After your vehicle comes to rest, you will obviously check on your passengers first, but right away you need to get your bearings to determine if you have been left in a position of peril. Specifically, assess whether you are in a high-risk situation of getting hit again. Many individuals jump out of the vehicle right after the collision, rather than thinking of the risk that you and your occupant might be in. Stay in your car and wait for emergency personnel to arrive if possible. If you are off the road and recognize you are away from additional hazards, then you can get out of the car and establish contact with the other driver. If you are hurt, stay seated and wait for emergency personnel.
California law requires drivers in an auto accident to exchange information with the other driver before leaving the scene. If you can, take pictures before the cars are moved. Take pictures of the damage to both cars, the surrounding area, skid marks, traffic control devices and street signs nearby. A picture can be worth its weight in gold if stories begin to change in the months following the accident on how it occurred. It is also a good idea to take a photo of the other person’s driver’s license and a photo of their insurance information. When the police arrive, make sure you get the report number (they usually give you a card with all the information on it).
Look for witnesses and get their information; this critical step is missed so many times due to the stress of the accident itself. An independent witness is the second-best resource of telling how an accident occurred. Get their name, number, and address!!!
Preserve dash cam video if you have one in your car. It is great that you would have that sort of documentation evidence of an accident, but if you do not download it, it serves no purpose.
If you are feeling pain, go get checked out by a doctor. There is so much fraud in the personal injury field, the insurance companies rely on a medical record to corroborate your version of the accident and injuries you sustained.
Once you get home after an accident
Whether it be from the accident site or the emergency room, be sure to report the accident to your insurance as well as the offending driver’s insurance.
Talk to an attorney before you give a recorded statement to either insurance company. Do not let an adjuster manipulate your story. We recommend only doing a recorded statement in the presence of your attorney. In some instances, we advise against giving a statement at all.
Determine if you have medical payments coverage on your own insurance policy. This type of coverage gives you some leeway on the medical providers you seek care with and will reimburse you for your out of pocket expenses related to health care that is not covered by your health insurance.
Focus on your healing. Keep all your doctor appointments and be a good historian when it comes to explaining to your doctor your previous medical conditions. Be truthful with how you are currently feeling. It is a good idea to keep a daily journal as well.
Accidents are very stressful. Remembering these steps can make your claim go much more smoothly. Contact our office for a free accident check list to keep in your glove box.
Superbowl weekend is here, make the right decisions!!!
By: Phillip T. Vondra
We are not talking about picking the right team, or the right pre-game party snack to bring to the party, but rather we are speaking about making your Super Bowl plans ahead of time – in particular how you are getting to and from your local Super Bowl party if you plan to drink. Some people feel it is just a short distance to the party it would be ok to drive. That is a mistake! If you know you will be drinking, or smoking pot, you need to plan your ride home, whether it be Uber, Lyft, or a designated driver. There may be ride share promotions available in your area, so check online for all available options. You could save a life by making the right choices! A DUI without injury is a misdemeanor in California that will sit on your record for ten years and cost you about $10-$15,000 when all is said and done. A DUI with injury can be a felony that results in a loss of your freedom, $10-15,000.00, a lost job, and a license suspension. So, think out your Super Bowl celebration and plan your ride home!
KNOW WHAT YOUR INSURANCE COVERAGE MEANS
By: Phillip T. Vondra, Esq.
Two important written documents relating to your insurance is the declaration page and your proof of insurance card. You should carry both documents with you whenever driving a vehicle. The declaration page lays out the various coverages you have paid for under the policy. Some of the most important coverages that we speak with our clients about are listed below:
1) Liability Coverage – As a personal injury law firm, we strongly advise individuals to speak with their brokers/insurance company and make sure you are carrying enough liability insurance in light of the assets you own.
2) Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage – this is a very important coverage considering the number of uninsured motorists on the road. The real issue is making sure you are carrying enough of this type of coverage to protect you and your family in the event you are struck and severely injured by an uninsured motorist. This coverage has another benefit in that it serves as an UNDER-insured Motorist Coverage, meaning if you are hurt by the negligence of another driver, and they are not carrying enough insurance to cover your losses, your own insurance can protect you. The level of protection is according to what level of uninsured motorist insurance coverage you purchase. We recommend at a minimum at least a $100,000/$300,000.00 policy. Call your insurance company and find out the cost of the coverage; it is worth the call.
3) Rental Car Coverage – when your car is rendered inoperable from an accident, and you need to get to work, you need rental car coverage. It is not expensive and is significant if your car needs to be in the shop for a couple of weeks after an accident.
