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7 Crucial Steps to Take After a Car Accident

A woman takes a photo of car damage after wreck using her phone.

No matter the circumstances, car accidents are scary. Being involved in an unexpected crash may not only derail your day, but your health and funds.

While it can be overwhelming and difficult to process events following a car crash, what happens next can have a direct impact on the outcome. For many people, receiving just compensation is dependent on whether or not they take these crucial steps following the accident.

Keep reading to learn vital steps to take after being involved in a motor vehicle accident in California.

7 Steps You Should Take After a Car Crash

The average American will be involved in 3-4 car accidents during their lifetime. Sadly, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has reported a 10.5% increase in car crash fatalities from 2020 to 2021.

With approximately 42,915 deaths on American roads in 2021, the need for heightened awareness and education on motor vehicle crashes is more prevalent than ever. Unfortunately, even the safest driver is susceptible to the wrongdoing and recklessness of fellow drivers on the road. The good news is that there are steps you can take to fight for fair compensation following a car accident.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, follow these 7 steps to protect yourself and your loved ones.

#1: Prioritize medical assistance if needed.

As you can imagine, it’s imperative to address injuries or need for medical attention following an accident. Regardless of who was at fault, preserving human life should be the top priority. If you or another person was hurt in the accident, call 911 right away to request medical care.

#2: Stay on the scene to exchange identification with the other driver.

It’s always wise to stay on the scene following a car crash, even if the accident wasn’t your fault. It’s necessary for both drivers to identify themselves and collect appropriate information following the accident, including:

  • Name
  • License plate
  • Identification (such as driver’s license or another form of ID)
  • Insurance information
  • Phone number
  • Address

The above information will be helpful and save time in the long run when it comes time to work out the details and speak with insurers. Drivers are encouraged to take photos of the other party’s license and insurance cards if able.

Assuming the vehicles aren’t totaled, it’s always wise to navigate both vehicles to a safe spot away from oncoming traffic and other hazards when possible. A safe area might be a nearby parking lot, rest area, or a space protected by barriers.

#3: Call the police if you haven’t already.

A formal police report is necessary to move forward in the process following a car accident. This initial connection is important to document and establish what occurred and avoid exhibiting any suspicious behavior.

Even if property damage is minimal or there are little to no injuries involved as a result of the crash, it’s imperative to involve law enforcement so the accident is recorded appropriately, accurately, and in a timely manner. Such factors will play a key role when it comes time to determine details such as fault, compensation, and insurance claims.

#4: Collect evidence and document any relevant details.

While addressing injuries is always the first priority, the majority of personal injury attorneys advise against speaking at length with the other driver. If possible, keep communication to a minimum to avoid future risks, such as:

  • Escalating emotions on the scene
  • Unknowingly saying things that the other driver can use against you later
  • Being taken advantage of by a driver who is fully aware they’re at fault

In addition to limiting contact with the other party, be sure to document any applicable evidence as you wait for the police to arrive. Document property damage to both vehicles if able.

You may also consider photographing the surrounding scene (such as skid marks on the road or street signs) in order to preserve your own recollection of the accident for later on. Be on the lookout for potential traffic cameras that may have captured the incident on tape. It’s important to remember as many details about the crash as possible to obtain the most favorable outcome.

#5: Visit a physician, clinic, or hospital as soon as possible.

Even if you sustained little to no injuries in the crash, it’s always wise to get checked out by a trusted doctor or physician following the accident. There are two key reasons to do so:

  1. Check for any undetected or underlying injuries. While many people may feel fine following an accident, some injuries (such as whiplash or internal bleeding) may not surface until later on. It’s important to address any serious medical issues before they worsen or inflict irreparable damage. Even soreness can sometimes indicate a more serious injury that isn’t easily recognizable at first.
  2. Collect necessary medical documentation that will be important later on. Any medical records following the accident will likely be helpful in your case moving forward and can have a direct impact on the outcome in court or when filing a claim with your insurer.

#6: Call your insurer.

Many insurance companies require covered parties to report accidents as soon as possible. The sooner you notify your insurer of the accident, the better. Moreover, reporting the accident sooner rather than later gives you a better chance of remembering important details about the crash.

Contacting your insurer can also offer more insight regarding assistance available to you following the car accident. It’s important to have a good idea of your coverage to understand your options after the crash. From comprehensive coverage to collision coverage to personal injury protection (PIP), there is a variety of assistance you can receive to help with payments and potential injuries following the incident.

Discussing your specific coverage with your insurer can help you accomplish key tasks such as:

  • Towing the vehicle
  • Repairing the vehicle at a shop
  • Rental car reimbursement for work

…and more. Speak with your insurer as soon as possible to review your coverage and select the best path forward after you’re involved in a car crash.

#7: Seek legal counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney.

Even if you perceive the damage as minimal, it’s never a bad idea to consult with a qualified attorney following a car crash. Seeking legal counsel can help ensure that all appropriate evidence is collected and analyzed correctly in order to secure the compensation you rightfully deserve.

It’s important to secure the help of a licensed personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The state of California permits a two-year statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit. For property damage, residents have three years to file a claim after a car accident.

Legal counsel is the best way to prevent insurers from pulling a fast one or giving you the run-around after a car accident. Remember, your insurer is attempting to reduce compensation in order to pay as little as possible. It’s important to fight for the settlement you deserve, not the amount that your insurer wishes to pay.

Through Thick & Thin, Our Team Will Stand With You

For many California residents, being involved in a car accident is an unwanted and unexpected headache. While a car crash might derail your day, it doesn’t have to derail your life. It’s important to address injuries, prioritize your health, and refuse to settle for less than the compensation you deserve.

Our team is here to help you avoid a life of chronic pain or accumulating medical bills you can’t afford. With over 75 years of combined legal experience, Alvandi Law Group is committed to serving the injured in Orange County. There’s no need to be bullied into accepting a meager settlement. Our firm has a successful track record fighting for the injured in our community, and we have recovered over $300 million in settlements on behalf of our clients.

Don’t let an unexpected car accident derail your life and drain your savings. Call (800) 980-6905 to request a consultation from an experienced personal injury attorney today.



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