California traffic laws require drivers to report most car accidents. Failing to report a car accident could result in penalties. In addition, leaving the scene of an accident could result in criminal charges.
Reporting a car accident is also wise in case you need to file an insurance claim. An accident report provides the information you need to file the claim. A Los Angeles car accident lawyer can gather the evidence you need to prove you are entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages.
What Is the California Law for Reporting a Car Accident in Los Angeles?
California Vehicle Code §20008 requires drivers to report car accidents involving injuries or fatalities to the California Highway Patrol or local law enforcement within 24 hours after the accident. Drivers and owners of a commercial carrier vehicle involved in an accident have 10 days to file a report with the California Highway Patrol.
Calling 911 is the quickest and easiest way to report a car accident in Los Angeles. The operator asks for the location of the accident to dispatch the correct law enforcement agency to the accident scene. The operator also asks if anyone is injured and needs emergency medical services.
Reporting a Los Angeles Car Accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles
In addition to reporting the car accident to the police, the law requires you to report the crash to the California DMV. California Vehicle Code §16000 requires drivers to report crashes causing $1,000 or more in property damage, injuries, or death to the California DMV. You have ten days to file a Form SR-1 with the DMV.
What Happens if You Don’t File an Accident Report in Los Angeles?
Is it illegal not to report a car accident? California law states that the DMV shall suspend a person’s driver’s license for failing to report a car accident as required by law. The license suspension remains in effect until you file the required report or the DMV receives proof of financial responsibility.
In some situations, you could face criminal charges for failure to report an accident in California. The court could impose fines and other penalties for failing to file a car accident report.
Notify Your Insurance Company After a Car Accident
California requires drivers to have a minimum amount of car insurance coverage or other acceptable forms of financial responsibility. The minimum amount of liability insurance required for California drivers is:
- Bodily injury coverage of $15,000 for death or injury to one person
- Bodily injury coverage of $30,000 for death or injury to two or more people per accident
- Property damage coverage of $5,000
Liability insurance pays claims for accident victims when you cause a crash. It does not compensate you for damages. However, you can purchase optional insurance coverage that can protect you against losses in an accident that is your fault.
Your insurance policy requires you to report crashes to your insurance provider, but you are not obligated to report crashes to the other driver’s insurance company.
It is wise not to talk to insurance adjusters until you meet with a Los Angeles car accident attorney. You could say something that implies fault, which gives the insurance company a reason to deny your claim. Avoid discussing the crash with anyone other than your personal injury lawyer to protect your best interests.
Steps To Take After a Los Angeles Car Accident
After you call 911 to report a car accident, the steps you take could significantly impact the outcome of a personal injury claim. Steps to take after a car crash include:
Gather Evidence at the Accident Scene
If it is safe, try to document the accident by gathering evidence at the accident scene. Things you can do include:
- Take photographs and make a video of the vehicles and the surrounding area
- Ask bystanders for their contact information
- Avoid discussing the accident details with anyone other than the police officers
- Give a brief explanation of how the accident occurred to the investigating officer without discussing what you were doing before the collision or claiming blame
The other driver could be angry because the accident occurred. Do not confront drivers. If you feel unsafe, tell the 911 operator and remain in your car if it is safe to do so.
Seek Prompt Medical Care
Do not say that you are not injured or that you are okay. It is not wise to deny medical care at the accident scene. If you do not believe you need to go to the hospital, it is best to say you will follow up with your doctor.
See a doctor as soon as possible after the crash. Delays in medical care hurt your personal injury case. Prompt medical treatment improves your chance of a full recovery while creating medical records to support your claim that the car wreck caused your injuries.
Keep copies of all documents related to the car crash, your injuries, and your recovery. Documentation of damages includes, but Is not limited to:
- Medical bills, invoices, and records
- Statements from your employer regarding missed time from work
- Receipts for out-of-pocket expenses
- W2s, tax returns, and income statements
- Photographs and videos of your injuries
- Personal diary with details of your recovery
- Statements from friends and family about how your injuries impacted your life
- Medical reports and opinions from specialists
- Reports from financial professionals
A car accident victim can seek reimbursement for their monetary losses or economic damages. They can also demand compensation for their non-economic damages, otherwise known as pain and suffering damages.
Seek Legal Advice From an Experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
You can receive legal advice and get answers to questions about car accident claims during a free consultation with a Los Angeles car accident attorney. Insurance adjusters are not a good source of information about your legal rights and the value of your injury claim. Claims adjusters work to protect the insurance company from liability.
An attorney helps you by:
- Identifying all parties liable for your claim
- Gather evidence necessary to prove your case
- Verifying deadlines for filing claims and lawsuits
- File insurance claims
- Document damages and calculate how much your case is worth
- Hire expert witnesses, as necessary
- Handle all aspects of the case
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.