San Diego Car Accident FAQs

Nothing about getting into a car accident is easy. Someone’s simple mistake or poor judgment can turn your life upside down in the blink of an eye. And, now, you’re left to figure out how to cover expensive medical bills, supplement lost income, and cope with the trauma of a devastating crash.

As you face the reality of filing a car accident lawsuit, you probably find yourself with a lot of questions. The good news is that you do not have to struggle to find the answers on your own. Our award-winning San Diego car accident attorneys at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers have taken the time to answer some of the questions we receive most often. Plus, our legal team is available around the clock to take your call and provide the support and guidance you need after a crash.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our law office in San Diego, California, to set up a time for a free consultation so that we can answer any additional questions you have and help you understand your legal rights and options. Call us at (619) 777-5555.

What should I do after a car accident in San Diego?

What should I do after a car accident in San Diego?

The steps you take after a car accident are critically important. In fact, minor missteps can adversely affect your health and future claims for damages.

First, it’s important to remain at the scene of the accident. In California, you are legally required to exchange personal information with other parties if the crash resulted in property damage, injury, or death. You are free to leave if no one was visibly injured (after you’ve exchanged information), but the best course of action is to sit tight and wait for the police to arrive on the scene.

Always call 911 or the San Diego Police Department to report a traffic accident. You’ll want to ensure that there’s a formal record of the incident as proof when you go to file a claim for damages. A dispatcher will send a police officer and, if necessary, medical first responders to the scene to provide assistance to crash victims.

Resist the urge to accept blame or apologize for the accident, even if you think it’s your fault. Under California law, sharing responsibility for an accident will drive down the value of your car accident claim. Your damages will be reduced based on how much fault you’re assigned. In truth, there’s no way to know why or how an accident happened until it’s thoroughly investigated. So, check to see if other parties are okay and remain quiet until the police arrive.

Seek medical attention at the closest emergency room in San Diego. If you aren’t brought to the hospital in an ambulance, make sure this is your first step after leaving the scene.

Getting prompt care will:

  • Ensure that all of your injuries are properly diagnosed and treated – especially internal trauma that might not be evident right away
  • Limit the risk of complications or death, and
  • Create an important piece of evidence for a future claim for damages

Always consider seeking medical care after a crash — even if you believe you are uninjured. 

Should I report my accident?

You should always report your accident to the appropriate parties. At a minimum, you should do the following. 

Report the accident to the insurance company. Insurance companies often require notice of an accident within a “reasonable” amount of time after a crash. Failing to notify them can complicate your pursuit of damages after a wreck.

Notify the DMV. Car accidents resulting in property damage exceeding $1,000, injury, or death must be formally reported to the state of California. You, your insurance company, or your attorney must submit an SR 1 form to the DMV within 10 days of the accident, which details important information about the crash.

Call an experienced car accident attorney near you in San Diego for help. No matter what types of injuries you’ve suffered, there’s a good chance that you’ve got a long road to recovery ahead of you.  Insurance companies will try to take advantage of your stress and emotional unrest. Putting an attorney into the mix helps to protect you against these and other types of manipulative strategies. It also increases the likelihood that you win your case and puts you in a position to win more money. 

Should I provide a written or recorded statement for the insurance company?

You may have to provide some preliminary and basic information to an insurance company when you notify them about the accident. However, don’t go beyond providing your name, address, and location and date of the accident. 

The insurance adjuster will press you for more information – but now isn’t the time to get into the details. Remember, the adjuster works for a for-profit entity that’s motivated to make profits – not help crash victims like you. So, they’ll search for any reason to deny your claim or minimize your final payout.

They might ask you seemingly harmless questions and even ask if it’s okay to record your answer. Don’t. These seemingly harmless questions – about your day, your emotions, your family – are designed to elicit information that can be used against you.

The best thing you can do is direct all communication to your attorney, who can take care of all communication with the insurance company on your behalf.

What’s comparative negligence and how can it affect my car accident claim?

Simply put, anyone who contributes to a car accident in California will share responsibility for resulting damages. This includes victims.

Under California’s pure comparative negligence rule:

  • Your damages are reduced in direct proportion to fault, and
  • You can be held financially responsible for others’ damages up to your percentage of liability.

Let’s say you’re assigned 10 percent fault for an auto accident in San Diego. You sustained damages valued at $50,000. The other driver in the crash suffered damages valued at $10,000. When comparative fault is factored into the equation, you’ll be able to recover up to $45,000 for your injuries. At the same time, you’ll be on the hook for up to 10 percent of Tom’s damages – or $1,000.

How do I get an accident report in San Diego?

While not necessarily admissible as evidence in court, a police report can provide important information about your San Diego car accident. Your attorney can use the information detailed in the report to jumpstart or inform an investigation and ultimately build a strong claim for damages on your behalf.

If your report was generated by the San Diego Police Department, you can obtain a copy of your Traffic Collision Report in person, by mail, or online.

The easiest way to get your copy is by visiting the eCrash site and ordering a copy for $10.

You can also mail a request – containing your name, crash date, and location, and incident number – to SDPD Records MS#726, P.O. Box 121431, San Diego, CA, 92112-1431. You’ll have to include payment and a pre-stamped, self-addressed envelope to receive a copy of the report.

If you live or work nearby, you can visit the San Diego Police Department Records Division at 1401 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101. You won’t get a copy immediately – it takes about 3-10 business days to process the request. Once it’s ready, you’ll have to return to the office to pick it up.

How long do I have to file a personal injury or property damage claim after a San Diego car accident?

If you have sustained a physical injury or lost a family member in a fatal car accident in San Diego, you will have two years to file a lawsuit. The clock begins to run on the date of the crash or the date of your loved one’s wrongful death.

In situations where an injury isn’t discovered right away, you’ll have one year from the date of discovery.

You’ll have an additional year to file a claim for property damage. Under California law, the statute of limitations for claims related to damaged property is three years from the date the damage occurred.

When should I call a San Diego car accident attorney?

As soon as you can. Remember, you’re given a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit after a car accident in San Diego. Once the statute of limitations expires, you give up the right to file a claim and recover compensation that you need to cover your costly medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

There’s also considerable value in getting a jump start on your case. A prompt investigation can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.

The scene of the accident can change and evolve quickly – especially if it’s a heavily-traveled part of San Diego. Evidence can become damaged, lost, or destroyed over time. Witness memories – and your own recollection of events – will change and fade over time.

By calling an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer for help right after your accident, you can be confident that important details and evidence are preserved, which can strengthen future legal claims.

Contact a San Diego Car Accident Attorney for Help with Your Claim

Don’t call just any attorney – call Mission Personal Injury Lawyers. Our car accident lawyers in San Diego have over 43 years of experience and won millions in life-changing financial awards. We fight for each and every client, which is a big part of the reason our law firm has a 99 percent track record of successful outcomes.

We provide our legal services on a contingency fee basis, so there’s no upfront cost or expense. You only pay if we recover compensation for you through a settlement or jury award. Contact our law office in San Diego to learn more and set up a time for your free consultation.