HOW MUCH IS YOUR FENDER BENDER ACCIDENT WORTH?
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Experienced Fender-Bender Lawyers in California
Fender-bender accidents are so common that most drivers are involved in one at least once in their life. Often dismissed as an inconvenience, these accidents are potentially very costly. HELP, I WAS IN A FENDER-BENDER!
Fender Bender Accidents Should Be Given Legal Consideration
Minor accidents like fender benders are generally treated with less concern than more serious ones. Many drivers involved in minor accidents will decide to settle their claim between them, without relying on either driver’s insurance coverage.
Saving time and avoiding increases in auto insurance premiums are usually the motivations for handling a minor accident without an insurance company. Most would agree that quickly settling the claim without involving law enforcement or insurance carriers is the most straightforward course of action at the time.
However, it has potential consequences that both parties should be aware of. What if one driver believes they deserve more compensation than what you previously agreed to settle on? You could be vulnerable to a future lawsuit. Lawsuits are stressful and costly, and it’s best to avoid them if at all possible.
If you were in a fender bender accident, you need an experienced California fender bender attorney. With an advocate on your side, you could ensure that your accident is handled appropriately and that you are protected from future unexpected litigation.
Frequent Causes of Fender Bender Accidents in California
The vast majority of fender benders are not as serious as a full-blown vehicle collision. Frequently fender benders are caused by one car rear-ending another at a slow speed or two vehicles simultaneously attempting to back out of opposing parking spots. Fender benders usually result in minimal injuries to both drivers and passengers in either vehicle.
Damage to the cars, referred to as property damage, can be the only damages in the accident. One or both vehicles can be scratched or dented in the accident. A fender-bender accident happens at a low speed. It typically impacts only a vehicle’s bumper or fender (where its name comes from). Causes of these accident types frequently include:
- Parking lot collisions
- Failing to look when pulling out of a driveway
- Following too closely
- Failing to come to a complete stop
Most fender bender accidents arise from one or both drivers’ failure to look, inattention, or distraction. Other accidents might involve impaired or negligent drivers.
Injuries Caused By Rear-End Auto Accidents
Rear-end auto accidents are most likely to cause neck and back injuries. A rear-end auto accident can cause such injuries as whiplash, nerve damage, disc herniation, disc protrusion, disc bulge, radiculopathy, and several others.
In addition to neck injuries, drivers and passengers in the accident are at risk of injuring their shoulders, knees and sustain brain injuries from car crashes. No accidents have the same results. Even identical accidents can cause different injuries due to a variety of factors.
If you suffer an auto accident injury, seek the best medical attention possible to find out what your injuries are. This step is the first step in getting the treatment you require to return you to your pre-accident state as soon as possible. Without documentation of your injuries, it can be challenging for even the best California fender bender lawyers to get you the compensation you need.
Every driver has a duty to drive with care and to obey traffic laws. Drivers need to change lanes only when appropriate, adhere to speed limits and be alert for pedestrians or other drivers who have the right of way. Defensive driving is also a must. If you are a driver who needs to avoid causing a rear-end collision, you need to do the following:
- Avoid texting and driving, which is illegal under California laws
- Maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you; three car lengths is recommended
- Focus on the road in front of you
- Use extra caution when the weather is hazardous
Many rear-end collisions are easily avoidable. Driver negligence is the cause of most of these accidents. To prove that it was the other driver who was negligent, you or your California fender bender attorney must be able to show that:
- The other motorist owed you a duty of care
- The other motorist was speeding, talking, or texting on the phone, otherwise was negligent and performed a dangerous action
- The other driver was driving dangerously and caused a collision
- You were injured or incurred property damage as a result
Determining Fault in a California Fender Bender Accident
Based on how a fender bender happens, you might assume that the driver in the rear is the liable party. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the driver in front isn’t driving safely and cautiously and contributes to the accident. For example, suppose one driver on a four-lane highway collides with the driver in front of them.
In that case, they might be able to avoid liability if the front driver suddenly changed lanes. Additionally, if there was a roadway obstruction such as debris or a wild animal, the rear driver might be released from liability. It’s essential to look at the totality of the circumstances.
What Should You Do After a Fender Bender Accident in California?
If no one is injured or requires emergency medical attention, your first job is to protect the scene. All involved vehicles should turn on their hazard lights. Don’t remain in your car any longer than necessary. Move away from traffic as soon as you are able.
Report the accident, but keep in mind that it could take some time for law enforcement officers to arrive on the scene. While you wait for them, remain calm. You might want to investigate the scene for your benefit but make sure you only do so if you can do it safely.
Take pictures that show the condition of both vehicles after the accident. Be sure to take them from different angles to show all of the damage. If there are any witnesses, now would be a good time to talk to them and obtain their names and contact information.
Your California fender bender lawyer might contact them at a later date to get their account of the accident. Without the evidence that pictures and witnesses can provide, your personal injury claim will boil down to your word against the other driver’s story. This fact won’t be beneficial for you. Perhaps some witnesses observed the other driver cross the double yellow line and crash into you. Their testimony about what they saw is far more valuable to your claim than what you have to say.
Do Police Officers Really Need to Come to the Scene?
