Law Offices of Gabriel H. Avina

Los Angeles Personal Injury and Criminal Defense Lawyers

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Gabriel H. Avina's 10 Tips for Dealing with a Personal Injury Traffic Accident

If you are in any kind of traffic accident (including a car accident, truck accident, motorcycle accident, or any other type of auto accident) and you may have a personal injury claim, then there are a few important things you should keep in mind. Los Angeles lawyer Gabriel H. Avina suggests that from the moment the accident occurs you should:
  1. Stop and exchange information with other parties involved in the accident. Stopping at the scene of an accident in which you were involved is required by law under California Vehicle Code Section 20001. At this time you should get driver license, contact, and insurance information from the other parties involved.
  2. Get the contact information of any witnesses if possible. If you believe that liability for the accident will be an issue, and especially in the case of a personal injury, it can be very important to have witnesses to the accident.
  3. See a doctor for treatment. Pay attention to how you feel physically immediately after the accident, the next day, the next week, and even over the next months. Sometimes injuries that seem minor at first can develop into more serious conditions. See a doctor for any injuries or health concerns.
  4. Save any documentation related to the accident. This includes any information you may have, such as contact or other information from the other parties involved, a police report, any information from witnesses, photographs of damages to your vehicle, photographs of injuries, estimates or bills from repairs shops, or doctor's reports or bills.
  5. Consult attorneys for advice. If you have injuries that require medical care, then it may be in your best interest to hire a lawyer to help you recover medical costs. Although automobile insurance companies provide good liability coverage and adequate compensation for property damage in most cases, this is not often the case with physical injuries. Talking to different attorneys about your case can help you decide whether you want to move forward with a personal injury case. Many attorneys provide free consultations.
  6. Don't feel too rushed to hire an attorney. While there are time limitations on when you can enforce your rights, and it is important to bring your claim before these time limitations expire (see # 9 below), it is also very important that you do not to feel too rushed in making a decision.
  7. Hire an attorney who you feel comfortable with. It is important that you hire an attorney who makes you feel comfortable. This means that you should have a lawyer who you feel comfortable talking to, who listens to your concerns, and who provides you with legal explanations that you understand. The California State Bar provides a guide to help you choose an attorney.
  8. Keep in mind that attorneys usually take personal injury cases on a contingency agreement. A contingency fee agreement means that your attorney will be paid a percentage of what the award is if you win in court, or what the settlement is if the matter settles out of court. However, if you lose your case, then your attorney will receive no fee. (But also keep in mind, that regardless of your attorney's compensation, there also may be fees to be paid to the court and possibly other litigation expenses. This is an important conversation to have with an attorney who you are considering hiring.)
  9. Keep in mind the relevant statutes of limitations for your claim. While you have time to decide whether to pursue your personal injury claim, it is also important not to forget about the time limitations imposed by law, known as statutes of limitations. If you do not bring your personal injury case within these deadlines, you can miss your opportunity for compensation. Relevant statues of limitations in California that may apply to personal injury claims include:
    • 2 years from the date of the injury for most personal injury claims under California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1
    • 6 months for a personal injury claims against the government under California Government Code Section 911.2
  10. Have patience. If you do decide to hire a lawyer to help you with your personal injury claim, this can be a long process. The exact time that a case may take to resolve depends on the specific facts of the case and how the opposing party responds to the claim. Depending on how the case progresses, the lifespan of a personal injury claim may include: investigation or gathering information for your claim, negotiating with insurance, filing a complaint, settlement conferences, pretrial motions, preparing for trial, and enforcing a favorable judgment.
Call (323)299-1664 or email gabriel@avinalaw.com to set up a FREE CONSULTATION with Los Angeles personal injury lawyer Gabriel H. Avina.

*For more information see our Personal Injury page.

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