San Diego - El Cajon Automobile
Frequently Asked Questions: What to do if you are in an
If I am in an auto
accident, do I have to stop?
Yes. California law says you must stop – whether you are in an
accident that involves a pedestrian, a moving car, a parked car,
or someone’s property. If you drive away, you are guilty of
“hit and run,” even if the accident is not your fault and even
if the only damages, is a small dent in a parked car or a
Should I call the
police if the accident causes injuries or death?
Absolutely. The police officer who comes to the scene will make
a written report. If the other person was at fault, this report
will help you and your attorney if you are injured and later
file a claim against the other person for damages.
What should I do if
someone is injured?
The law requires you to give reasonable assistance to injured
persons. For example, you may need to call an ambulance, take
the injured person to a doctor or hospital, or give first aid,
if you know how.
should I gather at the accident scene?
The law says you must show your driver’s license to the other
driver, if he or she asks to see it. You also should be
prepared to give your car license number and vehicle
registration, the year and make of your car, and the name and
addresses of your insurance company. If the car is not yours,
give the name and address of the owner as well.
Be sure to get the same
information from the other driver. Ask to see the person’s
driver’s license and vehicle registration and copy the
information from both front and back. Get the names and
addresses of any passengers in the car too.
If there were witnesses to the
accident, you will need their names, addresses and telephone
numbers. Ask them to stay at the scene of the accident and talk
to the CHP or police officer. If they insist on leaving, ask
them to tell you what they saw, and write everything down.
If a police officer comes to
the scene of the accident, write down the officer’s name and
badge number. Then ask the officer when you can go to get a
copy of the accident report and when it will be ready.
As soon as you can, make a
simple diagram of the accident. Draw the position of both cars
before, during and after the accident. If there are skid marks
on the road, pace them off. Draw them on the diagram, noting
the distance they cover. Mark the positions of any crosswalks,
stop signs, traffic lights or street lights.
Make notes, too, on weather
and road conditions. If the accident happened after dark, say
whether street lights were working. Try to estimate your speed
and the other driver’s.
Be sure to not the exact time
and place the accident happened.
If the accident caused a death
or serious injury, ask the CHP or police officer to take
If I think the
accident is my fault, should I say so?
Do not volunteer any information about whose fault the accident
was. You should talk to your insurance agent, your lawyer or
both before taking the blame. You may think you are in the
wrong and then learn that the other driver is as much or more to
blame than you are. Anything you say to the police or the other
driver can be used against you later. You also should not
agree to pay for damages or sign any paper, except a traffic
ticket, without first checking with your insurance company or
However, you certainly should
cooperate with the police officer investigation the case. But
stick to the facts; do not give opinions. Be as specific as you
can without guessing. For instance, if you were driving 30
miles an hour, say so. Do not say, “I wasn’t speeding.”
Should I see a doctor
after the accident?
You do not have to see a doctor, but it may be a good idea to
get a check-up. You could be injured, even quite seriously, and
not know it right away. If you are in doubt, it is best to at
least call your doctor. He or she can help you decide what your
medical needs may be. The same is true for passengers in your
car. Your automobile insurance may pay for your doctor bills.
Do I have to report
Yes. First, of course, you may need to call the local police or
the CHP. Second, report the accident to your insurance
company. Call or go see your agent and ask what forms you
should fill out. Get in touch right away to make sure there is
no question about your coverage. Ask your insurance agent to
help you make other necessary reports on the accident. Third,
both you and the other driver(s) must report the accident to the
DMV within 15 days if:
a) the damage to either car is
more than $500 or
b) anyone is injured or killed
in the accident.
You can get the right form,
called the Report of Traffic Accident or SR-1 form, from your
local DMV office, California Highway Patrol, local police or
What if I want to sue
Call me. I am here to serve you. There is no consultation fee
to discuss your case and you do not have to pay money out of
your pocket for my services. If there is a recovery made on
your behalf, my fee will come out of that recovery. If you are
injured, you are entitled to recover your lost wages, your
medical expenses, and damages for your pain and suffering as
well as damages for the cost of repairing or replacing your
Do not delay. Your case may
need to be investigated further. Witness statements and
photographs may have to be taken. Also, there are time limits
for filing various types of claims, sometimes as little as 100
days. Click here
for a FREE case evaluation.