A Complete Legal Guide to Resolving a Car Crash Accident

A Complete Legal Guide to Resolving a Car Crash Accident

In a vehicular accident, steps taken after the collision can determine whether your auto insurance can reimburse your medical bills and car repairs and your pain and suffering damages. It can also help you avoid violating California law and getting your license suspended.

Even if you caused it, some of your steps after the collision could affect your legal rights.

Per our auto accident lawyers in California, the following steps must be undertaken if you are involved in a car collision or fender-bender.

Step 1: Never Flee the Scene of an Accident

Any auto accident lawyer can’t help you if you leave an accident scene as that’s grounds for a hit and run. Plus, it makes you look guilty.

Suppose someone was injured or killed, or if the injuries or death resulted in property damage, always remain there until the police come. When you leave the scene, identify yourself to the parties involved, whether or not they are injured. You could be charged up to $10,000 and even be incarcerated for a year if you don’t!

Now, what if the other driver(s) fled the scene? Contact the police. You could file a claim against their insurance company if they were found later.

Or you can seek reimbursement from your own insurance company if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage or comprehensive and collision coverage.

The last two explanations are why it's better to remain at an accident scene than flee it.

Step 2: Immediately Get Medical Help for Everyone Present

When injured in a car accident and need immediate medical assistance, do not wait for the police. Call 911 to get free, trained help from the nearest emergency response unit.

Now, if someone else is taking you to the Emergency Room (ER), make sure you leave your contact information with them first if you are able. Make sure they have your name, phone number, andaddress, or at least the name of the hospital you're headed to.

This would also be an excellent time to contact your auto accident lawyer so they can help you with legal documentation.

Step 3: Move to a Less Busy Area

When it’s safe to do so, move your car to the shoulder of the road or somewhere safe. Getting a vehicle out away from regular traffic can prevent further injuries to people. If it’s not safe to move the car, leave it where it is and wait for law enforcement.

If there happened to be someone who was killed or seriously injured in the crash, call 911 unless the vehicles pose a significant hazard.

Step 4: Get the Other Vehicle’s and Passenger’s Information

Identifying the other car(s)/driver(s) involved will help you report the accident to your insurance company and police as required by law. Write down or photograph the following information:

●     License plate numbers of every other vehicle involved in the accident.

●     The involved cars' year, make, model, and color.

●    If possible, the VIN of each other vehicle involved in the accident (usually listed on a driver’s insurance card and registration). But be careful: touching another person’s car without permission is bad.

This information will also be of great help to your auto accident lawyer.

Step 5: Exchange Information

Make sure you can get insurance and registration information from the other driver. Ask to see their license as well. Take pictures and write down their license plate number if you can.

If a law enforcement officer arrives at the accident scene, get their name and write it down. Freely provide your info to the other driver, regardless of who was at fault.

Now, if you hit an unoccupied car, here’s what you need to do:

Find the owner of the vehicle and give them your driver’s license, your registration, or

●    Leave a note on the car or property with your name and address explaining the situation. You must give the information to either the police or the California Department of Transportation, depending on whether the collision occurred in a city or unincorporated territory.

●    Your note should include all of the information you can gather about the incident, but try to make it as brief as possible. Include your name and address in case you need more contact info later.

●    Remember to include directions to where the incident happened so that you can report it if necessary.

Step 6: Don’t Say Anything, Like Admitting Fault, without Your Auto Accident Lawyer Present

It is essential not to admit fault to the other driver even if you think the accident was your fault. You may be wrong or partially to blame under California’s “shared fault / pure comparative negligence” law. The problem could have been bad road design, a construction company’s negligence, or even the car manufacturer or service provider’s fault.

Even apologizing can be taken out of context and used against you. Instead, you should ask whether they need medical care or if they are injured. If the other drivers pressure you to accept blame for the accident, tell them politely to call your insurance company.

When talking about injuries, you may be tempted to tell the other driver that there is nothing wrong. But you can’t do that. Soft-tissue injuries are not always immediately apparent, even though they may still be causing you pain.

Saying you are not hurt gives the other drivers' insurance companies an excuse to deny your claim or offer you less than it should. That doesn’t mean you should lie. A lie can come back to undermine your credibility if caught. You can simply say you don’t know and will be seeking medical attention if necessary.

Step 7: Photograph Everything

If it’s safe to do so, pictures of the accident scene can help your auto accident lawyer or adjuster determine what happened. Focus on getting photos of all of the vehicle damage and any injuries. If you can’t get pictures at the scene, return as soon as possible with a camera or cell phone to document the damage. Photos can even help your auto accident lawyer or insurance adjuster better understand what happened.

Closing Statement

We can sum up these steps into a few important reminders:

●    Never flee from an accident scene, especially if you directly or indirectly caused it.

●    Get proper documentation for your version of events.

●    Never speak without your lawyer present. 

Following these tips ensure that you get adequately represented and compensated for your troubles. Just because an accident happened, it doesn’t mean anyone’s fault. Other factors could have caused it, as you can later find out — only if you do obey this guide to the letter.

Contact Mendez & Sanchez Law if you need the best auto accident lawyer from Los Angeles by your side. We’re here to help you through the complex legal landscape as we pursue the compensation you deserve. Call us for your personal injury, auto accident, worker's compensation, slip and fall, or other legal needs today!

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