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AUTO ACCIDENT HANDBOOK

ACCIDENT CHECKLIST Q&A USEFUL TIPS DO’S AND DON’TS

FISHER & TALWAR PROFESSIONAL LAW CORPORATION


Auto Accident Handbook Copyright Š 2013 Fisher & Talwar All Rights Reserved

Please feel free to share this handbook with friends and family, we only ask that you do not modify any content. Thank You!


Table of Contents



1. Introduction 1.1 Why we wrote this 1.2 How to get in touch 1.3 Legal Notice 1.4 Zero Fee Guarantee 2. Three good reasons to get legal help 3. Auto accident checklist 4. Common questions & answers 4.1 What should I do if I was in an accident? 4.2 Do I need an attorney? 4.3 Are there alternatives to going to court? 5.1 Who can recover damages? 5.2 How much can I get for my injuries? 6.1 How much time do I have to file a claim? 6.2 Can I be compensated while out of work? 6.3 Who is going to pay my medical bills? 7.1 I have no health insurance, how does this impact my case? 7.2 What if I was partly at fault? 8. Important Tips 8.1 Uninsured / under-insured coverage 8.2 Med Pay Provision 9. Do’s and Don’ts

FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Introduction

1.1

1

Why We Wrote This In our legal system, you only get one chance to get the compensation you deserve. Once you accept a payment, there is no going back. We wrote this handbook to provide you with a better insight into your rights and options, in hopes that you will make the right decisions should you be injured in an auto accident. Knowledge is power and having the right knowledge can make a huge difference in how you get on with your life after an accident. Hopefully, this handbook will answer some of your questions and point you in the right direction.

1.2

How to Get in Touch If you have any questions you can reach our attorneys directly by calling (213) 891-0777 or sending an email to Vibhu Talwar - vt@fishertalwar.com Our law firm is located at: 801 S. Grand Ave. 11th Fl. Los Angeles, CA 90017 www.ftpersonalinjurylawyers.com

1.3

Legal Notice The information presented in this document is for educational purposes only. Only your attorney can give you legal advice. If you were injured in an accident, you should discuss your options with an attorney before making any sort of decisions. We don’t say this simply to cover our bases; you should really talk to an attorney to get a good assessment of your particular circumstances as they are almost certainly different from anything described here. The information found here or anywhere else online is not a substitute for personal attorney services. Since our consultations are free, we encourage you to give us a call or send us an email to have your questions answered. We’ll let you know if you have a case, then you can legally retain us as your attorneys should you choose to do so.

1.4

Zero Fee Guarantee We’re here to help you and your loved ones get the most money possible. To make the process easy, we want you to be assured that all consultations are completely free and you don’t owe us anything until we win your case.

ZERO FEE

GUARANTEE FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Three Good Reasons to Get Legal Help

1

2

Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of Insurance companies are in the business of making money by paying out the least possible amounts to policy holders. You may be a very nice person and may want to avoid suing entirely, but when your personal health is on the line, there is simply too much at stake. Most people are not familiar with personal injury law and insurance companies are aware of this, enabling them to take advantage of the injured. Unless you know California tort law, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney who will look out for your interests.

2

Get Fair Compensation If you are seriously injured in an auto accident, chances are you cannot afford to spend time working out legal issues. When you hire an attorney, you can focus on the important things like getting better. Your attorney will apply their knowledge and experience to get the most compensation for your injuries. Insurance companies know they cannot bully an attorney into accepting a low-ball offer, which means more money for you.

3

Time is of the Essence Taking certain steps immediately after an auto accident is critical to the value of your case. The longer you wait to get legal help, the lesser your chances of recovering fair compensation.



For example: if you delay or avoid medical treatment only to find yourself in pain later, you lessen the chance of recovering compensation to pay for medical care you are most certain to seek to ease your pain. Insurance companies will claim that because you waited, your injuries must not be as serious as you state them to be or that you were not hurt at all. Where a government entity is involved, failing to file a claim on time can significantly diminish the value of your case or sometimes stop you from seeking compensation entirely. Sometimes people are asked to sign a blanket medical authorization that allows the insurance company to go through your private medical records and argue that your injuries stem from a pre-existing condition. Although this may not be true, it would be more difficult to refute their claim than to hire an attorney in the first place to prevent this from happening.

FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Auto Accident Checklist

3

We hope you never have to use this checklist, but recommend printing a copy and keeping it in your glove box should anything happen.

