How Do I Protect My Assets After a Car Accident?
You will always be more able to protect your assets before a car accident than after, but there are asset protection strategies that you can apply in the immediate aftermath of a car crash. These strategies are particularly important in California where liability may be allocated among the parties to an accident in proportion to their relative levels of responsibility for the crash.
The Los Angeles car accident lawyers at Ellis Injury Law represent individuals to recover the damages they deserve after they have suffered injuries in southern California automobile collisions. We use the knowledge and experience we have developed through our more than 25 years of helping injured accident victims to advise our clients on how they can best protect their assets in the event of auto accidents that leave drivers and passengers with significant injuries and losses.
Your checklist of asset protection strategies right after a crash
A car accident will inevitably cause confusion and emotional reactions from everyone involved in it. The more you can control your emotions, the better off you will be when it comes to protecting your assets. To the extent possible, you should follow some basic guidelines in reacting to the accident:
- Call the local police and emergency services. Dial 911 as soon as is possible if someone was injured in the accident. Injuries are best addressed and treated by trained responders rather than by other participants in the accident, who can make injuries worse if they do not treat them properly.
- Take multiple photographs of the accident scene and gather as much evidence of how the accident happened as is possible. Write down your best recollection of the accident. Get names and insurance information from other drivers, and contact information from any eyewitnesses. File accident reports with local and state authorities as may be required by law.
- Promptly report the accident to your own insurance company. Your insurer will assign an adjuster to the matter and will manage communications with other insurers. If another party’s insurance company contacts you directly, refer them to your own insurance company.
- Do not admit that you caused or had any fault for the accident. Any statements that you make at an accident scene can be used as evidence against you and can place your assets at greater risk as the losses and damages are allocated among the parties.
Your asset protection strategies before an accident
Before any accidents happen, you should review your insurance coverage and assess how your assets are owned and titled to protect those assets. Specifically:
- Title each of your cars only in the name of the car’s primary driver. That driver’s assets may be exposed if another party’s injuries and losses exceed the driver’s insurance coverage, but in most cases, only the assets of the person who is named as the title owner of the car will be so exposed.
Talk to your insurance agent about umbrella liability insurance. Umbrella liability coverage will reimburse another party’s damages after auto insurance liability caps are exceeded.
- Be careful of joint ownership of your other assets. Any jointly-owned assets may be exposed if another driver’s injuries exceed the limits of auto liability coverage, but assets that are titled and owned by a person other than the owner of the car that was in the accident will generally be shielded.
- If the value of your assets is significant, consider more advanced asset protection strategies, including placing your assets into a trust, holding assets in corporations or limited liability companies, and using retirement accounts and real estate homestead protections.
Your opportunity to recover maximum damages when the other party has protected assets
An experienced car accident lawyer will look for all sources of recovery to compensate an accident victim for the full amount of his or her losses and injuries after an automobile collision. If, for example, a negligent party transfers the titles to assets immediately after an accident, a knowledgeable car accident attorney will seek to reverse those transfers because they are fraudulent. That attorney will also consider whether the negligent party’s employer bears any liability and whether other insurance carriers might cover any of the accident victim’s losses. In every case, you should not assume that you will be unable to recover a large damage award solely because a negligent party is claiming poverty. The key to that recovery is retaining a lawyer that knows where assets and resources may be found.
Call Ellis Injury Law to discuss your case
The car accident attorneys at Ellis Injury Law represent car accident victims in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California. We have recovered more than $350 million for our clients, and we understand the strategies that negligent parties use to protect their assets. Please see our website or call us for answers to your asset protection questions after your car accident.