What Should I do Immediately After a Car Accident in California

Car Accidents in California are instantaneous and often occur when the same is least expected. On the eve of the occurrence of such an accident, the consequences are catastrophic and can be so burdening in both health and physical dimensions. Following such an accident, whereas it is ideal to remain calm and pursue medication and emergency medical attention, it is imperative to keep documentary evidence of the scene. This detailed write-up is aimed at providing a thorough guideline on what to do following a car accident. The subsequent paragraphs provide details of a step-by-step process of what to do in such instances.

Following the occurrence of a car accident, it is challenging in most instances how to get back to the position one was in before the accident. Several expenses are incurred during the process and a lot of pain and anguish is sustained. It is worth noting that whilst the effects of an accident can be so devastating, there are key steps to be taken to ensure that the credibility of your ultimate claim is preserved.

Make your Safety a Top Priority:

Immediately after a car accident, it is important to keep your safety as a top priority. Remember your safety also includes that of other passengers as well. Ensure that you prioritize your safety. Moving out of the scene is the most probable way of evading further damage. If your vehicle can move, move out of the road, and place hazards on it.

The most essential step thereafter is to call for medical assistance for those who might have been injured in the whole process. In so doing, make sure the following steps are properly heeded:

  • Change your position and location: The most appropriate step to start with is to evacuate the vehicle to the side of the road where it is free from traffic. In the process, it is good to be on the proper lookout understanding that tension should be eliminated though it is tough to avoid. While at all these, it is key to keep hazard lights on to keep the other drivers alert.
  • Assess any Harm sustained: Do a proper and thorough check of yourself, other passengers and other road users including pillion passengers to confirm that everyone is safe. Should the said assessment disclose possible injuries, it is key to contact healthcare facilities for emergency treatment and medical attention.
  • Contact the Police Department: It is key to contact the police through their emergency number 911 to report any casualties as well as the precise location the accident has taken place.
  • Get the personal information of all those who are involved in the accident.
  • Gather all the relevant documentation.
  • Call your insurer immediately.
  • Retain a duly competent car accident attorney. An attorney will always ensure that you get the best bargain out of insurance claims.

Car Accident in California: Are all my expenses going to be catered for by my insurance company?

The answer to this question falls in the negative. Insurance companies will only meet your expenses to the extent provided for under the policy. The insurance companies cannot go overboard than the sum insured. When not at fault, you will obtain your best compensation.

Which party caters for healthcare expenses following a car accident?

First, such expenses can be met by your medical insurer. The same can also be met by the insurance company of the party at fault. The answer to this question depends on the circumstances of each case.

Whom can I sue following a Car Accident?

You may need to sue all the relevant parties who might have contributed to your accident. The reasons for suing are for monetary gain and to hold the party at fault to account. It is through a suit that you can obtain non-pecuniary damages which are assessed by courts at their discretion. Such damages include damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost wages, and other damages from this stressful situation.

Do I have any claim if the at-fault party is uninsured?

The answer to this question is in the affirmative. However, you will have to depend on your uninsured motorist cover to obtain your compensation. If you are not insured, the only option is to pursue civil claims in court.

What information is required while filling out an accident claim form?

Under any given circumstances, it is important to give all the details you can remember. Give a detailed account of everything that was procured at the point of the accident. Capture all the surrounding conditions remembering to indicate the date and time when the accident occurred. It is also prudent to indicate the atmospheric conditions as well as topographic factors. List all the parties involved and details of the vehicles. Further, ensure that you record the accounts of all the witnesses present. Also, add all the details of your insurance company and any information if need be.

How will I pursue Compensation for Damage occasioned by another party?

You must pursue the insurance of the provider of that party. Some of such parties at fault may want to walk without making even the slightest pay. Ensure that you have all the relevant documentation to enable you to obtain the best compensation. You may also take the option of instituting a suit against the at-fault party for personal injury claims.

What is the Maximum Compensation Value that I can receive after a Car Accident?

You are entitled to special damages for all the expenses incurred after the accident. Such expenses include medical costs, car repair expenses, and towing charges among others. You may also be entitled to non-pecuniary damages such as damages for suffering and mental anguish, lost income among other damages.

What do I do if I was at fault Party?

