Getting into a car accident is extremely stressful. You may be injured, and you could go into shock. What happens after a car accident can be even worse.
If you were injured, you might have to go to multiple doctor's appointments. In addition, you could miss hours of work to go to those appointments.
If you were partially at fault for an accident or driving under the influence, you might be facing legal repercussions. You are probably wondering if auto insurance will cover your expenses.
Here are a few steps you take to protect your rights and get the money you are entitled to after an accident.
1. Obey the Law at the Scene
When you have a car accident in California, you must pull over and see if anyone is injured. Then, you should contact the police and wait for them to arrive.
Most attorneys will tell you that you should never admit guilt at the scene, even if you think that the accident was your fault. There may be some circumstances that contributed to the crash of which you are unaware. If you admit to guilt at the scene, it can be used against you.
Always be polite to the law enforcement officer and never lie to them. Request a copy of the accident report and make sure that everything is accurate, especially the time and date.
There is a two-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits in California. The courts start counting the two years on the date of the accident report.
2. Collect as Much Evidence at the Scene as You Can
If you have been severely injured in an accident, you will be taken to the hospital, or the EMTs will treat you at the scene. Getting the medical attention you need should take precedence over collecting evidence.
If you do not need immediate medical attention, you should try to get the names and contact information of witnesses. You will also want to exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Take pictures and remember to photograph track marks in the road and any car parts that are on the ground.
3. Prove Your Expenses and Injuries
You should save every medical bill you get and ask your doctor to write a report detailing your injuries. If you have a primary care physician, you may want to ask for a copy of the medical records you had before your accident. You would be surprised at how many insurance companies will try to say that your injuries were from pre-existing conditions.
According to lawyers Maho & Prentice, you should save the receipts from any prescription and non-prescription medicines that you need to take due to your injuries.
Ask your employer to write you a letter stating the number of hours and the amount of money that you have lost due to the accident. The more detailed the letter is, the better. An insurance company will want to make sure that you were actually at medical appointments when you missed work.
4. Be Careful When You Call Your Insurance Company
California is an at-fault state when it comes to automobile insurance which means that the person who caused the crash will pay for its associated bills. More specifically, it is a pure comparative fault state. That means each driver is responsible for the percentage of the accident that they caused. For example, if you are 75% responsible for a collision, the other driver's insurance company would have to pay for 25% of your accident-related bills.
An insurance adjuster's job is to keep the company's money in-house. They might try to ask you leading questions. You should only tell them basic facts about the accident. They may ask you if they can tape-record the conversation, but you do not have to let them.
5. Hire an Attorney
It is always a good idea to have a personal injury attorney in your corner when you file a claim. A professional lawyer will know accident-related laws, and they will be able to negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf.