Handling an Accident Properly
If you, or a loved one, have been in a car accident, there are a few things that should be done.
- Obtain the information of the other person or persons involved in the accident. This includes their driver’s license and insurance information. You should also take a picture of the scene of the accident and any property damage.
- Call the police. The police will take statements from both parties, compile a police report and assess the situation to identify fault. It is okay to give a statement to the police. However, you not give a statement to the other party’s insurance company or sign anything.
- Consult with a personal injury attorney before speaking to anyone representing the other party or before signing anything.
- See a healthcare provider, even if you do not feel like you have been seriously injured.
Serious injuries can sometimes take weeks to surface and if you haven’t seen a doctor right away, attributing the injuries to the accident may be difficult. The other party can use the fact that you didn’t see a doctor right away as a way of disputing that injuries – which may appeared weeks later – were in fact caused by the auto accident.
Laws in California
California’s car laws are extremely complicated, and are contained in the Vehicle Code. Even though they are complex, there are some basic principles that can be understood.
One of them is that a driver cannot be negligent in the operation of their vehicle. If a driver is negligent, and the negligence ends in the injury of another person, the driver can be held liable for the damage.
California also uses comparative negligence. Comparative negligence means that you can still be partially at fault in the accident and recover from the other person. The other person just has to be more at fault than you were.
Common Causes of Car Wrecks
Distracted driving is one of the primary causes of car collisions. It can be caused by texting and driving, engaging in conversation and driving, not paying attention in general, or driving while drowsy. Because of the increasing amount of distractions available to drivers, inattentive driving is becoming more and more common. Drunk driving is also a problem.
When Does a Victim Need a Lawyer?
Oftentimes the insurance company for the other party involved in the accident will not deal with the victim fairly, especially if the victim was seriously injured. Insurance companies have attorneys guiding them in what they are doing, so it only makes sense that you should have one as well.
If you have been seriously injured in an accident, you should consult with an auto accident attorney as early as possible. To help your case, you will need written statements, witnesses interviews, and the input of experts. It is better to do so earlier on in the process as memories will be fresher. Additionally, obtaining these things will be easier with experienced legal counsel.
Dealing with an Insurance Company
You should never deal with the insurance company of the other person involved on your own. The insurance company’s goal is to get you to provide a statement that will be harmful to your interest and justify them offering an inadequate amount of money for your injuries.
Consulting with an attorney before interacting with an insurance company is the best thing to do. Ideally, it is best if you engage an attorney and have him or her communicate with the insurance company on your behalf.
An auto accident attorney will be able to insulate you from the insurance company and ensure that nothing is said that would be against your interest.
If you have been in an auto accident and suffered injuries and property damage, you are most likely entitled to compensation. In California, there are two types of damages: general and special.
General damages are also known as non-economic damages. These are most well-known as compensation for “pain and suffering.” These damages address things such as not having the same quality of life as you did before the accident. It is compensation for the damage you suffered that impacts your life on a day-to-day basis.
Special damages are things that have an actual monetary value. These are known as economic damages. Special damages encompass medical bills, lost wages, and lost profits of your business. It is important to know that these economic damages are not always immediately known after the accident.
Consulting with an attorney when deciding what damages to seek is important. You may not fully understand what is needed to recover from your injuries or just how much you are entitled to under the law. An auto accident lawyer can help you.
Choosing the Right Personal Injury Attorney
Experience is key when choosing a car accident attorney. You want someone that handles car accident claims on a regular basis and someone who goes to trial regularly.
If an insurance company knows an attorney won’t go to trial, it will not pay the full amount of the damages since there is no threat of litigation. An attorney that has a reputation for not being afraid to litigate a case if it does not settle will be better able to obtain the full measure of damages to which their client is entitled.
In short, select an attorney who:
- Is very experienced in personal injury
- Goes to trial regularly
- Has access to the best doctors and staff to handle your case with efficiency, care, and kindness
The Cost of Hiring a Lawyer
At Carpenter, Zuckerman, and Rowley, we do not charge a fee unless you recover money. If we are unable to obtain any compensation for you, we do not get paid. We are on your side, and it is in our best interest to get you the maximum recovery possible. We also do not believe you should ever have to pay a consultation fee, so we offer free initial consultations. Our incentives to resolve your claim are aligned with yours.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident in the Los Angeles area, contact our Los Angeles injury lawyers online or call us at (213) 514-8332 to set up a FREE consultation.