10 Steps To Take After A California Car Accident

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10 Steps To Take After A California Car Accident

10 Steps To Take After A California Car Accident

Apr 27, 2021

If you’ve ever been injured in a car accident, you’re likely aware that even a minor fender bender can be a difficult and even traumatic experience. After a car accident, countless stressful questions can arise:

– Is anyone injured?
– Do I need to contact the authorities?
– Is my auto insurance up to date?
– Will my auto insurance rates increase?
– How much is this going to cost?

While all of those questions are important, there are specific steps that, according to the California Department of Insurance, drivers should take after a car accident. Let’s review the Top 10 steps to follow immediately after a car crash, and then examine how to best ensure your legal rights are protected.

Step #1 – Evaluate Any Injuries

While Californians (and Angelenos in particular) love their cars and typically use them as a primary means of transportation to and from work, the physical damage to a vehicle (and resulting repair costs) should not be anyone’s first priority. The most important consideration after a car accident is determining whether or not anyone is injured.

With that in mind, it’s important to note that many car accident injuries such as whiplash or a concussion may not manifest immediate symptoms. You may be seriously injured but not realize it in the moments immediately after a car accident. For injuries that are immediately apparent, the first step is clear: Call 911 immediately.

While first responders are en route, do your best to assist any injured victims. However, do not attempt to move an injured victim after a car accident unless absolutely necessary (e.g. – a passenger is in the path of oncoming traffic on a major expressway where vehicles are unable to stop).

Step #2 – Contact the Police

Calling the police after a car accident is always a prudent decision. While drivers are not legally required to contact the police if no injuries have occurred, an injury can, as stated previously, not be readily apparent in many cases. Alerting the police ensures a record is established, which can be invaluable evidence in a personal injury claim.

When speaking with the police, be sure to describe the nature of the accident (hit-and-run, multi-car, rollover, etc.) and include as much detail as possible.

Step #3 – Gather Information of Those Involved

After a car accident of any kind, it’s imperative that you obtain the names, addresses, phone numbers, and driver’s licenses from all drivers involved. Even in a multi-car accident featuring numerous vehicles, it’s necessary to retrieve all of the above information from each driver. Failing to recover a single driver’s information – in the event of a multi-car pile-up – can be detrimental to any future personal injury claim you may wish to file in an effort to recover financial compensation for damages such as medical expenses, physical destruction to your vehicle, lost wages, and more.

Step #4 – Gather Vehicle Identification Information

Next, get license plate numbers as well as registration and vehicle identification numbers (VIN) for every car involved in the accident. Be sure to ask to see physical copies of the driver’s registration/VIN numbers to verify that the information is accurate. VIN numbers are typically visible from outside of a vehicle. On most car models, the VIN is located on the lower-left corner (driver’s side) of the dashboard. You should be able to read the VIN number by looking through the windshield on the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Step #5 – Gather Contact Information of Any Witnesses

Witness statements can be critical assets in helping to prove fault in a personal injury civil claim. Be sure to get names, addresses, and phone numbers of any witnesses, as well as other passengers. A simple way to obtain a witness’s contact information can be to take a picture of the individual’s driver’s license with your phone. Of course, be sure to confirm that the information on the license is current.

5 Steps to take if there is a car accident

5 Steps to take if there is a car accident

Step #6 – Gather Photographic and Video Evidence of the Accident Scene

Gather Photographic and Video Evidence of the Accident Scene

To recover financial compensation in a personal injury claim, the injured party’s attorney must prove fault or negligence. One of the most important elements in proving a case entails clearly demonstrating not only who was at fault, but the percentage of fault that individual shares.

To help ensure your case is strong, be sure to take photos of any damage to vehicles, property, and people (physical injuries). Take photos and videos of the accident scene (traffic lights, street signs, skid marks, broken glass, etc.) and be sure to upload a copy of that media to a cloud service for safe storage in the event that your phone is lost. After hiring a personal injury attorney to help win your claim, you can turn over all of the media related to your car accident. Do not share the photos or videos of the accident with anyone other than your attorney. Additionally, do not, under any circumstances, post pictures or videos of the accident (or yourself) to social media.

Posting anything related to your car accident on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, etc. could end up irrevocably harming your personal injury claim.

Step #7 – If Applicable, Leave a Note

If the damaged car’s owner is not present at the time of the accident, leave a note with your name and address. This scenario is common in parking lot fender benders and other minor car accidents where the owner of the other vehicle is not driving at the time of the incident.

Step #8 – Contact a Skilled and Experienced DLG Car Accident Attorney

Wondering whether or not you should hire a personal injury lawyer after a car accident? There are some important statistics you should be aware of before making a final decision:

  • A study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that settlements were 40% higher when injured victims were represented by personal injury attorneys.
  • Research from the IRC also confirms that the average insurance payout is 3.5 times higher for clients represented by private car accident attorneys than for those representing themselves.
  • 85% of all money paid by auto insurance companies for bodily injuries (TBI, concussion, whiplash, scrapes and bruises, bone fractures, etc.) goes to victims who have obtained legal representation and hired a private personal injury attorney.

