Arden-Arcade Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or a family member is injured in a car accident in or around Arden-Arcade, you may be able to pursue financial restitution from the driver that hit you through a personal injury claim.Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Arden-Arcade
When another driver collides with your vehicle causing bodily injuries, there are specific steps you need to take to protect your legal rights and strengthen your potential personal injury claim. First and foremost, call the police and remain at the accident scene. Never leave the scene until authorities have arrived. Of course, if you are seriously injured and an ambulance arrives to transport you to the hospital, you should go right away and get medical treatment.
- Obtain Important Accident Information - If you are physically able, make sure to obtain the full name, cell phone number, address, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and automobile insurance information from the driver that hit you. This is vital information that will be needed for filing your claim. The same goes for any passengers in the at-fault driver’s vehicle and any eyewitnesses who saw the collision.
- Taking Photographs - Again, if you are physically able, take photographs of the accident scene, the damage to your vehicle, and any visible bodily injuries. Given the prevalence of smartphones, you can take a high-quality picture with your cell phone. These photos are important because they illustrate the extent of the damage to you and your vehicle.
- Be Sure the Police Report Make a Report - When authorities arrive, make sure they are planning to draft and submit a police report. This is another piece of valuable evidence since the police report will often provide a general overview of what occurred leading up to the accident and, most importantly, whether the other driver was cited for violating any traffic laws.
- Contact Your Auto Insurance Company - After you have received medical treatment for your injuries, be sure to notify your auto insurance company that you were involved in an accident. Do not be surprised if the insurance company for the other driver tries to contact you and ask for a recorded statement. Most insurance companies, when their insured is the cause of an accident, will attempt to contact the victim and request that they provide a recorded statement. Politely decline the request and advise them that you intend to speak to an attorney. You should also be skeptical of any quick settlement offer conveyed by the insurance adjuster. This is another common tactic utilized by many insurance companies. They make a low-ball settlement offer before you have completed all of your medical treatment in the hopes you accept and limit the amount of potential financial liability for the insurance company.
- Speak to an Experienced Injury Lawyer - When you speak to an injury lawyer, they will likely ask you about the severity of your injuries and whether you have sought treatment from a doctor or chiropractor. Make sure you keep track of all your medical bills and treatment records. These include doctor’s notes, physical therapy notes, chiropractic notes, and other documentation. Make sure to request copies of all medical reports and invoices from your treatment providers.
The video below explains more about contacting a personal injury lawyer following a car accident.Health Insurance Information
If you do not have health insurance and are concerned about paying for your medical expenses, be sure to discuss this issue with your injury lawyer. It is possible your attorney may be able to refer you to a medical specialist for treatment without you having to pay out of pocket. Essentially, the medical provider takes out a lien on your injury claim and is compensated when a financial recovery is obtained in your case.Loss of Income and Other Ways the Accident Has Affected Your Life
In addition to tracking your medical expenses and treatment, keep track of the amount of time you have missed from work due to the accident and the amount of income you have lost. You should also keep a journal detailing how the accident has negatively affected your quality of life. Write down the opportunities you have been forced to forego and events missed due to the severity of your injuries.Damages You Can Recover Through a Personal Injury Claim
The records and invoices described above are important to compile and maintain because they underpin your economic and non-economic damages claim. Basically, the vast majority of expenses and losses you suffer from the accident can be compensated. Common types of recoverable damages include:
- Lost income (both income that could have been made while you were recovering and future income)
- Incurred and future medical bills
- Mental anguish and psychological trauma (i.e., pain and suffering)
A common question asked by clients is how much they can reasonably expect to receive, either through a settlement or jury verdict. The honest answer is that it depends on the facts of your case and the amount of economic and non-economic damages you suffered. The more extensive your bodily injuries and lost wages are, the more likely you are to receive a more substantial financial recovery.Higher Income Bracket Often Means More Substantial Damages
Arden-Arcade boasts some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Sacramento including the affluent neighborhoods of Arden Park, Arden Oaks, Sierra Oaks, and Sierra Oaks Vista. This is important because if someone earning a substantial salary is seriously injured in an accident, the amount of recoverable damages usually increases as well. For example, if someone is making $100,000 per year and suffers a traumatic brain injury in a car accident that will leave them disabled and unable to return to work, the victim will likely be able to claim $100,000 per year in lost income.Be Cautious in Your Use of Social Media After the Accident
After a serious accident, do not make the mistake of posting a message on Facebook or Twitter describing the incident. This is evidence that can be used against you by the defense team for the at-fault driver. In addition, do not speak to anyone about the accident aside from your attorney. As mentioned, when an insurance adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company calls, do not provide a recorded statement and advise them to direct all communications to your attorney. This will help ensure there are no miscommunications and you remain in control of the narrative surrounding the accident.Settling Your Case or Going to Trial
The decision on whether to settle your personal injury case or take it trial is ultimately in your hands. As the client, you have the power to accept or reject a settlement offer. Your attorney will offer sound legal advice and an honest assessment of your chances of success in the courtroom. But your attorney can never accept a settlement offer without your approval. You are in the proverbial driver’s seat when it comes to settling your case or going to trial.How You are Compensated
In California, all motorists are required to carry liability insurance on their vehicles. When you are injured in an accident, and you file a personal injury claim, any financial recovery is paid through the insurance company, not the driver directly.
The minimum amount of liability insurance required by state law is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. That may sound like a lot of money, but it is not when you consider the serious bodily injuries suffered by many individuals involved in serious car wrecks.
If you are involved in an accident with a driver who has a bare-bones auto insurance policy and your damages exceed their insurance limits, do not fret. You may able to obtain compensation through the underinsured motorist coverage in your own insurance policy. For example, if you were hit by someone with a $30,000 per accident limit and your harms and losses total $75,000, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is only on the hook for the $30,000. You need to access another insurance policy to obtain the remaining $45,000 in damages. If you have underinsurance motorist coverage, you can file a claim for the balance of your damages.
Underinsured motorist claims are more complex than traditional personal injury claims due to specific terms, conditions, and potential policy restrictions. For example, under California law, you are only allowed to collect the difference in available insurance limits. This means if you have $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage and the other driver has $30,000 in liability coverage, but you only have $75,000 in damages, you can obtain the difference and not the full $100,000 in underinsured coverage.You Have a Limited Amount of Time to Take Legal Action
Taking swift action in hiring a lawyer and getting your case filed is extremely important. This is because, in California, an injured party has only two years from the date of the collision to file a lawsuit in court. If you wait to file after two years, there is a very good chance your case will get thrown out of court.Arden-Arcade Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, an Arden-Arcade Car Accident Lawyer. If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a car crash, please call me for free, friendly, and no-obligation advice. I can be reached at 916.921.6400 or 800.404.5400.
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 7.13.20]