So many of us get behind the wheel and drive to our destination without giving it a second thought. We turn the key, and we put the car into drive—a process so automatic that we don’t spend time thinking about the possible risks. Although this may seem like a frightening thought, it is the reality we live in today. And if you’ve recently been in a car accident, you are likely to understand the dangers of driving more so than the average person. You may be feeling a sense of shock, fear and even disillusionment, but now is the time to act. Don’t dismiss your car accident for anything less than reality and don’t settle for pennies on the dollar—take action today. Read on to find out how to maximize your insurance claim to get the settlement you deserve.

Tip #1: Collect All Information, Write it Down & Take Pictures

As soon as you can, write down all the information you can recall about the accident including the person’s name and critical information such as date and time, vehicle make and model, plate numbers, and the other person’s insurance. Take photos of everything: the damage to your vehicle, the other person’s vehicle, any marks on the road, debris from the impact, the intersection or area of the road where the accident occurred, and any other pictures that may potentially help you in court. If you suspect the other driver was drinking, take pictures of any evidence that may support your suspicion: open liquor containers, beer cans, or wine bottles in or near the vehicle.

Next, take pictures of any injury at the scene of the accident. Once you are safe at home or the hospital, have a spouse or friend take pictures of any out-of-reach areas that may seem tender: this may include your upper or lower back, spine, neck, ribcage, or any other area that may appear bruised, swollen or inflamed. If the airbags deployed, or if the seatbelt has caused bodily injury, you may even need to wait a day or two for bruising to appear. Take as many pictures as possible, even if it’s a day later. If you visit a doctor for your injuries, it is prudent to document your injuries by photos or notation, and have the doctor include this information in your medical file. Keep a copy of your doctor visit notes in a safe place in case you need them later.

Tip #2:  Don’t Discuss Fault

There’s something inherently human about being polite even in the face of a terrible car accident. However, you don’t have to engage in niceties with the other person following the incident. Resist the urge to say you feel fine if the other driver asks if you are okay. Don’t brush off the seriousness of the accident, and don’t try to make the other driver feel better about putting your life at risk. Any car accident is to be taken seriously and you don’t have to do or say anything to benefit the feelings of the other driver.

There is no law that says you must talk of fault with the other driver. It’s best to say nothing at all. If you say in haste that no injuries have occurred, this may be used against you even if you have injuries that arise days later. Many injuries do not become apparent until a day or two following a car accident so being vigilant in the face of possible future injuries is really important—again, simply say nothing.

If you exchanged information with the other driver and he or she calls you, you do not have to take the call, either. You can defer their phone call to us—your personal injury attorneys trusted as San Diego’s best when it comes to car accident cases.

Tip #3: Seek Medical Attention

It goes without saying that if you are injured at the scene of an accident, you should call 9-11 and have an ambulance transport you to a medical facility as quickly as possible. Even if it’s a day later, if you feel pain, you need to treat it right away. Many individuals choose to be medically treated immediately following an accident because there are many injuries that cannot be seen with the naked eye, nor can be felt until days later. Take a bruise, for example. You may be quick to dismiss it as a small injury, but underneath the surface, there can be internal injuries you simply cannot see or diagnose on your own. If you are hurt in any way, go to the doctor as soon as possible. If bruising or pain occurs days later, get it treated immediately and document it in your notes, with pictures, and in your medical file.

Did you know that insurance companies will argue against your injuries—the very injuries that were a direct result of the car accident? It may sound incredulous, but it’s true, and that’s why it’s absolutely critical to see a doctor for proper diagnosis and documentation. An insurance company may accuse you of already having existing injuries and pegging it on the accident as the cause. Do not trust the insurance company’s intentions and do what is right for you: get your injuries treated and document, document, document.

Tip #4: Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

Even the most confident person needs a car accident lawyer in San Diego. You may feel like you have a handle on the situation and that it may cost a fortune to hire a lawyer—but the good news is that it doesn’t cost you anything upfront to hire us. Your consultation is free, and there is no out-of-pocket expense to retain us as your lawyers.

