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Personal Injury Guide: What To Do After An Accident

Victim and injured? Check this guide on what you should do after an accident in California.

what to do after an accident

This resource offers step-by-step advice for various scenarios, from car collisions to injuries caused by defective products. Our aim is to provide clear guidance to help you protect your health, rights, and future in the wake of an accident.


While this personal injury guide is a valuable tool, consulting an attorney is crucial for protecting your legal interests and ensuring fair compensation when making an insurance claim.



What To Do After a Car Accident

In California, car accidents are a significant concern, with the state reporting one of the highest numbers of traffic-related fatalities and injuries in the United States. 


According to recent statistics, densely populated urban areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay Area experience a notably high frequency of car accidents, underscoring the ongoing challenges of road safety in the state. 


If you find yourself a victim in an auto collision, here’s what you must do:

  1. Ensure Safety: Move to a safe location if possible.
  2. Call 911: Report the accident and request medical assistance if needed. Call the police to report the incident.
  3. Exchange Information: Get contact and insurance details from all drivers involved.
  4. Document the Scene: Take photos of the accident scene.
  5. Gather Witnesses: Collect contact information from any witnesses.
  6. Seek Medical Attention: Even if injuries seem minor, get checked by a doctor.
  7. Report the Accident to the DMV: File an SR-1 form with the California DMV within 10 days if there are injuries, fatalities, or property damage over a certain amount. It’s crucial to file the SR-1 form in a timely manner as failing to do so can lead to penalties, including the suspension of your driver’s license. The form helps to officially document the accident and is used for insurance and legal purposes.
  8. Do Not Give Any Statements to Any Insurance Companies: Limit communication with other parties’ insurance companies.
  9. Keep Records: Save all medical bills, repair receipts, and any accident-related expenses.
  10. Document any visible injuries: Take pictures of any bruising, casts, etc
  11. Call a Car Accident Attorney: Consult a personal injury lawyer for legal advice and representation to file a claim for an auto collision. Let your attorney talk to your auto insurance company to avoid any potential misunderstandings.

What To Do After a Motorcycle Accident

California has consistently ranked among the top states in the U.S. for motorcycle accidents, with data revealing that approximately 15% of all motor vehicle fatalities in the state involve motorcyclists. Here’s what to do after an accident if you’re the victim:

  1. Move to Safety: Get to a secure location to prevent further harm.
  2. Call for Help: Dial 911 for emergency services and police.
  3. Exchange Info: Obtain details from all involved parties.
  4. Document Everything: Take pictures of the scene of the accident.
  5. Look for Witnesses: Note down contact information of any bystanders.
  6. Medical Evaluation: Seek immediate medical attention.
  7. Avoid Giving Any Statements to Insurance Companies or Their Representatives: Be cautious when speaking to other parties’ insurers so you don’t get misunderstood.
  8. Preserve Your Vehicle and Gear: Keep your damaged motorcycle and gear in their post-accident condition to be used as evidence later on.
  9. Record Expenses: Keep track of all medical payments and repair costs.
  10. Consult a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer: Contact a personal injury attorney for legal guidance. Your lawyer will also take care of communicating with your insurance provider on your behalf. 

Motorcycle collisions can be incredibly dangerous and often result in serious injuries or even death. Medical intervention is critical, even if you don’t feel like the injury was major. Some catastrophic injuries may not be apparent early on, so seek medical evaluation regardless. This information will be invaluable to your claims process.

What To Do After a Truck Accident

Collisions with commercial vehicles, trucks specifically,  can be extremely dangerous due to their size and weight. Victims may be able to claim compensation for damages, such as medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering.

  1. Safety First: Move to a safe area if possible to avoid further hazards.
  2. Call Emergency Services: Dial 911 for police and medical assistance.
  3. Exchange Information: Get contact and company details from the truck driver.
  4. Document the Scene: Take photos of the accident scene.
  5. Witnesses: Obtain contact details from any bystanders.
  6. Seek Medical Attention: Visit a healthcare professional immediately.
  7. Do Not Give Any Statements to Insurance Companies: Be cautious in your communications with other parties.
  8. Preserve All Documents: Keep all medical bills, repair invoices, and other related receipts.
  9. Consult a Truck Accident Lawyer: Get legal advice specifically for truck accidents. Your attorney will handle communications with insurance agents and the insurance claims process to ensure you receive the money you deserve.

