Frequently Asked Questions
Answer is: After you are involved in an accident, the first thing to think about is your health. It is normal to be frightened or in shock but take a deep breath and assess your injuries. Where do you feel pain? How severe is the pain? If you are on the ground, can you safely get up? If you are in a vehicle, are you able to get out of the vehicle? If not, you should probably call for immediate medical attention.
Next, consider your surroundings. Where did the accident happen? How did it happen? What caused the accident? Are there any witnesses near the area? Whether you believe the accident was your fault or not, never admit fault to anyone at the scene. The more documentation you have regarding the accident the better. Take photographs and/or video of the scene, have anybody you are with do the same. Even if don’t feel injured, you never know what you may feel like in the coming hours or days so don’t just act like nothing happened. If you are at a place of business, ask for a manager and insist on completing a report. If you had a motor vehicle accident, call the police and make a report.
Then contact an attorney to consult with about your accident. Attorneys such as those at Moaddel Kremer LLP who specialize in the field of personal injury will discuss your case with you and help you decide if you should file a personal injury claim.
There are many different aspects to consider when determining whether you have a good personal injury claim. In order to recover for your injuries, you must be able to prove that someone else was at fault for your accident. The other person (or entity) must have either been negligent, reckless or committed an intentional act in causing the accident. For instance, if the other driver in a motor vehicle accident rear-ended your vehicle, it is highly likely that the other driver will found to be negligent. If someone hit you inside a bar without provocation, that is an intentional act for which a lawsuit for assault and battery can be brought. If the accident was only partially your fault and partially the fault of another, you can still make a personal injury claim based on the percentage for which the other party was at fault. You can expect that the other party will do their best to minimize their responsibility no matter the circumstances.
An experienced and skillful attorney can help you identify the potentially responsible parties that may not be clear to the average person. For example, the entity or entities responsible for a dangerous road or sidewalk may require research that is not always easily accessible for the public. Sometimes it takes the analysis of experts in the field to determine whether the manufacture or design of certain products should be held responsible when the product fails. It takes the collaboration of both attorney and client to fully understand the potential claim.
After you believe you can prove someone else was at fault, the next step is to prove the accident caused your damages. You can recover for both physical injury and emotional distress in the past and future. You can also recover for time that you missed from work or if you are unable to work in the future as a result of the accident. This is where the importance of seeking immediate medical treatment comes in. If you delay in obtaining medical treatment, the other party will argue that you could not really have been injured. The sooner you receive treatment, the easier it will be to get compensation. Moaddel Kremer has connections with doctors that will see you immediately and evaluate your injuries. Even if you do not have medical insurance, you can receive treatment on a lien basis where you do not have to pay anything for your treatment upfront.
Once attorney and client make the decision to go forward with the claim, the next step is to contact the responsible parties. The attorney will normally send a letter of representation to the other party involved and/or their insurance company to put them on notice of the claim. The attorney can then communicate with the other party on the client’s behalf and allow the client to focus on recovering from their injuries. The attorney will gather your medical records and bills to send to the responsible party to prove your damages.
The other party will start their own investigation of the incident by gathering documents and talking to potential witnesses. Your attorney will advocate your position and give them your version of events. The other party will almost always disagree with how you think the accident happened in an attempt to minimize their exposure. After being presented with the evidence supporting your claim, the other party will decide whether to make an offer or deny responsibility.
In California, there is a 2-year statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit. This gives the injured party 2 years from the date of the accident to go forward with the lawsuit. The lawsuit puts your claim into the court system and there are a number of rules that the parties must abide by once a lawsuit is filed. This allows the parties time during those 2 years to gather the necessary information to make a decision about how to proceed depending on what information is obtained. This also allows the client to receive the proper medical treatment, talk to witnesses and find out as much as possible about what happened.
You don’t have to wait the full 2 years but sometimes it is beneficial to not file the lawsuit immediately. Before you file the lawsuit, both sides may be motivated to negotiate to see if a settlement can be reached before going through the lawsuit process. There are instances when the insurance company would rather pay a settlement than have to fight a righteous lawsuit. Many cases resolve prior to a lawsuit being filed.
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