Best Auto Accident Lawyers FAQ
Best Auto Accident Lawyers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Answered
Are you searching for the best auto accident lawyer to represent you or a family member after a car, truck, bus, pedestrian or motorcycle crash? Swimming through the sea of accident attorneys on the internet can be overwhelming. And you need more general knowledge on the subject to make the right decision. Napolin Accident Injury Lawyer has compiled a fairly comprehensive list of answers to the most common questions about automobile accident personal injury claims. When you are ready, call our law office for a free and confidential case evaluation.
Before you move ahead in your search for an accident attorney, you need to know whether or not you might have a viable claim in the first place. If you are hurt and did not cause the accident, then you likely do have an auto accident claim for personal injury. You should contact the best auto accident lawyers right away to help establish your claim with the insurance company of the person who caused the accident.
In California, each driver involved in the incident could ultimately be assigned a percentage of fault by the jury. This is known among lawyers as comparative fault.
- Sometimes the fault is 100% on one driver for the traffic crash. A common example of 100% fault is when you are waiting for a red light when suddenly you are rear-ended by a driver distracted on their cell phone. It is unlikely that you could do anything to avoid the collision, so you are 0% at fault and the driver who rear-ended you is probably 100% at fault.
- Sometimes fault is assigned 50%/50% between two drivers. A common example of 50/50 fault would be two drivers collide in an uncontrolled intersection (no stop signs in any direction). Neither driver yielded and each driver alleges they reached the intersection first. In this situation, it is likely that a jury would decide that both drivers are equally to blame for causing the collision.
- Sometimes fault might exist between multiple parties to a traffic collision. A common example would be where several cars behind you pile up and ultimately rear-end your car. If you feel multiple impacts, then it is likely that all the cars involved behind you were speeding and following too closely and each face a percentage of fault for your injuries.
You as the person making the claim (the claimant) has the burden of proof. You must provide evidence that the other person caused the accident and your injuries. In California, you must prove fault and your injuries by a preponderance of the evidence. In other words, that it is more likely than not (51%) that the events happened the way you claim that they did.
This is why proper documentation is crucial important. And not just for fault, but for your injuries too. Insurance companies love accept 100% fault and then 100% deny that you suffered any significant injury in the traffic accident. So if you have injuries, call for a paramedic to document injuries, receive first aid, and if necessary transport you to the hospital. Also, call the police and ask the officer to take statements and write up a traffic collision report. Taking photos of your injuries and damage to all automobiles is also important documentation. Follow these initial steps after an automobile collision.
Cases of word versus word make it nearly impossible for any lawyer to win a claim. This is because dishonest people sometimes appear truthful while honest people can come off as less than honest. There is always significant uncertainty whenever it is a battle between the truthfulness of interested parties. It is always best to have independent witnesses if the other party has not admitted liability directly to a police office. If one side isn't fessing up, an independent witness or security camera showing how the accident happened is needed. It is rare that an accident can be reconstructed to determine who caused it without these things. The insurance company has likely denied your case.
You need the other driver's insurance information before you can make a claim. So be sure to get the other driver's insurance information at the accident scene. If the police are called, the officer might facilitate the exchange of information between the parties. Or, the officer might make you wait until the report is complete to get the other person’s insurance information. The insurance information (if insurance exists) will be on the first page (the face page) of the traffic collisions report. Call your insurance company and the insurance company of the other driver. Explain that an accident happened and that you need to set up a new claim. After providing all of the details, a claim is set up and a claim number provided.
The insurance company will want to record your conversation and get you pinned down to a certain set of injuries. But neck and back injuries take time to develop. If you say you aren't injured and the next day develop severe pain, you may have set your claim back by giving the insurance adjuster a reason to deny it. Remember, the adjuster from the other person’s insurance company is not your friend. Your innocent failure to list all of your injuries could result in a denial of your claim, leading to costly litigation. In some circumstances, providing a recorded statement is beneficial. If you are hurt, it is best to contact an auto accident lawyer like Napolin before you set up a claim.
