The day after a car accident, most people are trying to rest and recover or catch up after the disruption of the day before. If you walked away from the crash, regardless of what else is happening, you must make time for three critical tasks to protect your health and finances.
1. Contact your insurance company
If you haven’t already called your insurance company, do that today. Being in touch with your insurance company early and frequently may help prevent big problems down the road. Your insurance company has many obligations after a car accident. They should be your partner in getting you the help and compensation you deserve after a vehicle wreck, but they need information from you before they can help.
Before calling them, gather all the information you have about the accident, including:
- Your name and policy number
- Your insurance coverage (policy limits, etc.)
- Your vehicle VIN number
- Date, time, location of accident
- Names of everyone involved
- ‘Names of everyone injured (or at least how many were hurt)
- Circumstances of accident
- Types of damage to the cars involved
- Whether law enforcement came to the scene
- Whether anyone was taken away in an ambulance or died at the scene
- Whether you have police report, and if so, what it says.
2. Report the accident
If law enforcement did not arrive at the accident scene and there were any injuries, you must report the accident to local law enforcement or the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours (California Vehicle Code § 20008 (a)).
In addition, you must report the accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if there was more than $750 in property damage or if anyone was injured (no matter how slightly) or killed. (California Vehicle Code § 16000 (a)). The report is made by completing a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR 1) and submitting that form to the DMV. Each driver is required to report this. The report can be made by a driver’s insurance company.
If you don’t follow the rules about reporting an automobile crash, your license can be suspended.
3. See a medical provider for a health evaluation
Many people see a doctor or other health care professional immediately after a car wreck. If you did not do this on the day of the accident, do it now. Many car crash injuries don’t show up until days or even weeks after the crash. Even if you “feel fine” it is important to “get checked out” by a qualified medical provider who knows what to look for.
An evaluation exam provides a baseline of your health status following the accident. A full exam may reveal injuries that you aren’t aware of.
If any follow-up evaluations or treatment are recommended, follow through. Make and keep appointments. If you need reimbursement for treatment, payment for time lost from work or other types of compensation, you will need to show that you took the proper steps to mitigate any physical and emotional damage from the accident and that you followed the advice of medical providers.
Keep a brief journal or list of your mental, emotional and physical state in the days or weeks following the wreck. Your doctor can tell you what to look for, but in general, record how you slept, what pain you have, how you are treating pain or injuries, any medical and therapeutic appointments, medications, and other information indicating how you are doing after the accident.
In addition to these three critical tasks the day after a vehicle crash, car accident attorneys in Cerritos, California, recommend that you do the following within a few days of the wreck:
- Start the process of getting car repair estimates. You may need to coordinate this with your insurance company or your insurance company may direct you to particular providers.
- If you are injured, hire a lawyer. Car accident victims are often entitled to full compensation for emotional and physical injuries beyond the direct expenses of medical treatment. Compensation can include pain and suffering, lost wages, loss of consortium, estimated future losses (health and income), and paying others to do household tasks you can no longer do. An experienced car accident attorney is an important partner for victims trying to obtain the full range of compensation to which they are entitled.
- Do not discuss the accident through social media or in person with anyone other than your insurance company, your medical providers and your lawyer.
Have you been injured in a car wreck? The car accident lawyers at Cerritos Legal offer a free consultation to car accident victims. Call today at 562-865-9356 for your no-obligation consultation. Or use the convenient online contact form. We offer consultations in English, Spanish and Tagalog.