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Navigating the aftermath of a car accident

Most California drivers do their best to avoid collisions. Many try to think ahead to anticipate what nearby motorists might do, and do their best to react safely and quickly to avert disaster when needed. If you've ever been in a car accident, you know that's not always possible, however. Although you might have imagined what could happen (as far as possible injuries are concerned) if you were ever in an accident, you may not have considered what you would do in the aftermath of a motor vehicle collision.

Be mindful of your actions at the scene

Even if you are injured and in need of medical attention following a car accident, you will likely remain at the scene for a period of time while waiting for help. What you do and say during this time is important. You may want to keep the following in mind:

  • You are obligated to exchange insurance information with another motorist, if your injuries are minor enough that you are able to do so, but you do not have to answer any questions or discuss accident details with another driver.
  • A police officer who responds to the scene typically writes down information to include in a later report. When the officer asks you to tell what happened, you can note particular details, such as your own proper use of turn signals or stop at a traffic light, to show you were not negligent.
  • If you or someone acting on your behalf is able, photographs may be taken of the accident scene as visual record of vehicle damage, as well as any surrounding details that may be relevant, such as stop signs or traffic lights in the area.

Generally speaking, what you want to do is avoid any altercation with another motorist while taking steps to record, as best possible, the details of the collision. If your injuries were severe, a friend or loved one may carry out some of these tasks for you.

Making insurance claim decisions and more

Determining which type of claim to file with your insurance company, addressing medical expenses or other costs you've sustained because of your injuries, handling work-related matters, and getting your car repaired (if it's not totaled) are just a few issues you'll likely face in the aftermath of a motor vehicle collision. Remember the following:

  • There are typically several types of insurance claims, and you'll want to determine which is within your best interest.
  • Not all insurance claims run smoothly. The process can be complicated and may take months, which can be very stressful, especially if you have recovered from your physical injuries and still have not replaced or repaired your vehicle due to insurance issues.
  • If another driver's negligence caused the collision that resulted in your injuries, there is no reason you should bear the financial strain of the incident.

Addressing insurance problems and seeking legal accountability against a negligent motorist may seem quite daunting to someone acting alone. In fact, it can feel downright overwhelming when you're already facing extenuating circumstances in your personal or professional life that have arisen because of your accident. The last thing you need is more stress.

Where to seek support

The good news is that by seeking support, you can be proactive in your own recovery while allowing an advocate to represent you in all matters related to your situation. An experienced personal injury attorney can

  • Investigate the events that led to the accident that caused your injuries to identify possible sources of liability
  • Speak with insurance agents and law enforcement officers on your behalf
  • File a personal injury claim in a civil court against a person or persons deemed responsible for your injuries
  • Make sure you get the immediate and long-term care and assistance you need to achieve as full a recovery as soon as possible

Your attorney will remain by your side throughout all insurance, medical, employment and litigation-related matters. You can't change the way other people drive. However, you are certainly entitled to recover losses caused by another driver's negligence.

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