Following a car accident in Santa Rosa, taking specific steps may help you protect your rights to file a claim for compensation later. These steps can help ensure you have the legal means to challenge any liable parties and involved insurance companies in a legal claim or lawsuit.
Call the Police
After an accident, the first thing to do is call the Santa Rosa Police Department or Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office if you are in an unincorporated area. Even if the accident was minor, you should notify the proper authorities to log the incident. A Santa Rosa Police report can also be valuable evidence to validate your claim for recovery for both bodily injury and property damages. After arriving on the scene, an officer will investigate the accident and file a report. Be sure to obtain a copy.
Collect Photographic Evidence if Possible
Photos and videos of the crash scene are vital pieces of evidence for your accident claim. It’s nearly impossible to invalidate or dismiss photographic evidence documenting the scene of the accident, the injuries sustained, property damage to vehicles, road conditions, traffic signs, and other details of the accident. If you can, try to collect photographic or video documentation of as many of these elements as possible.
Be Mindful of What You Say and Don’t Admit Fault
Even if you feel you were partly to blame for the accident, do not say anything that implies that you take responsibility for the incident. Even offering something as simple as an apology can be used by the insurance company to indicate liability on your part. The other driver or their insurer can use anything you say against you later on.
Don’t Accept a Hurried Settlement
The insurance company of the at-fault driver may contact you in an attempt to offer a settlement to cover your damages right away. You will want to be careful because the first settlement offer is often well below what you may be entitled to and what you will need to recover fully. You might suffer injuries that will require costly future medical treatment, and your car could be severely damaged. It is wise to run any settlement proposals past an attorney.
Get Medical Treatment
Your health should always come first. See a doctor who can check for any injuries that are not immediately apparent, such as soft tissue injuries or internal body damage. A doctor’s report and testimony is another piece of evidence you’ll need to file a successful claim.
Contact A Car Accident Attorney
Following an accident, the final step is commencing the legal journey by hiring a Santa Rosa car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you file an injury claim, ensure you meet the California statute of limitations to file a claim, and build the evidence you need to support your settlement amount.