No one expects to wake up in the morning and that day and be in an auto accident. However, California roadways are more congested than ever (although the pandemic has temporarily made roadways more tolerable). As such, more people on the road equals more traffic accidents. You don't plan on getting into an accident. By definition, an accident is an unexpected event.
Imagine you are driving down the street and suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see something moving towards you. Next thing you know, someone has t-boned your vehicle. You are shocked, and your adrenaline started pumping. What do you do? Here is an acronym that might help: SAFE
S – Safety First
First, check and assess injuries - yours and any passengers. If you feel you are too injured to move, don’t! Call 911 and wait for emergency personnel. If you get out of your vehicle, be careful. Other vehicles may still be driving around you. Turn on your hazard lights and if you are able to move to the sidewalk or out of traffic, remember to do it safely.
A – Alert Authorities
If you think anyone might be badly injured, call 911. They will ask if anyone is injured. If so, they will send emergency personnel. This is not the time to get out of your car and start yelling at other people, blaming them for this and that. Now is the time to make sure those who are injured are attended to as quickly as possible.
F – Fact Collection
Try to stay calm. Emotions can run high and these days, you certainly don't want to get caught on cell phone video losing your composure. If you do see someone taking videos of the accident, get their information and see if they will share it with you. Take photos of your own, as many as you can of your vehicle, the other person’s car, the street scene and intersection and anything that might help for later.
E – Exchange Info
When the time is right, try to collect information from all the parties and any witnesses. Sometimes the police will assist you with that. Just stay clear and let them do their job. The exchange of information is essential to work through any sort of claim or legal process that could result from a car accident. Get names, addresses, phone numbers, license plate numbers, driver’s license numbers, insurance providers, policy numbers. Use your cell phone to take pictures as writing things down can take too much time.
At the end of the day, you cannot rewind the clock. Just make sure you tend to your injuries. If you are hurt, make sure to get medical attention. Report the accident to your insurance company. Talk to an injury attorney to get advice if you have questions.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.