7 Practical Steps for Handling Your Disputed Liability Auto Accident Case

san diego car accident lawyer

If you were injured in an auto accident and dispute the liability, you probably have a lot of questions about what to do next.  Here are a few practical steps you can take to protect your legal rights:

  1. Take photos of the accident and all vehicles involved;
  2. Call the police and obtain a police report;
  3. Record the ID of all persons involved (including witnesses);
  4. Record the insurance information of all vehicles involved;
  5. Immediately seek treatment for all injuries;
  6. Keep accurate records of the event and all medical treatment received;
  7. Contact a top personal injury lawyer without delay.

The last point may be the most important one.  Insurance companies are driven by profit and will do everything in their power to deny your claim.  Insurance companies will blame the accident on you.  We have seen egregious cases of insurance companies blaming victims for their injuries in order to avoid financial responsibility.  Insurance companies will also deny the extent of your injuries.  They will hire doctors and lawyers go to court and testify that your injuries are not as severe as you say.  As such, we suggest contacting a reputable personal injury lawyer before you contact an insurance company, even if you have done nothing wrong.

Your lawyer should provide you with all the necessary information to protect your legal rights and guide you through the claims process.  An auto accident claim typically begins with a written demand letter to the defendant’s insurance company.  Your attorney will craft a demand letter which (1) describes your injuries, (2) describes the facts and circumstances which caused your injuries, and (3) demands that the defendant comply with specific terms to remedy your injuries.

If the insurance company does not meet the terms of your demand, and you are not able to reach an agreement out of court, then your lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf.

Your lawyer will draft a complaint, file it with the court and discovery will begin.  In legal terminology, “discovery” is the process of discovering all of the relevant facts about your case.  Discovery typically involves deposing witnesses and experts, obtaining relevant documents from the defendant and other third parties, and securing photos and other evidence from the scene of the incident.  It is likely that you will be deposed, which means that the defendant’s lawyer will have the opportunity to ask you questions about the incident and your injuries.  Your lawyer should spend time with you beforehand preparing you for the deposition and should be there with you the entire time during the deposition.

If your claim is not settled before the trial date, then the case will proceed to trial.  Trial will involve presentation of evidence by your lawyer and by the defendant.  Trial will likely involve testimony from witnesses, defendant(s) and/or hired experts.  You and your lawyer will decide whether or not you are going to testify at trial, but your personal testimony to the jury is often the most powerful evidence in your favor as a plaintiff in a civil trial.

The trial will last until the jury reaches a verdict.  If you are unhappy with the outcome, your attorney may appeal on the grounds that there was a material mistake in the trial.  Appeals and subsequent court proceedings may cause significant further delays in resolving your case.  As such, it may take years to resolve your case even with the proper care of a skilled lawyer.  However, a skilled lawyer can make the process easier and more effective for you by guiding you through the duration of the case from your first meeting until the matter is resolved. 

From our experience, the earlier in the process you hire a proven lawyer for your auto accident case, the better your chances are of achieving the results you want.