What to Do After a Minor Car Accident in California
It’s common for drivers to assume most accidents are minor. However, you shouldn’t follow the same script when involved in an accident.
Medical literature has found that there is no nexus between the severity of a car crash’s impact and the extent of an individual’s injuries. Even a relatively minor crash can have a significant impact on an individual’s body. Some of these injuries do not surface right away.
Every car accident should be taken seriously. Below are some steps to consider if you have been involved in a low impact matter in the event injuries surface at a later time.
1. Check for Injuries
Damage to a car is readily apparent. The human body is different. Injuries are not so apparent. Therefore, if you have been involved in a car accident it is worth reporting to a medical professional or specialist to assure there are no underlying injuries.
Some injuries such as internal bleeding manifest later, and can be devastating. After a crash, you could be numb, or your adrenaline could be heightened. That’s why you need to be assessed for any internal organ injuries. Besides having tests, listen to your body and note any health changes over time.
2. Contact the Police
You’re not legally obligated to contact authorities, but it’s a prudent decision. Contacting the police establishes a record that can be used later in a personal injury claim. The police report is a priority evidence document, and you should get hold of it immediately.
When speaking with authorities, give accurate information and describe the nature of the minor accident in detail.
3. Gather Information at the Scene
In any accident, you must gather all the necessary information from all drivers involved. You also need to capture all the details of the witnesses as they might provide valuable information that can support your injury claim in days to come.
Remember, you want to recover financial compensation for the physical destruction of your car, medical expenses, and lost wages, among others. That’s why you should capture all fundamental details such as:
- Names of drivers and witnesses
- Drivers’ licenses
- Addresses and phone numbers
- Any other helpful personal information
4. Gather Video and Photographic Evidence of the Accident Scene
You need to capture clear images of the crash before the vehicles can be moved. You can also capture real-time videos of the scene to support your photos. Ensure the extent of the vehicle’s damages at different angles and capture lanes, streets, and the surrounding location. This information is a critical piece of evidence and will be used to determine fault.
5. Don’t Admit Fault for the Crash
Accidents, even when minor, have the potential to turn into a battle of words and can even get physical. The other driver is trying to intimidate and force you into accepting blame. That’s why you should not engage until authorities have arrived.
Importantly, you shouldn’t apologize for the accident, as this implies you’re at fault. You should never admit fault, even when you feel partially responsible for the accident. Don’t get emotional, as this could easily get out of control. Instead, allow police to conclude their investigations and answer all questions honestly.
6. Contact Your Car Accident Lawyer
At this stage, you no longer need to handle matters independently. Instead, you need an experienced car accident lawyer who can guide you on the next steps to take to get the compensation you deserve.
Contacting a lawyer means taking the matter to the next level. It’s not just a police case but also an official insurance claim that might involve some complex legal issues. So, you should reach out to a California accident lawyer who knows how to go about it.
Your car accident lawyer will assist in filing forms, liaising with insurance companies, calculating compensation, and representing you in court if the matter proceeds to a judge for determination.
7. Contact the Insurance Company
With the help of a car accident attorney, you should notify the insurance company and file your claims with the evidence you’ve gathered.
Unfortunately, insurance companies use various underhand tactics to delay your claim process or to push you into accepting a lower offer than you deserve. Others might try to bully you into accepting fault for the accident.
Don’t let insurance companies brush you away. With a personal injury lawyer beside you, the field will be leveled.
8. Report to California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
You might feel you don’t need to report a minor accident to a government body. However, if the accident damages exceed $750, you must record it with the California DMV. Failure to report within ten days can lead to license suspension.
Your auto accident attorney will ensure all the necessary reports will be made within the stipulated period. A California accident lawyer ensures you’ll be in compliance with state regulations.
Lawyers for Minor Car Accidents in California
At LA Century Law, we are experienced accident attorneys in California who are focused on representing our clients. As a result, we’ve handled many auto accidents with a positive outcome for our clients.
We’re proud of our reputation with personal injury cases, and we’ve guided accident victims through the claims process for maximum compensation.
Our customized approaches to personal injury cases and auto accidents enable us to develop a plan that meets the needs of your unique case. If you’ve been involved in a minor car accident, message us today for a consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Settle the Case with the Other Driver’s Car Insurance Company?
You should not settle the matter with the other driver’s insurance company without the assistance of your personal injury lawyer. You might receive much lower than your full value.
What If The Other Driver Does Not Have a Car Insurance Policy?
If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver, you can get the necessary compensation from your insurance company if you have an uninsured motorist policy.
Can I Recover Accident Damages if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt During Accident?
In California, drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt when the car is moving. However, if you were not wearing a seatbelt during the accident, you might still qualify for damages from the at-fault party.