AUTO ACCIDENTS – WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW . . .
In Southern California there are auto accidents every second of the day. It is inevitable that you or a loved one will be involved in an auto accident and you should know what to do to protect yourself.
In California you must be insured. The minimal insurance required by law, liability insurance, provides coverage for the damages to the other party only if you are at fault. Liability insurance does not cover your losses. In order to protect yourself and your property in an accident, you should seek to obtain advice from an insurance agent. Like selecting an attorney, you should hire an insurance agent that is experienced and someone you can understand. Remember, discovering that you do not have insurance coverage after you are involved in an accident is too late. Take the time to protect yourself today.
When involved in an auto accident, you must stop and exchange information. The police usually do not respond to the scene of an accident unless there are injuries involved. Therefore, you must be prepared to obtain all the necessary information from the other party. All you need is three documents from the other driver: driver’s license, registration and insurance. From these three documents you must obtain the following information:
- From the driver’s license obtain the:
- Name and address of the other party. (Ask if the address is current and get two phone numbers);
- Driver’s license number; and
- Date of Birth;
- From the registration obtain the:
- Name and address. (If different);
- License plate number; and
- Year, make and model of the car.
- From the insurance card obtain the:
- Name of the insurance carrier;
- Policy number;
- The name of the insured (if different); and
- Telephone number of the carrier.
After you have exchanged information, stop and look at your surroundings. Make a diagram of the location of the accident; identify the names of the streets, your direction of travel, the direction of the other party’s travel and any traffic controls. Write down on your diagram if the traffic was light or heavy, was the weather clear or wet, was your view obstructed; and if the accident happened at night, was everyone’s headlight’s on, or if someone was making a turn, was the signal light on. Remember that your memory at the scene is clearer then when you get home.
If a witness approaches you, ask them what they saw, take their name, address and telephone number down. If possible, ask the witness to write down their version of the events and sign and date it. If police are at the scene, make sure the police know that there is a witness, they speak to them, and include them on the police report. Pay attention to your surroundings – make sure if there are witnesses you get their information, even if they are adverse to you.
Finally, do not volunteer any information. Anything you say can be used against you. Cooperate with the other party or the police by giving them your information and if requested by the police, give a statement of your version of the events. Do not guess what happened, stick to the facts that you know and admit nothing.
Remember when you hire an attorney to protect your rights in the event of an auto injury; if you have not obtained all of the necessary information, you leave your attorney unarmed. Most people get nervous, anxious and even angry when involved in an accident. The best advice you can ever receive is to stay calm and focused so you can gather all of the information necessary to help you and your attorney protect your rights.
This column is produced by Mary Der-Parseghian, Esq. For questions or comments, please send your message to 4727 Wilshire blvd., Suite 301, Los Angeles, CA 90010; E-mail: Mary@MaryDLaw.com or call at 323-937-2727. For additional articles please visit our webpage at www.MaryDLaw.com.
© 2011. Der-Parseghian Law Group