A Car Accident in Los Angeles – Three Steps You Must Take
When you have a car accident in Los Angeles (or anywhere else in the world) it’s often difficult to think clearly about the important steps you need to take to keep you, passengers and other drivers safe immediately afterwards.
First, according to California law, you must stop immediately after the accident. If not, you could be charged with a hit and run.
Once stopped, you’ll need to do three things.
First, your basic survival instincts should remind you to get off the road and to stay out of harm’s way. Rubberneckers are prone to causing serious, secondary accidents. We once represented a woman who was struck by a big rig while she was standing outside her car after a minor accident.
The second step is to check to see if anyone has been injured and to call for help if someone did experience anything from minor to extensive injuries, or if they seem to be in a state of shock. My advice is to call the police after every accident. But you’ll find that they usually will not respond unless you tell them someone is injured or the other party is not cooperating in the exchange of information.
The third step, which often gets lost in the immediacy of the situation, is to document everything that happened.
Steps one and two protect you in the “here and now”. Step three will help you later, particularly in the case of future litigation, financial claims, and/or developing injuries.
California Accident Law – Handle the Legal Requirements First
If you’re involved in a car accident in California, you must present your driver’s license, vehicle registration, proof of insurance and current address to the other drivers involved in the accident.
If you don’t have one of our brochures available but you have a smart phone with a decent camera AND if the other drivers will allow you to do this, take photos of the other drivers’ information, ensure all of the text is in focus, and immediately e-mail the photo to yourself so it won’t get lost. Otherwise, grab pen and paper and start writing.
Accident Photos Speak a Thousand Words
Once you have everyone’s information, start taking photos of the scene. Get wide shots of the area (include street signs, stop signs, traffic lights, etc.) as well as close up images of anything damaged (yours and theirs), and license plates of the cars involved.
Try to get pictures of the cars before they are moved, if you can, but do not put yourself or others in danger in an attempt to get photos.
Accident Avoidance: Stay Safe When Driving
The ideal situation when driving is to do everything you can to avoid a car accident in the first place. You can do this by staying constantly aware. That means no eating, drinking or applying cosmetics while driving, and no using your cell phone while driving. In other words, no driving while distracted, or DWD.
It also means “driving defensively,” especially when you spot others “multi-tasking” on the road.
Sometimes though, no matter how careful you are, things just happen. If you’re involved in a Los Angeles car accident,
1. Get yourself and others to safety.
2. Check for injuries sustained during the accident, and potential dangers arising at the accident scene.
3. Document everything.