I Was Injured in a Car Accident -- What’s Next?

Steps to take after being involved in a motor vehicle crash

Before your brain is even able to really register what’s happened, a car crash that leaves you seriously injured may occur. In the blink of an eye, steel can collide with steel, resulting in significant economic and noneconomic damages. Car accidents like this are nothing short of terrifying, highly emotional, and worrisome. As you think about your future, you may have dozens of questions about what you’ll do next, to what extent your injuries might heal and how they’ll impact your life, how to prove fault for the car accident, who will pay for damages, and more.

While it can feel overwhelming and intimidating to do so, having a clear understanding of what steps you need to take after a car accident is essential to effectively navigating the claims process and improving your chances of recovering the settlement you deserve. Consider the following steps to take after being injured in a car crash, and call our Sacramento car accident attorneys at the office of Cutter Law P.C. directly for more help.

Seek Medical Care

One of the most important things to do after being involved in a car accident, even when injuries aren’t obvious or severe, is to seek medical care. There are multiple reasons why seeking medical care immediately after a crash matters, most notably:

  • Seeking medical care ensures that you get the treatment that you need. If you don’t seek medical care and are injured, your injuries may be exacerbated or worsened by failing to treat them.

  • Not all injuries are immediately obvious. For example, a concussion (traumatic brain injury) could be hard to diagnose without a medical expert. By seeking medical care, you improve your chances of getting a correct diagnosis.

  • Seeking medical care immediately after a crash creates a link between the car accident and your injuries. If you don’t seek medical care and then try to file a claim for injuries, the insurance adjuster will doubt whether or not those injuries are directly related to the car crash and may deny your claim as such.

File a Police Report & SR1 Form with DMV

In addition to seeking medical care, you want to file an accident report with the police as soon as possible after the crash, preferably while you are still at the accident scene. Like seeking medical care, filing a police report is a source of evidence that creates a link between the crash and related damages. If you don’t have a police report and try to file a claim, an insurance adjuster is likely to deny the claim. After filing, be sure to request a copy for your records.

You can file your SR1 form with the DMV here [https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv-virtual-office/accident-reporting/]

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    Notify the Insurance Company

    Most insurance companies have requirements related to how much time can pass after an accident before you are required to notify the insurance company if you intend to file a claim. If you wait too long to give your insurance company notice of the accident, it could deny your claim based purely on your failure to report the accident quickly enough.

    Another reason to notify the insurance company of your crash sooner rather than later is simply to kickstart the claims process sooner -- you don’t want to wait any longer than you have to in order to recover a settlement for your injuries. We recommend reporting the accident to your insurance company within the first 24-48 hours.

    Gather Evidence

    The evidence-gathering phase of the car accident claims process is essential. Unfortunately, however, you may be too injured to do this on your own. Types of evidence that can support your claim and help to prove fault, causation, and damages include --

    • Eyewitnesses’ testimonies

    • Police reports;

    • Photographs of physical evidence at the scene, such as damage to vehicles, damage to other objects, skid marks, etc.;

    • The other driver’s information;

    • Accident reconstruction data;

    • Expert opinion;

    • Vehicle electronic control module data;

    • Cellphone logs (in cases where distracted driving based on cellphone use is suspected);

    • Breathalyzer results (in cases where impaired driving is suspected);

    • Video footage of the accident; and

    • More

    Following Your Doctor’s Orders + Keep a Journal

    As you heal and recover from your crash, there are two important things that you can do that may help to improve the outcome of your case -- follow your doctor’s orders and keep a journal.

    Following your doctor’s orders is important because this can help to ensure that you heal to the maximum extent possible. What’s more, failure to follow your doctor’s orders could be perceived as the failure to do due diligence to mitigate injuries. In other words, if you don’t follow your doctor’s orders, the insurance company might argue that you would have healed to a different (better) extent but for your failure to listen to your doctor; this can reduce the value of your claim.

    Keeping a journal can be important when it comes time to calculate your noneconomic damages, including the value of your pain, suffering, and emotional distress. Your personal journal can provide clues about your healing journey and may be a source of evidence in your case.

    Hire a Car Accident Attorney in Sacramento

    If you haven’t already done so, you should hire a car accident attorney in Sacramento before you proceed any further. A Car Accident Attorney in Sacramento can handle the investigative phase of your case, calculate your damages, prove fault and liability, organize and file your claim documents, review and negotiate your settlement, and more. When you are seriously injured, doing the above may feel impossible, and recovering a settlement that fully compensates you is critical to your future. An attorney can focus on your case so you can focus on your recovery.

    Call the Office of Cutter Law P.C. Today for Your Free Consultation

    At the law office of Cutter Law P.C., our Sacramento car accident attorneys understand what you’re going through. When you hire our law firm, we’ll be by your side to offer guidance and support, as well as aggressively advocate for your best interests, throughout the entire process. For your free consultation, please call our law firm or send us a message at your convenience. We are here for you.