California Fender Bender Accident Attorneys

Even these common accidents can result in serious injuries requiring legal representation.
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Fender Bender Lawyers in California

Fender bender accidents are serious and deserve real legal consideration

Minor accidents on the road are usually treated with less importance than major accidents. It is common for parties involved in a minor accident to prefer to settle minor claims on their own. People will do this to save time, effort and most importantly, avoid possible increases in their auto insurance premiums.

While a quick settlement without involving the cops or insurance companies may momentarily be the easiest thing to do in the event of a minor accident, motorists should be mindful of potential consequences. When you try to settle a minor accident on your own, you are opening yourself up to a lawsuit in the future. What happens if the other party decides that they deserve additional compensation? Facing an unexpected lawsuit related to a past fender-bender isn’t fun. Drivers involved in fender benders in California are best served by using traditional channels, like an experienced fender bender attorney to help them decide on their best course of action – protecting yourself from unexpected claims down the road.

Fender bender accidents and damage

Typically, fender benders are less serious than a full-on collision. Fender benders may involve someone being rear-ended at a slow speed, or two cars colliding together while trying to back out of opposite parking spaces. Typically, there is minimal injury to the drivers or passengers in a fender bender accident. Most of the damage in a fender bender is property damage (damage sustained to your vehicle). Fender benders often result in dents and scratches to the body of one or both vehicles.

What to do after a California fender bender accident

Assuming no one has sustained injuries requiring emergency medical attention, protect the scene by engaging the hazard lights on your vehicle . Do not stay with the vehicle longer than absolutely necessary – get away from traffic as fast as you can. Then call the police to report the accident.

The police may take a while to arrive depending on the location of the accident. Stay calm, focused and patient enough to wait for them to arrive. While waiting, you may investigate the scene for personal reference. You may take several pictures of the scene showing the condition of the vehicles and persons involved. You may also talk to witnesses (if there are any) and take down their contact information. Again, be mindful of your safety.

Tangible evidence like photos and statements from reliable witnesses will definitely come in handy. Without evidence, a personal injury lawsuit becomes a “he said, she said” situation, and a judge or jury will have to decide who they believe. If there are two other people who saw the at-fault driver cross the double yellow line and collide with you, this evidence is going to be far more persuasive than if you were the only person to explain what happened.

What is the importance of police presence at the accident scene?

Police officers are highly experienced when it comes to investigating an accident scene. The job of the reporting officer is to put his or her unbiased conclusions into writing to serve as the official documentation of the incident. A police report can later be used as evidence in court or in making an insurance claim. The police report states the date, time and place of the accident. It also identifies the observable damage, statements from the involved parties and any witnesses that may have seen the actions leading up to the fender bender. When fender bender accident victims decide not to call the police, they are putting any future claim that they may file against the at-fault driver at risk.

Even if the accident resulted in just a tiny dent on your car or a minor bruise to your body, it’s more convenient in the long run if you file a police report. A police report will help in the event that the damage to your car or the injuries to your body turn out to be more significant than they originally appeared. The May Firm’s clients are often incredibly surprised to learn that some scratches in a door panel can take three days and thousands of dollars to repair.

Additionally, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in California. Even victims of a crash could be held criminally liable for not remaining at the scene of an accident. A fender bender is kind of a “grey area” in the law because two cars bumping into each other at 5 mph in a parking lot may not always be considered an “accident.” The safest thing that you can do is call the police as soon as there is any contact between your car and another vehicle. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

What do you do if both parties decide not to call the police?

As discussed above, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident in California. Fender benders may not need to be reported to police, depending on the severity. In the event that you and the at-fault party decide not to report the accident to police, photos and witnesses are very useful later on when filing a personal injury claim. You should always take photos of both vehicles and obtain statements and contact information from any witnesses to the fender bender.

Additionally, you will need to exchange the following information with the other driver:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address
  • Make, model and year of the car
  • License plate number
  • Insurance carrier
  • Insurance policy number

Some drivers who are at fault may provide false information in order to get away from you and to avoid liability. You can make it more difficult for the at-fault driver to provide false or incorrect information if you ask for their driver’s license and insurance policy so that you can record the information yourself. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to ask the other driver for his or her license and documents so that you can verify the information yourself instead of relying on he or she to be honest. “Trust but verify.”

Contact a personal injury lawyer after a fender bender

More often than not, fender benders do not result in civil litigation. If any sort of claim arises after a fender bender, it is often handled in small claims court because the amount of compensation being sought is small. However, some fender benders can have more expensive consequences than many people realize. Repairing a vehicle can be expensive. A dent can cost a few hundred dollars to remove, while scratches and scrapes can cost thousands of dollars to repair. Rental cars are expensive and not all insurance companies will reimburse you for the cost of renting one while your car is in the shop.

If you’re dealing with more than you expected after a fender bender accident in California, contact an experienced personal injury attorney with experience litigating car accidents. The personal injury lawyers at The May Firm have extensive experience holding at-fault drivers accountable for damages caused in an accident – both to the victim and to his or her vehicle. Give us a call today!

Disclaimer: Information on this page is designed for general information purposes only and should not be interpreted as being legal advice or a legal opinion on specific facts or circumstances. You should always consult with an attorney before making a decision about your case. Pages are updated periodically but information provided on this page may not be up to date as circumstances may change over time. Please see our LEGAL DISCLAIMERS page for additional legal disclaimers.

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