When you think about major car accidents, you probably don’t anticipate that it could happen to you. Unfortunately, major car accidents occur on a daily basis in California. As a result, you may not have any knowledge of what you should do in the event that one occurs.
The best way to make the best of a car accident on California’s busy roads is to be prepared with knowledge about how to act in the aftermath. Read on to learn about the best things you should do if you get into a car accident.
Call for Assistance
When the dust of the car accident settles, the first thing you should do is call local authorities for assistance, even if you think you may be at fault. There are some guidelines for this, of course.
In general, if you are injured or believe another party may be injured as a result of the accident, then you should notify the police. You should also call them if the damages to either car could potentially exceed $1,000. This is a relatively low bar, so a good rule of thumb is to call the police unless the accident is very minor.
When the police come out, they’ll photograph the scene and write up a report, unless you’re on private property. If they believe someone is at fault, they may issue a ticket. The insurance companies will use a copy of this report to help evaluate fault in the accident.
Minimize What You Say
Getting into a car accident isn’t the same as getting arrested, but you should still assume that everything you say at the scene will be documented and used against you.
It is okay to ask other involved parties if they are okay, but be careful about unknowingly admitting fault. For example, saying something along the lines of “I didn’t see you coming,” could be construed as an admission of fault.
You should also be careful about commenting on your physical condition following the accident. Many injuries don’t show up for several days, so telling the police or the other party that you’re fine at the scene and then claiming you sustained injuries could result in problems later down the line. If someone asks, you can say that you don’t know if you are okay.
Collect All Available Evidence
The next thing you should do, assuming you are able to get out of the car and move around, is to collect evidence. This means photographing both cars and the overall scene. The insurance companies will utilize photographic and video evidence to help make a decision on fault.
You should also consider writing up a recollection of the accident as soon as possible. Getting into a car accident is a traumatic experience and can impact your ability to properly store memories surrounding the event. The sooner you record your story, the better.
The next step you should take is to exchange insurance information and contact information with the other parties in the accident. You will need this information in order to file a claim with your insurance company. You’ll also need this information in the event you decide to take legal action against the other party.
You cannot refuse to provide your information, and you should not offer to handle things “off the books.” Not reporting an accident to your insurance company is a violation of your contract and could cause problems down the road when you try to sell your car.
Seek Medical Assistance
If you need immediate medical assistance, you should do that before taking any further steps. Otherwise, it’s a good idea to see a medical professional after getting into a car accident to make sure you’re in good shape, especially if you start feeling pain a few days later.
Photograph injuries and bruising to use in the event you pursue legal action. You should also retain medical records related to the accident and track medical expenses.
Report the Accident
In the state of California, you need to report car accidents to two different agencies: your car insurance agency and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Report to Insurance
If either car sustained any type of damage, even slight damage, then you need to contact your insurance company. This is especially important if you are leasing your car or are still paying off your car.
Failure to report to your insurance company can result in cancellation of your policy, higher premiums, or a refusal to renew your policy. Remember, getting into an accident does not necessarily mean your premiums will go up, so be sure to report promptly.
Report to the DMV
In certain instances, you will need to report your accident to the DMV. You need to report to the DMV if there was property damage in the amount of $1,000 or more, or if anyone was injured, or if anyone was killed. The report must be filled out within 10 days of the accident.
You can fill out the Traffic Accident Report SR 1 online to make reporting easier.
Retain an Attorney
If you suffered significant physical or financial injury as a result of the accident, then it is critical that you retain a knowledgable attorney to represent you.
A personal injury attorney knows the ins and outs of the insurance claim process and can protect your interests when dealing with them. Insurance claims adjusters are notoriously difficult to work with. You’ll come out in a far better position if you retain an attorney than if you attempt to go through the process alone.
Need Help With Your Car Accident on California Roads?
Getting into a car accident on California roads can be a frightening experience. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be scary as you fear it may be. With a little medical care and the help of a great attorney, you’ll be well on your way to physical and financial recovery.
Do you need someone who will be an advocate for you after you get into a car accident? You’ve come to the right place. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.