Car Accident Insurance Claims
Whether you are in a minor fender bender or are catastrophically injured in a car accident, you should be aware of what a car accident insurance claim entails. Generally, if you are in a car accident, you should stop at the scene and call 911 if there are injuries. You should try to notify the police, since the police report can be useful evidence in your claim. At Sharifi Firm, APC, our Los Angeles car accident lawyers may be able to represent you in a claim arising out of injuries or wrongful death.The Nuances of Car Accident Insurance Claims
Under California Vehicle Code section 16020, all drivers must show financial ability to pay damages of at least $15,000 for each person injured or killed in a car accident, at least $30,000 for injuries or death to multiple people in one car accident, and at least $5,000 for property damage arising out of a single car accident. Generally, you can show this responsibility by keeping a proof of insurance in your car or your wallet or purse.
After a car accident, you should not argue with other drivers or passengers about what happened, or sign any statements or releases related to damages. If another party offers to pay you an insurance deductible, you should not sign anything in connection with this that could release that person from any further responsibility. You should contact your own insurer, but do not speak to the insurer for another party until after you consult a personal injury attorney. The other insurer owes you no responsibilities and may try to pin the blame for the accident on you.
Once you report your loss to your insurer, a claims representative is supposed to contact you. That person should not take more than 15 days to call you. Usually, a qualified appraiser or adjuster will inspect your car for damage and write an estimate based on this inspection. When there is additional damage discovered during repairs, the shop is supposed to call the insurer to get any additional costs approved. An adjuster may come out to inspect these further damages. It will be your responsibility to authorize the shop to provide the repair if you are satisfied with the estimate and the facility where it is being repaired.
Usually, your insurer will pay either the amount necessary to make the repairs or the actual cash value (usually fair market value) of the vehicle, whichever is less. Your policy will include provisions about what is covered and what is excluded. Things like a stereo or telephone may be excluded from repair. If you purchased rental vehicle coverage, the insurer will pay for a rental car while your car is being repaired.
The insurer has subrogation rights, which are rights to recover from a third party any damages that it paid to you. Thus, if you are in a car accident caused by some other driver's negligence, your insurer will ask the other driver and its insurer to reimburse the money paid on your claim. You are supposed to cooperate with these subrogation efforts, and you should not sign a release of the other party that could jeopardize your insurer's right of recovery.
You can recover damages for your injuries from a party whose negligence caused them, whether you are a driver or a passenger in a car accident. For example, if you are a passenger in a friend's car that is rear-ended because another driver is speeding, and your friend also failed to repair the brake lights, you may be able to recover from both the other driver and your friend through their insurers. Usually, you will need to show the negligence of any party whom you claim is at fault. This means proving that the driver owed you a duty of reasonable care, this duty was breached, and there was causation and damages.
In some cases, victims will have substantial medical bills. These may be covered by health insurance or Medicare. The health insurer or Medicare may seek reimbursement after your personal injury case is concluded. Some doctors are willing to treat you and take a lien on your personal injury lawsuit award. If a doctor will not sign a lien, you may need to pay medical bills out-of-pocket. However, you can submit the bills as evidence of economic damages and recover that money if you can establish liability.
Some cases can be settled within 4-6 months by insurance companies. However, these are usually claims involving minor soft tissue injuries when liability is clear. When there are significant procedures such as surgeries, and liability is less clear, you should retain an experienced personal injury attorney. Usually, you have two years after the accident to bring suit, but if a governmental vehicle or government property is involved, you have a very short window of time (usually 90 days) within which to give notice to the government before bringing suit.Consult a Car Accident Lawyer in the Los Angeles Area
If you are injured in a car accident, you may be concerned about filing a car accident insurance claim. At Sharifi Firm, APC, our Los Angeles attorneys can evaluate the circumstances surrounding a motor vehicle collision to determine whom to hold accountable for your injuries. Contact us at (866) 422-7222 or via our online form. We also represent people in cities such as Riverside, Temecula, Rancho Cucamonga, Glendale, Covina, and San Bernardino.