Car accidents happen in a flash. Sometimes what happened isn't clear. Other times the driver error that caused a crash is unmistakable.
When someone has been injured in a car crash, all those involved have legal responsibilities. If a car crash and personal injuries in the wreck are your faults, your responsibility may include legal liability.
But you still have rights, regardless of your liability. There are certain steps you should take if you think you have caused a car accident.
If I think the car wreck is my fault, should I say so?
Many ask our Santa Barbara car accident attorneys whether they should admit their fault if they believe that they caused a car accident. The answer is no, never admit fault at the scene of a car crash.
There may be multiple contributing factors that you do not know.
Police will investigate any serious car accident in Southern California. You should call 911 to summon help after an accident, including police and emergency medical assistance if needed.
When police question you, you should cooperate fully and answer questions honestly. However, you should stick to the facts and not speculate. Describe what happened, but do not express opinions to police that may incriminate you. Don't accuse anyone else, either.
The police will draw their own conclusions. Through their investigation, they may identify other contributing factors to the crash.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident Causing Injuries
Under California law, you must stop after a car accident, regardless of its severity. The law requires that you provide reasonable assistance to anyone who is injured in a wreck. If emergency medical assistance is needed, call an ambulance and let the injured know that help is on the way.
After checking on the injured, warn other motorists of the wreck. If you have flares or warning cones you can place in the roadway, set them out. Otherwise, turn on your vehicle's emergency flashers and raise the car's hood.
You must also exchange information with the other driver, according to California law, if you and they are able to do so. This includes providing:
- Your name and driver's license number
- The vehicle identification number of the car you are driving
- Name and address of the car's owner
- Name and address of your insurance company and your insurance policy number
Even if you cannot exchange information with the other driver, gather this information to give to police. If you get the other driver's information (the injured person may not be the other driver), write it down.
In addition, try to document the accident if possible. Use your phone camera to take photos of the vehicles and their damage, and any potentially contributing factors in the environment, such as standing water, broken pavement, overgrown shrubbery that obscures a stop sign, etc. Make any notes that will help to describe the accident.
Will I Get a Ticket after a Car Accident?
You may be issued a citation for the accident. Don't let this upset you. Accept it, and sign it when asked to do so. Signing a ticket is not an admission of guilt. You are only agreeing to answer the charge, either by paying the fine or appearing in court to contest it.
If you are issued a ticket or you are arrested after a car accident, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Never face any type of criminal charge on your own, no matter how minor it seems.
You also need to contact your insurance company to report the accident, regardless of whether you were issued a ticket.
As you talk to insurance company representatives, you should refrain from admitting any fault for the accident.
We suggest contacting a car accident attorney before signing or accepting anything from an insurance company, as well, even your own insurer. If your accident occurred in Santa Barbara or anywhere in Southern California, attorney Steven R. Andrade can review the facts of your accident and explain your legal rights.
As we said at the top of this article, you have legal rights, regardless of your role in a car accident, even one in which you may have caused injuries. Only your attorney works to protect your rights after an accident. You are at a distinct disadvantage after a car accident if you proceed without qualified legal assistance. Contact a Santa Barbara car accident lawyer at Andrade Law Offices. The initial consultation is always free.