O'Mara & Padilla, Attorneys at Law
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Be prepared by knowing the steps to take after an accident

It may not be easy to hear, but the chances that you will be involved in an automobile accident at some point in your life seem to be increasing. More drivers on the road combined with faster speeds and more distractions add up to a dangerous combination. It is likely that you already know this since you pay your insurance premiums on time and fasten your seat belt when you get into a vehicle.

Motor vehicle accidents bring your world to an instant halt. You may spend the next few weeks or even years dealing with the aftermath. This may include car repairs, medical bills or the tragic loss of a loved one. Knowing what to do from the moment the vehicles come to a rest may help you through the challenges that lie ahead.

Your health first

The first and most important step to take as the dust settles is to assess your well-being. If you are injured, especially your back or neck, it is best to remain where you are as long as it is safe to do so. Keep as still as possible until medical help arrives. If you are able to get out of your vehicle, you may wish to check on others involved in the accident, but avoid moving anyone who seems injured.

If anyone has suffered injuries, if there are fatalities or if there is substantial damage to property, someone should notify the police and emergency responders. A police report will be essential to any insurance claims or civil claims you may make. Meanwhile, if you or someone in your vehicle is able, the following steps can also help you prepare for any future action you may need to take to obtain compensation for your injuries or damages:

  • Exchange basic information with the other drivers, including names, phone numbers, driver's license and license plate numbers, and insurance information.
  • Be polite, but do not engage in conversation, apologize or admit guilt.
  • Gather contact information and witness statements from bystanders.
  • Take as many pictures of your vehicle and the accident scene as you can.

After leaving the scene of the accident, there are further steps you can take to help you build a case for any legal action that may be necessary to obtain the compensation you need for your recovery. These steps include the following:

  • Keep a log of all the doctors, specialists and medical professionals who treat you for injuries related to the accident.
  • Keep a journal of the effects your injuries have had on your personal and professional life.
  • Obtain the valuation your insurance adjuster compiled.
  • Obtain two estimates from independent mechanics in case you disagree with the adjuster's conclusions.
  • Avoid talking about the accident to others, posting about it on social media or discussing it with the other driver's insurance company without the advice of an attorney.

An attorney can be helpful in negotiating a settlement. You may receive an offer that seems reasonable, but an attorney can help you understand all the factors to consider when calculating the true worth of your injuries.

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