What do I do if I am in a Car Accident or Otherwise Injured in California?

Here are some tips on what to do in the unfortunate event that you are involved in a car accident or other major injury-causing incident in California. Keep in mind that our 10-Step Accident Checklist list is not exhaustive and is no replacement for the advice of an experienced attorney based on the specific facts of your case:

1. Safety first. If you or any other party involved are badly injured, need immediate medical treatment, or if it's just too unsafe (or impossible) to get out of your vehicle, call 911! If you are in an accident on the freeway, don't just open up your door and start taking pictures. Assess the situation and proceed with caution. Do everything you can to make sure you are safe.

2. Take pictures. Take as many pictures of the scene, injuries, damaged property (including the vehicles, items inside the vehicles, public/private property, roads, etc.), road conditions, weather conditions, and anything else that might be evidence of what happened. Cell phones these days can quickly capture high resolution images and video and are a great tool for these types of incidents.

3. Take notes. Take notes on the incident. Draw a quick diagram of what happened for later reference. Estimate the speed, direction of travel, and anything else that you can recall about the incident. Take note of weather and road conditions.

4. Talk to other involved parties and witnesses. Talk to anybody who witnessed the accident or was involved in some way. Get their side of the story and try to document it. Get the following contact information:
- Name.
- Address.
- Phone number.
- Driver license number.
- License plate number and VIN of vehicle of other involved parties.
- Insurance company and policy number of other involved parties.
- Contact information for insurance representative of other involved parties.

5. Do not admit liability. Even if you think you might be at fault, you do not need disclose that to anybody else. In general, do as little talking as possible and get everybody else to do as much talking as possible.

6. If police ask to speak with you, be careful what you say. If a police officer asks for a statement from you, be very careful about what you say. Do not admit to being at fault. If you give a statement to the officer, stick only to the most basic facts. Keep in mind that the officer is going to document everything you tell him/her. If you're in a state of shock, make sure to explain to the officer that you need to clear your mind before giving any further details. Speak with an attorney, if possible, before giving any statements to anybody. Make sure you get the officer's name, badge number, and contact information and request a copy of the police report.

7. Get medical treatment. See a doctor and make sure you undergo the necessary diagnosis treatment your doctor recommends. Keep records of all diagnosis/treatment you undergo.

8. Talk to an attorney. Talk to an attorney, even if you think your claim is small or simple. An experienced attorney can help you maximize your recovery and minimize your exposure.

9. Notify your insurance company. Report the incident to your insurance company. If possible, talk to an attorney before doing so.

10. Document everything after the accident. Keep a journal after the injury. Write about the injury, your emotional suffering and stress, diagnosis/treatment you undergo, communications with parties and witnesses, etc.

You can reach an attorney at Theta Law Firm by calling us or sending us an email at law@thetafirm.com. Theta Law Firm can represent clients all across the State of California, including in any of the following counties: Alameda | Alpine | Amador | Butte | Calaveras | Colusa | Contra Costa | Del Norte | El Dorado | Fresno | Glenn | Humboldt | Imperial | Inyo | Kern | Kings | Lake | Lassen | Los Angeles | Madera | Marin | Mariposa | Mendocino | Merced | Modoc | Mono | Monterey | Napa | Nevada | Orange | Placer | Plumas | Riverside | Sacramento | San Benito | San Bernardino | San Diego | San Francisco | San Joaquin | San Luis Obispo | San Mateo | Santa Barbara | Santa Clara | Santa Cruz | Shasta | Sierra | Siskiyou | Solano | Sonoma | Stanislaus | Sutter | Tehama | Trinity | Tulare | Tuolumne | Ventura | Yolo | Yuba