What Steps Should I Take After A Car Accident?
When you’re involved in a car accident, injuries can be very severe and there are important things you should do at the scene of the accident and immediately after. If you’ve been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you out.
- The first thing you should do after a car accident is to stay at the scene until it’s appropriate to leave. If you leave, you can face serious criminal penalties for being a hit-and-run driver.
- Next, make sure to check on all drivers and passengers. Before looking into property damage, make sure everyone involved in the accident is okay. Get medical attention for anyone who needs it and if a person is unconscious or has neck or back injuries, don’t move them until qualified medical help arrives.
- Next, call the police. If there is significant property damage, physical injury or death, you need to call the police. Ask for a police report and obtain the name and badge numbers of the officers.
- Next, make sure you exchange information. Get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers, and basic insurance information from all drivers involved. If there are passengers, obtain that information from them. It’s very important that you do not claim responsibility of the accident. Fault isn’t determinative of which insurer will pay for any loss so do not claim any liability. If there are any witnesses, make sure to talk to them and get their information.
- Next, inform your insurance company. Cooperate with them and tell them the truth about what happened and the extend of your injuries. Explain the facts clearly. If you had to see a doctor, physical therapist, chiropractors or other medical professionals, make sure you keep track of such treatments. Get any medical reports and bills so your lawyer can use them to get you compensation. Although medical expenses are relatively easy to document, pain and suffering is trickier to prove so keep a record of daily notes on progress.
Getting property damage valuation is a very important step. Take photographs of any damage and obtain your insurance company’s damage valuation. It’s very important that you only talk about your accident to your personal injury attorney, your insurance company and the police. Do not talk to any other insurance company without your attorney or insurer.
The final step would be to contact an experienced Sacramento personal injury attorney who can help your specific case.
When Should I Contact A Personal Injury Attorney? Do I Need One?
Every case is different and it depends on what happened and what injuries were suffered. If you haven’t been injured, you probably won’t need a lawyer. But if you or anyone you know has been injured in the accident, especially if there is any permanent injury or significant loss of time from daily responsibilities, you should contact a car accident lawyer. It’s important to look at the severity of the accident and use your best judgment when you haven’t been injured.
There are certain situations that you should definitely see car accident lawyers in Sacramento CA at The Weinberger Law Firm about, such as:
- A death was involved
- Fault cannot be determined
- Severe injuries occurred
- Pedestrians were involved
- The accident occurred in a construction zone
- The police report doesn’t accurately describe the accident
- Important technical, legal or medical issues are involved
- You have no insurance
Contacting a car accident attorney who deals with personal injury can give you the peace of mind when it seems like everything is chaotic. Even if you feel like you don’t need a personal injury attorney it might be a good idea to see one to get advice on a settlement or seeking information on how to handle negotiations with an insurer.
What Should I Do If The Police Didn’t Take A Traffic Collision Report?
Police reports are important for the post accident claims process but there are 3 reasons the police might not arrive at the scene.
- If there are no injuries, the police usually assign certain levels of priority to incidents. Depending on what else is going on, your accident may not be a priority.
- In some jurisdictions, a police officer will not come if the damage is minor. If you think the damage is under $500, the local police may not be required to take a report at the scene.
- Third, during extreme weather conditions like earthquakes and blizzards, the police might not be able to take your report in person.
If the police do not show up to the scene of the crime, reporting your accident is still very important. The police dispatcher may be able to explain how you can file an official report after the fact. You can always go to the police if they don’t come to you.
Even if the damage seems minor, an official report can help in case something unexpected happens. Before you go to the police, make sure you have names and insurance information of the drivers involved, names and phone numbers of any witnesses, and pictures of both vehicles at the scene. You may always call our office for a free consultation with one of car accident lawyers in Sacramento CA.
How Do I Deal With Property Damage After A Car Accident?
The first thing you should do is contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company to inform them of the accident. You want to make arrangements to have the damage to your car assessed at this time. You should also ask about a rental car if you are going to need one.
If the at-fault driver has not yet reported the accident, they may want to see the accident report before admitting liability. You may be able to speed up the process by getting a copy of the report yourself and furnishing it to them. You are entitled to recover the difference between what your car was worth immediately before the accident and what it was worth immediately after the accident. This is determined by either the cost of repairing the vehicle or the fair market value of the vehicle. The insurance company will make the decision on which method to use.
