If somebody crashes into your vehicle and you’re injured, you may need to file a car accident lawsuit for damages. The problem is that most people don’t know how to handle something like this on their own. That’s why it’s a good idea to hire an experienced San Francisco accident lawyer to handle it for you.
Of course, even if you’re not the one filing the lawsuit, there are still things you need to do to help your lawyer win your case. The last thing you want is to do something to jeopardize your chance of recovering damages.
There Are Certain Steps You Must Take Immediately After Your Car Accident
The steps you take immediately after your San Francisco car accident matter. In fact, what you do in the hours and days after the crash can make or break your case.
Call 911 immediately after the collision. The police will come to the scene and conduct a thorough investigation. They’ll also arrange to have an ambulance come to the scene and transport you to the nearest hospital.
Seek medical attention right away. This is true regardless of how minor your injuries may be. Not only do you need to make sure you’re okay, but you also need to document your injuries. This is the only way your San Francisco accident attorney can prove you were hurt.
Contact an experienced San Francisco car accident attorney. The last thing you’re going to want to do in the days following your accident is fight with the insurance company. You also don’t want to make a grave mistake that could jeopardize your case.
Keep in mind, there are other things you can do that may jeopardize your claim. However, if you follow these steps, you’ll put yourself in a good position to recover damages from the insurance company. We’ll discuss these in a bit more detail below.
Mistake 1: Not Calling the Police After Your Car Crash
If you don’t call the police after an accident, it will be difficult to prove who was at fault. The other driver may try to claim that you were at fault, and without police documentation, it can be hard to dispute their version of events.
Your San Francisco accident attorney will need the information contained in the police report. For example, the police will speak to witnesses, get their statements, and get their contact information. Your attorney will have no way of identifying these witnesses let alone track them down if you don’t call the police.
Mistake 2: Not Seeking Medical Treatment Right Away
If you don’t seek medical treatment for your injuries, it can be difficult to prove the extent of your injuries. The insurance company may try to downplay your injuries, and without medical documentation, it can be tough to disprove their claims.
There are some injuries that you cannot physically see. There are also injuries, like whiplash, that don’t hurt right away.
Not only can these injuries get worse if you don’t seek medical treatment, but the defendant will argue that your injuries were caused by something other than the collision.
Mistake 3: Missing the Deadline to File Your Car Accident Lawsuit
If you’re involved in a San Francisco car accident, it’s important that you file your claim on time. This applies to both the insurance claim and any legal claims you need to file.
As far as your insurance claim is concerned, it will depend on the terms of your policy. Usually, the insurance company requires that you file your claim within a “reasonable” timeframe.
Since there’s no way to know for sure what is considered reasonable, it’s important that you file your claim as soon as possible. Of course, you may want to discuss your claim with a San Francisco accident attorney first.
There is a two-year statute of limitations for car accident lawsuits in California. If you wait too long to file, your case will be dismissed, and you will not be able to recover any compensation.
Mistake 4: Representing Yourself in a Car Accident Lawsuit
The reality is that self-representation is very difficult, and you can easily hurt your case.
Here are some of the things that can go wrong if you try to represent yourself in court:
- You may not know the law. The law is complicated, and even lawyers spend years learning it. If you don’t know the law, you could accidentally say or do something that hurts your case.
- You could make a mistake in your paperwork. There are a lot of forms and documents involved in a car accident lawsuit. If you make a mistake on one of them, it could jeopardize your entire case.
- You might not be able to cross-examine witnesses effectively. Witness testimony is crucial in car accident cases, and if you’re not experienced in questioning witnesses, you could miss something important.
It’s best to leave the legal work to the professionals. You may have to pay your San Francisco accident attorney a portion of your settlement, but it could save you a lot of money (and headaches) in the long run.
Mistake 5: Making Unreasonable Settlement Demands
Before a car accident lawsuit goes to trial, your attorney will try to negotiate a settlement with the insurance carrier. You don’t want to be unreasonable when it comes to your settlement demands.
Your first instinct after an accident may be to try to get the other driver to agree to pay all your damages, but this is usually not realistic. Instead, focus on getting a fair settlement that covers your expenses and losses.
Below are examples of things you’ll want to avoid when trying to negotiate a settlement:
- Asking for more money than what your car is worth – It’s important to remember that the other driver’s insurance company is only going to pay the fair market value of your car or SUV.
- Demanding a settlement that’s higher than the defendant’s policy limits –You need to be realistic. The insurance company isn’t going to settle for an amount greater than their client’s policy limits.
It’s best to let your San Francisco accident attorney handle settlement negotiations on your behalf. They have years of experience dealing with insurance companies. Not only do they have the necessary negotiating skills, but they also know how insurance companies operate.
Don’t accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company. This is likely to be much lower than what your case is worth, so make sure you consult with an attorney before accepting any offer.
Call Our Experienced San Francisco Accident Attorneys
If you’re afraid you’ll do something to jeopardize your car accident lawsuit, that’s a good thing. It means you take the matter seriously enough to hire a seasoned San Francisco accident attorney.
If you want to increase your chances of collecting damages, call our office at (415) 843-7099 and schedule your free, initial consultation.