After you hire a car accident attorney, one of the absolute earliest stages of the process involves an investigation. To build your claim with any available evidence, your attorney will conduct an in-depth investigation of the car crash.
Before hiring your attorney, there is a chance that other investigations could have already been conducted. More precisely, either the police or an insurance provider might have already conducted some form of investigation. However, these are rarely comprehensive investigations of the crash. Moreover, seeing as these investigations are so brief, they are insufficient to provide anyone with a clear idea of the crash and how it occurred.
For instance, maybe the police were called to the scene shortly after the crash. They may go on to sketch the scene of the accident, collect statements from all parties involved in the crash, and sometimes, they may even gather statements from witnesses. This is quite the surface-level investigation of the situation, and it lends a substantial amount of room for error. It will be extremely difficult to come to a detailed conclusion if the investigation does not push even further.
This is where your attorney will come in—this is also one of the numerous reasons that hiring a Riverside car accident attorney is vital for developing a solid claim. The investigation conducted by your hired attorney will look more like this:
- A careful review of the police report, followed by a review of the insurance company report.
- Interviews conducted with any eyewitnesses of the crash if they exist.
- If any security video of the scene exists, it will be obtained.
- A review and investigation of records related to past problems at the exactlocation.
- An inspection of the crash site.
- A review of medical records, including having an expert assess these records.
When it comes to determining and proving fault during a crash, the more in-depth the investigation, the better. This will make it far more difficult for statements or details to be misconstrued, leading to an inaccurate idea of what happened. Without this kind of investigation, it will be far easier for fault to be placed upon you, leading to a lower or even nonexistent settlement.
Managing and Ensuring Treatment
Even if you do not feel that you were injured in the car crash, you’ll soon learn that it’s essential to receive medical care anyway to ensure the strongest possible claim. Even if you were injured, it could still be quite tempting to downplay the injuries you’ve suffered.
The truth is that car accident injuries aren’t always so simple. For instance, some of the time, injuries won’t even be immediately obvious following the crash. Instead, they could develop over time, with symptoms that seem to grow increasingly more severe. Some symptoms, such as headaches, loss of mobility, and neck pain, may not even develop until several days (or even weeks) after the crash.
So, where does your Riverside car accident attorney come into play? Well, an attorney will diligently ensure that you receive the timely medical attention you require. Further, some victims may want to skip receiving medical care due to the cost of treatment. It’s essential to keep in mind that if you were not the driver at fault, then it is the other party’s responsibility to pay your damages—this includes the cost of medical treatment.
After you receive treatment, your attorney will fight to have any medical bills you received paid for by the other party’s insurance company. All in all, your Riverside car accident attorney will put in every effort to ensure that you don’t have to pay any medical bills whenever possible.
Gathering Evidence to Prove Fault
As we noted in the “investigation” section, you will need to have strong evidence to prove the other driver’s fault. Keeping this idea in mind, a Riverside car crash attorney will put in the effort to stop any evidence tampering.
Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for at-fault drivers to attempt to cover up evidence. The longer you wait to investigate and gather evidence, the more likely this is to occur—that is why it’s so crucial that evidence be gathered as early on as possible.
If the other party ever attempts to hide or otherwise tamper with evidence, your car accident lawyer will be at your side, ready to intervene. Then, the evidence can be reviewed by either engineering or medical experts, allowing you to develop an even stronger claim. Therefore, this evidence must be retained.
Issuing a Demand Letter
According to California law, someone must issue a demand letter to initiate their claim. In this letter, you will be able to provide the opposing party with a detailed outline of your claim, as well as the basis for their liability. This letter can also be used to begin negotiations with an insurance adjuster.
Negotiating With Insurance Providers
This is a highly important stage when it comes to collecting the damages you’re rightfully owed. However, without a Riverside car accident attorney, it is incredibly easy for this stage of the process to go wrong. When individuals attempt to negotiate with insurance providers on their own, it’s surprisingly easy for the attempt to backfire. Well, why is this?
