What to Do After a Car Accident That Was Not Your Fault in California

Car accidents are a leading cause of accidental injuries and deaths in the United States every year, and an unexpected car accident can be damaging and disruptive in many ways. When you or a loved one has been injured and suffered economic losses in a car accident that was not your fault, it’s natural to be distressed and frustrated by your circumstances. The first steps you take immediately following the incident will tremendously influence the outcome of any recovery efforts you pursue.

The attorneys at Belgum, Fry & Van Allen strive to provide our prospective clients in California with useful information they can refer to in specific situations. Our team has successfully represented many clients throughout Southern California in a wide range of vehicle accident claims. We know the challenges victims face when pursuing insurance coverage for their damages and ensuring accountability for the defendants who caused their accidents. The following are the best first steps to take after experiencing a car accident that was not your fault.

Address Medical Needs

Your health and safety should be your primary concern after any motor vehicle accident. If you are seriously hurt, do not move and risk making your injuries worse. Instead, wait for first responders to arrive. If you feel well enough to move, only do so carefully to check on the others involved in the accident. If no one else has already done so, call 911 to report the incident. Once the police arrive and conduct their initial investigation, they will let you know when you are free to leave. Seek medical care immediately, even if you think you only suffered minor injuries.

Document as Much as Possible

While the initial aftermath of any car accident may be chaotic, you should try to document as much evidence as you can from the scene of the crash. For example, take photos of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, and the positions of the vehicles involved in the crash. These photos could be invaluable to a subsequent insurance claim and/or personal injury suit.

If any other parties witnessed the accident, obtain their contact information and try to take recordings of their initial statements, if possible. Their recollections of the incident could be invaluable to your subsequent recovery efforts.

Speak With Legal Counsel

Filing an insurance claim is likely your first step toward recovering your losses from the accident. However, if your accident caused severe injuries, an insurance claim may not be enough for you to recover fully, and you will also need to file a personal injury claim. Before you speak with any insurance companies or accept any settlement offers for your accident, it’s vital to consult an attorney as soon as possible.

An experienced attorney is an invaluable asset for any recovery efforts following a motor vehicle accident. Your legal team can help you construct your auto insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s policy. They will also assist you in any necessary interactions with the insurance company, ensuring it processes your claim in good faith.

After exhausting recovery options through insurance, you may have outstanding damages that you can only recover with a successful personal injury claim. Legal counsel you can trust will be an invaluable asset if you find yourself in this position. The sooner you speak with an experienced attorney, the better your chances are of maximizing the total compensation you obtain for your accident.

FAQs

Q: How Do I Prove Fault for an Accident?

A: Establishing liability for a recent car accident requires proving that another driver’s intentional misconduct or negligence behind the wheel directly caused your accident and your claimed damages. Proving this will likely require a combination of physical evidence, witness testimony, and possibly input from relevant experts. Consulting with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident is the best way to preserve the evidence you need to succeed with your recovery efforts.

Q: How Do I File a Car Insurance Claim in California?

A: California uses a fault-based system to resolve claims for damages from car accidents. This means whoever caused the accident is liable for the resulting damages. California law requires all drivers to have auto insurance, and you would file a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy. You have a limited time to file your claim after your accident, and it is best to do so with an experienced attorney’s assistance.

Q: Will My Insurance Change After an Accident That Was Not My Fault?

A: Insurers base premium rates for policyholders on the perceived level of risk a policyholder presents. A “low-risk” policyholder is likely to have a less expensive auto insurance premium than a “high-risk” policyholder. The at-fault driver could face an increased premium rate after the accident, but your policy should not change if you did not cause an accident. However, you are likely required to report any accident to your insurer within a short time, and it’s best to meet this requirement, so you do not incur any penalties.

Q: Do I Really Need to Hire an Attorney to Resolve My Car Accident?

A: While it’s technically possible to handle your own recovery efforts after a car accident in California, hiring legal counsel to assist you significantly improves the chances of succeeding. Your legal team can assist you with your auto insurance claim and build a personal injury case against the at-fault driver. They are also likely to reveal channels of recovery you may have overlooked had you attempted to handle it alone.

The attorneys at Belgum, Fry & Van Allen are an experienced team of California attorneys who know how devastating car accidents can be and the many challenges victims face in their recovery efforts. If you or a loved one is struggling with injuries and economic losses another driver caused, we can help you hold them accountable. If you have legal questions about your recovery options following a car accident or are ready to schedule a consultation with an attorney you can trust, contact us today and find out how we can assist you.

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