Los Angeles Car Accident FAQs

Being in a car accident can be an overwhelming experience, and many injury victims may be  afraid and confused and not know to who to call. While the experienced car accident attorneys at J&Y Law Firm are always available to speak with you, here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about car accidents.

Q. What should I do immediately after a car accident?

The first thing you should do is stay calm, call the police, and dial 911 if you or someone else has been injured. Also, get the name and contact information of all the other parties involved in the accident as well as any witnesses. If possible, take pictures of the the vehicles to document the damage, the accident scene, and the injuries. Finally, do not admit liability because your attorney will need to conduct a thorough investigation to establish the other driver’s fault.

Q. Will I have to go to court if I file a personal injury claim?

In most cases, auto accident claims are resolved outside of court and settled through a detailed and intricate negotiation with an insurance company. Nonetheless, many insurers try to settle claims quickly and for as little money as possible. If the insurer fails to make an offer for the full value of your claim, we are prepared to litigate the matter in court.

Q. What information do I need to file a claim?

In order to have a successful auto accident claim, it is necessary to collect evidence, such as the contact information of the parties involved and any witnesses, and provide a detailed explanation of how the accident occurred, along with photographs of the accident scene. In this regard, the reports of law enforcement will also serve as important evidence in your claim.

Q. Should I seek medical treatment after a car accident even if I feel fine?

After an accident, you may feel fine, only to have injuries surface days, weeks or even months later. For this reason, you should consider seeing a doctor even if you don’t believe you were injured. A doctor can recognize injuries that are not immediately apparent to you and alert you to warning signs of injuries that may arise. By failing to have your injuries treated within a reasonable amount of time, you may forfeit your right to recover damages for future medical costs. In any event, never settle a car accident claim until a doctor has examined you and advised you of the extent of your injuries.

Q. Should I release my medical records to another driver’s insurance company?

A medical records release should only be signed under limited circumstances, after consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney. If an insurer obtains your medical information, if could affect your claim. The insurer may argue that your injuries were not that serious, for example, or that they were related to a preexisting condition.

Q. What if I think the accident was at least partly my fault?

Do not accept any blame for an accident since there are often many factors involved. If an investigation determines that you partially at fault, you may still be entitled to compensation. It is important to note that California uses a system of pure comparative negligence to determine liability in a car accident case. This means that each person who is found to be at fault for a car accident is liable for his or her portion of the fault. If it is determined that you were 20 percent at fault for the accident and otherwise eligible for a $100,000 settlement, for example, the settlement would be reduced to $80,000 (or 80 percent of the original settlement amount).

Q. Can I still recover damages if I was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident?

California’s seat belt law requires both drivers and passengers to wear seat belts when a vehicle is in motion. Nonetheless, if you fail to buckle up and are injured in an accident, you may still be entitled to compensation from the at-fault party. Because California is a comparative fault state, however, your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. You may also be ticketed by law enforcement at the scene for not wearing a seat belt.

Q. Should I settle with the other driver’s insurance company?

You should not speak to another insurer or accept a settlement offer before you consult with an experienced car accident attorney. If you accept a settlement offer too soon, you may not receive the full value of your claim. An attorney can advise you of the true value of your claim and negotiate a settlement that compensates you for any future injuries and medical expenses.

Q. What if the at fault driver has inadequate insurance to cover all my damages?

In California, insurance carriers are required to offer underinsured motorist insurance (UIM) which is designed to cover the costs of bodily injury if you are involved in an accident with a driver whose coverage is not enough to pay for damages. The benefits are limited to the amount of your personal liability coverage and do not include property damage.

Q. What if the at fault driver doesn’t have car insurance?

If you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, you can file a claim with your insurance company provided that you have uninsured motorist coverage. California law requires auto insurance companies to offer uninsured coverage to all motorists. If you refuse to obtain this coverage you must sign a written waiver. There are two types of uninsured motorist coverage:

  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury (UMBI) – Designed to cover injuries to you and any person in your car in an accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault. The benefits cannot exceed the  amount of your personal liability coverage.
  • Uninsured motorist property damage (UMPD) – Pays for the damage to your car from an accident with an uninsured driver who is at fault, but it is limited to $3,500 and only pays if the uninsured driver is identified.

The California Insurance Code defines an uninsured motor vehicle as one not covered by a liability insurance policy, including a vehicle where coverage is denied, such as for an excluded driver or a stolen vehicle. If you are involved in a hit and run accident and the owner cannot be identified, that vehicle is also considered uninsured. Finally, a vehicle can also become uninsured if the insurance company goes out of business while your claim is pending.

In order to file an uninsured motorist claim, you must demonstrate that the other driver was at fault and that the motorist was not insured. Moreover, many car insurance policies impose strict deadlines on policyholders to provide notice of a potential uninsured claim.

Why should I call J&Y Law Firm?

Our experienced car accident attorneys have a proven track record of helping our clients obtain meaningful compensation. We leverage our legal knowledge and negotiating skills to make sure insurance companies offer fair and reasonable settlements. If an insurer refuses to cooperate, we are fully prepared to litigate your case in court. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, call our office today for a free consultation or complete the contact form on our website.

The J&Y Law Firm represents clients in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, San Bernardino County, San Francisco County, Sacramento County and all of Northern and Southern California.