Few things are as frightening as getting into a car accident. Sometimes, accidents seem to happen in horrifying slow motion; other times, they’re over in an instant and seem to have come out of nowhere.
As the dust settles, you may be in pain or may just be confused and scared about what just happened. In the emotional and stressful moments that follow, you’ll need to make some important decisions. And, unfortunately, it is all too easy to make a mistake after a car accident that can make things worse. You could expose yourself to further injury, worsen your current condition, or close down important legal options that would otherwise be there to help you. Residents of Orange County, with its serious traffic jams and dangerous driving areas, need to be particularly aware of potential problems after car accidents. Here are a few mistakes that you absolutely must avoid after a car accident.
Exposing yourself to further injury risk at the scene
In the aftermath of an accident, the first thing that you should do is check yourself and others for injuries and call 911 if necessary. But just as important, you have to decide how to stay safe until everything is sorted out.
There’s no one prescription for this. Depending on the situation, it may not be safe to stay in your vehicle: For instance, if there is smoke or fire, you’ll want to get out. On the other hand, exiting your vehicle on a busy Orange County street can be dangerous. If there’s a risk of being hit again, you’ll at least want to be in your car when it happens. Generally, you’ll want to pull your car over to the side of the road if you are able, but remember to use your common sense to make the right call and limit your chances of injury at the scene.
Not calling the authorities
In Orange County and all around California, the law demands that you report any accident that results in a death, an injury, or more than $1,000 in damages. That’s not a bad thing because you’ll definitely want to document the scene of your accident. A police report can be a crucial tool in determining who was at fault, and that can matter a lot down the line if you are seeking restitution for medical bills and other expenses that were caused by another driver’s negligence.
So follow the law and call the police, even if you don’t believe you’re hurt at all. While you’re at it, do your best to collect information from the scene yourself. Take photos and note the other driver’s information, from insurance policy to licence to car make and plate.
Not turning to an attorney fast enough
If you’ve been injured in Orange County, you may be able to win compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses with the help of an accident attorney in Orange County. It’s a powerful option, but there’s one important catch: It won’t be an option forever.
Like other states, California has laws on the books called “statutes of limitations.” These statutes (laws) set time limits on various legal actions, including lawsuits. In other words, if you wait, you may not be able to sue at all.
And even if the statute of limitations has not yet expired, waiting can hurt your chances of winning your case. You’ll be giving your attorney less time to build your argument, and you’ll be risking the destruction of evidence. If you act fast, memories will be fresh and it will be easier to find key documents and proof supporting your damages.
So don’t make this mistake — or any of the others we listed. Protect yourself, and your rights, and get justice.