What to Do after an Accident
Advice from San Francisco Personal Injury Lawyers
The first minutes, hours, and days after an accident are crucial. Actions
taken on the day of the accident can affect your right to receive financial
compensation for any injuries or damages.
Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn, our San Francisco personal injury attorneys have more than 160 years
of combined experience in helping accident victims. While we hope you
will never be involved in a serious accident, it is important to be prepared.
If you are reading this because you or someone you know has been involved
in an accident,
contact us at (415) 940-7176, or fill out our online form for a
free case evaluation.
Here are the steps that you should take after an accident:
Check for injuries. If you are injured or you observe an accident, call 911 to get immediate
medical attention sent to the location of the incident.
Get all the facts. If you can, get the names and contact information for the people who witnessed
the incident. Depending on your injuries, you may want to ask a family
member or co-worker to help. If it is a
car accident, get insurance information, phone numbers, addresses, license plate numbers,
and makes and models of the cars. If there are witnesses, write down their
names and phone numbers as well. Do not admit any wrongdoing or discuss
the extent of your injuries.
Take photos and preserve the evidence. Again, you may need to have family members or co-workers help you with
this. If you have a camera or cell phone with a camera (most do these
days), take photos to document what happened. It is helpful to document
the scene of the incident. For example, if you were at a construction
site and a machine malfunctioned, take photos and ask that the machine
be set aside so the incident can be investigated. If it was a car accident,
have the cars and any damage photographed. Take photos of any injuries
you received in the accident and their progress as you heal.
Make a report. For
auto accidents, call the police and request a report. Make sure to get the report number
or incident number so you can order a copy of the report. In some cities,
the police will not come to the scene of a minor accident. They may give
you a case number over the phone. Note this number and the name of the
officer with whom you spoke. For worksite incidents, alert your employer
and consider contacting Cal/OSHA.
Seek medical attention. You might initially feel okay immediately after an accident. Adrenaline
and the subconscious desire to not be injured can influence this. Be aware
that accident-related symptoms can develop days, weeks, or months later.
It is safest to check in with a medical professional right after an accident,
even if you initially feel okay.
Contact your insurance company. If it is an auto accident, you should contact your insurance company and
tell them you have been involved in an accident. You should not give them
a tape-recorded statement.
Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Personal injury lawyers such as the ones at our firm generally do not
charge you upfront to take your case. We charge only when (and if) we
win your case. This is a type of payment arrangement is called a
contingency fee. A personal injury attorney can advise you on how to protect your rights
and interests and also advise you of your legal options.
Do not speak to an insurance adjuster without your attorney present. The insurance claims adjuster will try to get you to admit that you are
fine or to accept a small settlement for your injuries.
Do not sign anything without first showing it to a personal injury lawyer. You may be signing away your right to pursue financial compensation.
Retain possession of your vehicle. In an auto accident, do not sell your car or send it to a junkyard until a
personal injury lawyer has had the opportunity to have it examined. There could be a defect or
failure with your car that caused or contributed to your accident.
Do not hesitate to
call our firm so we can help you protect your right to fair compensation after your