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What To Do After A Car Accident In Los Angeles?

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Guide To California Car Accident Law: Your Safety, Legal Options, And Future Wellbeing After A Car Accident in California

You may be unsure what to do if you have recently been in a car accident. Of course, no one wants to ever be in one, but it can happen in times when you least expect it.

Additionally, car accidents mean more than just getting yourself to safety and getting medical help. Car accidents affect your physical health, work life, expenses, and emotional well-being.

A car accident in California will have one of two outcomes:

  1. You were seriously injured and need legal representation for your personal injury claim, or

  2. You were not injured and must pursue a civil property damage case.

There will be vehicle accidents if there are careless, inattentive drivers. There will also be drunk drivers and drivers who could be genuinely unfamiliar with the area and miss road signs.

Not to mention, car accidents occur at an alarmingly high rate in Los Angeles. Yet, despite their frequency, many people are unsure of what to do after a car accident.

You must contact a California Bar Certified Lawyer Referral Service in either scenario for a FREE CASE ANALYSIS. In this post, we'll do a rundown of all the measures you need to take to reduce the consequential losses in an unfortunate car accident.

What To Do After A Car Accident In California?

It is no secret that California has some of the busiest roadways in the country. Roads and highways can get highly congested due to tourists coming through the state on vacation, large commercial vehicles delivering goods locally and to the other side of the country, and local inhabitants on their way to or from work or errands. When many cars attempt to share the same route, traffic congestion, gridlock, and (most importantly) car accidents—both fatal and severe injury incidents—are almost certain to occur.

Even if there are no injuries, dealing with a car accident may be a tedious and challenging experience.

The future may be tough to focus on in the immediate aftermath of a collision. Still, the steps you take following a car accident may help you obtain the compensation you need to cover damages, medical expenses, and missed income.

We advise you to take the following crucial steps after a car accident:

Step 1: Seek medical care right away.

Check on yourself and your passengers, and if feasible, speak with the driver of the other vehicle. Even if it seems like no one is injured, dial 911 right away. Some injuries are not immediately apparent, and others may manifest symptoms days or weeks later.

Whether you need to be transferred to the hospital by ambulance, attempt to note the details around you, such as:

  • The other car's license plate

  • The number of persons in the vehicle

  • If any witnesses are prepared to assist in determining the information

Step 2: If no one is wounded, attempt to move out of the traffic as soon as possible.

Many people are hurt in car accidents because other drivers fail to stop, yield, or see other cars on the road. If you can move without hurting yourself, it's best to get off the road and get out of danger immediately.

If you need to settle something with witnesses or exchange insurance information with the others involved in the accident, do it at the side of the road.

Step 3: Look for important information concerning the accident.

First, take down the other driver's license plate if they decide to depart the scene. Then, you can start taking in the details: Look for skid marks, shattered glass, and automobile components, among other things.

These could be crucial evidence for police who are conducting an investigation. If possible, take pictures of the accident scene.

Step 4: Exchange important information among the people involved, but don't discuss trickier matters among yourselves.

Obtain the necessary information from the driver who struck you. If multiple cars were involved, ask for the contact details of any other drivers involved in the collision. Request information such as their name, address, phone numbers, insurance providers, policy number, and agent.

Instead of discussing things like fault and settlements among yourselves, you should leave it up to your insurance providers to do so. Anything you want to address with the other driver(s) involved, take it up with the insurance firm or their lawyers.

Step 5: Speak with law enforcement.

Tell them everything that happened in the car crash. This will help log the details of the accident while it's still fresh in your memory. You might forget crucial details later, so getting them to log all of them into a report is your best way to preserve all the information you might need for future settlements, insurance, and personal injury claims.

However, even if you believe you are at blame, don't say so. After an investigation, you may discover that you were not at all to blame for the accident.

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Step 6: Take photos of the scene.

Take photos of whatever you can, including the scene, car, other property damage, the road or intersection, road signs, road conditions, individuals in other vehicles, and other factors that may have contributed to the accident.

As much as we like to think that investigations would be fair and thorough, your car accident attorney knows that conducting your own and getting more evidence is the best way to go.

Step 7: Take note of all you remember about the accident.

