If you’ve been involved in a car accident in Orange County, it’s important to seek necessary medical attention, to gather evidence if it is possible to do so, and to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. The aftermath of car accidents can be disorienting, to say the least. However, it is important to act in ways that will allow you to preserve your well-being, your rights, and your legal options. Failure to take a few specific steps after a collision occurs may jeopardize your health, your ability to obtain insurance compensation you’d otherwise be entitled to, and your ability to file a lawsuit against those responsible for the harm you have suffered. Focusing on any one task may be difficult right now, especially if you’ve suffered a head injury. However, it’s important to take any of these steps that you possibly can, focusing on one step at a time. Once you contact a personal injury attorney, they’ll be able to take over much of the legal “heavy lifting” on your behalf.
Request Emergency Medical Attention
If you can’t move from your vehicle or you suspect that you might be seriously hurt, call 911 and request emergency medical assistance before doing anything else. Follow the instructions given by the operator on the other end of the line. Your health is paramount. Everything else can wait. If you can move and you’re fairly certain that you’re stable enough to safely leave your vehicle, check on others involved in the accident and call 911 immediately for medical assistance if anyone else requires emergency care. Even moderate injuries can become life-threatening if left alone too long, so don’t wait to seek medical support if anyone involved seems to need attention.
If Possible, Move Your Vehicle to a Safer Spot
Once you’ve called for medical intervention or determined that no ambulance assistance is needed at this time, move your vehicle to the side of the road if you can do so safely. If there is risk of a fire or you’re unsure of whether you should try to move it or not, don’t go back to the vehicle. Get yourself and others involved in the accident to a space a safe distance away from the crash before you take any additional action.
Alert Law Enforcement and an Attorney to Your Situation
Once you, everyone else involved, and your vehicle (if possible) are safe, it’s time to call both the police and an experienced personal injury attorney. The adrenaline rushing through your veins may be telling you to flee the scene – Don’t. Whatever you do, don’t flee the scene of the accident. You could face severe criminal and civil penalties if you leave the scene. If you’re scared to meet with law enforcement officers without an attorney present, it’s okay to call a lawyer immediately before calling the authorities. That way, you can have an advocate by your side once police arrive or soon after. Either way, you’ll need to speak to law enforcement in order to ensure that a police report is filed and you’ll need to speak with an attorney to alert a legal advocate to your circumstances. These actions will allow you to better ensure that your rights are protected and that your ability to file insurance claims and/or sue those responsible remain viable options.
Gather Information About the Accident Scene
If possible, it’s important to gather as much information as you can about your crash while waiting for first responders (and possibly your attorney) to arrive. This information may prove to be critically important when you’re filing insurance claims and/or taking legal action in the wake of your motor vehicle accident. First, take pictures of the scene from different angles. Try to capture anything of note at the location of the scene that may not be directly in the crash zone, like a stop sign obscured by tree branches that may have contributed to the cause of the collision. Also, take pictures of license plates and get clear pictures of the makes and models of the cars involved, if you can. Finally, physically write down the following information or record it in a notes app:
- The names, contact information, and insurance information of anyone else involved in the accident
- The names and contact information of any witnesses to the collision
- The names and badge numbers of any law enforcement officers who respond to the scene
The more detailed your information gathering is now, the more evidence that your personal injury lawyer will be able to use later when advocating on your behalf.
Be Thoughtful When Giving Statements to Law Enforcement and Insurance Companies
When you’re speaking to law enforcement officers and insurance companies, be thoughtful when answering questions. If possible, avoid giving statements until you’ve spoken with an attorney. What you say now could significantly impact your ability to hold others accountable and/or to seek compensation that you’re entitled to. Even if you think you may have been at fault or partially at fault for the accident, don’t admit blame in your statements. You don’t yet have all the information you need about what the other driver was doing leading up to the accident, etc. to make a statement about blame with authority. Once you’ve spoken with an attorney, you’ll be in the best possible position to make statements to law enforcement and insurance companies.
Seek Medical Care if You Weren’t Attended to at the Accident Scene
If you did not require emergency medical assistance at the scene of the collision, it’s important to seek medical care once you’ve left the scene. Even if you don’t believe that you’re injured, you need to get “checked out.” Various injuries may not be felt until hours or even days after the accident. Similarly, the adrenaline rush caused by the accident may be masking internal trauma including bleeding, soft tissue injuries, concussions, and even broken bones. By seeking medical care now, you’ll better ensure that you’re safeguarding your wellbeing overall. Make sure to keep records of your medical visits to share with your attorney. Your lawyer will use this information when negotiating with insurance companies and/or filing legal action on your behalf.
Write Down or Record Your Account of Events
As soon as you’ve received medical attention and caught your breath, take a few moments to record or write down your recollections of what has just happened to you. When recounting your memories of the collision, know that no detail is too insignificant to record. Once the adrenaline leaves your body, your memories of the moments leading up to the collision and its aftermath will understandably begin to fade. Recording your thoughts now, on video or on paper, will help to refresh your memory down the road when you’re speaking with your attorney and/or are simply trying to process this turn of events.
Explore Your Legal Options with Your Attorney’s Help
In the days after your accident, it’s important to reconnect with your personal injury lawyer so that you can begin exploring your legal options. Depending on the unique circumstances of your accident, you may benefit most significantly from allowing your attorney to negotiate insurance settlements on your behalf. However, you may also benefit from taking legal action designed to hold those responsible for the harm you have suffered accountable for their negligent, reckless, and/or intentional behaviors. Every case is different, so it’s important not to make assumptions about which options may work best for you until you’ve spoken with an Orange County personal injury attorney with significant experience in this area of law.
Legal Assistance Is Available
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident in Orange County, please connect with the experienced personal injury team at Eldessouky Law as soon as you possibly can. The quicker you contact us, the faster we can begin protecting your rights, preserving evidence, and advocating on your behalf. We understand that the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident can be overwhelming. Our staff takes great pride in advocating on behalf of victims with focus, dedication, efficiency, and compassion so that those who have been affected by collisions can focus on their recovery.
Eldessouky Law has years of experience handling catastrophic car accident cases, truck accident cases, motorcycle, cycling, and pedestrian accident matters, and other kinds of injurious collisions. No matter what the circumstances surrounding your accident may have been, we can help. Contact us today for a confidential, no-obligation consultation. Once you’ve had your questions answered and been advised of your legal options, we can provide you with support and guidance for whatever decisions you ultimately choose to make regarding your case. We look forward to speaking with you.