What to Do After an Accident in California

California's busy highways make it a state with 3,104 people killed and 223,128 people injured in traffic collisions in 2013. Whether you're a driver that causes an accident or a passenger involved in an accident that you had no fault in, you need to follow the appropriate steps to protect your rights after an accident.

The steps you'll want to take immediately following an accident, include:

  1. Call 911 to report the accident, or call the local police if no injuries are apparent.
  2. Obtain the name, number and address of all witnesses and drivers involved. Obtain license plate numbers for all vehicles involved in the accident.
  3. If safe and there aren't further concerns of injury, take photos of the vehicles involved in the accident. You'll want to take photos of the accident scene, roadway and anything else of importance following the accident.
  4. Write down the events that led to the accident in detail and reiterate these details to the officer who is present at the accident.
  5. Contact your insurance company or your agent immediately to file your claim.
  6. Report your accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if damages or injuries exceed $750. Failure to report the incident to the DMW may result in suspension of your license.

Accident scenes are filled with emotions and tension. There's risk of ""permanent injuries and loss of income are often the unwanted consequences that follow a car accident,"" states the Law Offices of Zappenttini & Bradley.

You'll want to avoid:

  • Arguments with the opposing driver or anyone at the scene of the accident.
  • Telling your side of the story to the other driver – save your story for the police.
  • Don't sign anything from the opposing driver offering to pay your deductible.

The best thing that you can do in these situations is to remain calm and wait for the authorities to come to the scene of the accident. If you're injured, you should wait for help and avoid any actions that may lead to further injury.

If the vehicle is unsafe, you'll want to exit the vehicle and move to safety.

Your safety and the safety of passengers is more important than any of the steps outlined above. If a person suffered from severe injuries, it's best to wait for an ambulance to move the person from their position. Your actions can cause more harm than good.

You'll want to make a police report following an accident even if the damages are minor. When possible, you should not move your vehicle from the scene of the accident until the report is made or the police arrive at the scene of the accident.

Of course, you'll need to move the vehicle in some scenarios where the position of the vehicle poses a risk to other drivers.

If you were injured during the accident, you'll want to seek medical attention. Oftentimes, it can take hours or days until a person notices the extent of the injuries that occurred. Waiting too long to seek medical attention can result in:

  • Denied claims
  • Injuries progressing further than necessary

It's in your best interest to have an exam performed and to consult with a doctor if you're injured. Fast treatment will allow you to recover from your injuries faster and ensure that the progression of injuries is not an issue.

Pain that persists should be treated by a doctor and documented.

If you suffer from injuries or pain, you may want to consult with a legal professional to pursue legal recourse. Your lawyer will advise you on the appropriate steps to take to safeguard your rights and ensure the highest possible settlement for your injuries.

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