So, why do you need a lawyer? The intricacies of settling a car accident claim and working with the insurance companies is highly complex. One wrong move, one wrong word, and your case can be dismissed immediately. But a good attorney will help you get the highest and best settlement possible, without worry or needless stress. We use a sophisticated formula that assesses all aspects of your car accident including medical expenses, pain and suffering, income loss, vehicle and property damage and other factors to ensure your settlement is fair. Our attorneys will help you get the money you deserve.

Tip #5: Let the Experts Work on Negotiations

After retaining a San Diego injury lawyer, don’t personally negotiate with the insurance company. Defer all of the calls and negotiations to us—your lawyers and experts in car accident law. Don’t forget—insurance companies are not generous, compassionate entities looking out for your best interest. Insurance companies are out to save as much money as they can and prevent claims altogether. So, if you’re given an offer or settlement by an insurance company, the best thing you can do is call us right away. Our competent and experienced lawyers can help you get the money your claim is actually worth. We will fight to ensure your claim is handled seriously even if we must take the case to court. We will fight on your behalf until you get the settlement that you deserve.

Tip #6: Let Go of Worries Related to Expenses

The truth is that car accidents are stressful, and when you factor in injuries, medical expenses, missed work, and pain and suffering to the equation, an accident can change the trajectory of your life. Hiring an attorney might seem like it would only add to the mounting expenses—but hiring us doesn’t cost you any out-of-pocket money. In fact, hiring an attorney could be what sets your life back on track. We do not charge for our consultations, nor do we ask for any money upfront. If we take your case, and we don’t win—you owe nothing. There’s never been a more necessary time to call a lawyer to help you with your claim as there is no financial risk to retaining legal counsel.

Tip #7: Treat Your Emotions

The aftermath of a car accident can result in physical injuries, but don’t dismiss the emotional damage that often creeps in the weeks following a traumatic event. Emotions can be confusing, and can change quickly, ranging from anger to relief or sadness to hopelessness, including a whole range of other emotions that can impact a person well beyond the day of the accident. If emotions are holding you back from resuming your normal life, they need to be treated like any other injury. Emotions can quickly become overwhelming, so take the time to understand your feelings, and treat them seriously so you can get yourself back on track.

As it goes with emotions, it may be hard to tell what you might be feeling. Recognize that you may feel depressed or anxious after a car accident, or you may even be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, following an accident. You may not sleep well and you may lack the ability to concentrate on other parts of your life. These are all signs that you are in emotional distress and you should seek medical care to treat the emotions that are holding you back.

Counseling or therapy services are often covered by medical insurance so make a call to get yourself the help you need to overcome any emotional trauma experienced by a car accident. You deserve to feel better and to emotionally move on from what has happened.

If you seek out counseling or therapy services, have your emotional distress documented in your medical file, and be sure to notify your attorney that you are seeking help. Provide your attorney with any records following your therapy services including any prescriptions given at the time of treatment.

Tip #9: Be Proactive With Your Claim

Too many times, a person might think their car accident case just doesn’t have all the elements needed for filing a claim. If that sounds like you, know that you can and should file a claim, and that it’s equally important to talk to an attorney right now who can legally advise you with their expertise and knowledge of car accident law. Be proactive with your claim and don’t delay. There are time limits on your ability to file a claim, so if you’ve been thinking about it, but didn’t know how or where to start—call us. We can help you and we can tell you whether you have a valid claim for FREE.

Tip #10: Hire an Expert in Car Accident Law

Car accidents on their own are complex events. When you factor in the law, accidents become even more complicated to understand from the perspective of personal injury. That’s why it’s so critical to hire a lawyer who specializes in car accident cases. California law surrounding personal injury and car accident claims is multifaceted and you need an attorney who fully understands the law the way it applies to your case specifically.

You probably know the day of your accident very well, but for many people, some details of the accident remain unclear. Unfortunately, some uncertainty may even hold you back from filing a claim. You might even feel as if the accident was partially your fault—but don’t worry. We understand that the details of your case are unique. We take each facet of your case, piece by piece, and treat it with expert care.

Nothing right now is more important than selecting an attorney who will take the time to learn about your case. Details are essential. You need someone who will listen and learn—and make the most of your claim. Choose an expert with a successful track record in car accident claims. With help, you can confidently move forward with your claim to get the settlement you deserve.

No other firm in San Diego has the experience, dedication and proven results of Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. Call us today at 1-858-551-2090 and talk to a car accident lawyer right now.