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What To Do After a Car Accident in California

Posted in On June 14, 2024

When a car accident occurs, it is normal to feel shaken up, especially if you did not cause that accident but instead were suddenly hit by another driver. Knowing what to do after a car accident in California is critical to protecting your safety and your ability to receive compensation after the accident.

Here are several steps from the Dana Point car accident lawyer at Wunderli Injury Law to take after a car accident in California, giving you a guideline of what to try to accomplish at each stage.

Your Safety Is Paramount 

Safety should be the most important factor in every situation. That means that, right after the car accident, if you are not in immediate danger, stay where you are and call 911. If you are on a roadway where traffic is passing, do not leave the vehicle, but try to move to the side of the road if it is safe to do so.

Check on others involved in the accident and alert the dispatcher of any injuries present. If you cannot move your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights and wait for the police to arrive.

Gather Information from the Other Party

In California, you must provide your personal identification information, including your insurance information, to the other party whether you were injured or not. This includes exchanging information such as:

  • Insurance company names and policy numbers
  • Driver’s license numbers
  • Name and full contact information of all involved
  • Vehicle registration information

Document the Accident Fully

Your next step should be to gather as much information as you can about the accident. That includes:

  • Take photos of the cars involved, including license plates and the make and model, if possible
  • Take photos of the damage to your car and the other vehicle
  • Photos of surrounding areas to document the location
  • Detail the road conditions, traffic signs and signals, and any other data about the location that could be valuable

Report the Accident

Provide the responding police officer with information about the accident, only offering facts. Do not make statements such as “I think I had a green light” or “I am sorry I did not look.” Be sure to provide any information about what you experienced, such as the driver striking you while you were stopped. If you saw the driver using their phone, document that as well.

Under California law, all instances that involve an injury or death or have $1000 worth of presumed property damage require reporting to the local police department. If there is only minor property damage, it is still a good idea to report the case, especially if you did not cause the accident.

Additional Steps to Take

  • Alert your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible
  • Get all of the medical attention you need, including follow-up care
  • Avoid social media or posting information about the incident

At the same time, you should also establish contact with a car accident attorney in California if the other party was responsible for the accident and there is substantial damage.