What To Do After a Car Accident in California
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Auto Accident information resource and best practice guide for what to do if you are involved in a car, truck or motorcycle accident in the State of California.
If you’re involved in a car, truck or motorcycle accident in California, you need to be prepared to act responsibly and in accordance with State law. Furthermore, you need to know what steps you can take in order to protect yourself in there has been an injury or death due to the accident.
FIRST AND FOREMOST
As a responsible driver, you must never leave the scene of an accident. Leaving an accident scene can result in having your driving privileges revoked, your license suspended, or criminal charges for “hit and run” being filed.
Notify 911 to report any injuries and call for medical assistance. If the accident did not result in any injuries, inform the local California police, sheriff or highway patrol.
IN THE CASE OF INJURY
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to stay calm. Call or wait for help, and do not attempt to move if you are unable to do so. If you or ANYONE else has been injured in the accident it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT that you get in contact with an auto accident lawyer as soon as possible.
See Auto Accident Injuries for more information.
If you are involved in an accident in California, you are required to provide certain information to the other parties involved. Likewise, fellow motorists, passengers or pedestrians involved in the accident must share similar information with you. This information will be needed if you are required to file a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California.
Also, it is often wise to ask for the information of witnesses to the accident just in case you need to have them testify at a later date. The key information to exchange in the aftermath of an accident includes:
- Name, address and contact details
- Valid CA driver license number
- License plate number of the vehicles involved
- Auto insurance or other evidence of financial responsibility for the motorists involved.
It may also be useful to take photographs at the scene of the accident. If you hit an unattended vehicle, you must make an effort to find the owner or driver, and follow these same procedures. If you are unable to locate the owner of an unattended vehicle, you are required to leave a note indicating your name and contact information, and a brief description of the accident.
REPORTING AN ACCIDENT TO THE CALIFORNIA DMV
- You are required to complete and submit a Report within 10 days of an accident, irrespective of who was at fault, if any of the following conditions apply:
- If the damage caused to any vehicle or property exceeds $750.
- If the accident caused injury or death.
The report may be filed by your insurance agent, attorney or any designated person on your behalf. However, in the following cases the accident need not be reported:
- If the accident occurred on your own property and did not involve any other person, or did not result in death or injury.
- If the accident involves vehicles that are not required to be registered by the law and does not result in death or injury.
- If you fail to report an accident to the California DMV, you may have your license suspended. In the event that another driver offers to pay for damages and asks you not to report an accident, you are still required to file the report in any of the situations outlined above.
- Your report must include detailed and current information regarding your insurance coverage and financial responsibility. The DMV will cross-check this information with the insurance company shown on the report. If you did not have liability insurance when the accident occurred, your driving privileges may be suspended. You can deliver the original to your local California DMV office or mail it directly to:
Department of Motor Vehicles Financial Responsibility Mail Station J237 P.O. Box 942884 Sacramento, CA 94284-0884.
- Notify your auto insurance company if you are involved in an accident.
- See also Auto Accident Injuries.
- In the event that you are injured in an auto accident, consider contacting a personal injury attorney. Retain copies of any medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident.
- See also Driving Record and Driving School.