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Lena Melkonian, Esq.
What To Do After A Car Accident

What To Do After a Car Accident

With so many cars on the roadways, and with so many drivers on their cellular telephones or simply not paying attention to how they are driving, car accidents are a very common occurrence. To help in case you are involved in an accident, here are some tips:

A car, bike or truck accident can happen to anyone at any time. Knowing what to do and the steps to take following an accident are important because the moments after a car accident are usually confusing and alarming.

The following tips and information will help protect you and your case if you are ever involved in an automobile accident. Additionally, the driver of a motor vehicle must comply with certain laws and duties if an accident occurs. 

1.  You have the duty to stop your vehicle immediately if you are involved in an automobile accident that causes any damage to another’s property or injures another person.

2.  Never leave the accident scene if you are involved in any kind of automobile accident otherwise you will be considered a hit and run driver.

(Under California law, you may be charged with a misdemeanor if  you a) leave the scene of an accident; b) without first identifying yourself to the other party/parties involved in the accident, and c) another’s property was damaged in the accident.  You may be charged with a felony hit and run if another person is injured in the accident even if you were not at fault for the accident, regardless of the amount of the damage or the seriousness of the injury.)

3. Immediately call for medical help if someone is injured – whether the injured person is in your vehicle or in the other vehicle(s).

4.  Stay calm, do not get angry, and NEVER admit fault for the accident, even if you believe you were at fault.  The extent of your conversation should be to determine whether anyone is hurt, if medical help is needed, and to exchange contact and insurance information.

5. Call the police since they will document the accident and gather important facts that may be needed later for your claim/legal purposes.  For minor accidents, or if there are no serious injuries, the police sometimes may not come to the scene.

6.  Make sure you exchange your contact and insurance information with the driver(s) of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident.

7. BE SURE to get the other driver(s) contact and insurance information, including their name, address, telephone number(s), driver’s license number, the make, model and license plate number of their vehicle. Take a picture of their driver’s license if they allow it.

8. ONLY if it is safe, photograph the vehicles involved in the accident at their point of rest before any vehicle is moved, whether or not the police come to the accident scene.

a) Take as many photographs as possible from different angles to help support your version of how the accident occurred.  Be sure to take a photograph of the other vehicle(s) license plate.

b) Take photographs of the highway/roadway – the location – of where the accident occurred. 

Under no circumstances should you walk on the highway to take pictures, or for any other reason, if it is not safe to do so.

9.  If the vehicles are drivable, and the police will not come to the scene, and once you have taken photographs (only if safe), move the vehicles to the side of the road and exchange information (see number 6 above.)

10.   Do not argue with the driver of the other vehicle(s) involved in the accident, or anyone else. The less you say, the better.

11.  Look for any witnesses to the accident who are at the scene. Get the witness’ name, address and telephone number. Witnesses are important to your case, even you believe the other driver is 100% at fault. A favorable witness helps prove liability (that the other driver was at fault.)

12.  Get the names and contact information of any passengers in the other involved vehicle(s). 

13.  Look around to see if any video cameras are placed in the streets or at any businesses in the immediate area of the accident. If yes, ask the business to provide you a copy of the video footage.  Offer to pay for the cost to copy the video, or use your cellular phone’s video feature to take a video of the business video as they play it back for you.  Many business do not keep videos for long.  Therefore, getting a copy of the video immediately is important.

14.  Take notes, and write down all facts and details about the accident, and the persons involved in the accident while your memory is fresh.

15.  Speak to an attorney who handles personal injury/accident cases IMMEDIATELY.  DO NOT CALL OR SPEAK TO ANYONE ELSE before talking to an attorney. Let your attorney contact the insurance companies for you.

16.  Do NOT give a recorded statement to any insurance company or anyone else without your attorney being present with you.

17.  If you feel pain or feel injuries after you have left the scene of the accident, seek medical attention immediately. It is important to document your injuries to help prove your case and seek compensation of your medical bills. 
Stay Safe. 

But, if you are ever involved in an accident, call Lena Law, APC 626-584-0043 for a free consultation.  

California law has a two years Statute of Limitations for personal injuries from automobile accident cases.