It can be devastating to travel down the road in your own vehicle, minding your business, and suddenly get into a serious car crash. Now that you’ve been hurt by a negligent driver, we understand you want to learn about your rights under the laws of California.
It is possible to seek financial relief from all the medical bills that keep coming in the mail. However, it’s hard to know what your personal injury claim might be worth or to know which paperwork to send to the defendant’s insurance company without first securing expert legal advice. To get started, this article can help, but you do need more help, especially from a lawyer.
Navigating the Legal System
While some tort claims are small and seem relatively easy to settle with a phone call to the insurance company, other claims can drag on for years. Each time that a person gets hurt in a car crash through no fault of their own, there is the potential that they will receive little or no compensation. This seems unfortunate for car accident victims, but many factors can damage a potential injury claim.
Don’t make the mistake of letting important evidence underlying your vehicular accident case get lost in the shuffle. That’s what can happen if you delay in taking action. Instead, decide early on after seeing a doctor whether you will need a Los Angeles car accident personal injury lawyer. You don’t have to navigate the legal process alone. In the meantime, here are some procedures to follow immediately after a car accident but before you make contact with any insurance companies, including your own auto insurance carrier:
How the Tort System Works
The state of California is a strict one when it comes to reporting motor vehicle accidents. If a motor vehicle crash includes more than $1,000 of property damage and/or bodily injury or death, the incident must be reported within ten days to each applicable insurance company. Then, there is a legal process by which accident victims can seek compensation for their injuries.
Because California isn’t a no-fault state, you won’t go to your own auto insurance policy for the first round of medical benefits resulting from the accident. Instead, you can use the courts to seek relief from the defendant’s insurance policy.
The state requires a minimum of $15,000 of bodily injury or death benefits for one person and $30,000 in bodily injury or death benefits for more than one person. Getting the defendant’s insurance company to pay up could require filing a lawsuit, which typically includes specific damages for the victim’s pain, suffering, lost wages, and related medical expenses.
It’s important to take the appropriate steps following the accident to protect your rights and safeguard the evidence in the case.
Learn What to Do After a Car Crash
A car crash happens unexpectedly and will require accident victims to think on their feet. This is easier said than done when accident victims like you get jarred into a painful state of mind by a sudden crash. While you were injured due to another person’s negligence, you don’t have much time to waste. Avoiding taking appropriate action or hesitating to act could cause your legal rights to be overrun by multiple parties to the case.
The actions and events that will happen after a car accident will become crucial in the following legal and financial aspects of the accident. To protect your personal interests and your family’s financial future, consider these suggested procedures:
1. Make sure that everyone is safe
Check all vehicles to ascertain if their occupants are safe. Contact 911 services to request ambulance and fire services to assist at the scene. Vehicle fires and other hazards could occur after the impact and cause further injuries to people present at the crash site.
Regardless of your injury or damage the vehicle has incurred, don’t try to move anything. Never attempt to leave the scene nor move your car until such time that you’re able to document the crime scene with photographs and video recordings.
On the other hand, if the situation requires you to move your car or get out of your seat, such as falling debris, you may be able to argue that you’re justified in that moment.
2. Determine if you need immediate medical treatment
When you’re hurt, remember that a medical doctor will create a record of your injuries, which could be useful in making a personal injury claim. If you’re injured, visit the doctor at the nearest walk-in clinic, urgent care center, or hospital. Some crash-related injuries will not appear on the accident date.
When you seek treatment, be sure to mention all pain and effects of the crash. If you omit details during this early stage, it will be harder to prove subsequent effects of the accident were related to the driver’s behavior.
3. Insist on getting a copy of the vehicle crash report
While you may go to the ER after the crash, there is nothing stopping you from waiting on scene to consult the law enforcement officers. They need to take the information of all drivers and vehicle owners, including their name, tag number, driver’s license number, contact information, and insurance policy information.
Don’t admit any liability for the crash to other drivers or passengers at the scene or to the law enforcement officers. There could be mitigating circumstances that affect your case.
4. Have someone take pictures of all related vehicle property damage and injuries
It may be hard to do this at the crash site using your cell phone, but your future attorneys like the experts at West Coast Trial Lawyers will need pictures of everything.
Try to take pictures of all damaged vehicles and debris in the roadway and on the grass. Note any problems with signs, traffic signals, road conditions, inclement weather, and visibility. Look for witnesses who may have accident details that affect the determination of who was at fault. Be sure to take pictures of your injuries as well and give them to the best auto injury attorney in Los Angeles.
5. Complete all recommended medical treatment
If you were seriously injured in a crash, the medical records must show that these effects were caused by the impact. Your car accident personal injury lawyer must show that another driver’s negligence must have caused these injuries. Furthermore, if you were at fault in the crash, then you wouldn’t have a claim against the other party.
If you don’t complete all of your treatment, then it will be hard to build your personal injury claim. Your doctors must understand every way that the crash has damaged your health, mental well-being, and ability to earn a living. Refusing the mandatory medical treatment or, for example, refusing cosmetic surgery or other procedures, you are making it harder for an attorney to support the damages that you believe were from the accident.
6. Determine when to contact your insurance company
You can report the crash as required by law within 10 days, but you don’t have to give a recorded statement without your attorney being present.
Once you’ve successfully exchanged information with the others involved and have documented the scene, it’s paramount to notify your insurer about the event to initiate the claims process. If possible, contact your insurer and insurance agent immediately because of the following reasons:
Your insurance company won’t hesitate to help you with the damage repairs incurred during the accident
The other party may not have any insurance coverage
Auto insurance policies require policyholders to report their accidents immediately
7. Record everything that happens
You should write down everything that you remember from the date of the accident. With every day that passes, your memory will become fuzzier. Be sure to track the names of all medical providers and facilities. You could mistakenly assume that you will get a bill from every provider.
Take time to heal from the accident before returning to work. Determine when is the best time to meet with a personal injury lawyer and discuss your legal rights and the potential value of this claim. While there is a statute of limitations that affects when you must file a lawsuit, you still have time to research each attorney’s qualifications.
Don’t make your decision based on advertising alone. Ask questions and get those answered correctly before signing any paperwork. You deserve the best auto injury attorney.