ACCIDENT SKETCH

DATE OF ACCIDENT TIME

AM

PM

STATE

ZIP

PLACE OF ACCIDENT DRIVER’S NAME DRIVER’S ADDRESS N

CITY

W

PHONE

E S PLEASE INDICATE

DRIVER’S LICENSE

Accident Checklist

VEHICLE MAKE

MODEL

YEAR

INSURANCEY COMPANY

Get medical help Contact the police

POLICY NUMBER

Get license information from all drivers involved Collect contact information from passengers and witnesses

PASSENGERS IN THE VEHICLE

Take photos of the accident scene with camera/phone Sketch the accident as soon as you are able to DO NOT discuss the accident with anyone other than police Contact a qualified auto accident attorney as soon as possible

DESCRIBE THE ACCIDENT

(SPEED, DIRECTION, WEATHER CONDITIONS)

WITNESS #1 NAME

PHONE

ADDRESS

EMAIL

WITNESS #2 NAME

PHONE

ADDRESS

EMAIL

FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Common Questions & Answers

4

What should I do if I was in an accident?

4.1

A:

If you were involved in an accident, follow the steps outlined in the checklist on previous page. The steps are: 1. Get medical help if anyone is injured. 2. Contact the police department so that an officer can make a report. 3. Take photos of the accident scene if you are in capacity to do so. Try not to move anything. The more photos, the better (damages, injuries, license plates etc...) 4. Collect driver’s license information from all drivers involved and their insurance information. 5. If there are any witnesses to what happened, collect their contact information. 6. Report the accident to your insurance company and contact an attorney as soon as you are able to. Do not discuss the accident with anyone other than police.

Do I need an attorney?

4.2

A:

If any of the following are true, then you should speak to an attorney:  You were physically injured in the accident.  You daily activities have been limited by your injuries.  You have medical bills as a result of the accident.  The insurance company is quick to offer an unreasonable settlement.  The accident report is incorrect.  The insurance company is asking you for a recorded statement.  You are said to be at fault when you are not.  You are not sure what your rights are or what to do.  You would rather have an experienced professional negotiate on your behalf.

When the accident is minor and nobody was injured, it may make more economical sense to handle the claim on your own.

Are there alternatives to going to court?

4.3

A:

Yes, you could demand a settlement from the insurance company on your own by submitting copies of your medical records, bills and other supporting documentation of damages sustained. You will be presented with an offer. If you are not satisfied with this offer, you could request mediation. It is unlikely that the insurance company will mediate your claim unless there are serious and/or catastrophic injuries involved, in which case it is better to seek an attorney’s help. Another option is to file a lawsuit requesting the court to order mediation, arbitration or any other form of settlement discussions with parties involved.

FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Common Questions & Answers

5

Who can recover damages?

5.1

A:

The person who is injured has a right to make a claim. Spouse of the injured individual can also seek compensation for being deprived of benefits of a family relationship (having a normal marital relationship). If a close relative witnessed the accident and is emotionally distressed, he or she may also seek to be compensated. If a person dies in an accident, the following individuals may have legitimate claims:  Surviving spouse of the decedent.  Surviving domestic partner.  Surviving children.  Issue of any decedents including children, grandchildren and so on.  Putative spouse - of a void or voidable marriage who is found by court to have

believed in good faith that marriage to decedent was valid.  Children, stepchildren or parents of the putative spouse.

How much can I get for my injuries?

5.2

A:

When you need plumbing repairs, the plumber can give you an accurate estimate of their services based on rate for similar projects in the past and the cost of supplies. Personal injury attorneys rarely have similar cases. For this reason, it is often very difficult to list any sort of dollar figures without looking at the facts of the case. Since each person’s case is different, compensation will vary. In California, you are entitled to general and special damages: General damages consist of “pain and suffering” or “quality of life” damages. This is based on type of injury suffered, amount of discomfort and duration of your injury. Special damages are things such as medical bills, loss of earnings and cost of repairing your vehicle. No attorney can give you a simple value of your settlement. However, a case’s worth is calculable by adding up medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering. Even after all of these things are added up, the figure may be inaccurate depending on how much your medical liens are negotiated down by your attorney, whether you have health insurance and what types of expenses you owe. Expenses vary depending if the case settles or goes to trial.

FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Common Questions & Answers

6

How much time do I have to file a claim?

6.1

A:

Unless you’ve been involved in an accident with a state, county or local governmental entity, you have two years from the date of the accident to file an injury claim in California. Government tort claims must be filed within the first six months from the date of the accident. Failing to file on time will result in losing your right to sue.

Can I be compensated while out of work?

6.2

A:

Yes, if you have missed work due to your injury you are entitled to compensation. State law allows for recovery of general and special damages by the injured. How much you recovery will depend on how much pain and suffering you went through, what your medical bills are, repair costs and how much income you missed due to being injured.

Who is going to pay for my medical bills?

