If you have been involved in a car accident in Los Angeles, you are not alone.
According to a report by Statista, in 2020, there were around 3,723 fatal motor vehicle accidents in California, with the majority of deaths involving passenger cars.
In Los Angeles, 238 people died in collisions in 2020, a virtually unchanged number compared to the previous year, even though the traffic was historically low in 2020.
These crashes involve head-on collisions, sideswipe accidents, rear-end crashes, t-bone collisions, and auto/pedestrian accidents, with broadside and auto/pedestrian accidents being among the most deadly.
Here’s what to do after you’ve been in an accident:
Check for injuries
In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, the first thing you should do is check for injuries, your own, and anyone else’s.
Call for help
If someone is hurt, call 911 immediately. People’s safety and health should take top priority following a crash.
While you are at the scene of the accident, it is recommended to call the police, even if no immediate injuries are apparent.
In addition to ensuring everyone’s safety, this will result in the creation of an official police report, which can provide important evidence if you end up filing a claim, or offer protection if the other driver makes an unfair claim against you.
Be sure to exchange contact information with the other driver(s) and take pictures of the accident.
Notify your insurance
Let your insurer know about the crash in a timely manner. Your auto insurance company may penalize you for failure to notify them of the accident within a few days.
Please note: do not discuss any details of the crash with the insurance company until you’ve consulted with a Los Angeles auto accident lawyer.
Report to the DMV
If anyone was injured or the vehicle damage was above $1,000, you must also report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days, as directed by California Vehicle Code 16000. Failure to do so may result in your license being suspended.
California claim and insurance law
In California, you must file an injury claim within two years of your accident, in order to abide by the state’s statute of limitations. If you file a claim regarding property damage, you have three years from the date of the accident.
Furthermore, California law requires that vehicles be covered with a minimum of 15/30/5 insurance. This means that your insurance company would pay up to:
- $15,000 for an injured person or fatality,
- $30,000 for more than one injured person or fatality, and
- $5,000 for property damage.
If the other driver was at fault, you would file the claim with their insurance provider.
It is also worth noting that California’s liability laws take into account partial fault. If you were found to be 60 percent at fault, for example, you could still receive compensation for damages based on the percentage that you were not at fault.
What not to do after a car crash
While it is important to take the above steps after a car accident, it is also critical to avoid taking certain actions, so as to not jeopardize a potential injury claim.
Specifically, we advise against arguing with others involved in the collision, admitting fault (even saying “I’m sorry” could be misconstrued as an admission of guilt), making promises with regard to payments, and telling the other driver that you sustained no injuries in the crash.
Many injuries, such as internal bleeding and soft-tissue damage, do not produce immediate symptoms, so you may not realize that you’ve been injured. It is not advisable to state that you were uninjured at the scene of the accident, this could give the driver’s insurance company a reason to deny your injury claim down the road.
Types of damages for compensation
The types of damages you can recover after a car accident are largely dependent on the cause of the accident, and the severity of any injuries and property damage. Common types of damages in a motor vehicle crash include:
- Medical expenses, current and future;
- Lost income, current and future;
- Vehicle repair expenses;
- Emotional pain and suffering;
- Alternate transportation costs;
- Disability; and
- Wrongful death.
Economic damages, such as medical and vehicle repair bills are relatively straightforward. If you have $25,000 in medical bills, you will likely seek $25,000 in damages to cover the cost of those bills. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are more challenging to calculate, but they frequently account for the most significant percentage of the total settlement.
Given the complexity of California car accident rules and regulations, it is in your best interest to contact a car accident attorney immediately following a crash. With more than 45 years of combined experience, our car accident attorneys at MAJK Law can get you the compensation you need promptly so that you can heal and get on with your life.
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