Car accidents are, unfortunately, common in the United States. They happen for all kinds of reasons, from severe weather and poor road conditions to driving under the influence of alcohol and aggressive driving. Car accident victims experience a wide range of injuries, trauma, and economic losses. Their combined experiences can help drivers who experience accidents for the first time minimize their losses and navigate their legal issues with greater confidence. The following five tips are the biggest pieces of advice car accident victims can impart to other drivers.

One: Always Wear Your Seatbelt

It’s a fact that seatbelts save lives. No matter how old you are or how much experience you have behind the wheel, buckling up your seatbelt before you start your car could mean the difference between minor cuts and bruises and permanent disability or death. If you fail to use your seatbelt and you have a serious accident with another vehicle, you may be thrown from your vehicle. The force of impact will throw your body violently around the inside of your car, increasing the chances of you suffering serious or fatal injuries.

Wearing a seatbelt is also required by law, and following the law reduces your potential liability in the event your accident leads to a lawsuit against another driver. California’s pure comparative negligence law may come into play if an investigation reveals you were not wearing your seatbelt during an accident. A judge may decide your failure to wear your seatbelt constitutes negligence on your part, thereby reducing your case award.

Two: Seek Medical Care After a Crash, Even If You Think You Don’t Need It

Many drivers have experienced car crashes and emerged seemingly without a scratch only to find they cannot move out of bed the next day. The experience of a car accident can send adrenaline surging through your bloodstream, and adrenaline dulls pain. You could have suffered a serious injury but cannot feel it immediately after your accident due to the effects of adrenaline. See your doctor as soon as possible after a car accident.

Your doctor will be able to identify potentially hidden injuries and provide you with medical guidance for managing yourself safely after the incident. The medical report you receive could become invaluable if you decide to pursue an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused your accident and will establish grounds for claiming compensation for your medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Three: Gather as Much Evidence as You Can

You might have a few minutes between the moment of impact and the arrival of emergency responders to your crash site. If you are able to do so safely, it’s a good idea to gather as much evidence as possible from the scene of the crash. Use your smartphone to take photos of the accident scene, including the resting positions of the vehicles on the road, skid marks that indicate braking patterns, damage to your vehicle, and your injuries right after you sustained them. You may want to also take photos of nearby landmarks. This evidence will help investigators form a clearer picture of the accident and how it played out, and it could be crucial in a future personal injury lawsuit.

Four: Don’t Talk to Insurance Companies Without Legal Representation

Car accidents often involve dealing with insurance companies. If another driver caused your accident, California law allows you to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy to collect compensation for your losses. Insurance companies do everything they can to reduce claim payments or deny claims whenever possible. Hiring an attorney significantly reduces the chances of an insurance company pushing back against a legitimate claim, and your attorney can even handle correspondence with insurance companies on your behalf to streamline the claims and investigation processes.

Five: Hire an Attorney as Soon as Possible After Your Accident

California law allows for a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including those resulting from car accidents caused by negligent drivers. This may sound like a generous timeframe for pursuing compensation for your losses, but it’s vital to act quickly as the legal process of suing another driver is not as expedient as many would hope. As soon as you address your immediate medical concerns following an accident, contact a reliable and experienced attorney to help you determine your options for legal recourse.

The attorneys at Easton & Easton have successfully handled countless personal injury claims resulting from car accidents in Orange County, and we can put our experience to work in your case. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our attorneys to have a better understanding of your legal options following a car accident.