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Steps to Take Immediately After A Car Accident

June 29, 2024
Pathway Law Firm

After a car accident in California, you must follow specific steps and requirements to comply with state laws, ensure your safety, protect your legal rights, and facilitate the insurance claims process. Here is a brief summary of what to do immediately after a car accident. 

1. Ensure Safety And Check For Injuries

If it’s safe and possible, move your vehicle out of traffic to prevent further accidents. Use hazard lights to alert other drivers and pull onto a shoulder or the side of the road.

Immediately assess yourself and others for injuries. Call 911 immediately if there are any injuries. Even if you don’t think you are injured, see a doctor for a thorough examination. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent.

2. Call the Police

Immediately report to the California Highway Patrol or local police. Use the SR-1 Accident Reporting Form available on the California DMV website if the accident caused injuries, death, or property damage over $1,000. Ensure all details are accurate and complete when filling out the form or whenever talking to law enforcement.

3. Exchange Information

By law, unless you are physically or mentally unable to do so because of the accident, you must exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident, including:

  • Full name and contact information
  • Driver’s license number
  • Vehicle registration details
  • Insurance company name and policy number
  • Make, model, and color of the vehicle

4. Document the Scene

Take photos and videos of the accident scene, vehicle damages, license plates, and any relevant road conditions or traffic signals. Write down or document details such as the time, date, location, and accident description on your phone.

5. Notify Your Insurance Company

Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Provide all necessary information and documentation. Be sure to cooperate fully. Be honest and detailed in your account. Avoid admitting fault until the investigation is complete.

6. Keep Detailed Records

Maintain a file with all relevant documents, including the police report, medical bills, repair estimates, and insurance correspondence. Keep records of all expenses related to the accident, such as medical treatments and transportation costs.

7. Understand Your Legal Rights and Responsibilities

California is an at-fault state, meaning the driver responsible for the accident is liable for damages. If there are significant damages, injuries, or disputes about fault, consider consulting a personal injury attorney to protect your rights and ensure fair compensation.

8. Follow Up on Medical Treatment and Insurance Claims

Continue with any recommended medical treatments and keep detailed records of your recovery. Stay in contact with your insurance adjuster and provide any additional information requested promptly.

Contact a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney

By adhering to these steps and legal requirements, you can effectively manage the aftermath of a car accident in California, ensuring compliance with state laws, safeguarding your rights, and streamlining the insurance claims process. 

At Pathway Law Firm,  we have many years of combined experience successfully guiding victims of car accidents, including those involving catastrophic injuries such as spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries, through the legal process. Contact us today.