What To Do If You Have Been a Victim of a Car Accident
In the unfortunate event that you have been the victim of a car accident in the San Diego metropolitan area you have rights that need to be protected. Dial (619) 442-0542 to speak with the San Diego car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Howard Kitay.
- Do Not Speak With Insurance Companies. After an auto accident, the insurance companies will be calling you. Don’t speak with them! Tell them to call your attorney; or, if you don’t have an attorney yet, tell them your attorney will call them.
- Have Your Attorney Contact Insurance Companies For You. Most people know they have a duty to notify their own insurance company after they have been in an accident. However, most people do not know it is perfectly okay to have your attorney contact your insurance company for you. In fact, it is the smarter way to go.
- Get an Attorney Immediately. To make sure you get the best possible settlement, get an attorney right away. Don’t wait. Getting a personal injury attorney will cost you nothing; personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they get paid a percentage of the settlement you receive for your case. And they don’t get paid until the end of your case. So, getting a personal injury attorney will cost you nothing; but waiting to get an attorney may cost you lots.
- Get Medical Treatment Immediately. If you were injured in the accident, it is important to get medical treatment immediately, even if you don’t have health insurance. Any emergency room will see you immediately (although you will probably have to wait a while), and they will treat you whether or not you have health insurance. They will send you a bill later, and your attorney can arrange for the responsible party to pay that bill. So, don’t wait to get medical treatment.
- Delay Hurts Your Case. Immediate Medical Treatment is also very important to proving your legal case later. If you delay getting treatment, you can count on the insurance company to use your delay to argue you weren’t really injured. So, don’t help them. If you were injured, get to a doctor or emergency room right away.
- Your Attorney Can Help If Treatment Was Delayed. Even if you were injured in an auto accident and delayed seeing a doctor, you can still bring a claim. The best approach in this situation is to contact a personal injury attorney immediately, and find out what options for medical treatment are available to you. Usually, your attorney can assist you in finding quality medical treatment with no payment due until the end of your case.
- Find Out What Deadline Applies to Your Case. It’s never a good idea to delay contacting an attorney. In California, you have two years to settle your case or file a lawsuit. (There are exceptions to this rule; your attorney will review all the facts of your case and tell you which deadline applies.)
- DO consult an attorney about your legal rights after a car accident.
- DO review your insurance policy to understand what is covered and what is excluded in your policy.
- DO notify your insurance company as soon as possible after an accident, your car is stolen, damaged, or other such event that is covered by your specific insurance policy.
- DO take pictures of the accident, damage to your car, and the injuries suffered.
- DO take notes when you speak to your insurance company. Take down the names of the people you talk to, their job titles, phone numbers, supervisors and note what you discussed with each person.
- DO tell your insurance company the truth. Dishonesty with your insurance company may invalidate or reduce your coverage.
- DO try to find out if you have additional insurance coverage. In certain circumstances additional coverage may come from a spouse’s auto insurance policy, homeowner’s policy, or umbrella coverage.
- DO keep your receipts for medical bills, car rentals, and any other purchases made in connection with the automobile accident.
- DO be aware of the difference between the replacement value of your car and the amount of money you still owe on your car. If you owe more money than the replacement value of your vehicle you may need addition insurance coverage.
- DON’T accept an insurance company’s estimate of your damage without first doing your homework. The help of a lawyer can determine the amount of damages you are entitled to.
- DON’T give the insurance company an record statement or an admission of guilt until you are fully aware of your insurance policy coverage and rights.
- DON’T sign a release of liability until you have consulted an attorney. Your insurance company may pressure you to sign such a document before you have had a chance to explore your options. Make sure your actions are appropriate for you and taken within the time limit stated by your policy.
- DON’T accept a final payment check from your insurance company without first considering your options. Seek legal advice and carefully weigh all your options.
Car Accident Deaths
Unfortunately for some, car accidents can result in death. Just in 2016, California ranked as 2nd highest state for car accident fatalities with a total of 3,626. In total, the U.S. saw 37,461 car accidents that resulted in fatalities.
Losing a loved one in an accident caused by the negligence of another is the most trying situation you may ever go through. California wrongful death law allows for two separate claims to be filed: wrongful death and survival claims. There are differences between each claim with the primary differences being the benefits and damages each claim allows for and the statute of limitations for each claim. The one constant in California wrongful death claims and California survival claims is who can file these claims.
Wrongful Death Claims
In a wrongful death claim, the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased may bring a claim to recover damages sustained by them as a result of the decedent’s death. This claim must be filed within 2 years of date of death (D.O.D.)
The damages recoverable in a wrongful death action include:
- Medical expenses, funeral expenses, burial expenses, estate administration expenses;
- An amount that will fairly and adequately compensate the family of the decedent (wife, children, parents, etc.) for their loss of any contributions they would have received between the time of the death of the decedent and today. such as: food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, gifts, entertainment;
- Money value of contribution to support of family / compensation to family: society, comfort, services; and
- Compensation to children for loss of services decedent would have provided, such as guidance, moral upbringing, etc.
In a survival claim, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is substituted for the decedent and that person has 1 year from the date of death to file their claim. The recovery obtained depends on the cause of action the decedent possessed at the time of his or her death. Basically, a survival action is a statutory right of the personal representative of the decedent’s estate to bring or continue, those claim that the decedent had during his or her lifetime.
Under the California survivor statute, any causes of action or proceedings survive the death of the Decedent. For a negligence claim that arose during the decedent’s lifetime, a decedent’s estate may recover damages for:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of gross earning power from the date of the injury until death
- Loss of earning power, less personal maintenance expenses from the time of the death through decedent’s estimated working life span
Typically, both the survival claim and wrongful death claim arise as a result of the negligent conduct of a third party. The most common types of accidents resulting in survival claims and wrongful death claims are car accidents, motorcycle accidents, trucking accidents, premises liability accidents, medical malpractice, and fatal workers’ compensation accidents.
Contact a San Diego Car Accident Attorney
Please do not hesitate to contact the San Diego car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Howard Kitay by dialing (619) 442-0542 for a free consultation. Mr. Kitay and his associates handle accident, injury, survival, and wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis meaning they charge no fee unless they recover for you and your family. In addition, they offer proven results from award-winning attorneys.