Know Your Legal Options
Car accidents can have long-lasting financial and physical impacts on victims and their loved ones. Unpaid medical bills, long-term healthcare costs and being unable to work are among the most pressing concerns for most victims and their families. Personal injury claims or negligence lawsuits can help victims recover money to pay for necessary medical care and other accident-related damages.
Does my car accident case require an attorney?
Not every car accident warrants legal action. Minor accidents – such as a low-impact fender bender on the I-805 in San Diego during the afternoon rush that causes little property damage and no injuries – typically can be resolved without an attorney’s intervention. If your accident resulted in nothing but bruises and minor damage to your vehicle, you likely won’t benefit from hiring a lawyer to help you file a claim or initiate a lawsuit.
You may have grounds for legal action if you or a loved one suffered substantial injuries in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence. For instance, you would have cause to take action if you became paralyzed after being struck by a drunk driver on one of San Diego’s many highways and major roadways. Likewise, you may have grounds for a case if your spouse, parent or child was killed in a crash caused by someone who texted while driving or otherwise behaved recklessly.
How do I get started on my case? Who do I contact?
California injury laws provide you just two years in which to take legal action after a car accident. The state follows a “fault” system, meaning you can bring a claim or lawsuit against a driver who is responsible for your accident.
Your claim is initiated by contacting your insurance company and the auto insurance carrier of the person who caused your accident. Provide facts about the accident, such as when it occurred and who was involved. Do not offer your opinions about fault or negligence. Also, do not agree to give a recorded statement until you have consulted an attorney. A lawyer can help ensure you do not inadvertently say anything to the insurers that could harm your claim.
California adheres to the principle of pure comparative negligence. Even if you were partially to blame for your accident – for instance, you were going 15 mph higher than the speed limit when you struck a vehicle that failed to yield the right of way – you still may recover damages. The final amount of your settlement, however, will be reduced by the percentage you are found to be at fault for your injuries, which is why it’s important to get legal assistance if your injuries are severe or damages are significant.
Can I afford a lawyer? What are the fees?
So that injured parties can afford to fight for fair compensation after an accident, attorneys charge contingency fees to clients filing car accident claims or lawsuits. You do not pay your attorney until – and unless – you recover compensation. Your attorney will receive a pre-determined fee from your settlement, so be sure you understand the fee structure prior to beginning your case.
Should I continue to see my doctor?
As you proceed with your case, it is important to keep up with your medical care. Continue to see your doctor and commit to any prescribed treatments, such as physical and occupational therapy. This helps not only your physical wellbeing, but also proves you are taking your injuries seriously and are focused on recovery. This, in turn, helps substantiate your case.
How do I pay my bills before settling my case?
You likely have pressing financial needs, such as unpaid medical bills and missed wages. You may have options to pay these bills in the meantime, such as your own health insurance and car insurance coverage that can help pay medical bills until you reach a settlement. Insurance companies later may recover from the at-fault driver’s insurer for payments it made.
Some take out pre-settlement loans to help make ends meet. Help also may be available through the California Victim Compensation Program in cases of drunk driving accidents, hit and runs, and vehicular manslaughter.
Qualified Legal Help is Available to You – Hiden, Rott & Oertle LLP
You probably have questions and concerns about your case and how to recover fair compensation. A car accident lawyer at our San Diego offices can answer your questions during a free case evaluation. Call 619-296-5884 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.