Auto accidents are a fact of life in California. The dense population and the mere size of the state make it like a nation unto itself, including the maze of highways throughout the region. The number of metropolitan areas contributes significantly to the number of people on the roadways, not to mention the vibrant economy that requires products delivery in every location. California is also home to a major motorcycle enthusiast community that also contributes mightily to the highway congestion that results in a huge number of accident every year, many of which are fatal or result in very serious long-term injuries. And that is not to mention the significant amount of pedestrian traffic of people on foot or riding bicycles or scooters. When all things are considered, the potential for accidents is intense, and it is always a good idea for everyone in the state to have a Los Angeles car accident lawyer in mind for when a calamity may strike at any point in time at any location.
Understanding California Accident Law
California uses pure comparative negligence auto accident law in a fault-based system. What this means is that any driver at fault for an accident will be responsible for the other driver and passenger injuries in a two-car accident scenario. The driver largely at fault will also be eligible for insurance benefits at an inverse rate to the comparative negligence percentage they are assigned if a case goes to trial. Otherwise, settlements are determined in negotiations with the respondent insurance companies. This complication alone puts an injured claimant in a vulnerable position regarding compensation when they deal with a trained professional negotiator from the insurance company. All drivers in an auto accident are assessed for comparative negligence, but the final decision is actually made in a trial when the parties cannot agree based on the official accident report. Cases can become very complicated when there are multiple vehicles involved, and especially if it is a trucking accident.
Beware of Insurance Company Processing Tactics
Insurance companies who know your claim is valuable will often try to pay benefits with few questions until the injury prognosis is available. Serious injuries should always be represented by experienced legal counsel from the start of the claim, but speaking with the respondent company is acceptable in the beginning. However, it is important to be cautious even when they are not difficult. Seriously injured victims with a spouse who can speak for them should allow contact as well in some instances, but only to test the waters and get some type of an idea of how the insurance company is going to react. The biggest red flag of all would be a quick offer from the insurance company to settle the claim immediately, which will assuredly include a waiver on future medical coverage and a minimal settlement amount. This is a sure sign that you have a very valuable case, especially if punitive damages could be available, and they may be trying to avoid dealing with a legal professional by making the offer. This could actually be a form of bad faith when all factors are weighed in court, and it is a sure sign to call an attorney immediately.
Why You Should Not Represent the Claim Personally
The accident claim system in California often means an injured victim will be dealing with an insurance company claims agent that they do not know even if both drivers have the same big-box insurance company. Regardless of the extent of injury, the insurance company will assess the accident as soon as they are notified as the law requires. Many times they may actually contact you before you contact them using information from the official accident report. Some claims are automatically the company’s responsibility to a large degree, and they will usually begin coverage to some extent regarding medical bills because they know the state comparative negligence law and how to use it to their advantage. The entire claim processing will be structured to their benefit if you let them because they are focused on a minimal claim payout overall, and especially regarding general damages for pain-and-suffering that is directly connected to the comparative negligence percentages of each claimant. They may play nice, but they rarely play fair. And they are obligated first to the company and their client, and only responsible to the claimants to the extent of the insurance policy coverage. The legal professionals at West Coast Trial Lawyers understand this is why you will need the best personal injury attorney you can find. And the sooner the better, as even the first phone call will be recorded without you knowing for possible defense of the claim.
What Your Accident Attorney Can Do
Once you turn your case over to the best personal injury attorney in Los Angeles you can concentrate on rehabilitation and leave the bickering with the insurance company to your representatives. Your attorney can first evaluate the official accident report and identify all potential negligent actors associated with the accident, including any vicarious liability that may apply. Vicarious liability means that others who were not involved in the collision could also be liable to a certain degree, such as in a trucking accident or when there is a verifiable product defect contributing to causation. Automotive manufacturers can be found liable in certain unexplained accidents, and trucking companies that instruct their drivers to violate the rules and regulations of the road could be liable as employers. This condition could actually apply when in an accident with any commercial vehicle or driver who is working at the time of the wreck. Your attorney can conduct a complete accident investigation on your behalf and focus on the comparative negligence percentage of the opposing drivers. Multiple vehicle accidents can be particularly complex, and all injured victims and defendants will have their legal team fighting for them. You need your own legal professionals acting in your behalf as well when all of the finger pointing is being done in a settlement process.
The typical financial recovery items in an auto accident are compensatory in nature unless there are extenuating circumstances that could result in a punitive award in a jury trial. Insurance companies want to avoid punitive damages at all costs, as do drivers who may be found guilty of gross negligence. Compensatory special damages usually include recovery for medical bills, lost wages when they apply, loss of physical property, and general damages for pain-and-suffering for ongoing complications. Insurance company negotiators can become difficult regarding both general damages and potential punitive damages, but your Los Angeles car accident lawyer from West Coast Trial Lawyers can use the possibility of punitive damages as leverage in negotiating a maximum financial compensation package to avoid a trial. Plus, they can use their experience from other cases to determine an equitable value of your injury case.
Never attempt handling your California auto accident personally regardless of how minor an injury may appear. Your claim may be much more valuable than you realize. And remember that the best personal injury attorney you can find in Los Angeles is at West Coast Trial Lawyers. Call or click today for comprehensive and aggressive representation for your accident claim.