Bodily injury auto insurance covers injury to others caused by you while operating a covered automobile. The minimum bodily injury coverage in California is $15,000.00 per person, $30,000.00 per incident, $5,000.00 per incident property damage. Many serious injury cases settle for policy limits without further litigation. Finding out the defendant's insurance coverage limits is extremely important to successful money recovery. Call Napolin to learn more about finding out the insurance coverage limit of the person who hurt you.
The registered owner of the automobile is also liable up to $15,000.00 per person/$30,000.00 per incident. The negligent driver can be held liable to the full extent of the law but your recovery is often limited to the amount of insurance available. If the negligent driver is in the course and scope of employment, their employer might become liable to pay your damages. This is an avenue to more insurance coverage. The purpose of the other driver's trip should always be explored to determine if they were the agent of a deeper pocket.
If the other party does not have insurance, you should set up a claim with your own insurance company to invoke your insurance coverages right away. If you have liability coverage only, then you have no protect for the event of an uninsured motorist. But, you might have purchased several protections in advance. You might have medical payment coverage to take care of the ambulance bill, hospital and medication co-pays, or therapy at your local chiropractor. You might also have purchased collision coverage that will repair or replace your automobile in exchange for the payment of your deductible (usually $500 or $1,000). Finally, you will want to put in a claim for Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (or UM, UMI, or UMBI for short). This is coverage that you can purchase prior to the incident to protect you in the event you are hurt by an uninsured driver.
It is well known that the insurance industry treats these claims similar to all of the claims. Each claimant have the burden of proof. Since you will need to prepare and present your claim, you likewise need a lawyer to help you do it. Napolin Accident Injury Lawyer represents victims of uninsured motorists who are claiming benefits from their own insurance company.
Your own insurance policy likely requires that you cooperate with your adjuster after an accident. This is usually construed to include the requirement of you allowing your adjuster to record you while you answer their questions. Be careful. If you are hurt and your adjuster wants to record you, it is best to consult with an automobile accident lawyer to prepare you for the interview.
Many people purchase protection so they can use their own insurance to fix their automobile after a crash. This is known as collision coverage. It usually requires the payment of a deductible. If the person who hit you does not have insurance or is taking too long, using your collision coverage may be your best option. Your insurance adjuster might even waive your deductible if you can show the other party is at fault for the accident. Sometimes the person at fault has no insurance or has a policy that is not large enough to pay for the damages to your car. In these circumstances, using your own collision coverage speeds things up significantly. Eventually the other insurance carrier will need to reimburse yours. If you do not have collision coverage, you have no choice but to work it out with the other party's insurance company. If you do not have collision coverage and are having property damage, then purchase it now so you have it if you are ever in another auto accident.
Some falsely believe that the person who caused the accident must pay for medical costs as they become due to medical providers. This is not true. The injury victim first is primarily responsible for obtaining and paying for the costs of medical care after an accident. Therefore, use your healthcare insurance if you ride an ambulance, or are seen by an emergency room or doctor. If you do not have health insurance, then you are directly responsible for your medical costs. However, once you have incurred the costs, you can demand reimbursement as part of your auto accident injury claim. Unfortunately, most people cannot afford to incur the cost and wait for payment after settlement of their entire claim.
Check with your insurance adjuster to see if you have medical payment coverage. Also, many doctors will hold off billing you until you can collect your medical costs from the at-fault party as part of your auto injury damages claim. In most cases, you have to wait for a final settlement before the defendant's insurance will pay you money for medical costs. Consult with an automobile accident lawyer to learn how to present your medical bills for payment as part of an auto accident injury claim.
Many people believe that they do not need an attorney to represent them. Then they finally realize that the insurance adjuster is not on their side and has guided them down the wrong path. If you are hurt and didn’t cause the accident, hiring a personal injury lawyer is probably the right move. Remember that the insurance adjuster represents the person who hurt you and prefers to pay you as little money as possible. It can be nearly impossible to assess your need for an attorney based upon the answers from online questions and answers. If you are wondering if you need a lawyer, best to call Napolin to inquire about hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Every case is different. The right lawyer for you depends on your specific needs. Sometimes people believe that the best lawyer is the one who has collected the most amount of money throughout their career. However, it is better to choose a professional who you feel is best suited to give you quality attention and the right advice. Be cautious of attorneys who boast big and never meet with you in person. Make sure to get a phone or in person consultation to further evaluate before you hire. Best to stay away if you feel they are just trying to make a sale instead of genuinely inquiring about your circumstances. Napolin speaks with prospective personal injury clients over the phone or in person at his office.
