California Car Accident Claim Process

A car accident is a terrifying experience, especially if you or a loved one suffered serious injuries. The days and weeks following the accident may be a blur of pain and distress, especially when you have to navigate the complex car accident claim process in California. The best way to deftly handle this process is to hire an Encino car accident attorney and direct all communication with the insurance company to your lawyer; however, it helps to know the process for recovering compensation for your damages, including property damage, medical expenses, and compensation for your pain and suffering.

los angeles landscape

Report the Car Accident

First, never leave the scene of the accident. Always call from the scene to report the accident to the police if the damage appears to be over $1,000 or if there are any injuries. You must report accidents without injuries to California Highway Patrol or your local police within 24 hours of the accident. Then, report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days of the accident. The DMV has an accident reporting system on its website.

It’s also helpful to document evidence at the scene if your injuries don’t prevent it. You can use your cell phone camera to take photos of the damaged vehicles and the scene of the accident. Then add the contact information of drivers and eyewitnesses.

Get Medical Attention

Always go to an emergency room straight from the hospital by ambulance or by arranging transportation. Ask for a complete evaluation as well as treatment for immediate injuries. Obtain a detailed medical report to use as evidence for a car accident injury claim later.

Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company

Regardless of who caused the accident, you should always report a car accident to your insurance company. Many policies require this. In addition, if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured your policy may have to provide coverage through your uninsured motorist policy. Your insurance company may dispute the claim if you failed to report the accident to them.

Gather Evidence and Meet With Your Attorney

A California car accident lawyer will examine the police report, medical report, and any evidence you have gathered from the scene and then perform a complete investigation of the accident’s cause to prove the at-fault party’s liability.

Encino Car Accident Attorneys Calculate Your Damages and Sends a Demand Letter

Besides evidence of liability, your attorney will carefully calculate the value of your claim by examining your medical bills, receipts for related costs, and lost wages. Then they will determine an amount of compensation for your non-economic damages like pain and suffering. They send the evidence to the at-fault party’s insurance company in a demand package and begin negotiations for a settlement.

Negotiate With Insurers Under California’s Comparative Fault System

California is a comparative fault insurance state that allows injury victims to recover compensation even if they are partly responsible for an accident. The insurance company subtracts the percentage of fault from the amount they pay out on a claim. For example, if they determine you were 30% at fault in a rear-end collision because you didn’t have your lights on in the rain, they can reduce a $100,000 payout to $70,000. Unfortunately, this incentivizes insurance companies to assign injury victims an undue percentage of fault in California car accidents. A skilled attorney safeguards their client against these and other insurance company tactics like delaying the process or disputing your medical expenses.

File a Lawsuit Within the State’s Statute of Limitations

Over 90% of car accident claims in California end in a settlement, but if the insurance company fails to offer an acceptable settlement or denies a valid claim, the case may proceed to a lawsuit as long as the petition is filed in court within California’s two-year statute of limitations for car accidents and personal injury claims.

Call the California Car Accident Attorneys Who Get Results

No one should take on the legal system while trying to focus on recovering from the physical and emotional effects of a car accident. Call Younglove Law Firm for representation and legal guidance in your California car accident claim.