California roads are some of the most dangerous roads in the United States, as thousands of deaths and injuries occur on them each year. Hence, traffic accidents are a serious public safety concern here. There are countless causes of California car accidents, many of which are preventable—and almost all which stem from someone’s negligence. 

It can be hard to cope with an unexpected injury, let alone grasp the seriousness of your situation. You may feel shaken up, angry, stressed, and unsure of what to do next. Here is a 7-step guide with all the details you need to collect the right information and protect yourself after a car crash in California. 

Stay Present 

Never leave the scene of an accident prematurely. If you’re physically capable, call 911 as soon as possible. If you need immediate medical assistance, do your best to get to a safe space and wait for emergency medical personnel to show up. 

Fleeing the scene of an accident involving injury is illegal in California. This is known as a hit-and-run and carries harsh penalties, including fines up to $10,000 and up to one year in jail. Even if you are not at fault and uninjured, other parties involved in the accident may have suffered injuries. 

If the only destruction is property damage, you are still legally required to identify yourself to all parties. Not doing so could result in you being charged with a misdemeanor hit-and-run, which is subject to fines up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail. 

Seek Medical Care 

When you are in a car accident, the most apparent damage is the destruction your vehicle sustains. Often, people evaluate the severity of a crash by the extent of property damage rather than looking at the bigger picture. The reality is that car accidents also cause damage to your body that isn’t always immediately visible. The most common injuries car accident victims suffer include: 

  • Whiplash 
  • Concussions
  • Lacerations, burns, and bruises
  • Brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Broken bones
  • Internal trauma 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 

Remember to always get a complete medical evaluation as soon as possible after you have been in a car accident, whether it is clear you have been injured or not. A doctor can assess the extent of your injuries and diagnose any latent injuries you may have sustained. This is critical to protecting your health, and better yet, a proper diagnosis can help document and strengthen your car accident injury claim. 

Exchange and Document Information with All Parties 

If you did not have to be transferred to the hospital and remained on scene, there are numerous steps you can take while waiting for police to conclude their reports. The single most important thing you can do is document all other parties’ contact information, such as their driver’s licenses, insurance cards, and vehicle registration numbers. Snap a photo or jot down the numbers, whichever is easier for you. The more information the better.

Keep in mind “all other parties” includes eyewitnesses and police officers too. Ask for the names and phone numbers of anyone who may have seen what happened, and record any responding officers’ names, badge numbers, and departments. Don’t forget to provide your contact information to everyone else as well. 

Collect Evidence and Record Your Version of Events 

Next on the list comes obtaining evidence and recording your version of events. This is one of the most overlooked yet essential steps after an accident. Of course, if you are not on scene anymore, you can’t do this. But if you are, don’t make the mistake of skipping this step. 

Pictures and videos play an integral role in any car accident case and are among the best ways for you, your lawyer, or your insurance adjuster to reconstruct the accident. It is recommended to take photos and record videos of the accident scene, your injuries, vehicle damage, and any other evidence that may be relevant to your case. Be sure to also note any cameras in the surrounding area that may have recorded the accident. Such footage will certainly be useful if liability is being disputed to set the record straight.

Once you have a thorough collection and can think clearly, it is vital you write down the specifics of your accident from your point of view. Visual and perceptual information that illustrates your memories disappears with time and post-accident shock makes that process even faster. If possible, mark down the time, date, and location of your accident. 

Lastly, evaluate the moments leading up to the crash by asking yourself questions such as: 

  • How fast was the other driver going? 
  • What color were the traffic lights? 
  • What direction was each vehicle going? 

Assessing the events could help with diagnosing your injuries and proving fault. 

Remain Calm and Collected 

The most challenging part of an accident is what comes afterward. As you can see by the length and detail of this guide, it is not easy. But the important thing is to ensure that you and anyone else in your vehicle are safe. Remaining calm and collected under such circumstances seems impossible, but if you just take a second to collect your thoughts you have a much better chance at processing the situation clearly. 

You may be tempted to immediately get out of your car to talk to others or make a million phone calls. You may even feel so frustrated that you start crying or yelling. It can’t be emphasized enough how imperative it is to give yourself time. When your emotions are high, you are more likely to make a costly mistake. No matter what happens, keep your thoughts to yourself, do not apologize, refrain from blaming others, and follow each of the steps outlined here. 

File a Traffic Accident Report with California DMV

Under California law, you have a responsibility to complete a traffic accident form (SR-1) with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within ten days of a car accident if there was death, injuries, or property damage of $1,000 or more. You will need your driver’s license, license plate number, insurance information, and the other party’s vehicle and insurance information to complete the form. 

