What to do after a car accident in Los Angeles?
If you have suffered a car accident in Los Angeles and need medical treatment and recover damages, do not hesitate to contact our expert traffic accident attorneys at Lluís Law. We have been dealing with this type of events for more than 50 years and helping victims obtain justice.
Most people are not prepared for such an unexpected and sometimes terrible event like these. An automobile accident arrives unexpectedly and can become an unforgettable life episode due to the physical, emotional and financial traces it leaves.
Even so, you should at least have read some useful advice on what to do after suffering a car accident in Los Angeles. Even more so in a city like this where auto accidents are the daily bread among the drivers who travel through its streets, avenues and highways.
Here are 10 recommendations for drivers, which should be kept in mind if you have to face an unpleasant situation like this. After an accident, the priority is to treat the injuries medically (if any) and file a solid claim that allows sufficient compensation to cover present and future expenses.
1. Find help and stay at the scene of the accident
You must call 911 and if you are able to help the injured. If it is a driver that is not related to the accident, the most correct and human is also to stop and ask for help from the police.
The operator of No. 911 will ask you rigorous questions to channel the timely help of the paramedics and the police, for example, the accident site, the time, if there are injured or dead people and other pertinent details.
2. Gather legal evidence
All the evidence that is possible to gather will be used to document the accident before the insurance. For example: photographs or videos, so that important details of the event are recorded that later can be used in the claim or demand, since after the shock is lifted they are lost.
Obtain contact information of the other drivers involved in the accident and their respective vehicles. California law encourages drivers and passengers to exchange information in the event of an accident with injuries. All the material collected at the scene of the accident will then serve as evidence.
To demonstrate the negligence of the other driver in a claim for damages, it is necessary to support the argument with these documentary evidence. The evidence also serves to demonstrate injuries and property damage.
3. Role of the police in the accident scene
Police officers serve to secure the scene and assist the injured. They are in charge of coordinating the medical aid and transportation of the injured persons. In addition, they gather evidence and establish the causes of the accident and initiate investigations to identify the responsible driver.
4. Report the accident to the insurance company
The insured driver has a contractual obligation to inform the insurance provider about any accident and cooperate with the investigation. Such commitment is acquired through the Cooperation Clause. If the insured driver fails to comply with this clause, he may later have problems to renew the policy or perhaps increase the premiums and even his policy will be canceled.
5. The Third Party Liability
Another aspect to keep in mind is that, in California because it is not a state without fault, in accidents the responsibility of the third party is established. In no-fault states it does not matter who is responsible, because the two parties involved in the accident can turn to their respective insurance companies to claim compensation.
In California, however, no, because the victim can go against the responsible driver and the insurance provider to recover damages. The two types of damages that can be recovered in a car accident are:
Damages due to personal injuries
This includes medical expenses in general, such as hospitalization, medical fees, medicines, surgeries, therapies, various out-of-pocket expenses (medicines, transportation to the hospital, home care), medical supplies and equipment, pain and suffering, among others.
They include the costs of repair of the car, also the expenses of car rental while the car is repaired, the value of those personal goods that could have been lost in the accident and in extreme case, the value for the total loss of the car.
The options and procedures that the claimant driver must perform to obtain compensation are:
– File a claim with your own insurance company if the guilty driver does not have insurance or the amount of coverage is insufficient.
– File a claim with the insurance company of the responsible driver.
– File a claim against the responsible driver if he/she or its insurance company refuse to pay, does not agree with the settlement offer or there was bad intention in the accident.
6. Take into account the rule of pure comparative negligence
The standard of comparative negligence applied in California, allows that after a car accident the victim has the right to request compensation from a negligent driver, even though he may be partly at fault in the accident.
In other words, if during the claim process the insurance determines that the victim was 20 percent at fault in the accident, he will pay compensation on the basis of 80 percent of the cost of the sum claimed.
When the claimant disagrees with the percentage of fault assigned by the insured company and discrepancies arise over the payments, the help of the expert car accident lawyer will be essential to obtain sufficient and fair compensation.
7. Meet the requirements of car insurance
The California Financial Accountability Act states that all drivers must have a sufficient insurance, policy to respond for damages they may cause to other people in a car accident.
The basic amounts required for a liability policy are:
– $ 15,000 for injury or death to a person (includes the driver, passenger or pedestrian).
– $ 30,000 for injury or death to two or more people during a car accident.
– $ 5,000 for property damage.
8. Do I really need a lawyer?
Some people file claims for property damage and simple personal injury without legal representation, because they do not consider it necessary. However, when the case involves serious injuries and disputes arise with the insurance company or simply refuses to pay compensation to victims, the most prudent and logical thing to do is to hire a Los Angeles lawyer with experience in personal injury cases. .
The attorney is qualified to file a claim or civil suit for damages in the most appropriate manner to ensure that the victim will receive reasonable compensation. Facing only the insurance adjusters and the lawyers of the responsible party in a difficult case is highly counterproductive.
Claims adjusters and insurance attorneys are expert negotiators with the ability to reduce the settlement amount of the compensation requested, using many arguments that can be irrefutable for the victim.
In addition, the claimant must demonstrate to the insurance company with evidence and compelling reasons, why it is requesting this or that amount of compensation. While the settlement amount presented by the insurance adjuster, it can hardly be contested by the victim, because the adjuster will never tell you how he came to determine the offer.
The real friend that the victim has in these situations is the car accident lawyer, who is as interested as the victim in getting the best possible agreement. It is necessary to indicate that the plaintiff who represents himself is at a great disadvantage with regard to insurance from the legal, financial and practical point of view.
When a lawyer acts the situation is different because it will investigate the entire driving record of the other driver, as well as the scope of his insurance policy. It will hire private investigators and experts to reinforce the case and negotiate with the insurance in the most appropriate terms for the victim. It will be a legal fight between experts, each bidding for the defense of their interests.
10. Don’t forget the California Statute of limitations
Last, but not least, it is necessary to have at all times the California Statute of limitations, which establishes a legal deadline to file a claim for damages or a claim after a car accident.
When the claimant / plaintiff does not present his case within the prescribed period it right to demand compensation for damages or pursue the responsible prescribes. The Statute of Limitations in California sets a period of 2 years, counted from the date of the car accident, to file the claim or claim.
Consequently, victims of an accident should, in the shortest possible time, seek legal help and initiate the procedure to obtain compensation before the case may be more difficult to fight.
If you or a family member were injured in a car accident, you can count on Lluis Law’s law firm. Our experienced auto accident and personal injury attorneys can help you with your claim or claim for damages. Do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. Our telephone number is (213) 320-0777.
Address: 205 South Broadway, Suite 1000 Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tel: (213) 687-4412 Fax: (213) 687-3441.