What To Do After a Bike Accident

  1. Move to Safety: Safely move yourself and your bicycle out of the traffic to prevent further harm.
  2. Check for Injuries: Immediately assess yourself for any injuries. Remember that some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
  3. Call 911: If there are significant injuries or substantial road hazards, call for medical and police assistance right away.
  4. Exchange Information: Obtain contact and insurance information from any other involved parties, particularly if a vehicle is involved.
  5. Document the Scene: Take videos or pictures of the accident scene or any injuries sustained.
  6. Gather Witnesses: If there are bystanders who witnessed the accident, collect their contact details.
  7. Seek Medical Attention: Visit a doctor or an emergency room for a medical evaluation, even for seemingly minor injuries.
  8. Preserve Your Gear: Keep your damaged bike and any gear in their post-accident condition for evidence.
  9. Contact a Bicycle Accident Attorney: Before you report the accident to the police or contact your insurance company, consult with a lawyer specializing in bicycle accidents. They will advise you on the best course of action  in filing an insurance claim and handle communications with insurers to protect your rights.

Involving an attorney early in the process ensures that your rights are protected and that communications with insurance companies are handled professionally, reducing the risk of jeopardizing your chances when you need to file a claim.

What To Do After a Pedestrian Accident

  1. Ensure Immediate Safety: If possible, move to a safe area away from traffic to prevent further harm.
  2. Call 911: Immediately contact emergency services for medical assistance and to report the accident. This call is vital as it ensures an official accident report is made, which is crucial for any legal proceedings.
  3. Document the Accident Scene: If you are able to do so, take photographs or videos of the scene of the accident.
  4. Gather Information: Obtain contact and insurance information from the driver involved. If there are witnesses, get their contact details as well, particularly if the other driver was at fault.
  5. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel your injuries are minor, it’s important to get a medical evaluation as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
  6. Do Not Provide Any Statements to Any Insurance Company: Avoid discussing the accident details or admitting fault with the driver or insurance representatives at the scene.
  7. Contact a Pedestrian Accident Attorney: Before proceeding with any insurance claims or reports, consult with a personal injury lawyer experienced in pedestrian accidents. They can advise you on the necessary steps and handle critical communications.
  8. File a Pedestrian Accident Report: In California, if the accident involves a motor vehicle and results in injury or death, a report must be filed with the DMV within 10 days using the SR-1 form. Your attorney can assist with this process.
  9. Follow Up: Stay in contact with your attorney for updates and follow their advice on how to proceed with medical treatments and legal actions.

What To Do After a Slip and Fall Accident

  1. Report the Incident: Inform the property owner or manager where the fall occurred. Obtain a copy of the incident report.
  2. Document the Area: Take photos of where and what caused the fall.
  3. Get Witness Info: If anyone saw the fall, get their contact details.
  4. Seek Medical Attention: Have a medical professional evaluate your injuries.
  5. Keep Clothing and Shoes: Preserve what you were wearing as evidence.
  6. Don’t Give Statements: Avoid detailed statements to property owners or insurers.
  7. Record Expenses: Document all medical costs and lost wages.
  8. Contact a Slip and Fall Lawyer: Seek advice from a personal injury attorney.

Slip and fall and trip and fall claims can be worth tens of thousands of dollars or more for victims. This type of accident can happen to anyone, anywhere – whether it’s in a grocery store, at work, or on someone else’s property. These steps are crucial to follow in order to protect your rights and receive financial compensation for your injuries.

What To Do After a Child Experiences an Injury

Children who get hurt due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness deserve justice. As a parent or guardian, it can be overwhelming and upsetting to see your child go through an injury. Here are some steps you can take to ensure their rights are protected and they receive the proper care:

  1. Seek Immediate Medical Care: Prioritize the child’s health and safety.
  2. Accident Details: Document where, how, and when the injury occurred.
  3. Witnesses: If applicable, get contact information from witnesses.
  4. Photographs: Take pictures of the injury and the accident scene.
  5. Follow-Up Care: Keep track of all medical appointments and treatments.
  6. Educational Impact: Note any effects on the child’s schooling.
  7. Avoid Settlements: Don’t agree to any offers without legal advice.
  8. Record Keeping: Maintain a file of all related documents and expenses.
  9. Legal Assistance: Consult a child injury lawyer.

Children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) often require extra care and attention to ensure their rights are protected. They might not be able to communicate their pain effectively or understand the potential consequences of their actions, making them more vulnerable to injuries. In this case, consulting with a personal injury lawyer for autism is necessary.