You can file the SR-1 accident report online or print it out and bring it to the DMV. Choose whichever method you prefer, but do not delay. Failure to report can result in the suspension of your driver’s license for up to one year. 

Contact Your Insurance Company 

Most of the time, accident victims put off contacting their insurance company because they do not want their policy rates to rise. The good news is if you are not legally liable for the crash, California is one of two states that have banned auto insurers from increasing your rates. 

Regardless, it is wise to look over your policy. Most insurers require drivers to inform them of an accident immediately. Waiting to call your insurance company could result in the automatic dismissal of your claim and bar you from seeking monetary damages under your policy. 

You should understand, however, that when you are speaking to your own insurer, or any other insurance company for that matter, to never admit fault. You have rights you can exercise—namely, the right to a qualified attorney and the right to remain silent. Furthermore, there are two things you can be sure of: 

1) Anything you say in communications with insurance companies can be used against you, and 2) Your claim will either be denied, or you will be offered a low-ball settlement right off the bat.  

Unfortunately, the majority of the time, an insurance company’s first settlement offer is far lower than what you deserve. Regardless of the grim truth, many victims still struggle to accept that insurance companies are not their friends. Do not let insurance companies minimize your losses, and do not risk saying something that could jeopardize you getting the settlement you deserve. Instead, consult an experienced car accident lawyer in California for protection and guidance. 

Call Our California Car Accident Lawyers for Help 

At Younglove Law Group, we know we can’t change the past, but we can certainly help make a better future. If you have been in a car accident, our trusted firm will provide you with timely and effective legal services. We see to it that our clients are compensated for all their losses, including medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. 

The attorneys at Younglove Law Group are legal allies who get the results you need. We help car accident victims piece their lives back together and protect their futures after suffering injuries due to another driver’s careless actions in California. Learn more about your rights and potential case in a confidential consultation by calling (844) 810-1800 or by submitting an online contact form today. 

First and foremost, do you have an attorney? If not, the answer is your offer is probably not fair. Insurance companies prey on plaintiffs who do not have an attorney for one simple reason: they can settle their claims for less than they are worth.

If you do not have an attorney, please consult with one today before agreeing to anything with an insurance company. Insurance companies often try to settle with plaintiffs shortly after an accident because it limits their exposure. Once you sign with a qualified attorney, the insurance company knows it will no longer be able to talk to you directly about your claim.

Be sure to check out our article, 5 Tips for Hiring the Right Auto Accident Lawyer.

If you do have an attorney and you are trying to do your own research as to whether the offer they have presented to you is fair, you first need to consider whether you have the right attorney. The fact that you are here researching for yourself suggests you do not fully trust your attorney, or worse, you cannot reach him or her for a full explanation of your offer.

If that is the case, be sure to check out our article, 8 Ways to Tell if You Hired a Bad Lawyer.

There are countless factors that go into valuing injury claims, but the most important are grouped into 2 main categories, economic damages and general damages.

Economic damages are comprised of your quantitative (able to be counted) damages, e.g., your medical expenses, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses.

Your general damages are comprised of the more subjective portions of your claim, like compensation for your past and future pain and suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, etc.

There is no exact formula to determine the value of a claim, but the ultimate goal of an injury attorney is to obtain what a jury would award if your case went to trial. If a jury would likely award more than the defendant has in insurance coverage, your offer may seem low because it is limited by the defendant’s ability to pay.

Did you receive an offer from the defendant’s insurance company for the policy limits of the defendant’s liability insurance policy? You should consult with a qualified attorney, as he or she will be able to confirm whether you are in fact obtaining the best possible outcome on your claim. There are certain items a good attorney will require from the defendant and their insurance company to prove they are in fact offering all available money.

Unfortunately, there is no magic formula that will tell you exactly what your claim is worth. However, you can get the best idea as to the value of your claim by consulting with a qualified personal injury. The good news is the vast majority of them offer free consultations.

Curious if You Have a Fair Offer? Consult with a Lawyer Today!

Contact Younglove Law Group for a 100% free consultation. 

There are many articles about how to choose the right attorney, but how can you tell if you have the wrong one? If you think you might have a bad attorney, you can always switch to a new one at no additional cost to you. We have compiled the below list of 8 factors you can use to evaluate whether you have a bad attorney.

  1. Lack of Communication

Attorneys are some of the busiest people of any profession in the country; however, good attorneys are responsive. They may not be able to field every call as it comes in, but a good rule of thumb is they should always be able to get back to you the same day that you contacted them. At the very least, they should have the proper organization behind them to enable someone on their staff to respond to you.

If you are having trouble getting in touch with your attorney, you may have a bad lawyer.

