You may be feeling helpless and overwhelmed after a personal accident. There might be different cases of personal injuries. Nevertheless, despite having to sustain and recover from injuries, you are obliged to address the situation with insurance companies or the court. You will be flooded with insurance policies and legal assessments right after you have been discharged from medical care. Accidents involving your injury, or that of others, directly align with the personal injury law in the state of California.
The personal injury law allows an individual to seek a certain amount of money from the accident defendant’s insurance company based on the severity of the accident, injury, or property damage. You have the legal right to ask for compensation to cover the medical expenses, your pain and suffering, and the damage to your property in an accident where another party is at complete or partial fault. Everyone deserves a fair settlement for all they endured after a personal injury accident.
This blog post will walk you through the step-by-step guide for what to do after a personal injury accident, taking the San Diego personal injury case history and past verdicts in mind.
Steps to Take After a Personal Injury Accident in San Diego
Seek medical attention.
If you find yourself injured in an accident, call 911 if you are physically able to or ask someone else to do it . If someone else is injured because of you, call help for them. Before discussing the cause and the fault of the accident, treating injuries as soon as possible should be your primary responsibility. If you sustained minor injuries that do not need an ambulance, visit a doctor as soon as possible to get a physical check-up. Never hold back on medical consultation, as you never know how severe or damaging the injury can end up in the long run.
Another important reason to seek medical attention is the medical report and the doctor’s note. They are crucial evidence for your injury when you are taking it to the defendant’s insurance company or the court.
Tips for finding a qualified medical professional:
- Consult with an accident doctor rather than your regular physician, as they are experienced in consulting accidental injury cases.
- Ensure that the doctor takes third-party billings, i.e., making payments through medical liens.
Medical liens are provided by only some medical professionals, where a contract is signed to hold all payments as ‘liens’. It is a sort of medical debt that you must pay back after receiving the insurance money.
- Share your medical history with the doctor to avoid further complications and get the right treatment on time.
- The medical professional should understand and have experience in preparing legal documents that you can take to the insurance company or court.
- For vehicle accidents, you need an auto injury specialist. Most cases, motor vehicle injuries are associated with soft tissue damage, muscle management, and physical therapy.
- When working with a lawyer, ask them to consult with an expert from the contacts of their law firm. It will help ensure you and your attorney that the medical reports and liens will be done as needed in court because of their past work with the law firm.
Report the accident to the authorities.
Chances are, your accident has been reported, whether it is to call for medical help or investigate the scene. If no report has been made, and you are either the victim, the defendant, or a witness of the accident, do it immediately or as soon as possible without contemplating whether someone else has done it. The accident will be reported by the police as soon as the call is made.
There are certain aspects you must know when reporting the accident to authorities:
- Your report must include the location of the accident, names and contact details of all individuals involved, description of the injury and accident, and contact of witnesses.
- An accident that involves the injury of one or more individuals, from minor to severe, or death caused by the negligence or intentional tort of the defendant must be reported.
In case of car accidents, illegal actions like hitting and running, driving under the influence, etc., must be reported as they are legal felonies.
Similarly, any accident that costs more than $1000 in treatment of injury or property damage must be reported.
However, it is suggested to report any accident for documentation and the action needed by the authorities.
- According to the Vehicle Code CVC § 20008 in California, if there is an injury or death caused by an accident, it should be reported to the local police or the California Highway Patrol (CHP) within 24 hours of the accident.
- According to the Vehicle Code CVC § 16000, it must be reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within five days.
- The accident should also be reported to your insurance company, no matter if you are the victim or the defendant.
The report also provides solid evidence for your injury claim or the lawsuit. Therefore, it is a mandatory part of a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
After seeking medical attention and reporting the accident to the authorities, now comes the stage where you need a case with solid evidence to claim deserving compensation from the defendant’s insurance company. There may be other evidence for your accident and injuries that you need to collect and file. A personal injury lawyer will help you gather evidence to support your claim and your proposed compensation amount.
Evidence can be in many forms depending on the scenario. Here are some common ones you can consider:
- Medical reports. The medical report of your injury stands as strong evidence of the level of severity of it and can give a glimpse of the pain and suffering caused to you. Click a picture of your injury to back the reports. Doing so will help when the injury starts healing with time if the court date is long after the accident.
- Police report. The police report is another crucial piece of evidence as it has detailed documentation of the accident and can be a reliable source to identify the sharing of faults.
- Photos or videos of the scene. Try to retrieve any photos or videos that were taken at the scene of the accident. If you are physically able, click a picture of the accident on your phone. There may also be CCTV footage in the area that you can access to have video evidence of the accident.
