Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience for California residents even if they are not seriously injured, and a combination of shock and adrenaline sometimes leads to poor decisions in the seconds and minutes following a crash. The worst thing drivers can do after a collision is flee the scene. This is a misdemeanor offense in California punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If other road users were seriously injured or killed, the penalties for leaving the scene could be far more severe. Other mistakes made following a traffic accident could make it more difficult to pursue a civil lawsuit.
Not seeking medical attention
Drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents often do not realize how badly they have been hurt. Shock tends to dull pain, and injuries like whiplash trauma may not present symptoms right away. People often report feeling “shaken up” following an accident, which could be nothing to worry about or the first signs of a traumatic brain injury. This is why drivers who crash should always seek medical attention even if they feel fine. Getting checked at an emergency room also creates a medical record that could be used to support a claim for damages in court.
Not gathering evidence
It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and this could be very true in a car accident lawsuit. Photographs of wrecked cars and glass and debris lying in the roadway could convince a jury how serious the accident was, and they also provide an independent and reliable account of the events. It is always wise to gather as much evidence as possible following a crash, and this evidence should include the names and contact details of any witnesses.
Medical records, photographs and witness accounts could help to prove negligence in court, and they may also be used by an experienced personal injury attorney to convince reckless drivers or their insurance companies to settle a car accident lawsuit at the negotiating table. When discussing a settlement, an attorney could seek an amount sufficient to cover their client’s lost income, property damage and medical expenses and compensate them for their pain and suffering.