California has certain laws regarding motor vehicle accidents that you need to keep in mind while filing injury or damage claims. Although we don’t expect to be involved in a motor vehicle collision, the odds are everyone of us will be involved in a motor vehicle collision at least once in our lifetime.
Therefore, some of California’s best car accident lawyers will inform you of the following when an accident results in bodily injury:
- Insurance Claims: For insurance claims, California observes an “at fault” system. This means that that the other driver’s insurance may provide you compensation only if they committed negligence or some other wrong that led to the incident.
Note that in a semi-truck collision, the insurance claims are more complex. According to Brad Nakase, a California truck accident lawyer, truck accidents tends to cause very serious injuries and may involve several layers of insurances.
- Comparative Negligence: By law, California is a “pure comparative negligence” jurisdiction. Compensation in this State through settlement or a lawsuit is determined by the percentage of fault of the other party in the incident. For example, if the other party turns out to be 70% at fault in an accident, they are liable for the same percentage of the damages.
The doctrine of comparative negligence is often a factor in motorcycle crashes because motorcyclist tends to split lanes with cars. In lawsuits, many motorcycle crash injury lawyers see insurance companies asserting comparative negligence to reduce the plaintiffs’ claims.
- Statute of Limitations: If you are seeking damages via a lawsuit, you must know that there are certain statutes of limitations depending on the kind of suit.
You can file a personal injury lawsuit within 2 years of the occurrence of the accident, while the limit for filing a property damage lawsuit is 3 years from the date of the accident. If the other party is a government agency, such as a postal service driver, then you have 6 months to file a case.
- Compensation Limits: Normally, there are no limits to recovery to car drivers. But certain limits become applicable if you are an uninsured driver or you were driving under the influence. In such cases, the injured person cannot seek recovery of non-economic damages i.e. the damages that are not quantifiable, like pain, suffering, and permanent disfigurement.
Liability in Car Accident Cases
Liability in car accidents is largely determined by the circumstances. What makes one person (driver) liable in a given situation may not mean that another driver is liable in another incident.
Rear-end collisions are mostly caused by a driver hitting the other vehicle from behind. While there could be certain circumstances that may change the liability in such accidents, they are few and far between.
Note that the rule of the road is that one is supposed to leave enough room between one’s own vehicle and the next car to stop when necessary.
In left-turn collisions, the driver making the turn is almost always at fault. This is because all other motor vehicles normally have the right of way over a left-turning vehicle. Exceptions, in this case, may include a car running a red light, speeding through an intersection, or a driver’s failure to obey a yield sign.
By and large, the police report will determine liability in the event of an accident. The officer on the scene will record statements, take note of injuries, and file a report indicating which party is liable for the collision. It is difficult to get around the details of the police report, but it is certainly possible with professional help.
Filing a Car Accident Claim
In case of a car accident, you might decide to file a claim to pursue compensation for damages. And by that time, you might have already contacted your insurance company. It is always advisable that you hire an attorney to secure your desired compensation. Here are the things you should remember.
- Do not take the first settlement
Insurance companies are quick to offer settlement upon initial filing of the claim by an accident victim. Most often, they offer a vastly reduced amount with a quick turnaround to avert further negotiations and deny you the right to a fair settlement.
- Prepare a demand letter
This letter is your main weapon for maximum recovery. It details the amount you’re seeking, backed by the evidence and documentation demonstrating that your demand is reasonable. Submit all photographic proof, police reports, and any other relevant document that could help your case.
- Don’t fight shy of negotiations
An insurance provider is under obligation to respond to your letter and start the negotiation process. But if you are unable to secure the desired amount from them, you should consider filing a lawsuit.
A Lawyer can Better Deal with Insurance Company on Your Behalf
Apart from injuries one suffers, dealing with an insurance company is a tough thing involved in a car accident. When you get hurt in an accident, you receive different tips, suggestions, and pieces of advice on how to deal with it. While there is some truth to such information, all might not be true and this is why you need an accident expert, especially on dealing with the insurer. In case of a car accident in San Diego County, an accident attorney may give you the following advice:
- Contacting Insurance: It’s important to understand who you need to talk with when you meet a road accident. When at fault, you must notify your insurance firm right away.
If you are a victim of another’s negligence, you may choose to wait to hear from them. But, if they do not contact you for a couple of days after the accident, you yourself must contact them.
- Your Rights: The insurance process can be complicated and confusing for an ordinary fellow who has no prior experience. So, make sure you know your rights. If you are talking to your insurance company, they can ask you to give a recorded statement.
You should know the importance of this statement as it will be used to determine who is at fault in the accident and what they may owe. While speaking with the other party’s insurance company, you are not under any obligation to give a recorded statement and in no circumstances, you should offer them one. Anything you say now could be used against you later.
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