Understand your rights as a party to an auto accident.
When reporting an accident to an insurance company, anything you say, can and will be used against you.
According the CHP, there are about 400,000 auto related accidents in state of California yearly.
Unbeknownst to most individuals, the most critical stage in the claim process is the initial statement you provide to the Insurance Company.
Insurance companies are in the business of reducing their liability and mitigating their losses. If you do not exert a right under your coverage, it is NOT the responsibility of the insurance carrier to disclose those rights to you.
Nowadays, all statements are recorded and then transcribed for the insurance company to review. For example, if you say that you were not hurt in the accident and later file a claim for injuries, you will be contradicting your initial statement and casting doubt on your claims. Injuries in auto collisions may not be immediately apparent and may take a few days to arise, so it is best not to make conclusive statements from the onset.
- Free Consultation and Evaluation of your Case
- No Costs/Fees unless we win your Case
- Expedite repairs to your vehicle
- Reimbursement for out of pocket expenses
If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident, the time to call is now. You are entitled to immediate medical care, compensation for medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages and property damage. The Professionals at the Law Office of Negin Yamini have extensive experience when it comes dealing with Insurance Companies, Medical Professionals and are equipped to guide you through the claims process from filing your claim to obtaining a judgment.
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
The trauma experienced in a car accident can have lifelong repercussions. Simply put, your body will never be the same as it was prior to the accident. Don’t wait to claim your rights, take action now.
For Personal Injury cases, the statute of limitations in California is Two Years from the date of the injury. If the injury was not discovered right away, then it is 1 year from the date the injury was discovered. If you do not take action within the time frames, you will waive your rights to litigate the matter.
WHAT WE WILL DO FOR YOU
We will deal with the insurance companies involved in your incident.
- We will file the claim with the insurance companies involved and ensure that all remedies in your case are preserved.
- We will directly communicate with the property damage adjuster to ensure that your vehicle is repaired in a timely manner and when applicable, that your rental costs are paid.
- We will coordinate and refer you to the correct medical professionals and specialists to ensure that your injuries are being addressed.
- We negotiate your medical bills/expenses to maximize your recovery.
- We will settle your case in a timely manner so that you will be able to move on with your life.
DAMAGES THAT CAN BE RECOVERED: Economic and Non-Economic Damages
- Medical Expenses: Past, Present and Future
- Lost Wages: Past, Present and Future
- Out of Pocket Expenses/Costs
- Pain and Suffering: Mental and Physical
- Loss of Consortium
1. Liability Insurance
Liability insurance covers damages to another person and their vehicle resulting from an accident you cause. Liability insurance will cover the cost of repairing any property damaged by an accident as well as the medical bills from resulting injuries. In California, the minimum limits of coverages are as follows:
- Bodily Injury Liability Coverage: $15,000 per person/ $30,000 per accident minimum
- Property Damage Liability Coverage: $5,000 minimum
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
Remember, it is highly recommended that you have coverage above the minimums required by the state. If you are in an accident, and the minimum coverage is exhausted, you run the risk of having to pay out of pocket or even being sued for the damages you cause. A traffic accident can lead to life changing events for the parties involved, protect yourself and loved ones.
2. Collision Coverage
When your vehicle is damaged in an accident, collision coverage will pay for repairing or replacing it, minus your deductible. If you are involved in a high impact accident, your car may be totaled, (where the cost to repair the vehicle surpasses the value of it), collision coverage will pay the for the value of your vehicle, which is usually done through a third-party appraisal. Collision coverage will also cover accidents that involve another vehicle or an object, like a tree or a wall.
3. Comprehensive Coverage
While there are similarities between collision and comprehensive coverage, comprehensive insurance covers losses caused by damage other than an accident – theft, natural disasters (acts of God), falling objects, fire, flood, animal damage or vandalism.
4. Med Pay
If you or anyone in your car is ever hurt in an accident, Medical Coverage can for their medical expenses.
5. Uninsured /Underinsured Motorist Protection
These days, about 1 in 8 are completely uninsured…and about 30% of drivers don’t have enough insurance. That’s why it’s important to consider Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. It provides Liability (Bodily Injury and Property Damage) coverage for you, if an uninsured or underinsured motorist is at fault in an accident.
These coverages are very nuanced and the language in your policy will ultimately determine coverage. You need an expert to walk you through the legalese in your policy and explain the coverages to you.
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF AN ACCIDENT:
1. STOP. In California, it is the law. This includes accidents involving a pedestrian, a moving car, a parked car or someone’s property. If you drive away, you can be charged with a hit and run even if the accident was not your fault. Hit and run penalties are severe, depending on the damages and injuries, you may be fined, sent to jail or both. It is important to exchange the following information. (This relates to all parties involved in the accident)
- Name and Driver’s license number
- The Vehicle Identification Number
- The Vehicles License Plate Number
- The Name and Address of the Vehicle’s Owner
- The Name and Address of the Insurance Company and Policy Number
- The Vehicles make, year, model and color
- The Name(s), identification (drivers license), telephone number of any passengers in the vehicle.
