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What To Do If You Are In An Accident

Even the best drivers are subject to automobile accidents. Therefore, everyone should know what steps to take immediately following an accident to protect the life, limb, property and legal rights of those involved. Here are the steps to take if you are involved in an accident with another vehicle or pedestrian:

  Never leave the scene of an accident in which you or your car are involved. No matter how slight the collision, if you fail to stop you may subject yourself to criminal prosecution even though the accident was not your fault. Stop your car as soon as possible without further endangering any person or property and without obstructing traffic. Do whatever is necessary to warn oncoming traffic, in order to prevent further accidents.
  If possible, have someone call an ambulance or doctor at once if anyone has been injured. Render first aid only if you are qualified.
  Police officers are trained to handle any situation that may arise after an accident. When the police officer arrives, tell him or her briefly the basic facts. Find out from the investigating officer how to obtain the Police Report of the incident. The report may help you if a liability claim is made.
  Obtain the other driver’s name, address and registration number of the vehicle that he or she is driving. Also ask to see his or her driver’s license. If possible, obtain the name of the insurance companies and the policy numbers covering the other car(s) in the accident. Under Vehicle Code Section 16025 the other driver must give you their insurance information or face a fine of up to $250 dollars plus penalty assessments.
  Obtain names and addresses of all passengers in all cars involved in the accident. Obtain names and addresses of all eyewitnesses. Attempt to obtain from these witnesses a statement as to what happened and have them, if they will, write it down at the scene. Don't rely upon the police officer to get all the names, or for the witnesses to hang around until the police arrive.
  Make your own written notes on all significant circumstances concerning the accident.
Take pictures of your vehicle and the other vehicles involved (if possible).
  Do not comment on the accident. Keep your notes and information strictly to yourself. Admit nothing and sign nothing even if you think you are wrong. You may learn later that you were not in the wrong or that the other driver was equally responsible.
  All automobile accidents in which the overall damage to property or persons is greater than $500 must be reported to the DMV within 10 days.
  If you are injured, don't refuse help at the scene of the accident. Remember that serious and costly injuries are not always immediately evident because the body "numbs" injured areas immediately after a trauma. Get medical attention as soon as possible after an accident and ask your passengers to do likewise.
  It is recommended that you speak to a lawyer before giving any statements. And remember, until the victim of an automobile accident retains an attorney, the insurance company generally knows that the person they are dealing with is not currently prepared to take his or her case to court and they are unlikely to offer fair compensation.


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