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What should you do immediately after a car accident?

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If you are involved in a car accident in California, there are certain things you should do – and not do – immediately afterwards. explains that the most important thing to do is stay at the scene. You could face hit-and-run charges if you leave before it is appropriate to do so, especially if someone was injured or killed.

The second most important thing is to find out if everyone in every vehicle involved is okay. If not, call 911 immediately and request that emergency responders and law enforcement officers be sent to your location. Do not move anyone who is unconscious or has back or neck pain unless there is a hazardous condition, such as a fire or downed power line, that makes it imperative to get the person out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.

Next, check all vehicles to see how much property damage has occurred. If it appears to be significant and you did not have to call 911 due to injuries, do so now. Request that a law enforcement officer be dispatched to your location because you want to make a police report. When the officer arrives, get his or her name and badge number, as well as those of any officers who accompany him or her. Also make sure to get the identification number(s) of any report(s)he makes.

While waiting for the law enforcement officer to arrive, exchange information with all other drivers. The information should include the following:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone number
  • Driver’s license number
  • License plate number
  • Insurance information

Be cooperative and, if possible, cordial with the other drivers, but never suggest or imply in any way that you caused the accident. Usually it is impossible to immediately determine who caused the accident since many factors may have been involved.

If there were any witnesses to the accident, try to talk to them and ask them what they saw. Get their names and contact information, too. Finally, call your insurance company and tell them exactly what happened and if you or anyone else was injured.

This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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