Car accidents can complicate your life in sudden and significant ways. One minute, you are on your way to work—the next, you’re assessing yourself for injuries and wondering about what steps you need to take. The scene of an accident is often chaotic and overwhelming, so it’s important to understand the tasks you should complete to keep everyone as safe as possible during this disorienting time. Your first priority is to seek medical attention for your injuries. Additionally, you will need to report the accident to various authorities. Neglecting to report the accident can lead to serious complications, so make sure you take the necessary steps to contact the necessary agencies. This post will outline the guidelines for reporting an auto accident in Riverside County and the additional steps you should take to maximize your settlement offer.
California’s Accident Reporting Guidelines
California has established requirements for reporting a car accident. You are obligated to report the accident if the accident involves any of the following: property damage exceeding $1,000, injuries (however minor), fatalities, unlicensed drivers, a driver fleeing the scene (hit-and-run), or an intoxicated driver. If you are unsure about whether any of the above conditions exist, it’s best to report the accident anyway. Even if the law may not require you to report the accident, doing so is often the best way to protect your rights and strengthen your auto accident claim later on.
Reporting a Car Accident to Law Enforcement
California law requires any driver involved in a car accident where an injury or fatality occurred to report the incident to the police within 24 hours. Failure to do so may result in significant penalties, such as fines, loss of driving privileges, or even potential jail time. It’s best to contact law enforcement as possible so the responding officer can compile a police report. You can contact either the police department nearest to the accident or the California Highway Patrol (CHP). The officer will gather information at the scene of the accident, including the contact information for the involved parties (including witnesses), statements from those at the scene, and any relevant details (i.e., inclement weather conditions, broken tail lights, etc.). When you move forward with filing a personal injury claim, you can request a copy of the police report to support the strength of your claim.
Contacting the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
If the auto accident caused a fatality, injury (however minor), or more than $1,000 in property damage, you must report the incident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). California law gives you ten days to report the accident to the DMV. You may do so by filling out an SR-1 form online or submitting it via mail. Failing to report a collision carries legal consequences, such as the suspension of your driver’s license, fines, or potential jail time. It’s best to notify the DMV of the accident as quickly as possible to avoid these penalties.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Another step you must take following an auto accident is reporting the incident to your insurance company. Even if you were not responsible for causing the accident, you are obligated to notify your insurance company. Your insurance company will need to prepare a claim or discuss a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer, so it’s essential to contact your insurer as soon as possible. The sooner you report the accident, the faster the claim will move forward. At this point, you should consider enlisting the guidance of a trusted and experienced car accident lawyer to assist you. Insurance adjusters may say that they are “on your side,” but their loyalty remains with protecting the company’s bottom line by paying you as little as possible. Your attorney can step in to handle these negotiations on your behalf, working hard to maximize the amount of compensation you recover.
Get Started With a Caring Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you have suffered an injury in an auto accident, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and intimidated by the number of steps you need to take during this challenging and confusing time. However, you do not have to navigate this process alone. Working with a trusted and experienced Temecula car accident lawyer is the best way to ensure that you can maximize your settlement offer and secure the compensation you need to support all aspects of your recovery. The last thing you want to do when recovering from a car accident injury is to engage in tense communications with an insurance adjuster who is seeking to deny you the compensation you deserve. Instead, let your attorney step in to handle these negotiations on your behalf. In the meantime, you can devote more of your valuable time and energy to focusing on what matters most—your physical and emotional recovery.
If you need help securing compensation following an auto accident in Temecula or Murrieta, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320 to speak with a dedicated and knowledgeable personal injury attorney.