Irvine Car Accident Lawyer Helping Victims Recover the Compensation They Deserve
In mere moments, an auto accident can upend your life and leave you uncertain about what to do next. While you should be able to focus on your health and recovery, you may be worried about the future. A car accident lawyer in Irvine can help you file a strong insurance claim which can help you get back on your feet.
Unlike some states, California state law always allows victims of car accidents to seek compensation from the at-fault party even if they also share some responsibility in the crash. Do not feel pressured to take the initial settlement offered by the insurance company, as you may be eligible for much more to cover your expenses resulting from the accident. Hejazi Law Group will stand up for your rights and assist you in getting the full compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages, and more. Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate and helpful car accident lawyer: (949) 749-7402.
What Should You Do If You Have Been Involved in a Car Crash?
In the aftermath of a car accident, it is vital to stay calm and take action to protect your well-being and your rights. The safety and health of yourself and your loved ones should always be your priority. If anyone is injured, call 911. When emergency services arrive, carefully follow their directions and do not refuse medical treatment if it is recommended.
After this, if you are able or if there is a trusted person at the scene to help you, you should attempt to follow these steps:
- Contact the police: If they have not been informed already, call them so they can arrive and create a police report.
- Gather insurance information: This includes the other driver(s) policy number, the insurance company’s name, and the company’s phone number.
- Take photos of the scene: Use your phone to record pictures and videos of the accident scene from different angles.
- Collect witness contact information: Write down the names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses to the crash so your lawyer can contact them later.
- Call a car accident lawyer: They can advise you on any other actions you need to take and will begin investigating your crash while the evidence is still fresh.
What Happens if My Car is Totaled in Irvine, CA?
When a car is “totaled,” the cost to repair the car exceeds its current value. In other words, the car is so damaged that it’s not worth fixing. Typically, insurance companies will declare a car totaled if the cost to repair it is 75-80% or more of its current value.
If your car is totaled, your insurance company will pay you the current value of the car (minus your deductible). This can create a difficult financial situation if you still owe money on your car loan, as the insurance payout may not cover the remaining balance.
What Steps Should You Take if Your Car Is Totaled?
If your car is totaled, the first thing you should do is notify your insurance company. They will send an adjuster to assess the damage and determine whether the car can be repaired or if it’s a total loss. Once your insurance company has determined that your car is totaled, they will provide you with a payout based on the car’s current value.
When your insurance company declares your car as “totaled,” they are essentially saying that the cost to repair your car exceeds its actual cash value (ACV). The ACV is determined by factors such as the car’s age, mileage, and condition, as well as any recent repairs or upgrades.
It’s important to note that the ACV may not necessarily be the same as what you paid for the car. For example, if you bought a new car and were in an accident a few months later, the ACV may be less than what you paid due to depreciation.
If you still owe money on your car loan, it’s important to let your insurance company know. They will typically pay the car’s value directly to your lender, and if there’s any money left over, they will give it to you.
If you don’t agree with your insurance company’s assessment of your car’s value, you have the right to dispute it. You can provide evidence such as receipts for recent repairs or maintenance, as well as similar car listings in your area to show that your car is worth more than what the insurance company is offering. An injury claims lawyer serving Irvine can also help you with this process and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
If you decide to keep your totaled car, you’ll need to get a salvage title from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This will allow you to legally own the car, but it will also impact its resale value in the future.
What Other Costs Might I Incur if My Car Is Totaled in Irvine?
If your car has been totaled, there may be other expenses that you incur. Some of these expenses from your car accident may include:
- Towing and storage fees: If your car is not drivable after the accident, it may need to be towed and stored until the insurance company can assess the damage. You may be responsible for these fees, depending on the terms of your insurance policy.
- Medical expenses: If you or your passengers were injured in the accident, you may incur medical expenses such as hospital bills, doctor’s fees, and physical therapy costs. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may be responsible for paying these expenses.
- Deductible: If you have a deductible on your insurance policy, you’ll need to pay that amount before the insurance company will cover the rest of the costs associated with the accident.
- Loss of use: If you’re unable to use your car for an extended period of time while your claim is being processed, you may be able to claim loss of use damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This can cover the cost of alternative transportation such as taxis or rideshare services.
- Diminished value: If your car is repaired after the accident, it may have a lower resale value than it did before the accident. You may be able to claim diminished value damages from the at-fault driver’s insurance company to compensate for this loss.
It’s important to keep accurate records of any expenses you incur as a result of the accident, including receipts and invoices. This will make it easier to claim these expenses from the insurance company and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Irvine attorneys specializing in motor vehicle accidents can also help you navigate the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
What Penalties Could You Face If You Leave the Scene of a Car Accident?
In California, every driver has a duty to stop if they’ve been involved in a car accident. Otherwise, they may face hit-and-run charges. This is true even if you did not cause the accident or if it occurred on private property. While you are allowed to drive a short distance to a location that is safe to park, you must then go back to the scene of the accident and perform these steps:
- Find the owner of the other vehicle and exchange insurance and contact information. If the other car is unattended, you may leave a note with your information on it.
- Immediately file a police report with local authorities.
- Provide reasonable assistance and call for emergency help if anyone is injured.
Failure to do any of these things can result in criminal charges. Most hit-and-run cases are misdemeanors. These usually involve accidents where there were no injuries and a minimal amount of property damage. The typical sentence for a misdemeanor hit and run is up to 6 months in jail and fines of up to $1,000. If the accident resulted in serious bodily harm or death, the charge may be increased to a felony hit and run. This charge carries penalties of up to 36 months in prison and fines of up to $10,000. No matter the charge, you may also have to pay restitution, be placed on probation and have your driving privileges impacted.
Why Is It Critical to Seek Medical Treatment After Any Motor Vehicle Accident?
