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What Should I do Immediately after a Car Accident?

As long as there are reckless, careless and inattentive drivers, those who drive drunk and drivers who are not sure of the rules of the road, there will be car accidents. In Los Angeles, car accidents happen with alarming frequency. However, despite their frequency, many people are uncertain about what to do after such an accident.

Even if there are no injuries, coping with a car accident is a frustrating, difficult ordeal and, because of our extensive experience in this area of the law, we have compiled a list of suggestions if you have been in a crash on an LA roadway. In the immediate aftermath of a crash, the future may be difficult to focus on but the actions you take after a car accident may help you get the compensation you need to pay for damages, medical expenses and lost wages.  

After a Car Crash, Take these Actions: 

  1. Seek immediate medical help. Make sure you and your passengers are okay and, if possible, check with the driver of the other car. Call 911 immediately even if no one is visibly hurt. Some injuries are not obvious and some may present symptoms days or weeks later. If you need to be taken to a hospital by ambulance, try to take a moment to notice the things around you, like the license plate of the other car, or how many people were in the vehicle, and if any witnesses are willing to help determine details.
  2. If no one is hurt, try to get out of traffic. Many people are injured after accidents when they are struck by other vehicles that don't see the stopped cars in the road.
  3. Look around for important details about the accident. First note the license plate of the other driver in case they decide to flee the scene. Look for skid marks, broken glass, car parts, etc. These can be important evidence for police who are investigating. Photograph the accident scene if you can.
  4. Exchange information with all drivers but do not discuss the accident with them. Get the information you need from the driver who hit you and any other drivers involved in the accident. Ask for their name, address, phone numbers, insurance company, policy number and their agent.
  5. Get contact information for any passengers and witnesses. Ask them for their names, address, and phone numbers. Check with all bystanders because if someone did see the accident happen, their testimony can be extremely valuable if the parties disagree about what happened
  6. Talk with the police officer. Tell him or her everything you know about the auto accident. However, don't indicate you are at fault, even if you believe you are. After an investigation, you may find that you were not responsible for the accident after all.
  7. Take photos of the scene with a camera or cell phone. Photograph everything you can: the scene, damage to all vehicles, the road or intersection, relevant road signs, road conditions, the people in the other vehicles, and other things that could have influenced the accident. 
  8. Write down everything you remember about the car crash as soon as possible. You may think you will remember all details of the crash but these cases can take weeks or even months to resolve. The details may become difficult to recall. 
  9. Get a copy of the accident report. If the police or sheriff's department arrived at the scene, a report of the accident will be made available. Check for any errors or omissions of facts. If you hire an attorney, he or she will be able to obtain this for you or you can request it yourself from the sheriff or police department that made the report at the scene.
  10. Talk to a qualified auto accident lawyer in your area. A free consultation could help direct you as to the best course of action for your situation.

While we hope you won't need to use it, we encourage you to download our "Auto Accident Checklist" and keep it in your glove compartment along with your vehicle registration and insurance information.

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From our offices in Woodland Hills, California, Freeman & Freeman, LLP, provides legal advice and representation for clients in communities throughout the state, including those in Burbank, Glendale, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Tarzana, Santa Clarita, Agoura Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Northridge, Granada Hills, Pacoima, Panorama City, North Hollywood, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Lancaster, Palmdale and Alhambra.