What To Do After a Minor Car Accident
Many collisions in Los Angeles qualify as minor. A low-speed rear-end collision may happen in congested traffic on the 405, for example, or two cars may collide in a busy parking lot. Although minor car accidents don’t cause the same level of injury and property damage as serious accidents, there are still steps you need to take as a victim. Read on to learn what to do after a minor car accident and when to contact a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles for help.
Although it is a nerve-wracking situation, do your best to stay calm and collected after a minor car accident. Do not get angry at the other driver or yell at him or her. Do not apologize or admit fault, either. Saying you are sorry may seem like the polite thing to do, but it could be viewed as an admission of guilt.
It is against the law in California to leave the scene of any car accident – even a minor car accident – without fulfilling a few driver responsibilities. If you leave the scene without stopping to see if there are any injuries or property damage, you could face criminal charges for a hit-and-run. Pull over as close to the scene of the accident as you can, in a safe place that does not block traffic. Turn on your hazard lights.
Check for Injuries
Check yourself and any of your passengers for injuries. Then, exit your vehicle when it is safe to do so and check to see if anyone else has been injured. If so, call 911 immediately and request an ambulance.
Call the Police
Under state law, you do not have to call the police unless a car accident causes injuries, deaths or more than $1,000 in property damage. However, a police report can be useful even after a minor car accident. Most car insurance companies request copies of official accident reports to process claims. Call 911 from the scene of the accident and give the officer your side of the story when he or she arrives.
While you are waiting for the police to arrive, exchange information with the other driver. Exchange names, addresses, phone numbers, insurance company information, driver’s license information and license plate numbers. Obtain the information of eyewitnesses, as well. If you find out that the other driver is uninsured or believe he or she is intoxicated, call the police.
If you have a camera or smartphone, take photographs of the scene of the car accident. Photographs and videos can serve as evidence against the other driver during your insurance claim. Take both close-up and wide-lens shots of the entire crash scene.
Go to the Hospital
Minor accidents can still cause painful and debilitating injuries, such as whiplash. These injuries are not always immediately noticeable. Go to a hospital in Los Angeles right away after any type of vehicle collision. A doctor can diagnose an injury even before you notice symptoms.
Before you begin the claims process, gather as much information as you can about your car accident. This includes copies of the police report, your medical records, photographs and your description of what happened. Keep an injury journal, as well, to describe how the accident has impacted your life.
Contact Your Insurer
Call your own car insurance provider as soon as possible after a minor car accident to report the wreck. Then, if you believe the other driver is to blame, contact his or her insurance company to file a claim.
Consult With an Attorney
Most victims can handle minor car accident insurance claims on their own. If, however, an insurance company is wrongfully denying your claim, offering you less money than you believe your injuries or property damage is worth, or you encounter other complications, an attorney can help you fight for the financial compensation you deserve.
Consult with a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles for assistance with the steps you need to take after a minor car accident.