Whether a major car accident or a minor fender bender, a crash causes most people to have a stress response and unconsciously release adrenaline. This response can often mask the signs of severe injuries, especially internal ones. Victims can sometimes be gravely injured and not realize it. For this reason, it is always recommended to seek an immediate medical evaluation after any accident, even if you feel perfectly fine. A good rule of thumb is that if your vehicle did not escape the force of the crash without damage, you likely didn’t either.
The second reason for getting prompt medical care is to create medical records of your injuries that can be referenced if you decide to pursue a personal injury lawsuit. If you get medical care immediately after the crash and they diagnose your injuries and provide treatment, it is easy to show that those injuries resulted from the auto accident. If you wait several days or weeks before seeking treatment, it opens the door for the insurance company to argue that your injuries weren’t actually as bad as you claim and may have been caused by something unrelated to the accident. This could negatively impact your personal injury claim.
What Injuries Can Victims Suffer in Car Accidents?
Even with all the safety features built into modern cars, car accidents can leave victims reeling from a catastrophic injury that alters their life. Car crashes can leave injury victims permanently disabled or with chronic, debilitating pain. The most severe car accident types often result in fatalities, particularly head-on collisions, rollovers, and under-ride crashes. However, any crash can have lasting impacts on a victim. Some of the most common examples of car accident injuries include:
- Back, head, and neck injuries
- Broken or fractured bones
- Severed limbs
- Head trauma and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
Survivors of car accidents may be saddled with massive medical bills from hospital stays, surgery, rehab, and home health care. Victims often miss work while healing and may even lose their income entirely if the injuries lead to disability. Even a relatively minor accident can snowball into a financial crisis. It is critical in these situations to have trusted representation for car crash victims in Irvine on your side who will fight to get you maximum compensation for your damages.
How Is Fault Determined After a Car Accident?
Accurately determining fault in California motor vehicle accidents is key because it directly impacts how much may be awarded in damages. California operates under a pure comparative fault system. In this system, anyone involved in a car accident case can file an insurance claim as long as they are not 100% at fault for the accident. However, the compensation awarded is reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the individual. Car insurance companies often attempt to shift blame onto the accident victims because it decreases the settlement amount they ultimately have to pay.
When establishing whether a driver was at fault, evidence is critical. The evidence your car accident attorney may gather includes police reports, photos of the accident scene, witness interviews, and reconstructions. To be considered at fault, a driver must be found negligent in the maintenance or operation of their vehicle. Examples of negligent driving may include, but are not limited to:
- Disobeying traffic signs or signals
- Disregarding traffic or weather conditions
- Driving the wrong way
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Failing to use turn signals
- Operating a vehicle recklessly
- Merging incorrectly
What Should You Do If an Insurance Adjuster Contacts You?
Insurance adjusters are employees of the other party’s insurance company who assess how much compensation should be paid for an insurance claim. They will likely contact you soon after your auto accident to gather information about your claim. While you should remain polite in your conversations with them, you should keep in mind that although they may seem friendly, they do not have your best interests at heart. They will often ask leading questions to get you to give statements that may damage your case.
Some helpful tips for speaking with insurance adjusters are:
- Write down the name and contact info of the adjuster.
- Politely decline to provide in-depth information while the accident investigation is ongoing.
- Record what questions you were asked and your answers.
- Stick to the basics and answer “yes” or “no” to questions as much as possible.
- Do not give descriptions of your injuries or provide personal information beyond your contact information and occupation.
- Do not agree to any settlement offers without consulting a personal injury attorney first.
If you are uncertain of how to answer questions or if you do not have the energy to speak with the claims adjuster due to your injuries, you have the option to ask your car accident attorney to talk with them on your behalf. This can give you the time and space you need to heal and protect you from unintentionally saying something that may harm your case.
What Compensation May Car Accident Victims Recover?
Personal injury lawsuits hold the at-fault party liable for your losses. If the other driver was partially or entirely at fault for the accident, you are able to seek compensation. This even applies if it was a single-car accident. For example, your vehicle may have had an equipment malfunction that caused the crash, and the manufacturer may be liable.
Two main types of damages can be recovered in a car accident claim. The first is economic damages. These compensate for financial losses that happened due to your injury. Examples of economic damages include:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Loss of future earning potential
- Vehicle and property replacement or repair costs
Non-economic damages are the other category of damages awarded in a car accident claim. These are non-monetary losses you suffered from the car accident. Generally, the severity of your injuries and how long they will continue to impact you determines the amount of these damages. Examples of non-economic damages can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
In some cases where the negligent behavior by the at-fault driver showed an extreme disregard for the well-being and safety of others, the court may decide to award additional punitive damages. These damages are meant as another form of punishment for the offender and may dissuade others from committing the same grossly negligent actions.
What Can an Irvine Car Accident Attorney Do for You?
Dealing with insurance companies after a car accident can be challenging. Insurance companies only view you as a claim number, but an experienced car accident attorney works to understand all the ways your car crash has impacted your life. Hejazi Law Group will work tenaciously for you and your family after your accident. There are many ways in which a personal injury lawyer can make the claims process more manageable and less stressful for you, including:
- Performing a thorough investigation of your case and collecting supporting evidence for your claim
- Negotiating settlement offers with the insurance company on your behalf
- Ensuring that insurance companies give your claim the time and attention it deserves instead of relegating it to the back burner
- Ensuring your case’s value is appropriately calculated, so you receive fair compensation for your losses
- Organizing and promptly filing all necessary documents for your claim
Car accidents happen in a moment but can leave victims with extensive medical bills and long-term physical, mental, and financial consequences. You deserve a compassionate lawyer who puts your needs first and will fight for justice and fair compensation. Call our law firm today to schedule a free consultation to learn about all your legal options: (949) 749-7402.