Matt Wertheim LogoContact Matt at 415-775-8950
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Matt Wertheim Logo

Contact Matt at 415-775-8950
Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you, or someone you know has been in an accident in San Francisco or elsewhere in the Bay Area, the following are the top 5 steps you should take.

1. Consider preserving evidence

Were there any witnesses? If so, write down their names and contact information.

Was a police report made? If not, make one to help document what happened. Often people think they are not hurt at an accident scene and later have significant head trauma or soft tissue injuries. Police will only respond to an accident and write a report if a person in the accident was injured. If you did not feel injured at the accident scene and later feel injuries (which is very normal due to adrenaline-masking injuries at an accident scene), go to your local police station and make what is called a Counter Report so that there is an official record of the accident. I

It goes without saying, exchange information with the other driver. Obtain their license and insurance information. This is required by the California Vehicle Code and by your insurance company.

2. Be careful about what you say and to whom you say it

Often insurance companies will try and take a recorded statement of the injured person and witnesses soon after the accident. make sure to only tell the truth and even consider not giving a statement until you have consulted an attorney...to make sure you give the best and clearest statement possible. If you say something wrong under oath that is recorded - this could undermine your case. So be careful to only tell the truth. Do not speculate - and be factual (not argumentative).

3. Find a good and experienced attorney who specializes in personal injury matters

Call and ask questions early on so you can be guided by the attorney on how best to proceed. Remember that you don't need to sign up with the first attorney you speak with or the one the ambulance driver or two truck driver recommends. There are a lot of unscrupulous lawyers who pay what are called "cappers" to refer cases. They pay a cash or percentage of the recovery...which is illegal and unethical. These lawyers are eventually disbarred. So take precautions and make sure to avoid this situation.

Never consider signing up with any attorney or law firm who you feel is immoral, unethical, or makes you feel uncomfortable.

When you have interviewed a lawyer and are happy with him or her, ask the lawyer to meet with you and your family. Consider asking the attorney for the names of prior clients who you can speak to about the care and attention the layer provided. Find out if those clients were satisfied with the results.

4 (and perhaps this should be first). Obtain any and all necessary medical treatment

The law requires the responsible party to pay for any and all reasonable and necessary medical bills that result from the accident. See you primary care physician. If he or she cannot see you, consider going to a hospital emergency room. Follow the advice of the medical professionals and seek the help of specialists when required.

You have a duty to get better as soon as possible - so do not miss appointments and do not delay in seeking treatment. Often juries are reluctant to reimburse medical bills if there are long "gaps" or delays in treatment.

5. Keep a journal for your lawyer

If you write something for your lawyer, it is protected by what is called the attorney-client privilege and the information in the journal cannot be reviewed by anyone but you and your attorney.

Keep track of:

  • Pain
  • Headaches
  • Sleeplessness
  • Out-of-pocket expenses for medication, etc.
  • Missed special events (such as a wedding, etc. Include this fact in your journal.)
  • Lost income or time from work

Often, it takes 6-18 months to resolve a case depending on whether or not it goes to court. Hopefully, you will be healed and better sooner than later. It is important that you and your attorney have recorded information that can be used to remind you of the pain you were in and all the problems the accident and resulting injuries caused you. This will help you and your attorney obtain the best possible result at trial, mediation, arbitration, or through a negotiated settlement.

Call an experienced personal injury attorney such as Matt Wertheim at (415) 775-8950 for a free consultation regarding your accident. Your call with be confidential, risk-free, and with no obligation.

Further reading: The Importance of Keeping a Journal