Top 10 Things to Do Immediately After a Car Accident in Los Angeles

Updated: Mar 3

Getting into a car accident, especially in a city like Los Angeles, can be traumatizing. But, it is important to follow some general guidelines in order to maintain your rights and ensure maximum recovery should you decide to pursue a claim or file a lawsuit against the other driver.

1. Don’t Panic and Drive Away

The best thing you can do immediately after an accident is to stay calm and focused. You should never drive away since it is illegal. If you panic and get nervous you could cause additional injuries to yourself or others.

2. Safely Pull to the Side of the Road

If your car still operates, pull over to the side of the road or a safe area like a parking lot. If the accident occured at night, make sure you park somewhere where it is well lit. Never leave the scene of the accident, no matter how minor the damages appear.

3. Call the Police or 9-1-1 if There Are Injuries

If there are any injuries to the other party, your passenger or yourself, call 9-1-1 immediately. Don’t delay! Additionally, you should call the police so they can come down and make a report. In most cases, the police won’t show up unless there are injuries, in which case you should go to the police station within 24 hours of the accident to make a police report. A police report is an important asset if you decide to make a claim.

4. Exchange Information with the Other Driver

Once you are in a safe area, you want to exchange the following information with the other driver:

– driver license

– address

– insurance information

– license plate

– make and model of the vehicle.

5. Look for Witnesses

If it’s safe and possible, look for witnesses and get their contact information. It is not necessary to ask them to recount the details of the accident, just their contact information.

6. Never Settle at the Scene of the Accident

Do not settle with the other driver at the scene of the accident, no matter how minor the damages are because you will not immediately know (1) the extent of your injuries, and (2) whether your car has sustained structural damages. This has happened many times, especially when the damages appear cosmetics or minor. It is well known that cars are designed to absorb a lot of shock in an accident, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the driver or passengers have not sustained serious bodily harm.

7. Never Admit to Any Wrongdoing

While it is important to be empathetic and on the lookout for any injuries, there is no reason to apologize or admit to any wrongdoing. Many times a driver gets out of their car and apologizes to the other driver – this is unnecessary and can potentially work against you.

8. Take Pictures and Document Your Surroundings

Take a lot of pictures of your car, the other driver’s car, the road, cross streets, traffic lights, traffic signs, debris on the road, skid marks, potholes, road conditions, and anything that may have caused the accident. Take note of your surroundings, the time of day, the weather, the buildings around you, security cameras, and other environmental conditions.

9. Seek Medical Care

No matter how minor your injuries, take steps to get immediate treatment to ensure there are no long term medical problems as a result of an untreated trauma. Insurance companies rely heavily on the diagnosis and treatment of your healthcare provider. Waiting too long or until you have talked with an attorney could negatively impact your claim.

10. Talk with an Attorney

Despite what the other side’s insurance company may say, the law entitles you to an attorney. Hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure your rights are protected and recovery is maximized. There are strict time limits within which to file a claim and by waiting too long you could lose your rights.

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