In a Car Accident? What Now?
No one wants to be involved in a car crash, but with the odds today, it could happen eventually. Even a minor fender-bender with no injuries will completely ruin your day. A major collision with serious injuries leads to life-altering consequences. The following are some tips on what to do if you are involved in a car accident in California.
Report the Accident to Law Enforcement
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in injuries or death, you must provide a written report of the crash to the state highway patrol or the police department, or request one be written by a law enforcement officer, depending on where the accident occurred, under California Vehicle Code Section 20008. When you call the police after a car accident, the law enforcement officer who appears at the scene will prepare a written report.
Seek Medical Attention for Your Injuries
If you have sustained even minor injuries in a car accident, it is essential to get medical attention as soon as possible. Some symptoms may not be apparent immediately after the crash. For example, symptoms of whiplash can develop within 24 hours of the injury. Some people have long-lasting complications and suffer chronic neck pain with whiplash.
Report the Accident to the DMV
You must report the crash to the Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days if:
- Anyone involved in the accident was injured or killed; or
- The crash caused property damage of more than $1000.
You can get a copy of the form for reporting the accident from the DMV website.
Report the Accident to Your Car Insurance Company
There is no requirement under state law that you report a car accident to your automobile insurance carrier. However, car insurance contracts require policyholders to report accidents soon after they occur. If you fail to report within a reasonable period, your insurer may deny coverage for the crash. Depending on the circumstances, your insurance company’s definition of a reasonable time may be as little as one or two days.
File a Claim for Compensation
If someone else was at fault for the accident, you are entitled to bring a lawsuit seeking damages. Under California’s pure comparative negligence rules, you may recover compensation from the at-fault party, regardless of any fault on your part for the crash. Your damages are reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you.
There is a statute of limitations (time limit imposed by law) within which to file, or your claim will be forever barred. In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury in a car accident is two years. If you are suing for property damage only, you have three years to file your claim.
Get Experienced Legal Representation
Our San Diego car accident lawyers at jD LAW, P.C. can investigate your accident to determine fault and liability, gather and preserve evidence to support your claim, assess the full extent of your damages, negotiate skillfully with insurance companies on your behalf, and fight for the compensation you deserve in court, if necessary. Contact us at (760) 630-2000 to schedule a free consultation. We can tell you if you have a case and what damages you may be entitled to claim.
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