BD&J, PC is a trusted personal injury law firm serving seriously injured people in Riverside, CA. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car crash in Riverside, please contact our firm to request a free evaluation of your case.
BD&J, PC handles all types of auto accident cases, including:
- Hit and run accidents
- Drunk driving accidents
- Distracted driver accidents
- Fatigued driving accidents
- Rollover accidents
Never Apologize for a Car Accident
In the chaotic and stressful immediate aftermath of a car wreck, the number one mistake people make is to automatically apologize to the other driver. While this may be an innocent statement meant to express concern for the other driver, the truth is that it can be used against you. Saying things like “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t even see you coming” could end up costing you your ability to recover compensation, as insurance companies may construe these statements as admissions of guilt and, therefore, liability for the accident.
Even if you think you may have been partially to blame for an accident, you should never assume anything. There may have been other factors involved that contributed to the accident, which is why it is so important to work with an experienced accident attorney who can fully investigate your accident. Because California is a comparative negligence state, even if you were partially at fault for an accident, you may still be able to recover some compensation. Talk to a Riverside car accident lawyer at BD&J, PC to discuss the details of your case.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Being involved in a car accident is often a frightening experience; regardless of the severity of the collision, you may be in shock immediately after the accident occurs. However, what you do next is incredibly important, as it could affect your ability to recover full compensation for your damages.
Here, we’ve outlined what to do after an accident to protect yourself and your possible right to recovery. It’s important that you take these steps to the best of your ability while always prioritizing your health and safety, as well as the health and safety of anyone else involved, above all else.
Immediately after the accident, do the following if you are able:
- Get Yourself to Safety: If it is safe to do so, move yourself and your vehicle to a safe area that is out of the roadway. If anyone appears injured, DO NOT MOVE THEM. Call 911 and wait for paramedics to arrive.
- Seek Immediate Medical Attention for Serious Injuries: If you or anyone else is obviously injured, call 911 to make sure you/they receive immediate emergency medical treatment. This should be your first priority after the accident.
- Call the Police: If anyone is injured or has died, you are required by California law to file a police report within 24 hours. Call police to the scene of the accident, and they will prepare and file this report on your behalf.
- Exchange Information with the Other Driver(s): Take down the contact and insurance information of the other driver(s) involved; you will want to note their name, phone number, address, and insurance provider/policy number.
- Take Pictures: It’s a good idea to take pictures of the scene of the accident, as well as any damage to your vehicle and any injuries you have sustained. Use your phone or a camera to create a visual document of your damages.
- Talk to Witnesses: If anyone witnessed the accident, talk to them and write down or record their statement. This may prove invaluable should you choose to pursue a personal injury claim in which you will likely need to prove the other driver’s negligence.
In the days following the accident, you should also:
- See a Doctor: If you were injured at all, even if you believe your injuries were minor, go see a doctor. It’s possible that your injuries are more serious than they initially seemed, and having a medical record proving that you sought treatment could be critical to the success of your claim.
- Report the Accident to the DMV: If the accident resulted in injury, death, or property damage amounting to more than $1,000, you will need to report it to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. You can file your Traffic Accident Report SR1 on the DMV’s website or in person.
- Report the Accident to Your Own Insurance Company: In most cases, you are required to report the accident to your own insurance provider. You should do this as soon as possible to avoid issues with your claim.
- Refrain from Speaking to Adjusters from the Other Driver’s Insurance Company: These insurance adjusters are not on your side. They may use tactics to try to get you to admit fault, which they could then use to devalue or even deny your future claim.
- Contact an Attorney: If you encounter any issues or complexities with your car accident claim, do not wait to reach out to an experienced car accident attorney right away. This is one of the best ways you can protect your rights and help ensure that you are treated fairly.
What Is Included in a Police Report?
As previously mentioned, California law requires you to report any motor vehicle accident that results in bodily injury—no matter how minor the injuries—or death to local law enforcement. You also need to file a police report if a driver involved in the accident was intoxicated. You must file a police report within 24 hours of the accident. In most cases, police will be called to the scene of an accident that resulted in injury or death. When this happens, they will create and file the police report for you. If, however, for some reason police are not called to the scene of the accident, you are responsible for filing this report.
The official police report will typically include:
- The time, date, and location of the accident
- The names of the involved drivers
- The contact information of anyone who was injured
- A description of injuries sustained
- Descriptions of the involved vehicles
- An overview of what happened/how the collision occurred
- Names of others involved, including witnesses and property owners
- Diagrams of the scene of the accident
- Descriptions/depictions of damages sustained
Remember, in addition to filing a police report, you may need to report the accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), even if no one was injured in the accident. If the collision resulted in more than $1,000 worth of property damage, you will need to report it to the DMV.
How Much Can a Car Accident Settlement Be Worth?
When you have brought a claim against another driver’s insurance company, you are going to be naturally curious about how much that claim could be worth if it reaches a settlement. Due to the unpredictable nature of claims and the unique details in each one, though, knowing its final worth is extremely difficult. At most, our Riverside car accident lawyers might be able to calculate your economic damages and make a careful calculation of your noneconomic damages.
Economic damages can include:
- Emergency medical care costs
- Hospitalization and rehabilitation bills
- Lost or missing wages
- Vehicle repairs through a property damage claim
Your noneconomic damages should reflect the pain, suffering, and hardships you have endured due to your accident and injuries. Noneconomic damages are often at least as great as the sum of all economic damages, which could be used as a tentative calculation of your claim’s total worth in a settlement. For example, if you incurred $50,000 in economic damages, then we could demand at least $50,000 more in noneconomic damages, bringing the claim’s value to $100,000.
The damage caps on the defendant’s insurance policies should also be considered when filing a claim. If there is a $100,000 damage cap on the relevant policy, for example, then that is essentially as much as you can collect through a successful settlement.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim in California?
Like all states, California has a statute of limitations on car accident claims. This means you have a certain timeline in which to file your claim; failure to do so in the designated time period will result in you losing your right to recovery and your case being thrown out.
The statute of limitations on car accident claims in California is two years for personal injury claims and three years for property damage claims. If your accident involved a government entity, such as a police officer or municipal bus, you have six months to file a claim. If your claim is denied, you then have another six months to file a lawsuit.
Put an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney on Your Side!
An unexpected car accident can result in enormous financial and emotional damages. At BD&J, PC, we work hard to ensure that victims of accidents caused by the carelessness of others are properly compensated for their medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. With years of experience and a genuine commitment to upholding the rights of California motorists, we are confident that we are the right firm to fit your needs. Experience the BD&J difference when you contact us today.
Why Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
While some car accident claims are relatively straightforward, most claims involving bodily injury present a number of challenges for victims. Insurance companies are hesitant to pay out claims for significant medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages, meaning the insurance company may try to devalue, dispute, or even outright deny your claim.
Having a car accident attorney on your side can help you navigate this process with much greater ease than if you attempted to do so on your own. Additionally, studies have shown time and time again that injured car accident victims who choose to work with an attorney receive higher settlements than those who attempt to file a claim by themselves. This is because attorneys who have experience in this area know common tactics insurance companies use to limit payouts—and they know how to fight back.
When you work with a Riverside car accident lawyer at our firm, we will guide you through the entire process, start to finish. We will thoroughly investigate the accident in order to determine exactly what happened and who is liable. We will prepare and file your claim, negotiate with insurance adjusters and their attorneys, and represent you at trial, if necessary. Most of all, we will fight for the maximum compensation you are owed.
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