Personal injury claims in San Francisco, California are comprised of property damage claims and bodily injury claims. If you have been in a car accident, you need to know the basics to understand how much compensation you can expect. Here is what you need to know to maximize your chances of winning a vehicle accident claim in San Francisco, California.
Types of Damages
There are two types of damage claims. You can claim damages for bodily injury. Under California law, you are also entitled to recover amounts for property damage.
An attorney takes a small share from property damages only. They should not receive anything from your bodily injury damages.
Damages are further divided into economic damages and non-economic damages.
Damage Cap for Personal Injury Cases in California
The damage cap is the maximum amount that you can receive for personal injuries in California. Your personal injury attorney will try their best to recover as much of it as they possibly can for you.
However, economic damages awarded to you are not restricted by the threshold value. Since economic damages are meant to restore you to your original mental and physical condition, you could receive a higher amount if that is necessary for fulfill this condition.
Economic Damages for Vehicle Accidents in California
You may be awarded economic damages as compensation for monetary losses that you sustained as a result of the accident. Economic damages could cover your medical bills, testing, diagnosis, rehabilitation costs, prescription medicine costs and follow up treatment. The court may also anticipate future costs that you could incur by way of treatment and include that as well in damages paid to you. Economic damages should also cover the loss of earnings that could result from the accident. Thus you should be paid lost wages as well as be compensated for disabilities and loss of earning potential that the incident has caused. The cost of renovating your home to accommodate your disability could also be included given the correct circumstance.
Non-economic Damages for Vehicle Accidents in San Francisco
Restrictions apply as far as non-economic damages are concerned. You may be awarded non-economic damages for inconvenience, anguish, physical pain, loss on enjoyment of life, loss of consortium and mental trauma. Thus, non-economic damages awarded are a single-digit multiple of the economic damages. For example, if economic damages are $60,000, then with a non-economic damage multiple of 9, you could be awarded a maximum of $540,000.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations really matters since it is the time frame within which you must file your personal injury claim. If this time period expires and a personal injury lawsuit has not been filled, then you may never be able to receive compensation.
In California, you have 2 years from the date of injury within which you must take legal action. But what if you did not know that you suffered harm until much later?
There is a special procedure if you were oblivious about the harm you have sustained. There are many cases where victims do not know about the injury or fail to fathom the full extent of their injuries after suffering an accident or mishap. If this is what happened to you, then there could be a relaxation to the 2 year statute of limitations. However, you will have to prove that you did not know about the injury and discovered it at a later date (after the day of the accident). Medical records, tests and diagnosis can be very helpful in proving that you discovered your injury at a later date.
Do keep one important issue in mind. The defendant could object to a personal injury claim that is filed after the statute of limitations. This can become an important point of defense for the accused. Hence, you must always take to consult with a personal injury attorney in California following an accident no matter how insignificant it might seem. While it could be possible to file a claim after the expiry period saying that you were unaware, this could lead to great legal complexities. The defendant can have the case dismissed after citing the statute of limitations. To avoid such possibilities, it is always better to talk to a personal injury lawyer that you trust immediately after suffering an accident.
Your Obligations Following a Vehicle Accident
If you have suffered a vehicle accident in California, there are certain requirements that you must fulfill to file a personal injury claim. You should remember to meet these obligations otherwise; you could be denied your claim.
You have a duty to report the accident within 24 hours to the police department or the California Highway Patrol.
You also have to report the accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. No matter how slight the injury might seem, you should still report it.
Insurance companies require their customers to immediately report the vehicle accident. Quick reporting is necessary because it will allow your insurer to investigate the accident. If you take more than a day to report, the insurance company could dismiss your request for benefits. As with reporting to the DMV, you should make it a point to report to your insurer even if the damage and injuries appear to be slight. It is better to be safe and fulfill your obligations rather than give others room to deny your claims should you discover damage or injury later on.
What if You Are Partly Responsible for the Accident?
In California, it may be possible to gain compensation even if you were partly responsible for the accident. However, the final amount that you receive will do down by the extent of your involvement. When you are partly at fault for the accident, your insurer will look at comparative fault rules in California to uncover how much of your claim you are entitled to.
Here is an example to help you understand. Suppose you were driving fast and another driver hit the side of your vehicle after changing lanes without warning. The court determines that you bear 20% responsibility. Thus, if the damages awarded are $10,000, you will be eligible for just $8,000.
