duration of injuries.
- Pain and suffering from injuries.
- Disability, both temporary and permanent.
- Reasonable expenses resulting from injury, including medical
and hospital expenses.
- Loss of income.
- Value of damage to property.
THE LAW REQUIRES INSURANCE
The motor vehicle law of California now requires that all motor
vehicles intended for use on public highways be covered by liability
insurance. Certain vehicles are exempt from this requirement including
inoperable or stored vehicles that are not operated. You must
also have within the vehicle proof of insurance. Insurance companies
issue insurance cards which comply with this requirement. The
law allows the Secretary of State to request verification of insurance
from you. Violations of this provision will result in significant
financial penalties and may result in loss of driving privileges.
If you have any questions about the information provided above, please contact
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