So you’ve had an accident, and you’re wondering what steps you should take next. Driving in California can be risky, especially on busy highways. Whether you’ve experienced a small or major accident, knowing what to do next can help you prevent costly and serious consequences.
But don’t worry, that’s why we’re here. The following steps can help you determine how to get your car repair or medical bill paid and keep you out of trouble with the law. Even if the state of California finds you at fault for a car accident, you should still take the same route toward resolving the issue.
Here are six crucial steps to take after a car accident in California.
Remain on The Scene
Whatever you do, never leave the scene of an auto accident. If someone suffered an injury or worse, remain at the scene until the police arrive unless you need medical attention immediately. Leaving the scene can result in serious consequences, like hit-and-run penalties that can land you one year or more in jail or a $10,000 fine.
However, if there’s only property damage, you can legally leave the scene AFTER identifying yourself to the other parties involved. Failure to do so could result in a misdemeanor hit-and-run, which can include $1,000 or up to six months in jail.
Take Pictures of The Accident Scene
If the area is safe, taking photos of the accident scene and the vehicles involved can help determine what happened—giving the adjuster and lawyer more evidence. This can also prevent someone from making false claims. However, if the area isn’t safe to take photos of or you have to leave due to injuries, ask someone to return to the accident location and take pictures for you.
This also includes taking photos of any bodily injuries and damages to your vehicle. The more evidence you have documented, the better chance you have that your lawyer and insurance company will give the proper accommodations.
Get More Information About The Other Vehicle
Once everyone has calmed down, and those who sought medical attention have received it, it’s time to gather additional information about the other drivers. California law requires you to report an accident within 10 days if someone was:
- The accident resulted in over $1,000 in damages
You should have their:
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Year, make, model, and color of the vehicle
- The license plate number
You need this information to report the accident to the DMV successfully. However, to receive someone’s VIN, you need consent from the other driver.
Notify Your Insurance Company
A crucial step after a car accident in California is to notify your insurance company. California is one of the only states prohibiting auto insurers from raising the rates if the accident wasn’t your fault. You should report the accident to your insurance company even if you’re at fault because you could face canceled auto insurance or a suspended license otherwise.