What To Do After a Dog Bite Injury

  1. Get to Safety: Move away from the dog to a secure location.
  2. Identify the Owner: Find out who owns the dog and get their contact details.
  3. Seek Medical Care: Go to a doctor for the treatment of any injuries.
  4. Report the Bite: Notify local animal control or the police about the incident.
  5. Document Injuries: Take photos of your injuries and the location of the attack.
  6. Witness Information: Collect contact details of anyone who witnessed the attack.
  7. Preserve Evidence: Keep clothing and any other items involved in the attack.
  8. Avoid Negotiating: Don’t discuss compensation with the dog owner or their insurer.
  9. Record All Costs: Save all medical bills and related expenses.
  10. Secure Video Proof: Locate any nearby video footage.
  11. Contact a Dog Bite Attorney: Get in touch with a personal injury lawyer for legal assistance.

California law states that dog owners are responsible for any injuries their pets may cause, regardless of the animal’s history or temperament. Victims of dog attacks have the right to seek compensation for any physical, emotional, or financial damages incurred.

What To Do After Being Injured by a Defective Product

  1. Preserve the Product: Keep the defective product or drug as evidence.
  2. Seek Medical Attention: Document any health issues caused by the product or drug.
  3. Report the Issue: Notify the manufacturer or seller of the product.
  4. Document Everything: Keep a record of the product, its defects, and any correspondence.
  5. Witness Accounts: If applicable, collect statements from witnesses.
  6. Save Receipts and Records: Keep all purchase records and medical bills.
  7. Avoid Repairing or Altering Product: Maintain the product in its defective state.
  8. Research Product Recalls: Check if there are existing complaints or recalls.
  9. File a Report with a Government Agency:
  10. Legal Advice: Contact a product liability lawyer.

Filing a report with these agencies helps in documenting the issue on a national level and can contribute to broader consumer safety measures. It’s a step that can be taken alongside pursuing legal recourse through a personal injury attorney.

What To Do After Being Injured by a Drunk Driver

In the case of a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), the involvement of law enforcement is crucial since it is a criminal offense. Reporting the incident to the appropriate government agency primarily involves the police, who will handle the criminal aspect of the DUI. Here’s how you should include this step in your guidelines:

  1. Ensure Safety: Stay in a safe place away from traffic.
  2. Police Involvement: Call 911 and ensure a police report is filed. This is the primary method of officially reporting the DUI, as law enforcement will investigate and record the incident as a criminal offense.
  3. Gather Driver Information: Collect details from the DUI suspect.
  4. Evidence Collection: Photograph the scene, the vehicles, and any injuries.
  5. Witness Statements: Get contact details of witnesses.
  6. Medical Checkup: Get a thorough medical examination as soon as possible.
  7. Notify Your Insurance: Report the accident to your insurance company.
  8. Limit Discussion with Others: Be careful in discussions with other insurers.
  9. Keep Records: Document all medical treatments and related expenses.
  10. Contact a DUI Accident Attorney: Seek legal advice, especially for drunk driving accident cases where you or a loved one are the victim.

Note that the police report is a key document in DUI cases. It provides an official account of the incident, including the suspicion of DUI, and is used in both criminal proceedings against the driver and civil claims for damages. Your personal injury attorney will use this report in pursuing your claim.

What To Do After an Accident in an Uber or Lyft

  1. Safety First: Prioritize your safety by moving to a secure location away from the road or any potential hazards.
  2. Contact Authorities: Immediately call 911 to report the accident and get any necessary medical and police assistance. Official documentation from authorities is crucial in these cases.
  3. Exchange Driver and Witness Details: Obtain contact and insurance information from the rideshare driver and any other drivers involved. Also, collect details from any witnesses.
  4. Document the Accident: Take clear photos of the accident scene, all vehicles involved, and any visible injuries. This visual evidence can be critical later.
  5. Seek Medical Attention: Even if you feel fine, get a comprehensive medical examination as soon as possible. Some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
  6. Contact a Rideshare Injury Attorney: Before reporting the accident to your insurance or the rideshare company, consult with an attorney experienced in rideshare accidents. They can guide you on how to communicate with insurance companies and protect your rights.
  7. Report the Accident to Uber/Lyft: Use the rideshare app to report the accident, but only after getting legal advice. Be factual and concise in your report.
  8. Insurance Notification: Following your attorney’s advice, inform your own insurance company about the accident. Your lawyer can assist with this process, ensuring that your communications are in your best interest.
  9. Keep All Records: Save all documentation related to the accident, including medical records, travel receipts, and any other expenses incurred due to the accident.
  10. Follow Up: Stay in contact with your attorney for ongoing advice and representation throughout the process of any insurance or legal claims.

Engaging a lawyer early in the process helps to ensure that all communications, especially with insurance companies, are handled correctly, thereby protecting your legal rights and interests in the aftermath of a rideshare accident.

