Five Important Considerations After Your Crash
Whether you have lost a family member in the crash or suffered a serious injury, this information may be helpful for navigating things.
No one should have to go through what you’re going through, nor should they have to go through it alone. Please contact us at any time.
1. Working with the Police and Gathering Evidence
Consider keeping in close contact and advocating for the the police to conduct a thorough investigation. The police are required to interview all witnesses, locate nearby security cameras to obtain video evidence, and take photos of the crash. You can find out which police officer or detective is assigned to investigate your crash, contact them immediately and continue to follow up. If your crash involved a serious injury or fatality, you can immediately ensure that the local police department’s investigation division was deployed and is handling the crash investigation.
After five days have passed, you may contact the police for a copy of the police report. If it’s not accurate, you may request to amend it. Just because it’s written, doesn’t mean it’s not amendable. If there is evidence you believe was not collected, you may demand that they do more. You might want to call a lawyer to help with this.
You may want to do additional investigative work yourself or perhaps with an attorney, if you hire one right away. You or someone you know go back to the scene and try to collect your own evidence. Family members and friends typically want to help, and gathering evidence is a task you can ask them to do.
Possible ways to gather evidence:
- Video Recordings: Asking local businesses near the scene may have security cameras that may have recorded the incident. Generally, businesses only keep such videos for a limited time (typically 30 days but sometimes as little as 24 hours), so you would want to ask for this right away as well as contact information of everyone who has handled the video because your lawyer would need to “authenticate” that no one tampered with the video.
- Photos: Taking photos of evidence you see at the scene, such as: skid marks, debris, damage to vehicles, damage to nearby property, etc.
- Witnesses: Finding witnesses. If you do not have anyone’s contact information who was at the scene, consider asking nearby business owners, putting up posters, perhaps offering a reward, etc.
Note that many law firms will hire a private investigator to assist with this effort.
2. Consulting with an Attorney
Attorneys in these types of cases are usually paid on a “contingency” basis, meaning they only get paid if they collect money for you. It is always free to get a consultation, so most experts recommend that you consult multiple attorneys. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible may lead to them helping with the investigation. View Walk SF’s list of pedestrian-friendly lawyers.
3. Starting an Insurance Claim
You may call up the driver’s insurance company and open a claim. Provide only basic information about what happened: that you were hit by this driver on this day at this location. The insurance company will likely pressure you to give a full narrative, ask whether you’ve seen a doctor, or spoken to the police. You do not have to disclose any of this, and attorneys advise that you get legal counsel before divulging any details related to the crash. If you have auto insurance, you may contact your own insurance company as well. You may be covered under your own auto insurance.
4. Seeking Support
Generally, hospitals have many beneficial support services and resources. You may ask for a patient advocate or social worker if one is not provided. They can help you understand hospital regulations, insurance requirements, and paperwork, as well as advocate for specific care. Some members have found that a hospital chaplain can serve a similar role. If you or your family member were injured, consider before discharge confirming all necessary home care arrangements have been made. All hospitals are mandated to provide discharge planning assistance.
Families for Safe Streets provides a range of support including:
- 1:1 Support: one-on-one support, in-person, on the phone or online
- In-Person Group Support
- Online Support: Facebook discussion, links to other online discussion groups
Go to our Emotional Support page for details.
5. Advocating for Safer Streets
Many of our members describe their experience dealing with the police, insurance companies, district attorney, the press, and others as just pouring salt on an colossal wound.
San Francisco could be doing so much more to prevent crashes and hold reckless drivers accountable.
The system labels crashes as “accidents.” The police, press, and judicial system may try to blame the victim. Insurance compensation is often dictated more by whether the driver was sufficiently insured than by what funds you need to recover or survive after the loss of income or ability to work. Moreover, you may learn that had there been better policies or implementation of our existing law, the crash may have been prevented from occurring in the first place.
If you wish to fight for change, we can help you. The press may hound you when you are at your most vulnerable, and you may not know what you want to say. Or perhaps, no one has contacted you from the press. You are not alone in this experience. If you want help and support, we are here. Contact us.
If you wish to hold the driver accountable in any way for the crash, it can be a long, conflictual, and complicated process. You likely will need to fight to make this happen, particularly if the driver was not drunk and stayed at the crash scene. This resource guide is a good place to begin your quest for justice.
You may also wish to channel your grief into action. If you wish to speak out publicly, create an online petition, meet with the District Attorney, contact the police department, reach out to your elected officials, etc., we can help you. You are welcome at any time to join us in demanding change, so that others do not suffer as we have. Again, contact us at any time.
Learn more about Pedestrian Rights and the Law.