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The Do’s and Don’ts After a Car Accident: Important Tips for Winning your Injury Claim

If you have been injured in a car accident, you can receive compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and related expenses from either your car insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company, depending on who was at fault. Solid evidence makes your claim stronger. You want to prepare as much documentation as possible when submitting a claim to the car insurance company. Here’s how to get the most out of your personal injury claim after an accident.

Do’s:

  • Make a police report after an accident.
  • Get the following information from the other driver: his/ her name, address, driver’s license number, home phone, work phone, cell phone, vehicle license plate, insurance company’s name and policy number. (Look at his/ her driver’s license for verification).
  • Get contact information from all witnesses at the scene.
  • Take photos of the damage to your car and of the accident scene.
  • Notify the DMV. In California, the DMV must be notified of any accident where there has been (1) an injury (no matter how small), (2) death, or (3) property damage in excess of $750.
  • If you were injured, it is extremely important that you see a medical provider
  • A checkup may be a good idea for both you and your passengers if any of you have concerns about your health. You could be injured and not know it.
  • Notify your insurance company of the accident even if the other party is at fault.
  • Keep a diary of all your injuries, pain, and emotional feelings. Make notes, on weather and road conditions. Be sure to record the exact time, date and place the accident happened.
  • In California you are entitled to recover lost wages for the time you were off work, even if you used your sick pay or received other disability benefits.
  • Keep all records, physical evidence or photos, and submit them to your personal injury attorney.

Don’ts:

  • Do not give a statement to the police about the accident if you are disoriented, injured, or shaken up. Advise the police officer of your condition.
  • Do not give an oral or written statement to the other driver’s insurance company, until you consult with attorney.
  • Do not sign any authorizations sent to you by the other driver’s insurance.
  • Do not settle your property damage claim until all repairs have been done to your satisfaction.
  • Do not enter into any settlement of your personal injury claim until you have recovered from your injuries and know the full extent of your injuries.
  • Do not exaggerate your injuries.
  • Do not discuss the accident with anyone, including all social media, such as Facebook.

If you plan to sue, do not delay. There are time limits for filing various types of claims—so act quickly. Contact the experts at Sisneros Graziani LLP for a free consultation and evaluation of your case. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve!

California Personal Injury Law: An Overview

Unlike other areas of the law that find their rules in statutes (such as penal codes in criminal cases), the development of personal injury law has taken place mostly through court decisions, and in treatises written by legal scholars. Many states have taken steps to summarize the development of personal injury law in written statutes, but for practical purposes court decisions remain the main source of the law in any legal case arising from an accident or injury. However, the State of California has its own set of personal injury statutes. Here is a brief overview of California statutes governing some areas of personal injury law:

  • Statute of limitations
    • In California, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives an injured person two years from the date of the injury to go to court and file a lawsuit against those who could be responsible.
    • There is a time limit of six months from the date of injury to file an injury claim against a government entity, and claimants must adhere to a strict set of procedural rules.
    • In medical malpractice cases, the injured party generally has one year from the date she discovered a negligently caused injury to file a lawsuit, but in no event more than 3 years from the date of injury.  Further, a claimant must provide the malpractice defendant with a 90 day letter of intent to sue (and wait 90 days) prior to filing a lawsuit.  Much like governmental claims, the rules governing statute of limitations in medical malpractice are intricate and must be strictly adhered to or you risk losing your case.
  • Comparative negligence
    • In shared fault injury cases, California follows a “pure comparative negligence” rule. In basic terms, the amount of compensation you’re entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the accident.
    • If there is a dispute about fault, ultimately it would be a jury that would render a decision allocating fault between the parties.  However, in any settlement phase of a claim, this area is always an area for argument.
  • Dog attacks
    • In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a “one bite” rule.
    • In California, however, a specific statute makes the owner “strictly liable,” meaning the dog owner is legally responsible in most situations where their dog bites someone, regardless of fault or negligence.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the fault of another, contact the experts at Sisneros Graziani LLP. We will fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Schedule a consultation for more information about what we can do for you.

Preparation and Information: Meeting with a Personal Injury Attorney

It can be intimidating when first contacting an attorney after an injury—but it shouldn’t be! Here are some things to do and consider as you begin the process. First, come to the appointment prepared. Bring copies of all records and other documentation related to the underlying incident. You can also prepare a list of questions to take with you to your first meeting. Here are some great questions for your attorney.

    • How many personal injury claims have you handled? Have any of those claims gone to trial? Of those, how many were decided in favor of the plaintiff?
    • What percentage of your practice is devoted to personal injury cases like mine?
    • How long have you been in practice?
    • Do you usually represent injured people or people who are being sued?
    • What problems do you foresee with my case?
    • What are my options as far as insurance claim versus lawsuit?
    • How long will it take to bring the matter to a conclusion?
    • How does the law firm/lawyer charge for services?
    • What types of experts would the lawyer use to help bolster your case?
    • What is the time limit (set by a law called a “statute of limitations”) by which you must have the case settled/the lawsuit filed?
    • Would the lawyer handle the case personally or would it be passed on to someone else in the firm? If other lawyers or staff may do some of the work, can you meet them?

Accident lawsuits are often complex affairs, involving evidence gathering, expert witnesses, and a detailed knowledge of law. As a result, it’s important for accident victims to find an attorney who is experienced in injury cases in particular. If you are in the San Francisco area and want to learn more about your claim at no cost to you, contact Sisneros Graziani LLP for a free case evaluation.

Assault and Battery in California

Most personal injury lawsuits are filed over accidents — like a slip and fall or a car crash. However, in some cases, the action that caused the harm was intentional rather than accidental.

In the context of personal injury law, “assault” and “battery” are intentional torts that can form the basis of a lawsuit in civil court. In a typical case, the victim of an assault and/or battery sues the offender, seeking compensation for injuries and other damages stemming from the incident.

People often use the phrase “assault and battery,” when in fact, assault and battery are two distinct crimes. In California civil assault is defined as the intent to cause fear in another of the harmful or offensive contact. Battery, on the other hand, is defined as the intentional harmful or offensive contact to another.

When it comes to injuries, civil cases involving assault and battery can run the gamut of seriousness. Remember, no actual physical injury is required in most states, including California, so lawsuits for assault and battery can vary widely in terms of damage awards. Often, when an assault and battery incident requires hospitalization and extensive medical attention, a personal injury lawsuit may be the best way for the victim to get reimbursement for medical bills and compensation for things like pain and suffering.

In these cases, damages include physical injuries, psychological damages, wage loss, medical bills, and punitive damages. In some instances, assault can even result in damage to property. If you sustain an injury due to assault, you may be entitled to recover both economic damages, non-economic damages, and punitive damages.

Additionally, if you are assaulted or battered by a person working in the course and scope of their employment (such as a bouncer at a nightclub), the employer may be held liable for the intentional misconduct of its employee.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of assault and/or battery in the San Francisco area, you need a team of expert personal injury attorneys by your side. Schedule a consultation with Sisneros Graziani LLP to speak with one of our experienced lawyers. Call (415) 966-0748.