While it can be difficult to think clearly immediately following a traumatic car accident, it’s important to take the necessary steps to protect your rights after a crash. California has unique laws and regulations surrounding car accidents, and drivers in this state should read this guide to ensure they know how to protect themselves after a crash.
Reporting an Accident
In California, drivers involved in an accident must stop at the scene of the crash, check if anyone has been injured, provide aid to anyone who has been injured, and exchange information with the other involved driver(s). California Vehicle Code § 20008 requires drivers involved in an accident resulting in injuries or death to any person to file a report to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or, if the accident occurred in a city, to the city’s local police department, within 24 hours of the incident. If a law enforcement officer arrived at the scene, however, he or she will write a report and you will not be required to file a separate report.
California drivers must also report an accident to the DMV within 10 days if it involved death or injury of a person, or property damage exceeding $1,000. This report should include the names and addresses of anyone involved in the accident, the time and location of the accident, identifying information about the drivers including birth date and driver’s license information, insurance information, and an explanation of damage and injuries.
Protecting Your Rights
If you’re involved in an accident, follow the steps below to protect your rights after a crash:
- Report the incident to CHP or the city’s local police department. If you were not at-fault in the accident, a police report can solidify your case.
- Exchange information with the other driver. Get the other driver’s name, driver’s license, license plate number, and insurance information. It’s important not to admit fault; even an apology can later be used against you.
- Take photos of the accident. Make sure to capture the location of the accident, the position of the vehicles at point of impact, the damage to both vehicles, the damage to anything else at the scene, traffic signs and signals in the area, and any injuries.
- Check the area for witnesses. Get information of any witnesses at the scene. If there are no witnesses in the area, see if there are any traffic or surveillance cameras nearby.
- Write a description of how the event occurred. Note the date, time, and location of the incident. Include any external factors that may have contributed to the accident, like malfunctioning traffic lights or uneven pavement.
- Seek medical attention. It’s important to seek medical attention for any injuries. Some injuries, like whiplash, may not seem bothersome at first, but could develop into major issues later. Keep a copy of all medical expenses and treatment.
- Contact a lawyer. Don’t let your rights be violated. Make sure to hire an experienced personal injury or car accident attorney to fight for your cause.
Hire the Right Lawyer
Our experienced Oxnard car accident attorneys have secured millions for clients involved in motor vehicle accidents. Don’t pay for the recklessness or irresponsibility of another driver. Our team has served clients in Southern California since 1968, and we’re prepared to lend the effective advocacy you need and deserve.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, don’t wait. Contact The Schurmer Firm at (805) 470-1628 for a free case consultation today!