Car accidents happen every day throughout California. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) responds to most calls regarding vehicle accidents throughout the state. Once the police arrive on the scene at the accident’s location, they will record as much evidence as possible from the site. They also attempt to interview any witnesses or drivers involved in the accident. Police will clear the accident site, restore the flow of traffic, and then compile an Accident Report for the incident once all evidence is collected.
All drivers need to understand their legal obligations when accidents happen. If you are involved in a car crash resulting in substantial property damage, injury, or death, you are legally required to call 911. You should then remain at the scene of the crash until first responders allow you to leave. The police report from the incident could be crucial for the recovery efforts you pursue. However, it’s important to know how it could potentially work against you.
Best Practices After a Car Accident in California
Car accidents can easily result in life-changing damages for the victim. It can be very difficult to determine the best recovery approach from an accident someone else caused. Auto insurance may not be an option depending on whether the at-fault driver has appropriate insurance coverage. In the event the at-fault driver performed a hit-and-run, the police will need to identify and locate them before they can be held accountable with a civil suit.
Ultimately, any car accident can pose a wide range of unpredictable problems for the victim. Knowing a few best practices for handling the initial aftermath of a car accident in California can be vital. The knowledge of what to do in advance of an accident can significantly improve the outcome of the recovery efforts you choose to pursue and limit your risk of facing liability for the incident. Some steps of how to proceed after a car accident include:
- -Report the crash. If you experience a serious crash, call 911 to report it when safe to do so. Failure to report an accident can lead to a hit-and-run charge and severe penalties.
- -Choose your words carefully. When the police ask you questions about the accident, make sure you answer honestly. However, do not say anything that could be interpreted as an admission of fault. This could reflect badly on you once recorded in their report.
- -Seek medical care immediately. If you are not seriously injured enough to require emergency transportation to the hospital, you must remain at the scene of the crash until the police allow you to leave. Once they do, see a doctor even if you think your injuries are mild. This will create a medical report proving you sought care and identify any injuries that have not yet shown noticeable symptoms.
- -Consult an attorney. Reliable legal representation is a critical asset for any recovery efforts you choose to pursue after a car accident in California. If necessary, your legal team can help you file your insurance claim and build a personal injury suit against the at-fault driver. You should always consult legal counsel before discussing any type of settlement with an insurance company.
Addressing the immediate aftermath of a car accident and receiving any necessary medical care should be a priority. Once these are taken care of, obtain a copy of your CHP Accident Report and contact an experienced attorney to proceed with your recovery efforts.
FAQs About CHP Accident Report in California
How Do I Get a California Highway Patrol Accident Report?
A: To obtain a copy of a CHP accident report, you must submit a written request for the report to the CHP office where the original report was filed. You can do this in person or by mail. Once received, the CHP will process your request and mail you an official copy of the police report. This report will contain all the information recorded by police concerning the accident.
Why Would I Need a CHP Accident Report?
A: A police report from a recent accident could be vital to your recovery efforts if another party is responsible for injuring you. The police report from your accident will include the responding officer’s initial findings from the scene of the crash. It will also include any statements taken from parties the police interviewed at the scene.
What Happens If I Fail to Report an Accident?
A: If a driver causes an accident and they do not report it or flee the scene, this is a hit-and-run and a serious crime in California. The CHP and local police could use video footage from traffic cameras and other sources to identify and locate a hit-and-run driver. The penalties they face can include fines, jail time, and suspension of their driver’s license.
How Soon Should I Obtain a CHP Accident Report?
A: If you were recently involved in a car accident in California, the Highway Patrol will likely have a report on file within 24 to 48 hours. You have a limited time to act when it comes to recovering from your accident, and it will take several days to receive a copy of the report in the mail. Therefore, it is always best to request your copy of the report as soon as possible after your accident.
Should I Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
You may be able to resolve the aftermath of a minor car accident on your own by filing an auto insurance claim. However, if you were seriously injured, you should speak with a personal injury attorney before you discuss an insurance claim or any other type of settlement. Legal counsel you can trust can significantly improve the results of recovery efforts you pursue after a car accident in California.
Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates strives to help our clients recover from their accidents. If you need answers to pressing legal questions after a recent accident, or if you are having trouble obtaining a CHP Accident Report to start your recovery efforts, we can help. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with a car accident attorney you can trust.