Often, the insurance company’s goal is to provide you with the lowest possible compensation. This way, they can save money as a profit-driven organization. Insurance providers are known to take seemingly innocuous statements, twisting them into an inadvertent admission of fault. This is why speaking directly to your insurance provider can be such a dangerous game if you’re looking to receive a fair settlement.
On the other hand, a California car accident attorney understands how insurance companies work. Your lawyer will know precisely how to speak to your insurance provider to negotiate without damaging your case. Of course, if your insurance company still won’t provide you with an adequate settlement, then your lawyer may suggest that you take the issue to court.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim
If you weren’t able to successfully negotiate with the insurance provider, then it could be a good idea to bring the issue to court. Your car accident attorney will be able to aid you in filing a personal injury claim in California civil court. Your attorney will provide the court with a basis for liability, as well as a claim for fair damages. Much of the time, it will be possible for the claim to be settled, even before it is taken to trial. Your lawyer can help you accomplish this. Either way, your car accident lawyer will take the necessary route to get you a proper settlement.
Why Should I Hire a Car Accidents Lawyer?
You might think you can handle an auto insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver on your own, especially when the other party’s fault seems perfectly clear. However, dealing with insurance companies is rarely straightforward or pleasant, and navigating the civil court system to pursue a personal injury claim can be taxing as well. Hiring an experienced Riverside, California, car accident attorney means you do not need to handle these legal matters on your own while trying to recover from your injuries. We can address the procedural issues your case demands with the local civil court, help you draft your claim letter to the appropriate insurance company, and ultimately guide you to the most successful result possible in your claim.
How Do I Choose a Lawyer in Riverside, CA for a Car Accident?
You must choose the right attorney following a car crash in Riverside. Sadly, not all personal injury lawyers are reputable. Don’t simply hire the first lawyer you happen to come across—instead, try to take a few factors into account when you are trying to determine whether a car accident attorney is reputable.
- Can They Communicate Clearly?
This is very telling when it comes to assessing someone’s potential abilities as an attorney. To succeed as your lawyer, an individual will need to have fantastic communication abilities. Otherwise, it will be far more difficult for them to argue your case. Plus, if a lawyer cannot provide you with clear information regarding their fees, process, and values, then consider this to be a significant red flag. Communication is vital throughout the entire process of working with an attorney, so don’t make the situation more difficult for yourself than it has to be.
- Are They Willing to Provide References?
A reputable car accident attorney will be more than willing to provide you with references, should you request them. If you then contact these references, they should give you a good sense of the attorney’s reputation. However, if a lawyer is unwilling to provide references, oryou call these numbers and receive less than reassuring information, move along to the next option.If they outright refuse to provide you with references? Turn and run in the other direction, as this is another major red flag.
- Is This Car Accident Attorney Experienced?
The more experience an attorney has in the field, the better a sense they have about the personal injury process. After all, if they’ve gone through it numerous times before (and succeeded a majority of those times), then you can be confident that they’ll know what they’re doing when it comes to your case. Also, make sure that this lawyer has experience that is specific to car accident cases. If all their experience is in another field, they may not be of much use to you.Ensure that they have a winning track record and the necessary experience, and then you are good to go.
What Should I Do Immediately Following a Riverside Car Accident?
So, maybe you’re wondering about the first steps to take after a Riverside car accident. This is an understandable concern, seeing as some of your earliest actions after the crash can go on to impact your claim.
Even if you are feeling confused or frightened right after experiencing a car crash, it’s important to remain grounded. Here are some essential actions to take immediately after experiencing a car accident in Riverside, California.
- Get the Information of All Other Parties Involved in the Accident
This should be one of the first steps you take after getting into a car crash. In fact, it’s the law—if you get into a car accident in California, then you are legally required to exchange information with the other driver(s) involved. Plus, this way, it will be far simpler for you to file a claim against the correct party, should this become a necessary step for you to take.
