Many people who have been injured wonder, “When should I call a lawyer for an accident?” The sooner you call an attorney, the better. Don’t mistakenly assume that because the police or the other person’s insurance company said you may be partially at fault for the accident that you aren’t entitled to compensation.
The other party’s insurance carrier will use a variety of scare tactics to get you to drop your claim or make you believe your case is not worth pursuing. Their job is to keep the payout as low as possible, which is why it’s important to retain a skilled Orange County car accident attorney.
When to Get an Attorney After a Car Accident
It’s common for people to be unsure about whether or not their case warrants the need for an attorney. Personal injury attorneys can provide assistance in a variety of cases, including ones where you only visited the doctor a few times so far. Cases that appear minor are often the ones where the use of an attorney is needed the most.
Sometimes people who have only gone to the doctor a few times settle with the other party’s insurance carrier for a nominal amount only to learn later on that they need additional treatment, or that the injury is worse than originally diagnosed.
Accidents that involve serious injuries or a fatality should always be handled by someone with extensive experience in negotiating car accident settlements. It’s not uncommon to find out that there are additional defendants that may be responsible for compensating your damages as well. For example, if the vehicle that struck you had a tire that blew out, your attorney may be able to bring a claim against the tire manufacturer, or perhaps the dealer for negligent maintenance.
Attorneys can also help in situations where the insurance company is acting in bad faith. Bad faith can occur in a variety of different ways. Some of the more common bad faith actions include:
- Your carrier denies you coverage that you paid for
- Your carrier fails to pay out your claim in a timely manner
- Your claim was denied without any explanation
- Your carrier refuses to pay your claim without even investigating
If you have doubts on whether or not your claim is a good candidate for a personal injury lawsuit, it’s best to reach out to an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case. Let an experienced attorney tell you whether or not you have a solid case rather than deciding on your own and potentially missing out on the compensation you deserve.
Pure Comparative Negligence in California
The two main theories of negligence are comparative and contributory negligence. There are only a handful of states that still follow the archaic theory of contributory negligence, where if you are even one percent at fault, you are barred from any recovery. California follows the most generous version, which is pure comparative negligence. This means that you can collect for your damages, minus your own percentage of fault.
An example is an accident where the other party is 80% at fault and you are determined to be 20% at fault. This means you can be compensated for 80% of your damages. However, it also means the other side is likely to try and collect 20% of their insured’s damages from you.
Because of this, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to drag their feet. They may take a long time to settle or try to reduce their insured’s liability as much as possible. At RMD Law, our attorneys are not afraid to take an aggressive stance against the other side in order to get you the compensation you deserve.
How Soon to Contact an Attorney for an Accident?
The sooner you contact an attorney the better. The longer you are speaking with the other party’s insurance company, the more information they may obtain to use against you. For example, we recommend you don’t give the other side a recorded statement when the investigation first starts. You may end up saying something that they can later use against you.
Contacting an attorney right after an accident can also help preserve evidence. Your attorney can get statements from witnesses while their memories are still fresh and get accident-scene photos or have someone inspect your vehicle before the insurance company declares it a salvage.
If you contact an attorney after you signed a release of all claims, there is not much they can do for you. This is a common situation with accidents that may seem relatively minor and the claimant settles fast to get money in order to cover immediate medical expenses. However, if you find out you need treatment later on, the insurance company is not going to reopen the claim and offer you more money.
In addition, there is something called a statute of limitations on all personal injury claims. This means that once a certain amount of time has passed, there is no obligation for the insurance company to negotiate a settlement with you. In most situations, the statute of limitations is two years. Don’t assume that because you are still in negotiations when the statute of limitations approaches that you can continue negotiations. You must file a lawsuit before it expires in order for the other side to consider making any payout. When you retain a personal injury attorney, he or she is the one who will be responsible to ensure that the statute of limitations is protected.
Contacting an Orange County Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, contact the skilled lawyers at RMD Law in Irvine. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and physical damages.
Our attorneys have years of experience helping injured parties throughout Orange County. We aren’t afraid to stand up to an insurance company or their defense counsel. We’ve settled thousands of claims and recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Contact our car accident lawyers at (949) 326-5000 or use our online form 24 hours a day.