Every year, hundreds of car accidents are reported in Vista, California, a small city in North County, San Diego. In 2020, no fewer than 290 people were hurt in Vista car accidents. Families of 10 victims were forced to grapple with the untimely deaths of their loved ones.
If you or a family member have recently been hurt in one of Vista’s 300+ annual collisions, you probably have a lot of questions. Our Vista auto accident lawyers at Petrov Personal Injury Lawyers have taken the time to address some of the questions and concerns we hear from our clients most often.
If you have additional questions or want to learn how our award-winning Vista personal injury attorneys can help you assert your legal rights and maximize your financial award, don’t hesitate to contact our law office to arrange a free consultation today. Call us at (619) 344-0360.
Here are the answers to your most pressing questions after a collision.
What Steps Should I Take After a Crash in Vista, CA?
Believe it or not, the things you do after a car accident can have a huge impact on your ability to recover compensation down the line. They can also impact your physical recovery – in both good and bad ways.
Here’s what you need to do to keep yourself safe and support a claim for damages.
Call 911 To Report the Accident
You’ll want to have police dispatched to the scene to conduct a preliminary investigation and complete an accident report.
This report can contain important details about your crash that, many times, are lost or forgotten over time. This might include the specific time of the crash, precise location, weather conditions, traffic conditions, and the names of parties or witnesses. Further, the officer may include a preliminary assessment of fault or issue citations for traffic violations (which could be useful to you down the line).
If someone has been seriously injured in the crash, your call to 911 can also help secure emergency medical treatment for them.
Remain At (or Near) the Scene of the Accident
You must stay at the scene if your accident results in property damage (exceeding $1,000), injury, or death. It can be considered a hit-and-run if you leave, which can complicate matters down the line.
If it’s not safe to stay where the accident took place, it’s best to move to a safe nearby location.
Exchange the following information with other parties: name, license, insurance information, and vehicle registration. You’ll also need to provide this information to the responding officer.
Seek Medical Treatment At the Closest Hospital in North County, San Diego
Ultimately, there are two really important reasons to get to the emergency room as soon as you can after a collision:
- You ensure proper diagnosis and treatment of your injuries
- You preserve an essential piece of evidence for your car accident case
Sometimes injuries aren’t evident right away. In some cases, the adrenaline that pumps through your veins after a crash can mask symptoms. Unless you receive medical care, you could let potentially life-threatening injuries linger and, ultimately, cause catastrophic and potentially life-changing damage.
By seeking treatment, your medical record will document the trauma sustained in the wreck. Better yet, it’ll help to create a formal link between the crash and your injuries – which will be essential if you submit an insurance claim or file a lawsuit for damages.
So, simply taking the step to seek care is one of the best things you can do after your Vista car accident – for your health and your financial future.
Submit Form SR-1 To the California DMV
In California, any accident resulting in property damage exceeding $1,000, injury, or death must be reported to the DMV within ten days. This is done by completing and submitting Form SR-1. You can submit the form yourself, or your insurance company or attorney can do this on your behalf.
Failing to file an SR-1 can result in fines and derail your ability to recover compensation through an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Hire a Vista Car Accident Attorney Near You
Things are hectic and stressful enough after an accident without the added pressures of a claim for damages. Insurance companies have tons of experience handling cases like yours – and odds are you probably don’t. And that’s okay – but it’s important to ask for help.
By hiring an experienced Vista car accident lawyer, you put yourself on level ground and ensure that the insurer (and other parties) take your claim seriously.
Should I Take Pictures or Record Video of the Scene of the Crash?
Yes, if you have the opportunity to do so. There’s a saying – a picture is worth 1,000 words. By taking photos, you’re capturing the aftermath of your accident in a way that will allow your attorney to understand what happened. You won’t have to rely on your recollection of the event or worry about remembering every detail.
Photograph important aspects of the scene, including:
- Tire tracks
- Damage to vehicles involved in the wreck
- Property damage
- Traffic conditions
- Clothing and physical injuries
- Hazards that may have contributed to the accident
Take photos from different angles and different distances. If you can, record a quick video of the scene to capture it all. The more you can get on film, the more your car accident lawyer will have to work with when they begin to build your case.
The Insurance Company Wants a Recorded Statement – Should I Give Them One?
California is a fault-based insurance state. So, if you’re not responsible for the car accident, you’ll be dealing with the other driver’s insurance company. It’s in your best interest to avoid conversations with the adjuster until you’ve obtained legal assistance.
The insurance company is not on your side. They’ll rely on tried-and-true strategies to get you to give up on your claim or walk away with way less money than you deserve. This can involve asking you for a recorded statement shortly after your accident – when you’re overwhelmed, stressed out, and worried about your future.
In these situations, you might say something that’s not entirely accurate or provide a detail that, taken out of context, can hurt your ability to recover compensation. These statements aren’t taken to help you – they’re ultimately devices to find a way to deny your claim or limit your payout.
The best course of action involves hiring an attorney and having them handle conversations and interactions with an insurance company on your behalf.
How Do I Get an Accident Report in California?
An accident report can be an important piece of evidence in any car accident case. To get a copy, you’ll have to submit a request to the agency that investigated your crash.
- California Highway Patrol: You can request a copy of an accident report from the California Highway Patrol by completing Form CHP 190 and mailing it or bringing it to an office near you in Vista or San Diego.
- San Diego County Sheriff’s Department: Request a copy of your accident report online, visit the San Diego County Sheriff’s Records & ID office, or send a request by mail.
- San Diego Police Department: Submit a request online, mail a request to the Records Office, or visit the SDPD Records Division in San Diego.
Your car accident attorney can help you obtain your accident report and other helpful information for your claim.
What Is Comparative Negligence, and How Can It Affect My Claim?
Sometimes more than one person contributes to a car accident. When this happens, it’s only fair that each person who plays a role in an accident shares responsibility for the consequences. So, under California law, fault is allocated among all responsible parties.
Under the state’s pure comparative negligence rule, damages are reduced in direct proportion to your degree of fault. For example, if you’re 20 percent at fault for a car accident in Vista, your damages will be reduced by 20 percent.
What’s the Deadline for Filing a Claim After a Car Accident in Vista, California?
Following a car accident in Vista, California, you’ll have a limited amount of time to bring a claim for damages. The length of time depends on the consequences you’ve suffered.
For crashes resulting in property damage, the statute of limitations is three years. So, you’ll have until the third anniversary of your car accident to bring a claim to recover compensation for damage to your vehicle or other property.
For crashes resulting in personal injury or wrongful death, the statute of limitations is two years. Your right to demand compensation expires on the second anniversary of your Vista car accident (or your loved one’s date of death).
There are some exceptions to these standard rules. For instance, claims involving government negligence must be filed within six months of a Vista car accident. If a child is injured in a collision, the statute of limitations is tolled until they turn 18. The deadline can also be extended in situations when a defendant leaves the state, can’t be located, or is facing criminal charges for a related offense.
Call our Vista Car Accident Law Firm for the Help You Deserve After an Accident
You don’t have to shoulder the burdens of a car accident claim for damages on your own. Call Petrov Personal Injury Lawyers and discover how our award-winning Vista car accident attorneys can help you move forward and seek full compensation for your medical bills, loss of income, suffering, and other crash-related damages.
Other Common Car Accident Claims We Cover
At Petrov Personal Injury Lawyers, we handle all types of car accident cases involving: