1. Make a police report after an accident, unless the damages are minimal. If practical, do not move your car until the police arrive at the scene.
  2. Get the following information from the other driver: his name, address, driver’s license number, home phone, work phone, cell phone, vehicle license plate, insurance company’s name and policy number. (Look at his driver’s license for verification).
  3. Get the following information from all witnesses at the scene: their names, addresses and telephone numbers. Do not rely on the police to get this information. Take photos of the damage to your car and of the accident scene. It is important to take pictures from different angles, and before any repairs are made.
  4. Notify the DMV. In California, the DMV must be notified of any accident where there has been (1) an injury (no matter how small), (2) death, or (3) property damage in excess of $750. ** CLICK HERE TO COMPLETE DMV SR1 REPORT**. This must be filled out, printed and mailed to the DMV within 10 days of the date of your accident, regardless of whether the accident occurred on public or private property. (Please note that your insurance company is not obligated to file this report for you.)
  5. If you were injured, it is extremely important that you see a medical provider immediately. People who wait days, weeks or even months before seeing a doctor jeopardize their claim. Insurance companies will frequently deny claims or make extremely low settlement offers in cases where there has been a significant gap in time between the accident and the date of first medical treatment.
  6. If you experience continued pain as a result of your injuries, you are entitled to compensation for all pain and suffering you are expected to endure in the future.
  7. Notify your insurance company of the accident even if the other party is at fault. if you have collision coverage, then have your own insurance company cover damages to your vehicle, for the following reasons: (1) your company owes you a duty to promptly and fairly settle your property damage in good faith. However, the other parties insurance company has no such duty and can drag its feet in responding to your demand and make low ball offers. (2) If the other party is at fault, your insurance company will be able to get your deductible back from the other party. And if you were not at fault, using your collision coverage will not effect your insurance rates.
  8. Assuming the accident was the fault of the other driver, his insurance company is responsible for the reasonable cost of a rental vehicle for a reasonable period of time while your car is being repaired. Numerous issues come up when dealing with the other person’s carrier. If your own policy has rental car reimbursement coverage, check your policy. (Please note that when you rent your vehicle that the insurance company will not reimburse you for any extra insurance or collision deductible waivers which you purchase from the car rental.)
  9. Keep a diary of all your injuries, pain and emotional feelings. Remember that this information will fade from your memory with the passage of time. And your case may not settle for months, so the diary will be beneficial to refresh your memory of what type of pain and emotional distress you experienced after your accident. Tell friends and family about the pain that you are experience, but do not discuss the details of the accident with them.
  10. Remember that in California you are entitled to recover lost wages for the time you were off work, even if you used your sick pay or received other disability benefits.
  11. Keep all records, physical evidence or photos, and submit them to your personal injury attorney.