If you are involved in an auto accident in California, there are several important things that you should know.
You Need to Report the Accident
California law requires you to report any auto accident that causes:
• Property damage greater than $750
Additionally, the accident report will be an important factor in making a claim. The accident report will help establish that the accident happened. Additionally, the law enforcement officer who prepares the accident report may provide important information, such as stating that the other driver was cited for a traffic violation for the accident.
The Accident Scene Will be Quickly Cleaned Up
Law enforcement will work to quickly clean up the scene of the accident so that it does not pose a danger to the public or obstruct traffic. Therefore, you need to be prepared to document the scene of the accident within a few minutes of it occurring. Take pictures of the accident scene from various angles, including pictures of the damage to all vehicles and any property, your injuries, skid marks and nearby traffic signs. Also, ask for contact information for any witnesses who observed the collision.
The Insurance Company Probably Will Not Offer a Fair Settlement
Accident victims should not expect the insurance company to quickly resolve their claim, pay their medical bills and settle the claim for its full value. Insurance companies are for-profit companies. Adjusters are trained to resolve claims for as little money as possible in the interest of increasing the insurance company’s profits. Insurance companies may not provide a fair settlement until you involve the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
You Can Recover Compensation Even if You Were Partially at Fault
California uses a system of pure comparative negligence, which allows accident victims to recover compensation for their injuries even if their own negligence contributed to the accident. The “pure” aspect of this system means that the accident victim can recover compensation from another negligent person even if he or she was 99% at fault for the accident. However, your damages will be reduced by your own degree of fault. A car accident lawyer can work to diminish your own degree of fault to maximize your award.
You Do Not Have a Lot of Time to File a Claim
In most situations, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. This is the statute of limitations. If you fail to file a lawsuit within this time limit, you can be barred from recovering compensation from the at-fault party – even if liability is crystal clear. You do not want to wait too long, either. Doing so can make the insurance company think you are not serious about the claim. If you hire a lawyer, he or she will need time to investigate the claim, make a demand to the insurance package and prepare legal documents if the insurance company does not offer a fair settlement, so do not delay.
Because you do not have a lot of time to file a claim, it is important to contact a qualified car accident lawyer. You can learn more about your rights as an accident victim at www.heitingandirwin.com.