6.3

A:

There is a lot of confusion about who is supposed to pay for your medical bills if the accident was not your fault. Does your personal insurance cover your bills? Does the other driver’s insurance company have to cover them? How does this work? There are four ways to take care of your medical bills: 1. Worker’s compensation claim - employer-provided insurance to cover individuals injured on the job. As long as you were injured in the course and scope of your employment a worker’s compensation claim will cover your medical expenses. 2. Your own health insurance - if you have a personal medical insurance policy, you have the option of having it cover your medical bills per your policy rules and limits. 3. Med Pay - this is an optional provision some people carry on their insurance policy that covers medical expenses. Medical payments coverage applies to all vehicle occupants no matter who was at fault. Check your insurance policy to see if you carry med pay coverage. 4. Medical Lien - an arrangement where you will be treated by a doctor while your medical payments are delayed until you complete your case with the other party. This is the most economical option for people to get the care they need yet still be able to pay their expenses after a settlement is reached. Continued on next page 

FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Common Questions & Answers

7

Note: A lien is not free medical care. If you are unsuccessful at winning your case, any money owed for medical care provided must be repaid (usually via a payment plan). If you choose to be treated on a medical lien basis, our attorneys will work for you to reduce your medical bills, so that you can keep more of your money.

I have no health insurance, how does this impact my case?

7.1

A:

Typically, when you don’t have health insurance, a doctor will treat you on a medical lien. Once your attorney settles your case, your doctor is paid from the settlement. This is beneficial for two reasons: 1. You can get the necessary medical treatment right away without having to worry about payments. 2. You avoid jeopardizing your case by getting treated right away, instead of waiting and allowing time to damage to your potential case.

What if I was partially at fault?

7.2

A:

If part of the accident was your fault, you may still be able to recovery compensation depending on the percentage of your fault. If the defendant’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing the accident, you can still recover money. This is called a comparative negligence system which the State of California has adapted. If you are not sure what percentage fault was your own, give us a call (213) 891-0777 and we will help you determine whether you have a good case. NEXT: Important Tips 

FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Important Tips

8.1

8

Uninsured / Underinsured Coverage A recent survey has revealed that nearly 1 out of every 3 drivers in California is uninsured or under-insured. For this reason, it is best to carry sufficient uninsured / under-insured motorist coverage (UM) on your policy. UM coverage is great to have and allows you to file an injury claim with your own insurance company since the other driver’s coverage is insufficient or non-existent. UM coverage is typically very affordable and we highly recommend it. This type of coverage protects not only you as a driver but also as a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist, and a bystander. Passengers of vehicles, policy holder’s family members and persons you trusted your vehicle to are also protected. What if you don’t have uninsured / underinsured coverage? If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist and your damages exceed their policy limit, your only option for full compensation is to file a lawsuit to go after their assets. However, most people who do not carry coverage or don’t carry sufficient coverage have little in terms of assets. It is in your best interest to be covered under your own policy than risking a lengthy lawsuit that may result in little or no compensation.

8.2

Med Pay Provision Medical payment provision also referred to as med pay or med-pay is a type of voluntary coverage where payments are made to any injured occupant of the vehicle in an accident regardless of who was at fault. There are no deductibles or co-insurance requirements with med pay, which is what makes it so great. You can use reimbursements from med pay to cover your bills before the settlement is reached, avoiding having your bills sent to collection. We highly recommend this type of coverage. If you have any questions about information presented here, please give us a call at (213-891-0777) or email vt@fishertalwar.com

FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Important Tips

9

Do’s and Don’ts





DO: Get medical help right away. Contact the police. Get license information from all drivers involved. Collect contact information from passengers and witnesses. Take as many photos of the accident and vehicle damage as possible. Sketch the accident on the checklist. Notify the DMV of the accident within 10 days of the date of your accident. Notify your insurance company of the accident. Have your own insurance company pay for collision damage. Your insurance company owes you a duty of good faith to fairly and promptly repair your vehicle and settle your property damage.  Have the at fault individual’s insurance company cover your rental car while your vehicle is being repaired.  Hire an attorney to help you get the most for your injuries.         

DON’T:  Don’t avoid medical treatment for any reason. If you do not see a doctor, you risk jeopardizing your claim. The longer you wait, the harder it is to prove that your injuries are related to the accident.  Don’t give the police officer a statement if you are shaken up and can’t think clearly. You can always give a statement after you feel better.  Don’t give the at fault driver’s insurance company any type of statement (written or oral). You are not required to do this and it can significantly hurt your claim.  Don’t accept any personal injury settlement while you are still hurt or being treated by a doctor. You can only obtain a settlement once. If your pain persists after you’ve already settled, you cannot request any further compensation.  Don’t exaggerate your claims. Deception, fraud or stretching the truth will never help you in any way. Also, don’t understate the extent of your injuries as you are entitled to full and fair compensation for injuries caused or exacerbated by the accident.  Don’t avoid speaking to an attorney because you feel that you cannot afford one. Good personal injury attorneys work on contingency basis and only collect fees if your case is resolved successfully. If you have any questions regarding any of the items listed above or any other personal circumstance, give us a call at (213) 891-0777 or email Vibhu Talwar vt@fishertalwar.com. We offer free consultations and collect no fees unless you win.

ZERO FEE

GUARANTEE FISHER & TALWAR

(213) 891-0777

VT@FISHERTALWAR.COM


Auto Accident Handbook  

A handbook for auto accident victims in California that includes useful tips, printable checklist and more.

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