Any car accident has the potential to cause devastating effects on those involved. Each year in the United States, motor vehicle accidents are a leading cause of accidental injuries and deaths. When these incidents occur, the drivers involved must understand their rights and responsibilities when resolving the resulting damages. One of the most important considerations for drivers in these situations is their obligation to report the accident. Drivers who fail to report accidents as required can incur several types of penalties, including criminal charges.
California enforces strict laws pertaining to drivers and their requirements to report accidents. Failure to abide by these laws could lead to criminal charges, loss of insurance coverage, and/or reduced ability to recover compensation if you were hurt in the accident. Your own insurance company also requires you to report any accident, regardless of fault, within a day or two. You will need to take swift action in filing an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s policy, and you must notify their insurance company of your intent to file a claim before you file it. It’s best to hire legal counsel as soon as possible to assist you with your insurance claims after an accident.
Important First Steps After a Car Accident in California
Your personal health and safety should be your primary concern immediately after a car crash. Depending on the location and severity of the incident, you may not be able to move and/or leave your vehicle until help arrives. If you are injured but can move around, you should only do so carefully, checking on the others involved in the crash and using your phone to take pictures of the accident scene. These photos could be invaluable to a subsequent insurance claim or civil suit against the party who caused your accident.
If you are hurt in an accident, you must wait for first responders to arrive. If you did not suffer any severe injuries, you must remain at the accident scene until the police arrive, conduct an initial investigation, and allow you to leave. When speaking to the police, remember they will record your statements in their police report, so do not admit fault for the accident or say anything they may interpret as an admission of guilt.
Potential Consequences for Failing to Report an Accident
It is vital to take your responsibility to report car accidents seriously, even if you did not cause your recent collision. If you have any room for doubt about whether you should call 911 to report a crash, it is always best to report it. Your report will compel a police response and generate a formal record of the incident. In addition, the police’s initial findings may be enough to clearly establish fault for the incident, which will streamline your subsequent recovery efforts.
Ultimately, reporting your accident as soon as possible improves your chances of recovering maximum compensation for your losses and allows you to begin your recovery efforts as quickly as possible. Additionally, you will meet your reporting obligations and avoid criminal prosecution for hit-and-run or problems with your auto insurance coverage. Working with an experienced attorney is the best option for anyone recovering from a recent accident. Your legal team can assist you with your insurance claim and/or a personal injury claim to enhance your recovery.
Reporting a Car Accident in California FAQs
How Long Do You Have to File a Police Report After an Accident in California?
California law requires all drivers in the state to report vehicle accidents they experience that result in significant property damage, injury, or death. If an accident only resulted in minor vehicle damage and no one was injured, the drivers can resolve the issue with just an insurance claim. However, if you have doubts about whether you need to report your accident, it is always best to err on the side of caution and report it.
What Happens If You Don’t Report a Car Accident in California?
Failure to report an auto accident you caused can amount to a hit-and-run offense under California state law. If you were hurt in an accident someone else caused but did not report it, you may not only call liability for the incident into question but also jeopardize any subsequent recovery efforts you attempt. Remember that when it comes to reporting your recent car accident, you must not only report it to the police within 24 hours, ideally immediately after it occurs, but also notify your insurance carrier of the accident.
How Soon Should I File My Auto Insurance Claim After an Accident in California?
You only have a few days to file your claim against an at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. The sooner you begin this process, the better, and an experienced attorney can guide you through the insurance claim process. Remember that if you plan to file a claim against an at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy, you may also need to notify your insurance carrier about your accident as well.
Is It Worth Hiring an Attorney After a Car Accident?
The aftermath of any car accident can be painful, confusing, and stressful. You will be much better equipped to handle the unique challenges of your case when you have an experienced attorney representing you. When you choose Chris and Frank Accident Attorneys to handle your car accident claim, we can assist you in filing an auto insurance claim for compensation for your damages and then help you build a personal injury claim to enhance your recovery.
Swift action is the best strategy after another driver’s negligence has caused a serious accident in California. However, it is generally best to assume that you should call the police and report it immediately if you are involved in an accident. Doing so will create a police report to which you can refer later if any disputes arise regarding liability for the incident and the resulting damages. Contact Chris and Frank Accident Attorneys today if you have important legal questions about a recent car accident someone else caused or are concerned about your responsibilities regarding reporting an accident.