  1. A Complicated and/or Deceptive Fee Structure

The vast majority of Plaintiff Attorneys will provide a free consultation to review your claim and decide whether they are the right fit for you. Every attorney who is worth signing with should have no issue not only explaining their fee structure to you during this consultation, but they should also set their entire fee structure out in writing. If your attorney did not, or worse, would not do this, that is serious cause for concern.

Specifically, some issues we recommend keeping an eye out for are fees that increase without anything being done on your claim. Some attorneys will have their fees increase simply because a certain period of time has passed since you signed with them, regardless of what your experience has been like or whether they have done any real work for you.

Put simply, if your attorney’s fee structure is needlessly complicated, you may have a bad lawyer.

  1. Exorbitant “Administrative” Costs

The entire purpose of representing plaintiffs is to try to help them obtain justice from insurance companies, which are faceless, corporate giants that have mastered turning plaintiffs and their lives into numbers so as to maximize their profits. Some attorneys have forgotten the calling of their profession and operate like insurance companies, sneaking exorbitant flat costs into their contracts.

Be sure to check your contract and compare it with that of several other attorneys. We have heard of firms trying to pitch these costs to clients as a benefit to them. Just remember, if your attorney is willing to charge you exorbitant costs, how can you trust them to have your best interests in mind when your case gets difficult?

If your attorney is charging you exorbitant administrative costs, you may have a bad lawyer.

  1. Lack of Qualifications

There are myriad aspects to evaluating whether an attorney is qualified to represent you. One of the most obvious is to look at what schools they attended. Did they attend a well-respected law school? What about their undergraduate university? While some great lawyers went to smaller schools, they are the exception to the rule. The selection process to get into top law schools is rigorous and reveals not only basic competency but also discipline.

You can also evaluate attorneys by looking at which organizations they belong to and the awards they have received for their accomplishments. Do they seem active in their legal community, or do they spend the bulk of their time merely advertising?

If your attorney lacks qualifications, you may have a bad lawyer.  

  1. Dishonesty

There are very strict rules governing what attorneys can disclose concerning information they learn in the scope of an attorney-client relationship, and the reason for that is simple. Our system is reliant on a strong level of trust between clients and their attorneys.

Did your attorney make representations to you about how your case would be handled and then fail to deliver? This could range from a promised net recovery in order to coerce you to settle, a guaranteed timeframe in which your claim would resolve, or any number of promises that may have been broken. Oftentimes you will come across this issue when dealing with the sales wing of a law firm, typically referred to as “Intake” as they try to sign your case. A good attorney will only give sound advice and estimates as to what may happen with your case. Guarantees are a sign of desperation and should be avoided.

If your attorney has been dishonest with you, you may have a bad lawyer.

  1. Unprofessional

An attorney’s office is a professional organization, and as such should be equipped to handle all matters professionally. This does not only extend to the attorney. If your attorney’s support staff is rude, that is a sign of a poor culture in his or her office and reflects directly on the attorney. If an attorney is tolerant of a poor culture, or even fosters it, it is likely that attorney tolerates subpar work product as well. Many claims take years to fully resolve, during which you will be corresponding with the attorney and his or her staff countless times. There is no reason your attorney’s office should make one of the most stressful periods of your life more stressful by being rude or unprofessional. They should be equipped to handle you and your problems. That is, after all, what they are there for.

If your attorney or his or her staff is unprofessional, you may have a bad lawyer.

  1. Lack of Results

Good attorneys get good results. An attorney with many high value outcomes tends to have them because they are better at maximizing the value of their cases and maintaining their clients’ trust than an attorney with less of them. While large settlements and verdicts are eye-catching, there is more to evaluating the work product of an attorney than simply counting how many seven or eight figure cases they have handled. Ask them about a case they particularly liked working on and why. An attorney who cannot give a compelling answer to that question might not be a great fit, even if they have had great results in the past.

Another result to evaluate an attorney with is their personal reviews. This is addressed below in its own section (because it is that important). But it is addressed here as well, as the extent to which an attorney is providing quality service to his or her clients over time will largely be reflected in their reviews. An attorney with great outcomes and reviews is what you should be looking for if you want the best possible outcome for your claim.

If your attorney does not have good case results and reviews, you may have a bad lawyer.

  1. Bad Reviews

If you think you as a consumer do not have a voice in the world think again. A negative review can severely damage a business, especially a law firm. Every firm is going to have its share of criticism online. It’s the nature of the world we live in, but beware of firms that have a disproportionate amount of negative feedback.

