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How Car Accident Claims Work in California

Getting hit by a car is a stressful experience. Suddenly, you’ll need medical care, car repairs, and help to do day-to-day activities, especially if you are badly hurt. Many accident victims also must stop working. You probably have heard by now that you can receive compensation by filing an accident claim—but how does the process work, exactly?

The Law Office of Brian P. Azemika can help. Below, we provide an overview of the car accident claims process.

Collect Information at the Scene of the Crash

You might be in pain or disorientated following a collision, but the evidence you collect at the scene makes a big difference. Ask the driver for:

  • Name
  • Insurance information
  • Contact information
  • Driver’s license

Also, try to take pictures of the vehicles involved in the crash.

Report the Accident to Your Insurer

Call them as soon as you finish at the hospital. Give them basic information about the crash: where it happened, when, and the identity of the driver who struck you. Your insurer can open a claim with the other driver’s insurance company.

Receive Treatment & Continue Rehab

While the insurance companies try to assign fault, you should focus on getting better. With an accident claim, you can request compensation for medical bills to treat your accident-related injuries. You can also request money for lost wages, car damage, and pain and suffering. You really won’t know how much to request until you get better.

Make a Demand for Compensation

The demand should be a letter that explains the accident—who hit you and how. You should also identify how much compensation you want to settle the claim. If you have an attorney, this person will draft a solid demand letter and send it to the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Negotiate a Settlement

Will the driver or his insurer just automatically agree to your settlement demand? In an ideal world that would happen. In the real world, however, they usually reject your request and either offer less money or claim you are solely responsible for the collision.

This is where negotiation comes in. You negotiate the settlement value of your claim much like you would a used car at a parking lot. You might come down a little bit from your initial demand, and the other side will move up a little bit. After enough back and forth, both sides should land on a number that works for both of them.

One sticking point might be the fault. If the other side is convinced they aren’t at fault, they might never agree to pay compensation. This is where the pictures you took at the accident scene are most helpful. These pictures can help recreate what happened and bolster your claim that the other driver hit you.

File a Lawsuit, if Needed

Sometimes, you cannot settle a car accident claim, so at that point, you need to file a lawsuit in court against the driver. In California, you only get two years from the date of the accident to file, and your lawyer should always have this deadline in mind.

Injured in a Crash? Contact Attorney Azemika

We have tackled numerous car accident claims from start to finish. Contact us today to learn more about your rights or get started with a claim.