What to Do After a Car Accident

As you drive on the highway, something unexpected occurs: you are involved in an accident. You might have hit a deer that suddenly leaped out in front of your vehicle, collided with another motorist, or hit a parked car. If involved in a car accident, you should know what to do next, regardless of the circumstances.

Stay Calm

A road accident could be an extremely stressful event. After your accident, it’s reasonable if you’re feeling anxious. However, you should make an effort to maintain your composure. Checking yourself and your passengers for indications of serious injuries should be your top priority. Get to safety if everyone is unharmed.

Your car might not be functional. Depending on where the collision happened, surrounding vehicles may also pose a threat to you. As a result, you should carefully evaluate the scenario and decide how to get to a secure area.

Remain at the Scene of the Car Accident

If another accident victim sustains severe injuries or dies, you want to remain at the scene until the police arrive unless you need immediate medical treatment. You can face hit-and-run charges if you leave the scene of an injury accident. If there is a major injury or a death, the punishment can be anything from a $10,000 fine to a year in jail.

If the only damage appears to property, you may legally leave the accident scene after presenting yourself to the people involved. If you don’t identify yourself, a hit-and-run is a misdemeanor. Penalties include a $1,000 fine or up to six months in prison.

If the other involved motorist or drivers fled the scene, call the police. If the authorities cannot locate them, you can submit a claim with their insurance provider. If the at-fault driver is never found and you have comprehensive and collision insurance, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, or both, you could still get compensation from your insurer.

Seek Medical Attention If Needed

No matter if you think you were hurt in the accident, you should visit the doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries take time to become apparent. A doctor should assess you to see if you require therapy. After an accident, seeing a doctor will increase your potential for eventual financial settlement.


An insurance company can reject your claim if you wait days or weeks to see a doctor and then have symptoms of an injury. They can contend that you haven’t provided evidence that the collision caused your injuries. Alternatively, they can assert that you did not attempt to lessen your losses.

Document the Scene

Regarding auto insurance and collisions, California is an at-fault state. If someone else was at fault for your accident, you might be compensated for your losses and medical costs through that person’s insurance. If you can provide proof of negligence, your chances of winning are higher. Therefore, it’s crucial to preserve evidence as soon as possible.

Any witnesses to your accident should have their names and contact information collected. If they don’t give you their phone number, note their license plate number. Next, take quality photos of the area and any physical proof of your injuries.

Notify Your Car Insurance Company

You can report the accident by calling the number provided by your auto insurance carrier. You could also contact your insurance agent, who will speak with your insurance provider on your behalf and ask some questions.

Regardless of who was at fault for the automobile collision, contacting your auto insurance provider as quickly as possible is critical. According to your policy, you must immediately tell your insurance provider of any incident that potentially results in coverage. Your coverage could be at risk if you don’t notify your auto insurance provider promptly.

Remember that you are not required to submit a claim just because you report the accident to your auto insurance provider. Contact a Bakersfield car accident lawyer to learn the benefits and drawbacks of submitting a claim, such as whether it can affect your auto insurance costs.

Report the Accident

According to California law, you must report an accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days if someone died, was hurt even if they were only slightly hurt, or the accident caused more than $1,000 worth of damage.

If unsure, file an accident report because you will file a claim with your vehicle insurance. A California DMV Form SR1 must be used to report accidents to the DMV. You will have to give the following details:

  • Your name, residence, and date of birth.
  • Driver’s license number. 
  • Insurance information, including policy number, expiration date, and insurance provider.
  • Details of the accident, including the time, place, number of casualties, and extent of property damage.

Your driver’s license could be suspended for up to a year if the DMV is not notified of an accident.

Remember that if there are fatalities or serious injuries from the collision and authorities do not respond at the scene, you have 24 hours to file a written crash report with the local police or California Highway Patrol.

Before speaking with your auto accident lawyer, avoid assigning blame or agreeing to any settlements with your insurance provider or the police. If you do, you might have less chance of receiving the compensation you deserve. Your attorney will fight for financial compensation for injury and property damage claims.