Whenever you operate a motor vehicle, there’s a risk that you might be involved in a car crash. Accidents range in seriousness from minor scrapes or fender benders to wrecks in which there are injuries. You are almost always required by law to report accidents in California.
For any type of accident, the first thing you need to do is stop and see what type of damage there is and whether anyone is hurt. If you don’t stop at the scene of an accident, even if it appears to be minor, you could be charged with a hit and run.
When Your Vehicle is the Only One Involved
If you hit someone else’s property, whether it’s a parked car or a mailbox, try to find the owner. If you’re not able to locate them, leave a note with your name and address attached to the property.
If it’s not your car that you were driving, also leave the name and address of the owner of the vehicle. According to California Department of Motor Vehicles, you still have to report this type of accident to California Highway Patrol.
You also have to report an accident in which you hit an animal. Pullover and try to locate the owner of the animal. If you’re not able to find the owner, call the police or the Humane Society.
Accidents with Pedestrians or Bicyclists
If you should accidentally hit a pedestrian or bicyclist, pull over and call the police and call for medical assistance to be sure the pedestrian isn’t injured. Even if this person appeared to be at fault for stepping out in front of your vehicle without warning, it’s important to have law enforcement assess what happened.
Another type of accident is known as dooring. This is when you open your car door into a bicyclist or motorcyclist, and if this happens it should be reported.
California’s dooring statute prevents opening the door of your vehicle on the side of moving traffic unless you’re sure it’s safe to do so. If this happens, you might feel the other party is partially at fault. If that can be proven, it’s known as comparative negligence.
Accidents with Other Vehicles
In California, when you’re involved in a car accident with another vehicle, you are required to report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if anyone was injured or if there was property damage of over $1,000.
A minor fender bender may not need to be reported if you and the other driver both agree to settle without involving insurance companies, but if there’s any chance the damage is more than $1,000, you’re better off filing a report. If you aren’t sure whether or not you need to report an accident, it’s a good idea to do so.
You will need to fill out Form SR-1, which is a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California. This can also be done by your insurance agent or legal representative. If you don’t fill out a report after an accident, you risk being charged with a hit and run or being assessed fines or having your license suspended.
Getting Legal Help
Any type of car accident may lead to confusion about your rights and responsibilities. If you were injured in the accident and you believe the other party was negligent or at least partially at fault, it’s important to consult an expert in the field of personal injury law. Contact Kuvara Law Firm by filling out the form on this page. We will get back to you soon to see what happened and how we can help.