Getting in a car accident can leave you confused and in shock. While seeking medical attention should be a priority for your own safety, there are other things you can do to protect your rights, and a car accident attorney in Modesto, California can help. To begin, taking the following steps will help the insurance claim process go smoothly and help you pursue compensation for medical bills, auto repairs and any other expenses that result from the accident.
1. Seek Medical Care
It’s estimated that 4.4 million people are injured badly enough in car crashes to require medical attention every year.
The first thing you should do after an accident is determine if anyone is hurt. Call 911 immediately to receive medical care if needed. Mention that you were involved in a car crash, and have a doctor check you even if you don’t think you’re badly hurt. You may have hidden injuries you just don’t feel yet.
Also, keep track of your medical records so a car accident attorney in Modesto can better work your case.
2. Call the Police
In California, you must call the police if there’s a fatal accident or if someone is injured. You should also file a police report if there is property damage that exceeds $1,000.
In other words, you don’t have to involve the police for a minor fender bender that’ll need some small repairs. However, it can be difficult to assess whether property damage exceeds $1,000. So, as a rule of thumb, call the police to report the accident regardless of how bad the property damage looks.
After you call, an officer will come to the scene of the accident. They’ll ask questions and file a police report, which will be helpful for your car accident attorney in Modesto.
If you got into an accident and didn’t call the police, reach out to your local police department to report the accident. The City of Modesto has a tool you can use to file a police report online.
3. Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Write down the name and contact information of the other driver. You’ll also need the name of their insurer, the policy number on their insurance card and their driver’s license number.
Because it can be difficult to recall the details of an accident later on, it’s also best to write down where and when the accident took place. Take notes about the make, model and color of the other vehicle as well as the license plate number.
If anyone saw the accident, they could be a potential witness if there’s a dispute about who’s at fault. Ask for their name and contact information, and write down the names of nearby businesses since their security systems might have captured the accident.
4. Take Pictures
Local responders will clean up the accident scene quickly to avoid disrupting traffic. Before they do so, take some pictures of the scene.
Get pictures from different angles to show the damage to both vehicles, and try capturing the entire scene. Your insurer will want photographs of the damage. Plus, pictures could help your car accident attorney in Modesto establish who’s at fault.
5. Don’t Talk About Who Was At Fault
California uses an at-fault system to determine who’s liable for a car accident. Insurance companies have 40 days to investigate claims. They’ll determine who’s at fault based on the police report and additional evidence you provide.
If there’s a dispute between the two insurers or you don’t agree with their conclusion, you can file a lawsuit. A court will investigate the accident, and a judge or jury will determine fault.
At no point should you discuss who’s at fault with the other driver. You shouldn’t discuss the damages or what you believe repairs will cost either.
6. Reach Out to Your Insurer
There’s a common misconception that you don’t need to contact your car insurance provider if you’re not at fault for an accident. On the contrary, you need to notify your insurer of the accident regardless of fault.
If your policy includes collision insurance, you’ll be able to use this coverage in case the other driver’s insurer doesn’t pay for auto repairs on time. If the other driver isn’t insured, uninsured motorist coverage can protect you too.
7. Speak With a Car Accident Attorney in Modesto
A car accident lawyer can help you make some sense of your accident and help you move forward with claims. A lawyer may be of help in a number of different situations, such as if someone died in the crash or if you, the other driver, or a passenger sustained serious injuries. Legal representation may also be beneficial if you had to miss work as a result of the accident.
If insurance isn’t treating you fairly or if they’re taking too long to process the claim, a lawyer can help. The same thing applies if you don’t agree with who is at fault.
Even though a car accident can leave you feeling disoriented, it’s crucial to protect your rights. While it’s sometimes possible to resolve the situation quickly, a car accident attorney in Modesto can help you pursue compensation if you were badly injured, if you run into issues when determining who is at fault or if you need guidance moving forward.
However, there are statutes of limitations for filing any claim, so don’t wait.