Many cases might take weeks, if not months, to resolve. In addition, it's possible that remembering the details will become tricky later on. So, as mentioned earlier, record the details while it's still fresh in your memory.

Write it down in a notebook or save it in a text file for later access. You should be able to describe what happens before, during, and after the crash.

These notes will also help you easily remember the crucial timelines when speaking to your Los Angeles car accident lawyer. The more your attorney knows about what went down in the incident, the easier it is for them to do their investigations, find evidence, track witnesses, and help you through the entire process of your Personal Injury claim.

Step 8: Get a copy of the accident report.

A report of the accident will be released if the police or sheriff's department comes to the scene. You can go to the police department yourself to ask for a copy. Once you've obtained the report, check for any factual inaccuracies or omissions. To add to that, a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles can help you obtain this as well.

Step 9: Speak with an experienced auto accident attorney in California.

As we mentioned earlier, so many things complicate situations in car accidents. Not only have you just been in a potentially dangerous situation, but you also have to consider the medical expenses, emotional recovery, insurance payouts, missed work, lost wages, lost capacity to work, and possible permanent physical disabilities.

These are complicated scenarios that need time and money and involve a lot of communication and negotiation with so many people and agencies. So don't hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer in your area immediately.

What Not to Do After a Car Accident In California?

  • Do not panic, become aggressive, or engage in a verbal or physical altercation with anyone. These activities will add to the situation's complexity, and some may result in penalties and jail time. Instead, maintain as calm as you can.

  • Although you will exchange basic insurance information with other drivers involved, you should not provide any specific data about your policy—such as the amount of coverage you have or your deductibles—and you should not reveal lien holders.

  • Law enforcement will want to conduct one-on-one interviews with persons who were involved in the collision. This is significant since it is the only way to obtain a complete picture of what occurred. Make no attempt to interfere with their interview. They are the ones in charge.

  • If paramedics arrive, you can be treated, and if your injuries are significant, you should consent to treatment and transport to the hospital.

  • Never sign a statement claiming you have not been wounded, even if you do not believe your injuries are severe or if you do not appear to be hurt at the time. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible if you experience pain or suffer a significant injury.

Important Caveat: Why You Shouldn't Directly Negotiate With Insurance Firms Yourself?

Representatives from your insurance company or the at-fault party's insurance company may contact you upon notification of your accident.

If you don't say anything to them, it's best. If you happen to have misspoken or misremembered some details of the incident, it could be distorted to make it appear as if you were at fault or that your injuries are trivial. They might even persuade you to accept a significantly less settlement than you deserve.

You should remember that insurance firms, first and foremost, are looking to profit. Therefore, it is in the company's best interest to give you the least minimum payout possible—sometimes even to a point where it is no longer equivalent to the injuries, losses, and expenses you've incurred due to the accident.

Here are a few underhanded tactics they might try:

  • Insurance companies may employ stalling tactics. This could include claiming they're getting swamped with other requests. They might tell you about dealing with multiple cases and requests and ask you to wait patiently for a response to your damages claim or a settlement offer. This is frequently used as a pretext to avoid paying hospital costs and monthly expenditures like vehicle payments and rent. The more you have to deal with bills and debtor calls, the more desperate you'll feel. Insurance companies prefer that you are in a desperate condition.

  • They'll give you a low settlement offer. They will wait until you are desperate enough to accept any settlement offer they give. When you're unable to function due to thousands of dollars in monthly bills, any "lowball" offer can appear enticing. An expert prosecutor will recognize these delay techniques and lowball bargains and will challenge the insurance company's bad faith activities. Insurance companies will respond much more rapidly when an attorney for a car accident threatens to take the case to court.

  • Blame is shifted unto you. They do this to either persuade you to dismiss your argument or to accept responsibility for an automobile accident. Don't be fooled by it. They may examine your driving record and conclude that you are dangerous. They might be able to obtain medical records that show you've been in a previous car accident. All of these are unsubstantiated assertions that a lawyer on your side can simply counter.