Compose yourself and stay calm. Remain at the scene and take note of all the prevailing circumstances. Look out for the most probable defenses. Relax and get an account of all witnesses.

Do not admit liability at any one given point or at all. In any case, retain an attorney to stand in for you in any conversation. Talk less, observe more.

Can I be at fault even if I was not speeding?

Speed does not matter. If you are at fault, the same is an interrogation of fact. An assessment is based on the peculiarity of each case.

 Am I liable if I had an emergency health issue?

It will always depend on the circumstances of a particular case. If your life was in jeopardy, you will be excused from liability. Healthcare emergencies are regarded highly as far as liability is concerned.

Aftermath if I am at Fault.

The insurance company shall pay based on the limits of your coverage.

The Aftermath of the Damage if you are not the at-fault party.

There are some actions to be undertaken following a car accident. Some of these actions include making a notification to the insurance company, sorting the healthcare expenses, car repairs and addressing your health concerns to heal in the case of a major accident, and finding a qualified lawyer to help represent you.

Will my insurer take away my cover if I am at Fault?

Unless your circumstances are extremely mundane in each circumstance, the insurance company is not obligated to take away your cover. The worst case is that your rates may be raised.

Am I liable for healthcare costs for the other injured parties?

Generally, upon apportionment of liability, you will pay a once wholesome figure which is to be shared by all the affected parties. The same is done based on the doctrine of comparative negligence.

Is there any need for a Lawyer if my Insurance Company is pursuing my claim?

Absolutely. Remember that insurance companies are in the market to get the best negotiation. They are willing to part ways with very little amount of money. Having an attorney in place helps in ensuring that you get the best outcome from the negotiations. Further, attorneys will always negotiate with insurance companies. Contact us and get the best legal representation.

Though it is not a must to retain an attorney in a car injury claim, it is important to have one to ensure that you obtain the optimum compensation. Call our team of attorneys today and you are sure to have your interest protected.

 What needs not be done after an accident?

  • Do not escape the scene.
  •  Do not evacuate anyone.
  • Never admit fault.
  • Do not assume the extent of injuries.
  •  Do not be lied to.
  • Symptoms may later develop exceeding the extent that was expected.

What Should I do Immediately After a Car Accident in California

Aftermath of the Accident

You will need to take your time to recover fully. You also assess the extent of harm sustained. Make sure you keep a constant check at your doctor’s place.

Related FAQs

Q: What is the importance of having a lawyer after a car accident?

A: Attorneys will ensure that you get the best bargain following a car accident. They will ensure that you obtain the best bargain in the whole claims process. Insurance companies can be cunning hence the need to have an attorney while navigating through the recovery journey.

Q: What action should I take immediately after an accident?

A: First, ensure your safety and that of other motorists. Contact healthcare providers to attend to any of your predicaments. Call the police at the scene. Ensure that you have all the requisite documentation.

Q: What timelines should I take to relax following a car accident?

A: Immediately after the accident, you should stay calm inside your vehicle. Call the police to the scene to assess the situation.

Q: Which information should not reach my insurance company after the accident?

A: Do not open with any information. Be cautious while responding to questions. Whichever answer you give, ensure that the same is true.

Q: Is there any issue if I don’t raise an accident within 24 hours?

A: The reporting requirement is two-pronged: to the insurer and the police. The same should be made to the insurer within 24 or 48 hours. Failing to report the same could have adverse consequences depending on the terms of the policy you hold.

Q: What symptoms are you likely to experience?

A: Depending on the nature of injuries sustained, symptoms are diverse and are particular to any given injury. Most of the symptoms raised hereinabove form part of those experienced here.

Q: Is it necessary to contact my insurer even if I am not at fault?

A: Absolutely. Mostly, insurance companies make it a policy for accidents to be reported. Regardless of whether you were at fault or not, you should always report to the insurance company. You need to gather all the relevant information to enable you to file your claim with the insurance company. Ensure you retain an attorney to assist you in the whole process of claiming compensation.

Q: What should I do if the Accident was not my Fault?

A: The first step to be taken is to move out of the accident scene. Depending on the circumstances of each case, you may have to stay back in the car or move your vehicle away from the road. It is at this point that you must check the safety of the other passengers. Get all documents from the side; take pictures and videos.

