As you probably know, you don’t have to hire a car accident lawyer to handle an accident claim in San Francisco. Some auto accidents are so minor that it really doesn’t make sense to pay a car accident lawyer to resolve the matter for you.
However, in other cases, you definitely want to at least consult with an experienced San Francisco car accident lawyer before deciding to handle the case on your own. This is because you can really decrease the value of your claim if you don’t know what you’re doing, especially when dealing with a difficult insurance company.
Filing a car insurance claim is done with your own car insurance company known as a first-party claim, or as a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company. But either way, handling your own personal injury claim can be risky if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing. Considering the severity of your injuries, it may be important to maximize your compensation when factoring in potential expenses including medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs.
So, when you decide to file a car insurance claim on your own, ask yourself the following four questions before doing so:
1. Are Your Injuries Truly Minor and Only Temporary?
If you are 100% sure that your injuries are truly minor and only temporary, you may be in the position to handle your own claim. However, we advise you to be very careful when making this determination on your own. Traumatic brain injury (TBI) and internal bleeding are common after a motor vehicle accident, and they are typically undetectable to the victims themselves. Only a qualified physician can accurately assess bodily harm, as well as identify hidden injuries.
Some injuries appear minor at first, but as time passes, they become much worse. An experienced insurance adjuster knows this. So, they will try to get you to settle your accident claim quickly before you become aware of the true nature of your injuries. Once the car accident case is settled, it cannot be revised or redone.
2. Do You Know How Much Insurance Coverage Is Available to Cover Your Car Insurance Claim?
If you are not represented by an experienced San Francisco car accident lawyer, car insurance companies may not freely inform you of the amount of coverage that is actually available to cover your damages. Their goal is to pay out as little as possible.
Sometimes, the driver of the vehicle that hit you will be different from the party who actually owns the vehicle. When this is the case, the primary liability insurance will be the insurance that is associated with the vehicle. The secondary liability insurance will be the insurance that is associated with the driver.
Once your San Francisco car accident lawyer knows who the liable insurance companies are, they will dispatch a letter to each company, requesting that they send an insurance declarations page outlining how much coverage there is to cover your accident. Without this vital information, you may end up settling your case for much less than it is worth.
3. Do You Know All of the Facts Surrounding the Accident?
Oftentimes injury victims don’t know all the facts about their own accident. Once the collision occurs, it is sometimes assumed that the crash was simply an “accident” and that compensation is capped based only on quantifiable damages. However, the following questions must be addressed before pursuing legal action.
- Do you know if the person who hit you was drinking or under the influence of drugs at the time of the accident?
- Do you know if the person’s license was suspended or invalid at the time of the accident?
- Do you know if they made any statement to the police admitting fault?
Knowing these simple facts can greatly increase the value of your San Francisco car accident claim. These details will also account for any damages sustained, so you can receive fair and full compensation.
4. Were You Partially At Fault for the Accident?
It’s okay. California follows the rule of pure comparative negligence with regard to personal injury claims. What this means for your San Francisco car accident claim is that if you have been in an accident for which you were partially at fault, you may still be able to recover compensation for your injuries and losses.
However, the amount of compensation awarded to you will be reduced by your own percentage of fault for the accident. For instance, if you are found to be 20% at fault for the accident, you would only be able to recover 80% of the damages awarded to you. Likewise, if you were determined to be 80% at fault, you would only be able to recover 20% of the damages awarded to you.
In these cases, you will need a skilled and experienced car accident lawyer to investigate the circumstances involved in your car accident and ensure that fault is allocated fairly. Otherwise, you can miss out on a substantial amount of compensation.
Get Help Filing Your Own Car Accident Claim
Some auto accident cases are definitely worth handling on your own. However, you must be careful when doing so.
If you have questions or would like our law firm to review your car accident case for you, please contact Golden State Accident Lawyers to arrange a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
Our experienced San Francisco car accident lawyers are dedicated to helping you achieve the best outcome possible for your San Francisco car accident claim, at trial, or through settlement.
We offer a no-win, no-fee guarantee. So, you have nothing to lose by contacting us immediately.