Car accidents are stressful and confusing and can have lasting negative impacts on the lives of those involved. How you handle the incident in the moments after it happens is essential to ensuring you get the compensation you deserve.
Before you do anything after an accident, take a moment to collect yourself. Remember never to admit fault, as doing so can complicate the claims process or result in unwanted legal ramifications. Similarly, avoid inflaming the situation by blaming another driver. Instead, focus on securing the scene of the accident and making sure everyone is safe and medically attended to. Once you feel like you have your wits about you, there are steps you should take if you find yourself in a car accident in Orange County.
You may feel that contacting police for a traffic accident—especially if it seems minor—is overkill. In California, police should always be called to the scene of an accident if someone is even minorly injured, if the damages incurred exceed $1,000, or if an involved driver was operating without a license or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Police are trained to document important details about the accident that you may not think of in the heat of the moment, and the report that they generate can be helpful later on in the claims process. The Orange County Sheriff’s department allows citizens to file their own reports online for non-injury traffic accidents. Orange County citizens can request non-emergency police assistance by calling (714) 744-7444.
Before you leave the scene of the accident, make sure that you exchange information with the other driver(s) including name, driver license number, address, phone number, and insurance information. Make special note of the make, model, color, and license plate numbers of the other vehicle(s) involved. If a police report is filed, make sure you know when and where you can obtain a copy.
As soon as you can after the crash, write down your own account of the incident, including weather and road conditions, the speed you were driving, and any other circumstances you think are relevant.
Report the Incident
Your reporting duties don’t end with the police department. As soon as you leave the scene of the crash, report the collision to your insurance company to begin the claims process as soon as possible. If the accident caused a death or injury, or caused property damage in excess of $1,000, the accident must be reported to the California DMV within ten days.
Contact a Lawyer
If the insurance companies are unable or unwilling to give you the compensation you deserve, it may be time to seek help in filing a personal injury claim. The attorneys at Gokal Law Group, Inc. will diligently investigate key evidence in your case to ensure justice and hold reckless drivers responsible.
Call us at (949) 753-9100 for a free consultation and case evaluation.