It is important to ensure that you do not move any other person from the scene. Such movements should be effected only with the supervision of medical personnel. There is a need to ensure that the safety of every party is safeguarded.

Q: Is there any need to file a Report with the Police?

A: Deciding whether to file a report with the severity of the injury sustained. If the injuries sustained are minute, there is no need to file a report with the police. On the contrary, if the injury sustained is catastrophic, there is a need that the same to be filed with the police. However, it is always advisable that any kind of injury sustained, the same be reported to the police. This is the case even though the police may be reluctant to record a crash whose damage is worth less than $1000.

You need to be keen on the whole process. Insurance companies may offer compensation but will always attempt to issue the lowest figure. It is important to note that insurance companies are in the market for business.  Ensure that you retain an attorney to help you in the process. Attorneys are experts and can pursue insurance companies until they settle your claim reasonably. Do not be quick to accept settlement offers from insurance companies.

Q: Is there any need to report the accident to my insurer?

A: To ensure safety, the second most important step is to notify your insurance company of such an occurrence. This move is to improve your claim and for future reference.

Do not address any concerns raised by the insurance company on the other side. Ensure that any word with the insurance company is uttered only in the presence of an attorney.

Q: What Information Should Be Preserved?

A: You should get all the details of the other parties involved. Get the registration details of all the motor vehicles involved. Take all the scene pictures and save them in a protected safe. Ensure that you record the weather conditions prevailing under those circumstances.

Further, get contact details of all witnesses present.

Q: What steps should I take if I was the at-fault party?

A: If liability points towards you, you will always have to take urgent steps to remedy the situation. Some of the key steps are summarized below.

  • Contact the police.
  • Remain at the scene.
  • Get a healthcare assessment.
  • Get all the requisite information.
  • Coordinate with all the relevant authorities.
  •  Do not admit fault. Do not lie.
  • Notify your insurer of the accident.
  • Maintain your medication.

Collect Documentary and Photographic evidence of the Scene:

Documentation of the accident scene is a crucial part to be undertaken following a car accident. Remember that accident claims are civil claims and as such documentary evidence forms the basis of admissibility of evidence. Proper documentation also forms part of a claim against insurance companies. It is a great thought to have photographs of the scene as well.

Take the following steps to gather essential information:

  • Share Information: The parties involved are expected to exchange their details for easy tracing of the whole process. Crucial information such as names, contact information, insurance information, and vehicle registration details with all parties involved in the crash.
  • Make Photographic Records: Take pictures of the scene of the crash, and such should cover the cars involved, injury sustained, registration numbers, and all the road signs and symbols.
  •  Collect Witness Accounts: Gather contact details of all eyewitnesses who encountered the occurrence of the crash. Witness statements form the basis of the claim.
  •   Record Environmental and Weather Conditions: It is worthy to note all the circumstances that led to the occurrence of the accident. To that effect, all the conditions including weather and any other condition that might have prevented the occurrence of the accident are key.

Call the Law Enforcement Agencies:

In most cases, police officers investigate any occurrence that resulted in the accident. Furthermore, they record witness statements making them attain the requisite authority in law.  The following steps are key in the process:

Contact the Police: The police carry out thorough investigations into the occurrence of the accident. You need to make an accurate report of what is predicated on the accident. The manner of narration of your story to the police determines how best your claim shall be presented in court.

Assist all the relevant Authorities Finding: The police department is the main point of authority which is mostly concerned with the manner of occurrence of accidents. While conducting their investigations, it is pertinent that a detailed and true account of occurrence be recorded. It is a matter of evidentiary weight that calls for cooperation with authorities to ensure that the best results are obtained in the long run.

Pursue Healthcare Services:

Irrespective of how minute you may think your injuries are, ensure that you seek medical attention. Upon attaining such, it is important also to keep proper records of the same. This process also goes deep into the evidentiary collation procedure which forms the core of the claim before both insurance companies and court. Specific steps to be undertaken are as follows:

Consult a Physician: Book an appointment to attend to your injuries and treat them. Visit to a medical practitioner is not pegged on the perceived extent of the injury but should be done always regardless of the appearance of the injury threshold.

