Being involved in a car accident can be bewildering and distressing. In the midst of the chaos, it’s essential to know what steps to take, whom to turn to for assistance, and how to safeguard your rights.


Whether you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, consulting with an experienced personal injury lawyer can make all the difference in ensuring that the situation is handled correctly and your legal rights are fully protected. In this article, we’ll break down the essential steps and rights you should be aware of as a car accident victim in California.

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Immediate Actions After a Motor Vehicle Crash

actions after a motor vehicle crash

After getting into a car accident, the immediate priority is to make sure everyone involved is safe. Depending on the severity of the accident, medical attention may be required and police should be called. Even minor accidents can cause significant injuries that are not immediately apparent, so err on the side of caution and seek medical treatment. See below for what you need to take note of.

Call 911 or Seek Medical Attention

The first and most crucial step is to call 911 or seek immediate medical attention if necessary. Even if the accident appears minor initially, it’s vital to be examined by a qualified medical professional as soon as possible. Some sustained injuries may not manifest symptoms right away, and having a medical record can be invaluable when filing insurance claims or pursuing legal action.


Injuries that car crash victims may experience include:

  • Whiplash: Neck injury causing pain and stiffness.
  • Broken Bones: Fractures in arms, legs, ribs, etc.
  • Head Injuries: Traumatic brain injuries or concussions.
  • Spinal Cord Injuries: Resulting in paralysis or loss of function.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Muscle, ligament, or tendon damage.
  • Internal Injuries: Bleeding or organ damage.
  • Cuts and Bruises: Minor injuries.
  • Emotional Trauma: PTSD, anxiety, or depression.
  • Burns: Fire-related injuries.
  • Seatbelt and Airbag Injuries: Chest or facial injuries.
  • Psychological Impact: Mental health issues.
  • Secondary Injuries: Complications over time, such as arthritis,  scarring, or chronic pain.

Personal Injury and Damage Assessment

Not all accidents will require the involvement of a personal injury attorney. In cases where the accident resulted in only property damage and no injuries, it may be a matter of resolving the issue between the insurance companies of the parties involved. 


Conversely, when a car accident leads to significant physical injuries, more substantial steps may be necessary. This could involve filing a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and other responsible parties to seek compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses.

Insurance Company Tactics

Recognize that insurance companies often aim to minimize compensation for accident injury victims to protect their own financial interests. This can lead to crash survivors being offered settlements that are far below what they are entitled to under California state law.

Consult with a Car Accident Lawyer

Before accepting any settlement offers from insurance companies, consult with an experienced California accident law firm. This consultation ensures that your rights are fully respected, and you receive all the money you are entitled to for any losses resulting from your accident-related injuries or property damages.

The Rights of Car Accident Victims in California

rights of car accident victims in california

Those who survived a bad car crash are entitled to medical bills, lost wages from time off work, car repair or replacement costs and other forms of compensation directly related to the accident. California law also provides for non-economic damages like pain and suffering that are more difficult to quantify.


An experienced motor vehicle accident lawyer will ensure that all these factors are taken into consideration when negotiating a settlement with an insurance company on your behalf. They can present a more compelling case for you in court if the insurance company refuses to provide fair compensation.

Right to Compensation

As a car accident victim in California, you have the right to seek compensation for various losses, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

You have the right to legal representation. Hiring an experienced attorney can significantly improve your chances of receiving fair compensation and navigating the complex legal process effectively.

Right to Evidence Preservation

Car accident victims have the right to ensure that crucial evidence related to their case is preserved. This includes photographs of the accident scene, witness statements, medical records, and vehicle damage documentation. Preserving evidence is essential for building a strong case and establishing liability.

Right to File a Lawsuit

If settlement negotiations remain a challenge, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible party or parties. This legal action protects you from being shortchanged and can help you pursue the justice and money you truly deserve.

California Laws and Regulations on Car Accidents

car accident victim

Statute of Limitations

In California, there is a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This means you have a limited time to file a lawsuit after the accident. Typically, it’s two years from the date of the injury. It’s crucial for every car accident victim to be aware of this timeframe to protect your rights.

Comparative Negligence

California follows a comparative negligence system. This means that if you were partially at fault for the accident, your compensation may be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to you. Those who suffered serious injuries may still be eligible for compensation even if they were partially at fault.

Minimum Insurance Requirements

California law requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. As of my last knowledge update in 2022, the minimum requirements were $15,000 for injury or death to one person, $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person, and $5,000 for property damage. These limits may change over time, so it’s important to check the current requirements to ensure compliance.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

California also mandates that auto insurance policies include uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage unless the policyholder explicitly declines it in writing. This coverage can be crucial if you’re in an accident with a driver who has no insurance or insufficient coverage to compensate you adequately for your injuries and damages.

Call an Experienced Car Accident Attorney For Help With Your Accident Claim. Free Consultation.

In the aftermath of a car accident, it’s crucial to be well-informed and proactive in protecting your rights. Whether you’re dealing with injuries, property damage, or negotiating with insurance companies, understanding your rights is paramount.


Remember that consulting with an experienced California accident injury lawyer can provide you with the guidance and support needed to make informed decisions and pursue the compensation you rightfully deserve.


At RTM Law, we help those injured in a car accident assess their damages, gather evidence, and negotiate with insurance companies to ensure full compensation is received and justice is served. We take a personalized approach to every case and have extensive experience handling all types of accident cases, from wrongful death suits to property damage claims.


If you are looking for an attorney to represent accident victims who are on the Autism spectrum and have special needs, get in touch with us too.


Our principal lawyer Ramin Montakab is an autism advocate attorney who specializes in representing special needs victims of car accidents. Our neurodiversity advocacy is personal. With RTM Law on your side, you can rest assured that your loved ones’ rights and personhood are respected and taken into account throughout the injury claim or lawsuit process.


You don’t have to navigate the legal process alone. Our highly trained legal team is dedicated to providing quality representation for those affected by auto accidents no matter their medical condition or background — we fight for justice for all.

Hire an attorney that truly cares.



    We Help Accident Victims File
    a Personal Injury Claim in California

    Our California personal injury attorneys handle a wide range of personal injury claims in several areas, including:

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