What Should I Do Immediately After a Car Accident in Northern California?

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We coordinate with your medical providers to handle medical bills.


We determine how to keep money coming in while you recover.


We deal with insurance adjusters and handle the claims process.


What Can Our Experienced Attorneys

  Do For You?  

We coordinate with your medical providers to handle medical bills.

We determine how to keep money coming in while you recover.

We deal with insurance adjusters and handle the claims process.

What Steps Should I Take Immediately after a Car Accident?

Accidents happen, and when they do you will probably feel overwhelmed or confused about your next steps. Fortunately, injured motorists are entitled to compensation if someone else caused their injuries. However, time and again we have seen clients make mistakes in the immediate aftermath of a car wreck. To protect your legal rights, please call us so we can advise you.  Always remember to do the following:

1. Call the Police

A police report is a great asset when you are seeking compensation for your injuries. The police officer should identify the location of the crash and the parties involved. The report might also identify any witnesses to the accident and make an initial determination of liability. If you don’t have a police report, it will be much more difficult to piece together what happened, so call the police and report the accident right away. If you are too injured to pick up a phone, ask a bystander to call if they haven’t already done so.

2. Get Medical Treatment

Your health is paramount, so contact emergency services if you can’t get to the hospital on your own. Some people feel fine after a crash, but concussions and back injuries often some time for symptoms to manifest, so you should go to a doctor anyway.

Remember to follow your doctor’s course of treatment. If you don’t, then you might aggravate your injury and get less compensation. Sometimes, injured motorists don’t think they are improving, so they might stop following their doctor’s treatment. Instead, seek a second medical opinion.

3. Take Pictures of the Accident Scene

You want evidence of what the crash scene looked like before the vehicles are moved. Take out your smartphone and snap pictures of the vehicles involved. Try to get pictures from many different angles—close up, far away, etc. Also take pictures of any skid marks on the road.

After most accidents, you probably need to move your vehicle out of the way so that it stops impeding the flow of traffic. However, remember to get at least a couple of pictures of the accident scene before moving them. If the accident is severe and the vehicle cannot be moved, then don’t attempt to. Wait for the police to arrive.

Only take pictures if you can safely do so. If you are feeling pain, then ask a bystander to take them for you. Moving around might only aggravate your physical injuries, so wait for the ambulance to arrive.

4. Obtain Witness Information

Witnesses are a great asset in any personal injury case. Speak to anyone who saw the accident and get their contact information. Remember that personal contact information (email, phone numbers) is better than work contact information, since people often change jobs. Enter their information immediately into your phone so you don’t lose the information.

5. Admit Nothing

The temptation to say, “I’m sorry,” is very strong after an accident. Some people say “I’m sorry” even if they know they didn’t do anything wrong. After a crash, you absolutely cannot say anything that sounds like you are taking responsibility for the accident.

  • Don’t say, “I didn’t see you when I pulled into that lane.”
  • Don’t say, “I probably should have honked my horn to tell you I was there.”
  • Don’t say, “I’m fine.”
  • Don’t even say, “I have no idea what happened.”

Any of these statements could show up later and be used against you to show you were at fault or that the other driver is not to blame for the crash. Even saying, “I’m fine” could be used against you later. Remember, some injuries are slow to develop, so you really don’t know if you are fine until 24-48 hours have passed.

6. Here’s what you can say after a crash:

  • Ask someone to call the police. If you can make a call, tell the other drivers involved that you are calling the police.
  • Ask someone to take pictures of the accident scene if you can’t.
  • Ask someone to call emergency services. If you can dial a phone, tell the other driver you will call for help if they need it.
  • Ask the other drivers involved in the crash for their name, address, registration, license information, and proof of financial responsibility. Also write down their license plate number and their Vehicle Identification Number, which should be on the registration.

Other than that, you should not engage in small talk as you wait for the police to arrive.

7. Report the Accident to Your Insurer and the DMV

Insurance companies typically require that you notify them within 24 hours of an accident. Be sure to call them as soon as possible so that you meet their deadline. Ideally, you will call as soon as possible.

California law also requires that you report the accident to the DMV within 10 days in the following situations:

  • There is more than $1000 of property damage.
  • Someone was injured in the accident.
  • Someone died in the accident.


If you fail to report the accident, the state might suspend your license, so it is a good idea to call right after talking to your insurer.

8. Avoid Talking to the Other Driver’s Insurance Agent

Within days of the accident, you might get a call from an insurance agent. They might ask you to tell them your side of the story, or they might make an initial settlement offer. We strongly encourage you not to talk to the agent and not accept any settlement until you have met with a lawyer.

You should also avoid signing any papers an insurance agent gives you. You have no idea what rights you are signing away with these papers. In particular, insurance agents want you to waive your right to bring a lawsuit, so any paper you sign could contain a waiver. Only a lawyer represents your rights—not insurance agents.

9. Hire an Experienced Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer

If another driver is to blame for your injuries, you can pursue financial compensation in a settlement or lawsuit. However, you can’t delay. California gives injured motorists a limited amount of time to seek compensation for their injuries.

To maximize your recovery, you need an experienced Sacramento car accident lawyer who is willing to fight for you. At Wyatt Law Corp, our team has gone up against some of the largest insurers in the state of California. We are happy to talk to you, so please reach out to set up a free consultation.

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Placer County
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