What Are Your Responsibilities After a Traffic Accident?

Traffic accidents are common in California. In fact, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) tells us that about 1,500 accidents happen every day in this state. If a negligent motorist injures you, seek medical attention, call the police, and contact an Orange County car accident attorney at once.

If you sustain an injury in a car or truck accident in this state, are you required to submit an accident report to the police? If you are injured in an accident that was not your fault, what are your rights? Can you be compensated for your medical expenses and related damages?

If you will continue reading, you will find the answers you may need. You will also learn what an Orange County traffic accident lawyer will do on your behalf if you become the injured victim of someone else’s negligence in a Southern California traffic accident.

When an Accident Happens

If you are involved in a traffic crash with injuries in California, call 911 to summon medical and police assistance at once. State law requires you to report traffic accidents with injuries or deaths to either the local police or the CHP within 24 hours. You should report even minor accidents.

In fact, you have to report most traffic accidents in this state twice. If the local police or the California Highway Patrol arrive and investigate the accident, your legal responsibility to make a report to the local police or the CHP is fulfilled, but you still have a second legal obligation.

You are also legally required after a traffic accident to file a report with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), whether or not the local police or the CHP conduct an on-scene investigation of the accident, and there are penalties for failing to file this report.

What is Form SR-1?

After a traffic accident in California, you must report the crash to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) using Form SR-1. This form must be submitted to the DMV within ten days of an accident if anyone is injured, killed, or if the property damage totals $1,000 or more.

You must complete and submit Form SR-1 whether or not you were at-fault and whether the accident happened on public or private property. Your driver’s license will be suspended if you do not file Form SR-1 or if you didn’t have auto insurance coverage when the accident happened.

The law in California requires you to file Form SR-1 in addition to any report you make to the local police, the California Highway Patrol, or your own auto insurance company. You may obtain a Form SR-1 from any DMV or CHP office or online at the California DMV website.

Whether or not you are injured in an accident, and whether or not your vehicle or other property sustains significant damage, promptly submitting Form SR-1 fulfills your legal obligation to report the accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Why Are Accident Investigations So Important?

When law enforcement officers investigate an accident, their own written report includes the date and time of the accident, the location, the names of everyone involved, and details about the road conditions, the visibility, and the vehicles.

Courts and insurance companies rely on these police accident investigations. The officers are trained – and rapidly become skilled – investigators. Should their written report suggest that the other driver was at-fault, you will be in a good legal position to seek and recover compensation.

California is an at-fault auto insurance state, so the injured victim of an at-fault driver is legally entitled to compensation from that driver’s auto insurance company. If you are injured by a negligent driver, you may recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and more.

When Should You Contact an Accident Attorney?

But you do not receive that compensation automatically. You and your attorney must prove that the other driver’s negligence is the reason you were injured. After a medical provider has treated you, contact an Orange County car accident attorney at once to discuss your rights and options.

The deadline – the statute of limitations – for filing a personal injury claim in California is two years, but if you’ve been injured, schedule a meeting with an accident attorney at once. If you procrastinate, evidence deteriorates over time, and the recollections of the witnesses may fade.

If the two-year deadline has come and gone, you still may bring a legal claim if your case qualifies under an exception to that deadline. A personal injury lawyer can explain the exceptions to the statute of limitations and determine if your case falls under one of the exceptions.

What Does Justice Cost?

If a negligent driver has injured you, it costs nothing to obtain personalized advice and begin the personal injury process. Your initial meeting with an Orange County traffic accident lawyer is offered without cost or obligation.

Personal injury lawyers in California represent the injured victims of negligence on a contingent fee basis, so you will pay no lawyer’s fee until and unless your lawyer obtains your compensation with a private, out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict.

If you’ve been injured in a car or truck accident and you are unable to work, you need an advocate who will fight on your behalf – an advocate who will answer your legal questions, hold the liable party or parties responsible, and recover the compensation you deserve and need.

Which Injury Attorney Should You Choose?

There is no shortage of personal injury lawyers in Southern California, but the award-winning attorneys at Gibson & Hughes have decades of experience fighting successfully for those who’ve been injured by another person’s negligence.

After an injury in an auto, truck, bus, or motorcycle collision, you may confront a number of personal challenges, but Gibson & Hughes will help you move constructively and positively into the future.

We realize that no amount of money can change the fact that you’ve been injured, but we also firmly believe that our clients have the right to be fully compensated for their damages and losses after a car, truck, bus, or motorcycle accident.

Now or in the future, if you are injured by someone else’s negligence, promptly contact the law offices of Gibson & Hughes at 714-547-8377 and schedule a no-obligation, no-cost legal consultation.