A serious injury car crash can cause lifelong impairment to a victim. If you’ve been involved in an auto accident in San Diego that’s resulted in serious injuries, here’s what you need to know about what to do next:
Contact Your Insurance Company
All drivers in California are required to carry proof of financial responsibility, typically in the form of car insurance. The minimum liability insurance requirement is $15,000 in bodily injury coverage per person, $30,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident, and $5,000 for property damage liability per accident.
Because California follows an at-fault car insurance system, the at-fault driver’s car insurance will be responsible for paying your claim. However, you need to contact your own insurance company as soon as you can after your accident regardless of fault. If you carry other car insurance types, like medical payments coverage, then your own insurance will help to pay for damages regardless of fault.
Know Your Rights as a Victim
If you’ve sustained serious injuries, it’s important that you know your rights as a victim. Not only do you have the right to file a claim with a car insurance company, but you also have the right to file a civil action against the at-fault party for damages. In a civil action, you can recover both economic and noneconomic damages. While there is no cap on economic damages in the state—such as damages to pay for your medical bills, lost wages related to the accident, future health insurance costs related to the injury, etc.—there are certain rules for recovering noneconomic damages (damages for pain and suffering).
For example, you cannot recover noneconomic damages if you did not have car insurance/proof of financial responsibly at the time of accident, even if the accident was 100 percent the fault of the other driver. According to California Civil Code Section 3333-3343.7, the only exception to this rule is if you were uninsured, but the driver at fault for the accident was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of crash. Furthermore, while some states allowed punitive damages to be recovered in a personal injury action, the state of California does not.
Understand Comparative Negligence
You should also know that California has a comparative negligence law. This law states that while you are not barred from recovering damages if you’re partially at fault for an accident, your damages amount will be reduced proportionately to your percentage of fault. Because serious injury claims are often for thousands of dollars, it is extremely important that you prove the fault of the other party to the fullest extent possible to ensure your complete damages amount.
Act Quickly to File Your Claim in Time & Call a Lawyer
Serious injury car accidents can be devastating. If you’ve been seriously injured, an insurance policy amount may not be enough to cover the extent of the damages that you’ve suffered, especially if you require lifelong medical care or assistance. However, if don’t file your claim within the state’s statute of limitations—which is two years—then you forfeit your right to recovery.
To ensure that your claim is filed in a timely manner, that you’ll have the evidence and resources necessary to prove the negligence of the at-fault party, and that you’ll have an advocate on your side who won’t quit until a fair settlement amount is reached, call San Diego’s leading personal injury attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP. You can reach our team today at 858-350-8855.