Following are answers to questions frequently encountered at the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel about auto accident claims. If you have further questions or need immediate assistance in an auto accident or other personal injury matter, contact the Law Offices of Baron J. Drexel to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced auto accident and personal injury attorney.
Q. What should I do if I am in an accident?
A. You should first seek emergency medical treatment for yourself and anyone else injured in the accident. Exchange personal information with the other drivers involved, including names, addresses, registration and insurance information. Contact the police if you suspect another driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or if you think a traffic violation has occurred. When the police arrive, provide them with a detailed account of how the accident happened. In the meantime, collect the names and contact information of any witnesses. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to the vehicles. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Q. If the other driver was uninsured, can I still collect?
A. All insurance companies are required to offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you have this coverage, your own insurance company will compensate you when you are injured by an insured driver or one who doesn’t carry enough coverage to fully compensate you.
Even if the negligent driver is uninsured, he or she is still responsible for causing your injuries, and you may sue that person and obtain a judgment in the amount you are owed. Your attorney can then help you with different post-judgment remedies to collect from the person’s financial assets which are subject to judgment.
Q. Do I really need a lawyer to negotiate with the insurance company?
A. Whether you are dealing with the negligent defendant’s insurance company or your own, having legal representation is vital to obtaining a fair settlement. Insurance companies and their claims adjusters have a financial incentive to minimize payments on claims, and they will not necessarily offer you the true value of your claim. An experienced attorney knows how to properly evaluate a claim and negotiate for what your case is really worth. When an insurance company is dealing with a lawyer that they know is willing to go trial and has a record of success in court, they are much more likely to offer a fair settlement. Also, dealing with an insurance company without legal counsel could result in your unknowing waiver of important legal rights, including filing a lawsuit in a timely manner. For information regarding the applicable statute of limitations in an auto accident case in California, see the personal injury faqs page.