- The Name(s), identification (drivers license), telephone number of any witnesses to the accident.
- The name and badge number of the law officer who comes to the accident scene.
- Take pictures of the scene of the accident. For example skid marks, position of the vehicles from an angle that can clearly demonstrate the resting position of the vehicles.
- Make note of the time of day and weather conditions.
- Record the exact time, date and place the accident happened.
*Please Note: Even if the police are called to the scene of the accident, if there are no “apparent/obvious” injuries, the police will not make a police report.
2. IF SOMEONE IS INJURED:
- The law requires you to give reasonable assistance to anyone who is injured. For example, you may need to call an ambulance, take the injured person to a doctor or hospital or give first aid – if you know.
- Call 911
- DO NOT VOLUNTEER ANY INFORMATION
- Do not say, “it was my fault”. As previously mentioned, the California Vehicle Code is very nuanced. It is important to get counsel from an Attorney before making a statement. Anything you say to the police or other driver can be used against you.
- GET A PHYSICAL CHECK UP AFTER YOUR ACCIDENT
- A checkup may be a good idea for both you and your passengers if any of you have concerns about your health. You could be injured and not know it right away. You may wish to call your doctor or another health care provider for advice.
- MAKE A CLAIM FOR YOUR INJURIES
- After you treat your injuries which resulted from the negligence of the other driver. We will make a claim with the responsible party’s insurance carrier for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, future medical costs, lost wages and when applicable, future loss of earnings potential.
HIT AND RUN ACCIDENTS and UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE
According to California Highway Patrol the number of hit and run accidents in Los Angeles County are on the rise. An estimated 28,000 hit and run accidents were reported in 2015. If you are involved in a hit and run accident, you must stay calm and do not put yourself in a situation where you can hurt yourself, your passengers or the public at large. While you may have the urge to speed after the car that hit you, it is not a wise idea to engage in a high-speed pursuit. If you can, try to get license plate number, make, model and year of the vehicle. Here’s what you need to do.
- Get a Police Report, it will document the incident and will provide the insurance company with all the pertinent details of the accident.
- Contact your insurance company and report the accident. In hit and run cases, some insurance companies require that you contact them within 24 hours. It is essential that you do not waive any of your rights under the policy.
- Get witness information, names, telephone number, emails and statements. Insurance companies will contact these witnesses to corroborate your story and serve as valuable assets in your case.
The significance of Uninsured Motorist (UM) coverage in California. There are two types of UM coverage:
- UMPD: Uninsured Motorist Property Damage: This is essentially collision coverage, so it may not be advantageous to purchase it but it is always a good idea to ask the insurance agents about its benefits and drawbacks.
- UMBI/UIM: Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury (UMBI)/Underinsured Motorist (UIM): UMBI pays for injuries to you and your passengers when the uninsured motorist was at fault. UIM provides coverage in cases where the at fault motorist does not have enough coverage under his/her policy to cover your loss or your passengers.
As was discussed earlier, 1 in 8 individuals are not insured and 30% of drivers do not have enough insurance in California. Accidents will happen when you least expect them. You may be the only person in the car or there may be four or five people. UMBI/UIM coverage adds an extra level of protection that is indispensable. There have been too many instances where the person not at fault in an accident will have no remedies to him or her when they have been injured in an accident with an uninsured motorist. More often than not, the at fault party is judgment proof, meaning that the even if you pursue your case against the at fault driver in civil court and obtain a judgment against the at fault driver, that person does not have enough or any assets to compensate you. Your own insurance coverage will be your best remedy under these circumstances.
Remember, UMBI/UIM coverage can be allocated for medical treatments, past and present, loss of wages and pain and suffering for you and your passengers.
PLEASE NOTE: UIM coverage is very nuanced and will not apply to all situations where the at fault driver’s coverage does not cover your medical treatments and injuries. For instance, let’s say the at fault driver has bodily injury insurance of $75,000 and you have UIM coverage of $50,000, even though your medical expenses over $100,000, you will not be able to recover your damages because your UIM is LESS than bodily injury of the at fault driver. Even if your UIM were $75,000, you would not be able to recover damages because your UIM coverage has to be more than the at fault party’s bodily injury coverage.
Read your policy carefully. UMBI/UIM coverage may extend to accidents involving you as a bicyclist or pedestrian. Coverage varies from insurer to insurer, so if you cannot get past the insurance jargon, it may be best to have a professional look through the policy and explain it to you.
Allow the professionals at the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm guide you through the claims process so that you do not waive any of your rights.
The way in which you prepare your documents is indicative of the rights you have.