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What to Do When You Get Into a Car Accident in Bakersfield, California

A study by the law offices of Chain | Cohn | Clark reports that the most dangerous intersection in Bakersfield is Ming Avenue and New Stine Road in the southwest portion of the city. There have been 40 collisions at Ming Avenue and New Stine Road since 2011.

Chain | Cohn | Clark analyzed Kern county accident report data from the Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS), which was developed by UC Berkeley’s Safe Transportation Research and Education Center (SafeTREC) “to provide quick, easy and free access to California crash data.”

The study found that the areas with the most intersection collisions overall were downtown Bakersfield and northeast Bakersfield. However, the top three worst intersections were all in southwest Bakersfield.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Intersections in Bakersfield

Want to know the most dangerous intersections near you? Here’s the list of the top 10 most dangerous intersections in Bakersfield:

Top 10 Most Dangerous Intersections in Bakersfield

  1. Ming Avenue + New Stine Road—40 crashes
  2. Gosford Road + Ming Avenue—37 crashes
  3. Real Road + Wilson Road—35 crashes
  4. 34th Street + Q Street—34 crashes
  5. Brundage Lane + P Street—34 crashes
  6. H Street + Ming Avenue—34 crashes
  7. H Street + Planz Road—33 crashes
  8. Baker Street + Niles Street—31 crashes
  9. H Street + Wilson Road—31 crashes
  10. 4th Street + Union Avenue—30 crashes

The report from Chain | Cohn | Clark comes at a time when traffic deaths in the United States have reached record highs. Impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding, larger vehicles, and crumbling infrastructure have all contributed to the spike in fatalities. In addition, a recent national study by QuoteWizard analyzing speeding tickets, other citations, accident rates, and DUIs determined that, unfortunately, Bakersfield is home to the worst drivers in the country.

“We want to bring awareness to not only the issues facing motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists on our roadways, but the areas in our community with the highest numbers of collisions,” said Matt Clark, senior partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Clark. “As we cross these paths, let’s be extra careful to make sure we all make it home safe.”

What to Do When You Get Into a Car Accident in California

Car accidents result from all kinds of causes. If you get into a car accident, it’s important to know what to do after a vehicle accident so you can (1) stay safe, (2) satisfy California’s legal requirements for reporting accidents, and (3) ensure you have all the information you need to support an insurance claim or civil lawsuit.

1. Stay Safe

After a car accident, there are various reports to file—with police, the insurance company, and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)—and if you’re not injured, you might immediately start thinking about all that paperwork.

But your top priority should be to make sure that no further damage occurs and that anyone who is injured gets medical attention. Note that some safety-related tasks after an accident are actually things you must do according to California law.

Here are some safety-related priorities:

  • Don’t leave the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene of an accident carries criminal penalties—penalties that are more severe if someone has been injured or killed.
  • Do your best to stay calm. You’re likely to be shaken up after an accident; if the accident was someone else’s fault, you may also be angry. But there’s nothing to be gained from confronting the other driver.
  • If possible, move damaged vehicles out of traffic to a safe place. This will help to prevent any secondary collisions or injuries.
  • Call 911 to summon emergency medical personnel to the scene and notify the police that an accident has occurred.
  • Provide “reasonable assistance” to anyone who has been injured as required by California Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 20003.

2. Remember that California Has Legal Requirements for Reporting Accidents

California law lays out the specifics of the reporting process after car accidents. California’s requirements are a bit more involved than in most states, but we’ll break it down for you here.

At the scene of the accident, you must do the following for other drivers involved in the accident and the police at the crash scene:

  • Provide your name, address, and vehicle registration information.
  • Provide the names and addresses of any passengers in your car.
  • Provide the name and address of the vehicle owner if you weren’t driving your own car.
  • Show the police your driver’s license if they ask to see it.

Any accident in which someone is injured or killed must be reported within 24 hours to the nearest department of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) or the police department for the city in which the accident occurred.

In addition, for any accident in which there was more than $1,000 in property damage or someone was injured or killed, you must file Form SR-1 with the California DMV as required by CVC Section 16000.

In some cases, it may seem like some of these reports are not required—for example, if no one is injured or if vehicle damage appears to total less than $1,000. However, it’s probably wise to err on the safe side and file the reports anyway—for instance, in case an injury manifests later on or the body shop gives you a repair estimate of $2,000 the next day.

3. Make Sure You Have the Information You Need for a Damage Claim

Next, you need to ensure you have all the information necessary to support an insurance claim or civil lawsuit. Here are the specific steps you should take:

  • In addition to trading contact information with the other driver involved in the accident, exchange insurance information and get the vehicle identification number (VIN), license plate number, and make and model of the other car. If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, collect all the other information and make a note about the lack of insurance.
  • Provide your version of what happened in the accident to the police and request a copy of the police report.
  • Get contact information for any witnesses to the accident. Witnesses may stop to make sure everyone is okay, but they aren’t required to hang around, so try to talk to them as soon as possible.
  • Document the scene of the accident. You might draw a diagram showing where the vehicles involved were headed and how the collision took place. Take photos of:
    • The cars involved (make sure the photos show any damage to the cars)
    • The accident scene and surroundings, including skid marks
    • Any obvious injuries to you or your passengers
  • Write down everything you remember about the crash as soon as possible. Memories fade quickly, so it’s important to record the details while they’re still fresh in your mind.
  • Unless the accident caused minimal property damage and no injuries, report it to your insurance company.
  • Get treatment for any injuries you may have. Even if you don’t think you’ve been injured, get a full medical evaluation. With many car-accident-related injuries, it takes time—perhaps days or weeks—before symptoms emerge. It’s important to begin documenting your post-accident care as soon as possible.
  • Keep records of all doctor’s visits, treatment, and medical expenses. These can be used as evidence to support an insurance claim or lawsuit.
  • Consider contacting a car accident lawyer for help with your insurance settlement or, if no satisfactory settlement is forthcoming, a civil lawsuit.

One final and critically important thing to remember is that in all conversations you have following an accident—with the occupants of the other vehicles, the police, or the insurance company—do not admit fault, even if you know you caused the accident. Admitting fault may subject you to additional liability or make it difficult to collect any damages you’re owed.

In addition, don’t say things like, “I’m okay” or “I’m not injured.” Even seemingly offhand comments like these can be used later to try to reduce or deny your claims for compensation.

Contact a Bakersfield Car Accident Attorney

Although the steps listed above inform you about California car accident laws and what to do after a car crash, the aftermath of a car accident can still be overwhelming. If you or someone you know have been injured in a car accident due to someone else’s carelessness, the Bakersfield car accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Clark can help you through this trying time. 

Reach out to us today for a free consultation.

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