What to Do When Injured in a Car Accident

Content Reviewer, Attorney James P. Maniscalco
Created by our team of legal writers and reviewed by James P. Maniscalco. J.D.

Increased Car Accidents During the Holidays

The number of drivers on the roads peaks as friends and families get together to celebrate during the holiday season. As a result, more drivers are impaired by alcohol leading to a predictable increase in car accidents, according to California State Highway Patrol departments. DUI arrests are at their highest between Thanksgiving and the end of New Year’s weekend. In fact, during the Christmas and New Year period, the average number of fatalities involving alcohol-impaired drivers increased 34% in previous years. Common car accident injuries range from back injuries and concussions to nerve damage. You can even sue for lost wages or emotional distress due to these injuries.

Types of vehicle accidents that typically result in injury include:

Even pedestrians are more at risk during the holiday season. New Year’s Day is considered by some to be the most dangerous days to walk, as statistics reveal more pedestrian deaths occur on January 1st than any other day.

Car Accident Laws in California

If you have been in a car accident in California, there are time limits for filing different kinds of cases. Personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years while property damage lawsuits must be filed within three years. These timeframes apply to the date of the car accident – not the date when the insurance claim was filed.

Car accident laws in California differ if your accident involved the government in any way (i.e. getting rear-ended by a city bus). Those rules require you to get your paperwork completed quickly and it may be best to consult an attorney as soon as possible.

If you share part of the fault for causing the accident, you can still recover compensation from any other at-fault party in California, regardless of the degree of your own fault. However, the compensation you recover will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.

Always make sure to file a police report after a car accident. This will come in handy when preparing for trial.

How to Prepare for a Trial Scenario

From paying medical bills such as a trip to the chiropractor for a back injury or psychiatrist for PTSD to preparing for trial, being involved in any kind of accident is scary. However, there are specific steps to take when injured in a car accident in California that will benefit you during a trial. Many of these steps can be applied to suing for loss of consortium (non-economic damage) as well.

At the scene, or immediately after – seek medical attention. Even if you feel normal after the accident occurs, symptoms such as pain, discomfort, dizziness, and numbness may appear in the following days. Do not wait days until weeks after the accident to consult a doctor, as it will be harder to prove that your injuries were the result of the car crash.

Keep detailed notes and photos on your injuries, medical treatments, and the names and addresses of any doctors or professionals you were referred to after the accident. Keep receipts for medications and file every piece of paperwork that involves the car accident – whether from the insurance company, police documents, or medical notes about physical injuries or emotional distress such as PTSD. Print emails so you have the hard copy of all documents arranged in order. Learn what happens to your case if you don’t have a police report for your car accident.

Take pictures of the accident location, including stop signs and traffic lights. Snap pictures of your damaged car from multiple angles.

If you are able to write down the names and contact information of witnesses immediately after the accident, that is a huge plus because they may be able to corroborate your claims in court procedures such as car accident mediation and arbitration.

You can also learn what to do when involved in a car accident in which you’re at fault.

Navigating the claim process can be complicated and an experienced attorney will have the knowledge and resources to help you fight and negotiate for the highest possible amount for your claim. Call us to get a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer.

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