What Should I Do If I Was Hit by a Car on Vacation in California?
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When you’re on vacation, the last thing you probably think about it being hit and injured on California’s roads as a tourist. However, the Golden State’s roadways can be dangerous, and a serious accident can mean your vacation is most assuredly over. Being hurt in an out-of-state accident can also cause you headaches beyond your injuries; dealing with drivers, insurance companies, and law enforcement based in a different place can be frustrating and confusing. In addition to taking some simple steps after an accident, it’s always a wise idea to contact a California car accident attorney to see if you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Notify the Authorities
Call 911 as soon as possible to help anyone injured in the accident, and when law enforcement arrives on the scene cooperate with them to help create a complete accident report and document what happened.
If the other driver left the scene you must also notify the police within a certain period of time to report a hit and run. You must also report the accident to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if anyone was hurt or property damage exceeds $750 – failing to do so can result in a drivers’ license suspension.
Get Medical Attention
It’s important you seek immediate medical evaluation even if you believe you weren’t injured. Some injuries that can result from car accidents don’t present symptoms for days but, as is the case with traumatic brain injuries, can be fatal if untreated. In addition to treating your injuries the medical examination will help document the nature, extent, and cause of your injuries which can be helpful in pursuing your claim for compensation.
If you were in a pedestrian accident, your injuries are probably serious as any type of moving vehicle is much bigger and heavier than you. Make sure you make it a priority to get the care and attention you need before going home. Doing so will also strengthen your case as opposing parties will notice whether you waiting until going home or saw a doctor immediately and try to use that detail against you.
If possible, documenting evidence of the accident and your injuries can help establish fault and a dollar figure for your damages. If you can:
- Get names, contact information, insurance information, and drivers’ license information from all drivers
- Get contact information for any eyewitnesses
- Take photographs of the damages, accident scene, visual evidence like skid marks, and traffic controls or obstacles in the area
- Keep copies of all medical records, insurance copays, paystubs indicating your inability to work, expenses related to the accident and your injuries, and any other evidence of harm
Check Your Auto Insurance Coverage and Notify Your Insurer
If you were driving when you out of state accident happened, you’ll want to file a claim with your insurer after the accident but be careful to avoid giving recorded statements if possible – insurers want to settle claims as cheaply as possible, so your words may be used against you. Do not admit fault, apologize, speculate on answers or details, or downplay your injuries by saying things such as you’re “fine.”
If you rented a vehicle to get around while on vacation, you may also need to work with their insurer if you purchased supplemental coverage insurance through them when renting their car. However, remember in most cases rental car companies cannot be sued for liability for your personal injuries.
And if your accident happened while on foot, then your lawyer will be working (or fighting) with the responsible party’s insurance company to get you paid.
Do I Have to Stay in California to Resolve My Claim?
Most steps needed to resolve an out-of-state insurance claim can be completed once you’re back in your home state. Settling a claim, especially if someone was injured, can be a long and complicated process; that means that after you’ve completed an accident report after the collision and received any emergency medical care necessary for your injuries, but before your claim is resolved, your vacation will in all likelihood have ended.
Don’t worry – even though the accident occurred in California, you can handle the claim from another state. However, if the insurance claim can’t be resolved agreeably, you’ll have to file a lawsuit for damages under California law. Even if you end up deciding to accept an insurance settlement and give up the right to file suit, it’s a smart move to retain a California car accident attorney who has experience handling insurance claims to review any settlement offers you receive, negotiate on your behalf, and work to get you the largest offer possible.
California Insurance Requirements
All California drivers are legally required to carry auto insurance. The minimum each driver must carry is:
- $15,000 per person for bodily injury,
- $30,000 per accident total for bodily injury, and
- $5,000 in property damage.
This means unless the driver chose to purchase more coverage, that is the maximum their insurance company is required to pay you for your claim. Luckily, most drivers carry more and this is something we can go over with you once you retain us.
Contact a California Car Accident Attorney Today
If you were hit by a car and injured on vacation in the Golden State, contacting a skilled California car accident attorney is always a good idea. Even if you don’t end up retaining their services, you can at least be informed about your legal rights and what you should do to protect them. Statistics show that people who retain the services of a personal injury lawyer for any type of significant injury wind up collecting about 2-3 times more money for their claim. A lawyer can help you find medical treatment, open and process all the insurance claims, and file suit in court (if necessary) to maximize what you receive for your medical expenses, lost income, property damage and for what are called “general damages” which includes compensating you for physical pain and suffering and for the disruption that the incident caused. Obviously, having your vacation ruined by being involved in a motor vehicle crash is not pleasant and you should be compensated accordingly.