1. What should I do immediately after an auto accident?
Check for injuries to yourself and any passengers in your vehicle. If anyone is seriously injured call 911 and request help. If you don’t own a mobile phone, flag down a passing motorist and ask them to call for help. If no one in your vehicle is seriously injured, go see if anyone in the other vehicle was injured. If anyone is seriously injured, call 911.
2. Should I call the Police or California Highway Patrol?
Yes. If your vehicle sustains more than $750 of damage, you or a passenger is injured or killed, or the other driver(s) appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you should call the police. The police may or may not respond to the accident scene depending on the severity of the injuries.
3. What information should I get after being in an auto accident?
- Name, Driver’s License Number, Address, and Phone numbers of the other driver(s)
- Name, Address, and Phone numbers of any passengers or other witnesses
- The Name, Policy #, and Contact Information for the other driver(s)’ insurance company (Ask to see the other driver’s insurance card and registration to verify he/she is the registered owner of the vehicle)
- Make, Model, and License plate number of the other driver(s) vehicle
- Date, Time, and Location of the accident
- Statements of any driver(s) or witnesses
- Photos of all of the vehicles involved in the accident from multiple angles
- Photos of the roadway, intersection, and street signs
- Name, Badge #, and Agency, if the police come and take a report
- Name of the Ambulance company, if on is called
4. Should I move my car if it is drivable?
If you have taken pictures of the accident scene and positions of all of the vehicles or if the police have taken a report, you can move your vehicle. If your car is not drivable, the police will call for a tow truck to move your vehicle.
5. Should I call my insurance company?
Yes. You should immediately call your auto insurance company after the accident. The adjuster will ask you for the name(s), address(es), driver’s license number(s), and insurance information for the other driver(s); date, time, and location of the accident; and if you were injured. DO NOT give your insurance company a recorded statement until discussing the matter with an attorney.
6. Should I talk other driver’s insurance company if they call me?
If a representative from another insurance company calls you, be polite, but ask him/her to call your attorney or insurance company to arrange for an interview. Do not talk to a representative of another insurance company under any circumstances without the knowledge of your attorney or your insurance company. Also, get the representative’s name and number, and tell your insurance company or attorney that someone seeking information about your accident contacted you.
7. What if the other party does not have insurance?
Even if the other party does not have liability insurance this does not mean that no insurance may be available. If you have purchased uninsured motorist coverage through your own insurance company, you may be able to recovery medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. In addition, potential causes of action against parties not initially known may be available such as the City, State, or other governmental entities due to negligent road design, as an example.
8. Should I seek medical treatment?
If you have or develop any pain following a car accident, you should seek prompt medical treatment. Even if your pain seems minor at first it may develop into something more serious. It is important for your health and your potential claim that you see a doctor. You should also keep a list of the names and locations of each provider as well as the dates of each visit.
9. Do I need to fill out any forms reporting the accident?
In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires that each driver who has been involved in an auto accident to fill out a Traffic Accident Report (SR-1), if there was property damage of more than $750 or anyone was injured (no matter how minor) or anyone was killed. You must submit the report to the DMV within 10 days, whether you caused the accident or not, even if the accident occurred on private property. The form can be found at: http://dmv.ca.gov/forms/sr/sr1.pdf.
10. Should I keep a diary about the accident?
Yes. Keeping a daily diary is a great way to remember how you felt the day of the accident, the days after the accident, and weeks or months after accident. It can consist of words and pictures outlining your injuries, how you feel that day, where you have pain, and what activities you can and cannot do. Sometimes settlements are months or years down the road and using your diary to refresh your recollection can be a great tool.
11. Should I hire an attorney?
If you or one of your passengers has been seriously injured, hiring an attorney is in your best interests. If the other driver was at fault, his/her insurance company will utilize a team of adjusters, investigators and attorneys to try to pay you as little as possible. Hiring an experienced auto accident attorney can protect your rights and ensure you receive the attention and compensation you deserve for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other expenses related to your car accident.
12. How much does hiring an attorney cost?
Most San Diego motorcycle accident lawyers take cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that the attorney does not collect fees unless they are successful in settling your personal injury case.
13. How much money is my claim worth?
Each case has a different set of facts. Without know the specific set of facts applicable to your case, it makes it difficult to determine the worth of you claim. The best way to get a general idea of the value of your auto accident claim is to contact our office for a free consultation with an attorney.
14. How long do I have to file a claim?
The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in California is 2 years from the date of the loss; however, if the claim involves a governmental agency, the claim must be filed within 180 days. Regardless, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible so that evidence can be gathered and/or retained for the prosecution of your claim. Waiting to hire an attorney until the last minute can be a huge mistake.