Car accidents happen in the blink of an eye with little time to think. Most people are in a situation they’ve never been in before, so fear, confusion, anger and pain are emotions that drivers and passengers can feel in the aftermath. A person’s actions immediately after an accident can have legal consequences in the future. California residents should keep the following in mind when they are involved in a motor vehicle accident.

There are some actions everyone must take immediately after a collision. First, steps should be taken to make sure everyone is safe. This includes the occupants of not only the driver’s car but the other vehicle as well. The accident must be reported to law enforcement, even if there is no injury involved. Leaving the scene of an accident can be a serious charge and also affect the credibility of one who does so.

If possible, the vehicles should be left where the accident occurred. This allows law enforcement to photograph the area and get a sense of what had occurred. In speaking with the other driver, most experts agree that conversation should be kept to a minimum. An exchange of information including names, addresses and insurance information is needed, but little talk beyond that should occur. Under no circumstances should a person admit fault.

Obtaining contact information for witnesses should also be obtained if possible to do so. Witness names and telephone numbers will make things much easier in the investigation. Photos can be obtained if it is safe to do so. Drivers should photograph the vehicles involved from different angles as well as the immediate vicinity of the accident.

Contacting an experienced personal injury attorney may be done as soon as practical after the collision, usually within the first few days. The attorney retained might do his or her own investigation for evidence that may be used in a lawsuit against the responsible driver.