In CA, V C 16025 mandates every driver involved in an accident exchange information. From the DMV's website:
16025. (a) Every driver involved in the accident shall, unless rendered incapable, exchange with any other driver or property owner involved in the accident and present at the scene, all of the following information:
(1) Driver's name and current residence address, driver's license number, vehicle identification number, and current residence address of registered owner.
(2) Evidence of financial responsibility, as specified in Section 16020. If the financial responsibility of a person is a form of insurance, then that person shall supply the name and address of the insurance company and the number of the insurance policy .
(b) Any person failing to comply with all of the requirements of this section is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250).
Call Police To Report Traffic Collision
Although police reports are typically inadmissible forms of evidence in a lawsuit, they do provide some basis for explaining the details of an accident scene, including the police officer's opinion about the cause of the accident. If insurance coverage exists for the vehicles involved in the accident, the insurance adjusters do place some weight on the details contained in a traffic collision report. So, it is better to spend the time reporting the accident to a responding officer at the scene than to forgo this option and create the potential down the road for a completely subjective he said-she said recounting of the cause of the accident. Further, if the responding officer believes sufficient evidence exists they may issue a traffic citation to the driver that caused the accident. This may positively impact the injured victim's chances of recovering if a dispute arises over liability and damages.
If Seriously Injured Take Ambulance To Hospital
If you are badly injured and you feel like you need immediate medical attention you may need to accept help from paramedics and be transported to the emergency room by ambulance. If this option is not feasible, go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care facility as soon as possible for a complete post-motor-vehicle workup.
If Injured Follow Up With Medical Treatment
After an accident, an injured accident victim's first priority should be to seek necessary medical treatment. The need to be properly diagnosed and to follow medical advice is so important to obtaining a great recovery for your personal injuries.
Maintain Records Of Post-Motor-Vehicle Damages
Once you handle your immediate medical needs, you can begin to document and maintain careful records of all accident-related issues:
- Medical visits (including dates)
- Names of treating medical providers and type of treatment
- Any diagnoses and prognoses
- Costs of medical treatment (including co-pay amounts)
- Prescription medication costs (including over-the-counter meds)
- Dates of missed work
- Loss of income and method of calculation
- A diary of pain symptoms
- A running list of limitations on activities (including household chores)
- Living care expenses necessitated by the accident
- Lost or damaged personal items of property resulting from accident.
Maintaining careful records of your post-accident experiences will go a very long way in helping you recover every amount owed to you following an accident.
Report Accident To DMV
From DMV's website:
If you are involved in a vehicle accident that occurred in California, you must report it to DMV if:
There was property damage of more than $750 or
any one was injured (no matter how minor) or killed.
Each driver must make a report to DMV within 10 days, whether you caused the accident or not and even if the accident occurred on private property.
You must complete a DMV Traffic Accident Report form SR 1/SR 1A.
If you do not submit this report, your driving privilege will be suspended. DMV may ask your insurance company to verify that you had coverage in effect at the time of the accident. If you did not have insurance, your driving privilege will be suspended for one year. To get your license back, after the suspension, you will need to provide proof of financial responsibility and maintain it on record for three years.
Contact Your Car Insurance Company
Many people fear increases in their insurance rates if they are involved in an accident. Your insurance company has a contractual right to be informed of any accident occurrences. Your rates will not increase if you are not at fault in causing the accident. If you are injured you can speak to a personal injury attorney before you contact your insurance company. If you choose to speak to the insurer prior to an attorney, you can tell them you will wait to provide a statement until you consult an attorney. In uninsured or underinsured motorist claims your interests become adverse to your insurance company. These are occassions when you want to speak to a personal injury attorney before you speak to your insurance company. And in many cases it may take months to learn the status of the other driver's insurance coverage--including whether coverage exists at all. If you are injured call a personal injury attorney first.
If Injured Do Not Provide Statements To The Other Driver's Insurance Company Without First Contacting A Personal Injury Attorney
Insurance companies (especially the other driver's insurer) are not your friends. They are not your advocates and they do not have your best interests in mind. Do not fear because if necessary, you can retain a personal injury attorney to protect your rights and make sure that you do not volunteer information that may be unhelpful to your case. Insurance adjusters are skilled in their trade. They are trained to come across as your friend and even seem like they care. Beware: this is a trap. Not to worry if you retain a local personal injury attorney who will be your advocate and protect your best interests.
Contact A Personal Injury Attorney
If you are injured (even if you are partially at fault) and you contact a personal injury attorney, you will receive a free consultation. The attorney will ask key questions about the accident details and your subsequent experiences, including medical treatment. You should be patient and know that the attorney is trying to determine how they can help you maximize your recovery. Personal injury attorneys will handle personal injury cases on contingency, which means you don't pay anything unless the attorney gets your case settled or wins your case at trial. The attorney will pay for the litigation costs if you and the attorney agree to these terms. Also, many attorneys will be able to help you find medical providers that treat on a lien basis.
What Are Damages?
Damages represent your losses that are caused by the accident. In CA, you are entitled to economic damages and non-economic (general) damages. Economic damages represent property damage, costs for past/future medical treatment, medical supplies, loss of income past/future, and any other out-of-pocket expenses caused by the accident. Non-economic damages represent pain and suffering. After you speak to a personal injury attorney you will have a better understanding of the damages you are entitled to recover for your accident-related injuries. Attorneys will base their analysis on your injury, the type of accident you were involved in, the cause(s) of the accident, the extent of damage to the vehicles, cost and extent of medical treatment, loss of income and the description of pain and suffering.