These are just a few of the topics we recommend that you discuss with your insurance broker or insurance company before an accident happens. If you still have questions, give our office a call.
September 28, 2018
Do You Really Understand Your Auto Insurance Coverage?
Many people do not like to discuss insurance issues. It is difficult to understand the lingo in the insurance field. Insurance is viewed as a necessary evil in today’s society, but many people do not understand the critical points about why insurance coverage is so important. It is not until an accident occurs that the insurance topic comes to the forefront for discussion. As private citizens we protect ourselves, our homes, and cars with insurance. What many people forget to do is to review their insurance policies on a regular basis (at least once a year, hopefully with a broker) to make sure they are carrying enough coverage, and more importantly the proper coverages. A great insurance broker is worth their weight in gold. A great insurance broker is one who will explain ALL coverage options that you can have under the policy, and which ones make sense for your particular situation. In my law practice, the biggest problem we see is when a person buys an auto insurance policy when they began to drive and essentially keep the same level of coverage for the next twenty years. But during those twenty years, assets were acquired, savings went up, as did annual salaries. Why is this significant? As you gain more assets, earnings, dependents, and wealth, you need more insurance coverage. That means increasing your coverage is a necessity, or adding umbrella policies (additional coverage above your standard auto and home insurance) both personal and business. Don't leave yourself exposed! Don't learn this lesson after the fact.
In addition to increasing your own personal liability coverages, I also recommend increasing your uninsured motorist coverage, which also serves as underinsured coverage. This is critically important to understand. This particular coverage is crucial to protect the occupants of your own vehicle, as well as yourself, from uninsured drivers or underinsured drivers. An underinsured driver is one who generally carries a bare minimum liability policy and causes a major accident resulting in catastrophic injures. In this scenario, the only way to protect yourself, and the people riding in your vehicle, is to carry a large uninsured/underinsured motorist policy on your own auto insurance. This type of coverage allows you to recover the minimal policy from the offending driver then seek recovery from your own insurance in the amount of coverage your purchased on your own auto policy. It is a bit confusing, but so important to ask your insurance agent to explain. Since opening my practice in the High Desert 20 years ago, I have witnessed a high percentage of uninsured/underinsured drivers getting into accidents, leaving the injured victims to have to fend for themselves. It is not a pleasant topic to discuss, but you have to be prepared for these types of scenarios because it is happening every day all around California. The idea is not to leave yourself exposed to an auto accident disaster without the proper insurance coverages.
November 11, 2016
Now that Marijuana is Legal - Don't be Stupid PART 2
VC 23152(e) DUI Marijuana: The legal definition consists of the following "elements of the crime":1. Driving a vehicle; 2. Under the influence of marijuana; 3. When the driver's mental or physical abilities are so impaired by marijuana that s/he is unable to operate the vehicle with the caution of a sober person, using ordinary care, under similar circumstances.
To test for THC impairment authorities start with a field sobriety test. If you fail, that gives them probable cause to arrest you. For Marijuana, using blood or urine tests to determine whether a person is under the influence of THC at the time they were driving is a flawed system, as blood and urine tests are unable to determine whether Marijuana was consumed within the last few hours. There is also testing using drug swabs of saliva, but there can be traces of some drugs in your saliva up to three days after consuming them. This leaves plenty of room for doubt in a court room.
Unlike alcohol, there is no "per se" amount of marijuana in the bloodstream that can be used to establish impairment under VC 23152(e). Tests for marijuana reveal whether or not there is some marijuana in your system. At present, however, they cannot establish how much marijuana you consumed, or even how recently you consumed it. More importantly, there is no expert consensus as to how much marijuana is sufficient to impair one's ability to drive. HOWEVER studies in Europe and followed by Colorado have set the threshold at 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood as the legal limit for impaired driving. Look for California to follow this example. Many feel this threshold is too low and that a daily marijuana consumer can have 5 nanograms in their system at any given time. To convict you of a marijuana DUI, chemical test results are just one piece of evidence the prosecutor can use to show you drove impaired. Erratic driving and bad performance on the field sobriety test can lead to a conviction of driving under the influence. If there is any question, it is just a good idea to not drive while under the influence of ANY amount of marijuana.
November 9, 2016
Now that Marijuana is Legal - Don't be Stupid
The national movement to legalize marijuana was approved by California Voters yesterday with the passage of Proposition 64. With that being said, we are still a society of laws designed to protect our citizens. The primary law that I recommend you abide by is not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. People are now going to try to guess when they are impaired after smoking marijuana. It's simple, if you smoke marijuana just don't drive. Marijuana remains in your system for a period of time and the burn off rate is different for different body types. If a police officer believes you are impaired you will go to jail for a blood test.
