In part I of this series, we gave an overview of the 14 items on your “to do” list in the event you are involved in a serious car accident. In part II, we discussed items 1-3 in greater detail, and explained why they are so important to your personal injury case. In part III, we discussed items 4-8 in greater detail. This post covers the remaining items.
9. Notify your insurance company of the accident. This is self-explanatory. You pay insurance premiums on a monthly basis in order to be protected in the event of a loss. Your insurance company must be notified as soon as possible so they can monitor the situation and act accordingly.
10. Get medical treatment, and follow your physician’s advice. This is very important, particularly if you have suffered significant injuries. Under California law, a plaintiff has a duty to “mitigate damages.” That means that a plaintiff is not entitled to recover damages for harm that could have been avoided with reasonable efforts or expenditures. Follow your physician’s advice, whether that means taking the medications prescribed, doing physical therapy, or any other prescribed regimen.
11. If you suffered personal injuries, hire a personal injury attorney. Some cases involving minor property damage can be resolved without consulting an attorney. We strongly suggest that you hire a personal injury attorney to handle anything beyond that. If you have been injured due to someone else’s neglect, you deserve compensation for your loss. You do not want the headache of handling doctors, insurance companies, and repair shops. Let the attorneys deal with that – your entire focus should be on recovering from your injuries.
12. DO NOT talk to anyone from the other driver’s insurance company about the accident, no matter how persistent they are. Insurance companies have a single goal: resolve the claim as cheaply as possible. They will ask you questions that are designed to either (a) eliminate liability for their insured, (b) put you partially or wholly at fault for the accident, or (c) minimize your damages and injuries. You are under no obligation to speak to the other driver’s insurance company. The good news – once you hire an attorney, and the insurance company knows that you are represented by a lawyer, they cannot even attempt to speak to you directly.
13. Get two estimates on the value of the repairs, or the replacement cost of the vehicle in the event it is a total loss. If your claim is limited to vehicle damage, then make sure you take the vehicle to at least two places to get a fair price for the repairs. Similarly, if your car is a total loss, get several estimates on the replacement value before you make a claim.
14. If your claim involves significant property damage, personal injuries, or death, DO NOT settle the case with the insurance company without first consulting with an attorney. Claims involving significant property damage, serious personal injuries, or death are very important cases. This represents your ONE opportunity to get compensation for the harm caused by another’s negligence. It is unwise to try and resolve such an important case without the input of an attorney, who can make sure that all potential sources of insurance are identified, and that you are getting the appropriate compensation given the nature of the harm.
If you have any questions, or need additional information regarding your Southern California car accident case, please email us here or call 1-714-384-5540 for a free consultation.