What You Need To Do After A Car Accident In California
We understand how stressful car accidents can be, and we are here to help. If you’ve been in a car accident, please follow these steps to ensure your safety, both physically and legally.
1. Always stop, that is the law for car accidents. Even if you think there wasn’t damage, you need to stop.
2. If you or someone has been injured, call emergency services, or ask a bystander to call for help. If whomever is injured is able to move without risking further injury, get to safety. If not, wait for emergency services, and protect yourself by using your car’s hazard lights and road flares, if you have them.
3. Get to safety – If your car is safe to drive and is in the way of traffic, move over to the side of the road or somewhere that’s safe. If the car cannot move after the accident, turn on your hazard lights, set up flares, if you have them, and get to safety.
4. Call the police – Even if no one was injured in the accident, it’s a good idea to call the police. Don’t let the other driver talk you out of calling 9/11. When talking to the police, tell them your location, if anyone has been injured or needs medical attention, and if there are any hazards at the accident scene, like overturned cars or fuel leaks.
5. Give the police an accurate record. To the best of your ability, tell the officers how the car accident happened. Only provide information you are certain, and never speculate or guess.
6. NEVER DISCUSS/ADMIT FAULT let the officer and insurance companies figure that out based on the evidence. If they ask you if you’ve been injured in the car accident, and you are not certain if you are, tell them that you are not sure. It can take some time before any injuries you’ve sustained in the accident are apparent, so it’s best to wait if you are not sure. If you are able to, you should also make sure the other drivers, passengers and bystanders give accurate statements.
7. Exchange information if the police don’t respond to the accident. If the police do respond, they obtain this information. Take down the following information if they do not:
- Full Name, address & phone number of everyone involved in the accident, both drivers and passengers
- Insurance company and policy number of all vehicles involved in the car accident (Take pictures of all insurance cards, if you can)
- Driver’s license and license plate numbers. (Take pictures, too)
- Type, color, model of all cars involved in the accident.
- Location of the accident.
8. Document the accident to protect yourself.
- Identify the police officers – get the names and badge numbers of all responding officers.
- Get a copy of the accident report from the officers. Usually an officer will give you a police report number, that you can use to obtain the information later.You might need this for your insurance claim.
- Take pictures of any damage – If anyone has sustained injuries, take pictures of any visible injuries. You should take pictures of any damage to your car. If you are unable to take pictures at the scene of the car accident, it is best to take them as soon as you can.
- Take down the names and contact information of any witnesses to the car accident, in addition to the contact information for the driver and passengers.
9. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. After a car accident, we understand how stressful it can be to go through all these steps. An insurance agent can help guide you through the information you need to collect at the scene if you feel unsure.
10. See a Doctor. Sometimes, a car accident injury can take a couple of days to be felt. Unless you are certain you are not injured, you should go to a doctor. Damage from an accident, if left untreated, can lead to significant health risks in the future.
11. Keep all information related to the car accident. This information includes:
- Claim Number
- Claim’s Adjuster’s Name
- Name and Phone Number of All Contacts.
- Receipts for Any Expenses That were a result of the car accident, including doctor visits, chiropractor visits, rental car expenses, etc.
12. Talk to an attorney to protect yourself, legally. Often times, an insurance company will want to take a statement immediately after a car accident. We strongly recommend that you speak with an attorney before giving a statement, since they can offer you legal advice. Attorneys can help you with a variety of things including:
What is a personal injury case, and what makes a good case?