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Car accidents are one of the leading causes of injury, and collisions with other vehicles can be devastating to both drivers and passengers. When you make a claim for damages in a car accident, there will be involvement with other drivers, insurance companies, and law enforcement, requiring experienced legal counsel to handle your case and pursue maximum compensation. It is essential to determine fault as soon as possible after the accident, while the facts can be investigated, and memories are still fresh.
Driving has become a daily necessity for many Americans. Unfortunately, no matter how many technological advancements have been made in the auto industry, hundreds of thousands of car crashes occur every year in California.
Some of the most common causes of auto collisions in the LA area include:
Running red lights
Improper lane changes
Poor road conditions
Using a mobile device
Ignoring stop signs
Reporting a Car Accident in California
If you have been involved in a car crash, you are likely wondering who you need to report the accident to. It is important to notify the proper entities in a timely manner to ensure you do not violate any laws or jeopardize your ability to obtain full compensation.
There are 3 main entities you should consider reporting your accident to, including:
Law enforcement – Under California Vehicle Code section 20008, any driver (or his or her representative) who is involved in an auto collision where someone was injured or killed must file a written report of the accident to the police within 24 hours of the event. This report may be submitted to either the California Highway Patrol or the police department in the city where the collision occurred. When the police come to the scene of an accident, they will create a written report that fulfills this requirement.
California DMV – Some accidents must be reported to the California DMV within 10 days of the event. Filing a report with the DMV is required when anyone was injured or killed because of the accident, or the collision resulted in property damage in excess of $1,000.
Insurance company – While there are no laws that require a driver to report an accident to their insurance company, your insurance policy requires that you report an accident to your insurer within a reasonable period of time. The timeframe you have to notify your insurer depends on the circumstances of your accident and could be as little as 1 or 2 days. If you fail to meet this requirement, your insurance company may deny coverage.
Establishing Liability in a Car Accident
The case for liability depends on the circumstances of the accident, and if multiple vehicles were involved, there may be more than one claim. In evaluating your case, Frish Law Group, APLC will examine the cause of the accident and whether there was more than one party at fault. This may include discussions with other drivers or their attorneys, as well as examining the police report from the accident.
In California, negligence is determined by comparing the degree that each party contributed to the accident, so even if you were partly to blame, you can still be awarded a reduced amount of damages. You should not allow insurers to tell you that you do not deserve compensation, even if you contributed to the accident.
Potential Damage Awards in California
In some cases, the cause of an accident is very clear, such as accidents involving a drunk driver or a fatigued trucker. The victim of a car accident with a single cause can recover full damages for their injuries if the other party was at fault.
Personal injury law entitles the victim to recover their actual costs of:
Medical care and surgeries
Damage or replacement of their vehicle
Lost wages and income
In addition, California gives car accident victims the right to claim damages for pain and suffering, where the aftermath of the crash has a lasting effect on their life. These amounts are referred to as non-economic damages and the award will depend on the circumstances. For this reason, the Woodland Hills car accident lawyers at Frish Law Group, APLC will carefully assess your claim and will resist efforts by insurance companies to settle quickly for insufficient amounts.
Can I File A Car Accident Claim After Insurance Pays?
Generally, speaking once you accept an insurance settlement it will be very difficult to file a suit against the negligent party. Most car accident insurance settlements specifically state in the settlement that the amount agreed upon will be the only money the insurance company pays out. This is why it is so important to speak to an attorney about your case before agreeing to anything. If, however, you signed an agreement with an insurance company you may have options. Speak to an attorney at our firm about the specifics of your case to learn how we can help you.
Time is of the Essence in Car Accident Claims
In California, you must file a claim for personal injury within 2 years from the date of the accident. This includes claims for liability stemming from a car accident and is one reason to contact an attorney as soon as possible. Often, the case for liability will depend upon the police investigation and report, memories of witnesses, and other physical evidence. If too much time passes, it becomes more difficult to establish fault, and your claim may be harder to prove. Even if you are still recovering from your injuries, it is never too early to speak with a law firm that understands how liability is established in car accidents.