If you have signed with a large law firm, it is likely your case has been assigned to an associate attorney who you have never heard of. Be sure to check their individual reviews, as the quality of service given to clients can vary widely even within the same firm. A firm may have quality reviews online, but does the attorney who will be handling your case?

If your attorney has bad reviews, you may have a bad lawyer.

Concerned You May Have a Bad Lawyer? Call Younglove Law Group at (844) 810-1800 for a 100% free consultation!

1. Look at Their Results

Good attorneys get good results. It’s that simple. An attorney with many high value outcomes tends to have them because they are better at maximizing the value of their cases and at maintaining their clients’ trust than an attorney with less of them.

Beyond merely looking at the numbers from the case results scrolling across an attorney’s website, we recommend asking any attorney to tell you about a case they particularly liked working on and why. An attorney with many great outcomes whose answer to that question does not match the priorities you have for your case might ultimately prove to be a less than ideal fit for you.

2. Read Their Reviews

Every attorney is going to have their share of criticism online. It’s the nature of the world we live in, but beware of attorneys who have a disproportionate amount of negative feedback. Negative reviews can severely damage the business of a law firm, so a multitude of bad reviews is a bad sign. As they say, where there is smoke, there is fire.

Additionally, if you are evaluating a large law firm, it is likely your case will be assigned to an attorney who you have never heard of. We recommend checking their individual reviews on sites like Avvo, Justia, and Yelp, as the quality of service given to clients can vary widely even within the same firm depending on which attorney is handling your case.

3. Pay Attention to How Well They Communicate

Attorneys are well known for being busy, but the good ones are organized enough to remain responsive. Even if they are unable to take your call, it is entirely reasonable for you to expect a response the same day you contacted them. At minimum, they should have organized their support staff well enough to ensure someone will respond to you on their behalf.

In short, good lawyers communicate, and if you are having trouble communicating with an attorney before even signing with them, that is a bad sign of things to come.

4. Note Whether They Clearly Explain Their Fees and Costs

It is standard practice for Plaintiff Attorneys to provide a free consultation to review your potential case in order to decide whether you are the right fit for one another. During that consultation, or even during the preceding call to schedule it, the attorney should have no issue going over their fee structure and explaining the types of costs you can reasonably expect to be incurred on your claim. Good attorneys have no issue explaining this.

Also, their fees and costs should make sense. Does their fee increase for no reason? Is their fee higher than their competitors? Are they trying to charge you exorbitant flat costs, citing high “administrative” costs? A good attorney will have a fee structure that is fair and makes sense, and he or she will be able to explain the costs of pursuing your case. 

5. Use Your Brain but Don’t Forget Your Gut

We liken the attorney-client relationship on injury claims to a marriage. These are long-lasting relationships built on trust. An attorney you are considering may check every proverbially box, but still not be the right attorney for you. Find one who you will be able to stand talking to for the next several years (your claim can take that long). Also note whether they tend to communicate in your preferred method. Are you big on texting, but your attorney only corresponds via telephone? There are countless factors to assess when deciding whether an attorney is the right fit for you. The best advice we can give is to look at all of the above tips, but don’t forget to trust your gut.

Hire a Lawyer Today!

Call Younglove Law Group at (844) 810-1800 for a 100% free consultation.  

Insurance companies are well-oiled machines designed to do one thing: pay you as little as possible on your claim. Every insurance company has teams of adjusters, attorneys, and experts they will use against you. Shouldn’t you have a team on your side?

You may look at your motorcycle accident and think an attorney is an unnecessary expense. “Won’t giving an attorney a share of my claim eat away at my recovery?” is a common question we have heard from prospective clients over the years. However, we have seen time and time again that plaintiffs who represent themselves (AKA “pro per” which is Latin for “for oneself”) recover far less than plaintiffs who are represented by an attorney. Keep in mind pro per plaintiffs also do much more work for their claims. Why would you want to do more work for a smaller recovery? That is time you should be spending healing (and riding your motorcycle).

In fact, insurance companies compared pro per claimants’ recoveries to the recoveries of claimants who were attorney-represented. They found that claimants with an attorney recover more than 3x as much as claimants who represent themselves! That stands to reason, as navigating a personal injury claim is a complex matter that requires not only advanced study but also years of experience.

Additionally, if having an attorney really did not recover plaintiffs extra money, why do insurance companies spend so much money every year lobbying for tort reform and propagandizing the public to think of plaintiff attorneys as unethical?

The vast majority of attorneys offer consultations at no cost to you. If you have an injury claim as a result of a motorcycle accident, it can’t hurt to review your claim with a qualified attorney.

Be sure to check out our article, 5 Tips for Hiring the Right Auto Accident Lawyer.

Contact Younglove Law Group for a 100% free consultation.