If you are injured by a negligent driver in a California traffic accident, the law entitles you to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, damage to your vehicle, and related losses, but to obtain that compensation, you’ll need to be represented by a Fresno personal injury attorney.
Automobile insurance is usually the source of an injury victim’s compensation. If the motorist who injured you carried sufficient auto insurance coverage, you should be able to recover compensation from that driver’s insurance company.
You may be offered a settlement almost immediately after the collision. Should you take that first settlement offer? Or should you reject it and seek a more generous offer? Should you deal directly with the insurance company, or should the negotiating be left to your attorney?
If you’ll continue reading, you will learn the answers to these important questions, and you will also learn more about your rights as an injured victim of negligence – and more about the personal injury claim process – here in California.
How Do Insurance Companies Reduce Pay-Out Amounts?
Auto insurance companies are in business to make profits, not pay-outs, and while they seldom violate the law, some companies use deceptive tactics to reduce the amounts they pay to injury victims.
An insurance company may reject your injury claim or make a “low-ball” offer for an amount that is substantially less than your injury claim is actually worth. Keep this in mind if an insurance company offers you an immediate settlement after a traffic accident.
Especially if an auto insurance company knows that its policyholder was negligent and that you have a strong personal injury claim, the company may try to settle your claim “on the cheap” before you’ve even had the opportunity to consult a California personal injury attorney.
What Should You Know About Settlement Offers?
You may be unable to work while your medical bills and monthly obligations are piling up. Auto insurance companies know that people who are injured in traffic crashes may be facing financial difficulties. They know you need cash as quickly as possible.
An auto insurance company’s first offer may not be enough to cover your initial accident expenses. Immediately after an accident, you may not even know the extent of your injuries or how much you will need to cover your medical treatment in the coming weeks and months.
Unfortunately, some auto insurance companies are bullies who will stop at almost nothing to make an injury victim accept an inadequate settlement offer. The insurance company may even threaten to pay you nothing if you reject the first offer.
Don’t Waive Your Rights
Of course, any amount of cash may look good if your mortgage or rent isn’t getting paid, not to mention your hospital or doctor bills, but you cannot cave in to the temptation to accept an insufficient settlement offer.
If you accept such an offer, you will almost certainly be required to sign an accident release form that will waive your right to take any further legal action or to seek any additional compensation in the future.
Don’t let an auto insurance company take advantage of you this way. As soon as you’ve been treated for injuries suffered in a traffic accident, schedule a consultation with a Fresno personal injury lawyer.
How Will An Injury Lawyer Help You?
Do not even consider accepting a settlement offer before you’ve met with an attorney. A personal injury lawyer will review the case and help you determine what your personal injury claim is actually worth.
An insurance company is more likely to make a fair settlement offer when the company knows that a personal injury attorney is handling your claim, and a Fresno personal injury attorney will almost certainly negotiate a settlement that is more generous than any first settlement offer.
A good attorney will protect your rights, explain how the law applies in your case, and handle settlement negotiations with an insurance company on your behalf. When the company contacts you, sign nothing and say nothing. Instead, refer the insurance company to your attorney.
Do Not Wait To Contact An Attorney
If you think that you’ll deal with the auto insurance company yourself and retain a personal injury attorney only if you fail, you should rethink that idea. Many injury lawyers don’t want to accept a case if they can’t handle the case from the beginning.
That’s because attorneys have a plan for how to develop and present an injury claim, so your initial efforts to handle your claim on your own may, in effect, reduce an attorney’s ability to obtain the full compensation amount that might be available.
California’s personal injury lawyers are trained (and usually experienced) negotiators who routinely handle personal injury claims on behalf of their clients. Let your attorney do the talking and negotiating on your behalf.
The Only Practical Option
If you suffer a catastrophic injury or if you are disabled in a traffic accident, and you need the maximum compensation amount that’s available, having the right attorney negotiate on your behalf is the only practical option.
The statute of limitations in California gives injury victims two years to begin the personal injury process, but you can’t wait that long – especially when your obligations and debts have started mounting up.
And if you do not act promptly, an insurance company can claim that you weren’t seriously injured, witnesses will forget details, and physical evidence may deteriorate or disappear. As soon as you’ve received medical treatment after an accident, speak to an injury attorney.
What Will It Cost to Exercise Your Rights?
Your initial legal consultation is provided at no cost and with no obligation. Take advantage of the chance to have your case reviewed and to receive sound, personalized legal advice. You will pay no lawyer’s fee unless and until your lawyer obtains the compensation you deserve and need.
While most personal injury claims are successfully negotiated, if no reasonable offer is made during the negotiations, a personal injury attorney can take your case to trial, explain to a jury what happened, and ask that jury to order the insurance company to meet its obligation to you.
If you are injured by a negligent driver in the Fresno area or anywhere in California, exercise your rights at once. After you’ve been examined and treated by a medical professional, schedule a consultation with a Fresno personal injury lawyer who will fight for justice on your behalf.