Updated: Oct 29
Know your rights after a car accident in Los Angeles California
More car accidents occur in California than any other state in the nation. After a car accident you not only have to deal with your injuries, insurance companies, loss of employment, physical recovery but you also have to find a competent and trust worthy car accident attorney.
Unlike popular belief, finding the right Los Angeles car accident lawyer isn't as easy as it appears to be. Los Angeles county alone has the highest cases of attorney misconduct, suspensions and attorney disbarments than any other county in California.
In this article, we will analyze all aspects of dealing with the aftermath of a car accident in California and how to find reputable and honest legal representation.
In this guide, the two possible scenarios if you are involved in a car accident in California:
A. If you've suffered bodily injuries, how do you find honest, reputable and trustworthy Los Angeles car accident lawyer and what are the advantages of working with a pre-screened lawyer.
B. If you get into a car accident and you have NOT suffered bodily injuries, how do you deal with the insurance company, auto body shops and avoid insurance fraud.
When Do You Need A Lawyer After A Car Accident?
Legal awareness is much more important if you (or someone you know) have sustained a permanent injury or spent considerable amounts of time away from work, your education, or social life. While you are not inherently expected to have an attorney, there are several reasons why it is a smart idea to employ a lawyer in California. You need to consider hiring a pre-screened California car accident attorney if:
You sustained permanent or significant bodily injury.
If you were hospitalized for your injuries after the accident.
A family member has been seriously injured in your car.
If your car accident occurred in a construction area.
If anyone died as a result of the accident.
You will still need an attorney if AFTER the accident:
Your medical bills are over a hundred thousand dollars.
A clear account of what happened is not shown in the police report.
The fault is debatable.
You are unaware of your legal rights.
Finally, the reason you need a lawyer might be dealing with you insurance company. Consider hiring a pre-screened car accident attorney if:
There is concern about the documents and forms you have been issued by yir insurance company since the accident.
Your insurance provider claims that you have not paid the premium.
You are not sure about the terms of your insurance policy.
By rejecting your coverage, refusing to pay your bills, or not agreeing to pay you what you are due, you believe your insurance provider behaves in bad faith.
Your insurer behaves strangely and ignores or is unkind/aggressive to you.
Your insurance firm has an attorney.
What reward am I entitled to collect after a car accident?
There is so much to be done following a car accident, and much of it is expensive. A competent and experience car accident attorney will advocate for you to win the full amount of compensation available. Some of the cost to be covered after an accident are:
Car and property repair
Visits to medical specialists
Programs for recovery
Future medical expenses
Loss of income
Pain and suffering
On top of that, punitive damages, or any future earning ability. Without a good lawyer, it is much harder to win compensation while navigating the legal system and dealing with the insurance company at the same time.
Will my insurance company cover all my bills?
The insurance provider can indeed manage expenses due to an injury-related accident much of the time. Insurance companies, however, are "for-profit," which suggests that they are ultimately there to make money by cutting costs. They're going to try to pay the least possible amount they owe.
Also, in some cases you can still be compensated even if you are at fault for the accident. However, due to how involved you were in causing the crash, the cash award would simply be decreased. Therefore, even though you are partly to blame, it is important to make sure you get what you are owed.
So, what does an insurance provider do to minimize your payout and increase their profit? Here are several common forms that your insurance provider might try to keep you from providing you the full financial aid you pay monthly / quarterly / annually.
10 Popular Tricks Insurance Companies Use To Cut Their Losses
Our attorneys have many years of experience dealing with insurance companies after a car accident. Some of the tricks insurance companies will use to minimize their liability are:
Outright reject your car accident insurance claim, arguing probably that it was not an accident at all, but a deliberate act. Maybe they won't even tell you why you've been rejected and then ignore your calls.
Your insurance company may claim you paid for less coverage.
To find facts against you, use "surveillance." They will spy on you and your social media pages. In some cases. they'll even dig at your medical history.
Pretend that medical costs do not have to be covered.
Dispute the seriousness of your injury, or suggest the accident did not cause these injuries.
Attempt "subrogation," which is when the insurance company comes back after a settlement and claims you have to pay them back.
Fake they are really concerned in order to get you settlement that is quick and low.
Low ball your medical expenses. From your anesthesiologist, doctor, surgeon, ambulance, hospital, and more, you'll have a lot coming in.
Request within a particular period a written statement or medical history.
You're entitled to wait until you talk to a lawyer, so don't let them put pressure on you. By posing questions in a way that causes you to make a false or incriminating statement, the insurance provider could try to trap you. The full extent of the injuries can not be understood if they send you a short deadline for medical reports. It is possible to use all forced deadlines to minimize the amount of money you would be entitled to.
