Do’s & Don’t After an Accident


1. Make sure everyone is safe! If you or another person needs medical attention, call for an ambulance (911) immediately .

2. If you are involved in a minor accident without serious injuries, move the cars to the side of the road, away from oncoming traffic when it is safe to do so. However, If a car cannot be moved, drivers and passengers should remain in the car with seat-belts fastened until help arrives. And make sure to turn on your hazard lights.

3. Make a police report after an accident, unless the damages are minimal. If practical, do not move your car until the police arrive at the scene.

4. Get the following information from the other driver: his name, address, driver’s license number, home phone, work phone, cell phone, vehicle license plate, insurance company’s name and policy number. (Look at his driver’s license for verification).

5. Get the following information from all witnesses at the scene: their names, addresses and telephone numbers. Do not rely on the police to get this information.

6. Take pictures of damage to all vehicles. When taking photos, remember to show the overall context of how the accident occurred. It is important to take pictures from different angles, and before any repairs are made.

7. Notify the DMV. In California, the DMV must be notified of any accident where there has been (1) an injury (no matter how small), (2) death, or (3) property damage in excess of $750. CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE DMV SR1 REPORT. This must be filled out, printed and mailed to the DMV within 10 days of the date of your accident, regardless of whether the accident occurred on public or private property. (Please note that your insurance company is not obligated to file this report for you.)

8. If you were injured, it is extremely important that you see a medical provider immediately. People who wait days, weeks or even months before seeing a doctor jeopardize their claim. Insurance companies will frequently deny claims or make extremely low settlement offers in cases where there has been a significant gap in time between the accident and the date of first medical treatment.

9. If you experience continued pain as a result of your injuries, you are entitled to compensation for all pain and suffering you are expected to endure in the future.

10. Notify your insurance company of the accident even if the other party is at fault. if you have collision coverage, then have your own insurance company cover damages to your vehicle, for the following reasons: (1) your company owes you a duty to promptly and fairly settle your property damage in good faith. However, the other parties insurance company has no such duty and can drag its feet in responding to your demand and make low ball offers. (2) If the other party is at fault, your insurance company will be able to get your deductible back from the other party. And if you were not at fault, using your collision coverage will not effect your insurance rates.

11. Assuming the accident was the fault of the other driver, his insurance company is responsible for the reasonable cost of a rental vehicle for a reasonable period of time while your car is being repaired. Numerous issues come up when dealing with the other person’s carrier. If your own policy has rental car reimbursement coverage, check your policy. (Please note that when you rent your vehicle that the insurance company will not reimburse you for any extra insurance or collision deductible waivers which you purchase from the car rental.)

12. Keep a diary of all your injuries, pain and emotional feelings. Remember that this information will fade from your memory with the passage of time. And your case may not settle for months, so the diary will be beneficial to refresh your memory of what type of pain and emotional distress you experienced after your accident. Tell friends and family about the pain that you are experience, but do not discuss the details of the accident with them.

13. Remember that in California you are entitled to recover lost wages for the time you were off work, even if you used your sick pay or received other disability benefits.

14. Keep all records, physical evidence or photos, and submit them to your personal injury attorney.


1. Do not tell anyone the accident was your fault, even if you think it may have been. This is especially important to younger drivers, who may be made to believe they were at fault, when they were not. Avoid any conversation regarding who was at fault and do not discuss the accident with anyone but the police. Tell the police your account of the accident, simply providing the facts.

2. Do not give a statement to the police about the accident if you are disoriented, injured, or shaken up so that you can not give a clear statement. Rather, you should advise the police officer of your condition.

3.Do not give an oral or written statement to the other person’s insurance company, until you consult with attorney. You are not required by law to give the other person’s insurance adjuster any type of statement, either written, recorded or otherwise.

4. Do not sign any authorizations sent to you by the other person’s insurance company. Frequently the other person’s insurance company will request from you to sign an authorization to obtain your medical records and employment records. These authorizations are usually very broad. As a result, the insurance company will have full access to your entire medical file and your entire employment file if you sign them.

5. Do not settle your property damage claim until all repairs have been done to your satisfaction. You are not required to sign a release until the repairs have been completed in a satisfactory manner.

6. If you were injured in the accident, make sure that your property damage release form is for the property damage only. If you are not sure consult with an attorney.

7. Do not enter into any settlement of your personal injury claim until you have recovered from your injuries and know the full extent of your injuries and the cost of your future medical bills. It is best that you consult with an accident attorney.

8. Do not exaggerate your injuries. From a practical standpoint, most insurance companies are sophisticated enough to recognize such tactics. From a legal standpoint, exaggeration to the point of outright deception is fraud and you can be legally punished for this crime.

9. Do not discuss the accident with anyone including: friends, family, co-workers or the doctor. On the other hand, you should tell your doctor the full nature and extent of your injuries. You are entitled to full and fair compensation for all of the injuries you incurred and the economic consequences which flowed as a result of those injuries.

This information is provided as a service to the community. This site and its information is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be. Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation. Some of the information may be California specific. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Until an attorney-client relationship is established, please withhold from sending any confidential information to us.

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