It is better to be safe than sorry and just don't drive after smoking marijuana. A DUI conviction sits on your record for ten years, meaning any other charges in the ten year period will be charged as a second offense carrying mandatory jail time. The fine is over $1700, you will also have a four month license suspension, you will have to attend a first conviction program class that last four months (additional cost of approx. $450) and your insurance rates will go up. So even though Marijuana is now legal in California, don't be stupid!
The lawyers in our firm are ready to answer any questions you might have or if you need a lawyer for a DUI or other drug related offence, call my office 760-245-7781.
July 17th, 2015
Summer is here; discuss driving tips with your family
Summer has arrived and school is out. There are many more children playing in our neighborhood streets giving rise to drivers to be more cautious. This means discipline for drivers to work on less driving distractions. There has been a lot in the news about distracted teen drivers, while a significant demographic, the problem does not rest with them alone. Distractions for drivers come in a wide variety of interferences. I am writing this article to alert clients but to also remind myself not to slip into a distraction while driving because it is so easy to do.
Of course the cell phone is the biggest lure into distraction in my car. My hands free system is set up but is not a full guarantee to prevent all distractions. I remind myself to use my Siri to look up numbers so I am not doing it. No texting is the most obvious warning with the phone. A quick view of a text is all that is needed to hit a little child playing on the side of the road. A full car of people can also serve as a distraction that you are not aware of. You as the driver can not be the center of attention while driving. Any deviation of the driver’s attention puts everyone at risk in the vehicle as well as other pedestrians and other drivers. Whether it be a cell phone, playing with the radio, eating or drinking while driving, interacting with passengers including babies, looking for an address playing with your navigation system, all potentially deadly. Our fancy dashboards provide an array of distractions if we let them.
We have all seen the tragic commercials where a teenager sends a sister or friend a text while that person was driving which resulted in the fatality. Take to heart the seconds of distraction that led to death. The deterrent is there, just each one of us must take it to heart - it can save a life. The problem is very apparent with teenagers but also affects all drivers. Initiate a family discussion with all the drivers in the house of such risks; include your non drivers so they too can learn before they get behind the wheel.
Let's all have a safe summer!
Wrightwood Disaster Preparedness Team
Phil speaking about disaster preparedness to the community.
Mr. Vondra's personnel is timely, always ready to answer my questions and have shown to be very proactive. I have no doubts about their abilities!
- D Hamilton. 4/22/2020
I was hit by a drunk driver who ran through a red light. Mr.Vondra took my case and has made me feel at ease this whole experience. I do not know how I would have gotten through this without the help og him and his team!
- sabrina marie. 4/20/2020
Phil is a great person best lawyer in the desert he has help me on my cases before I would recommend Phil for any law cases and he is very professional ....
- Steve Thursby. 8/5/2019
I called to see if they could help me out with an auto accident. Saved me tons of time and money. Great people
- Lexington & Concord. 6/31/2019
Everyone I have every spoken with from this office has been awesome. They are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. Highly recommended.
- Joe Post. 6/18/2019
Being from AZ visiting Phelan and involved in a vehicle accident on the I-15 where a Semi & car hit me totaling my Silverado with Injury to my Shoulder I took a chance On Vondra & Hanna attorney firm. I found them to be excellent in returning my E-mails and phone calls when I had a question. They kept me updated at all times and were friendly not all business. The work they did and what they had to work with I give them a AAA+ rating. Phill & Stacey are good people and the rest of the office people are also. I was very surprised how well they worked on my case. If you need a good attorney this is the one you should check out 1st. Thank You Vondra & Hanna I know you worked hard on this.
- William Kammerdiener. 10/28/2018
Took care of my case in a timely manner A+++++
- Joe Buscher JR. 7/6/2018
The best you can get
- Frances Noriega. 0/17/2018
Phil and his team are great to work with, they are knowledgeable and experienced. When we have matters in Victorville area, Phil Vondra is our go-to-local-attorney, highly recommended!
- Contact Accident Fighters. 10/27/2017
These folks took good care of me
- Jo Montelius. 9/30/2017
They know their business. Thank you Ms. Becky and Attorney Nancy
- Shirrell Mccarey. 1/26/2017
They work for you
- Danny Robertson. 11/10/2015
I love the HONESTY and the time to answer what ever question's you have and how your not just a client your a person and they take you seriously. I would totally use Vonda and Hanna again as well as recommend them.