If you have been in an accident and think you may need legal help, contact a personal injury lawyer right away. With professional help from the beginning, your claim is likely going to be much more successful and much less stressful for you and your family.
Here are some things you can do right away:
-If you are injured, get medical treatment as soon as possible
-Find out if there were any witnesses to the accident who can make a statement
in your favor
-Take photographs of your car, the other cars involved, and the scene of the
accident, if possible and safe to do so
-Get contact information, insurance information, license plate numbers, and
driver's license numbers of the other people involved in the accident. The police
won't always take a report, so it will help you to have this information to make
an insurance claim
-Get your car out of the tow yard as soon as possible to avoid paying daily storage
-You can contact your insurance company to report the accident, however, many
car accident lawyers advise that you have your attorney on the phone before you
give ANY insurance company an official "statement," or specific information about
what happened in the accident.
Insurance coverage can be very confusing on top of the stress you are already dealing with after being injured in an accident. What you will need to do is ask your own insurance company for a "Declaration Page" which should list all of the coverage you pay for.
"Liability" - this coverage is mandatory in California. Every driver must have at least $15k/$30k in Bodily Injury coverage and $5k in Property Damage coverage. This means that if you cause an accident, your insurance will pay each person hurt up to $15k each or up to $30k total if there are more than two injured parties. Your insurance will also pay them up to $5k total for their damaged vehicles, towing bills, and rental car expenses. This coverage will not pay for your vehicle.
"Collision" - this coverage is optional in California and will pay for your car repairs or replacement regardless of who is at fault for the accident. Your insurance company will require you to pay your deductible if you elect to have your vehicle repaired or replaced under your Collision coverage. If you are not at fault for the accident, your deductible should be paid back by the at-fault driver's insurance company.
"Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist" - this coverage is optional in California and will pay for your bodily injury claims if someone else causes the car accident, and they have no insurance or low insurance coverage that is not enough to pay your medical bills and pain and suffering claims. Making a claim under your UM insurance should not raise your insurance rates since you were not at fault for the accident.
"Medical Payments" - this coverage is optional in California and will pay for your out of pocket medical bills regardless of who is at fault for causing an accident. Coverage is typically available in amounts of $1,000 and up depending on your budget. (Please ask your attorney about "subrogation rights" of your insurance if you receive a settlement from the at-fault driver for these same medical bills)
"No Insurance" - It is illegal to drive in California without at least "Liability" insurance. If you are in an accident that is not your fault and have no insurance, you do have the right to have your car repaired or replaced and your medical expenses paid by the at-fault driver or their insurance company. However, you do not have the right to receive "pain and suffering" damages no matter how bad your injuries.
A typical auto accident bodily injury claim can take between 6-18 months to settle depending on your injuries, insurance policies, and liability disputes. The property damage portion of a claim (getting your car fixed) is typically a few weeks depending on the damage.
Most health insurance companies have a right to reimbursement of amounts they have paid for your medical treatment if you get settlement money from the auto insurance company for those same medical bills. You are only required to reimburse your health insurance if you get a settlement from the at-fault driver. Typically your health insurance will also only request that you pay back a partial amount because they understand that you have hired an attorney and paid them part of your settlement in order to get the settlement money in the first place.
Most personal injury attorneys are paid for their work on a case through a Contingency Fee Agreement. This means that the attorney gets paid once they have obtained a settlement for you. If there is no settlement money, there is no payment for the attorney. This type of agreement is beneficial for clients who cannot afford to pay an attorney up front for their services. Most contingency fee agreements range between 33%-50% of the total settlement amount.
DeVille Law Group