A car accident is scary, you will be stunned and may suffer injuries. The after-effects include repair or replacement of your vehicle, medical bills, insurance negotiations, and possibly a lawsuit.
According to the California Highway Patrol, in 2017 the State of California had 193,564 injury crashes and 3,582 fatal crashes that year. No matter how cautious you are, there is a strong possibility you may suffer a car accident in CA at some time in your life. When it happens, it is important to know the reasons for contacting a car accident attorney.
When an Accident Happens
The initial steps following a car crash in California are pretty basic:
- Call 911 to report the accident
- Gather as much information as possible at the scene
- Seek medical attention if you suffer injuries
- File a police report—If the police do not come to the scene, go to the nearest police department to file in person
- Call an Attorney
- Call Your Insurance Company
If possible, it is preferable to speak with a car accident lawyer prior to calling your insurance company. An attorney will be able to advise you on what to say or not say when you report the accident. This prevents you from inadvertently saying something that may later be used against you.
Common Injuries Resulting From a Car Accident in CA
Injuries from a car crash may be minor scratches and bruising or the wounds may be more severe. Here are some of the injuries people suffer following an accident:
- Whiplash—ligament and tendon injuries to the neck
- Scrapes and cuts
- Traumatic Brain Injury—internal brain bleeds, long-term brain function, headaches, difficulty sleeping
- Broken Ribs—may result from the force of your body moving during the accident
- Broken Bones—arms, legs, hips, and shoulders depending on the severity and location of impact
- Internal Bleeding
- Herniated Disc—one or more vertebrae in you spine rupture or shift out of place
- Knee Trauma—from striking the dashboard during impact
- Emotional Stress—this includes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, accident flashbacks, etc.
Injuries may cause a loss of income while you are undergoing treatment and recovery. You may also encounter astronomical medical bills for emergency treatment, surgery, follow-up appointments, x-rays, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and more. Medical treatment may be as simple as one visit and as complex as months or years of ongoing care.
When to Get a Lawyer
When there is any type of possible controversy surrounding an accident, it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney to learn your legal rights.
Insurance Company Settlement
If you receive a settlement offer from an insurance company, be aware they may be trying to entice an agreement at a much lower amount than you are entitled to. Once you agree to their settlement, you have lost the opportunity to collect more.
Before you agree verbally or sign anything regarding settlement, contact a car accident attorney. The attorney will be able to analyze your case value and determine whether or not the offer is sufficient for the injuries suffered.
You have Extensive Medical Bills
If you or a passenger suffer injuries that require extensive medical treatment, you are entitled to compensation. Your attorney will know how to obtain and analyze the medical records. This includes an overall prognosis of the lifetime impact those injuries will have and then negotiate an appropriate settlement.
You Have Loss of Income Due to Injuries
When your injuries are extensive you may be out of work for a few days, a few weeks, or several months. Because you are unable to work you can not receive standard unemployment. A car accident attorney will have the knowledge necessary to obtain wage loss reimbursement for you during your recovery.
You are at Fault
Even if you believe you are at fault in the accident, you will want an attorney to review the records to determine if the other driver has contributory negligence in the accident.
This means that their request for compensation will be reduced based on the percentage they are at fault in the accident. If they contributed 40% to the cause of the accident, they will only be able to recover a total of 60% in a lawsuit.
If you are found to be at least 51% at fault in an accident your insurance premiums will increase when you renew the policy.
The Other Driver is an Uninsured Motorist
Every driver has an obligation to maintain insurance on their vehicle. Even with uninsured motorist insurance, the coverage may not be enough to cover your damages. The uninsured coverage you purchase protects you if the other driver does not have sufficient insurance.
California state law requires an uninsured motorist provision in auto insurance policies pursuant to Insurance Code §11580.2. You have the option of declining coverage by signing a waiver pursuant to Insurance Code §11580.2(a)(2). If you have signed such a waiver, it will make the collection of compensation even more difficult.
An experienced attorney will be able to evaluate your case and offer options which may include filing a civil lawsuit.
What You Can Recover With an Attorney
When you get a lawyer who specializes in car accidents, you have a chance of a much higher recovery for damages. Attorneys who specialize in accident law know how to negotiate with insurance companies, secure and analyze medical records, negotiate settlements with opposing counsel, and present your case before a jury.
The attorneys at Sweet Law Group will work hard to get you the compensation you are entitled to, including:
- Property damage up to a minimum of $5,000
- $15,000 for each person who suffers injuries or is killed in an accident
- Economic Damages—medical bills, lost wages, etc.)
- Pain and Suffering, including emotional distress
Each case is different and during your consultation, the attorney may be able to offer an estimate of what the potential recovery may be.
Take the First Step
The key to successful economic recovery following a car accident in CA is to contact the Sweet Law Group for a 100% free case evaluation. If your injuries are too extensive or you are suffering time constraints, we are happy to come to you for the consultation.
We handle cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless you win. With 40 years of experience and a 98% success rate, you have nothing to lose. Fill out our online form or call (800) 674-7854 to schedule your free confidential consultation.