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Vehicle Accidents

Los Angeles and Southern California Auto Accidents
By Lou Cutrone

With thousands of miles of roadways and highways, sprawling cities, lengthy commutes, and an ingrained car culture, auto accidents are an all too common occurrence in southern California. Los Angeles car accidents can occur on freeways or surface streets, in intersections, or even in parking lots or driveways.  Following too closely, excessive speed, driver inattention, cell phone usage, vehicle equipment issues, and weather factors are all common causes of auto accidents.

When You Are Involved in a Car Accident

California law imposes two responsibilities on drivers who are involved in an auto accident.  The first responsibility is to exchange information with the other driver or drivers involved in the accident.  California Vehicle Code Section 16025 requires all able drivers involved in a car accident to exchange the following information:

-name and address (of both the driver and registered owner of the vehicle)

-driver’s license number

-vehicle year, make, model and license plate number

-auto insurance company and policy number

Failure to exchange this information in the event of a car accident is an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $250.  The second responsibility is to complete Form SR-1 and file it with the DMV if anyone was injured in the accident or if resulting property damage exceeds $750.

While you are not required by law to call the police after an auto accident, our team of Los Angeles car accident attorneys recommends that you do call and ask them to respond to the accident.  The responding police officers will conduct an investigation and prepare a Traffic Collision Report that documents the circumstances of the accident and can even be helpful in determining who was at fault.  Keep in mind, however, that the police may choose not to respond if no one is seriously injured and property damage is minimal.

Our southern California auto accident lawyers suggest that drivers take several other steps while still at the accident scene.  First, get the names and phone number of any witnesses to the accident.  Next, take photos of your vehicle and all other involved vehicles, as well as the accident scene itself.  Your cell phone’s camera can come in handy here.

Of course, your health and safety are top priority.  If you are injured or hurt, get to your nearest emergency room or see your doctor without delay.  For serious injuries, do not hesitate to call 911.  If your injuries prevent you from doing any of the post-accident steps listed above, our auto accident lawyers can help.  Contact us at Cutrone & Associates for further assistance.

Dealing with Insurance Companies and Making a Claim

Most southern California drivers already know to contact their insurance company without delay to establish a claim in the event of an accident.  In fact, many people involved in a car accident do this immediately while still at the accident scene.  Once the accident has been reported, a claim number and claims representative will be assigned.

While you must report an accident to your own auto insurance provider, you are not obligated to speak to anyone from the other driver’s insurance company.  In fact, our Los Angeles auto accident attorneys urge all drivers NOT to speak with anyone from the other driver’s insurance company until they have consulted with a lawyer.  Claims representatives from both your insurance company and the other driver’s will likely contact you very soon after the accident is reported.  Do not speak with or give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company until you have consulted with a lawyer first.  Our southern California auto accident attorneys are available to provide a free, no-obligation consultation to help you protect your interests.

If you are injured as a result of an auto accident, keep track of your treatment and medical expenses.  Keep records of your time off work, as you may be able to make a claim for lost wages.  If you were injured as a passenger in an auto accident you may also be able to make a claim.

The insurance claims process can be frustrating and stressful.  You may find yourself dealing with frequent phone calls and letters from claims adjusters from both your own insurance company and that of the other driver.  You may be asked to sign broad medical authorizations that allow these companies to obtain your medical records.  Dealing with the involved insurance companies after an auto accident can be extremely difficult, especially when managing injuries, medical treatment, time off work, car repairs, and other challenges that accompany a car crash.  You may wonder if your rights are protected or if you’re being treated fairly.  Unfortunately, we find that insurance carriers often take advantage of most drivers’ inexperience or lack of knowledge of the law when it comes to dealing with car accidents.  Don’t let yourself be taken advantage of.  If you have questions about your claim, contact Cutrone & Associates for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Our Auto Accident Emergency Guide Can Help–Get Yours Today!

No matter the severity of the collision, car accidents are always inconvenient and stressful.  After an accident, you will most likely feel anxious, confused, or hurt.  You may find yourself facing a hostile or unpleasant confrontation with the other involved driver.  Under such circumstances, remembering just what to do (and what not to do), can be difficult.  That’s why our team of Los Angeles car accident lawyers created this Auto Accident Emergency Guide to be kept in your vehicle’s glove box.  It summarizes the information on this page and provides a form that you can use to make sure you get all the information you need.   There’s even a detachable card where you can fill-in your information in advance so that you can quickly and easily provide this information to the other driver in the event of an accident.  Be prepared!  Print your Auto Accident Emergency Guide today and keep it in your glove box!  Here is the link: Accident Guide(pdf)