What To Do After a Loved One Suffers a Wrongful Death

Dealing with a wrongful death case requires a careful and structured approach to ensure that all legal aspects are handled correctly, and the family’s rights are protected. Here’s a guide for handling a wrongful death case:

  1. Obtain the Death Certificate: Secure a death certificate from the medical examiner as it’s a critical document for legal and insurance purposes. It provides an official cause of death which can be important in legal proceedings.
  2. Engage a Wrongful Death Lawyer: Immediately consult with an attorney experienced in wrongful death cases. Legal expertise is crucial from the outset to guide you through the complex legal process and protect your rights.
  3. Conduct a Comprehensive Investigation: Authorize your attorney to conduct a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death. This may involve gathering evidence, consulting experts, and identifying responsible parties.
  4. Document Collection: Systematically compile all relevant documentation, including the deceased’s medical records, any accident or incident reports, and witness statements. This information forms the basis of your legal claim.
  5. Compile Financial Impact Records: Gather detailed information about the financial impact of the death, including lost wages, medical bills prior to death, funeral and burial expenses, and any other related costs. This data is essential for calculating damages.
  6. Resolve Estate and Probate Matters: If the deceased had assets, it’s important to address estate and probate issues. Your attorney can help navigate these processes or refer you to a qualified estate attorney.
  7. Process Insurance Claims: File any relevant insurance claims. This might include life insurance, health insurance, or any accident-related insurance policies. Ensure this is done under the guidance of your attorney to optimize outcomes.
  8. Seek Emotional and Psychological Support: Acknowledge the need for emotional and psychological support for the family members. Grief counseling and support groups can be invaluable resources during this challenging time.
  9. Avoid Premature Settlements: Be cautious of early settlement offers from insurance companies or defendants. Consult with your attorney before agreeing to any settlement to ensure it fairly compensates for your loss.
  10. Consider Legal Action: Discuss with your attorney the feasibility and potential outcomes of filing a wrongful death lawsuit. This decision should be based on the investigation’s findings, available evidence, and an assessment of the deceased’s and family’s rights.
  11. Stay Informed and Involved: Regularly communicate with your attorney to stay informed about the progress of your case and understand your legal options. Your involvement is crucial in making informed decisions throughout the legal process.



Statute of Limitations
for Personal Injury Claims in California

In California, the statute of limitations for filing an injury claim is typically two years from the date of injury. However, exceptions may apply in certain cases, such as if the defendant was a government entity or if there was fraud involved. It is important to consult with an attorney to ensure you file within the appropriate time frame.


If this deadline is missed, you may lose your right to seek compensation. This is why it is crucial to act quickly and consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.

Types of Damages in Personal Injury Cases

In personal injury cases, there are various types of damages that can be recovered. These damages are meant to compensate the injured party for their losses and provide them with financial support. Some of the damages recoverable in personal injury cases include:

Medical Expenses

This includes the cost of medical treatment, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, and any other healthcare-related expenses incurred as a result of the injury.

Lost Wages

If the injury caused the victim to miss work or be unable to work altogether, they may be entitled to compensation for the wages they would have earned during that time period.

Pain and Suffering

This refers to the physical and emotional pain endured by the injured party as a result of the accident or incident. It includes the discomfort, distress, and loss of enjoyment of life experienced due to the injury.

Property Damage

If the accident resulted in damage to the victim’s property, such as their vehicle in a car accident, they may be able to recover the costs of repairing or replacing the damaged property.

Loss of Consortium

This type of damage is specific to cases where the injury has impacted the injured party’s relationship with their spouse or family members. It compensates for the loss of companionship, support, and services that the injured party would have provided.

Punitive Damages

In certain cases where the defendant’s actions were deemed particularly reckless or malicious, punitive damages may be awarded. These damages are meant to punish the defendant and deter similar behavior in the future.

Involved in an Accident? File a Claim for Your Injuries. Call RTM Law Today for a FREE Case Review.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, seek legal representation as soon as possible.


This personal injury guide on what to do after an accident is meant to give you an overview of the types of damages that may be available in a personal injury case.


However, every case is unique and it’s important to consult with a lawyer who can evaluate your specific circumstances and help you determine the best course of action.


The team at RTM Law specializes in personal injury cases and can provide you with the support and guidance needed to navigate the complex process.


Insurance companies are NOT on your side, and they will try to shortchange you as much as they can.


Keep this personal injury guide handy for easy reference in case any of these accidents do happen to you and your loved ones. Remember that our personal injury lawyers in California are ready to fight on your behalf.




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