When it comes to investigating the scene of an accident, police officers are highly experienced. The officer that comes to your fender bender has the job of putting their unbiased conclusions into writing in the police report. The report is the official documentation of the incident and will be used as official evidence in the case.
In their report, the police will include the date, time, and location of the accident. They will document any visible damage to both vehicles, as well as what witnesses might have observed. If you decide not to call the police after your fender bender accident, you risk your future claim and even risk a claim against yourself.
Even if you only noticed a tiny dent in your car’s bumper or a red, swollen area on your body, it’s much easier in the long run if you filed a police report at the time of the accident. If the damage to your car or your injuries end up being more substantial than you first thought, a police report will help justify your claim. You might be surprised to learn that even a few scratches on a bumper can take a few days and a few thousand dollars to repair. Minor injuries could turn into major ones that require a lengthy recovery.
Another fact to consider is that leaving the scene of an accident without stopping is illegal in California. You could be held criminally liable if you don’t stop and stay at the accident scene. However, a fender bender creates a gray area of the law. Two cars bumping into each other at low speeds in a parking lot isn’t necessarily considered an accident. Even still, you need to call the police anytime there is contact between your vehicle and another vehicle. It’s much better to protect yourself than wish you had down the road.
What If Neither Party Wants to Call the Police?
There may be situations in which neither of the drivers who were in an accident wants to involve the police. Depending on the severity, it may not be necessary. If you decide not to call the police, you should still talk to witnesses and obtain their contact information and take photos of the damages to both vehicles. You should also exchange the following details with the other driver:
- Phone number
- Email address
- Make, model, and year of the car
- License plate number
- Insurance carrier
- Insurance policy number
Unfortunately, some drivers will give you false information so that they can avoid liability for one reason or the other. To avoid this, ask the driver to show you their driver’s license and insurance card. This way, you can record the information from the official documents yourself to ensure that it is likely valid. Don’t rely on the honesty of the other driver. It’s important to trust but also to verify.
The Benefits of Having a California Fender Bender Attorney Handle Your Claim
There are numerous benefits to having the representation of a California fender bender lawyer. With an attorney on your side, you can focus on getting the medical care that you need and resting as you recover. You won’t need to worry because your attorney will be working on your case and communicating with the insurance carriers for you. Not only that but, letting a California fender bender attorney handle your claim will help you avoid jeopardizing your claim by saying something wrong to the insurance company.
Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t need any money upfront to meet with an attorney. With contingency fees, your California fender bender lawyer will receive payment for their services when you receive a settlement or a court award. You will pay nothing out of pocket. Suppose your lawyer doesn’t obtain compensation on your behalf. In that case, you owe them nothing if they work on a contingency fee basis.
Accident victims who have legal representation typically receive higher settlements and more considerable bill reductions. Insurance companies know that claimants and injured parties represented by an attorney won’t settle for less than their claim is worth. They know they are in for an uphill battle, whereas if they simply had you to deal with, it’s likely, you would accept a small settlement and be on your way. This fact is especially true for minor and fender bender accidents. They generally offer you about $500-$1000, hoping you will release the claim and go away. Always get legal advice before settling your claim.
An experienced California fender bender attorney knows the value of your claim. They can point out the facts of the case that benefit your interests and your injuries and costs to maximize your settlement. Your lawyer can also save you money by negotiating bill reductions with your medical providers. If they are successful, you get to keep more of your settlement.
Hire an Established Attorney at Arash Law to Deal with the Stress of Your Fender-Bender
Dealing with insurance coverage for your medical bills can be quite the hassle, especially when trying to recover from an injury. Your knowledgeable California fender bender lawyer can take care of your medical payments coverage as well as an underinsured claim if your case warrants one. Typically your personal injury claim will fall under the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. However, sometimes the injured party needs to also rely on their own insurance coverage.
You might want to use your medical payments coverage under your own policy. Often called med-pay, this is money specifically used for medical bills in a car accident. You will have access to your med pay coverage no matter who is at fault for the accident. Your California fender bender attorney can help you distribute this coverage in the most beneficial way so that you can get the most for your settlement.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage doesn’t entirely make you “whole” after the accident, you can also file a claim with your own insurance company. This claim will go under your underinsured motorist coverage. Suppose the other driver’s minimum coverage limits are less than your expenses. In that case, you can rely on this additional coverage to make you “whole.” Your interests will be safeguarded to the greatest possible extent by having well-versed California fender bender lawyers dealing with your case.
You Need Skilled California Fender Bender Lawyers On Your Side
At Arash Law, we measure our success by the compensation our clients receive for their damages. Our team of over 50 skilled California personal injury lawyers has recovered over $200 million for more than 3,000 prior personal injury clients, many of them car accident victims just like yourself. We represent injured clients all over California, including in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, and Sherman Oaks. With offices in each of these locations, you have many options to meet with an experienced California fender bender attorney.
We offer free personal injury case consultations, whether you were involved in a seemingly simple fender bender or a severe collision. During your consultation, we will review the facts of your case, determine the value of your claim, and help create a plan of action so you can get the compensation you deserve. Call Arash Law at (888) 488-1391 or contact us online to schedule your case review today.