Manhattan Beach Car Accident Lawyer

According to experts in the auto industry, most people will be in a car accident approximately every 20 years.  Therefore, the average motorist will be in four car crashes in their lifetime.  Most of these accidents are considered minor, but even a minor car accident can be extremely frustrating and time consuming. 

We should be all be prepared, yet many people don’t know what they should do when they are in a car accident – here are the first steps:

STOP!  Never drive away from an accident – even a minor one.

Pull over to a safe place. 

It is perfectly acceptable to pull over safely to the side of the road – especially on the freeway.  Don’t put yourself in further danger by stopping in the middle of the road or the freeway if you can safely and quickly pull to the side of the road.

Turn on your blinker and get safely off the road.

Hopefully, the other car will follow you, if not, try to get their license plate number.

Manhattan Beach CA Car Accident Attorney Near Me

California Vehicle Code §20002 is the law that governs misdemeanor “Hit and Run.” This code section prohibits individuals from leaving the scene of an accident without first identifying themselves to others when someone’s property is damaged.  According to the Code, when property damage has occurred (even if it’s just a scratch to the bumper of your car) you must stop your vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of the other motorists.  Failure to pull over is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to six months in jail and up to a $1000 fine.

Check to make sure no one in either car needs immediate medical attention.
If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately.   Ask for the police and paramedics.  When they arrive, make sure everyone tells the police or paramedics all of their injuries.

Keep in mind that sometimes, especially after a car accident, you may be hurt and not even realize it.  I was in a car accident not too long ago and I didn’t realize until days later that my headache would not go away and my back and neck would not stop hurting.  If you do not feel you need to go to the hospital, go to Urgent Care.  Any car accident can be traumatic to your body. You may be hurt much worse than you realize and delaying treatment may make your injuries worse.

Have you ever raked leaves or thrown a frisbee on the beach for an hour one day and woke up sore the next day?  A car crash can cause similar muscle strains and pain but it causes them in hundredths of a second, which can make them far worse.  Don’t ignore the aches and pains in the day or two after a car crash as they are warning signs from your body that something is wrong.

Auto Accident Law Firm In Manhattan Beach

Exchange Identification with the other Driver or Provide your Identification to the Police.

Once you have safely pulled over, if the accident is minor and you do not plan to call the police, once you have pulled over safely, the law requires you to present your driver’s license and vehicle registration.

The easiest way to accomplish this is to just pull out your phone and take a photo of their identification documents and have them take a photo of yours.

If your driver’s license does not have your current address, you are required to provide your current address.  If you are not the owner of the vehicle and the registration does not provide current information, you are required to provide the current address of the current owner.  If the driver of the other car is present, they should also provide their driver’s license and vehicle registration information.  You should also get the identification information for other people in the car or anyone else involved in the accident.

If you opt not to call the police, the California DMV requires that an accident report be filed by all drivers if damage to the vehicles exceeds $1000 or if someone was injured or killed.  If a driver fails to report the accident to the DMV, his or her driving privileges can be suspended.

Take Photos of the Vehicles and the Injuries.
We are lucky that none of us ever travel without a camera.

It is easy to snap photographs of both cars involved in the accident.  This documents the damage (or lack of damage) to both vehicles as a result of the accident and protects you in case damages to the other car are later claimed to be as a result of the accident, but they really weren’t as a result of the accident.

Call a Lawyer.
Many people try to handle car accidents on their own – just quickly exchanging information with the other driver and going on their way – depending on their car and health insurance companies to protect their rights.

When a car crash happens, your insurance company has one primary concern – they want to pay the smallest amount of money possible for property damage or medical payments.

Many times, insurance companies will try to limit the claim and resolve it as quickly and cheaply as possible.  The only way to ensure your rights are protected after an accident is to consult with an attorney who will protect your rights. To put it simply, the only person on your side is the person you are paying.  Your insurance agent is an agent of the insurance company, not your agent.  Their duty is to assist and protect the company.

An experienced attorney can level the playing field between you and the insurance company.  Some of the most common mistakes people make when they go it alone include: waiting too long to seek medical care, allowing their insurance company to determine how much their pain is worth and even waiting until it is too late to file a lawsuit.

In the State of California, there is a personal injury statute of limitations and wrongful death statute of limitations.  These statutes dictate the amount of time a person has to file a case after an accident.  If the deadline is missed, your claim could be barred forever. 

If you have been injured in a car accident, call us to talk about your rights.  It is our goal to help you obtain medical care, understand the legal process and make sure that those who caused your injuries are held responsible.  

There is no fee for calling us and no obligation as a result of sitting down with us to learn your rights.  We welcome your questions because our goal is to make sure you understand all of your rights and that you are fully protected throughout the process.