A mistake I often see when people are involved in car accidents is that they launched into "action mode." They start contacting insurance companies, posting photos online, and doing other things that may come back to haunt them later on if they should pursue a claim. The most important thing to do if you've been involved in a car accident is to make sure you have all the appropriate information so that you can make educated decisions. Thi is not the time for hasty actions. Acting too quickly without all the relevant information might lead to poor decisions.
Of course, you should do all the basic steps (and there is a wealth of information about that on this website) - you have to take photos of the damage to your vehicle, photos of all your injuries, and make sure you understand all the coverage that is available to you through your insurance policy as well as the responsible party's insurance policy. Don't be too eager to talk to insurance companies immediately after an accident. While calling your insurance company is often a good idea, I would strongly recommend you talk to a lawyer first to understand what all your options are and how the "system" works. It's like taking a road trip in an unfamiliar area - you want to make sure you have a map BEFORE you hit the road - and not try to figure things out as you go along.
When you understand how the system works and what your options are, that will definitely help you plan your next move. If you immediately launched into "action mode," you might make some mistakes that will blow up in your face weeks down the line. You need to obtain a police report, obtain photographs of the scene as well as photographs of all the cars that were involved in the accident, immediately seek medical attention if you are injured, and don't be too quick to talk to the insurance companies within 24 hours of the accident. At the very least, do some research and find out what your next best step is going to be.
Oftentimes, people think the insurance adjuster is on their side. If you are contacting the insurance adjuster for the responsible party, rest assured they do NOT have your best interests in mind. They are interested in protecting their client (their insured) and even more importantly, their employer which is the insurance company. If you contact your own insurance company, they are more likely to be in your corner because your interests are often aligned. However, I would maintain that even then, your insurance adjuster's primary allegiance is not to you, but to his or her employer.
I don't mean to be cynical. However, if you proceed cautiously and with the education you need to make informed decisions, you are less likely to make mistakes and less likely to act on emotion or impulse. After an accident, people are angry and frustrated. Decisions made in anger or frustration can often lead to unintended results. Therefore, make sure you have all the available information and talk to professionals who can guide you before you make decisions that may affect you in the long run. Like I said earlier, if you "map" things out first, you are less likely to make mistakes during the journey that follows your car accident.
If you need help and have been seriously injured in an auto accident, get the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney. You don't have to hire anyone. Any lawyer who pressures you to hire them should be avoided. Talk to someone who can help educate you so you can make informed decisions that are not based on emotion or impulse. This website has many articles and videos that can help guide you.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,