An uneventful drive to work can turn chaotic in an instant. One minute, you may be focused on the road ahead and thinking about your to-do list for the day when a reckless or distracted driver collides with your vehicle and causes an accident. The aftermath of a car collision tends to be disorienting and confusing, especially if you sustained a physical injury. Depending on how severe your injuries are, you may face several weeks (or months) of recovery and rehabilitation. It’s natural to feel anxious and concerned about how the accident will impact not only your physical health but also your ability to attend work and cover the unanticipated costs triggered by the collision (i.e., medical bills, hospital stays, surgeries, etc.). Fortunately, California allows injured car accident victims to seek compensation to help them cover the associated expenses. Although you are not required by law to enlist the guidance of an attorney to support you through the process of filing an auto accident claim, doing so is highly recommended. Your Temecula car accident lawyer can assess the specifics of your situation to determine the most strategic path forward. This post will explore how California auto accident claims work and what the compensation you receive can cover in order to support many aspects of your recovery.
A Brief Overview of the California Auto Accident Claims Process
First, it’s helpful to understand the broad strokes of filing an auto accident claim after sustaining an injury. If this is the first time you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, it’s natural to wonder what steps you need to take to get the process started. After you have exchanged contact and insurance information with the other parties, notified local law enforcement so they can compile a police report, and sought medical attention for your injuries, you should consider taking the following actions to initiate the auto accident claims process.
Contact an Experienced Riverside County Car Accident Lawyer
Even if you do not believe your injuries are severe enough to warrant extensive medical interventions or that your claim will be worth enough money to justify hiring an attorney, taking this step is the best way to ensure that you maximize the amount of financial support you need to assist with your recovery. Contacting a trusted and knowledgeable Temecula auto accident lawyer soon after the accident allows you to establish a clear plan of action. Your attorney will assess the details of your situation and set achievable goals to move your case forward. What’s more, your lawyer can step in to handle communications with the insurance company and the other parties on your behalf, freeing you up to devote more time and energy to your physical recovery.
Communicate With the Insurance Company
You will need to report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Once the company receives your report, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to oversee your claim. Although the insurance adjuster may attempt to reassure you that they are “on your side” and “want what’s best for you,” you should recognize that their loyalty lies with saving the company as much money as possible. Unfortunately, this often means that the adjuster will use several different tactics to weaken or undermine your claim, hoping to pay you as little as possible to protect the company’s bottom line. Your car accident lawyer can step in to handle these communications on your behalf, pushing back against their negotiating tactics and advocating for an equitable settlement offer to support your recovery.
Settling the Claim and Recovering Compensation
Several factors play a role in the auto accident settlement timeline. Relatively simple claims where one driver was entirely at fault for causing the accident (i.e., the driver ran through a red light and collided with a car stopped safely at the stoplight) will likely resolve more quickly than more complex cases, such as accidents involving multiple parties, catastrophic injuries, fatalities, or where fault determinations are challenging to navigate. When the insurance company makes an initial offer, it usually proposes a lowball amount in the hopes that you will accept the offer because you are eager to receive the payout as quickly as possible. However, your attorney can help you negotiate a more favorable settlement offer—insurance companies usually want to avoid litigation, so they will likely work with you to establish a fair settlement amount.
Pursuing Economic and Non-Economic Damages in California
Many Southern California car accident victims want to know what aspects of their recovery may be covered by the claim they file. Essentially, California recognizes two primary categories of damages: economic and non-economic.
Economic Damages For Monetary Losses
Economic damages encompass the direct financial losses you suffer because of the accident and your injuries. For example, economic damages may include hospital and medical bills, physical therapy expenses, vehicle repair costs, and any wages your injuries caused you to miss. Your auto accident lawyer will help you compile these receipts and documents to calculate the total amount of economic damages you may be entitled to recover.
Non-Economic Damages For Pain and Suffering
California recognizes that auto accident victims suffer other types of injuries that are much harder to quantify. Car collisions can be traumatic, and many survivors develop symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Many of these negative experiences do not come with a set price tag, so they can be more difficult to quantify. However, your attorney can help you seek non-economic damages by pointing to therapy bills, medications you take for your accident-related anxiety, and other evidence of the mental and emotional toll this incident has had on your quality of life. Whatever the specific circumstances of your car accident case may be, you can trust that your caring and knowledgeable Murrieta auto collision lawyer will work hard to maximize your settlement offer to keep your future bright.
If you need help filing an auto accident claim after suffering an injury in Temecula or Murrieta, the dedicated and experienced legal team at Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, is here to assist you. Call (951) 489-3320 today to discuss your options for securing the compensation you need to support your recovery.