Tips for Handling Your Accident During COVID
Although COVID-19 has had a dramatic downward effect on traffic and the number of accidents in California and around the country, crashes can and do still happen. According to a UC Davis study, the first three weeks of stay-at-home orders in California reduced traffic accidents, injuries and deaths by about 50%, and saved the state about $40 million per day.
Though these improvements are substantive, they also belie the negative impact on those who have found themselves in an accident during the lockdown. Knowing what to expect when you’re hurt on the road during the pandemic can help you prepare for how best to protect your rights and proceed with getting medical care and legal help when necessary.
With a shortage of staff across police departments, insurance companies and courts, getting the paperwork needed to file a claim can be difficult. Lockdown also has limited the ability for the needed staff from going to accident sites, completing traffic reports, pushing insurance paperwork through, or scheduling court dates and hearings – all of which can impact you and your potential claim.
Get Information While You’re at the Scene
We’re living in unprecedented times so it’s more important than ever to pay serious attention to your potential injuries. Being hurt in an accident can turn your world upside down, so you need to keep track of your accident and injuries as it can become critical information or evidence for your insurance carrier or yourself.
With reduced staff in many areas due to COVID and recent protests, there’s a good chance that police officers may be called elsewhere and may not be sent to your accident. You should expect that they may be unable to send an officer to the scene for your support. You need to take control of gathering the information you need to report the accident.
California law requires that form SR-1 accident report be filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if anyone is injured in the accident or, if the damage to vehicles exceeds $1,000. Driver’s license suspensions could apply for failing to notify the DMV.
Remain calm at the scene of the accident. It’s hard to keep everything straight after an accident has happened, but the evidence you gather at the scene can help you piece this back together after the fact. Even if you’re not yet sure that you’ve sustained an injury, make sure that you err on the side of caution and gather any and all information you might need for an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. It’s important to gather the insurance details and take pictures of the accident, the damage, the accident scene, and the injuries you or others sustained.
Get the contact details for any other involved parties, including potential witnesses, so that you can follow up after the fact.
Be prepared to collect the information you might need to lodge a lawsuit at a point in the future. If the police do come to the scene and complete a report, be prepared for the report to take longer than usual to process delaying your ability to get a copy of that report. Once you have the information, be sure to store and file it in a place where you can easily retrieve it when needed.
Having a personal injury attorney at your side to help you follow-up and continue gathering and filing this information can also be beneficial. An experienced car accident lawyer can assist you with checking back in with the police department or your insurance carrier on the paperwork needed to help your case.
Expect Slower Responses Across the Board
Due to stay-at-home orders and the pandemic, many services, including hospitals, insurance companies and courts, have scaled their staffs to essential crew.
Many hospitals also have directed a significant portion of their staff to work on COVID-related issues. This does not mean that you can’t get the medical support that you need, but it does mean that you can expect delays when you’ve been hurt in an accident and are attempting to get medical help towards your recovery.
In addition, insurance companies may be less responsive when an accident report or the cause of your injuries cannot be determined. Though they still must comply with reviewing your information and communicating with you in a timely manner, you are likely to experience delays in hearing back from them due to lack of staff and the need to verify your accident paperwork.
Many courts are also behind and trying to determine what the new normal looks like for them, so court dates and filing suits and claims are in ongoing review. A consultation with a personal injury attorney has become more important than ever to stay up to date on what’s happening with the courts in your area.
Evaluating vehicle damage or easily getting to medical appointments may be more challenging with fewer resources working, but an experienced car accident attorney who understands this process can help you get the necessary medical and legal appointments you may need. Alone, it can be hard for you to figure out what next steps you should take to pursue a claim when relying solely on your accident information. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Dunnion Law can help with assessing not only your potential compensation in an accident suit, but also when your lawsuit, hearings or depositions can be scheduled.
When You’re Uncertain About Your Next Steps
While delays will naturally occur because of all the slowdowns and court docket challenges, this doesn’t mean you have to give up on the possibility of recovering the compensation you deserve for your injuries. It just requires thinking strategically about how you proceed with any personal injury case. Having an advocate in your corner can make a big difference in overcoming these obstacles. The right personal injury lawyer on your side can help strengthen and streamline your case management.
Remember, the California statute of limitation laws still apply so you may only have a limited time to file your lawsuit. It’s a good idea to start that process sooner rather than later.
If you’ve already been hurt in an accident in California and need assistance preparing your case or negotiating with the insurance company, contacting our personal injury law office to discuss your case can be the best step forward.
Our personal injury law office is ready to help clients over the phone and virtually via online conferences and meetings. If you want to schedule a consultation to talk through your options and decide if now is the right time to file, please contact us today.