Car accidents can be traumatic experiences, and they often result in severe injuries to those involved. Unfortunately, California has a relatively high rate of car accidents due to the varying terrain, climate, and other factors. In fact, on average, one out of every 10,200 people living in California is killed in a traffic crash, 1 out of every 143 persons involved in a car crash was injured, and 1 out of every 73 licensed drivers was involved in a traffic crash.
For that reason, it’s in your best interest to know that there are particular “must-dos” if you ever find yourself involved in a car crash in California and have a general idea of the processes that may follow after an accident occurs. In that manner, right after you check everyone involved in the accident for injuries and call the police department to file a report on the accident—two steps that you immediately need to take regardless of the place where the accident happened, you should also contact a personal injury lawyer from the area where the accident occurred to get a better understanding of all the legal procedures that are about to follow. For instance, if the accident happened in the city of Novato, you might want to contact the best Novato car accident lawyer to help you deal with any legal issues that might emerge from the accident.
Steps To Take After A Car Crash In California
Furthermore, whatever the situation may be, here are the most important steps you may need to take if you were involved in a car crash in California right after calling 911 if there are any injured passengers and filing the police report.
1. Stay Calm And Assess The Situation
First and foremost, regardless of the outcome of the accident, it’s the best advice not to panic, mentally stay calm, breathe slowly, and then go ahead and address the whole situation. For instance, if you’ve been injured or your car is unsafe to drive, stay put and wait for help. However, if it’s possible to move your vehicle to a safe location and you think it’s necessary, use your best judgment. Nonetheless, don’t put yourself in any danger while doing so.
2. Put Your Traffic Safety Equipment Into Use
The moments following a crash are often filled with confusion, making it easy to forget the necessary steps that need to be taken after it. However, California law requires you to have certain safety items in your car at all times, and it is imperative to take them out of your trunk and place them in their respective positions so that you can provide safety to the rest of the passengers and prevent traffic congestion after the accident occurs.
Additionally, correctly placed traffic safety equipment regulates the traffic flow after the accident and some of the most useful traffic safety items you would want to have are parking stops, to mark the front barrier of a parking space, and traffic delineator posts, to warn other vehicles or pedestrians.
3. Exchange Information With The Other Driver
After everyone is safe, you should make sure to exchange information with the other driver, and this information should include your name, address, phone number, license plate number and insurance company name/policy number. It’s also helpful to get contact information from any witnesses who were on the scene of the crash as well.
4. Document Everything And Gather Evidence
Before you move your vehicle, use your cellphone to take pictures of the damage to both vehicles from multiple angles, along with the entire scene that shows where each car is located and any traffic signals, signs, or debris.
In addition, it’s essential to take photos from different angles showing any visible damage, so make sure to take pictures that show the front, back, and side views of every damaged part on both vehicles.
Moreover, take close-up photos of any visible damage on either vehicle, which will help document the extent of damage, especially if there are damages that cannot be easily seen from a distance or at night.
5. Contact Your Insurance Provider
After calling 911, your second call after an accident should be to your insurance company, even if you don’t think you’re at fault for the accident. Depending on your policy, you might be required to talk with your insurance company within a certain amount of time.
Nevertheless, it’s best to call them and file a claim as soon as you finish taking all the other steps because information gets stale, details can be forgotten over time, or evidence might disappear or become damaged.
Ultimately, the aftermath of a California car accident can be confusing as it is emotionally upsetting, so if you are involved in an injured car accident, there are a particular series of steps that you should take to ensure that your interests and rights are protected and that you are safe and secure.
Hopefully, this guide will help you navigate the process, so if you want to get through this experience as smoothly and quickly as possible, you’ll want to make sure that you do these things properly. While no one wants to have to deal with a car crash, these tips should make the process significantly easier for you if you ever have to.