What to Do When Injured in a Car Accident
Auto accidents are a common occurrence in San Jose. In 2018 California was listed as one of the top two states for auto accident fatalities. Following an automobile accident, first do what you must, then do what you should.
Do What You Must
California has specific laws regarding car accidents and a motorist’s duty when involved in one. Failure to comply with these regulations is considered to be a criminal act. If you are involved in an accident with property damage only, California Vehicle Code 2002 requires the following:
- The driver to stop immediately at the nearest safe location
- The driver to try to locate the owner of the damaged property and provide them with the driver’s name and address
- If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, to provide the owner’s personal contact information
- Although not mandatory, if requested, drivers must provide vehicle registration and driver’s license information
Additionally, in the event the property owner is not at home, or cannot be located, the code also states a driver must leave his or her contact information in a conspicuous location, and then notify the CHP. Failure to do this can be considered a hit and run offense.
California drivers who fail to comply with this mandate may be convicted of a misdemeanor and subject to:
- Imprisonment in the county jail for up to six months
- A fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000)
- Or both imprisonment and fine
Any accident resulting in injury, death, or property damage in excess of $1,000 must be reported to the California Department Of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the incident. Failure to comply can result in a suspension of the motorist’s driver’s license.
Do What You Should
A car accident seemingly comes out of nowhere, and all too often the sudden impact and unexpected nature of the moment can leave drivers disoriented and confused. Now would be the time to remember everything matters. Every action, every comment, and every detail can be important and impactful in obtaining a successful financial recovery.
As soon as physically able notify law enforcement, and if drivers or passengers in either vehicle are in immediate distress, request emergency medical personnel.
Keep things in perspective. Not all injuries are evident immediately following an accident. In some cases, symptoms do not show for weeks. You should arrange for a medical evaluation as soon as possible. This is an important step on many levels:
- Early medical documentation near the time of the collision can be valuable in both negotiations and in the courtroom
- It can serve as a foundation for past and future medical claims
- It serves as a mechanism to let the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier know our clients are seriously concerned about their health
Contact an auto accident attorney before making any statements to the at-fault driver’s insurance representative, or before signing any documents. Navigating the nuances of a car accident in California is not a “do-it-yourself” project. Seek the services of a firm with the resources, dedication and experiecne to ensure the best possible outcome for your situation.
Do What You Can
- Get several copies of the police report
- Take pictures of the accident scene and vehicles
- Take pictures of yourself and injuries at the scene, then preserve the clothes you were wearing
- Document the names and contact numbers of any witnesses to the incident and your injuries
- Notify your personal car insurance carrier
- Document any and all interactions with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
- Keep track of any out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the accident
Although it is tempting to alleviate some of the stress and anxiety associated with a car accident by sharing the details with friends via social media, this can often undermine or devalue a potential claim. If you have already posted some comments online, do not delete them – just don’t say anything further
Your Auto Accident Attorneys Will Do What They Do Best
Serious and catastrophic accidents that result in personal injury and major property damage usually means having to deal with insurance adjusters. The people employed by the insurance company are ultimately responsible for any financial reimbursement due to the survivor. They utilize metrics and computerized programs to determine the level of compensation to be awarded. At no time will they have your best interest at heart.
If you or a family member were harmed in a motor vehicle collision and are facing unexpected financial hardships because of that accident, give yourself the best possible advantage for a full financial recovery.
Skilled attorneys are able to use their education, experience, and resources to evaluate a client’s case based on evidence such as:
- The client’s age, educational background, and skillset
- Projected financial indicators for future employment
- Damage to the client’s family dynamics and relationships
- Impact statements from you, as well as employers, friends, and family
Look for a law firm with excellent reviews from clients and their families. You want a car accident lawyer who values the relationship he or she develops with each client, and who is committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure the best possible outcome for each individual family.
Finally, make sure your lawyer has the dedication and determination to thoroughly investigate the details of your case. You deserve someone who can devote all of the time necessary to curate compelling evidence to present to a jury during trial, if a pre-trial settlement cannot be achieved.