You have a perfect driving record, and you have never been involved in anything more than a fender bender. You are driving down the road one day when you feel a car slamming into you, and you realize that your life may never be the same again. Getting involved in an accident can be painful, time-consuming, and expensive. Knowing what to expect after a car accident when you are hit due to someone else`s negligence can help to alleviate some of the stress.
California is a fault (or tort) state which means that the person responsible for the accident is responsible for paying any associated bills. It is also a pure comparative state. This means that if you are even slightly responsible for an accident, your insurance company may be billed for some of the other driver`s expenses.
If an accident was not your fault, it is critical to follow the appropriate steps to prove that you should not have to pay for the damages.
What Happens at the Scene
When you are in an accident, you should call the police and wait for them to arrive. You should exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver and get the names of witnesses.
When the police question you, it is important not to say anything that may make you sound guilty. Be polite and tell them the basics of what happened.
Going to the Doctor
You should always go to the doctor when you are involved in an accident, even if you think you are ok. There are some injuries that may not be immediately apparent. You should make sure to save each of your medical bills as well as bills for alternative treatments such as massage and physical therapy.
You need to get a letter from your employer stating the number of hours you have had to take off of work due to your injuries. You will also want to have bills from any Uber rides or maid services you have needed.
Calling the Insurance Company
Even though California is a fault state, you should call your own insurance company to report the accident no matter whose fault the crash was. They will take the information, and they will contact the other insurance company. You may want to call the other insurance company as well, just to make sure they have the information they need. This link explains more.
An insurance company will have 15 days to acknowledge the claim. Once you provide them with your documentation, they will have 40 days to accept or deny the claim. If they accept the claim, they will make you a settlement offer. If you accept the offer, they will have to pay you in 30 days.
You should always talk to a personal injury attorney before you accept a claim. A trained lawyer will know if the settlement is fair. They will be able to negotiate with the insurance company for you, and they will have a good chance of getting you a larger settlement. If the insurance company is unwilling to budge, the attorney can represent you in a lawsuit.
Getting injured because of someone else`s negligence can be traumatizing. A good settlement can pay your bills and give you the confidence you need to get back behind the wheel.