- If the estimated repair cost is more than 75% of your car’s value, they will probably total your car and pay you that value.
- If the insurance company decides to repair the vehicle, you can then arrange with the repair shop of your choice to do the work.
- If the shop finds damage that the adjuster overlooked or underestimated, the shop will contact the adjuster to work out additional payment.
- If your car is totaled but you want to keep it, the insurance company may reduce what they will pay you. Also, the title may have to be sent to DMV so that the fact that the car was totaled can be noted. This may affect the cars future resale or trade-in value.
- If you will still owe more than what your totaled car is worth, you should discuss substitution of collateral with your lender.
- If the lender agrees, you can use the insurance money to purchase a replacement and have that vehicle stand as security for the loan.
- If the other person’s insurance refuses to pay for the damage, contact your own company about getting the repairs done if you have collision insurance. Let them deal with the other insurance company about payment. You will have to pay a deductible, but if the other company eventually pays, this will be reimbursed.
- If you don’t have collision coverage, you will have to contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you.
- If the other person doesn’t have insurance, talk with your insurer about using your uninsured motorist coverage.
It’s always best to contact a car accident lawyers in Sacramento CA at The Weinberger Law Firm who can help you through this complicated process.
The Insurance Company Is Offering Me A Settlement For My Car Accident Claim. Should I Take It?
Before you decide on accepting a settlement offer, you need to understand how the adjuster operates and comes up with the amount.
- It begins with the adjuster investing the case. The adjuster’s goal is to obtain the same facts that the plaintiff’s personal injury attorney has. Part of the investigation process is finding out what the insured had to say about what happened.
- The adjuster will read any written police report or accident report that the insured may have sent to the insurer. Insurers have claims databases that allow adjusters to determine whether the plaintiff has ever filed a personal injury claim before.
- The adjuster will write the plaintiff or the plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer to introduce him or herself and request that the plaintiff provide documentation relating to the plaintiff’s claim.
- The adjuster will usually request documents such as medical records, medical bills, proof of earnings, tax returns and proof of property damage. If the initial medical records indicate that the plaintiff may have had prior injuries or complaints to the body part that was injured in the accident that led to the current claim, the adjuster will request that the plaintiff provide all prior medical records for any treatment that the plaintiff has ever had for that condition.
- Once the adjuster has all of your medical records and bills and all of the other information that he/she needs to value the case, he/she will put a value on the case. In order to value the case, the adjuster has to think about what the plaintiff’s chances of winning are and how much might a jury award the plaintiff.
- Once the adjuster has decided what the plaintiff’s chances of winning are, he/she will think about the plaintiff’s damage claim.
- Damages in personal injury cases are usually divided into two categories: damages capable of exact calculation and damages not capable of exact calculation such as pain and suffering. For medical bills and lost earnings, the adjust will just add it up. But for pain and suffering, it gets a little trickier.
- Once the insurer has arrived at a settlement value, he/she has to decide what to offer. The first offer is going to be a percentage of what the insurer thinks is the final value of the case. The insurer may require that the first offer be 40% of the value of the case, but every insurers have different requirements.
- Accepting the offer right away means that you will not have the option to ask for additional compensation at a later date, should you discover your injuries require more healing than you first thought.
- You are not obligated to accept any offers from an insurance company.
- Adjusters often have leeway to adjust the first offer depending on who he/she is dealing with.
It’s always best to contact experienced car accident lawyers in Sacramento CA at The Weinberger Law Firm who can give you advice about your specific case.
How long do I have to file a claim after a car accident?
After a car accident, you have a limited amount of time to go to court and file a personal injury lawsuit. The amount of time is called a statute of limitations and every state has one. If you want too long and try to file your lawsuit outside of the time, the court will almost surely throw out your case as time-barred and you’ll lose any right to compensation for injuries and other losses stemming from the car accident. You also need to keep these deadlines in mind when it comes to filing a claim with an insurance company after a car accident. It’s a good idea to get the claims process started as soon as possible after the accident, leaving yourself the option of going to court and the time it takes to do so.
Speak With Our Car Accident Lawyers in Sacramento CA About Case
Contact our offices in Folsom or Sacramento to discuss your injuries with an attorney. We offer a free initial consultation to all new clients. You can reach us by phone at (916) 357-6767 or send us an email to schedule an appointment.