What You Should Do After You Think You Caused a Car Accident?

Woman on phone after a car accident

Your actions after a car crash which you think you may have contributed to the collision will determine the number of damages — medical bills, car repairs, etc. — you are entitled to receive. Moreover, it will help the court judge whether you violated any law and if there is a need to suspend your driver’s license. So it is extremely important to know about these 5 crucial steps that you should take following an accident:

  1. Whether it involves a car, truck, semi-truck, or motorcycle, never leave the scene of an accident: If you don’t need urgent medical assistance, you should always remain at the accident scene. This is because criminal charges, including a hit-and-run charge, could be levied against you and, in turn, you could face jail time, a hefty fine, or both. In fact, you should call for medical assistance and inform the police about the accident. Your immediate actions will enable your lawyers to fight a strong case on your behalf.
     
  2. Record information: After steadying your nerves, you should note down or take photographs of the accident scene as well as record the victim’s insurance information, other driver’s license number in case of the involvement of another vehicle, contact information, etc. This would help your lawyers in the future. If you are involved in a car crash with another vehicle, it is important to record information and take photos of: 
  • All the vehicles involved;
  • License plate numbers of vehicles involved in the accident;
  • Other details like the year, model, and color of the vehicles; 
  • Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN)

This is because you would need the information to report the accident as legally required by the California DMV. However, you should never attempt to get the VIN from other cars if the drivers don’t cooperate. 

It is also important to keep a record of: 

  • The direction of travel of each vehicle
  • Each driver’s speed approximately
  • Any adverse road conditions 
  1. Do not admit your fault: You might suspect that you caused the accident, but you should not admit fault to the police or the other drivers. This is the most significant step
  2. Provide your contact details on unattended vehicles or unoccupied properties: If you crash your vehicle into an unoccupied vehicle or other property in California, you must try to locate the owner (s) and provide your driver’s license and contact information to them. If you cannot find the owners, make sure you leave some kind of note you’re your contact information either on the vehicle or property.  

Understanding Comparative Fault Principles In Detail:

In the aftermath of any car accident in California, every insurance claim is governed by comparative fault principles. 

In a pure comparative fault state like California, an injured driver can sue the other party involved in the accident and claim compensation from the other driver or the insurance company even if they are partly responsible for causing the collision. They can also claim additional damages. 

Who Determines Fault In A Car Accident In California?

As mentioned, in California, the fault is ascertained by the insurance companies of the parties involved in the accident or if the matter proceeds all the way to trial, a jury. They will go through all the evidence and records to determine the fault, which can be assigned to both parties as well. For instance, both drivers might be equally found responsible and they can each be 50% at fault. This impacts the compensation which will be offered to both parties. If you are found 50% at fault for the collision, the damages will be reduced by 50%. For example, if your claim is worth $20, 000, if you are found 50% at fault, you will be provided $10,000 or 50% of the total amount of your claim.  Since California is a pure comparative fault state, even if you are 99% at fault for a collision, you can still bring a claim but your damages would be reduced by  99%. Therefore, if you are significantly at fault for any collision, you want to consider the possibility of not bringing a claim. 

Insurance Options

After determining the percentage of your comparative fault, you are eligible for compensation. While the insurance amount varies from state to state, you should have at least the minimum mandatory car insurance coverage. 

For example, the California insurance law states that drivers must have a minimum of $15,000 per person/ $30,000 per accident for bodily injury liability. There is also a $5,000 minimum requirement for property damage. An individual can also add optional coverage, including comprehensive and collision coverage.

Why Hire A Lawyer:

You could be speeding or looking at your cell phone, eating, or being inattentive for any reason while driving that might have caused or contributed to an accident. 

JCS Law Firm works with Southern California Personal Injury clients, helping them recover the full amount of compensation they deserve. If you've been injured in any type of car, motorcycle, semi-truck, or SUV accident, Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your case and get started filing your claim. With our client satisfaction guarantee, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Be sure to check out our Free E-Book, 10 Things to Know About Personal Injury Claims in California. 

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