- Witness statements. Statements or testimonials from people who saw the accident happen are other reliable evidence. Try reaching out to the possible witnesses of the accident; if it is a busy street, the regular employees of nearby shops or restaurants may have witnessed it. You can also ask for the contacts of the witnesses at the accident scene if you can.
Keep track of your expenses and losses.
Your medical bills or bills from repairing a damaged property should be properly filed and documented. The money you will receive from the defendant’s insurance company should cover such expenses. But initially, you may have to pay for it out of your pocket or your health insurance. You need the bills as evidence of the amount you had to spend. You need to show it to the insurance to claim the amount you deserve.
For bigger property damage, file all the necessary documents that report the severity of the damage and the cost of repairing or replacing it. At the same time, for long-term injuries or permanent disabilities, you may have more medical bills to come in the future. All of it must be properly filed to keep them on track.
Consult with a personal injury attorney.
You might have limited knowledge and experience handling a personal injury case properly. Consulting with a personal injury attorney is a must. If you are pursuing your case independently, a lawyer’s guidance will help you make smart decisions. When you hire one, they will educate you on your legal rights and the insurance policies so you understand whether the actions being taken and the proposed compensation is fair.
Often, due to naivety, many fall into the traps of insurance companies who try to settle a personal injury case at as low a price as possible. A lawyer will review your case, assess the paperwork done, review the evidence, and determine the fault distribution. They also understand the insurance policies better and determine your part in the accident or injury compensation. If the insurance company doesn’t agree with your claim, your injury attorney will help you file a lawsuit and represent you in court. They will also handle the post-verdict procedure and ensure you receive a fair amount of compensation.
File a claim with the insurance company.
As you have gathered all the necessary concrete evidence, it is finally time to take them to the defendant’s insurance company. But before that, you must be fully prepared for what is coming. Don’t leave any documentation work to the insurance company when gathering evidence. They have been doing this for a long time and know ways to take advantage of it. Whether they are doing the documentation work or not, ensure that you are also doing it for yourself.
Similarly, conduct detailed research on your rights and insurance policies before you start with an amount to negotiate for. When the correct amount of your accidental injury or property damage is written in the policies, you have strong evidence to back it; there is no chance for the insurance company to deny that. But if you are unsure of what you deserve, even a smaller amount proposed by the insurance might seem like a lot. You need to be cautious of such traps. Talking to or working with a personal injury lawyer will be of great help to guide you through this.
If the insurance company doesn’t settle with your proposed and deserving amount, you are legally eligible to file a lawsuit against them under the deadlines set by the statute of limitations in California.
Avoid discussing the accident on social media.
Social media can bring unnecessary attention to your accident. It can also question its severity, with thousands of strangers sharing it and giving their opinions. The accident can be subjected to misinformation and disinformation that the insurance company can hold against you.
Lawyers suggest stopping posting on social media after being injured in an accident or filing an injury claim. Insurance companies have ways of twisting stories to back their case. They can make simple photos seem like you are implying false statements about injuries. As simple as a family photo of you can be made to seem like your injury is not as severe as it is, further deteriorating your claim.
Keep in touch with your attorney.
When you hire a personal injury attorney to represent you, there is no doubt they will be up to date with every stage of your case and handle it professionally. If the case is feasible to represent yourself, ensure that you keep in touch with your attorney at every step. They will assess that the case is being dealt with the right way. There is no mishandling of the case by the defendant or insurance company. They will also review your paperwork and evidence to check for mistakes or gaps from which the defendant might wrongly benefit.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer You Can Trust
Finding an attorney you can trust is extremely important, whether you need guidance from an attorney to go forward with your accidental injury case fairly or you are looking to hire an attorney to represent you. Your lawyer is the backbone of the case’s outcome as you almost entirely depend on their guidance or work to win the fair compensation you deserve. We at Shamon Law are a team of passionate personal injury attorneys working on standing up for people who have been mistreated after being a victim of accidental injuries and holding insurance companies accountable. Contact us now for a free consultation regarding your case.
Filing a personal injury claim while enduring injuries from an accident can be tiring. Almost immediately after receiving medical treatment for your injuries, you will be swarmed with insurance forms, paperwork, documents, the pressure of evidence gathering, and negotiating for a fair settlement. The process can extend from a couple of weeks to several months, sometimes even years. What you need to reassure yourself with the fact that taking quality time to research and build a solid case leads to a fair settlement amount. The grass is greener on the other side of learning all insurance policies and backing your claim with strong witnesses. Having the guidance of an expert personal injury lawyer will help you take decisive, thought-out, and confident steps through your personal injury case journey.