  • Your statements are being used against you. Another strategy is to call you right after an accident to see how you're doing. A representative from the insurance company has requested a written statement from you. Don't make a remark to anyone. Politely decline. Insurance brokers are looking for something you'll say that they can use to distort your version of events in the future. Instead, allow your personal injury lawyer to handle all correspondence on your behalf. It calms you down and protects you from danger.

An experienced car accident lawyer in Los Angeles will consider current and future medical costs, lost earnings, and other expenses to guarantee you receive the compensation required to cover your accident's full cost.

What Do I Do When I'm Getting Lowballed By Insurance Companies?

As we mentioned earlier, the insurance firm may work for its own monetary interests. However, that doesn't mean you can't challenge or appeal the payout.

However, we strongly advise that you don't attempt to do these negotiations yourself. Insurance firms and agents get these appeals to reconsider all the time, so they know their way around convincing or winning over claimants.

Getting a California Attorney For Car Accident to mediate these negotiations would only benefit you in the long run. Sometimes, a demand letter from lawyers can already be enough to discourage the defendant and their insurance providers from attempting to lowball you.

On top of that, attorneys can also do the following things for you:

  • Conduct their own investigations to strengthen your case

  • Represent you in insurance negotiations and settlements

  • Calculate the economic and non-economic compensations you deserve to claim

  • Contract law enforcement, witnesses, and insurance agents for you

  • Obtain paperwork and manage the case

  • Send demand letters to the appropriate recipients

  • Effectively argue and prove your desired settlement offer

Important: You Have Measurable Losses

In circumstances where the car crash is caused by the negligent or reckless conduct of one or more other individuals or entities, the losses and expenditures incurred might be reimbursed through a California car accident lawsuit.

One or more driving mistakes almost always cause a car accident. Errors may occur because the individual is not paying enough attention and care to their actions. In other circumstances, the person who causes the accident may be well aware of what they are doing and the likelihood of a severe crash resulting from the behaviors but nevertheless chooses to engage in it.

Our Los Angeles car accident lawyer ago can assist you in filing a claim for financial compensation against the at-fault parties and recovering the funds you require to be financially whole.

What Damages Can I Claim In A Car Crash In California?

If your civil action for personal injury is successful, you may be able to recover monetary compensation for all losses caused by the at-fault party's negligence or other wrongdoing.

"Damages" is the term for these losses.

The types of damages available in a personal injury claim depend on the type of case, the nature and amount of the plaintiff's injuries, and the state's legislation. We'll look at the many sorts of damages that could be awarded in a personal injury case in this list:

1. Medical Expenses

If the plaintiff requires testing or medical care after an injury of any kind—from ER visits to hospital stays and physical therapy—and the defendant is responsible for the costs of that treatment. If they have an insurance provider, the defendant must process it through that.

Medical expenditures can quickly mount up in a personal injury case, especially in long-term injuries or permanent disability cases. Therefore, the cost of medical care you have already received and the cost of care that will be required in the future can be included in the medical bills/medical treatment component of damages.

It's worth noting that if a plaintiff's health insurer has been paying accident-related medical bills before a personal injury settlement or court judgment, the plaintiff may be required to turn over a portion of the recovered damages to the insurer. In personal injury disputes, learn more about medical liens.

2. Lost Income

Another form of claimable damages is compensation for lost wages or income. This includes compensation for any time a plaintiff could not work due to the injury or seek care for the injury. Even if a plaintiff was entitled to take a vacation or sick days, they should be compensated for the paid time off that was lost (when they could be working).

A financial/economic expert can assess the plaintiff's future lost income and earning capacity if a plaintiff cannot work- or keep similar work due to permanent physical injuries.

3. "Pain and Suffering"

Medical expenditures and lost wages are termed "economic" damages since these losses are relatively easy to quantify. As long as you have receipts and medical records, you and your lawyer could just quickly obtain them as proof.

Non-economic damages, including compensation for the injured person's "pain and suffering," are the other major component of damages in a personal injury case. Because these tend to be subjective or

The following are some of the most subjective and intangible; you need the best car accident lawyers in Los Angeles to argue that the impacts of the accident and injuries are equivalent to a specific monetary amount.

These "Pain and Suffering" damages might include:

  • Mental and psychological distress

  • The collision and ensuing injuries caused mental anguish, insomnia, worry, and other psychological repercussions.

