A rear end collision between two cars

From Wreck to Check: Car Accident Case Timeline

Tarun Sridharan Legal Editor & Attorney Contributor Read Time: 5 minutes

From Wreck to Check: Car Accident Case Timeline

Car accidents are a common occurrence on California roads, and accident claims can be stressful and overwhelming, especially if you’ve been injured. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, it’s important to know what steps to take to protect your legal rights and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the car accident timeline and provide tips on how to navigate the process.

Immediately After an Auto Accident

The first thing you should do after an auto accident is to make sure you and everyone involved are safe. If anyone is injured, call 911 or head to a healthcare facility as soon as possible. You should also call the police to report the accident and have them come to the scene of the accident to make a report. The police report will be an important piece of evidence in your case.

Exchange Information

Make sure to exchange information with the other driver involved in the accident, including their name, contact information, insurance information, and badge number if they are a police officer. Also, try to get the contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident happen.

Assess the Extent of Your Injuries

Even if you don’t think you’re injured, it’s important to get checked out by a medical professional. Some injuries may not show up immediately, and getting prompt medical attention can also help your case if you decide to file a claim. For example, if you don’t follow through by securing medical attention, then the defense may argue that you weren’t “really” injured – had the accident been serious, you would have gone to a doctor, right? Avoid this argument by making sure you see a medical professional and follow their advice closely.

Timeline to Report a Car Accident

In California, you must report a car accident to the DMV within 10 days if there was property damage of $1,000 or more or if anyone was injured or killed. Failure to report the accident can result in fines and other penalties.

File a Claim with Your Insurance Company

After the accident, you should file a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible, but we encourage you to consult an attorney BEFORE any communications with your insurer. Why?  Insurers will do everything they can to gather information that they can use to deny your claim or underpay you for your claim. Attorneys can handle communications on your behalf, preventing you from disclosing sensitive information that could reduce your payout. Your attorney will provide the insurer with all of the information gathered at the scene of the accident, including the police report, contact information for the other driver, and any witness statements.

Car Accident Lawsuit Timeline

If your insurance company is unable to provide you with a satisfactory settlement, you may need to file a car accident lawsuit. The timeline for a car accident lawsuit can vary depending on the complexity of your case, but in general, it can take anywhere from several months to a few years to reach a settlement or resolve the dispute at trial.

Demand Letter

Before filing a lawsuit, your attorney will send the defendant a demand letter. A demand letter is a formal letter that outlines the damages you suffered as a result of the accident and the compensation you are seeking. This sets the expectations for a potential settlement and is a critical part of the process for securing compensation.

Car Accident Settlement Timeline

If the defendant agrees to a fair settlement, the timeline for receiving your settlement check can vary. It may take several weeks or even months to receive your settlement check, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Contact Information

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and need help navigating the legal process, it’s important to contact an experienced car accident lawyer. A lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and work with you to build a strong case. Lawyers don’t just argue in court like on television – they are comprehensive advocates, who investigate the accident, gather evidence, coordinate with medical and accident experts, and negotiate settlements. All this is in addition to their ability to take the case to trial, if necessary.


Car accidents can be traumatic and overwhelming, but understanding the car accident timeline is something you can do to take control. This basic understanding will help you protect your legal rights and improve the likelihood that you’ll take the steps necessary to obtain proper compensation.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, be sure to take the necessary steps, including reporting the accident to the police, exchanging information with the other driver, and filing a claim with your insurance company. And if you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer.
If you are ready to take the next step in pursuing a car accident case, request a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in our network today!

Our offices are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we can assist you no matter when your accident occurs.

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