Believe that you will not take your case to trial, so by avoiding paying the full sum, they will try to settle for less.
There are just a couple of the tricks that have been tried on accident victims by insurance firms. It can make the claims process a lot simpler to have Lerner and Rowe by your side when negotiating with an insurance provider. It will also help guarantee that you receive the reward you deserve.
What do I need to do to get the maximum compensation?
You won't have to do anything when you hire a pre-screened California car accident attorney. From start to finish, our attorneys will help you handle your case. They're going to keep any facts organized and maintained. To successfully fight back on your behalf, they will also use their expertise to manage insurance company strategies.
Also, our attorneys will measure the insurance value and decide who is liable for the accident. This implies that the at-fault driver should be liable for any accidents and other injuries in California. Insurance can only pay up to the policy limits of the driver, however.
In exchange, we will also assess the probability of directly pursuing the at-fault driver to obtain extra compensation to cover costs not covered by insurance.
How do I find honest car accident attorneys in California?
We can provide you with an unbiased and impartial lawyer referral to pre-screened California attorneys. We work with the California State Bar to monitor and recommend ethical, honest, and experienced lawyers
You can submit a request online 24 hours a day. Free case review within 15 minutes.
By calling the 24-hour lawyer referral hotline at 1-661-310-7999
If You Didn't Suffer Bodily Injuries After Your Car Accident
When you purchase a car accident insurance policy, carefully review the application when buying insurance to decide if the coverage, policy limits, and deductibles are sufficient for your needs. Check the declaration page after you receive the policy. It provides relevant details about the protected drivers, describes the insured cars, and the coverage limits' sums and deductibles.
Make sure that all information in your policy is correct and that the coverage is what you purchased. Send your request in writing to your agent and/or insurance provider if adjustments are needed, and keep a copy. Using a certified mail return receipt requested to check receipt of your documents.
Please become familiar with your car insurance policy so that before the need arises to make a claim, you can recognize it. Study the policy carefully so that you are aware of what is covered and what is excluded.
What To Do After A Car Accident in California
Collect if possible, all the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and license plate numbers from all drivers involved. Obtain license plate(s) and registration numbers for cars. Ask to see the driver's license(s) and registration(s) of the vehicle to check that the information is correct. Get other passengers 'and any witnesses' names, emails, and telephone numbers. Take photos of the property damage and the accident (traffic controls, visual obstacles) if you have a camera or cellphone.
If it is not possible to find the owner of the damaged car or the property damaged, leave a note with the names and addresses of the driver and owners of the cars concerned.
Immediately inform your agent and/or your insurance provider. You should report the car accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days if someone is injured or the vehicle damage exceeds $750.00. Failure to notify the DMV could lead to your driver's license being suspended.
Dealing With Your Insurance Company After A Car Accident in California
Q. After I file a claim with my insurance provider, what will happen?
A. For more details about the loss, the insurance provider may contact you and make a written or registered declaration. Often an investigation under oath may be required. Other drivers and witnesses could also be questioned as part of the inquiry. You must provide your loss reports (injuries, medical costs, missed earnings, etc.) if you have medical bills or an uninsured motorist claim.
Q. If the insurance provider does not contact me, what do I do?
A. Within a fair amount of time after you record the loss, a claim representative should contact you. However, the insurance provider can, under some conditions, take up to 15 days to contact you. Contact your agent or insurance provider for help if you do not hear from anyone. Contact the Department of Insurance if they are not receptive, or you think there is an unnecessary delay in settling your claim.
Q. How does the insurance provider measure harm to vehicles?
A. The damage to the vehicle is usually inspected by a trained adjuster or assessor. Based on the initial inspection, the adjuster or appraiser then writes an assessment. If more damage is identified during the repair process, the insurer will be contacted by the shop to receive approval for the additional repair cost. Keep in mind that the insurer can send an adjuster to re-examine further damage. The organization can instead ask you to request competitive repair estimates if the damage is relatively minor. Know, you are responsible for signing and authorizing the shop to repair your car until the final estimate and repair facility is fulfilled.
Q. What would the insurer pay for a physical injury claim under a standard auto policy?
A. The insurance company would usually pay the least of the following:
The sum required for the car or car to be repaired
The vehicle's real cash value (ACV).
To decide what is protected, read your policy. Pay attention to exclusions and restrictions in particular. For instance, unless it is original equipment built by the car manufacturer (OEM), there is typically no or restricted coverage for improved aftermarket stereo equipment, telephones, tires, and wheels. Additional coverage usually is available at an additional charge for such built equipment.
