Car accidents are unfortunately common, and according to the California Highway Patrol, there are roughly 200,000 people injured in car accidents throughout the state each year. The California Office of Traffic Safety reports that more than 4,500 people are hurt or killed in San Francisco alone as the result of these accidents. In the event that you or someone you love is involved in a car crash or collision, it helps to know the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions people have when involved in an accident.
What do I need to do first if I am involved in a car accident?
Under Sections 20000 and 20001 of the California Vehicle Code, drivers involved in car accidents involving injuries or property damages are required to stop at the scene of the accident, to exchange driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance information with other drivers, render aid to victims, and wait for the police to arrive.
Should I tell the police or the other driver my side of what happened?
You should cooperate with police at the scene of the accident by giving them the facts of what happened, while being cautious about placing blame on yourself.
Should I see a doctor even if I was not hurt in the accident?
Even if you think you were not injured or that your injuries are minor, you should still seek medical care right away. Certain types of injuries, such as head and spinal cord injuries, are not always readily apparent but could end up causing serious problems if left unattended.
Do I have to report the accident to my insurance?
According to the consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports, notifying your insurance company of a car accident involving other drivers is a must, even if it is only a slight fender bender. Report the accident promptly, as failing to do so may result in your claim being denied.
The insurance company wants me to make a statement about the accident. Should I do this?
You may feel pressured by the insurance company to make a detailed, recorded statement immediately after your accident. Be careful of any kinds of information you give to the insurance company after an accident, as they can and will use that information to undervalue or you’re your claim. Before making any statements, it is always best to consult first with an experienced San Francisco California car accident lawyer.
Do I need to get a copy of the police report?
Always get a copy of the police report regarding your accident as soon as possible, and check it for inaccuracies.
What should I do if the other driver does not have insurance?
Though the California Vehicle Code requires all driver to have financial responsibility in the event of an accident, there are still a great number of uninsured drivers on the roads. If you are involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver, you may be covered if you have collision or uninsured motorist insurance policies, which are optional under California law. You may also be able to get compensation for your injuries and losses from an uninsured driver by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Who pays for my medical bills after a car accident?
You will be responsible for any medical expenses you incur as the result of your injuries. However, you can generally make payment arrangements or have these bills put on hold while you seek reimbursement through your insurance company or by filing a personal injury lawsuit.
What happens if I am unable to work?
You may be entitled to compensation for lost wage as well as for permanent disabilities through a personal injury lawsuit. To avoid further damage from your injuries, follow your doctor’s instructions as far as work restrictions. Inform your employer of the situation, and be sure to keep copies of all records and correspondence.
What should I do if the accident was partly my fault?
If you suspect that you were partly to blame for your accident, consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer right away, before making any statements to police or the insurance company. Under the California Civil Code, Section 1430-1432, comparative negligence arises when more than one person shares blame in an accident. You may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries, provided you were less than 50 percent at fault for the accident.
What should I do if the insurance company denies my claim?
It is not uncommon for an insurance company to deny a claim. You can ask to speak with a supervisor and request a review of the decision on your own, or contact an experienced car accident lawyer who can defend your claim against the insurance company, as well as file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf.
Do I need a lawyer, and how much does it cost?
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is always a good idea to consult with a qualified legal profession. The majority of lawyers offer free consultations for people injured in car accidents, and they can advise you on how to deal with the insurance company and estimate the amount of compensation you may be entitled to in a personal injury lawsuit. You can get your questions answered, and in the event you choose to hire an attorney, you will generally pay nothing unless the attorney wins your case.