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Protecting Your Legal Rights and Interests in a California DUI Car Accident Case

The aftermath of being involved in a drunk driving auto accident can be devastating. If you have been involved in a DUI car accident you may face serious medical issues coupled with significant damage to your property, particularly your own automobile.

Should I hire a Car Accident Attorney?

There are occasions when the guilty party or parties are contested, and that’s when car accident victims start to wonder, “Should I hire attorney after a car crash?” There’s no easy answer, but before you settle your own insurance claim, consider these possibilities.

car insurance liability determination

Determining Liability after an Auto Accident

Car accident liability is determined by legal concepts that are unique in every region.

The Insurance Claims Process in California

Californians who are involved in automobile or motorcycle accidents may find…

Car Accident Guide for Los Angeles

The average driver experiences three to four car accidents in their lifetime, so it’s smart to be prepared if it ever happens to you.

The Insurance Claims Process in California

Claims Process in California

What Is the Insurance Claims Process?

Californians who are involved in automobile or motorcycle accidents may find the insurance claims process to be almost more excruciating than the accidents themselves. By understanding what to do in the event of an accident, you may be better equipped to deal with one when it happens. You should be prepared to take certain actions immediately following your accident and then know how to deal with the insurance process.

What to do immediately after an accident

If you are involved in an accident, you may experience a surge of adrenaline as a result. This might make you less aware of injuries that you may have suffered, as a result of the accident. It is important that you avoid making statements that you were not injured, because many injuries may not show symptoms for hours, or days following the accident. If you state that you are uninjured and fail to seek a medical examination, you may have a much more difficult time recovering damages for your injuries later on. Immediately after your accident, you should do the following:

  • Check yourself and others for injuries.
  • Call 911 to report the accident.
  • Take down information about the other driver, any passengers, the make and model of the other driver’s vehicle, and its license plate number.
  • Write down the names and contact information of all witnesses and the parties involved.
  • Avoid accepting blame.
  • Wait at the accident scene for law enforcement to arrive.
  • Take pictures of the vehicles and the location with your cell phone’s camera.
  • Exchange insurance information with the other driver in writing.

When the officers arrive, give them your statement of what happened immediately prior to your accident, and during the accident. Explain what happened from your perspective in direct, simple language, giving the important concrete details as best as you can recall them. If the officers ask you if you have been injured, you should tell them that you do not know and that you wish to get a medical examination if your injuries are not immediately obvious. If you have obvious injuries, request immediately transportation to a hospital. In the event that you have noticed any signs of impairment exhibited by the other driver, inform the officers, so that they can test him or her. You should also insist that the officers write accident reports, which can help you with your claim. It may be a smart idea to keep a list of what to do if you are in an accident, in your vehicle so you can follow the correct steps even if you are experiencing a heightened state of emotion.

Initiating your claim

After you are finished at the accident scene, you should notify your insurance company to your insurance company as soon as possible to report your accident. If the other driver was at fault, you should notify his or her company since California is a tort state. Then you should submit your accident claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance company, to begin the claims process. If the accident was only involved property damage, you may be asked to take your vehicle in for repair estimates and subsequently receive a check for the estimated amount of damage. If your accident was more complicated, and bodily injuries occurred, the process may be much more complex.

Dealing with the claims adjuster

If you were injured in your accident, it is likely that that the insurance claims adjuster will soon contact you by telephone or email. It is important for you to know that claims adjusters work for the insurance companies that they represent and surely have the best interests of their employers at heart as opposed to yours. Therefore, when you are contacted, you should do the following:

  • Ask for the adjuster’s full name and the company for whom he or she works.
  • Write down the date and time of the call.
  • Be polite and stay calm.
  • Only provide your personal identifying information, including your name, phone number and address.
  • Do not discuss the details of your accident or of your injuries.
  • Do not agree to immediately settle your claim.
  • Establish limits on further contact by phone.
  • Document everything that you are told, and that you say.

