What If I’m Involved In A Collision With An Uninsured Motorist In California?
When you are driving around a town or city in California, there are almost always plenty of other drivers around you. In most cases this won’t be a problem, since most of them are being safe behind the wheel and also have auto insurance. However, there is always the chance you may be involved in an auto accident with a driver who fails to carry car insurance on their vehicle. Should this happen, an already difficult situation can become even more complicated. If you find yourself facing such a situation, do not assume you have little if any chance of gaining the compensation you need and deserve. Instead, contact an auto injury lawyer to discuss your options.
Don’t Panic and Leave the Scene
No matter how upset you may be following your auto accident, never let yourself lose control of your emotions and leave the scene before police and rescue personnel arrive. If you do, it will not only have others assuming the accident was your fault, but police can also choose to charge you with hit-and-run, which could be a felony and leave you facing serious criminal charges along with large fines and even prison time. Rather than have this happen, stay at the scene and give police your version of what happened, then immediately contact and hire an experienced accident attorney.
Summon Police to the Scene
Since there may be serious injuries to you and others at the scene, always make sure you use your smartphone to call 9-1-1 and get police and other rescue personnel to your accident scene as fast as possible. Once there, police can examine the accident scene and make sure everyone there is protected from nearby traffic and onlookers. Along with this, police will interview you and the other driver, investigate the crash scene, and file an accident report that will contain their opinion as to what happened and whether you or the other driver were responsible for the accident. Once police file this report, obtain a copy as soon as you can and then meet with your car accident attorney from West Coast Trial Lawyers.
Don’t Refuse Medical Treatment
When you are at the accident scene, never think getting a medical evaluation by paramedics is not necessary. Instead, allow rescue workers to assess your condition and begin treating you for any injuries you sustained, such as cuts and bruises, broken bones, or head and neck injuries. Once this has been done, also allow them to put you in an ambulance and take you to a nearby hospital for further evaluation. Since many car accident victims suffer brain injuries or internal bleeding, they may not be aware of just how seriously injured they are at the accident scene. By going to the hospital, doctors can run various tests and offer additional treatment to you, and can also document your injuries in your medical records.
Don’t Take a Quick Settlement
A few days after your car accident, insurance companies will come calling. In many cases, they will come with cash in their hands, which initially sounds like the answer to your prayers. However, if you fail to think it through and immediately accept their offer, your legal situation will become a nightmare. If you take a quick settlement, the money will not be enough to cover you current and future medical bills, and also will not begin to replace wages already lost plus those that will be lost in the coming weeks and months. To avoid making a critical mistake that will cost you significant financial compensation, always hire an auto injury lawyer soon after your accident and let them handle insurance company negotiations on your behalf.
Document the Accident
If you can do so safely, try to use your smartphone to document the accident scene. This can be crucial to helping you win your case, since you will be able to show the scene exactly as it was immediately after the accident. To begin with, take photos of the vehicles involved and the damage they suffered. Also, have pictures of any visible injuries you and others at the scene suffered. Finally, if there are such things as skid marks on the road, traffic signs with posted speed limits, or nearby stop signs or traffic lights, document these as well. By having these pictures and then providing them to your accident attorney, they can begin the process of looking over the details of the scene to find out what transpired.
Get Contact Information
Even if the other driver is uninsured, don’t let this stop you from getting essential contact information from them, such as their name, address, phone number, email address, driver’s license number, and the make and model of their vehicle. By having this information, you can then give this to your insurance company and to your car accident attorney at West Coast Trial Lawyers, since it is likely your attorney will want to follow up with the driver to get more details about the accident.
Say Only What is Absolutely Necessary
When you are at the accident scene, you will need to give statements to police and answer various questions posed to you by officers and other people at the scene. However, this does not mean you have to start talking nonstop about the accident. Instead, choose your words carefully and say only what is absolutely necessary at that particular moment. By taking this approach, you lessen the risk of saying something that could be used against you. For many car accident victims, telling the other driver “I’m sorry” is more than enough for the other driver, their attorney, and even police to say you admitted the accident was your fault. Rather than let only a few words doom your personal injury lawsuit and any chances you have for gaining substantial compensation, say very little about the details of your accident until you have discussed your situation with a knowledgeable auto injury lawyer.
Obtain Witness Statements
When a car accident occurs, witnesses will almost always be around to give their accounts of what happened. Because of this, never pass up this chance to get their statements while you are at the scene. When doing so, try to use your smartphone to make an audio recording or even a video of your conversation. This can be important to your case, since it will make it nearly impossible for a witness to come along later on and say they did not say something or that they don’t remember key aspects of the accident. Once you have their statements and contact information, turn this over to your accident attorney.
Hire Legal Counsel
Finally, never hesitate to hire legal counsel as soon as possible following your auto accident with an uninsured motorist. While it can sometimes be more difficult to gain compensation in such cases, it is by no means impossible. By having a car accident attorney on your side who has handled such cases in the past, you stand a much better chance of gaining the compensation you need and deserve. If you are ready to take the first step toward having a successful personal injury lawsuit, contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for additional information.