As of 2011 the California Department of Motor Vehicles reported that there were over 31 million registered vehicles in the state of California. With so many drivers on the roads at any given moment, your chances of being involved in a collision at least once in your lifetime are rather high. At the Ghozland Law Firm we have dealt with countless auto accident cases over the years and we want to provide you with important information that can help you prepare mentally and financially in case you’re ever involved in an accident with a negligent driver. We encourage you to carefully review the following tips that we have provided on our car accident checklist so you can know what to do if you are ever in a car accident.
Stop Your Vehicle
Stop your vehicle, and if possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road in order to prevent further accidents from occurring. Turn off your vehicle’s ignition. If you get nervous and flee the scene of an accident you are in violation of the law and can face criminal charges.
It’s imperative that you remain calm in order to think clearly and act responsibly. When people get nervous they can say or do things that they later regret and that can ultimately harm their situation.
Check for Injuries
Check for injuries immediately, and if you are physically able, check for others’ injuries as well and this includes passengers in your vehicle, the driver or passengers of the other vehicle involved and any motorcyclists or pedestrians that may have been injured in the crash. If someone was hurt, call 911 and request that an ambulance be dispatched to the scene immediately. After an accident it can be a life or death situation for those injured and it’s critically important that an ambulance be called right away if one is needed.
Do Not Admit Fault
Whatever you do, do NOT admit fault, even if you think you are responsible. While it may be human nature or a natural response to say “I’m sorry” and say that you were in the wrong, this is the last thing you want to do after an accident. Don’t accept responsibility, don’t agree to pay any damages, and don’t insinuate in any way that you were at fault. Doing so can only harm your claim later on and it’s the insurance company’s job to determine fault and not the driver’s.
Immediately after the accident, call the police. The police will secure the scene, they will prevent further accidents from occurring, make sure that any debris is removed and they will file an accident report. If there were witnesses the police will take their statements as well. You will need to obtain a copy of the police report and forward it to your insurance company.
Document the Scene
Since almost all cellular phones have picture and video taking capabilities, you can utilize these devices to document the scene of the accident. Take pictures of where the vehicles landed, property damage, skid marks, injuries sustained and any other relevant factors that may have played a role in the cause of the accident.
Exchange Information With the Other Driver
Following an accident, you should always exchange the following information with the other drivers involved: name, phone number, address, email address, insurance company info and policy number, driver’s license number, and license plate number.
Understand Your Insurance Policy
It’s important to know what your insurance policy does and does not cover. We recommend that all of our clients carry underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage and plenty of it. It’s also important to know your policy limits and whether or not it will cover a rental car and the cost of towing.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
You need to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible following the accident. An attorney will know exactly how and where to pursue compensation for damages and an attorney may be able to help you obtain compensation in a wide range of circumstances that you never would have known about our thought to look.