According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the state of California had a total of 3,847 fatalities related to vehicle collisions in the year 2020 alone. Car accidents happen daily, but by following these key steps you can help yourself in case you find yourself in one.
Check if everyone is safe
Look around you to see if everyone is safe. If someone is injured or hurt, do not wait for the police to arrive. Call for medical assistance at once.
Do not attempt a hit-and-run
In California, fleeing the scene of an accident if someone was hurt or killed automatically turns the scene into a crime. Remain on the scene unless you require emergency medical attention. The penalties for a hit-and-run include incarceration and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Get to a safe place
If the vehicle’s location poses a threat to other vehicles, move it out of the travel lane. Safety should be your utmost priority, but you should also avoid compromising the evidence as much as possible.
Collect evidence and witness testimonials
You can gather evidence by taking photos of the scene of the accident and by asking for the contact information of witnesses around the area. Their testimonies will be beneficial, especially if either driver wants to pursue a personal injury case.
Record as much information as you can. Take photos of the license plate, the actual vehicle and, if possible, the driver’s license of the other driver involved. Every single bit of information and evidence may be significant.
Report the accident to the California DMV
If the car accident killed or injured someone, report the incident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as soon as possible. Failure to report within 10 days may make you look guilty.
Do not say you are okay
Even when you think you are okay and you did not sustain any injuries from the car accident, never tell the other driver. Their insurance provider may use it as an excuse to deny your claim or give you a lower amount than you deserve.
Do not admit that it was your fault
Whatever happens, do not apologize for the accident and do not admit to causing it. It takes two to tango, and California comparative negligence laws state that both parties could be at fault. Let us say something distracted you for a moment; for all we know, the other driver was speeding or texting.
You deserve as much of a chance to defend yourself. Nobody ever wants to be in a car accident, but you can at least try to prevent further costs or damages.