If you have been involved in an accident, you have likely suffered an injury to your body or property, also called damages. Accidents are usually caused by someone’s negligence. When someone is negligent, then he or she is liable for the damages that they caused for being at fault for the accident. When you suffer damages in an accident caused by the negligence of another party, you do not want to be responsible for the expenses that can result.
Your damages could add up long-term, and you could end up losing tens of thousands of dollars from work, in addition to mounting medical bills. This can in turn lead to severe financial strain, especially if you were already on a tight budget. California law protects your right to recover fair compensation for the harm you have suffered from the responsible party by filing a claim. But if you do not file a personal injury claim, you cannot recover compensation from the liable party’s insurance.
As an experienced California personal injury attorney will explain, filing a personal injury claim may be stressful, but it is often worth it. With the right assistance, you may be able to collect fair compensation for what you have lost due to the accident, in addition to damages for any ways the accident has altered your life.
As a result, you should file a claim with the responsible party’s insurer as soon as possible after the accident.
How to Proceed with a Personal Injury Claim
When you suffer damages in an accident, you may be hesitant about filing a claim because you may be afraid that it will have to advance to court and the claim will become a lawsuit. Luckily, most personal injury claims are settled out of court, and many claims are resolved even before the accident victim files a lawsuit against the at-fault party. You can recoup compensation for your damages without immediately running to the courthouse and filing a lawsuit against the other party.
If the other party has insurance coverage, you will file a third-party claim against the liable party’s insurer. Anytime you are in an accident, you should get the name of the other party, their contact details, and their insurance carrier’s name and policy name. You will start the process by sending a notice of claim to their insurance carrier, and that notice should include all the details, the extent of your damages, why you think they are liable for your damages, and copies of supporting evidence or documentation.
However, you should keep in mind that sometimes, filing a lawsuit will be inevitable, due to significant settlement differences with the insurance company. In this case, filing a lawsuit can provide an important bargaining chip that forces the insurance company to meet your settlement estimates. In other cases, you may be better served by letting your personal injury claim go to trial, especially when you have a very strong case that a jury will be inclined to believe.
Your attorney will advise you on when filing a lawsuit is necessary and they will also explain what you can expect during the procedure.
What If the Accident Seemed Minor?
Sometimes an accident may seem minor, and you may not think you have suffered serious injuries or extensive damages. However, what you initially see and believe may not be accurate. Some injuries are worse than they initially appear, and sometimes vehicles suffer more severe damage than you see. Any damages you suffer in an accident will cost you, and if you do not pursue a personal injury claim, you will have to pay for everything out of your own pocket.
Damages can add up quickly. Before you realize it, you will have medical bills, prescriptions, auto repairs, tow bills, and rental car expenses, all in addition to whatever you may be losing from not being able to work. You may also have pain and suffering, and mental anguish.
Pain and suffering refer to your emotional and physical stress that you suffer because of the accident. As an example, if you were in a car crash and you suffered a deep laceration to your head, you will want to pursue damages for the pain and agony of enduring the cut, the care associated with your laceration, the pain and discomfort you suffered because of the laceration, and the restrictions or limitations that you experienced because of the injury.
Consulting with an attorney immediately after the accident helps you gain a better perspective on how much damage you may have suffered and if filing a claim is right for you. But it’s important that you do not dismiss filing a claim out-of-hand. Take the time to consider your options and see if you’re not best served by pursuing compensation through a personal injury claim.
What Are the Basics of Filing a Personal Injury Claim?
There are several basic steps of filing a personal injury claim. The first step is to call the police and make sure an accident report is filed. If you are injured, you should establish medical care right away.
The next step will be to gather supporting evidence and documentation. This will include taking pictures of the accident scene and speaking to any bystanders who witnessed the accident. Having an eyewitness account can provide important factual validity to your claim, increasing the possibility of recovering a favorable settlement. You should also exchange information with the responsible driver, as well as any other person involved in the accident.
Your documentation efforts will also include keeping medical records and medical bills, getting estimates for repairing any damages to your vehicle, and documenting any missed work and lost wages. You will need to itemize the damages and then come up with the total value of your claim.
Claims can vary greatly, and the claim of one accident victim can differ from another claim significantly. The settlement of a claim can also vary greatly as well. If you have suffered damages because of an accident, you should enlist the help and guidance of a personal injury attorney.
When you retain an accident injury lawyer, you have no risks because there are no upfront costs. An accident injury attorney works on a contingency basis, which means that the lawyer will not get paid until you win your claim and recover compensation for your damages through a judgment or a settlement.
Many injury attorneys also provide support with meeting costs of recovery, such as medical bills. They can often assist in referring you to health providers who will accept cost-effective arrangements to help you secure medical treatment before any settlement arrives.
How long do you have to file a personal injury claim?
There is a time limit, or a strict statute of limitations, for pursuing a claim against another party after an accident. In California, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim is 2 years, and this time starts to run from the date that the injury occurred.
In some other circumstances, the time limit begins to run later, such as in a situation where death results from the accident. In this case, a family member of the deceased person can file a wrongful death action for compensation, and the time starts to run from the date of the deceased’s death.
Any person that fails to file a lawsuit for their personal injury claim before the end of the time limit risks forfeiting their right to sue. Most courts will disallow the person from filing a lawsuit unless certain limited exceptions apply. Insurance companies also pay close attention to the limitation period, and if they see that a plaintiff has waited too close to the deadline, they may stall for the deadline to pass.
Even if you are able to force them to make a settlement offer in these circumstances, the insurance company will typically try to get you to accept a low-ball offer. This is because they know the limitation period will soon expire, and this puts them in a stronger bargaining position.
As a result, to ensure your claim is as strong as possible, take steps to consult with an attorney and file your personal injury claim right away.
How to Get Your Claim Underway
If you have been in an accident, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer who handles claims in your area. An attorney is familiar with the applicable laws and will know the best way to proceed with your claim and help you determine the extent of your damages. Ask for a free case evaluation to learn how much your personal claim would be worth.
At Eldessouky Law, our personal injury attorney has helped countless residents in Southern California and surrounding cities recover fair compensation for their accident injuries. We offer a free case evaluation to help you learn about your rights in the accident and the possibility of recovering compensation for your damages. Call us to schedule a no-obligation case review with one of our attorneys today.
Thanks for answering that you should file a claim or you’ll pay everything out of pocket. I don’t have that kind of money. I’d rather pay the lawyer and be done.