According to the California Department of Insurance, what you should do at the scene of a car accident includes taking the following steps:
- Stop your car immediately
- Move your car to a safe location, if possible
- Call an ambulance if anyone is injured
- Call the police to complete a crash report
- Exchange information with the other drivers
- Get contact information from any witnesses
- Take pictures to supplement your evidence file
You may also want to call a personal injury law firm after a car accident caused by another party’s negligence. A lawyer may be able to start taking steps right away to help establish your potential right to compensation.
Insist on a Complete Car Accident Report
According to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), a car accident report is mandatory if anyone in either vehicle is injured or killed or if over $1,000 of property damage occurs.
Your car accident report may become a useful piece of evidence in your personal injury case. Its objective and impartial details may help substantiate your claim.
A car accident report may tell you or your legal team:
- Whether road and weather conditions may have contributed to causing the accident
- Contact information for the at-fault driver and accident witnesses
- Where each car was positioned after the accident and where each car was impacted
- Whether or not alcohol, drugs, cell phone use, or other distractions played a role in the accident
Supplement Your Evidence File with Photos and Accident-Related Documents
Whether you are pursuing compensation for your damages via an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit, photos you take at the accident scene may help support your case. If possible, take photos of:
- Your car from a variety of angles
- The at-fault driver’s car from a variety of angles
- Traffic signs, speed limit signs, and other on-scene traffic data
You should also take photos of the accident scene, especially any visible road defects that might have contributed to the accident.
Complete your case file with additional supporting evidence, including medical records and bills, mechanic repair bills, and reliable value estimates if your vehicle requires replacing.
If you decide to work with a car accident lawyer on your case, your legal team might be able to request residential, business, and traffic camera photos and footage that captures all or part of the accident. They may also be able to hire accident reconstruction experts to testify in your defense.
Get Medical Treatment After a Car Accident
If you did not leave the scene of the accident for emergency medical treatment, you should have your injuries diagnosed and treated by a doctor as soon as possible.
A doctor can help your personal injury case by creating evidence in your medical record that the car accident was the cause of your injuries. If you wait too long to receive treatment, the responsible party’s insurance company may try to argue that your injuries could have been caused by something else.
Identify the Cause of Your Accident
Getting to the bottom of your car accident is an important part of proving fault and negligence. According to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), the five leading causes of car accidents include:
- Following too closely
- Not stopping at red lights
- Intoxication from alcohol or drugs
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Illegal left turns
A lawyer may be able to help you prove the cause of the accident that led to your injuries. Insisting on a car accident report, obtaining witness statements and contact information, and taking photos at the accident scene may help assign financial liability.
The Deadline to Sue in California
In California, the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1 generally imposes a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits. If you do not comply with this legal filing deadline, you might lose your ability to legally compel compensation from the at-fault driver.
If you are considering working with a lawyer on your case, you may want to contact them as soon as possible after your accident. Early involvement may help ensure your legal team has time to comply with the legal deadlines in your case.
Contact the Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices Today
The Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices represents car accident victims in Los Angeles. We work on a contingency fee basis with no upfront payments required.
To speak to a member of our team about what you should do at the scene of a car accident, call the Jacoby & Meyers Law Offices today at (888) 522-6291. We offer free, no-obligation consultations to Los Angeles car accident victims.