San Diego Car Accident Attorney Explains How to Settle a Car Accident Claim
Due to the complex regulations and laws involved with personal injury claims, it’s advisable to seek legal assistance from a San Diego car accident attorney. The insurance company may dispute issues such as liability and the severity of your injuries, but there are certain steps you can take to improve your chances of getting a fair financial settlement.
Gather Information at the Scene of the Accident
After the car accident has occurred, don’t discuss who is at fault with the other driver. Contact the police. They will arrive at the scene of the accident and collect information from all of the parties involved in order to create a police report. Get the name, license plate number, and insurance information of the other driver. Find out the name and contact information of anyone who witnessed the accident. If you have a cell phone or camera with you, take pictures of the damage on the vehicles. Take photographs of the license plates of the vehicles. Get pictures of the street names, street signs, and the area where the accident occurred. Before you leave the scene of the accident, ask the police officer when and where you can pick up the police report.
Getting Medical Treatment for Personal Injuries
Even if you feel fine immediately after the accident, you should still seek medical attention. It’s common for accident victims not to feel any injuries or soreness until a few hours or several days have passed. When you see a doctor, he can verify if you’ve suffered any external or internal injuries and will let you know if additional treatment is necessary. When you don’t get medical treatment right away, the insurance adjuster could dispute the severity of your injuries and the amount of compensation you are entitled to receive. If you wait several days to seek medical treatment, it may also appear that you aren’t taking the appropriate steps to mitigate the damages caused by the accident.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
You should consider speaking with a San Diego car accident attorney prior to calling the insurance company and filing a claim. The priority of the insurance adjusters is to protect the financial interests of the insurance company. They would prefer to resolve the claim quickly and reduce the amount of money they pay for damages. The insurance adjusters usually possess a much better understanding of the laws and polices regarding auto accidents than the average claimant. They may not inform you of your rights or let you know about all of the damages you may be able to obtain. When you file a claim with the insurance company, the conversation is often recorded. If you aren’t able to accurately recall the events that transpired during the accident or downplay the extent of your injuries, that information could be used against you when you try to negotiate a settlement. If you retain the services of an experienced San Diego car accident attorney, you won’t have to deal with the insurance company directly. Your attorney can file the claim on your behalf and make sure that your rights and interests are protected throughout the process. When you have a legal advocate on your side, it reduces the chances that you’ll make any mistakes or take any missteps that could harm your chances of getting a fair settlement.
The Type of Damages You May Receive
There are several types of damages you can potentially receive if you have been injured and sustained property damage during the car accident. Compensation can be obtained for the following:
- Cost of vehicle repairs or fair market value of the vehicle if it is totaled in the accident
- Loss of wages from your job
- Replacement costs for personal property such as a damaged car seat
- Medical expenses and future healthcare costs related to the injuries from the accident
Depending on your particular situation, there may be other additional costs and expenses for which you could receive compensation. Handling the insurance claim on your own can become tedious. If you have a San Diego car accident attorney representing you, he will be able to retrieve witness statements, copies of your medical records, medical bills, invoices from the auto repair shop, wage loss forms from your employer, and other documents that will validate your case.
Negotiating a Settlement with the Insurance Company
Submit a demand package to the insurance company to begin the negotiation process. The demand package should include a letter that recites the facts of the accident and explains why the other driver is liable. The demand package should also list a summary of your injuries, property damages, itemized list of your medical bills, the amount of wages you have lost due to your inability to work, and the total amount of compensation you are requesting. Even though the adjuster will likely try to negotiate a lower amount that what was requested in the demand letter, an experienced attorney will know how to emphasize the points that support your claim and explain how the accident has negatively impacted your life. Due to the heavy workload of many insurance companies, the adjuster will most likely want to reach a reasonable settlement with your attorney so that the case can be resolved.
Consult a San Diego Car Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact The Law Office of George Charles Heppner. Call (619) 235-4300 to schedule a consultation with an experienced San Diego car accident attorney.