Whether or not you need a car accident attorney following a fender bender in California depends on multiple aspects. There are many factors to consider when deciding if you need an attorney following a car accident, even a minor one. Even minimal fender bender accidents can lead to costly repairs and lost wages from time from work.
What Are California’s Car Accident Laws?
The state of California requires that each driver carries insurance with 15/30/5 minimum coverages. This includes:
- Maximum coverage of $15,000 for the injury or death of a person
- Maximum coverage of $30,000 for injury or death of more than one person
- Maximum coverage of $5,000 for property damage
California laws also require insurance companies to provide uninsured insurance to drivers. This covers insured drivers in the event they are in an accident with an uninsured driver. While drivers are not required to accept this insurance, they must decline it in writing. Additionally, California drivers can purchase additional driver’s insurance if they want, which covers things like increased liability, medical payments, comprehensive coverages, and collision coverage.
When you are in an accident in California, you are required to share this insurance information with the other drivers, as well as the law enforcement.
California laws also require drivers to stop at the scene of an accident. This includes minor fender benders. The driver must also notify the California police of the accident in writing, if the car accident led to injury or death, within 24 hours of the accident. Finally, drivers must notify the California DMV of the accident within 10 days, if someone involved was injured, died, or if property damages exceeded $750. Failing to report within the specified time limit can lead to additional charges.
What Happens If the Accident Involves an Uninsured Driver?
The California car accident process can get extremely confusing when an uninsured or under-insured driver is involved. It can be helpful to work with a car accident lawyer, as you navigate liability and your compensation options. Continue to seek medical care, and then explore your options with a lawyer.
Reasons to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer Following an Accident
California laws are not always easy to follow. Missing important statute of limitation requirements or failing to notify the DMV in a timely manner can not only limit your ability to recover compensation, but can also lead to legal charges, too.
Here are just a few reasons to consider hiring a car accident lawyer, following a car accident:
- When it is not clear who is at fault: In some car accidents, responsibility is clear. In other accidents, however, it may be one person’s word against another’s. Additionally, California follows comparative negligence laws, which mean that more than person can be at fault. A lawyer will help you collect necessary evidence to determine fault.
- Maintain case time limits: It is crucial to stick to California’s statute of limitations to maintain your eligibility rights. A car accident lawyer can help you not only submit necessary reports in a timely manner, but also ensure that they are filled out accurately.
- Navigate confusing car accident cases: Navigating a car accident case can be confusing, especially if it involved at least one uninsured driver.
- Seek compensation on your behalf: Car accidents often lead to significant, life-changing injuries. A lawyer can help you calculate the value of your case and fight for the compensation that you deserve and need to recover from your injury.
A personal injury lawyer will be a valuable asset to your case, even following a minor fender bender. In a fender bender, you might only deal with your insurance company. However, insurance companies are often known for minimizing injuries and offering a settlement amount that will not even come close to covering the full extent of your damages.
Without a knowledgeable car accident lawyer on your side, you may feel tempted to accept an offer from the insurance company. They may pretend to understand what you are going through, while encouraging you to accept their offer and limit your compensation options.
What Do I Need to Prove Negligence in a Car Accident Case?
The state of California will consider the following important elements when deciding who is at fault following a car accident case:
- Legal duty of care: The responsible driver must have owed you a legal duty of care.
- Breach of duty of care: The responsible driver must have breached that duty of care, either through negligence or intentional harm.
- Causation: The negligent actions of the driver must be the direct cause of the accident, and your injuries.
- Actual damages: There must be actual damages that can be recovered through the personal injury case.
The requirement of proving each one of these elements is another good reason to work with a car accident lawyer. Your lawyer will help you collect necessary evidence to prove each point.
How Long Do I Have to Consider a Lawyer Following a Car Accident?
The time following a car accident can speed by while you receive medical care and work out the details with your insurance company. The state of California requires you to file all car accident cases within two years from the date of the accident. This timeline can be even less in some cases, such as if you were injured due to the negligence of a government employee.
In this case, you have just six months. Because it takes time to build a case that successfully represents you, it is important to begin the process as soon as possible. Reach out to a California car accident lawyer as soon as possible.