After a Car Accident: Initial Steps
The steps that you take immediately following being involved in a car accident can have a significant impact on the outcome of your personal injury case. Provided below is an overview of what you should do if you are ever in the unfortunate situation of being in an injury accident incident.
- Stop immediately and remain at the scene. This is required under the California Vehicle Code.
- Move your vehicle to the side of the road if you are able.
- Call 911 immediately if you or anyone else involved in the accident is injured.
- File a report with the police once they arrive.
- Accept emergency medical transportation and treatment if it is necessary.
The police or California Highway Patrol will usually offer you a paper with the date of the incident and a daily report ("DR") number. You may wish to get the officer's name and badge number at the scene as well. Reports usually take two weeks to prepare. The law also requires that you exchange information with the other driver involved in the accident. Obtain the names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, insurance information, and registration information for all persons involved in the incident. Another important step is to get the contact information of any and all witnesses of the accident, and don't forget to photograph the accident scene if you can. Of course, receiving prompt medical attention is far more important than any of the steps described above.
Never decline medical transportation or attention if you sustained any injuries. Go to the emergency room if you feel any pain or discomfort, and be sure to follow up with your own physician even if you are feeling better. Often times, it can take several days following an accident for pain related to soft-tissue injuries to set in. Beyond that, your medical records and documentation of your injuries are important pieces of evidence for your personal injury case.
Report your accident to your own insurance company. However, it is incredibly important that you avoid discussing the details of the accident with the other party's adjuster or other representative. In fact, it's advisable to not discuss your accident or injuries with anyone other than your spouse at this time.
There have been cases where emails and social media posts were used as evidence in court. Insurance adjusters can be quick to offer a low settlement amount in the hopes that you will accept it before you have the opportunity to speak with an experienced attorney. Accepting a settlement early effectively prohibits you from seeking any compensation for medical bills or other expenses related to your accident injuries any time in the future. This is especially troublesome in cases where the extent of the accident victim's injuries is unknown or takes an extended amount of time to present. The Law Offices of William C. Bibb have the knowledge and experience to get clients the medical care they need for a proper diagnosis. Never sign anything or give a statement until you have spoken with an attorney.
What to Expect from your First Conversation with a Personal Injury Attorney
I always provide a complimentary initial consultation for perspective clients. I also encourage anyone who is interested to contact my office with their questions and concerns. During our first conversation, I will ask you a number of questions regarding your case, needs, and medical treatment.
What Happens when you Hire an Attorney
The Law Offices of William C. Bibb accepts personal injury cases on a contingency basis, meaning that I will not charge you any fees until or unless your case has been settled or won in court. I will ask you to sign a written retainer agreement, or contingency agreement, outlining our no recovery/no fee contract. Typically, my fee amounts to a percentage of the gross settlement that you ultimately receive. Once you decide that I am the attorney best suited to handle your personal injury case, I will begin researching, investigating, and move forward with your injury claims.
In addition to reviewing information about your medical records, it is my responsibility to gather evidence and witness statements for proving liability and damages. I will also contact the liable party's insurance carrier, and become the sole contact that they communicate with from that point on. Lastly, I will ask you to sign a medical authorization form allowing my office to contact your physicians and medical facilities to obtain your medical records and itemized billing.
Why you Should Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
I have almost 40 years of professional experience in handling automobile accident cases. Not only do I understand the complexities of the law when it comes to determining liability and damages in these types of tort cases, but I also have an extensive knowledge of medicine and physiology. My unique background allows me to properly analyze medical records and provide my clients with the medical tests and treatments necessary to secure an accurate diagnosis. Beyond that, I appreciate the importance of preserving evidence and witness testimony in personal injury cases. Going the extra mile to find and preserve evidence, in addition to securing the testimony of valuable witnesses, can make all the difference in proving liability and achieving the compensation you deserve.
What Happens if you do not have Automobile Liability Insurance
Given that California law mandates that all drivers must carry liability insurance, the legislature imposes a penalty that denies an uninsured motorist damages for pain and suffering in the event that he or she is injured in an accident. Consequently, you may still be entitled to damages for medical expenses and loss of income. Another thing to consider is that the registered owner of the vehicle that you were driving at the time of the incident may carry liability insurance, which could allow you to be covered as a “permissive driver.”
The Law Offices of William C. Bibb can help you fill out any and all required documents, as well as assist you with any legal issues relating to no automobile liability coverage. In many cases, we can also assist you in determining whether and how you can gain coverage.
Understanding the Value of your Case
The amount of monetary damages that you are entitled to in a serious personal injury case can depend on numerous factors, including: the nature, extent, and duration of your injuries, in addition to the amount of insurance coverage, the extent of liability, and the amount of medical expenses you incurred. Other factors also come into play when determining damages, such as whether there is permanent disability and/or pain and suffering involved. Ultimately, the value of damages varies from case to case. It is only after you complete your medical treatment, and the nature and extent of your injuries are determined, that discussions about potential damages can begin.