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What to Do After a Car Accident in California

California is known as a “driving state” due to the sprawling nature of its largest cities. Most residents drive rather than take public transportation to work and daily activities. With California’s busy roadways and large urban meccas, many car accidents occur daily, with an annual average of 250,000 accidents per year.

California is a fault-based car accident state where it matters who causes an accident. The person at fault in a car accident is liable for compensating others for their damages, like property damage, medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This compensation comes from their auto insurance policy. Even if both drivers share fault, they may still recover a portion of their losses minus their percentage of fault. Because of this comparative negligence insurance system, there are important ways California drivers can protect their physical and financial recovery after an accident.

What to Do at the Scene of A Car Accident in California

There are important steps to take at the scene of a car accident to document evidence as well as ensure that you and others receive the emergency medical attention needed. If you are so seriously injured that you’re unable to move safely, you may be able to do little other than wait in place for help. However, if you can use your phone without causing further injury or hand it to an uninjured passenger to use for you, it becomes a critical tool. Use a cell phone to do the following after a car accident in California:

  • First, call 911 to report the accident and request emergency responders
  • Then, snap photos of the damaged vehicles
  • Take photos of the entire accident scene, being sure to include anything relevant to the accident like signal lights, an intersection, or traffic signs. If a damaged road or construction debris caused the accident, be sure to photograph it
  • Take photos of any visible injuries to prove they occurred in the accident
  • Record a statement about what you remember of the accident since trauma may fade the memory later
  • Never admit fault at the accident scene and avoid saying anything that could be construed as admitting fault including saying, “I’m sorry.”

Police officers and emergency responders must quickly remove vehicles after an accident to restore the flow of traffic. This quickly destroys critical evidence of fault in a car accident. By taking photographs, you can preserve evidence important to your personal injury claim.

What to Do in the Days After a California Car Accident

Always go to the hospital immediately after a car accident, either in an ambulance or by arranging transportation if you don’t have life-threatening injuries. At the hospital, tell the doctor about every symptom, even if it seems minor. Ask for a thorough medical evaluation and a detailed medical report listing your injuries, the doctor’s recommendations for your treatment, and your prognosis for recovery. Then, follow the doctor’s instructions carefully. Make it to every appointment and undergo any recommended treatment or procedures. Be sure to save all medical bills and receipts for related expenses.

Speak to a California Car Accident Attorney Before Communicating With Insurance Companies

Insurance companies are in business to make profits and typically prioritize their profits over paying out on claims. The insurance adjuster assigned to your California car accident claim may attempt to assign you a larger than due percentage of fault in the accident so they have to pay you less. It’s important to hire an attorney after a car accident and then direct all calls to your Van Nuys car accident lawyer.

Avoid posting anything on social media until after your car accident claim becomes final and you receive your compensation for damages.