What you do immediately following a car wreck in California could have a big impact on your ability to collect compensation for any injuries you may have suffered in the accident.
At Dinsmore & Sandelmann, we have encountered individuals who were injured in a car wreck that wasn’t their fault, but their failure to file a police report after the accident made it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the full compensation they deserved for their injuries.
You should always contact law enforcement — either the local police department or California Highway Control — immediately following an accident. It’s the first thing you should do after checking to make sure that everyone involved in the accident gets the medical attention they need.
A police report will provide you with an impartial and official record of the accident that contains information that will be important in any personal injury litigation that follows, such as who the driver of the other vehicle was, their insurance information, a record of the crash scene, if any citations were issued, etc.
Reporting the accident is not just a good idea. In California, it’s the law.
What California Law Says about a Police Reports after a Car Accident
According to Division 10, Chapter 1 of the California Vehicle Code, the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that resulted in any injuries or death has 24 hours in which to report the accident to either the Department of the California Highway Patrol or the police department of the city in which the accident occurred.
In addition, you must submit an SR-1 “Report of Traffic Accident in California” to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if the accident involved injury, death or property damage exceeding $1,000.
Failing to report an accident with the DMV could result in loss of driving privileges.
Let Your Insurance Company Know About the Accident
You should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after your accident report has been submitted. If the accident hasn’t been reported, the insurance company may deny your claim.
Seek Medical Attention after Your Accident
Even if you don’t think you were injured, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention anyway. Symptoms of back and muscle injuries may not manifest themselves until days after the accident. The police report will provide evidence of the other driver’s liability in an accident; the medical report will provide evidence of your physical injuries.
Document the Accident Scene
In addition to filling out a police report after a car accident, you should try to document the accident scene. Take pictures of the vehicles involved and the location where the crash took place. Also try and get the names and addresses of anyone who witnessed the accident. You can never have too much evidence of an accident scene.
Contact Dinsmore & Sandelmann, Manhattan Beach Auto Accident Attorneys
Dinsmore & Sandelmann have been representing clients injured in automobile accidents in Manhattan Beach, El Segundo, Hawthorne, Lawndale, Hermosa Beach and surrounding California communities for decades. If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to protect your rights. You could be entitled to compensation for the pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages and other expenses resulting from your injuries.
Don’t agree to any insurance company settlement until you’ve spoken to an attorney — their offers rarely cover the full costs of your injuries. Contact the Manhattan Beach personal injury law firm Dinsmore & Sandelmann to schedule a free consultation with one of our Manhattan Beach car accident attorneys to discuss your case. We handle our auto accident cases on a contingency basis, which means there are no upfront costs to our clients and we only collect a fee after we’ve won your case.