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Auto Accidents

Hansen Law is an Auto Accident Law Firm

Being involved in an auto accident can affect your life physically, emotionally and financially.

If you have been injured in an auto accident in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Vista, San Marcos or Escondido, Hansen Law will help you secure the compensation you deserve for past and future medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement and emotional distress.   In order to achieve best results in your case, consider the following:

1.   Retain a personal injury lawyer right away.  This is important so that all the necessary steps to the success of your case are taken in a timely manner. The time immediately after an auto accident injury is a critical period.  The evidence relating to the case is fresh and must to be collected.  Examples include: (1) photos documenting the scene of the injury.  The scene will likely change over time.  Skid marks will disappear, road work may be done, trees may be trimmed, etc.; (2) statements of witnesses to your accident or injury.  Memories fade over time and witness statements taken immediately after an accident are the best; (3) photos documenting the damage to any vehicles involved.  The damage to the vehicles can be important evidence to show the severity of the impact, location/angle of impact, etc.; (4) photos of your own injuries. The injuries are the central issue in the case and they should be photographed so that insurance adjustors and, if necessary, a future jury can fully understand the injury; and (5) any video recording which recorded the accident needs to be found and preserved.  It is common for security cameras to be placed outside businesses and other areas.  These cameras can sometimes capture an accident and provide compelling evidence. Such video is usually overwritten within a few days or weeks and therefore it must be sought immediately after an accident.

Other than the above, there will likely be other types of evidence that will need to be collected at the outset of the case.  Gathering this information early gets your case off to a good start, while you take care of yourself and your injuries.

2.  Seek medical care promptly.  Delays in obtaining medical care are used by the at-fault party’s insurance company to argue you were not hurt.  While it is common that some people don’t want to see a doctor until they know they really have to, in cases where you think someone else is at fault for your injury it is best to seek medical care promptly.  Prompt medical treatment also allows a medical professional to document your condition while your injuries are fresh.   When seeing the medical professional, be careful to accurately describe what happened and be complete in describing injuries.  Mention everything that hurts or does not feel right.  Be honest and do not exaggerate.  There is nothing more important in a legal case than your honesty.

3.   Do not give a recorded statement to any insurance company until after you have retained a lawyer. Giving a statement to an insurance company is usually optional and not legally required.  Your lawyer should decide whether you should give a recorded statement or not.  Your lawyer should be present if you give such a statement.

4.   Be mindful that your social media pages (Facebook, etc.)  will be targeted and searched by the at-fault party’s insurance company and their lawyers.   Update and verify that your privacy settings do not allow strangers to see your page.  Do not post new information that could be used to embarrass you or impair your credibility.

Insurance Issues

The results that can be obtained in an auto accident case can be heavily influenced by insurance issues.  The first consideration is how much insurance the at-fault driver has.  Under California law, the minimum amount of insurance one is legally required to have is $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident, or “15/30”.  Under a 15/30 policy, the maximum amount of money available under the insurance policy for one injured person is $15,000.  If there is more than one injured person, then there is up to $30,000 available, but still no more than than $15,000 for any one person.   Beyond a 15/30 policy, there can be 25/50, 50/100, 100/300, 500/1 million.   Commercial vehicles usually carry at least $1 million in insurance coverage.

If the at-fault party has no or insufficient insurance, which is not at all uncommon, there still may be insurance available through un-insured motorist (UM) or under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage.  These coverages are offered under your own auto insurance policy or the auto insurance policy of the vehicle owner (if you were a passenger).  Since the minimum limits are so low, it is a good idea to carry a sizable amount of UM/UIM on your own policy to ensure you and your passengers will have some source of compensation in the unfortunate event you are injured by an at-fault driver with inadequate insurance.   Additionally, since you pay a premium for this coverage, the claim under this coverage is with your own insurance company, not the at-faults driver’s insurance company (if any).   Your own insurance company has a duty to treat you fairly, which means they have much less ability to make an unreasonably low offer to you in order to settle your case (which the at-fault driver’s insurance company can do). Thus, UM/UIM coverage is well worth the premium paid.  It is insurance that protects you.

Finding additional sources of recovery is a valuable service a good lawyer can provide.  A good lawyer looks for other parties that may have contributed to the occurrence of the accident.  This may include the employer of the at-fault driver, if such driver was still “within the course and scope of employment” at the time of the accident.   An example of this could be an employee driving home after a company-sponsored party at which alcohol was served.  If such an employee causes an accident and the alcohol consumed at the company party played a role in causing the accident, the employer could be held at least partially responsible.  Another example is a roadway that has impaired visibility due to the failure to trim tree branches or other vegetation.  Such vegetation can obscure a stop sign or otherwise play a role in causing an accident.  In this circumstance, a claim could be brought against the owner of the land on which the vegetation is located or against the public entity responsible for maintaining the road.  Identification of other responsible parties is another reason why it is important to retain a lawyer right away.

Contact an aggressive auto accident attorney in Vista

Consult an attorney immediately following an automobile accident, when witness recollection is fresh and evidence available. To schedule a consultation at the Vista office of Hansen Law, call 760-295-4888 or contact me online.

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