It is important for you to be careful when you are talking to an insurance claims adjuster. Inadvertent statements that you make may later be taken out of context, and used against you. It is fine to insist that further communication about your claim, be conducted in writing, and you can also inform a claims adjuster that you want to speak to your attorney in order to decide how to proceed. A claims adjuster’s job is to help to minimize the losses that his or her company may have. One way to do so is to make unreasonably low settlement offers, or to try to gather evidence to minimize the amount that the company may have to pay out to you on your claim.

Sending a demand letter

You are not required to accept an offer of settlement from an insurance company. Whether or not you choose to get help from an experienced personal injury attorney, you have the right to send a demand letter to the insurance company requesting the amount that you believe your case is worth. If you do retain a lawyer, your lawyer may analyze your accident and the extent of your losses. He or she may then suggest a range of values within which a reasonable settlement amount should fall. This can give you a good sense of how much your claim may be worth, so that you can demand a settlement amount that falls in the upper end of that range. Your lawyer may draft and send the letter for you, after reviewing it with you and getting your approval.

Gathering evidence

It is important to gather all of the evidence that you can in order to support your claim. If you took photographs and witness names immediately after your accident, the investigative process will be easier. Your attorney may use other professionals, including accident reconstruction experts and investigators to gather evidence, interview witnesses and establish what happened. This may help to bolster your claim and place you in a stronger negotiating position.

Negotiating with the insurance company

After you have made your demand and have gathered your evidence, you will then need to negotiate with the insurance company. It is important for you to understand that insurance companies may engage in certain tactics in order to convince you that your claim is worth much less than your demand or they may attempt to avoid paying your claim entirely. An experienced personal injury lawyer may have a strong understanding of these types of tactics and know how to effectively confront them. If the insurance company is attempting to dispute liability, the attorney may present the evidence you have gathered to demonstrate the extent of your injuries and the liability of the other driver.

Settlement

If the negotiating process results in a fair settlement offer that you choose to accept, you may then accept it. If you accept an offer, you will give up your right to seek damages for your accident, and possibly resulting in losses in the future, therefore it is important for you to take time to carefully consider any offer that you receive. If you do not receive a fair settlement offer, your attorney may then file a formal complaint, in order to commence a civil lawsuit through court.

Accidents can be very overwhelming, and the accident resolution process may make them even more exhausting. If you have been injured, you may need time to concentrate on recovering rather than on attempting to negotiate with an insurance company. To learn more about your potential legal rights and the claims process, contact us today to schedule a free no obligation consultation.

We can work with the following insurance companies:

21st Century claim
AAA claim
AARP claim
ACE claim
ACE Limited claim
Aflac claim
AIG claim
Allied Insurance claim
Allstate claim
Amco claim
American Automobile Association claim
American Bankers claim
American International Group claim
American Modern claim
American National claim
American Security Insurance claim
Ameriprise claim
Amica claim
Arbella claim
Assurant claim
Balboa claim
California Fair Plan claim
Capital Insurance claim
Century National claim
cfp claim
Chubb claim
Chubbs claim
Chubbs claims
CIG claim
Colonial Life claim
Country wide claim
Country-Wide claim
CSE claim
Farmers claim
Farmers claim
First American claim
Foremost claim
GEICO claim
Geico Home claim
GMAC claim
Hartford claim
Hartford claim
HCC claim
Integon claim
Liberty Mutual claim
Liberty Mutual claim
Mapfre claim
McGraw claim
Mercury claim
National General claim
Pacific Specialty claim
Progressive claim
QBE claim
QBE claims
Residence Mutual claim
Safeco claim
Safeway claim
Sentry claim
Standard claim
State Auto claim
statefarm claim
Stillwater claim
TOPA claim
Travelers claim
USAA claim
Wawaneesa claim
Western Mutual claim
Westwood claim


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Written by : admin
Posted on : Sep 06, 2017
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