What to Do After an Accident in San Jose
Advice you can trust from experienced injury attorneys
No one expects to be involved in an accident. It happens suddenly, without warning – and it can change your life forever. Health is a precious thing, and most people don’t truly understand its value until they’re hurt. You’re looking at a challenging road to rebuilding your life, and the choices you make will make all the difference.
You don’t have to go it alone. The Swanson Law Group has a strong track record of standing up for injured people in San Jose and throughout Northern California. We can guide you through the process and fight for a better future. If you’ve been injured, contact us today to schedule your free consultation at our San Jose office.
Make sure the scene is safe and call emergency services
You need to take immediate action to report and document your accident. Call the police and remain at the scene until they arrive (unless you must leave to get emergency medical treatment). Make sure you get the investigating officer’s name and badge number as well as the name of the law enforcement agency, whether that’s the San Jose Police Department, the California Highway Patrol, or another agency.
Start gathering evidence and report the accident
Take pictures of the scene, any property damage, and any visible injuries. If an object was involved in your injury, save the object. Get names and contact information for witnesses. Every piece of information could affect the outcome of your personal injury claim.
You also need to report the accident promptly. If you were in a car accident, you need to let your insurance company know without a reasonable period of time. If you were hurt in a slip and fall or another incident on someone’s property, report the incident to the property owner or someone responsible for the premises. Get a copy of the incident report – but don’t sign anything until you’ve spoken with a lawyer. Keep your comments brief and don’t say anything regarding fault for the accident.
Get medical attention as soon as possible
Even if you feel fine, you can’t just “shake it off” after an accident. You may have a traumatic brain injury, internal injury, or another injury that causes delayed-onset symptoms. Go to your primary care provider, an urgent care center, or one of San Jose’s many excellent hospitals and tell the doctor you were in an accident.
It’s important that you share all your symptoms, no matter how minor, and follow your doctor’s instructions. Make sure the doctor has all the information needed to diagnose your injury. You also need to save copies of all documentation, including visit summaries, discharge instructions, prescriptions, doctor’s orders, even mileage to and from your appointments. This creates a record of your injury and your medical expenses.
When possible, get a copy of the accident or incident report
If the police investigated your accident, the police report will become a key part of your case. You can acquire accident and incident reports from the San Jose Police Department through the Records Unit. If you were in a car accident investigated by the California Highway Patrol, you can contact the San Jose Area Office for your accident report. Note, however, that getting the police report can take some time, and you don’t want to delay moving forward with other aspects of your case because you’re waiting for a report.
If a private organization (such as a property owner) prepared an incident report related to your injury, you need to get a copy of that report as well.
Don’t sign anything until you have legal counsel
It’s common for insurance companies to offer a settlement not long after an injury occurs. This is not a helpful gesture on their part; it’s a tactic to limit their exposure. Once you accept an insurance company’s money, it’s over; you can’t go back for more if the cost of your injury turns out to be higher. Never accept a settlement offer without first reviewing it with an attorney.
Likewise, you don’t want to sign any legal documents, such as waivers, releases, or statements, before discussing the matter with an attorney. If another party has a legitimate need for a signed statement or access to your medical records, we can work with you to make sure the document you sign doesn’t compromise your legal rights.
Talk to an attorney as soon as possible
The insurance company has lawyers protecting their rights. You need an experienced attorney on your side to even the odds. We will stand between you and the insurance company, protecting your interests while we investigate, negotiate, and litigate your claim. We will also be your guides and advocates throughout the personal injury process, referring you to doctors and specialists, keeping you informed, and making sure you always know what to expect next.
In California, you have up to two years from the date of an accident to take legal action, but you need to talk to an attorney much sooner than that. An experienced San Jose personal injury lawyer at our firm can explain your legal options and work with you to find the right path forward. We encourage you to come to our San Jose office for a free consultation, or if you can’t make it to our office, we’ll come to you. No cost, no pressure, just clear answers about your legal rights.