- Acquire the Contact Information of Any Witnesses to the Accident
Not all accidents have eyewitnesses, although when they do, it is important that you take advantage of this. Later on in the claims process, eyewitness accounts of the crash can be incredibly valuable. These testimonies are far from the only piece of evidence you’ll need, but they do help to paint an overall clearer picture of the accident when combined with other kinds of evidence. Make sure that you are collecting the contact information of witnesses, in case you’ll come to need it, at a later date. You’ll be grateful that you did.
- Photograph the Scene and Aftermath of the Car Crash
Take advantage of this period to gather some highly time-sensitive evidence, just in case you’ll be needing it in the future. As long as this is physically possible for you following the events of an accident, this is a beneficial step to take. Take pictures of anything that you suspect could be useful in proving how the accident occurred. This could include (but isn’t limited to) images of the other driver’s vehicle, images of any visible injuries you sustained during the accident, damage to guardrails or any other objects at the scene, potential roadway hazards that could have contributed to the accident, et cetera.During the claims process, these pictures could make it quite a bit easier to begin piecing together what happened during the car crash. In addition, especially if your claim ends up going to trial, it could be highly useful to show these images to the jury.
- Make a Note of Any Relevant Details in Your Surroundings
Along with taking photos of the scene, consider recording any critical pieces of information that would be beneficial during the claims process. For instance, what was the weather like that day? Certain weather conditions could have influenced or caused the accident. Also, have you made any relevant observations about the other drivers? Do these observations give you a better idea of the other driver’s mental state at the time of the crash? Additionally, if there were any road signs or traffic signals near the site of the accident, try to make a note about this. Any of this information is easy to forget and could come in handy at a later time.
- Obtain an Official Copy of the Accident Report
The police officers who arrived at the accident scene will gather information and speak to those involved before compiling all of this information into a police report about the crash. This accident report could include valuable details about the accident. The officer may even add a note about the driver they think was at fault during the car accident. Make sure to look over this report to ensure that it contains an accurate portrayal of any statements you may have made. If you find an issue, consider asking to have the report amended.
Is It Worth Getting a Car Accident Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?
Although the answer to this question is “it depends,” you should consider a few factors first. Foremost, did this minor car accident lead to any injury? This could even be a minor injury, such as a sprained ankle or even a fractured finger. In the case of any injury, it is possible for it to take a toll on certain aspects of your life. For instance, maybe your injury has affected your ability to perform your job. Thus, this could result in lost wages. Injuries of any kind can also have an impact on your quality of life.
You will need to assess the situation on a case-by-case basis, but ultimately, even a minor car accident could be worth hiring a lawyer to resolve. In particular, if you suffered an injury during the accident, you are within your rights to hire a personal injury attorney. In any case, whenever you decide to file a claim against the other parties involved in the accident, it is a wise idea to work with a car accident attorney.
In short: More often than not, as long as you experienced an injury due to a minor car crash, it is worth hiring an attorney.
Proving Fault for a Car Accident
All drivers are expected to follow the traffic laws and obey posted traffic signals throughout the Inland Empire. When a driver is distracted, aggressive, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they are likely to cause accidents with other drivers, some of which result in severe or even fatal injuries.
California operates under a fault rule for assessing responsibility for car accidents. If a driver causes an accident and injures another driver, the injured driver has the legal right to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Unfortunately, many California drivers only carry minimum coverage policies, and many do not have insurance at all. You may attempt to file an insurance claim only to discover the at-fault driver does not have insurance or enough coverage to fully compensate your losses.
Proving fault for your car accident typically comes down to physical evidence. An experienced Riverside, California car accident lawyer can help you gather evidence like traffic camera footage, CCTV footage from nearby businesses, car computer data, and even the other driver’s cell phone records if necessary. Immediately after your car accident, if you can move without aggravating your injuries, it’s wise to take photos of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, and the scene of the crash before the police clean up the accident site. These photos could prove invaluable in an insurance or personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Recovery from a car accident in California typically starts by filing an auto insurance claim. Your Riverside, California car accident attorney can help you draft your initial claim letter and submit it to the insurance company on your behalf, minimizing the chance of the insurance company pushing back unfairly against your claim. It’s common for insurance carriers to delay claims and present other obstacles to claimants to encourage them to accept lowball settlements.
