Even with all the additional safety gadgets all new cars come with, many car accidents are happening every day all across California. According to California’s Office of Traffic Safety, in 2018, there were 91 462 people killed or injured in a car accident in Los Angeles County only. This number is also not showing damage-only, and fender-bender crashes.
A car crash is one of the most shocking events in a person’s life, and it can happen to anyone. It can leave someone suffering physically and emotionally but also facing financial difficulties long after the crash.
Recovery becomes a struggle when you have to worry about providing for your family while seriously injured in a car accident. Advising with a good car accident attorney can help you seek compensation for your injuries and give you more time to focus on your wellbeing.
If another driver’s negligence caused your car accident, you might be eligible for compensation that can help you cover many expenses such as:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Hospital bills
- Loss of income
- And so much more…
You can reach your compensation through a car accident settlement.
What Is a Car Accident Settlement?
Not everything has to be settled through court. That’s why car accident injury settlements are such an excellent way to save money and time for all parties involved.
A settlement can be reached before a court case and sometimes in the middle of one, and it is an agreement between you and a negligent driver or their insurance. Through the settlement, you ask the negligent party to pay the compensation amount you think you deserved for your injuries and property damage.
Car Accident Claim Process
Now that we know what happens at the end, let’s go back to the beginning to understand how your car accident claim is formed and what steps you should take to ensure you are entitled to compensation. Also, consider renting an accident replacement vehicle if your car is damaged and needs major repairs. The process is simple and almost hassle-free.
What to do After a Car Accident
- Get to Safety and Seek Medical Attention-If you can walk out of your car following your car accident, make sure you get off the roadway and to safety. Provide help to the other drivers if needed, and call an ambulance if you are suffering any pain and injuries.
- Call the Police-Once the police arrive at the scene, make sure you fully cooperate with them. Do not admit fault, but give your recollection of events and let them know of any injuries you may have.
- Gather Evidence– California is an at-fault state, meaning that the person responsible for your car accident is also responsible for compensating you for your injuries, medical bills, or property damage. Furthermore, California is a pure comparative negligence state which means you may still be entitled to compensation even if you are partially to blame for the accident.
Because of this system, in California it is imperative to determine who is liable for the crash, and therefore, evidence is essential. Document as much as you can about your car accident. Write down the details of an accident while it’s still fresh in your mind, take photographs, videos, witness statements, and any physical evidence there is.
- Collect Personal Information– While making sure not to apologize to other drivers involved in your car accident, as this can be considered as admitting fault, ask them for their personal information. Share your information with them, as well. Take a look at all information you need to collect:
-Name and contact number of other drivers involved in the crash
-Vehicle(s) information such as make, model, license plate
-Insurance information from all drivers
-Police officer information and reference number of the police report
-Name and contact number of any witnesses if they are willing to share it with you.
- Contact Your Insurance Company– Be very careful when talking to an insurance company, even if it is yours. Give them a short brief of the accident. If they offer anything to you or ask you to sign anything, tell them you will need to speak to your attorney first.
- Call an auto Accident Attorney- A car accident claim process is as stressful as a car accident itself.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you navigate the settlement by negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf. They will do only what is in your best interest to get you the compensation you truly deserve.
How to write a Demand
Once you consult with your attorney, it’s time to gather everything you have and compose a demand letter. An attorney usually drafts this document, but there’s no harm in knowing a bit more about it. Simply put, a demand letter, also known as an insurance claim letter, needs to be sent to an insurance company.
With a demand, you will explain what happened, present all evidence that proves you are not responsible for the accident and give your medical records showing your injury status. Finally, you need to submit any medical or hospital bills you have and other receipts related to your car accident.
Your demand should contain the exact car accident settlement payout you’re expecting while staying polite throughout the letter. Also, your demand may include anything else you expect from the opposing party, such as repairs and or any deadlines you’ve set.
Car accident attorneys can do this for you far more successfully than you can simply because the demand letter should be objective, concise, and straightforward. You, however, may forget to send a receipt or a statement of some kind or come off as too pushy or demanding in your letter, no pun intended.
What Kind of Response You Can Expect
Once you send a demand to insurance companies, four things can happen:
- Insurance Company Accepts – your settlement demand has been accepted, and you’ll be able to receive the compensation you wanted, thus resolving the settlement process.
- Insurance Company Makes a Counter Offer– Do not be surprised if you see that the insurance company offers a measly $15,000 for your medical expenses. This is the way they negotiate -by giving a low-ball offer and hoping you will accept it.
If you don’t feel like negotiating a settlement, you may take your claim to court. Still, with a good attorney, you may be able to get more in the negotiation process once the insurance adjusters realize you have a relentless negotiator watching your back.
- Insurance Company Denies Your Claim– When an insurance company denies a claim, it usually happens only when there isn’t enough substantial evidence or there is some other issue with the process of your claim.
- Insurance Company Does Not Respond– If you don’t receive any reply from the insurance companies, you may write a follow-up letter and advise your car accident attorney about what to do next.
Damages You Can Recover in California
You can recover both economic and non-economic damages in California. Economic damages are those that can have a specific value like:
-medical devices (for example, crutches)
-lost wages/future earnings
On the other hand, non-economic damages are those for which we cannot determine the exact dollar value, such as:
-pain and suffering
-loss of enjoyment of life
-loss of consortium
-Anxiety or shock
This is the main reason why you should hire a car accident attorney. They will know how to calculate how much compensation you should demand and help you set a realistic goal.
Your attorney is the one taking care that you are not underestimating your injuries and suffering but also making sure you are not overrating either.
How Long Does the Settlement Process Last?
As the fastest way to resolve a car accident claim legally, these types of settlements usually last anywhere from one to three months.