Car accidents in San Francisco, California, can shock a person to their core. Sometimes people can get severely injured or even lose their lives, while others come out unscathed. In either case, the incident takes a mental toll on you. Because of the mental burden or the general fear that you might be feeling due to the incident, you could make some blunders in the process.
California law states that personal injury victims must report their claims quickly for the process to be streamlined and go smoothly. However, victims in California often fall prey to making mistakes and need help getting their claims processed smoothly.
So here are a few of the most common mistakes personal injury victims can make in San Francisco:
Blunder No. 1: Failing To Call The Police
As soon as an accident happens, if you are in any proper state of mind, you should first call the police. Many people, under the shock of the situation or to forego the paperwork or fines they would have to give, fail to call the police in these troubling times. If you only report to the police once the situation becomes dire, they will not be able to give you as much leverage as they will on prompt reporting.
File A Police Report
Call the police and file a report. Be thorough with the legalities and the details of the matter. This should be your first step if you are in a stable state of mind.
Discuss What Happened With the Officer
Discuss the details of the incident with the officer as well. Tell them everything you know and be as honest as you can be. Try to focus on the facts of the situation rather than give them opinions or have an outburst. It would be best if you told the officer your role in the situation. Do not express any opinion of guilt regarding the accident. Remember, if two or more parties are involved, the police will eventually learn the details of the situation, and if you lie or hide any facts from the police, they could be held against you.
If Police Won’t Come To The Scene, Self Report
If the police do not arrive at the site of the incident, you must report the incident to the police. You can go to the nearest police station to discuss the incident’s details and file the incident as it should be. San Francisco doesn’t allow the filing of police reports online for traffic accidents, but some California cities allow this option.
Get a Copy Of The Police Report
As a responsible citizen and to avoid any trouble in the present or the future, you should also get a copy of the police report and keep it for reference.
Blunder No. 2: Failing To Document The Accident
It is also crucial to document the accident. The more evidence and documentation the police has on the incident, the easier the situation will be to handle. In most cases, it becomes evident very clearly who is at fault, what sort of damage has occurred, and what can be done to salvage the situation. And all of this becomes even easier once there is enough material to record the incident.
Photos And Videos
Photos and videos of the incident are the best ways to document these incidents. The evidence presented by photos and videos is challenging to refute and often makes the entire situation quite evident. This is why, in a sound state of mind, it is essential to record the incident in any way possible to make the situation more manageable. California law also states that recording and documenting incidents resulting in personal injury is vital.
You might even find onlookers taking photos or making videos of the incident. These people will also qualify as witnesses, and you can also ask to use everything they have recorded as evidence.
You can even make notes of the situation to remember precisely what you have to say to the police and to ensure that you take advantage of everything necessary when you are recollecting facts or laying out a whole picture in front of the authorities. When verbally recalling the incident, you might miss out on a few crucial details, so you can always glance over your notes to ensure you get everything.
Lastly, it is always best to have a few witnesses onboard. Witnesses of the incident often can give an unbiased account, devoid of all emotion and bias, and it could also help strengthen your case. So if any witnesses were present on the incident site, you should also do your part to get their information.
Blunder No. 3: Not Seeking Immediate Medical Care
Personal injuries resulting from accidents can be minor, or they can be severe. Sometimes, people cannot see the damage, and the entire situation seems under control. Still, some internal complications can only be seen with the help of proper medical assistance. Therefore, you need to get medical aid in the event of an accident to ensure that the situation does not worsen.
Results in Poor Financial Recovery
If you do not get proper medical care, you might not be able to recover to your maximum potential. A doctor can gauge where you are hurt and the extent of your injuries, help accelerate healing, and provide a proper recovery plan. Without rapid medical care, you might face many more complications than necessary that may have been prevented.
Delay In Care Can Result In More Severe Injuries
If unseen injuries or any issues are not quite as evident without medical assistance, they will only worsen or become more severe as the proper care you need is delayed. Some people can even get chronic pain or other health issues because they do not receive appropriate care in time. Without a correct medical diagnosis your damage recovery may not fully cover your injuries.
