Car accidents take an emotional and physical toll on an individual. Contrary to what insurance companies will have you believe, they do not serve your best interest. Therefore, it is imperative to seek counsel as soon as possible to protect your rights and receive maximum compensation for your injuries.
WHAT TO DO FOLLOWING AN ACCIDENT
Following an accident, take these important steps to assure your rights are protected:
Step 1: Safely pull over to the side of the road.
Step 2: Evaluate your body for pain and injuries. If there are signs of injury, seek medical attention.
Step 3: Gather as much information as possible from the other party. Request a copy of their (1) driver’s license; (2) insurance information; and (3) vehicle information. If possible, call the police. The police will issue a report. If there are any witnesses, request their information. Under no circumstances, admit fault!
Step 4: Take photos of the damage to your car and any other vehicles involved in the accident. Take photographs of the intersection or street where the collision occurred if it can be done so safely.
Step 5: Call our office for a free consultation.
IS THERE A DEADLINE TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION?
In California, when you or someone you love is involved in an accident, you are making a claim under the legal theory of “negligence”.
Negligence claims are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. The Statute of Limitations is a deadline for a party or parties to bring their legal claim(s) against another. This means that if a lawsuit is not filed within two years from the date of the accident, it may be lost forever. However, there is one caveat. If the claim is against a government entity, a “Claim For Damages” must be filed with the proper entity within six months from the date when the accident occurred. Therefore, it is important to contact an attorney as soon as you believe you have been harmed.
WHAT TYPE OF COMPENSATION AM I ENTITLED TO?
In California, you are entitled to two categories of damages: “Economic” and “Non-Economic” damages. Both Economic and Non-Economic Damages provide compensation for past and future harm.
Economic Damages: Economic damages or “Special Damages” are those that can be quantified. Meaning, it is easy to place a monetary value on them. Economic damages include but are not limited to:
► Cost of repairing or replacing damage to your car or other belongings.
► Loss of use of your vehicle.
► Reimbursement for car rental.
► Medical costs and expenses (past and future).
► Loss of earnings or income resulting from the accident.
► Other out-of-pocket costs and expenses
Non-Economic Damages: Non-Economic Damages or “General Damages” are damages where no exact monetary value can be calculated. Non-Economic damages are awarded both for past and future harm, and include but are not limited to:
► Pain and suffering.
► Mental anguish which includes anxiety, fear, shock, and humiliation.
► Loss of enjoyment of life.
► Emotional distress.
► Loss of love, affection, companionship, sexual relations, and emotional support from your spouse.
DOES MY WIFE OR HUSBAND HAVE A CLAIM?
Yes. In California, a spouse of an injured party may make a claim for what is referred to legally as “Loss of Consortium”. Loss of Consortium is a form of “Non-Economic” damages that can be awarded to the spouse of an injured party.
California Civil Jury Instruction (CACI) No. 3920 states that when a spouse is harmed, their wife or husband may make a claim for the loss of their “companionship and services”, which includes “loss of love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, protection, affection, society, moral support, sexual relations, and/or the ability to have children.”