Auto accident lawyers charge a contingency fee ranging from 33 1/3 % to 50% of the total recovery. Percentages vary from attorney to attorney. Fee contracts usually have a percentage step-up clause where the percentage increases if a lawsuit is filed or arbitration is pursued. This is standard to take into account additional time and thought that your lawyer needs to spend on your case. Although fees are negotiable, it is best to agree to what your lawyer wants so that they work hard on your claim. You usually get what you pay for. And, a true contingency fee means that the injury victim only pays if the case is a success. This means no downside risk for the client since they can never come out of pocket for fees or costs. Napolin charges a one third fee for cases that settle during the insurance claims process. While costs are charged in addition to this fee, none are due and owing unless and until the case produces a money outcome. Because most personal injury lawyers work on a true contingency fee, the only financial risk is hiring the wrong lawyer to prosecute your claim.
There are usually no out of pocket costs to hire a personal injury attorney for automobile accidents. This is because personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. The best part about hiring a lawyer early in the claims process is that the fee is contingent on the outcome. In other words, you will only pay if the attorney collects money to pay them with. Having attorney representation early not only increases the likelihood of success, it costs nothing more than hiring them late in the game. Plus, the costs of collecting the police report, medical records, and more, are generally covered by the law office while the case is ongoing. In addition, most personal injury lawyers provide free initial consultations, further reducing the costs of hiring one.
Insurance claims can last a long time. Many unknown things can arise during the process that will extend or shorten how long your case takes. Claims involving clear liability with small injuries usually resolve faster than complex claims with catastrophic impact to the plaintiff. This is because small claims likely resolve before the filing of a lawsuit. Litigation in the courts is slow and laborious. In any case, if the parties cannot agree on value and a lawsuit is filed, then years can go by before a jury is convened to hear the dispute. Some cases resolve quickly because the attorney is able to present the injury claim and obtain the policy limit well before the statute of limitations period. In California, an injury victim generally has two years to file their lawsuit against the defendant in court (exceptions apply so consult a lawyer asap). Consult with an attorney to discuss the stages of a personal injury case and how quickly your case might be resolved. Remember, it can be hard to tell from the outset exactly how long things will take.
Automobiles are heavy pieces of machinery that create a lot of force in accidents. Injuries can be severe and last a lifetime. While whiplash injury is often cured with physical therapy and chiropractic treatments, some back injuries last a lifetime. Obtaining documentation for your injuries by seeking medical attention is of the upmost importance. Remember, you as the claimant must prove your injuries to the insurance adjuster. This means that all resulting medical conditions from the accident must be well documented to prove their long-term effects. If you fail to obtain treatment, you might not fully realize the long-term health issues that you face. For example, lingering back concerns might be easily solved with conservative care. If you don't receive conservative care, you likely wont get better and your back strain will be perceived as worse than it really is. Getting needed care can easily diagnose a more serious problem. If treatments do not help, it means something worse like a slipped disc might be diagnosed. If you are wondering about how to get the right medical care for a personal injury claim, call Napolin for a free consultation.
Injury claims for automobile accidents do consider payment for pain and suffering. How much money you receive for pain and suffering depends on many factors. The more injured you are, the greater your pain and suffering amount can be. The more extensive and invasive medical treatments that you need, the higher likelihood of a larger award. Sometimes people have very high pain and suffering, but the insurance policy of the defendant limits the amount that they can collect. If you are concerned about collecting adequate compensation for your suffering, consulting with Napolin is your best option. The best auto accident lawyers give the right guidance on the value of their pain and suffering claim.
The value of your automobile accident claim depends on how hurt you are and how much insurance is available to pay. If there is no insurance to pay or assets to attach, then it is worth nothing. The claimant must prove their damages, so be sure to document everything and see a doctor about your injuries. The claim settlement value is determined by adding up all of the damages and negotiating with the insurance adjuster for more money. Other types of damages that can be added include: lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, lost future earning capacity, property damage, and loss of consortium.
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