FAQ for Auto Accidents
- Should I call the police?
- When should I contact an attorney?
- Should I contact my own insurance company?
- Should I go to the doctor?
- Is there anything special I should tell my doctors?
- Do I need to take pictures of the accident scene?
- What about preserving other evidence besides photos?
- Should I talk to the other driver's insurance company?
- Passenger Injuries
Should I call the police?
Yes! It is important to contact the police immediately if you are involved in an accident. Doing so will provide proof of the accident, and will allow for an immediate investigation of the scene of the accident. In addition, police will take statements of witnesses, and will examine the other driver to check for drug or alcohol use. The police can also be valuable witnesses to your injury at the scene, and they can assist in securing an admission of fault from the negligent driver.
Even in minor accidents, resist the temptation to "keep things simple" by "settling up" with the other driver on the spot. You should make sure that you have not suffered injuries which do not develop symptoms until days or even weeks after the accident, and you should always consult with your doctor and an experienced attorney to make sure that you are aware of all of the avenues of recovery available to you.
When should I contact an attorney?
After leaving the scene of an accident, or while still there if you are safely able, you should immediately contact an attorney who is experienced in handling personal injury matters. At Mosher & Skorina, we will promptly arrange for an attorney to consult with you free of charge so as to enable us to immediately take action on your behalf, while all of the evidence is still "fresh". If necessary and feasible, we will have an investigator conduct a thorough analysis of the accident scene so that no evidence goes undetected.
Should I contact my own insurance company?
Most auto insurance companies require their policyholders to promptly report every auto accident. Your insurance company will want to gather all of the basic information concerning the accident for its records -whether you are at fault or not. Sometimes the insurance company will want your authorization to make a recorded statement concerning the accident. We suggest that if you or your passengers were injured in the accident, or if you believe the insurance company might try to claim you are not covered or you have any concerns about the adequacy of your coverage, you should contact an attorney before you go any further, and certainly before you give the insurance company permission to record your conversation (NOTE: You should never give a statement to the other driver's insurance company without consulting with an attorney). However, bear in mind that failure to provide information to your insurance company on a timely basis - your policy wilt set forth how quickly you must notify the company - could result in loss of coverage for the accident, without it constituting bad faith by the insurer.
Should I go to the doctor?
Never hesitate to get checked out by medical professionals even when you feel okay. Many times the onset of physical complaints begins 12 to 24 hours after an accident. Even if you did walk away only feeling "shaken up" after being rear-ended by a truck, tomorrow morning when you get out of bed it may be a different story.
It is also important that you get medical attention if you feel any pain or discomfort. Many people hope that their pain will go away on its own and wait for several weeks before finally succumbing and going to the doctor. Waiting to get treatment is not only not good for your health - it will hurt your chances of obtaining an appropriate settlement for your injuries, since there will be no medical record of your injury at the time of the accident. Seeing a doctor following the accident will insure a preliminary diagnosis and perhaps minimize the discomfort and future treatment you may need later.
Follow the doctor's advice to the letter and never miss a doctor's appointment. Do not substitute your judgment for that of an experienced medical professional. If you do, it will be used against you in court.
If you have been in a serious accident, chances are that someone has already made a record of what has happened to you. There already is a police report, an on-the-job worker's compensation report, or the like. If your condition required immediate medical care, hospital records will confirm your injuries. Make sure you promptly follow-up with treatment from your regular doctor or an appropriate specialist following hospitalization.
Is there anything special I should tell my doctors?
When you are reporting your injury to police, paramedics, hospital staff, take extra care to identify specific complaints, do not omit any complaint you may have, no matter how minor. If something does not feel "right" your doctor needs to have this information order to render an informed medical opinion.
Even if you feel it is "no big thing" or not related to your accident, you still should recite all of your complaints. A dry mouth, a light headache, and a little dizziness may be evidence of something more serious. Anything that is out of the ordinary is a symptom and should be reported to assist your doctor in making an informed diagnosis.
For example, a patient who has very slight tingling in the fourth and fifth fingers and a minor crick in the neck, may not report the tingling sensation, which could be the sign of major disruption to a cervical disk. If that disk becomes a complete rupture that requires major surgery, it would have been far better to have had the initial medical diagnosis at the time of the accident in order to prove when the onset of the fracture to the outer wall of the disk occurred. Otherwise, the defense will argue that it could just have well occurred picking up a bag of groceries three weeks after the accident.
Do I need to take pictures of the accident scene?
Absolutely - Even if the police take photos, you should try to take several rolls of pictures if possible. Always take multiple rolls of film of the accident location, the vehicles involved, various approaches to the accident scene, and of the persons involved, particularly if they have suffered an injury. Plan on taking three times as many photographs as you think you might need, taking shots from multiple angles and locations. By moving around as if on the points of a compass, you will enable us to construct a more accurate diagram of the collision.
A good quality camera is obviously preferable, but even a small disposable camera is better than nothing and they are normally widely available in convenience stores and gas stations if you do not have one in your vehicle.
What about preserving other evidence besides photos?
In many cases, even though it may not seem important at the time, it later becomes vitally important to have access to the physical evidence of an accident. For example, in cases where a passenger is ejected from the vehicle, it is necessary to examine the seatbelt to determine if it was functioning properly. If the seatbelt is lost because the car which contains it is sold or destroyed, it may be impossible to bring a claim against the seatbelt manufacturer and/or the car manufacturer -something which can make or break the recovery of damages in cases where there is little or no other adequate insurance coverage available.
If the evidence is removed to another location, it is important to put everyone on notice by certified mail, including owners, tow operators, wrecking yards, police impounds, and the like, that they must take every step to preserve important evidence, and the failure to do so will subject them to being sued for allowing evidence to be destroyed. In some cases, we are required to go to court quickly to get a restraining order and preliminary injunction in order to avoid alterations or destructive handling and testing of potentially incriminating evidence.
Should I talk to the other driver's insurance company?
Never give an oral statement to the other side's insurance company. If you do, you will regret it. If you are contacted, be polite, but decline to talk. Insurance companies' claims adjusters are professional negotiators, with extensive experience in using every psychological technique to maneuver you into giving information which can hurt your claim, including discouraging you from using the professional services of a lawyer.
If you're a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident, and if you have sustained injury as a result, you are entitled to receive compensation for your injuries. As a passenger, you may have a claim against both the driver of the vehicle in which you were riding as well as the drivers of any other vehicles (or any other negligent party) involved in the collision. A passenger is generally not considered to be at fault or partially at fault for causing an accident unless he or she does something to cause an accident such as distract the driver.
As a passenger in an accident, it is important for you to independently obtain all necessary information at the scene of an accident if safely possible. In all automobile accident cases it is essential that measures be taken promptly to preserve evidence, investigate the accident in question, and to enable physicians or other expert witnesses to thoroughly evaluate any injuries. If you or a loved one is a victim of an automobile accident, call Mosher & Skorina now at (949) 582-1544. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to accept your case, we will work on a contingencies basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary award or recovery of funds. Don't delay! You may have a valid claim and be entitled to compensation for your injuries, but a lawsuit must be filed before the statute of limitations expires.
Contact us at 1-888-323-0402
The Law Offices of Mosher and Skorina provide each client with quality representation. No matter what your legal issue, you will receive the proper guidance and advice you need. Call us toll-free at 1-888-323-0402 or by completing the web form.