When it comes to protecting your rights as a victim injured by negligence, ensuring you take the right steps as soon as an accident occurs can make all the difference. Whether your injuries were severe enough to require emergency medical attention or trip to the hospital, or you were able to remain at the scene of the crash, there are a number of things you should be doing, and avoiding, that can strengthen any personal injury claim you choose to file.
At Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner, our award-winning Hawaii car accident lawyers have represented victims and families throughout the islands following preventable wrecks. Backed by decades of combined experience, we know the importance of taking the right steps following an accident, as well as the importance of avoiding mistakes that could harm one’s ability to secure the financial compensation they need and deserve.
Whether you have recently been involved in a car accident or not, our legal team wants you and your loved ones to have the information you need to better protect your rights. Consider the following accident checklist to help you learn what to do when you’ve been involved in any type of traffic accident:
- Get a police report – If you are able to do so, it is a wise decision to contact local authorities and have them respond to the scene of the crash. Doing so can ensure any emergency medical services are alerted when necessary and that traffic can be controlled safely around the crash. Additionally, law enforcement officers can also compile a police report based on an objective account of the scene and statements from drivers and witnesses involved. This police report can provide supporting evidence to your claim in the future.
- Avoid discussing fault – After any type of accident, no matter how seemingly minor, you should always avoid discussing who was at fault. You should also avoid apologizing and saying you are sorry, even if you feel a natural reaction to do so in order to be polite. The fact is that you do not always know what caused or contributed to the crash, even if you think you might have played a role. Discussing fault or apologizing can lead to insurance companies using what you say against you, even when it is not entirely true. Simply focus on people’s health and taking other appropriate steps rather than talking about fault.
- Collect information – If you are still at the scene following an accident, you can help yourself and any future claim you file by gathering as much information as you can. This includes all contact information from other drivers involved, as well as information about their vehicle, driver’s license, and insurance coverage. You can also speak with witnesses and collect their information as well. If you have a smart phone equipped with a camera, it’s a good idea to take pictures of the crash site and surrounding areas, including signs and signals. You might also want to jot down notes regarding the accident and events leading up to it while they are still fresh in your mind.
- Get timely medical attention – Seeking medical attention should always be a priority after a crash. Sometimes, victims may be treated at the scene by emergency medical technicians and released, or may be transported for further care to a local hospital. No matter what happens, you should always pursue a follow up with a doctor, who can assess you for possible injuries, including injuries you may not have been aware of in the immediate aftermath of a crash. Seeing a doctor can rule out any potential complications and ensure you begin the treatment you need to make a recovery. It also shields you from allegations from the defense and their insurance provider that you waited too long to see a doctor, and that it serves as evidence you didn’t really suffer injuries in the wreck, even if you did and were in pain all along.
- Don’t trust the insurance company – One of the most important things to remember following an accident is that the other party’s insurance provider is not on your side. These insurance companies are corporations, and like any corporation, they care about money and profits more than people. Be wary of the other driver’s insurer contacting you to make a statement that can be used against you, or to offer you a lowball settlement in order to quickly end the case. You don’t have to make recorded statements to them, especially without consulting with a lawyer first.
- Get hold of a lawyer – One of the single most important things you can do after a crash, regardless of what happened and what you did or said, is to immediately consult with a lawyer. At Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner, our attorneys are available to help victims as soon as possible after their accidents, not only to help them take the rights steps, but to also provide the representation they need to deal with insurance companies, medical treatment, and the process of securing compensation for their damages. Our attorneys have decades of collective experience handling car accident cases, and we can put that experience to work for you.
Don’t delay in making the most important call you can following an auto accident. Call Leavitt, Yamane & Soldner for a free and confidential consultation. Contact us to get started.