Every year, almost 2,000 car accidents take place in San Bernardino County, California. Many of them involve alcohol consumption, speeding, or nighttime driving, but there are also accidents where heavy traffic, bad weather, or poor visibility is the main cause. In these cases, drivers are often at fault for not adjusting their speed to the traffic conditions, not maintaining a safe distance from the vehicles in front of them, not granting priority, or other similar actions, and they still risk losing their driver’s license. To avoid these types of consequences, drivers involved in a San Bernardino car accident should get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible.
Of course, accidents bring about a lot of confusion and stress so it is important for drivers to know their priorities and act accordingly. Here are the most important steps drivers should take after being involved in a San Bernardino car accident.
Steps to Take After a San Bernardino Car Accident
1. Stopping, Assessing the Situation and Calling for Help
Everyone’s priority after an accident should be to stop and assess the situation. Failing to stop or fleeing from the accident scene may qualify as hit-and-run and could result in criminal charges. If anyone suffered any injuries, it is important to call 911 immediately and request medical assistance. Sometimes, a delay of only a few minutes will make the difference between life and death.
Then, it is time to assess the severity of the accident and its immediate consequences. If the accident only caused property damage or involved hitting a legally parked car, things are simple. However, if the accident involves several cars, severe damages, and injuries or loss of animal or human lives, the stakes are much higher.
Besides their license, drivers risk losing their freedom and paying huge damages. The ones who will be establishing the circumstances of the accident and decide who is responsible are the representatives of the police. If the accident took place in an unincorporated area, the jurisdiction belongs to the California Highway Patrol.
2. Calling a San Bernardino Car Accident Attorney and Collecting Evidence
Once everyone is safe and the authorities have received notification of the accident, it is time to call a San Bernardino car accident attorney. It is also important to take photos of the accident scene, of the cars involved, their position on the road, their license plates, any brake marks, and the damages produced, to be able to prove to the police or in court how the accident took place, if necessary.
Then, if the car or cars involved in the accident are still on the carriageway, the parties involved should move them to the shoulder to prevent further accidents and avoid towing or impounding. They can do this before the police officers arrive or with them at the scene.
3. Providing the Information and Documents Required
When everyone is safe, and the road is clear, the parties involved can begin to worry about liability. The drivers need to provide their driver license, insurance proof, registration card, and contact information to the police officers and the other parties involved. Drivers who cannot prove they have insurance and provide their insurance policy number risk a fine and citation.
Accidents that involve property damage above $1,000, or cause injuries or death require reporting to the DMV. The responsibility for reporting them falls on the drivers, their insurance agents, or their legal representatives. The deadline for reporting accidents to the DMV is ten days, and the form for filing the report is SR-1 – Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California.
The report should also include copies of the documents filed with the police, insurance companies, and any other institutions. To fill in the SR-1 form, drivers will need the following information from the accident scene:
- The time and place of the accident
- The name, date of birth, and address of any other drivers involved
- The driver’s license information of the drivers involved
- The state and license plate number of the vehicles involved in the accident
- The name of the other driver’s insurance company, and the number and expiration date of their insurance policies
- The name and address of each insurance policyholder
- The name and address of the vehicle owners
- Summary of the injuries and property damage the accident caused
The DMV report is a requirement for all accidents that cause damage higher than $1,000 and injuries, no matter if they occur on public roads or private property. Drivers who do not file the report in due time or fail to prove their insurance statute risk a license suspension. Accidents reported to the DMV will appear on the driving record of the party at fault.
How a San Bernardino, CA Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Remembering to do all these in the crazy moments following a car accident can be difficult. Most drivers panic and lose their temper, especially after serious accidents involving extensive damage, injuries, or, worse, casualties. Many drivers neglect details that could help them prove their innocence and they say or do things that jeopardize their interests.
Experienced San Bernardino car accident attorneys can help their clients calm down and focus on the priorities mentioned above. Present at the scene of the accident, they can collect evidence and testimonies to prove their clients’ innocence. Afterwards, they will take over all the paperwork, any negotiations with the insurance companies and other parties involved, and even court hearings. If necessary, they can help their clients recover their peace of mind and continue with their lives in the best possible conditions.
The advice of a skilled and dedicated attorney can help drivers save significant time and money, maintain their driving privileges and even their freedom, depending on the circumstances the accident took place in and on how serious the potential consequences are.
If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident in San Bernardino County, don’t waste any time. Call 1-800 HURT-NOW or fill in the online contact form and have experienced San Bernardino car accident attorneys review your case for FREE!