If you were involved in a Los Angeles car accident tomorrow, are you sure you know exactly what to do to protect your rights? Many people make elementary mistakes when involved in auto accidents that cause them to lose their right to collect damages or greatly reduce their eventual settlement amounts. You can avoid this problem by following simple strategies designed to protect you and maximize your eventual car accident settlement.

1) Injuries Take Priority in Any Case. Worry about your car later; the moment an accident happens, your first priority is making sure you and the others involve are safe. This means calling 911 if there is any question of injury, no matter how slight, and securing the accident scene through the use of flares or other aids to visibility, moving cars off the road if it is unsafe for them to stay where they are, and generally using common sense to protect everyone involved in the accident. Never administer CPR or other forms of first aid unless you are trained to do so; you may cause more harm than you do good in these situations. Do not move any victims unless they are actively in danger. Do not assume that you are uninjured simply because you “feel fine”; if the accident was serious, you should get check out by a healthcare professional immediately.

2) Never leave the scene of an accident. Well-meaning drivers sometimes bring criminal and civil problems on themselves by leaving an accident after a “handshake” agreement. If you hit a car that is unattended, wait for the police instead of leaving a note on the vehicle. If there is a collision with a manned vehicle, pedestrian, or bicycle rider, under no conditions should you leave the scene without getting a police report of the incident.

3) The only person you talk to is your lawyer. This may seem a litigious attitude, but you only have to hear a few horror stories of innocent victims who ended up paying for an accident caused by someone else to see the wisdom of this advice. Never admit fault and never make any statements about the accident and never sign any paperwork until you talk to your attorney.

4) Collect witness information. Most people get information from the person involved in the accident but fail to collect the same information from witnesses. Anyone who might be able to bolster your version of events is important, so ask for name, address, and phone number of anyone in the vicinity who witnessed the collision.

5) Talk to an attorney about your case. Many victims feel that a “slight” injury is nothing to run to a personal injury lawyer about. However, some of these minor injuries turn into major health problems. It is better to talk to an attorney and preserve your rights than to lose them because you settled too quickly.

Unfortunately, we do live in a society where many people will work hard to deny a victim just compensation. Protect yourself by following these rules and by talking to a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles about your car accident.