Personal Injury Frequently Asked Questions
The Law Offices of Dennis R. Fusi & Associates, PLC represents accident victims in personal injury claims in Los Angeles County and throughout Southern California. Knowing what to do following an accident is often the first step to protecting your rights and preventing an unfortunate event from severely impacting your life. In the interest of sharing some basic, but important information, we have compiled this page of frequently asked questions. For specific advice, please contact our offices and schedule a free initial consultation. Se habla español.
What should I do after being in an accident?
If anyone involved in the accident has been seriously injured and requires hospitalization, you should call 911 immediately and alert the authorities to your location. For each vehicle involved, obtain the driver's name, address, and license number, along with the vehicle owner's name, address, and insurance information. If possible, obtain photographs of the vehicles involved, and make note of the direction and position of each vehicle after the accident. You should also record any other details about the accident scene, including the weather, time of day, and lighting at the time of the accident. If any witnesses were present to view the accident, be sure to obtain their names and contact information.
If the accident was the result of a traffic violation, contact the police and inform them of this violation. You should also notify your insurance company about the accident, and visit a doctor for any injuries sustained during the accident.
What if the person who hit me was uninsured or underinsured?
If the other driver was uninsured, your insurance company may require a signed statement from the uninsured driver establishing that he or she does not have insurance. Then, you may make a claim with your own insurance company for your damages. If the other driver was underinsured and cannot fully compensate you for your damages, you may still make a claim for the amount that the other driver's policy can cover, and then make a claim with your own insurance company for the balance. Unfortunately, an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver can put you at odds with your own insurance company. Therefore, such accidents require the involvement of an experienced personal injury attorney so that you may receive the compensation to which you are entitled.
How is fault proven in an accident?
While some accidents allow for a clear determination of fault, many accidents require thorough investigation and research to determine fault. By recording as much information as possible after the accident, including photos of the accident, witness contact information, and road conditions, you will strengthen your ability to prove that another driver or circumstance, such as a defective roadway, caused the accident. Police reports are also an extremely important source of information to determine fault, so make sure you are honest, forthcoming, and comprehensive in your statement to the police officer responding to the scene. Once you have all the necessary information, contact an experienced attorney to determine whether or not you have a viable claim against another driver or third party.
Can I still receive compensation if I was partially at-fault in the accident or if my actions contributed to my injuries?
Because California is a comparative negligence state, you may recover compensation for your injuries even if you were partially at-fault for causing the accident. For example, if a judge or jury determines that the other driver was 80-percent responsible for the accident, and you were 20-percent responsible for the accident, and you sustained $100,000 in injuries, you may receive $80,000, or the amount of your injuries reduced by 20-percent. Even if you were more at-fault than the other driver, you may still recover the percentage that the other driver was at-fault.
Similarly, if your actions contributed to your injuries, it is up to the judge or jury to determine whether your award will be reduced because of these actions. For example, if you were not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the accident, that does not excuse the other driver's negligence or traffic violation; however, the court may reduce your reward if it decides that your decision not to wear a seatbelt significantly contributed to your injuries.