  • The loss of the enjoyment of life

  • Loss of spouse or relationships

A claim for emotional distress may be conceivable when a plaintiff's mental health is harmed due to an accident or injury. However, these types of losses must usually be proven by diagnosis or treatment by a mental health professional.

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Is There a Maximum Amount You Can Recover?

There is no limit to recoverable economic damages. If you have proof and documentation, you won't have a problem using those in California. However, there might be some limitations on how much non-economic damages you can sue for.

The ability of an accident victim to seek non-economic damages has been severely curtailed by California statute. For starters, a victim of a car accident is not entitled to non-economic damages if:

  • The victim was charged with intoxicated driving or DUI (driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or above).

  • The victim was driving their own car and did not have the minimum insurance coverage needed by California law.

  • The victim was driving someone else's car and could not comply with California's financial responsibility laws (usually by having insurance or posting a required bond).

  • Uninsured victims would be exempt from the law if they were driving their own vehicle and the driver who caused the accident was charged with drunk driving. In some instances, an uninsured traffic accident victim may be entitled to non-economic damages.

  • Second, even if the felony had nothing to do with the accident that caused the injury, the victim cannot recover non-economic damages if the harm occurred while committing a crime or fled to avoid punishment after committing a felony. This restriction is only in place if the injured driver has been convicted of a crime.

Can You Be Partially At-Fault In California?

In some personal injury lawsuits, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff was responsible (at least partially) for the underlying accident. If you share any of the blame, it may impact the total compensation you receive from other at-fault individuals and businesses.

California employs a "pure comparative negligence" rule in shared blame injury claims. In simple terms, the amount of compensation you are entitled to get will be reduced by the level of blame you bear for the accident.

Remember that—while California courts are required to observe this rule in injury lawsuits that go to trial—dealing with an insurance agent outside of the court system may be a different story.

Don't be shocked if the agent brings up California's comparative negligence rule during settlement discussions, but you can negotiate how that rule should affect your claim.

Important Caveat: Personal Injury Lawsuits in California Have Deadlines.

Every state has a statute of limitations. This is how long you have to launch a civil case after you've been in an accident. A statute of limitations has various deadlines based on the type of case you're submitting.

In California, the personal injury statute of limitations permits a victim two years from the injury's date to bring a lawsuit against those who may be responsible.

In other words, if you don't file a personal injury lawsuit within this two-year term, the court will surely refuse to consider your case at any point in the future, and your right to compensation will be lost. Special circumstances may cause the deadline to be extended; however, you shouldn't take the chance if possible.

When a Car Accident Causes Wrongful Death?

According to the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 377.60, an individual can file a wrongful death case if an unlawful act or negligence causes a person's death.

This is civil litigation, not criminal, to compensate the deceased's estate and beneficiaries for losses they have incurred and would not have incurred if the deceased had not died.

The outcome of a wrongful death lawsuit has no criminal consequences. It's an entirely different situation than a criminal trial, and the burden of proof is lower. Thus, a successful civil wrongful death suit may be conceivable even if the offender is never charged criminally or convicted.

Who Can Forward A Wrongful Death Claim?

Although the loss of a close friend, lover, or girlfriend can be traumatic and distressing, only individuals who are related to the deceased or have a documented, legal relationship with them have the ability to make a wrongful death claim.

Under California law, a wrongful death lawsuit can only be filed by the deceased's surviving spouse, domestic partner, or children. If none of the aforementioned qualifications apply, surviving parents or siblings who would be entitled to the deceased's estate under intestate succession law may launch a wrongful death claim.

The wrongful death case will be filed by the deceased's personal representative, who is usually named in a person's will, in addition to the aforementioned parties. If you believe you have a cause of action for wrongful death but aren't sure if you have the legal right to launch a wrongful death lawsuit, a can assess your case and offer helpful assistance.

Consult Your Case To The Top Car Accident Attorney in Los Angeles offers a free referral service that matches you with a pre-screened Los Angeles car crash attorney most fit to handle your case. We can help you find your best match via a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION through a submission form or a 24/7 live chat.

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