Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about car accidents in Santa Clarita and surrounding areas. If you need assistance in making a claim for compensation following a car accident in which you or a passenger was injured, contact a Santa Clarita personal injury lawyer from The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus today.
What should I do if I'm involved in a car accident?
If you or one of your passengers is injured, the first thing you should do is call 911 and request emergency medical response. Once this is done, or if there are no injuries, you should also try and collect as much information about the accident and the other driver. This includes taking pictures of your car, the other car, the accident scene and taking down the other driver's information. The information you collect should include as many of the following as possible: contact information, insurance company, license plate numbers and the name/contact information of passengers and eyewitnesses. Refrain from speaking too long with the other driver and from apologizing for the accident. As kind-hearted as this may seem you to, the other driver may take it as an admission of guilt, which would not work in your favor once you make a claim.
Should I call the police?
If there are injuries, you should definitely call 911. It is advisable to have police on the scene because they can bring direction to the situation and will take a full report of the event that will be helpful to your insurance claim later on. Discuss the facts with them but avoid making accusations or admitting to guilt. Your personal injury lawyer will later request a copy of the report to use in your case for compensation.
The at-fault insurance company contacted me, should I speak with them?
Unless your personal injury lawyer has advised you otherwise, you should refrain from speaking with the other insurance company until you have retained legal representation. The at-fault insurance company will always be seeking to make as little payment as possible, anything you say may end up being used against you. If you have already been contacted, consult with your Santa Clarita personal injury lawyer about how you should approach the agent and what information you can share with them.
Can I still claim compensation if I contributed to the accident?
California is a comparative-fault state. This means that compensation will be awarded based on percentages of fault. The good news is that comparative fault states still award compensation to drivers with a partial amount of fault. However, the awards given are subject to be smaller because of this system. Using a comparative fault system, the jury or judge on the case will assign percentages of fault to each driver involved, including you. Whatever percentage they determine you contributed to the accident will determine how much of your damages you will be responsible to pay. For example, if your losses claimed amount to $100,000 and you are left with 40 percent of the fault because you were driving ten miles over the speed limit at the time of the accident when the other car made an illegal turn and hit you, you will be expected to pay $40,000 of your damages. The other driver, who has 60 percent fault for causing the accident, will pay $60,000 of your damages.
How can I be compensated for a hit and run accident?
Even if a driver leaves the scene of an accident after hitting your car, there is still a chance that he or she will be identified shortly after the event. Fleeing drivers are often identified by eye-witnesses who catch the license plate number or by the damage on their car when they seek repairs. Even if the driver is never caught or if the driver fled because he or she was uninsured, you can still receive compensation through your own auto insurance policy, which sometimes has special coverage for hit and run accidents.
Do I need an attorney?
While car accident claims can be made personally through insurance companies, it is always advisable that one retains legal counsel for the claim, especially when the other driver was at-fault for the accident and caused injuries. Having an experienced personal injury attorney represent you will protect you from the insurance companies attempt at cheating you out of your fair share of compensation and also alleviate the burden of having to file necessary paperwork yourself. When you are injured in a car accident, dealing with the physical and emotional trauma can be difficult enough. Having a lawyer to deal with the mundane aspect and fight for your rights will help you focus on recovering, which is what is most important.
Do you have more questions about car accidents and insurance claims? Call The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus and receive a free case evaluation with one of our Santa Clarita personal injury attorneys today.