Document Medical Information: Following a visit to the doctor, it is key to have all information touching on your healthcare preserved. You must take an active role in ensuring that all the said information is kept. The medical expenses and expert reports in the process must be preserved for future reference while in pursuit of the claim. Documentary evidence is the key thing in the process of a claim for damages. Any vital information should not be missed in the whole process.

Inform your Insurance Provider of the Occurrence:

Insurance companies require firsthand information regarding the occurrence of an accident. The purpose of informing the same is to ensure that all the claims are well-pegged in law. Insurance companies need to be notified as the first persons following such accidents. Insurance companies will be at the forefront of ensuring that the best documents are obtained in the process.

Importance of consulting a car accident lawyer

In the aftermath of a car accident, navigating the complexities of insurance claims and seeking rightful compensation can be daunting. This is why consulting with a dedicated car accident lawyer, like those at Big Ben Lawyers, is crucial. Our experienced team will guide you through the insurance claim process, ensuring your claim is structured effectively to secure the compensation you deserve. At Big Ben Lawyers, we handle negotiations with other driver’s insurance companies, providing comprehensive support as you pursue financial compensation for your car accident claim.

Recovering from a car accident involves more than just managing the immediate aftermath; it requires detailed documentation of the accident scene and diligent pursuit of insurance claims. By following the guidelines outlined in this manual and leveraging the expertise of Big Ben Lawyers, you can minimize the impact of the crash and protect both your health and your claims. Remember, staying composed is key to achieving the best possible outcome. Prioritizing your safety and that of any passengers is paramount. After receiving necessary medical attention, ensure to contact the police and insist on a thorough and accurate police report that rightly does not attribute blame to you if you were not at fault. Let Big Ben Lawyers stand by your side during these challenging times, offering the legal guidance and support you need to navigate the path to recovery and compensation.

Big Ben Lawyers
144 N Glendale Ave.
Suite 250
Glendale, CA 91206


1. California Department of Insurance, So you’ve had an Accident, What’s Next? Available at https://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/95-guides/01-auto/hadaccident.cfm, accessed on 20th February, 2024.

2. California Vehicle Code (CVC) §13800 (a).

3. Department of Motor Vehicles, Fatal and Serious Injury Accidents, available at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-education-and-safety/dmv-safety-guidelines-actions/fatal-and-serious-injury-accidents/, accessed on 21st February 2024.

4. Auto Accident Injury Compensation Calculator, available at https://lnjury.com/auto-accident/, accessed on 22nd February 2024.

5. The Epoch Times, What should you do after a Car Accident?, available at https://www.theepochtimes.com/article/what-should-you-do-after-a-car-accident-1308323, accessed on 22nd February 2024.

6. Department of Motor Vehicles, Fatal and Serious Injury Accidents, available at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-education-and-safety/dmv-safety-guidelines-actions/fatal-and-serious-injury-accidents/, accessed on 21st February 2024.

7. California Vehicle Code (CVC) §13800 (a).

[1] California Department of Insurance, So you’ve had an Accident, What’s Next? Available at https://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/95-guides/01-auto/hadaccident.cfm, accessed on 20th February 2024.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Supra Note 1 as above.

[5] The Epoch Times, What should you do after a Car Accident?, Available at https://www.theepochtimes.com/article/what-should-you-do-after-a-car-accident-1308323, accessed on 22nd February 2024.

[6] Supra, note 1 as above.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Department of Motor Vehicles, Fatal and Serious Injury Accidents, available at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/driver-education-and-safety/dmv-safety-guidelines-actions/fatal-and-serious-injury-accidents/, accessed on 21st February 2024.

[9] See California Vehicle Code (CVC) §13800 (a).


Glendale Office

144 N Glendale Ave.
Suite 250
Glendale, CA 91206

(818) 423-4878

Fresno Office

1221 Van Ness Ave
Suite 307
Fresno, CA 93721

(559) 354-6344

Ontario Office

3281 E. Guasti Rd
7th Floor
Ontario, CA 91761

(909) 235-5886

Riverside Office

11801 Pierce St.
Suite 200
Riverside CA 92505

(951) 561-2002

Sacramento Office

1015 2nd St
Second Floor, Suite B
Sacramento, CA 95814

(916) 860-7800

San Bernadino Office

473 E Carnegie Dr
Suite 200
San Bernardino, CA 92408

(909) 963-0750

Book your free consultation right now