5 THINGS YOU MUST DO AFTER AN AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT
You’ve just been involved in a car accident. You or someone else is injured and your car is damaged. What do you do now?
California authorities require drivers who have been involved in car accidents to perform a number of acts, failure to which legal and administrative action can be taken against them. A California personal injury attorney discusses the five steps you must follow to stay on the right side of the law immediately after an auto accident.
What to Do After a Car Accident in California
- Stop at the Scene
California law requires drivers who were involved in an accident to immediately stop at the scene.
If you have been involved in an accident, do not escape or drive off. This could lead to a revocation of your driving privileges, license suspension, and hit-and-run criminal charges. Stop at the scene and evaluate the extent of damage the accident has caused. Is someone injured? Has property been damaged? Call 911 immediately if anyone has been hurt and then call for medical assistance.
- Exchange Information
Talk to the driver of the other vehicle(s). Get the driver’s name, address, contact details, driving license number and car license plate number. Also, get the name of the driver’s insurance company and the policy number. If you cannot get the other driver, leave a note containing your name, contact information and a description of the accident.
Next, get the names, addresses and contact details of the passengers who were involved in the accident, if any. Also, get the names and contact details of eyewitnesses who were present at the scene. They may have to testify on your behalf you later on.
Take pictures of the scene of the accident using a camera or your phone. Capture the state of the vehicles involved, the point of collision and the nature of the road and surrounding environment. Take pictures from different angles.
- Report Accident to the California DMV
Drivers in California are required to report accidents to the state department of motor vehicles if:
- The damage caused to property is more than $1,000
- The accident causes injury or death
This report should be made within 10 days of the accident occurring and should contain details of your insurance coverage and financial responsibility. You are required to report even if the other driver offers to pay for your car’s damage. Failure to report an accident may lead to license suspension.
- Seek Medical Attention
Your health is your number one priority. Go to the hospital for a checkup. Even if you think you are okay, get a physician to confirm this. You may have suffered internal injuries that manifest later after the initial shock and adrenaline rush subside. Store all your medical documentation including the doctor’s report and medical receipts. These will be invaluable in proving the extent of your injuries.
- Consult an Attorney
Consult a California auto accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will help you:
- File a report with the DMV
- Report the accident to your insurer
- Negotiate with the insurer to ensure sufficient compensation
An attorney will also help you avoid many of the pitfalls drivers make after a car accident including:
- Making oral or written statements acknowledging fault
- Downplaying or exaggerating injuries
- Signing liability release agreements
- Giving oral or written statements to the other driver’s insurance company
- Entering into settlements without knowing the extent of personal injury or property damage.
Having an experienced California personal injury attorney by your side will ensure you do not do anything that jeopardizes your claim for damages. Schedule a consult with the experienced automobile accident attorneys at Deldar Legal today to discuss your legal options.
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