The police report can be invaluable for proving your case in court and also for getting insurance claim benefits. Besides conducting their own investigation, insurance companies look at the police report to gain valuable information pertaining to the incident. The police report will have important information like location, time and date of the collision, vehicle damage information, lighting, roadway and weather conditions at the accident site, accident diagram, witness and driver statements, laws violated and fault determination.
After you call for assistance, a police office will arrive at the scene and gather information and facts about the incident. The final police report of the incident will have information and facts pertaining to the accident as well as the investigation officer’s opinion.
The police report could take a few weeks to complete. You can get the police report in one of 2 ways. The first method is direct but may cost some money. You can request the law enforcement agency that compiled the report to submit it to you. To get the report, you will have to provide the receipt (showing the identification number) that the investigating police officer gave you after inspecting the scene of the accident. You will have to pay a fee of $15.
To save a little money, you can call up your insurance company to find out if they have the report. If they have the report, they should give you a free copy.
What to Do if You Do Not Have Auto Insurance Coverage
If you are not covered by auto insurance then it is best to call a personal injury attorney in California. You cannot get anything out of the auto insurer of the at-fault driver because they have no obligation to pay you. Hence it is best to have a personal injury attorney represent you in your lawsuit so that you can maximize your chances of winning your claim and getting the maximum amount in damages.
To have a real chance of winning your claim against the insurance company of the at-fault driver, you should talk to a car accident lawyer in California. The lawyer will know all about the tricks and shenanigans that insurance companies resort to for avoiding benefits payments. With a capable lawyer to assist you, you will always remain one step ahead of insurance companies and thwart their devious tactics. Don’t forget that insurance companies also have plenty of slick lawyers on their side who help them to find legal loopholes for avoiding the payment of claims.
Am I Free to Repair the Damage to My Car from Anywhere I Like?
After an accident you have the freedom to take your damaged automobile to any repair shop that you prefer.
But it would be best to have your car repaired from shops that are part of your insurance network. The key benefit here is that you these in-network shops will bill your insurer directly instead of having you pay out of pocket. You may also be able to enjoy discounted services for going along with these shops.
For shops that are not part of your insurer’s network, you may have to jump through hoops for getting your benefits. You will have to negotiate the cost of repairs with the out-of-network shop and your insurance adjuster.
Another benefit of availing the services of an in-network shop is that additional repairs will be carried out for free if it is found that more repairs are needed following the initial inspection. Such a scenario could arise for instance, if more damage is discovered after an initial estimate. In this case, you will not have to pay the cost of additional repairs out of pocket.
Make sure that you do your research to find the most reliable in-network shop for damage repairs. A poorly done repair job could cost you later on. You could face difficulties in selling your vehicle if it is not repaired correctly. A vehicle lease could mean that you may have to pay for the damage done besides the normal depreciation. To avoid these unnecessary costs, make sure that you get the repair job done from the right place.
Is a Car Accident Attorney Necessary for Winning Your Vehicle Accident Claim in California?
In San Francisco, California, a car accident attorney is not required for your vehicle accident claim – in theory, at least. That being said, you are almost certainly sure to benefit from a car accident attorney in California.
You can maximize your chances of winning your claim with a car accident attorney. You can also have a better chance of getting the full payout with a car accident attorney instead of having to settle for a paltry sum.
Car insurance companies are known to fight tooth and nail to avoid payment. They have long experience in the industry and sad to say they are pretty good at denying claims. That is why you simply cannot afford the risk of taking on these companies yourself. They have a repertoire of shady tricks up their sleeves that they ruthlessly exploit for rejecting claims. Don’t let this happen to you. There is simply too much money at stake to bear such a big risk.
But their dubious tactics do not just end here. If they are cornered into paying (most reluctantly of course), they will still try to con you out of what you truly deserve. They will do everything they can to pay a much smaller amount than what they really owe you. If you take the bait and reach a settlement for this small amount, you cannot claim later on that you were tricked into accepting too little. These companies ruthlessly capitalize on the ignorance and naivety of people to coax them into accepting preposterously small sums. Most people have little idea of what they truly deserve under their unique circumstances.
An aggressive car accident lawyer in San Francisco, California like Anh Phoong can help you out. Not only will you be able to accurately size up your chances of winning the claim, you will also become aware of how much you deserve given your circumstances.
Have you been in a vehicle accident? Regardless of how minor the damage or injuries appear to be, you should never take chances. There is no telling how much you can win, as a layperson, from your claim unless you consult a truly capable personal injury lawyer in San Francisco, California like Anh Phoong.