What Do You Do If You Get Into a Car Accident in California?

what to do after a car accidentDespite all efforts to drive carefully, accidents continue to happen daily.

You may wonder, What do you do if you get into a car accident in California?

When you least expect it, you may be involved in a car accident that uproots your life.

Car accidents create significant challenges for injured victims, including mounting medical bills, difficulty working, and pain and suffering.

Hire a qualified car accident attorney to help you recover the compensation you deserve.  

Steps to Take After a Car Accident 

Many drivers often make mistakes due to the rise of emotions and rush of adrenaline following a car crash.

Remembering the following essential steps to take after a car accident might go a long way in helping to preserve your rights. 

Get to Safety 

Immediately after a car crash, getting to safety is vital to avoid further harm to you or others. If you can, move yourself and your vehicle out of traffic.

California Vehicle Code Section 22651 requires all drivers to move their vehicle off the street or highway as long as no one suffered injuries or died.

However, there may be situations when your vehicle has sustained too much damage to move it safely.

In other situations, you or others may suffer from serious injuries, which means you should not move until medical personnel arrive.

Call Law Enforcement 

Call the police immediately after a car accident. Even if the car accident appears minor, a reporting law enforcement officer creates a car accident report detailing valuable information about the accident.

Because the report is created by an unbiased third party, your attorney and insurance companies use these reports when evaluating claims and demands for compensation.

If possible, note the report number for your car accident report, the officer’s name and badge number, and the reporting agency. 

Seek Medical Attention

Check to see if you or anyone else suffered injuries in the car crash. While many injuries may be obvious, some may not become apparent until hours, days, or even weeks after an accident.

If injuries are not life-threatening or severe, take photos of visible injuries for your records. However, even if injuries are not immediately apparent, seek medical attention immediately after the accident.

Car accidents leave many victims with various injuries, including back and neck injuries, burns, fractured bones, bruising, contusions, whiplash, concussions, and traumatic brain injuries. 

Gather Information and Evidence 

If you are physically able, gather the personal and insurance information of all involved drivers.

Important information includes name, address, phone number, driver’s license, and car insurance information. 

Obtaining witness names and contact information could be crucial to the success of future lawsuits or insurance claims.

These witnesses may have seen something you missed and may strengthen your case against the liable party. 

Additionally, take photos of the accident scene. Include photographs of your vehicle and all other vehicles involved in the crash.

Note the time of day, weather conditions, and other factors that may have contributed to the accident. Photographing the physical surroundings, including street names or highways, is also helpful. 

Maintain All Records 

Maintaining and keeping detailed records of your accident is invaluable when it comes time to negotiate a settlement or pursue a lawsuit.

Keep a detailed log of any individuals you spoke to about the accident, including lawyers and insurance companies. 

Additionally, keep all records of property damage, medical records, proof of lost wages, and any other relevant records.

Your lawyer uses this information to support your compensation claim. This documentation also aids in settlement discussions with insurance companies and helps you get the most out of your claim. 

Contact an Attorney  

Lastly, be sure to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Memories fade quickly, and you may forget important details about your accident.

The sooner your lawyer starts investigating, gathering evidence, talking to witnesses, and negotiating on your behalf, the better the outcome of your lawsuit is likely to be. 

Do I Need to Report a Car Accident In California? 

After a car crash, you may wonder whether you have to report a car accident. California requires all drivers to complete a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California form.

After completing the form, you should submit it to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if property damage amounts to more than $1000 or anyone is injured or killed.

There is no severity requirement for injuries. Any injury—no matter how minor—requires completion of the report. 

Most insurance policies require drivers to file a report if they were involved in an accident. You may wonder what happens if you don’t report a car accident.

If your insurance company requires you to report all car accidents, you run the risk of having your insurance policy canceled.

Contact your insurance company with the help of a qualified attorney. An experienced lawyer understands the tactics insurance companies use to deny a claim or pay less than you deserve. 

What Are Insurance Requirements for California Drivers? 

All drivers in California are financially responsible for their actions when they drive.

The minimum insurance policy required of all drivers in California includes: 

  • $15,000 for a single death or injury,
  • $30,000 for death or injury to more than one person, and
  • $5,000 for property damage caused by one accident.

Some drivers also opt to purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

This optional insurance coverage provides added security to an auto insurance policy if you get into an accident with an uninsured driver.

These policies also assist in compensatory relief if the liable driver’s insurance fails to cover your medical bills and other losses adequately. 

Contact Us 

Henderson Law provides clients with over 25 years of legal experience in personal injury and wrongful death law. If you find yourself overwhelmed about what to do after a car accident, we are here to help.

Henderson Law focuses on helping people and their families recover what they lost and move forward with their lives. We help you get through the legal issues to obtain the justice you deserve.

We’ve helped many injured victims receive total and fair compensation for their damages after a car accident. If you or a loved one suffered injuries after a car crash, contact Henderson Law.

Contact our office today for a free consultation to discuss your case.