What Are My Rights as a Car Accident Victim?
A serious car accident changes your life, often irrevocably. During this difficult time, it is critical to know your rights, which includes the right to seek damages for the losses suffered due to another party’s recklessness or negligence.
However, just because car accident victims have certain rights does not mean that other entities, such as insurance companies, will not try to exploit them. That is why it is imperative to seek legal counsel right away after a car crash.
The Los Angeles car accident lawyers at Ellis Injury Law protects your rights while helping you receive the maximum compensation for your injuries. Over the past quarter-century, our dedicated legal team has recovered more than $350 million in settlements and verdicts for injured clients.
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The right to not make a statement
After an accident, the other party’s insurance company is likely to contact the victim within a few days asking for a recorded statement. You have the right not to make such a statement. In fact, the insurance adjuster is likely looking for an opportunity to use anything said against you.
Keep in mind insurance companies want to settle claims for as little as possible. The way questions are asked is often designed to have a person inadvertently admit fault. Even a simple apology might get twisted into claiming fault for the crash. Do not make a statement or agree to sign any documents until you obtain legal representation.
Your lawyer will help you put together a statement to ensure you do not mistakenly compromise your claim.
The right to pursue damages
A car accident victim has the right to pursue damages, or compensation, from another party at fault in the collision. While this party is usually the other driver, they are not necessarily the only entity involved. Much depends on the circumstances of the accident. For example, if the accident occurred because of a vehicle defect, such as faulty brakes, the manufacturer or repair shop may prove liable. The same holds true if road issues, such as debris or poor maintenance, contributed to the crash. Under these conditions, you might file a claim against the jurisdiction responsible for the road, whether on the state, county, or local level.
California’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the accident. After that time, a claim cannot go forward. However, when a claim involves a government authority, the window is much shorter. Such claims require filing within six months of the accident, so time is of the essence.
In California, car accident victims may receive damages for:
- Medical expenses, present, and future
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
Other than medical malpractice claims, California does not impose a cap on damages.
Protecting your rights
While your lawyer will protect your rights, there are ways to protect yourself. Do not comment on your accident on social media, as insurance representatives will scour such sites looking for any information they can use against you. For best results, stay off social media entirely until your case is settled or do not post anything personal.
After a car accident, go to the emergency room immediately or to an urgent care center. Do not wait, even if you think you were not badly hurt. Many injuries are not apparent immediately. Not only does putting off a medical examination potentially harm your health, but it will harm your claim. The insurance company will state that your injuries are not serious if you waited to seek medical attention, or that the car accident did not cause them.
Contact a Los Angeles car accident lawyer
If you or a loved one were seriously injured in a car accident because of another driver’s negligence, contact an experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer at Ellis Injury Law as soon as possible. We offer free consultations, which you can arrange by calling or texting 24/7 or completing our online form.
After evaluating your case, we will discuss your options. As we work on a contingency basis, there is never a fee unless you receive compensation. Ellis Law is on your side. Reach out today.