Insurance Company Uses It Against You
Other than that, it is also important to note that if you do not seek medical care after being injured, the insurance company will use it against you. This will make the case more complicated for you, and you might still need to receive the compensation you believe you are entitled to. So you should seek medical help as soon as possible after an injury incident has occurred to you.
Blunder No. 4: Avoid Conceding Fault
With regard to California law, this is the trickiest situation most people have to go through, possibly where most blunders happen. Most people are too shaken after an accident to properly make sense of a situation and see it through with a clear head. Therefore, it is essential to remember a couple of important points in the situation and stick to them to avoid making any blunders.
Stick To Facts Without Incriminating Yourself
Firstly, you should ensure that you stick to the pertinent facts of the accident. Instead of giving opinions, playing the blame game, or trying to provide your deductions on the matter, it is crucial that you only report precisely what you know. Do not confuse the authorities, and do not try to gain anyone’s favor. Only discuss what you can say for sure in the matter.
Because at the time of the accident you may not be aware of all related facts don’t try to absolve yourself of mistakes you think you may have made in front of the authorities since it could only make matters worse for you. So stick to the facts that you know only, and leave the rest to your lawyer.
Don’t Speak To The Insurance Company
Refrain from speaking directly to the insurance company. The insurance company will do what it can to minimize your compensation. Therefore everything you say to them will be on the record, and they will use anything they can against you to either lower your claim or refute it entirely. And even if you are usually rational, in case of a personal injury or an accident, you might be too shaken to make a proper claim regarding the incident. Therefore, talk with a lawyer first before speaking with the insurance company.
Avoid Exaggerating Facts
On the other hand, when speaking to the authorities, do not exaggerate the facts either. Keep everything you say precise and straightforward. The simpler your story is, the more beneficial it will be for you and for the authorities to handle the matter.
Let Your Attorney Speak For You
In movies and TV shows, people in legal trouble often refuse to speak to the police or the insurance company without an attorney. It would be best if you also did that practice in your life. Since the attorney will make your legal case and act in your best interest, it is essential to refrain from saying anything you are unsure of in front of the authorities.
Blunder No. 5: Forgetting To Report Accident To DMV
In California, you must report any serious accident that results in personal injuries to the DMV within ten days of the incident. You will also have to complete the Report Of Traffic Accidents in California. There are documents and other material you have to submit to the DMV so they can do their due diligence on the matter.
If you do not file the report or cannot show any proof of financial responsibility, your license could be suspended by the DMV. Therefore, you must take the matter to them immediately after an incident.
Many people do not report to the DMV because they forget or are afraid of the incident being on their record forever. The record will be maintained even if you are at fault; it would be better than having your license suspended!
If a second party is at fault, and you were completely innocent, the incidents will not go on your record.
Blunder No. 6: Not Hiring An Attorney
Legal matters take work to deal with. Especially after an accident or facing a personal injury, it is not easy to take matters into your own hands. This is why it is crucial for people in these circumstances to hire an attorney.
The main reason why most people are hesitant to hire an attorney is the “exorbitant fee” they might charge. But it is important to know that attorneys in California will usually take a percentage of what you get in a settlement after your claims have been resolved. And no one can do this better for you than a personal injury lawyer.
They will handle all the legal matters and ensure that you get what you are owed and that the situation is seen through correctly.
Hiring an attorney specializing in personal injury law is essential. They will know precisely how to get you out of any sticky situation because if they don’t win, they get nothing.
Personal injuries can be debilitating and leave many people in shock. This could hamper the legal process and make the situation more difficult for the victims than it should be. No matter who is at fault, it is vital to keep these few steps in your mind to prevent yourself from making such mistakes and complicating the process more than needed.
If you’ve been involved in an accident and you’re wondering how to proceed, call the injury lawyers at Phoong Law. They have San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and Stockton, California offices. You can schedule a free consultation to ask questions and better understand your options. The pain of an accident is difficult enough, but so is dealing with the legal fallout alone. Call Phoong Law today.