Q. What's the real worth of cash (ACV)?
A. Actual Cash Value-Actual cash value in California means fair market value unless otherwise specified in the regulation. An item's fair market value is the dollar sum that a prospective buyer and seller are prepared to pay and is fairly informed about the asset. They must behave in their own best interests and be free from undue pressure to make transactions.
Q. What is the provision for appraisals?
A. Most regular plans have an assessment clause, which can be useful in the event of a disagreement over the amount offered by the insurance provider for your vehicle's total loss settlement. To see if it includes one, read your regulation. Any of you may request an assessment under this clause. Each party picks a professional appraiser. The assessors then select a neutral umpire. If the appraisers can not achieve a mutually agreed sum, their discrepancies are sent to the assessor. A sum settled upon by any two is binding. Each group pays its assessor; the fee for the assessor is shared.
Q. How is it prepared for the check or draft?
A. In the name of the person insured and any lienholder, such as a bank or a finance firm, the check can be given. The business can also include the repair facility as a payee if the car is considered repairable. Q. Who is liable for a car loan balance? A. The remainder of the loan is the creditor's responsibility, even if the car is stolen or damaged beyond repair. The lender would expect you to pay the difference if the demand payment is less than the loan balance. The policy generally referred to as "gap" insurance will typically be obtained to defend against this situation.
Q. Will a rental car be paid for by the insurance provider while mine is being repaired?
A. Yes, if you have purchased coverage for rental vehicles. Before you lease a car, check your agreement. Though policy limitations vary, the company pays up to a specified amount per day for a given number of days. The coverage stops until the car is fixed, the damage is compensated, or whichever comes first, after the specified time.
The policy will automatically include transportation expenses if your vehicle is stolen. Again, to be sure, check your policy. This form of coverage usually starts 48 hours after the theft and ends when the car is recovered, the damage is paid, or, whichever comes first, after a defined time.
Q. What is a loss waiver for a crash, and will the insurance provider cover these rental car charges?
A. The lease contract terms make the consumer liable for crash damage when they have custody of the car. Also, rental companies cover themselves for collision-related damage to the car. The rental company can waive all or part of the customer's duty to pay repair costs for damage to the car incurred by accident for an extra fee. The sum of the charge and the language of the waiver are both different. Coverage under your automobile policy for crash damage to the rental car depends on the policy's terminology. Carefully read the policy. Before you rent a car, ask your agent or firm.
Q. What is the worth of salvage?
A. If your car is ruled to be a complete loss, this is the residual value of your damaged vehicle. Salvage buyers' bids normally decide it. The company may sell to the highest bidder the salvage. It is not, however, obliged to do so. The highest salvage bid can be deducted from your settlement if you wish to hold the damaged car. In essence, for the salvage value, you are "buying back" your car. You must file a rescue certificate with the Department of Motor Vehicles to maintain ownership of the rescued car.
Q. What will subrogation be?
A. Subrogation is the insurance provider's right to recover the amount of harm paid to you by a third party. For example, if someone else is at fault in an accident that damages your vehicle. You have a lawsuit for a wreck; your insurer will ask the other party to pay your lawsuit for the money is spent. The strategy calls for your cooperation with the subrogation efforts of the organization. You should also do nothing that jeopardizes the right of the organization to recover. For example, in return for your deductible payment, you will not sign an agreement freeing the other party.
Q. What is the worth of salvage?
A. If your car is ruled to be a complete loss, this is the residual value of your damaged vehicle. Salvage buyers' bids normally decide it. The company could sell to the highest bidder the salvage. It is not, however, obliged to do so. The highest salvage bid can be deducted from your settlement if you wish to hold the damaged car. In essence, for the salvage value, you are "buying back" your car. You must file a salvage certificate with the Department of Motor Vehicles if you maintain ownership of the saved car.
Q. Is it appropriate for the insurance provider to help me recover my deduction?
A. Hey, yes and no. The insurance provider must notify you whether they plan to seek subrogation or not. If the business is seeking subrogation, they are expected to include your deduction as part of the process. However, if the corporation does not seek subrogation, they are expected to remind you of the fact so that you can seek your deduction on your own. Most businesses will reimburse you in conjunction with the recovery if their actions are successful, in full or in part. For instance, you will get 100 percent of your deductible if 100 percent of the paid claim is recovered; if the recovery is 65 percent, you will get 65 percent of your deductible. If the recovery is made, any costs or fees (e.g., the company's legal fees in its recovery efforts) will be divided between the company and you. However, you can pursue recovery directly from the other party on your own if you chose not to make the organization include the deductible in its efforts. But before you do, to avoid jeopardizing its recovery, address the matter with your insurance provider.
