What steps should you take if you are involved in a traffic accident here in southern California? What are your rights in this situation? If you have been injured by a negligent driver, after you receive medical treatment, arrange at once to speak with a Rosemead personal injury attorney.
California is an “at-fault” (rather than a “no-fault”) automobile insurance state, so if you’re involved in a traffic collision with a driver who was negligent, you or your attorney will probably be negotiating with that driver’s automobile insurance company.
If you merely suffered vehicle damage, there’s probably nothing to keep you from negotiating with an insurance company personally and directly. In most situations, for most drivers, negotiating your damage claim is simply easier and quicker without a lawyer’s intercession.
But if you sustained a personal injury or injuries in a traffic accident because the other motorist was negligent, before saying anything to the insurance company, arrange to discuss your rights, your case, and your legal options with a southern California personal injury lawyer.
If You Sustain Property Damage Only
Negotiating a vehicle damage claim is not usually difficult. Be sure to exchange insurance information and contact details with the other motorist involved in the accident. Protect yourself by taking as many photos as you can of the vehicle damages and the general accident scene.
Call the police, and when the officers arrive, ask them how you will be able to obtain a copy of their written accident report. If it’s possible, also get the names and contact details of any eyewitnesses to the accident.
Anything indicating that the driver who injured you was negligent – in the written police accident report, the photos, or the eyewitness accounts – strengthens your injury claim. Inform your own insurance company about the accident first, and then contact the other motorist’s auto insurance company.
That company may have you complete claim forms and additional paperwork. Most negotiations with insurance companies for vehicle damage claims should take no more than three or maybe four phone calls and one or maybe two brief personal meetings with a claims adjuster.
What Should You Know About Claims Adjusters?
While most insurance adjusters in southern California are helpful and ethical professionals, understand that the adjuster who will be assigned to your case is not your friend and works strictly for the interests of the insurance company.
You don’t have to accept the adjuster’s assessment of the costs and damages. If you file a claim for vehicle damages, you can collect your own estimates for repairs and have the repairs completed by a certified mechanic of your choice.
But before you negotiate a property damage claim, be sure that you are in command of the facts about the accident and the facts about the damages. Be prepared, be polite, and be patient. When you settle with the insurance company, get the details in writing.
If You Sustain Personal Injuries
However, if a negligent motorist has injured you, and you have to submit an injury claim along with your property damage claim, you cannot take chances with your health. You must have an injury lawyer’s help. Vehicles are easily replaced, but you are not, so regaining your health must be your priority.
After a negligent driver injures you, you’ll be contacted by that driver’s insurance company, often within just two or three days. Make no statements, sign no insurance documents, and accept no settlement offers.
Instead, refer the company to your attorney. This is another reason you must contact an attorney at once if you’re injured by negligence in California traffic. Let your attorney do all of the talking and negotiating on your behalf.
Too many injury victims accept “low-ball” settlement offers before they know the full extent of their injuries. They also end up signing away any right to additional compensation or further legal action. Don’t let that happen to you.
What Are a Negligence Victim’s Rights?
Under California law, injured negligence victims are entitled to recover compensation for injury-related lost wages, medical costs, pain, suffering, and more. But to win that compensation, you and your lawyer must be able to prove you were injured because the other driver was negligent.
Succeeding with an injury claim – and recovering the full amount of compensation you need – requires a good personal injury lawyer’s sound advice, insights, and aggressive representation.
Automobile insurance companies, like all businesses, must show profits, but they must also meet their professional and legal obligations. If someone’s injury claim is denied, undervalued, or delayed, that person could face a severe financial hardship to go with the physical injuries.
Injured by Negligence? You Must Have an Attorney’s Assistance
Avoiding that kind of financial hardship is another reason you must be advised and represented by a Rosemead personal injury attorney – someone who has considerable experience negotiating injury claims with auto insurance companies – if you become an injured victim of negligence.
Personal injury cases are usually resolved privately and outside of the courtroom in California, although if liability is disputed, or if no reasonable settlement amount is offered, your lawyer may take the case to court and ask a jury to order the payment of your compensation.
The injured victims of negligence in California are legally entitled to compensation, and they have the right to an attorney’s help. But how can you afford a personal injury attorney if you’re unable to work because you’re injured, and the medical bills are piling up?
What Will It Cost to Seek Justice?
A southern California personal injury attorney will provide you with an initial case evaluation at no cost and with no obligation. Take advantage of this opportunity to learn how the law applies to your own case and to receive the personalized legal advice that you are going to need.
Personal injury lawyers work on a contingent fee basis. What this means is that if you and your personal injury attorney agree to move forward with your personal injury claim, you pay no attorney’s fee until or unless your attorney obtains a settlement or a jury verdict on your behalf.
The right southern California traffic accident attorney will advocate aggressively and effectively for the justice and compensation you need and will bring your personal injury claim to its best possible resolution. Reaching out to that attorney – online or over the phone – is the first step.