What to Do Following an Auto Accident in California: A Checklist

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It’s important to think through the steps you should take following an auto accident.

When we are driving our cars, we rarely think about getting into an accident. While the thought may cross our minds every now and then, it’s not likely that we are picturing how we’d react to a car accident every time we climb behind the wheel. However, auto accidents can be frightening and overwhelming experiences, especially if they result in injuries. While you don’t need to think about catastrophic scenarios every time to start your engine, it’s helpful to think through the steps you would need to take following an auto accident. Let’s take a look at a simple checklist that can help you prepare for a car accident, whether or not one actually occurs.

Step 1: Keep Your Car Stocked With the Essentials

Long before an accident ever occurs, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re prepared. Keep your insurance card, driver’s license, and registration in your vehicle or on your person whenever you drive your car. It’s also important to stow a safety kit in your vehicle, stocked with basic first aid items, a flashlight, and other useful items.

Step 2: As Soon as an Accident Occurs, Assess the Scene

Being involved in an auto accident can lead to immediate shock and disorientation. As soon as possible, assess yourself and others around you for any injuries. If immediate medical attention is required, call for an ambulance. You should also contact the police so that you can file a police report. This information is bound to be useful later on, should you decide to pursue a personal injury claim.

Step 3: Gather Documentation

If possible, try to take photos of the scene. Document any vehicle or property damage, and request the contact information of other drivers and witnesses. All of this information can later be used to establish the nature and severity of the car accident, which can determine the success of your personal injury claim. 

Step 4: Know What NOT to Do

As much as it’s important to know what you should do following an auto accident, you should also understand what you should not do. Don’t sign any papers, unless you’re requested to do so by a police officer). Refrain from admitting fault or discussing the accident itself. Do not leave the scene until the responding officer or other involved parties do so. If a witness or other driver tries to take a photograph of your license or registration, just say no. They can write down the necessary information, but they should not be allowed to photograph these important documents.

Step 5: Move Forward

Once you’ve left the scene, notify your insurance company about the accident. Request a copy of the accident report, and make an appointment with a a physician to make sure you aren’t suffering from any additional complications. Reach out to an experienced auto accident attorney who can help you understand your options for pursuing and obtaining compensation that can go towards covering your medical costs, lost wages, and other hardships resulting from the accident.


To learn more about what to do following an auto accident in the Temecula area, reach out to the experienced and dedicated legal team at Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation today. Call (951) 489-3320 today to schedule a consultation.

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