Wondering how to get money from a car accident without a lawyer in California? Here’s what you need to know—including why you should absolutely hire a lawyer to represent you.
If you want to know how to get money from a California car accident without a lawyer, you have probably been injured, and you are probably struggling to keep up with your bills. You want to resolve your claim as quickly as possible, and you are worried that hiring a lawyer will slow down the process—and maybe even cause your claim to end up in court.
To be fair, these are possibilities. If you hire a lawyer in California, it might take longer to settle your claim, and your lawyer might advise you to go to court to fight for the compensation you deserve. But, when you hire an attorney in California, it is also true that:
- Your lawyer can help prove your right to compensation (so the insurance company doesn’t convince you that you are to blame for your own injuries);
- Your lawyer can help calculate the amount you are entitled to recover (so you don’t seek just a small fraction of the full amount you are owed);
- Your lawyer can negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf (so that you don’t fall for the insurance companies’ tactics and settle for too little too soon);
- Your lawyer will work to settle your case for just compensation as quickly as possible (so that both you and your lawyer can get paid); and,
- Your lawyer will help maximize the amount of money you get for your California car accident (so that you don’t find yourself unable to pay your medical or utility bills in the future).
I Still Want to Know How to Get Money from a Car Accident Without a Lawyer in California
If, taking these facts into consideration, you still want to handle your claim without a lawyer, there is nothing stopping you. You can certainly try to handle your situation on your own if that’s what you want to do. Here is an overview of the process for California car accident victims who want to handle their insurance claims without a lawyer’s help:
Step #1: Get Medical Treatment from a Doctor of Your Choosing
The first thing you should do after any California car accident is get medical treatment. You can – and should – see a doctor of your choosing. When it comes to your insurance claim, having clear and thorough medical records will be extremely important. You will need your medical records to show both (i) the cause of your injuries (i.e. that your injuries are consistent in nature and timing with your car accident), and (ii) the extent of your long-term medical care needs.
Step #2: File an Insurance Claim (and Report the Accident if Necessary)
In order to get money from a California car accident, you need to file an insurance claim. This means contacting your insurance company. Since you don’t have a lawyer, you will need to be very careful about what you say, and you will need to navigate the claims process without saying anything that could jeopardize your financial recovery.
At this point, you may also need to report your California car accident to the police and/or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). For example, in California, drivers are required to report any accidents resulting in injury or property damage in excess of $1,000. Failure to properly report your accident could lead to a driver’s license suspension and/or other penalties.
Step #3: Gather Your Proof of Liability
In most states, including California, obtaining insurance coverage for a California car accident requires proof of liability. This means that you need evidence showing that the other driver caused the collision. If you can’t convince the insurance companies that the other driver is responsible, then you won’t receive any compensation (unless you have opted to purchase no-fault insurance, such as MedPay, which provides minimal coverage on a “no fault” basis).
Step #4: Gather Your Proof of Damages
In addition to proving that the other driver is responsible, you also need to prove how much you are entitled to recover. This amount is referred to as your “damages.” The insurance companies won’t calculate your damages for you; and, if you let the insurance companies decide how much to pay, they will pay just a small fraction of the full amount you are owed.
Step #5: Negotiate for an Insurance Settlement
Once you submit your proof of liability and damages, it’s time to negotiate an insurance settlement. You will need to convince the insurance companies that it is in their best interests to settle—as opposed to fighting your claim at trial. Remember, the insurance companies are under no obligation to settle your claim, and they will not hesitate to dispute liability if they believe they can avoid paying you by making you go to court.
5 Quick Facts about Hiring a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Claim in California
Again, while you can try to get money for your California car accident without a lawyer, it is strongly in your best interests to get legal representation. Here are five quick (and important) facts about hiring a lawyer for your California car accident claim:
- Your lawyer can investigate and collect evidence to prove liability. Proving liability requires various forms of evidence. In addition to conducting an on-scene investigation, your lawyer can issue subpoenas, take depositions, and seek to gather evidence through other means.
- Your lawyer can work with your doctor (and other experts) to prove your damages. In California car accident cases, recoverable damages include medical bills, lost wages, lost earning capacity, emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. Your lawyer can work with your doctor and other trustworthy experts to make sure you are seeking full compensation for your current and future losses.
- Your lawyer can negotiate for a fair settlement on your behalf. Negotiating with the insurance companies is not easy, and it really isn’t something you should try to do on your own. Your lawyer can negotiate on your behalf and deal with the insurance companies’ tactics for denying just compensation.
- Your lawyer will not settle your claim without your permission. Contrary to popular belief, your lawyer will not settle your claim without your permission. It is your claim, and you get to decide when you are ready to end it. Your lawyer will explain exactly how much you will take home if you accept so you can make an informed decision.
- It costs nothing out-of-pocket to hire a lawyer to represent you. Not only does it cost nothing out-of-pocket, but you can collect far more with an experienced lawyer on your side. Even taking your lawyer’s contingency fees into account, you are still likely to get more money for your California car accident with a lawyer representing you.