Take the Right Steps in the Early Stages of a Car Accident Case

Car Accident Case

The decisions you make in the moments, hours and days after a California car accident can have important consequences for your legal and financial interests. A good way to protect yourself if you have been in a car accident is to know what steps to take and in what order.

Until you have the chance to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer, you’ll be acting on your own. Any serious mistakes you make can expose you to criminal punishment as well as hurting your chance of recovering damages from the other driver’s insurer or your own.

Six Essentials After a California Car Accident

The following recommendations will help you avoid problems while protecting your legal interests in the immediate aftermath of an auto accident in the Bay Area. Then it’s a good idea to discuss your situation with an attorney who can provide additional advice about your legal options. Contact the law firm of Weber & Nierenberg in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose or San Rafael for a free consultation.

Here’s what you need to do right after a car accident in California:

    1. Stop and Stay at the Scene. If you hit something or someone, stop. If someone hits you, stop. Leaving the scene of an accident until you take care of some essential business is a serious crime and could not only create major problems for your license, it could send you to jail.

 

    1. Do What You Can for Injured Persons. Before you leave an accident scene, you and the other driver (if any) should check to see if anyone was hurt and do what you can to help – call 911, render first aid, or take an injured person to the hospital as soon as possible. Don’t worry about getting sued for injuries caused by your efforts in an emergency situation — California’s Good Samaritan Law will protect you from liability.

 

    1. Exchange Information With the Other Driver. California law requires you to give the following information to the other driver: your name, address and phone number; your auto insurance carrier and contact information; and your license plate number. You have the right to receive the same information concerning any other driver involved with the accident. If any witnesses stopped, get their names and phone numbers, too. Do not express opinions about whether you are hurt, who caused the crash, or any other matters that could later come up as evidence in a lawsuit.
    2. Report the Accident to the DMV. State law requires you to report any motor vehicle accident that results in property damage over $750 or an injury of any kind to a person. You need to complete a DMV Form SR 1 (“Report of Accident Occurring in California”) and send it in within 10 days of the accident. It’s not enough to report the accident to local law enforcement, call 911 or give a statement to a police officer.

 

    1. Report the Accident to Your Insurance Company. Your auto insurance policy requires timely notification before you will be entitled to receive coverage under your own policy. You are also under an obligation to cooperate with your insurer in its investigation of your claim or any claim against you. That doesn’t mean you should answer all questions right away, though. Give your insurer a bare-bones report of the accident right away, then politely decline to give more detailed information until you have consulted with an attorney.

 

    1. If You Were Hurt in Any Way, Get Medical Treatment. In the most serious accidents, victims will be taken be taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room, then perhaps transferred to a regional trauma center. In the less serious range of accidents, however, people will often be tempted to decline treatment and continue on their way. This is a mistake. Many low-impact car accidents cause apparently minor injuries that will not get better on their own. Get medical treatment right away, if only to get an idea of what symptoms to watch out for.

 

Once you take care of these six essential steps right after a car accident, it’s time to consider legal advice about your insurance coverage, your right to personal injury damages, or your own risk of getting sued. With four offices throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, the personal injury law firm of Weber & Nierenberg has a regional reputation for excellence in client service and case results in car accident litigation of all kinds.

For a free consultation about your legal options following a car accident anywhere in the Bay Area, contact Weber & Nierenberg in San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose or San Rafael. To learn more about our lawyers’ experience and our firm’s approach to auto accident claims, see our website at www.weberandnierenberg.com.

When Your Insurance Company Gives You the Runaround

San Francisco Bay Area Bad-Faith Insurance Attorneys

When you buy an insurance policy from an insurer, your insurer is responsible for providing coverage under the terms of the policy, acting in good faith toward you and defending you if you are sued, and the insurer must consider your interests to be equal to those of the insurer itself. When an insurer fails to pay a claim for coverage you have or takes an inordinate amount of time to pay a claim, they can be held financially liable for bad faith practices. When this happens, the financial consequences for you, the policyholder, can be significant, as unpaid medical bills and lost wages continue to create financial difficulty for you and your family.

If your insurer has rejected a personal injury claim or takes an unusually long time to pay a claim, it’s important to read the Declarations section of your policy and contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss the options available to you.

Claim Denials — When Insurers Reject a Claim

In general, an insurer may deny a claim for one or more of the following reasons:
• A “loss event” is not covered under the terms of a policy
• A claims agent incorrectly decided to deny benefits that should have been provided under the terms of your policy
• Your claim contained misleading or inaccurate information, leading a claims agent to mistakenly decide you are not covered for the losses incurred
• A claims agent failed to properly review the evidence associated with your claim, mistakenly issuing a denial as a result

Depending on the specifics of your case, a simple review of your policy may be enough to correct any mistakes on the part of your insurer in your initial filing or claims presentation. If your insurer is unwilling to revisit the issue, it may be necessary to hire a personal injury attorney who can send a demand letter and prepare for litigation.

Bad-Faith Insurance Practices — When a Claim Takes Too Long

If you have a valid claim and have submitted a properly prepared injury claim, your insurer should issue payment in a timely fashion. When an insurer fails to return calls, insists everything is in order but won’t release a check or continues to ask you to resubmit documentation, they may be stalling while their legal department decides what to do. If you hire an attorney to represent you as soon as you encounter unreasonable delays, you can often preempt further problems and resolve the issue.

In another form of bad-faith insurance practice, an insurer may offer to pay your claim but for less than what the policy indicates. An insurer may think you’ll simply take what you can get rather than risk going to court and waiting months for a claims payout. Should this happen, consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Insurance companies that engage in bad-faith practices can be held financially liable for any harm suffered as a result.

Contact San Francisco Bad-Faith Insurance Attorneys at Weber & Nierenberg

Policyholders have a right to expect prompt payment on losses they’re insured for. If you’ve encountered difficulties with your insurer, contact San Francisco Bay Area personal injury attorneys today to learn how we can help you.

Insurance Companies Are Not Your Friends

Insurance companies are in business to make money. They are accountable to their stockholders, not their policyholders. Insurance companies make money, in part, by collecting as much as possible in insurance premiums and paying out as little as possible in insurance claims.

Insurance companies have employees and large law firms on retainer just to figure how to avoid paying your claim or to pay you as little as possible. Many insurance adjusters will approach you under the guise of friendship, but the fact is that their interests are directly opposed to your. They make their money by helping the insurance company limit the amount of compensation they pay you after an auto accident.

If you have been involved in a car wreck, motorcycle accident or other motor vehicle accident, you will want to seek counsel and advice from someone who is on your side; someone whose interests are aligned with your own. You want an experienced Bay Area personal injury lawyer (preferably one with experience in the type of motor vehicle accident responsible for your injuries or loss) to guide you through the legal system and help you maximize your compensation, rather than limit it.

With more than 25 years of experience, Weber & Nierenberg will gives every case personal attention from the day of your first consultation until the day your case is resolved by way of settlement or trial.
For more information contact Weber & Nierenberg at 1-866-288-6010
for a free consultation.

 
 
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