Q. Is a car outside of California covered?
A. In other nations, the U.S. territories and possessions, and Canada, most laws have coverage. As is the case in California, several other states and territories have adopted financial responsibility laws requiring drivers to bring a prescribed amount of auto insurance to cover damages from possession or service of a motor vehicle. Your organization can follow the higher criteria if the financial obligation criteria you are traveling are higher than the policy limits. Most plans do not offer coverage in Mexico, so it's prudent to purchase the coverage separately if you intend to drive your car there. Before you fly, check your out-of-state coverage.
The financial transparency law of California starts with Section 16020 of the Vehicle Code of California. It allows all drivers, among other items, to pay damages arising from the possession or service of a motor vehicle.
Drivers must be able to pay costs (financial liability) of at least $15,000 for each individual injured or killed in an accident, $30,000 for two or more people injured or killed in one accident, and at least $5,000 for property damage in any one accident. You could be asked for written evidence of financial liability if you are charged by a police officer for a moving violation or are involved in an accident. This can be achieved by recording the vehicle registration card provided by the DMV, your insurance provider's name, and the policy number. This evidence of insurance should be stored in the car or in a position where, when driving, it is always visible. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles of California for additional information.
Q. What can be done as a result of an accident if you are served with a case (Summons and Complaint)?
A. Immediately inform the agent and insurance provider. Keep a copy or send the original documents to your company for yourself and mail. Do not send statements to anyone but a confirmed representative of your business or address the accident. Your business will have legal protection if the case results from a covered loss.
Q. Is there protection for a newly purchased vehicle?
A. For a car replacing a car already on your contract, most plans have automatic coverage. Usually, the coverage is the same coverage you had in your previous car. Notify your broker-agent of any replacement vehicle as early as possible. There is typically a requirement that you contact your agent or your company within a specified period if you want extra coverage.
Most plans often have automatic coverage for a newly purchased car that enhances the vehicles you have on your insurance policy. Typically, there are unique requirements that must be met.
The majority of the automatic liability clauses enable the insured to inform the insurer within 30 days of purchasing a new vehicle if the insured wishes it to be protected by the current car policy. Be aware that certain warning periods for a policy can be less than 30 days. The warning period for certain insurance providers is 14 days or less.
If the individual fails to inform the insurance company of the newly purchased car within the specified period, the car will be uninsured. The insured's verbal notice to his or her insurance provider may be considered sufficient to cause automatic coverage for the newly purchased car unless there is a clear notification process in the insurance policy.
What To Avoid After A Car Accident in California
Do not argue with other passengers and drivers.
For the police and your insurance firm, save your story.
Do not sign certificates of blame or agree to pay restitution to other parties.
If your deduction is offered to be charged by the other party, don't sign something.
Your driver's license, vehicle identification card, proof of financial obligation, and current address must be shown to the other driver or persons concerned or to a peace officer.
Important Tips After A Car Accident in California
Get your policy read. Don't wait for an accident until after that.
Ask for clarification from your agent and/or organization if you do not understand your rules.
Call the police if you have an accident. Call paramedics if there are casualties.
Get as much detail as possible to send to your agent and/or insurance provider at the accident scene.
Notify the agent and/or insurance provider about an accident immediately.
To help in their efforts, cooperate with the insurance adjusters/investigators.
Ask the agent and/or insurance firm representative to clarify if you do not understand anything about the claims process.
In writing, inform your agent or company of any change of ownership of your car.
Your Consumer Rights Under the Equal Claims Settlement Practices Regulations
Insurance companies are expected, in general, to do the following:
Notify you of all of your insurance policy incentives, coverage, time limits, or other clauses.
Acknowledge claim, initiate an investigation, provide forms and directions, and provide immediate, but in no case later than 15 days after receipt of notice of claim, fair assistance. (Every written or oral contact to the insurance provider that fairly tells the insurer that you intend to make a claim is a notice of claim).
React immediately to communications obtained from you, but not later than 15 days in any case.
Immediately approve or refuse the claim, but no later than 40 days after receipt of proof of claim in any case. Proof of claim is evidence in your possession that contains any proof of the claim. It confirms the extent or amount of the damage, such as repair estimates or police reports showing your vehicle's theft, etcetera.
The insurer must cover fair towing costs unless the insurer has provided you with the name of a particular towing company before you using a towing facility.
