Getting compensation after a car accident can be a thorough process. That’s why it is vital to know all the steps that lead to a positive outcome. However, every further step in the process comes after you check that every participant in the accident is okay. If anyone is injured, getting medical attention is mandatory. You can start getting the information only after you are sure that there are no severe injuries.
Gather all necessary information and evidence
Before making a car accident claim, you need to gather all the information and evidence while you are still at the scene of the accident. The information you need from other drivers includes their name, address, phone number, and information about their insurance company. Besides, if there were witnesses and law enforcement officers, you’re going to need their information as well.
Nowadays, when we all carry cell phones, it won’t be a problem to use them at the accident scene. Take photos of the location, areas of physical damage on both vehicles, and also the license plates. Having so much evidence is crucial since the other driver’s insurance company will try to pay as little money as possible.
Report the accident to your insurance company
Many people might wonder why it’s necessary to inform their insurance company when the other driver is at fault for the accident. In the USA, by immediately reporting an accident, you will give them an excellent chance to protect your interests. Also, if another driver decides to hire a lawyer (in case of an injury, for instance), they might contact your insurance company. Imagine how terrible a situation can happen if your insurer doesn’t know anything about the accident.
Therefore, provide them all the information about the accident. Afterward, they will evaluate the damage and approving elements of your claim – medical expenses, property damage, etc. Based on that, your insurance provider will figure out how to collect the money from the other driver. Or, if it was your fault, how much they should pay.
Police reports are crucial because they provide a lot of information to insurance companies. They contain a detailed description of what happened at the accident scene – location, date, time, statements, photos, and much more. But, most importantly, police reports provide the perspective of a neutral party. In California, insurance companies have to consider claims that don’t include police reports.
But the whole process will be much harder. First of all, you might forget to gather all the necessary information, and the police will not – it is their job. Second, it will take a much longer time for insurance to approve your claim. And finally, only because of lack of police report, you might end up getting less money.
How to decide if you need a lawyer or not?
If your case is small and you have a simple claim, there will be no need to hire a lawyer. In the case of low payouts, insurance companies in California are much more responsive, and the lawyer won’t be able to add extra value. On the other hand, if you were injured, you should immediately contact an expert personal injury lawyer. One of the best options in California is to contact San Jose personal injury lawyers and find the best person for your particular situation.
In the case of complicated damages and expensive future medical costs, insurance companies will try to take advantage of such difficulty. That’s precisely why you should hire an experienced lawyer. Also, if you are at fault for the accident or if you have any issues with the insurance company, don’t hesitate to contact the lawyer.
Specific laws in California
There are two legal doctrines in California that you have to be aware of, even when your attorney takes the lead. First is a statute of limitations that requires you to file a personal injury within two years after the date you were hurt. If you don’t sue the responsible party in that period, you will never get the compensation (excluding some rare exceptions). Second is the law of comparative negligence. Your compensation might get reduced if there was your fault in the accident that led to the injury.
Even if you are not a driver yourself, it is still recommended to know these guidelines, especially if you are from California. Hopefully, you will never experience an accident, but if it happens, you should be prepared well.