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What to Do After a Car Accident


Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can feel overwhelming. It's a time when clear thinking and swift action can make a significant difference in the legal and financial outcomes of the incident. Whether a minor fender bender or a major collision, it's crucial to understand the steps you need to take immediately following an accident.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident

  1. Check for Injuries

The first step following an accident is to assess your own condition and then check on the condition of any other individuals in your vehicle for potential injuries. If someone is hurt, call 911 immediately for medical assistance.

  1. Move to Safety

If you are not seriously injured, carefully move your car to the side of the road. This helps prevent further accidents and avoids obstructing traffic. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers before you move your vehicle.

  1. Call 911

No matter the severity of the accident, it is imperative to call 911 to report the accident to the police of California Highway Patrol (CHP). This report will act as crucial documentation for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings that might follow.

  1. Exchange Information

While you wait for the police to arrive, gather and exchange important information with the other driver.

Information to exchange includes:

  • Names and phone numbers
  • Addresses
  • Driver's license numbers
  • License plate numbers and state
  • Vehicle identification numbers
  • Insurance companies, policy numbers, and expiration date

Rather than writing it down, photographing these documents can be more effective and ensure accuracy. Additionally, if there are other passengers or witnesses, make sure to collect their names, addresses, and phone numbers as well.

  1. Collect Evidence

Next, it's crucial to document the scene of the accident thoroughly. This provides vital evidence for insurance claims or any possible legal actions.

Use your phone to take photos of:

  • The accident scene from various angles
  • Damage to all vehicles involved
  • Street signs or landmarks to identify the location
  • Any injuries sustained
  • Weather conditions
  • Interior and exterior of vehicles

You may feel like you're taking too many photos, but having an abundance is preferable to having too little. Moreover, consider taking videos and experimenting with both flash and no-flash settings. For example, capturing the scene of an accident at night with flash can enhance visibility and details.

  1. Contact an Attorney

Be sure to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible, especially if there has been significant damage or injury.

For example, in California, it is mandatory to file an SR-1 report with the DMV after a collision. Although your lawyer can assist in this process, it's crucial to reach out to them promptly. The SR-1 report needs to be submitted to the DMV within 10 days if there are any injuries (regardless of severity), fatalities, or if property damage exceeds $1000. This is in addition to any reports you might make to the police, CHP, or your insurance company.

Overall, by working with a skilled lawyer, they can guide you through the complexities of insurance claims, examine details of your case, identify types of compensation you're entitled to, and much more.

What Not to Do After a Car Accident

After a car accident, it's crucial to not only follow certain steps but also to steer clear of the following mistakes:

  • Do not flee the scene: After a collision, do not keep driving. You must stop. Otherwise, you could be convicted of a "hit and run" and face severe penalties.
  • Do not refuse medical attention: Refusing medical attention could be harmful to your health and negatively impact your claim. For example, it could be argued that you are not as injured as you claim.
  • Do not admit fault: Do not say, "I'm sorry." While the statement can be out of politeness or concern, it can be used against you in a legal claim. Overall, it's best to avoid discussing fault with the other drivers and passengers.
  • Do not agree to forgo calling the police: An official report is essential for legal and insurance reasons.
  • Do not sign any documents: Unless it's for the police or your attorney, signing documents without proper guidance can be risky.
  • Do not post information online: Avoid posting about your accident on social media or on any other online platform. Insurance companies could gather this evidence and use it against you.

Contact Our Team for Assistance & Representation

Remember, the steps you take right after an accident are crucial and can significantly affect the outcome. If you or a loved one were in a car accident, don't hesitate to reach out to our car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Caroline J. Nasseri.

With over 25 years of experience, our team has the skills to provide you with comprehensive support, legal representation, and personalized advice. By choosing our team, you can rest assured that we can tirelessly work to advocate on your behalf and pursue the maximum compensation you are entitled to.

Don't navigate this stressful time alone. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you. Call (408) 912-2217 or send us an online message.