If you’re injured in a traffic crash that isn’t your fault, don’t presume that because you weren’t responsible, your rights will be automatically protected. After any injury in a southern California traffic accident, discuss the case – and your rights – with a Pasadena personal injury lawyer.
After the accident, you may need an attorney’s help to prove that you were not at-fault. If you’ve been injured, you will need an attorney to handle your personal injury claim. If you’re injured by a negligent driver, you’re entitled to compensation for your medical costs, lost wages, and more.
Keep reading, and you’ll learn why having the right attorney’s advice is essential if you’ve been injured in a southern California traffic accident, even if you were not the at-fault driver. You’ll also learn what steps a Pasadena personal injury attorney will take on an injury victim’s behalf.
Why Contact a Lawyer Immediately After an Accident?
Consult an attorney immediately after you’ve been injured. You will probably be contacted by the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company within just several days. You’ll need to have that insurance company direct all of their questions to your attorney.
Don’t give the other driver’s auto insurance company any formal verbal, written, or recorded statement, don’t sign anything, and do not accept a first settlement offer. You should be focused on your health. Let your personal injury attorney do the talking and negotiating on your behalf.
Why Should You Reject the First Settlement Offer?
You should reject a first settlement offer for a number of good reasons. In the first several days after you’ve been injured, you may have no way to know with certainty what your medical expenses will amount to or how many days or weeks you will be unable to work.
If you accept a first settlement offer, you’ll waive your right to take further legal action or to seek more compensation in the future. A first settlement offer is normally a “low-ball” offer made to settle an injury claim quickly, and from the insurance company’s perspective, cheaply.
The right California personal injury attorney will be able to negotiate a more generous settlement of your claim.
What if Your Personal Injury Claim is Disputed?
Another important reason for having the advice and services of a personal injury attorney is the likelihood – especially if you’ve been disabled or severely injured and seek the maximum available compensation amount – that your personal injury claim will be disputed.
If the other driver’s insurance company argues that your injury was pre-existing and did not happen in the accident, for example, or if the company claims that you were the at-fault driver, your attorney should already have the evidence that disproves such claims.
Most California personal injury claims are settled in out-of-court negotiations, but if a reasonable settlement amount isn’t offered, your personal injury lawyer will take the case to trial, explain to the jurors what happened, and explain why they should order the payment of your compensation.
How Will a Personal Injury Lawyer Represent You?
The negligent party that injured you should pay for your medical bills and your wages lost due to the injury. That’s only fair.
Here’s what a personal injury attorney may do when handling an injury claim arising from a traffic collision:
1. Obtain the police report and study the details regarding how the accident happened.
2. Question the witnesses and obtain their statements.
3. Consult with medical authorities and accident reconstruction experts.
4. Question your healthcare providers and obtain your medical records.
What Compensation May Be Available?
You may be able to receive both “economic” compensation – for quantifiable financial losses like medical bills and lost wages – and compensation for “noneconomic” losses such as personal pain and suffering, or in some cases, loss of consortium.
Compensation for medical bills can include reimbursement for emergency room and ambulance fees, the cost of surgeries, prescription drugs, therapy, medical devices, and follow-up care.
If you’ve sustained a disability or a long-term injury, you can be compensated for projected future medical expenses, but you’ll probably need a medical expert’s statement or testimony regarding those projected future medical costs.
Along with lost wages, if you’ve sustained a disability or a long-term injury, you can be compensated for projected lost future earnings or lost “earning capacity.”
Awards for noneconomic damages – personal pain and suffering, for example – are usually determined by formulas that are based on the amount of the economic damages.
What Does It Take to Win a Personal Injury Claim?
But you’ll receive none of that compensation unless you prevail with your personal injury claim. To succeed with an injury claim in California, the “plaintiff” (that’s the injury victim) and his or her attorney must show that the “defendant” (the presumably negligent party):
1. had a duty of care to the defendant to act in a safe, responsible manner
2. breached that duty of care in a way that was negligent
3. directly caused injury to the plaintiff as the result of that negligence
4. should compensate the plaintiff for damages arising from his or her injury
How Can Injury Victims Afford an Attorney?
Another reason to contact a southern California personal injury lawyer if you were injured in traffic – even if the accident wasn’t your fault – is to take advantage of the free legal advice you’ll receive at your first legal consultation, which is provided without cost or obligation.
You’ll learn where you stand legally, whether you have grounds to file a personal injury claim, and how the law applies to your own case. You’ll get the sound, personalized legal advice you need.
If you and your Pasadena personal injury lawyer agree to pursue an injury claim, you’ll pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your attorney obtains a settlement or a verdict on your behalf. The “contingent fee” system allows every injured victim of negligence to seek justice.
When Should You Contact an Attorney?
In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives an injury victim two years from the date of the injury to initiate a legal action, but if you’ve been injured, you can’t wait two years and then rush to file a claim at the last minute.
Don’t even wait two weeks. If you’ve been injured by a careless driver in a Los Angeles-area traffic accident, arrange to consult an attorney as soon as you’ve been treated by a healthcare professional.
You have nothing to lose – and you have justice to gain. Your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer is free, and if you’ve been injured in California because someone else was negligent, the law will be on your side.