If you’ve been injured in a car accident in California, the best thing you can do is contact a lawyer right away.
Dealing with a California car accident is never easy. But, if you have been injured in a California car accident, you are facing a far more difficult scenario. You need to make sure you receive appropriate treatment, and you also need to make sure you receive the financial compensation you deserve.
Injuries from California car accidents can be incredibly expensive. In fact, many California car accident victims will feel the financial effects of their injuries for the rest of their lives. But, this doesn’t have to be the case. As the victim of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to just compensation—and this includes compensation for the current and future costs of your injuries.
So, how do you make sure you receive the compensation you deserve?
After being injured in a California car accident, there are a few important steps you should take promptly. Equally important, there are many costly mistakes you need to avoid. With this in mind, here’s what you need to know:
- 3 Critical Steps to Take After Being Injured in a California Car Accident
- 7 Costly Mistakes You Need to Avoid After Being Injured in a California Car Accident
- 10 More Important Facts about Dealing with a California Car Accident
As we just mentioned, after being injured in a California car accident, there are a few steps you should take right away. These steps are:
1. Get Treatment for Your Injuries
If you’ve been injured in a California car accident, getting treatment for your injuries should be your top priority. If you need emergency medical care, you should call 911.
If you don’t need emergency care, you should still see a doctor as soon as possible. You can see your doctor if you can get an appointment, but it may make sense to talk to a lawyer first. Most lawyers who handle California car accident cases have relationships with local doctors who specialize in treating traumatic injuries. Your lawyer may be able to get you a same-day appointment, and working with your lawyer’s recommended doctor will most likely make it easier to build your claim for just compensation.
2. Collect As Much Information as Possible
You don’t want to spend too much time on this, but you do want to try to collect as much information as possible. Make sure you have everything from the scene of the accident (i.e. the other driver’s insurance information and your copy of the police report), and take detailed notes about the collision. If you have medical records, receipts, or communications from your insurance company, put these in a file to share with your lawyer.
3. Get a Free Consultation from a Local Lawyer
Speaking of sharing with your lawyer, you should get a lawyer right away. Your lawyer will be able to provide personalized advice during your free initial consultation, and he or she will be able to launch an investigation into the cause of the collision. This investigation is critical, as it will serve to collect the evidence you need to recover the financial compensation you deserve.
While many people have concerns about the cost of hiring a lawyer after getting injured in a California car accident, you can hire a lawyer at no out-of-pocket cost. Your lawyer will handle your case “on contingency” (which means you only pay if you win); and, by hiring a lawyer, you may be able to collect far more than you could collect on your own.
When it comes to what to do after a California car accident, that’s pretty much it for now—take care of yourself, gather your records, and talk to a lawyer about your next steps (although we have also published a comprehensive list of additional steps you can take if you are able). But, while there aren’t too many things you need to do, there are many mistakes you need to avoid. Some of the most important mistakes to avoid include:
1. Waiting Any Longer Than Necessary
From getting medical treatment to talking to a lawyer, you do not want to wait any longer than necessary. Any unnecessary delays have the potential to create problems for your insurance claim. While dealing with a California car accident isn’t fun, it is extremely important, and it is important that you rely on experienced professionals to help you through the recovery process.
2. Failing to Report the Accident
You need to report the accident to your auto insurance company. Depending on your state’s laws, you may also need to report the accident to the police and/or the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Failing to report the accident could make it more difficult to prove that your injuries are accident-related; and, if it is legally-required, it could lead to fines or other penalties.
3. Trusting the Insurance Companies
When you need to seek compensation after being injured in a California car accident, you cannot afford to trust the insurance companies. They do not have your best interests in mind, and they will not pay full compensation voluntarily. Instead, you need to work with an experienced lawyer who can advocate and negotiate on your behalf—and who is prepared to do everything necessary to help you collect the full compensation you deserve.
4. Ignoring Your Injuries
If you were injured in your California car accident, you need to take care of yourself. Do not ignore your injuries, and do not dismiss symptoms such as headaches or back pain assuming that will eventually go away. California car accident injuries can have both immediate and long-term effects, and ignoring your injuries now could mean dealing with even greater complications (and expenses) in the future.
5. Ignoring Your Doctor’s Advice
Just as you shouldn’t ignore your injuries, you also shouldn’t ignore your doctor’s advice. Do what your doctor recommends; or, if you have concerns about your doctor’s recommendations, seek a second opinion. If you don’t take care of yourself, not only could this delay (or hinder) your recovery, but it could also give the insurance companies an argument against liability.
6. Accepting an Insurance Settlement
While it might be in your best interests to accept an insurance settlement eventually, right now it is far too soon. You should not even begin thinking about settlement until you calculate the long-term costs of your injuries with your lawyer’s help. If you accept a settlement, your claim will be over, and you will have lost the opportunity to collect just compensation for your accident-related injuries.
7. Handling Your Situation on Your Own
Given the challenges involved in recovering just compensation after being injured in a California car accident, you should not try to handle your situation on your own. It simply won’t work out in your best interests. You need to make smart decisions, you need to avoid falling for the insurance companies’ defense tactics, and this means you need an experienced lawyer on your side.
In addition to knowing what steps to take and what mistakes you need to avoid, there are some other important facts you need to know about dealing with a California car accident. These facts include:
- The insurance companies aren’t on your side. The insurance companies put their interests first. If they can pay you less than you deserve, they will.
- Your losses are probably far greater than you think. Most California car accident victims do not have a clear understanding of the long-term financial (i.e. medical bills and lost wages) and non-financial (i.e. pain and suffering) costs of their injuries.
- Auto insurance laws vary between states. Depending on where you live, you may have a no-fault insurance claim, or proving fault may be your only option for recovering just compensation.
- Auto insurance coverage might not be your only option. In many cases, California car accident victims will have claims outside of auto insurance. If you have one of these claims, you will need an experienced lawyer on your side.
- Your right to full compensation is based on fault. Regardless of who is liable, in order to recover full compensation for your California car accident injuries, you will need comprehensive evidence of fault.
- You may be entitled to partial compensation if you were partially at fault. Even if you were partially at fault in your California car accident, you may still be entitled to partial compensation.
- You should never assume you were at fault (fully or partially) in a California car accident. Under no circumstances should you ever assume that you were at fault in a car accident. Determining fault requires a comprehensive investigation of the specific cause of the collision.
- Most California car accident claims settle, but many accident victims settle for too little. Far too many California car accident victims settle for a fraction of the compensation they deserve. An experienced lawyer can help you avoid this costly mistake.
- Even after paying legal fees, you can still collect more with a lawyer. While you will need to pay a contingency fee if your case is successful, hiring a lawyer is still the best way to maximize your financial recovery.
- You have no reason not to talk to a lawyer about your California car accident. Since you can get a free and confidential consultation, you have no reason not to talk to a lawyer about your legal rights.