San Francisco personal injury accident checklist – document your pain and suffering

Gathering evidence, talking to police and witnesses, taking photographs and making sure that you organize your paperwork properly are the last things in your mind when you are involved in an auto accident and suffer serious injuries. However, sooner or later – the issue of being compensated for your injuries and damages will become relevant. And the more serious the injuries are that one sustains in an auto accident, the higher the medical bills are, the greater the loss of wages is, and thus – the greater the overall financial loss on a person is. Thus, if you want to make sure that you are ultimately compensated for your injuries and pain and suffering, you will have to keep track of the facts, and documentation and the parties involved.

The Accident

Driver information – obtain and exchange information with all other drivers and make sure to get their names, license plate numbers and driver license numbers, insurance company name and policy number as well as their current address.

Photographs – photograph the damages done to your car as well as other vehicles at the scene of the incident and photograph you injuries (bruising, and other visible injuries) before they start healing. Obviously, it’s a good idea to always have a digital or a Polaroid camera in your car. However, even if you don’t have one, chances are that if your accident occurred in the City of San Francisco, there might a drug store within walking distance where you can buy a camera, and it would be a very good idea to do so to preserve evidence as soon as possible.

Police Report – the San Francisco police is often reluctant to come out to the scene of the incident, unless one or more parties were seriously injured. Call the San Francisco Police Department if you were injured and demand that they arrive and take down the traffic collision report. Make sure to get a report slip, so that you can order the report later from their office.

Witnesses – do not hesitate to approach people who have or might have witnessed your accident. Their testimony or simple declaration (a statement with a signature on a paper) may prove to be crucial in a case of disputed liability. San Francisco residents are known for their desire to help and step up to the plate when they witness a traumatic injury accident, so you should not feel that approaching and asking potential witnesses for their information would be inappropriate.

Medical Treatment – if you feel that you have suffered a serious injury do not hesitate to go to the emergency room. You might be discouraged by ER treatment in San Francisco if you do not have health insurance. However, this should not be your concern at the moment when receiving prompt medical attention, taking your x-rays and getting pain relief medication is crucial to your future health and well being. Don’t worry about medical bills. There are different ways to handle them later, one of which is hiring a an injury lawyer in San Francisco who will place the bills on “hold” until your claim is settled and who will later negotiate with the medical providers to reduce your obligations.

After the Accident

Medical Treatment – log all the office visits, prescriptions, over the counter medications, medical treatment, chiropractic treatment, physical treatment and any other medical help your received from the date of the accident.

Lost Work Time / School Time – keep track of the days you were absent from work and for which your employer did not compensate you and the days you weren’t able to attend school because of your pain and injuries.

Photographs – continue to take photographs of your injuries, to show the healing process and write the date on the back of each photo.

Witnesses – contact them for a written statement before too much time lapses.

Pain, discomfort, emotional distress, fatigue, tenderness, inconvenience – keep a daily log of your experiences, documenting how the injuries have interfered with your daily life and relationship.

It is impossible to fully protect yourself from being involved and being injured in an auto accident, especially in San Francisco, where the drivers are known for their aggressive nature and where so many out-of-towners and tourists are driving and often do not rally know where they are going, creating dangerous situations on the road. However, it is in your power to make sure that you are prepared for such an event and you protect your rights and future financial well being.

California Injury Law: Pain and suffering compensation in an accident

There are two broad categories of damages available in a personal injury claims in California: Economic and Non-Economic. Compensation for pain and suffering fall into the non-economic category and are often the most controversial part of any auto accident case, partly because they are not easily defined or quantified, and partly because they can make up a very substantial part of any injured party’s overall recovery and in many cases can have a much greater value than the economic damages such as medical treatment expenses, wage loss, etc. The following is a break-down of the types of harm covered under economic and non-economic damages:

In auto accident cases, economic or general damages may include:

  • Medical expenses – past and future
  • Lost wages – past and future
  • Lost earning capacity
  • Loss of ability to provide household services
  • Damage to real property (i.e., a car hits a house)
  • Loss of use of real property
  • Damage to personal property (your car, for example)
  • Loss or destruction of personal property
  • Damage to personal property having a special value (i.e., family photos)
  • Loss of use of personal property
  • Lost profits

The non-economic or special damages may include:

  • Continuing physical pain and discomfort while performing typical daily activities such as prolonged standing, sitting, and driving.
  • Mental suffering, including fear of driving or using any kind of transportation on the road, inability to focus, insomnia, loss of appetite and eating disorders.
  • Emotional distress – stress, anxiety, depression associated with the injury incident.
  • Loss of consortium (loss of spousal companionship and services and even inability to have healthy sexual relationship also known as alienation of affection)

California operates under a tort liability system that governs how pain and suffering claims are to be litigated. In short, the tort liability system allows the jury to decide, exclusively, the amount of damages to be paid to someone for a car accident injury.

Injuries and accidents involving children in residential areas

It seems that no matter what precautions the apartment and condominium communities take to make their are safer for pedestrians and bicyclist, people and especially small children continue being hit and severally injured by vehicles entering and exiting residential areas, even in gated communities. Posted speed limits, highlighted crosswalks, speed bumps and signs warning the driver that children might might be crossing the street unexpectedly  – all these precautions are of little help if the driver is speeding through the area, assuming that no one will be crossing the street or running out in the quiet residential area, and the child who is used to feeling safe runs out or rides his bicycle out unexpectedly onto the street to only be violently hit by that car.

In most such accidents the driver is found liable for speeding and unsafe driving under conditions. However, regardless of whose fault the accident is, it is very important to explain and remind children that the area surrounding their house (no matter how suburban that area is) can be just as dangerous as any busy highway. In fact, it is likely to be more dangerous, because the drivers don’t expect any dangerous situations in a quite neighborhood and therefore don’t pay as much attention to the road and often feel at liberty to speed through.

You cannot prevent the drivers from not being as careful as you should be, but you can certainly make sure that your children are fully aware of the potential dangers posed by drivers on the streets immediately outside their house.

San Francisco Accident Injury Lawyer: Police report and liability in the accident

You have just been involved in a car accident. You might be hesitating who you should call for help, and whether it’s a good idea to call anyone at all. It is very important to contact the police immediately after the accident, especially if any of the parties suffered serious injuries. The arriving police officer will gather all the available information and evidence from the scene of the collision – the statements of parties, parts of the vehicle, if any, will make the measurements of any skidmarks on the road, and will take down all the personal and insurance information of the drivers involved in the accident.

It is not uncommon, however, for a police report to contain incorrect information or even find the wrong party at fault, as the officer who prepares the report bases his conclusions on the statements received from other people, which are often incorrect or even biased. It is important to remember, however, that although the findings in the police reports are evidence of liability, they are no conclusive and are definitely subject to dispute. First, you can contact the police officer who prepared the collision report, discuss the accident and request that he/she amend the report in light of overlooked facts. The police officer may or may not supplement the original report, as the office has the ultimate discretion on preparing the document.

It is just as effective or even more effective to conduct your own investigation and submit your findings to the insurance company in order to dispute liability prove that the other party was liable. You may want to go back to the scene of the incident, take pictures or even a short movie of the intersection if you need to prove that the other drivers should have seen you and had enough time to stop. The insurance company will gladly consider any new evidence, especially in a serious accident, as they are very interested in avoiding significant liability and would rather settle a serious injury case early than argue over liability, litigate the claim and possible incur a much more significant liability and attorney’s fees.

If you have been recently involved in an injury accident in the San Francisco area or anywhere in Northern California, and would like to discuss your claims, contact Arkady Itkin – San Francisco injury lawyer for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the injury incident you have been involved in.