You’re on your commute, running an errand, or driving to one of California’s many attractions when you get into an accident with another vehicle. There may be injuries. Tensions may run high. What should you do to protect yourself after a car crash?
It’s critical to have a plan ahead of time for what to do after a car crash, because at the moment you may not be thinking clearly. But the actions you take immediately after a traffic accident can make all the difference in recovering compensation for your damages and injuries later.
Follow the steps below immediately after a traffic accident for the best success at protecting your interests and getting the recovery you deserve.
Whether you experience a minor fender-bender or a major collision, generally the steps you should take after a car accident are the same for both types of incidents:
If you’re going to file a claim either with your insurance company or through a lawsuit in court, you must do so within the statute of limitations. For most car accident lawsuits, that’s 2 years.
Plus, evidence is best when it’s fresh – the conditions at the scene of the accident may change over time or a witness’s memory may fade. So you should get started sooner rather than later.
You do not have to call the police or file a police report in California for minor accidents with no injuries. However, if your car accident resulted in any injuries or deaths, the drivers involved must contact the police to file a written report within 24 hours.
If you suffer any injuries in a crash, you can call a police officer to the scene of your accident before you leave. They can fill out a report there – and you’ll get the officer’s testimony, too.
California is not a no-fault state. After an accident, California law dictates that whoever was “at fault” in the crash is responsible to pay for the damages and injuries that result from it.
As a result, proving fault is one of the most important parts of a car accident case.
Ultimately, fault gets determined by California courts based on negligence or other factors like reckless driving or driving under the influence. Insurance companies go by these court decisions to determine fault and appraise the damage.
In addition, California is a pure competitive fault state. That means you can recover compensation even if you’re partly at fault for the accident. For example, even if you were 90% at fault, you can still recover 10% of the damages from the other party who’s responsible.
On the flip side, that means if you’re partly at fault for the accident, that can also reduce the amount of compensation you can get. So for example, if a court determines that you were 25% at fault for the accident, you can only recover up to 75% of your total damages.
The best way to prove you’re not at fault in an accident is to prove that someone else is at fault instead. You can do this with evidence, such as:
If someone else’s negligence caused an accident that left you with injuries, then the person responsible should be the one to pay for the consequences – not you.
A settlement from a personal injury lawsuit can get you the financial support you need to treat your injuries and make up for any income you lose from being unable to work. A proper settlement agreement can make all the difference after a car accident – and the legal team at Sepulveda Sanchez Law can help. Click here for a free case consultation now.