Capital Law Firm* – A car accident can be a devastating experience. And the auto accident rate is almost at epidemic proportions with over 40,000 fatal auto accidents in the US annually, as well as around 2 million who receive injuries each year from such accidents.
In addition to personal injuries and damages to your vehicle, you may miss hours from work and important life events. Causing an accident means points on your driver’s license and higher insurance rates. If alcohol was involved, it may even mean criminal charges.
There are two different insurance rules in the United States: fault and no-fault. In a no-fault state, a person’s own insurance company will pay their accident-related bills. In a fault state, the person who caused the accident is responsible for paying the resulting bills. California is a fault state.
When a person is injured in an accident through no fault of their own, they are encouraged to hire a personal injury attorney. If you have caused an accident, you may need a personal injury attorney as well. There are a few things you should take into consideration before hiring an attorney.
How do you Determine Who was at Fault
When you have an accident with injuries, you should always call the police, and wait at the scene for them to arrive. Get the names of any witnesses and make sure to exchange information with the other driver.
The law enforcement officer will write an accident report. You should never admit to fault at the scene of an accident, because there may be some circumstances of which you are unaware. It is a good idea to call your insurance company soon after an accident. Be sure to save all your medical bills and get a letter from the company you work for stating the amount of time you have missed from work.
Sometimes a police officer will include who they think is at fault in a collision on the accident report, but they do not have to. The insurance company will ask you a series of questions to determine who caused the accident. They may ask to tape-record you, but you are under no obligation to let them.
An insurance actuary will then look at vehicle damage, medical records and weather conditions. They will read the accident report and take what the witnesses had to say into consideration. They will then determine each driver’s percentage of fault.
Insurance Laws in California
California is a comparative fault state. This means that if you did cause an accident, you will only be responsible for the portion of the accident that you caused.
For example, if you were determined to be 60% responsible for an accident, you would only be responsible for 60% of the bill. You may be able to recover 40% of your accident-related expenses from the other driver’s insurance company.
Why you Need an Attorney
Determining fault in an accident is not always black and white and any insurance company is going to try to keep their money in-house. If both drivers were somewhat culpable in an accident, the two drivers’ insurance companies may be at odds with one another in who is more at fault.
A trained personal injury attorney will know how to negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf.
They will have years of experience in dealing with accident cases in the Golden State and they will know what arguments to use when speaking with tight-fisted actuaries. If you do have to sue an insurance company, a lawyer will be able to make a compelling argument to a judge or jury.
If you have been injured in an accident give The Capital Law Firm a call to provide expert and experienced assistance even if you were at fault.
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