Car Accident Lawyer in San Diego, California
A car accident is a traumatic event with long-lasting effects. Not only will you have to contend with damage to your car, but if you also suffer from serious injuries, it can be even more difficult to move forward with your life. If you were involved in a crash, you may need to contact a car accident lawyer. The best time to speak to a San Diego, California car wreck lawyer is immediately following the incident. This is when the details of the crash are fresh in your mind, and the evidence is still easily attainable. After time passes, it will be harder to gather the evidence that you need to prove your case. If you aren't sure whether you need a car accident attorney, you may want to set up a consultation to discuss your situation and find out what you need to do next.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident in San Diego?
File a Police Report & Gather Evidence
You need to report the car crash to the local police or to California Highway Patrol (CHP), so they can come to the scene. When possible, keep your vehicle in the position where it was hit unless it is unsafe. Due to traffic concerns, you may need to pull your vehicle to the side of the street. If you can do so, take photos of the accident before you move your vehicle. This will be helpful later when you need to identify the cause of the accident and the exact position of the vehicles at the time of impact. A car accident lawyer will assist you later in collecting evidence and documentation of the case. A police report is essential to show the exact time and location of the impact as well as details that the police gathered at the scene. The report will also indicate whether the other driver was cited for any type of violation as a result of the crash. Your car accident lawyer in San Diego will review this and other details of the incident.
Contact a San Diego Car Accident Lawyer
Do not hesitate to contact a San Diego, CA car accident lawyer as soon after the crash as possible. The law generally limits the time to file a claim to two years from the time of the injury. If you wait too long, you will not be able to take legal action against the person responsible for causing the crash and your injuries. This is known as the statute of limitations, and it applies to personal injury lawsuits (California Code of Civ. Proc. § 335.1). The law also limits the time to file a property damage lawsuit to three years (California Code of Civ. Proc. § 338). Once the statute of limitations has run out, you will not be allowed to file a lawsuit, and you could lose your right to obtain the money you deserve. A car wreck lawyer will review your case and help determine the best way to proceed before the time limit expires.
The Complexities of California Car Accident Claims
Working with Insurance Companies
After you have been involved in a car crash, you will probably be contacted by a representative from the insurance company. The insurance company will ask you to make a statement about what happened and will request information about your injuries. First and foremost, the insurance company may try to prove that the driver was not at fault for the accident. That is why it is advisable to speak with a qualified San Diego car accident attorney before you talk to the insurance company.
Do not make any statements because they could be incriminating later. For instance, if you were unsure about how the accident happened, the insurance company may try to get you to say that you may have been at fault for the crash.
They may visit you in person to make a statement, but most often, it is done via a recorded phone conversation. Your car wreck lawyer will help you prepare for an interview, so you are aware of the questions and answer.
Determining Fault in a Vehicle Crash
California is considered a “fault” state when it comes to vehicle accidents. This means that you are allowed to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver if he or she was at fault. Drivers are required to have liability insurance with a minimum of $15,000 for injury or death to one person and 30,000 for more than one person, as well as $5,000 for property damage. The at-fault driver’s insurance company must pay for damage to your vehicle as well as any current and future medical bills. Of course, it is in their best interests to try to pay as little as possible for your damages. A car accident lawyer will work to get you the money you deserve.
Fault in the crash is determined using all of the data that is available. They will review the police report, witness statements, photos and videos and other data. If the cause of the crash is not easily determined, an accident reconstruction team may be necessary. Reconstruction of the accident is a process that virtually recreates the scene of the wreck. Professionals will return to the scene of the accident, take photos and measurements, and then match them to the witness reports and the damage to both vehicles. This will help determine exactly how the crash occurred and which driver was at fault.
Your San Diego, CA car accident lawyer may need to evaluate the scene and retain an independent reconstruction team to review the crash. In some cases, the police may perform their own review of the crash immediately after it happened. This is usually done in cases where the crash was extremely serious or when there was a fatality. Although the police are extremely proficient at this type of work, your California car wreck lawyer may still want a more thorough review of the crash.
Injuries as the Result of a Car Crash
It is important to seek medical attention as soon after the accident as possible. This will help you and your car accident lawyer prove that the injuries were caused by the crash. If you are seriously hurt at the crash site, you may be transported to the hospital emergency center via ambulance. Sometimes, however, an injury doesn't seem major or doesn't even show up until later. When you are involved in a crash, your adrenaline may be pumping. This can cause you to be temporarily unaware of pain caused by the accident.
