WHAT YOU NEED TO
DO IF YOU GET INTO A CAR ACCIDENT: I am on both Sunland-Tujunga Community pages
as well as the La Crescenta Community pages. As an attorney, I have recently
received a handful of messages from members of both communities, asking what to
do if you get into a car accident. These inquiries have undoubtedly been
prompted by the several car accidents on Foothill over the last several weeks.
I don’t know whether it’s more now than before, but it does seem like there are
more accidents recently.
all, to all of us, Foothill Blvd. is NOT the Bonneville Salt Flats. Let’s
decrease the number of accidents by each of us (not just the teenagers) slowing
down just 5 mph when we’re on Foothill. If we all were to do this, I would bet
accidents would decrease.
Now, if you
(or a friend or family member) get into an accident, here are the important key
1. For any
serious injury, DON’T MOVE! The main exceptions would be to stop severe
bleeding, or if you are inside your car and it is smoking or on fire.
Otherwise, let the police or paramedics take care of moving you. You’ve
probably seen football games where trained paramedics and EMT’s very carefully
position an injured player’s neck, because a serious injury can get worse in an
instant if the neck or spine is moved the wrong way. This is particularly true
for neck and spine injuries, but it can apply to other parts of the body as
well. If at all possible, stay in your car, or stay where you are, and let the
paramedics and EMT’s take care of securing your body and getting you onto a
2. Turn off
the car’s ignition.
anything more serious than a minor bumper-tap, call the police and request a
police report. The police take extensive training in field accident
reconstruction and are usually very good at determining the cause, or causes,
of any accident. Later on, if you do file a claim or lawsuit for injuries, a
police report in your favor can help your cause tremendously. (Depending on the
severity of the accident, the police may or may not take a report, but I always
advise my clients to error on the side of calling them to the scene.)
4. If you
are capable of calling a friend or family member, do so.
5. If you
are able to do so, and you have your smartphone, take pictures of the other
driver’s license, insurance card and license plate. Otherwise, write the
information down or record it any way you can. Also take pictures of the damage
to your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle. Take pictures of the accident
scene, and include in the pictures any stop signs or traffic signals. If you
are not able to do so, ask your friend or family member to take these pictures
6. I have
also been advising my clients to take pictures of any immediately surrounding
homes or businesses. A lot of homes or businesses have “Ring” doorbells or
security cameras, which sometimes capture all or parts of the accident. Again,
particularly if there’s a serious injury and the other driver has a lot of
insurance, you run the risk that his/her insurance company will lie about how
the accident happened, and getting footage from nearby homes or businesses can
often win your case.
7. If anyone
witnessed the accident and you can get their names and contact information,
again this can be very helpful if you do pursue an injury claim.
medical treatment (unless you are transported to a hospital), I advise my
clients to first go to a nearby urgent care. Report ALL symptoms to the urgent
care doctor; this is not a time to be “John Wayne” about your symptoms. Depending
on your symptoms, the urgent care doctor may hospitalize you or may prescribe a
series of treatments or medications. Follow these prescriptions.
urgent care, I advise my clients to seek treatment first with their primary
care physician, and to do this as soon as possible. If you go first to a doctor
recommended by your attorney, without at least trying to see your primary care
doctor, insurance companies will suspect a fake injury or unnecessary
over-treatment, even if it’s not true.
10. If you
don’t have a primary care doctor, if your insurance is limited or if getting an
appointment is taking too long, then there is nothing wrong with asking your
attorney for a referral to a doctor, for treatment on a lien basis (doctor gets
paid when the case settles). Also, if your primary care doctor is not helping
you (this happens), then there is nothing wrong with asking your attorney for a
common to feel disoriented in the moments immediately following an accident.
However, if dizziness or a feeling of disorientation persists after a few days,
you may have a concussion-type injury and need to report this to your doctor or
to an urgent care doctor.
12. There is
no reason not to seek alternative treatments, e.g. chiropractic care or acupuncture,
particularly if you have a history of alternative treatments.
I hope this article is useful…and I hope people do slow down a
bit on Foothill. Thanks for reading.