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If I Have an Auto Accident in Southern California, Do I Have to Stop?

Steven R. Andrade Oct. 26, 2016

Nobody in Santa Barbara expects to be involved in a car accident when they leave home, but traffic collisions occur without warning. If you are involved in a crash, you need to know what to do.

Regardless of the severity of the collision, you are required to stop immediately if you are involved in a car accident in Southern California, according to the California Vehicle Code. Whether you are in an accident that involves another vehicle, a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or another party's property, you must stop your vehicle.

To understand more about how California hit-and-run accident laws work, we have provided some important information below. Steven R. Andrade, an experienced Santa Barbara car accident lawyer, can review the facts of your accident, answer your questions and explain your legal rights and options. If you have been involved in a car accident that involved injuries, you should consult with a knowledgeable lawyer as soon as possible.

Do I Have to Stop After a Car Accident?

California law requires that you stop and exchange driver's license and insurance information with the others involved in the accident. You should provide the other driver with the name, address, and policy number of your insurance company.

If the accident resulted in an injury to anyone, you are required to provide reasonable assistance, including calling an ambulance or making arrangements for the injured person to get to a doctor or hospital.

Do not drive away from a collision without stopping. If you do not stop at the scene of an accident, you may face charges of hit and run, according to the State Bar of California. You can be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident, even if you did not cause the crash.

It is important to keep in mind not to discuss with the other drivers who caused the accident, even if you think the accident might have resulted from something that you did. Describe to police specifically what happened, but do not make general statements such as, “I think I was at fault.” There are many factors involved in every traffic collision, and the other party may be partly or wholly liable.

California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means that you can recover damages even if you are partially at fault for the crash. Your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault.

What if I Hit a Parked Car?

Often, a traffic collision involves only property damage. In some of these instances, a driver strikes a parked car without anyone inside. If you hit a parked car, you still are required to stop in a location that does not impede traffic flow. Under Section 20002 of the California Vehicle Code, if you are involved in a collision that causes property damage to a parked car, you must stop immediately and take steps to try to find the owner.

In the event that you cannot locate the owner of the parked vehicle, then you must leave in a conspicuous place, according to the law, your full contact information and a statement of the circumstances of the accident. If you are not the owner of the car that you were driving, you must also provide the name and contact information for the vehicle's owner.

Contact a Santa Barbara County Auto Accident Attorney to Discuss Your Case

If you were involved in a car accident in Southern California, an experienced auto accident lawyer in Santa Barbara County can assist you. Contact Andrade Law Offices today for more information about our services.