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Written by: Steven R. Clawson
| Read Time: 4 minutes

What to do after a car accident in California

Being in a car accident is miserable. You feel the rush of adrenaline and subsequent anxiety. Unless you’re a professional race car driver, some element of fear is likely to affect you as well. You’re probably experiencing pain from resulting injuries accompanied with the dread of having to either deal with getting your vehicle repaired or replaced.

If you’re like me, buying a car at a dealership is almost worse than the accident. But if you follow the steps in this guide, the process will be much more pleasant, and will preserve your rights to restitution.

Make Sure Everyone is Okay

Check your self, other passengers in your vehicle for injuries.  Be the bigger person and ask others involved in the accident if they’re OK as well. If anyone needs medical assistance, immediately call 911 and ask for an ambulance and the police.  It’s generally a good idea to have police respond to an accident. They typically will create a report with many important details and are likely to assess who they think is at fault.

Make Sure that You’re in a Safe Location

If possible, move your vehicle and any other vehicles to the shoulder or other safe place. If this is not possible or is dangerous, make sure that you and others involved are a safe distance away from passing vehicles.

Remain Calm

Please don’t admit fault, even if you think that you may be partially to blame.  Don’t insult or harass the other driver. This can be extremely dangerous.  I’ve had clients have guns fired at them for acting upset. If you feel like you might be in danger, call 911 and lock your doors.

Start Filming

Take video and photos of:

  • Your vehicle
  • The other driver’s vehicle
  • Any skid marks on the road, broken glass, the road or intersection itself, etc
  • Your Injuries
  • The other driver’s injuries
  • What the other driver says – if you have they admitting fault on camera, it could be very useful to your case
  • The other driver’s license plate number
  • The other driver’s insurance and driver’s license
  • Witness statements and contact info

Seek Medical Treatment

Even if you don’t feel badly injured, you should seek an evaluation from a medical professional. If you have any headaches, dizziness, or blurred vision, go to the emergency room an tell them that you’re experiencing concussion like symptoms.  The sooner you seek medical treatment the better. This is important for both your health and your case.

Start a Journal

It is very important for you to document what happened, what the collision was like, what parts of your body were impacted or injured, and what the other driver said to you. Many of these details will fade in the coming days and weeks.

It is also important to maintain this journal throughout your treatment process as it will help shed light on how the accident and your injuries impacted you and your family. If there were any witnesses at the scene, make sure that you document what they said, along with their contact info.

Contact the DMV

You are required by law to contact the California DMV within 10 days of an accident if there is more than $1,000 in damage to your vehicle, or if someone is injured.

Contact Your Insurance

Call your insurance to inform that you were involved in an accident. It is best to inform them as soon as possible so that they can work on defending you. If you made a recording of the other driver admitting fault, the video will certainly help to further your cause that you were not at fault.

I can’t tell you how many times a client will tell me that at the scene of the accident, the other driver admitted they were at fault or that they were on their phone. But then a few hours or days later, when the gravity of the damages start stacking up, they will almost always say that the victim was at fault. I’ve heard the people at fault say things like ‘Well you don’t really have to stop at a stop sign,’ or ‘I only rear ended them because they stopped.’

Get an Attorney

I know that most people hate dealing with lawyers, but the only way that you’ll get a fair shake with getting restitution for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering is with a good attorney.  The insurance companies’ entire business model depends on charging as much as possible for your monthly premiums while paying as little as possible to injury victims.

They have practically infinite resources and will lie and grind you into accepting a low-ball offer.  A good attorney will aggressively advocate on your behalf and work on negotiating a fair settlement.  If that isn’t possible, then you’ll certainly need an attorney to litigate your claim.

Injured in a Car Wreck? Get Help From Our Car Accident Attorney

If you’ve been in an accident and have suffered injuries, please feel free to reach out to us to speak with our experienced auto accident attorneys.  We offer free consultations, with actual, local attorneys.  There’s no pressure and the consults can be as quick as 10 minutes.

If we decide to take your case, there’s no hourly rates to worry about and no money out-of-pocket.  We work on contingency, which means that we don’t get paid until you get paid.  What do you have to lose? Contact us today.

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