Should I Call the Cops After a Fender Bender in Chula Vista?
David Muñoz | February 1, 2023 | Car Accidents
Chula Vista, California, is known as one of the safest cities in the United States when it comes to crime. Not as much the case, however, when it comes to traffic accidents. Of course, minor fender benders are seldom dangerous. Nevertheless, they still carry potential financial and medical risks. It is important to know how to handle yourself after a Chula Vista fender bender.
California Law on Reporting an Accident to the Police
California law requires that you report a car accident that results in injury, death, or property damage greater than $1,000 to the police. The property damage from a fender bender might well be less than $1,000, and perhaps nobody suffered an injury. If so, you’re not legally required to call the police. It’s best to err on the side of caution, however. You might be surprised at how little damage it takes more than $1,000 to fix, especially if the car itself is expensive.
There are advantages to calling the police to come to the scene of your accident, even if the law doesn’t require you to. Keep in mind that even if you don’t call the police, you must leave your name, contact details, and insurance information with the other driver (a note on the windshield in a parking lot is sometimes enough). Don’t try to assign fault to yourself or the other driver at this point.
Steps To Take After a Fender Bender
You might be in shock after even a minor accident. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if you were shaken up if your fender bender was a “close call,” that could have been a lot worse. Make no mistake about it, however—for legal purposes, what you do and say after a car accident has a tremendous effect on any subsequent claims.
The best way to react appropriately, even when you are in shock, is to prepare carefully in advance. Here are some principles to follow:
- Determine whether there have been any injuries or if there is more than $1,000 in property damage. If either of these conditions apply, California law requires you to remain at the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene of the accident could result in a hit-and-run charge.
- If required by law, call the police to report the accident and wait for them to arrive. You might want to call the police even if the law doesn’t require you to.
- Gather evidence. Take photos, obtain contact details of any witnesses, and obtain the other driver’s contact and insurance details.
- Do not admit fault. Don’t say you’re sorry, even just to be polite.
- Cooperate with the police when they arrive. They will prepare an accident report, and they will need your help.
- Seek medical treatment if you think you might need it.
- Obtain a copy of the accident report as soon as you can.
- Hire a lawyer if it makes sense under the circumstances.
If you’re not sure whether you need a lawyer, schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your case. You can then decide whether to pursue your case.
The Accident Report
If the police come to the scene of the accident, they will create an accident report. Even though you can’t submit an accident report as evidence in court, you can still use it to your advantage if the other driver tries to blame you. If you hire a lawyer, they can help you challenge any inaccurate information in the report.
The police will ask you and the other driver to provide contact and insurance information. This can save you a lot of trouble trying to pressure this information out of an uncooperative driver. Even if the other driver leaves the scene of the accident before the police arrive, you can give the police the driver’s license plate number, and they will find the other driver.
Even in a “minor” fender bender, you might have suffered an injury. Err on the side of caution because certain injuries, such as traumatic brain injury and whiplash, are notorious for their late-breaking symptoms.
Consider Hiring a Lawyer if a Dispute Breaks Out
You might not need a lawyer after a minor fender bender. A minority of fender benders, however, turn out to be more serious than they initially appear. You might face latent damage to your vehicle, for example. Alternatively, the other driver might try to unjustly blame you for the accident or try to jack up the value of their claim. Under these circumstances, a lawyer can make a huge difference.
Contact the San Diego Car Accident Law Firm of Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Today To Get More Information
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers
2515 Camino del Rio S Suite 350, San Diego, CA 92108
We also serve the state of Texas. Contact our personal injury law office in El Paso for legal assistance today.