Steps to Take After a Car Accident

An auto accident can happen at any time. Apart from the injuries suffered, such mishaps also result in severe trauma for the victims. Thus, most often, auto accidents on the road are followed by confusion and chaos, making it difficult to ascertain what to do next! Moreover, California sees millions of auto accidents every year, almost half of them resulting in injuries. On average, there are 3,600 deaths each year statewide in California.

Anyone can be involved in a car crash, regardless of who’s fault it is. But if you’re a victim of one, it’s essential to know the steps you should take afterward. Prompt and swift action may, in many cases, be the difference between life and death. And while the safety of everyone involved is paramount, it’s also important that the in-fault driver is held liable for any injuries arising from the accident.

Read through the accident checklist below so that you have all the information to help yourself or someone else in case of a car accident.


Steps to Take After a Car Accident


Step 1. Be Safe

The first order of business is to make yourself safe. Try getting into a position of safety, such as off-roads or a side parking, and help others do so. This will also help clear the jam caused soon after an accident. Once the accident happens, the first thing is to ensure that another one doesn’t follow due to inaction.


Step 2. Call 911

If you or someone else has been injured in a car crash, it’s pivotal that you contact 911 and ask for emergency medical services. Even in the absence of injuries, you should get law enforcement officials to the site as quickly as possible to prevent any escalation of the situation.


Step 3. Check Injuries

Accidents leave us in a heightened state of shock, and so many times the pain from an injury is felt later. Check for any injuries on yourself and any co-passengers you may have. Take the requisite precaution, such as applying pressure on wounds and keeping mobility to a minimum until medical help arrives.


Step 4. Get Medical Attention

Once the emergency personnel arrive on the scene, evaluate yourself, even if you have sustained minor injuries. In case of a severe injury, ask for an ambulance or make it to a hospital as soon as possible.

Similarly, if someone else sustains serious injuries from the accident, you should try and help them and call for an ambulance immediately.


Step 5. Talk to Witnesses

The next step is to identify and talk to witnesses. Ask them their version of what happened and obtain their contact information. It’s advisable here that you don’t make statements of your own before anybody but the police officers.


Step 6. Obtain Information

Note down the names, addresses, and contact details of all drivers and passengers involved in the accident. Also, obtain the driver’s license number, license plate, and vehicle registrations. You can exchange insurance information with the drivers during this stage if possible.


Step 7. Click Pictures

Pictures and videos are considered primary evidence under the law. So click photographs of the damaged vehicles or public property on the road that may solidify your case.


Step 8. Inform the Insurance Company

You should notify your insurance agent or company as soon as possible after the accident.


Step 9. Notify DMV

If anyone is injured or the damages to your vehicle exceed $750, you must inform the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of the accident.


Step 10. Take Legal Help

Once you’ve tended to your injuries, you should immediately contact an experienced car accident attorney who can protect your rights. If the accident isn’t your fault, you stand to be compensated for any injury or damage to your vehicle from the liable driver. A car accident attorney will gather all evidence from the scene and obtain witness testimony to corroborate your case and ensure that you’re adequately compensated for your losses.


Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit for your Car Accident

The usual course of action after an accident would be to notify the insurer, and the claim will be paid out to the extent of the damages you’ve suffered. However, insurance companies have a notorious reputation for denying a claim or offering a disproportionate settlement to the cost of damages suffered. Filing a personal injury lawsuit may be your best recourse in this scenario.

In a personal injury case, the plaintiff needs to establish the wrongdoing of the defendant by furnishing evidence of their negligence. They also need to show that the injuries or damages they’ve suffered directly resulted from such negligent action. It’s worth noting that even if both drivers were at fault, it’s still possible for one of them to recover compensation from the other (based on the extent of damages suffered by each).

No one wants to go through a trial, but if it comes down to enforcing your rights in the court of law, you must have all documents, reports, and receipts in place. From your medical bills and car accident report to the car repair cost, all such records should be preserved to obtain adequate compensation.

If it comes to a trial, hiring a personal injury attorney will significantly improve your chances of obtaining damages. An attorney will collect all evidence, investigate the matter, and obtain witness testimony to help you recover your rightful compensation. More importantly, they’re also competent in negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf to prevent any prevarications.


How to Prove Negligence in a Car Accident

We already mentioned that the plaintiff has to establish negligence or wrongdoing on the part of the defendant. Let’s first understand what constitutes negligence in the eyes of the law.

In order to prove negligence, you must prove the following elements:

  • The driver had a duty of care toward other drivers and pedestrians;
  • The driver breached such duty;
  • Such breach directly resulted in an accident;
  • The injuries suffered by the plaintiff resulted from the breach of duty.


Proving that the defendant breached their duty of care to other drivers can be difficult. Common acts of driving negligence may include drunk driving, texting while driving, speeding, not following traffic rules, etc. When drivers break any of these rules, they’ve breached their duty of care to other roadway users.


How Much is a Car Accident Claim Worth?

The plaintiff can claim economic and non-economic damages in their personal injury lawsuit. While monetary damages cover all the costs you’ve incurred for healing your injuries or repairing your car, non-economic damages are more of the intangible sufferings, such as loss of enjoyment of life, loss of partnership, etc.


Economic DamagesNon-Economic Damages
Medical BillsPain and Suffering
Recovery CostsDisability
Lost Wages Due to Missed WorkLoss of Enjoyment of Life
Repair CostsLoss of Ability to Work
Loss of Consortium


While these are the most common claims made for economic and non-economic damages, it’s worth noting that this list isn’t exhaustive and may cover many other circumstances as per the injuries sustained by the victim.


Hire an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

Get in touch with an experienced car accident attorney in California who can represent your interests and build a winning case. Whether you’re seeking to claim from the insurance company or are ready to file a personal injury lawsuit, a personal injury attorney by your side is the best way to recover the compensation you deserve.

At Niral Patel Personal Injury Law firm, we can negotiate with insurers and the opposing party to try and obtain an adequate settlement for all your losses without approaching the court. But if the need arises, we can fight aggressively for your rights and ensure that you get the maximum compensation possible.

If you or a loved one has been a car accident victim in California, book a free consultation with our personal injury attorneys today.

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