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What is an Accident Lawsuit?


Every driver in California is required to carry an active insurance policy, and the policyholder must notify the company immediately. Accidents can be stressful or traumatic experiences, and you may or may not regain consciousness. However, you should call the telephone number on your insurance card as soon as you have gathered your thoughts and are coherent. If your insurer offers a mobile app or website, you can use it to submit a claim.


Regardless of who was at fault for the accident, you need to contact your insurance company as soon as possible. Uninsured people can file a claim with the guilty party's insurer if they believe the other party was at fault either entirely or partially.

An individual involved in a car accident has the right to be represented to protect their interests. Insurance companies and adjusters always work to protect the interests of their clients. 


People to Call After an Accident

Call Who?

Following a car accident, here is a list of the people you should call in order of importance:

  1. First responders, if immediate medical assistance is required;

  2. In the event of an accident that causes more damage than a fender bender, contact local law enforcement

  3. Usually, an individual's own auto insurance company or, if he or she is uninsured and not at fault for the accident, the other party's insurer.

Your Fault For An Accident

My Fault

The first-party insurance company must be notified no matter who is at fault for the accident. A Med Pay policy or California collision insurance pays regardless of fault.

It is possible that the other party is at fault despite your beliefs. People in the United States can recover damages even if they have contributed to the accident in some way. This law is called "comparative negligence/shared fault.". 

A third party might be able to make a claim against your insurance if you caused the accident. If you notify your insurer as soon as possible, you will have the opportunity to tell them about the accident. 

DMV Notification For Accidents 

DMV Notification

Drivers in California are required to notify the DMV within 10 days of an accident if; A person was killed or injured (however minor the injury may have been), or the property damage from the accident exceeded $1,000. 

You are not suing for damages if you report an accident to your insurance company or the DMV until you have retained an attorney like myself. To protect your right to recover damages, you will need to file a lawsuit against the party that refuses to accept responsibility and pay for your damages.

2-Year Window to File Claim 

Claim Window Period

An accident victim has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim for damages. A two-year window only applies to a person who intends to file a lawsuit, not to the time it takes to notify the California DMV or your insurer about the accident. Notifying your insurance company too late may affect your ability to recover damages.

No Insurance Coverage 

No Insurance

You can file a claim with the person's insurer if you don't have insurance, even if you weren't at fault. You are not represented by the insurance company of the guilty party. Unfortunately, they may also disregard your claim.


For this reason, it is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced accident lawyer before claiming directly against the other party's insurance.

Car Repair Shops 

Repair Shop

Certainly. You can choose to have your car repaired by any body shop you wish after a car accident.

There are typically repair shops that work directly with insurance companies, sometimes even at a discounted rate. To find out about any recommended auto repair shop, you should ask your insurance company. 

Additionally, using an in-network repair shop may help expedite the process and improve communication between your insurer, adjuster, and attorney. In either case, you are at liberty to hire any repair shop, just make sure you hire the best. Should you need to sell your vehicle in the future, a poor car repair could make it difficult. 

Making a Claim Without an Attorney 

Do I Need an Attorney?

If the damages to your car are minimal and you were not injured, it is okay to file a claim on your own. A lawyer like me should represent you, however, if the damage to your car was substantial and you were injured. Adjusters specialize in saving insurance companies the most amount of money. An attorney like myself will know how to get you the highest amount of compensatory damages possible. 

The Process of Settling a Claim 

Settling Claim

When a car accident claim is processed by an insurance company, an adjuster is assigned to your claim. Insurance companies will get your statement which will be used to develop a conclusion of who is at fault. The insurance adjuster will contact you by phone most likely to document your claim. Each point of contact either by phone, email, or text will be documented. Under California law, insurance companies must contact you within 15 days of receiving notice of a claim.


Am I Obligated To Give The Adjuster A Recorded Statement?

Adjusters will advise you if they record your statement. You have every right to not agree to being recorded and can politely decline. Share the facts of the accident.  Avoid stating that you feel fine okay or give the impression that you are in a hurry to settle and move forward. Anything you say can and will be used against you if necessary. The point being you can not close any opportunities you may have until an accident has been properly resolved. If you are asked about your health status or wellbeing you can truthfully say that it’s too early to be certain.

Recorded Statements 


You will be notified if your statement is recorded by the adjuster. If you do not wish to be recorded, you can politely decline. Provide the facts of the accident.  Make sure not to claim you are fine or give the impression that you are hurrying to settle with anything. You may be held responsible for anything you say. Until an accident has been properly resolved, you cannot close any opportunities you may have. If you are asked about your health status or wellbeing you can truthfully say that it’s too early to be certain.

Settlement Process

Independent Medical Examinations  

You can politely decline an independent medical examination if you are asked by the adjuster.The insurance companies pay for IME exams, and they are unlikely to be helpful in assessing your claim. Instead, you can politely inform adjusters that you will authorize them to access your medical records from your medical providers if you sign a medical release.

It is generally best not to discuss your medical condition with anyone besides your doctor and instead let your lawyer handle your case. Ideally, you would already have a lawyer representing you in the case.

Settlement Process 

Settlemet Offer

It is the responsibility of insurance companies to investigate claims in a timely manner after receiving a claim notification. Insurance companies are not required to send a written notification. 

The claim must also be accepted or denied no more than 40 days after it has been proven. Evidence must be clear and evident for you to be able to prove you are entitled to compensation resulting from the accident. Claims can be proven in a matter of days if it is easy to prove the claim and fault can be easily identified.

The process of resolving a claim or case can take a considerable amount of time if assigning fault is an issue between the insurance companies. Usually, it takes several months or years to settle a complex case.

As long as you are prepared with paperwork, photos, witness contact information, and other evidence, the case can move smoothly.

Demand Letter

Settlement Offer Made 

A settlement offer will be made to you once an adjuster has thoroughly investigated your claim. As a reminder, when cases can be easily resolved, the damages will be offered to pay for your vehicle repairs and provide you with reasonable medical treatment. A settlement with a pain and suffering component is not common, but it may be offered by an insurance company.

A lawyer can help you get a fair offer if the initial offer you get is significantly less than what you rightfully deserve.

A low offer from an insurance company may be due to the following factors: the adjuster wants to limit the insurance company's expenses while you are receiving medical treatment; it is disputed by the other insurance company as to who is at fault; or the adjusters simply hope you are desperate or uninformed enough to accept their first offer.

The Negotiation

The Negotiation

Negotiation is the most critical phase of a car insurance claim. At this stage of the case, your lawyer and you will have the chance to present your evidence and make an argument for more money that reflects your calculated compensation rights. 

An adjuster's highest priority is to reduce the insurer's liability by resolving the claim as quickly as possible. To force an insurance company to make a fair offer, you may need to file a lawsuit.

The Settlement Agreement

Settlement Agreement

You will be required to sign a settlement agreement once you and the opposing insurance company have reached an agreement. An agreement for settlement is a complete and final resolution of your claims, which legally releases the other party from any other claims or lawsuits in the future. If you enter into a settlement agreement, you forfeit your right to sue, even if you discover later that your injuries were more serious or your car required additional repairs than you originally thought.

Receiving Money After a Settlement 

Claim Money

Typically, the insurance company pays the repair shop directly if you use one of the shops within its network. Upon receiving an original of the settlement agreement, the insurance company will pay for all other damages.You may be held liable to pay other parties out of the proceeds - for example, a doctor or body shop not reimbursed by your insurer.

Before you spend your settlement money elsewhere, make sure you do not have any outstanding bills for services you used due to this accident. 

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