The National Safety Council estimates that in 2015, 38,300 people were killed on U.S. roads, and 4.4 million were seriously injured. This data doesn’t take into account the accidents resulting in minor injuries or just property damage.
Given the statistics, many people will experience at least one car accident in their lifetimes – especially in Los Angeles. What if it happens to you? Do you know what steps to take following an accident to protect your rights?
Whether you or a passenger have suffered injuries or not, below is a list of things to do following an automobile accident:
- Remain at the scene: In California, no matter what the situation, if you drive off after an accident you face hit-and-run charges. Exchange insurance and vehicle information with the other driver and wait until law enforcement arrives.
- Report the accident: If the accident caused injury, you must call the police or the California Highway Patrol. Also report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible after an incident.
- Assist the injured: Give reasonable assistance to those who are hurt. If you are not trained in first aid, however, do not attempt to move someone who is badly injured unless they are in danger.
- Gather information: Get as much information as you can at the scene of the accident. This includes the other driver’s information, makes and models of vehicles involved, information about passengers in the other vehicle and the name and badge number of the law enforcement officer/s at the scene. It also may be helpful to draw a simple diagram of the accident and note traffic, weather and road conditions. Take photographs, if possible.
- Do not admit fault: Do not claim responsibility for causing the accident until you have spoken to your insurance company or your lawyer. Do not sign anything or agree to pay damages, but also cooperate fully with law enforcement.
- Hire an attorney: You may want to consider retaining legal services to help with your accident claim, especially if it resulted in injury.