In other words, when car accident victims represent themselves, they’re more likely to not receive financial compensation (and if they do receive a damages award, it’s likely be much lower than those victims who hired a private attorney).

Those are just a few reasons why step eight is to call a qualified personal injury lawyer at DLG (we’ll provide some more below in the conclusion section).

Step #9 – Contact the Insurance Company With the Aid of Your Lawyer

Without the protection of a competent personal injury attorney, it’s easy for injured car accident victims to be taken advantage of by massive auto insurance corporations. When your insurance company hears you’ve hired a private attorney, they know the playing field has suddenly been leveled. That’s why step number nine is to – with the help of a DLG attorney – notify your insurance company about your accident.

Step #10 – Report the Accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

Finally (but no less important than the above steps), if an injury of any kind occurred (or any vehicle damage exceeds $750), you are required to contact the California DMV immediately. Failure to report an accident to the DMV within 10 days may result in your driver’s license being suspended. And, if you haven’t had that unfortunate experience, we can assure you that having to file paperwork and jump through hoops to get your driver’s license reinstated is not something anyone wants.

When you choose an experienced and dedicated DLG attorney, we’ll make sure the DMV is notified and you’re in compliance with all state regulations following your car accident.

Our experienced attorneys can help you pursue a financial award for your personal injury case. Contact us online or by phone for a free consultation today.

The DLG Advantage for Los Angeles Car Accident Victims

The DLG Advantage for Los Angeles Car Accident Victims

DLG has been successfully representing car accident victims for years, and our 98% success rate is proof of our dedication to each and every client. To date, we’ve recovered over $100,000,000 for injured victims. Still wondering whether or not DLG is the best choice for you? Take a look at some of our client reviews. You’ll see that when clients hire DLG, they’re never a number, and are always treated with the compassion, professionalism, and discretion they deserve.

And we offer some unique advantages that help our clients recover maximum financial compensation for their injuries:

DLG Advantage: At DLG, we aren’t merely a group of experienced and successful personal injury lawyers. Our team includes a vast array of professionals that are critical to proving your case. DLG’s Car Accident Division features an in-house Chief Investigator, former LAPD Detective, Moses Castillo. Castillo helps us uncover crucial evidence in every car accident case using his detective skills obtained through years of service with the LAPD’s elite Central Traffic Division. Castillo has successfully investigated and closed hundreds of high-profile car accident cases over the years. If you saw a hit-and-run or rollover crash on the news, Detective Castillo likely investigated the case.

Now, he works for us as Chief Investigator, providing our clients with a unique advantage that can’t be found at “mega firms.” Uncovering the right piece of evidence can be the difference between a thousand-dollar settlement and a multi-million dollar settlement. That’s why Castillo is such an important asset to our team, as well as your car accident claim.

DLG Advantage: Sam Dordulian wasn’t always a personal injury attorney. In fact, he spent 11 years as a Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County. That experience in the courtroom is something many personal injury and car accident lawyers lack. Dordulian has successfully handled over 100 jury trials during his career. What does that mean for you, the car accident victim? It means we never settle for less than a maximum financial damages award.

“Mega firms” are easy to find in California – just turn on your TV or look up at any random billboard in any major city. This type of firm is often quick to settle car accident claims without actually taking the time and effort that is required when fighting for a maximum damages award. That’s why DLG prepares every case for trial. If a maximum settlement can’t be reached with the insurance company (or at-fault party’s legal representatives), we don’t just given up and settle for a lowball figure. Rather, we proceed to trial and fight aggressively on your behalf. When insurance companies take on DLG, they know they have a herculean task ahead.

DLG Advantage: When clients consider whether or not they need to hire a car accident lawyer, the temptation of a quick settlement offer from the insurance company often plays a role. Yes, it’s easy to agree to the initial, lowball settlement offer issued by major insurance companies. But is it in your ultimate best interest, both financially and physically? What if your injuries progress and the settlement doesn’t cover future care? What if you could actually recover much more money with the help of a qualified personal injury lawyer?

DLG’s Car Accident Division also features two seasoned attorneys who previously worked as defense lawyers for major auto insurance corporations. Their insider knowledge and experience relative to the tricks and methods used by these companies is something we use to our advantage every time. Powerful insurance companies will do everything they can to reduce your payout and preserve their bottom line. To them, you’re just a number. But with DLG, you’re a member of our extended family, and we treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve.

When you stop and think about what truly is the best option for your car accident claim, it’s easy to determine that DLG is the answer to ensuring you recover a maximum financial damages award and receive the proper medical care you require for as long as is necessary.

Contact us 24/7 online or by phone at 818-322-4056.

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