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Personal Injury Law FirmLocated in Ventura. Servicing All Californians.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on the severity of your accident, you will need a lawyer to handle your personal injury claim. If the facts of the accident are complex, your injuries are significant or unusual, or the at-fault party is contesting their liability, it is advisable to put a lawyer on your side to fight for your right to damages and recovery. Additionally, if a lot of money is at stake (e.g., medical bills, lost wages) or your case requires expert testimony, success will heavily depend on the hand of a lawyer. An attorney can better help you collect the appropriate evidence to build a strong claim, complete all settlement-related documents, and represent you in court or the negotiations room.
In simpler cases, it may be possible to resolve the incident without a lawyer. For instance, if you were involved in a rear-end collision where the other driver was undoubtedly at fault and neither driver was severely injured, you might be able to resolve the claim by negotiating with the insurance companies on your own. Complications may escalate to requiring legal guidance if the other driver denies their fault or refuses to cooperate.
If your car is still able to be driven, your first step should be to contact the other driver’s insurance company to ask for an estimate of the repair cost. After you get an estimate, you can then take your car to a body shop for a second estimate. From there, the two estimates should match reasonably, and the insurance company will issue you a check to the body shop to pay for the repair. Note that some insurance companies may not have local estimators and could instead ask you to get 2-3 estimates from local body shops, after which they will issue you a check for the lowest estimate.
If your car is not able to be driven anymore, the insurance company will send an adjuster to estimate the damage to your car, and they will then issue a check to pay for the repairs. If your car has been towed to a repair shop or salvage yard, it is imperative to move the car as soon as possible to the body shop for repair. Keep in mind that you may have to pay a fee for this move.
In the unfortunate instance that your car is totaled, the insurance company may compare the amount your car could have been sold for before the accident (fair market value) to the estimated cost of repairing your car and pay you the lesser amount.
In many cases, while your car is being repaired or you are waiting on payment for totaled car, you may want to rent a car. Some car insurance policies may include optional coverage for a rental car, which will provide you coverage to pay for a rental car. If you don’t have rental reimbursement coverage on your policy, you can open a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance, where an adjuster will work with you to arrange for coverage for a rental car. Note that the rental car will be comparable to the vehicle that was damaged or totaled.
If you require medical care after a car accident, you should use your personal injury protection (PIP) and MedPay auto insurance coverage, which is separate from conventional health insurance. PIP is a form of automobile insurance that reimburses you for medical expenses and some other costs like lost wages after a car accident. Medical payments coverage, or MedPay, is similar to PIP, in that it typically applies to medical and funeral costs, but not lost wages or living expenses. It is sometimes sold as an add-on to PIP coverage or a less-expensive alternative to PIP.
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