As Inland Empire car accident attorneys, we know how tough it can be on the freeways and roads of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. According to the latest statistics from the California Department of Transportation, San Bernardino County had one of the higher rates of overall traffic accidents and serious wrecks causing either an injury or fatality. Cities with the highest rate of accidents included San Bernardino, Hesperia, Fontana, and Ontario. Likewise, Riverside County had an above average traffic collision rate with the worst cities for accidents being Riverside, Moreno Valley, Jurupa Valley and Corona. While Los Angeles County still has the number one worst traffic in the country, the Inland Empire ranks in the top five according to recent studies by the L.A. Times. This is due to both an increase in the overall population with people moving to the Inland Empire and due to new transportation hubs that service large trucks and shipping from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach moving east along the 10 freeway and 60 freeway and other connected routes. The Pomona freeway and and San Bernardino freeways are jammed with both commuters and big rig trucks.
With all this congestion on the road including large semi trucks, it is no wonder that car accidents have become more commonplace. Unfortunately, this is leading to more car accidents in the Inland Empire. While many of these incidents result in minor property damage, some cause significant damage to both people and property. If you find yourself the victim of a wreck that is significant enough to cause personal injury, here are some tips for how to deal with this situation:
1. Stop Your Vehicle In A Safe Place and Assess the Situation: If you are able to do so, pull your vehicle to the emergency lane of the freeway or off to the side of the road and out of traffic. As an Inland Empire accident attorney and injury lawyer, I've seen too many instances where people are hit and injured or injured more severely than they were because they got out of their vehicle and got hit by traffic going by.
2. Exchange Insurance Information with All Involved Drivers:
Pursuant to California Vehicle Code 16025
, any driver involved in an accident in the State of California is required to provide the following information to all other drivers:
(a) "Driver’s name and current residence address, driver’s license number, vehicle identification number, and current residence address of registered owner." Here it is important to note that sometimes the driver and the registered owner are two different people. It is important to obtain contact information for both.
(b) "Proof of Financial Responsibility" (i.e. proof of auto accident insurance)
3. For Freeway Accidents, Wait for CHP, if at all Possible: The California Highway Patrol, unlike many municipal police agencies, does an excellent job of investigating freeway accidents. They usually obtain all the information you may need to file claims at a later date and put this into a Traffic Collision Report that is usually available with 10 days (Note: For serious or fatal accidents or those involving DUI or other crimes, the wait time may be longer). The investigating officer will usually provide a little, white postcard with the incident number or "NCIC #" that can be used to later request this accident report. The request would need to be made to the CHP office closest to the scene of the crash.
4. For Surface Street Accidents, Wait for Police, If Possible: Many (not all) municipal police agencies in the Inland Empire do a good job of traffic accident investigation and preparation of accident reports. Here are a list of phone numbers to call to request a Traffic Collision Report for various communities in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties:
City of San Bernardino: Phone Number: 909-384-7272
City of Riverside: Phone number: (951)826-5700.
: The city uses an online service to store and retrieve accident reports. The service is called "Ecrash" and it is administered by Lexis Nexis legal research company. For more information, click here
Temecula: Phone Number: 951-696-3000
For information on how to request a car accident report from the Fontana Police Department, click here
Phone Number: 760-947-1500 or visit their website here .
Ontario CA: The Ontario CA Police Department has an online request portal for accident reports.
5. Seek Prompt Medical Attention For Personal Injury Caused by the Car Accident: For your health sake, it is always advisable to at least have a medical examination and evaluation by paramedics on the scene and by a physician in an emergency room or urgent care facility. In the days following the incident, if you continue to have pain, stiffness, numbness, headaches, or other aches and pains, it may be advisable to have a follow up consultation with a medical specialist, such as an Orthopedist. If you have health insurance, you can certainly use this for the treatment. Oftentimes, however, PPO or HMO insurance carriers take too long to make a referral to a specialist. An Inland Empire personal injury lawyer may be able to refer you to a specialist more quickly and have that doctor either bill your health insurance or agree to treat on a medical lien (i.e. agree to forego payment until the end of the case.
Importance of At Least Having a Phone Consultation and/or Retaining A Quality Inland Empire Car Accident Lawyer
Car accident claims are "processed" by auto insurance carriers if the parties have insurance. Insurance companies see your claim as a number, not a person. They are looking to settle any claims for personal injury quickly and on the cheap. A quality Inland Empire car accident lawyer who has experience in dealing with auto accident insurance claims all the time, is in a much better position to deal with the insurance adjusters for you than you are on your own. The problem is that most people wait too long. They wait until they have been trying to deal with the insurance on their own and this leads to complications on their claims. Insurance adjusters can obtain recorded statements over the phone that help them not you, they can encourage you to delay medical treatment and then later use this as an excuse to deny or devalue the claim, and they can take other steps to hurt your case. For this reason, it is always best to at least talk to a quality Inland Empire personal injury law firm and, often, to retain their services. At Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC, we have been helping car accident victims and their families recover money for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering for over 20 years. We have offices conveniently located in and around the Inland Empire and we have a 24/7 injury helpline that you can call anytime at 866-966-5240.