Even in minor crashes you could suffer bumps and bruises and get some lacerations. No matter how minor the injuries appear, you should always get a medical examination following a crash. Internal injuries, especially those to the head, can become life threatening if they are not promptly treated.
Some of the most common types of injuries that occur as the result of a car crash include contusions and lacerations, fractures and broken bones, back and neck injuries and internal injuries. You may sustain life-threatening injuries even if you are wearing your seatbelt and even though the airbags deployed. Do not underestimate the extent of your injuries until you visit your doctor. Discuss your injuries with a San Diego car accident lawyer immediately, even if you are still recovering in the hospital.
Seek Medical Treatment
You need to properly document the medical care you receive as a result of the crash. Your San Diego car accident lawyer will help you gather the necessary documentation as part of your legal case. When you first visit the physician, you must be sure to let them know that you are seeking medical attention specifically for potential injuries after a car crash. They will document this on your medical records, making it easier to show exactly why you went to the doctor.
Do not cloud the doctor’s visit by discussing other medical issues that do not pertain to the crash. This essentially could muddy the waters and make it more difficult for your car accident lawyer to prove your injuries in court. Focus your exam on the specific injuries due to the crash. The doctor may recommend a variety of tests to determine the extent of your injuries. In general, you should always get tests done as required by the doctor in order for him to make a comprehensive diagnosis of your injuries. Keep in mind that you may suffer more than one type of injury as a result of the crash.
Retain Medical Records
It is essential to keep all of your medical records and bills so they can become part of your legal case for your car accident lawyer to review. Every cost associated with the injury you suffered because of the car crash should be compensated by the responsible party. Keep a file of all your medical records which should include the details of all of your doctor visits and the care that was provided. It should also include all of the tests that were completed, medications that were prescribed, and other treatments that were required. Your car accident attorney will review your medical records and ensure that you have all the documentation you need.
Remember that some injuries may take longer to heal than others. Simple bruises will heal on their own within a week or two. Other injuries may take longer to resolve, and in some cases, the injury could prove to be disabling. Your medical records could become complex and lengthy as the result of seeing many different doctors, specialists, surgeons and physical therapists. These are all records that you must retain for review by your car wreck lawyer and as part of your legal claim. The more serious your injuries, the more complicated your medical records are likely to become. You may see a group of specialists for different reasons, and all of these must be documented. If you do not have adequate medical records, the car accident attorney may request that you visit another doctor.
It can be helpful to keep a notebook to record the pertinent information about your medical care. If you are unable to do so, a loved one or friend can assist you in keeping records of your treatment. These records will help you and your car accident lawyer verify the treatment that you received and should be reflected in the bills you receive. Sometimes you receive separate bills for different types of tests or treatments. By keeping a notebook of the various procedures and tests that you had done, you can more easily document the expenses related to your injuries. The car accident attorney will use your notebook to verify documentation about your expenses.
Medical expenses are not the only damages that you may incur as a result of a car accident. In addition to medical costs, you may be owed money for physical pain caused by the injury, compensation for the money you lost because you couldn't work, and money for mental suffering because of the crash and injury. If you were disabled or suffered a long-term injury, you might be entitled to compensation for the disability. For instance, if you lost some mobility in your leg due to the crash, you may be entitled to money for the negative effect the crash had on your life.
How a San Diego Car Accident Attorney Will Help
Although you may feel that you don’t need legal help after an accident, you may soon find that the matter is complex. In most cases, those who are represented by an experienced car wreck lawyer in San Diego are more likely to achieve better results and attain the compensation they are owed. You are allowed to file your own lawsuit; however, the matter is usually best left to a car accident lawyer with experience handling these types of cases.
Your San Diego, California car accident lawyer will immediately put your mind at ease by taking over the legal aspects of your case. This allows you to focus on what’s important: healing from your injuries and getting back to work. Your car accident attorney will work to try to resolve the matter as quickly as possible while protecting your rights and striving to get you the compensation you need.
Many personal injury cases are resolved through negotiation. Your car accident attorney will work with the insurance company to try to come to a settlement agreement. You need the most compensation possible to pay your current and future medical bills and other damages. If a settlement cannot be reached, the case will proceed to court. Your car wreck lawyer prepares for trial and presents your case in court. These types of cases can be complex, but with help from a car accident lawyer you will receive the money you need to pay for your medical costs and other damages.
3555 Fourth Avenue Suite B, San Diego, CA 92103