As your Riverside, California car accident lawyers, My SoCal Lawyers can represent you before insurance companies and help you address any suspicion of bad faith to ensure you receive the most substantial settlement allowable under the terms of the at-fault driver’s policy. If the other driver’s coverage is insufficient for covering your total losses, we can help you proceed with a personal injury claim to maximize your recovery.
It is essential, both when dealing with insurance companies and when interacting with police at the scene of the accident, that you do not admit fault for the crash in any way. California upholds a pure comparative negligence statute, and any fault assigned to you will reduce the amount you receive from insurance and personal injury claims.
Damages and Compensation in a Car Accident Claim
A car accident can easily cause significant injuries and serious economic issues for you and your family. Severe injuries can lead to expensive medical bills and long recovery times, during which the victim may be unable to work and earn income. These issues compound into financial strain, unfortunately compelling some car accident victims to accept much lower settlements than they should. When you work with an experienced Riverside, California car accident lawyer, you can potentially secure compensation for damages, including:
- Medical expenses, both immediate and future, resulting from your accident.
- Lost income, including lost future income if your injuries prevent you from working in the future.
- Property damage, such as the cost of replacing your vehicle.
- Pain and suffering, the amount of which will escalate depending on the severity of your injuries and their chances of causing long-term damage.
If the driver who causes your accident was under the influence of alcohol or otherwise engaged in some criminal activity, the judge may award punitive damages as well.
How Much Does a Riverside Car Accident Attorney Charge?
Although this will depend on the Riverside car accident attorney you choose to hire, there are a few commonalities when it comes to paying car crash lawyers.
For one, it’s understandable if the potential cost of a lawyer can seem daunting at the outset. For example, after experiencing your car accident, you may worry about whether you can afford an attorney. However, as we’ve discussed, a car accident attorney is an incredibly valuable asset to have whenever you’ve opened a claim against another party. Thus, in the vast majority of cases, it is going to be a step worth taking—in fact, the cost might not even be as unmanageable as you had previously assumed.
Car accident claims can be pretty unique when it comes to the way in which attorneys charge clients. In many other kinds of legal cases, attorneys will opt to charge their clients by the hour. However, this is less common when it comes to car accident claims.
Much of the time, car accident attorneys will charge their clients a contingency fee to take on that party’s case. Whenever an attorney charges a contingency fee, they will not be paid unless their client successfully recovers settlement money.
What Can I Expect to Collect?
While each personal injury attorney will have a different contingency agreement, in general, you can expect a lawyer to collect anywhere between 25 and 40 percent of the money you recover. So, for example, if you end up receiving an $80,000 settlement, but your attorney charges a 25 percent contingency fee, then they will receive $20,000 of the settlement payout.
The contingency fee an attorney charges can also change depending upon whether you end up opening a claim against the other party. For example, if you are able to settle your personal injury case outside of court, then the contingency fee will likely remain on the lower end of the scale. However, if the claim goes to court and you receive a settlement, the contingency fee will often be higher than if the case stayed out of court.
If you are ever worried about whether you can afford to hire an attorney, consider speaking to them about this issue directly. Sometimes, car accident lawyers are even willing to negotiate a cost that is more reasonable for you. However, before signing a contract, make sure to discuss the matter with your potential attorney and see if you can come to an agreement that everyone likes. Car accidents are notoriously complex, and it’s likely hiring an experienced car accident can actually save you money in the end.
Find Experienced Car Accident Attorneys in Riverside, California
If you want to maximize your recovery after a car accident in Riverside, California, a car accident attorney can offer you the best chance of success. The team at My SoCal Lawyers has years of experience handling all types of car accident claims on behalf of our clients. We understand the uncertainty and distress that a car accident can cause for you and your family and provide the legal guidance you need to navigate your resulting legal affairs with greater confidence.
Contact My SoCal Lawyers today to schedule your consultation with our team. We will review your recent accident in close detail and let you know how our firm can help your recovery.