Offer a fair settlement. If you have incurred a complete loss, royalties, licenses, and transfer costs must be included in the settlement. The settlement must represent the value of a similar vehicle of similar type and specification. Deductions from the salvage settlement must be equitable, observable, and discernible if you keep the salvage.
If the claim has been approved, the insurer must pay the claim, but no later than 30 days after the date of payment has been reached.
Tell you whether they will be seeking subrogation or not. If the insurance provider is seeking subrogation, and you have already regained your deductible, they must include your deductible.
A paraphrased summary of some of the Rules on Equal Claims Settlement Practices is provided above.
Dealing With Car Accident Insurance Fraud In California
California's car insurance fraud has traditionally taken many types. Automotive property and vehicle crashes are among the most popular fraud schemes.
Automobile property-Most often, this form of fraud includes dishonest auto body and repair shops and/or insured persons who may use a variety of illegal or dubious methods, including:
Reporting vehicle parts as damaged or missing when they were not damaged or lost before receiving the store's vehicle. Rendering final costs over the initial loss estimate.
Billing for non-authorized maintenance.
Charging for authentic parts when used parts were used from a junkyard.
Pounding out dents or using bondo for and billing for brand new car components.
False reporting of stolen cars or car theft to obtain insurance funds.
To protect against possible car accident fraud, it is always necessary for the customer to carefully inspect all paperwork from automotive and repair shops. Consumers should also be careful of any vehicle body or repair facility that refers to medical or legal offices. Capping (a felony in California) is the unauthorized referral of customers to legal offices for a fee. This activity can be an example of' capping.'
Automobile Accidents-Automotive fraud frequently includes orchestrated rings of automobile accidents. Staged traffic incidents, which are not incidents at all, follow a variety of universal structures, including:
Stopping abruptly for no obvious cause
You are ignoring the right-of-way deliberately.
To give up the right-of-way to trigger an accident.
Report on claims listing passengers who were not in the car at the time of the accident
Witnesses who were not at the accident scene are identified.
Compared to car injury, injuries claimed are excessive.
The driver has a temporary car registration scheme.
Prior harm to the other vehicle
Without being asked, contact by an attorney.
Be wary of any unsolicited references to a body shop, law firm, or medical office if you have been in an auto accident. In the group, coordinated accident rings and cappers actively urge others to assist in developing accidents. Such incidents sometimes occur only on paper (referred to as paper incidents), and there are no innocent parties involved. Paper incidents have gained prominence among perpetrators of fraud, as they are less dangerous from the point of view of physical harm, and police intervention is less likely.
Dealing Car Body Shops In California
An insurance provider can not mandate a vehicle to be fixed at a particular repair shop under California Insurance Code § 758.5. However, under the following conditions laid down by statute, an insurance provider can request that a car be repaired at a specifi repair shop:
The customer expressly requires a referral from the insurance provider to a repair shop.
The customer has been told of the right to choose a repair shop of their choosing in writing.
Where the customer decides to use the recommended repair shop, the insurance provider shall, before the accident or failure, restore the damaged vehicle to its condition at no extra expense other than that provided for in the policy or otherwise authorized by law.
Suppose the company makes an oral suggestion to a repair shop, and the customer accepts it. In that case, the company shall enforce the oral suggestion with the required written notice within five calendar days, as stated by statute.
Suppose the car is repaired in a shop selected by the customer. In that case, the insurance provider shall pay fair costs regarding the repair of the vehicle produced in compliance with agreed trade requirements for automobile repairs of products and workmanship.
It is forbidden for an insurance provider to restrict or discount fair repair costs based on fees that would have existed if the car had been repaired in the provider's recommended repair shop.
If the car is not properly fixed, the insurance provider must stand behind the recommended shop's repairs.
Auto Replacement Parts
In certain situations, the replacement of damaged parts with aftermarket parts can require auto repair. Aftermarket parts are parts that are not produced by the original supplier. The standard of aftermarket parts can be equal to or better than the original equipment manufacturer's parts (OEM). While replacement parts made by non-original equipment may be used to repair your vehicle, any such component must be comparable in terms of type, quality, protection, fit, and performance to (OEM) original equipment manufactured parts. The following should be taken care of by consumers:
Before undertaking repairs to the car, an auto repair shop is expected to provide a written repair estimate of the repair costs. The shop must then have a written repair invoice until the work is finished. State law mandates that the form of car parts used in repairs must be identified on the repair invoice. Consumers should carefully review their invoice to ensure that each replacement auto part has been marked by the auto body shop as being used, reconditioned, repaired, aftermarket, or an original part of the equipment (OEM) manufacturer.