Liability insurance – sometimes called “third-party” insurance or “barely legal” insurance – is the minimum automobile insurance required under the law in California. If you have only liability coverage, this means your insurance will cover insurance claims made by others – also known as third parties – if you are found responsible for an automobile accident. However, this kind of insurance will generally not cover claims made by you, even if you were not at fault. This is why it is important to get what is often called comprehensive coverage – including uninsured motorist (“UM”) coverage – so that you will be covered if the following occurs: (1) you are not at fault but the other driver does not have adequate insurance to pay for repairs or medical bills; (2) you are not at fault but the other driver’s insurance disputes liability, delaying settlement; or (3) you are found to be at fault for the accident but need to repair your vehicle and/or pay for medical care. If you have any doubts about your insurance coverage while dealing with an accident, it is best to consult a knowledgeable attorney right away, so you know how to proceed.
Most personal injury cases involve two types of damages: (1) Special Damages and (2) General Damages. Special damages include any specific costs incurred as a result of the injury, such as bills for medical care and prescription medication. Special damages may also include future costs that are reasonably anticipated, such as additional medical treatment. Special damages can also include lost wages from work that was missed due to your injury or other out-of-pocket costs. Alternatively, general damages cover damages for “pain and suffering” or psychological trauma that results from the injury; these damages are real and are allowed under the law, even if they don’t have an obvious dollar amount.
Providing the responsible party with written notice is a crucial first step. Sometimes this means complying with specific claim procedures, depending on the type of personal injury matter and who is at fault. To make sure your rights are protected, consult with an attorney to determine the best way to submit a claim.
Successfully asserting claims for personal injury, whether it involves (1) an automobile accident, (2) an injury due to a dangerous condition, or (3) or some other type of injury, all require certain basic procedures at the outset to make sure your rights are protected. This includes immediately notifying the responsible party (and their insurance provider) that you are making a claim for personal injury and seeking appropriate medical treatment. There are also important deadlines and procedures if the responsible party is a government agency – for example if you were struck by a police vehicle in an accident or were injured inside a government building. Any delays in this process can negatively impact your claim. That is why it is important to retain counsel soon after an incident to make sure your rights are protected.
Police officers are sometimes called to the scene of an accident only to discover that the parties have left or that there is not enough information to make a full police report. This unfortunately will make it harder for the innocent driver to create a paper trail that shows exactly what happened and who is at fault. For this reason, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney right away if you have been injured in a car accident. They will assist you in preserving evidence (including pictures of your damaged vehicle and taking witness statements) as well as getting appropriate medical treatment right away. If you were recently injured in a car accident, contact one of our experienced attorneys immediately for a free consultation and to discuss your options.
Filing a lawsuit is a big step that carries with it many consequences. While the statute of limitations in California for such lawsuits is generally two years, experienced attorneys should get to work on your case right away by giving written notice of your accident claim to the at-fault driver’s insurance. Most auto accident claims are resolved through negotiation with insurance providers before resorting to expensive and time-consuming lawsuits. If you have questions about the timing of a lawsuit and how to protect your rights, please contact one of our experienced attorneys today to discuss your options.
Statutes of limitation – the time limit that a person has to file a lawsuit before it is too late – can be extended in certain rare circumstances. In California, a child who is injured in an accident will usually have the statute of limitations extended (or “tolled”) until they turn 18 years of age. However, this does not apply to all claims – claims made against government employees or claims involving toxic exposure are not necessarily tolled solely because the victim was a minor.
The statute of limitations may also be tolled if a person did not know, or have reason to know, that they were injured by a particular person or entity. For example, you may quickly realize that you have been seriously injured but may not know the true source of your injury. Generally speaking, California law may toll the statute of limitations until you become aware of information or evidence that points to the responsible party. However, this is not a good reason to delay a claim. The statute of limitations will not be tolled if you knew or had reason to know that another person or entity is liable for your harm. This is why it is crucial that you consult with an experienced attorney so you understand the time limits that may apply and take steps to protect your rights.
A lawsuit is a formal case that has been filed in the appropriate court of law, while a tort claim is usually an informal notice of claim that may trigger an informal resolution without the cost of litigation. Depending on the type of accident or injury, an experienced attorney may resolve claims without the need to initiate a formal lawsuit. For example, most automobile accident claims are resolved prior to a lawsuit by contacting and negotiating with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
In other circumstances, a tort claim is a necessary first step before filing a lawsuit. For example, suing a government agency will almost always require submitting an informal tort claim first. In California, a person must submit a tort claim within six months in order to preserve their right to sue a government agency – even if their claims are based on a car accident rather than, say, a civil rights claim. Claims against federal employees or agencies also require timely compliance with the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”) in order to proceed with a lawsuit.
In order to better understand whether a tort claim is appropriate or necessary in your case, it is important that you consult with an experienced civil litigation attorney right away. There may be deadlines or procedural requirements that need to be handled at the outset of your case to make sure that your rights are protected.
Torts are a formal legal term that covers all personal injury claims, as well as other types of claims for injury. Personal injury usually (but doesn’t always) refer to unintentional torts– i.e. accidents or injuries caused by someone not paying enough attention or otherwise accidentally causing harm; these are usually claiming where the at-fault party is accused of negligence. Torts also include intentional torts, though, such as assault and battery, violations of civil rights, and other claims that require evidence of a bad or purposeful intent by the at-fault party. To better understand which type of case you may have and assess your full options under the law, contact an experience personal injury attorney right away and discuss your options.