When we get behind the wheel on our way to work, we rarely think about ending up in a car accident. When we drive on the freeway every day without incident, we become accustomed to uneventful trips and safe travel. However, car accidents are an unfortunate reality—even the most careful and attentive drivers can find themselves rear-ended or struck by a reckless or distracted driver at some point. As you focus on your physical recovery, it’s natural to worry about how you will be able to afford the costly medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses resulting from the incident. Fortunately, California allows auto accident victims to pursue and secure compensation to assist with these unanticipated costs. Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions Southern California car accident victims have, as well as some tips and strategies to maximize your settlement offer.
What Steps Should I Take After a Car Accident?
First, assess yourself and others at the scene for any injuries. Call for an ambulance if you or anyone else requires immediate medical attention. You should also contact local law enforcement so the responding officer can compile a police report at the scene. This document will serve as an objective account of the factors leading up to the accident, identify the contact information for the involved parties and any witnesses, and include any other relevant details. When you move forward with your accident claim, you can request a copy of the police report to help support your claim and demonstrate that the other party was responsible for your injuries. If you do not believe that your injuries warrant immediate medical attention, you should still schedule a doctor’s visit for a complete evaluation within the next few ways. Your doctor may identify a harder-to-detect injury, such as internal bleeding or a concussion. Any medical documents detailing the nature and severity of your auto accident-related injuries can strengthen your claim and ultimately maximize your settlement offer.
How Much Time Do I Have to File an Injury Claim in California?
California law recognizes that many auto accident victims need time to focus on their physical recovery. However, it’s important to note that there is a statute of limitations that dictates how much time a victim has to initiate a claim. The court system recognizes that evidence often deteriorates over time, and witnesses may forget critical details if too much time passes by. In California, auto accident victims have two years in which to file an auto accident claim. The statute of limitations begins on the date of the accident—if you fail to take legal action within the two-year window, you forfeit your right to recover compensation. Of course, there are a few exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations. If the claim involves a minor, the statute of limitations starts running once the child turns 18. Or, if the victim is deemed mentally incompetent, the statute of limitations may be delayed until they regain capacity under the law.
Should I Accept The Initial Settlement Offer?
As an auto accident victim who is struggling with financial stress and a lengthy physical recovery, it’s only natural that you want to obtain compensation as quickly as possible to start paying off medical bills and other costs. Unfortunately, insurance companies recognize this eagerness and often exploit it to pay the victim as little as possible. Even though the insurance adjuster assigned to oversee your claim may say they are on your side, their loyalty lies with the company’s bottom line. It may be tempting to accept the initial settlement offer right away, but doing so almost always denies you the entire worth of your claim. If you can wait a bit longer, your attorney can push for a more favorable settlement offer. In most cases, insurance companies want to avoid litigation, so they will work with the victim and their attorney to negotiate a more equitable settlement offer.
Why Should I Work With a Temecula Car Accident Lawyer?
Although auto accident victims can navigate the claims process on their own, enlisting the services of a trusted and experienced car accident lawyer is the best way to achieve a fair and favorable outcome. The last thing you want to do while you recover from your injuries is to engage in contentious negotiations with insurance adjusters who are attempting to undermine your claim or deny you the total amount of compensation you’re owed. Let your attorney step in to handle these negotiations on your behalf while you continue to focus on your physical recovery and getting your life back on track.
If you need help collecting compensation following an auto accident injury in Temecula or Murrieta, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320 to speak with a dedicated and friendly attorney.