Updated August 3, 2021
Car Accident Lawyer in Los Angeles
Who We Are
Injury Advocates Group lawyers have handled hundreds of car accident cases. If you are searching to hire a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles, that is our one area of focus.
We have recovered over $10,000,000 from insurance companies for injured people like you.
Read our about us page to learn more about our law firm and what we do to help injured victims.
We Know the Defense Playbook
An experienced auto claim attorney like us knows the insurance company’s playbook. We capitalize on that knowledge to expose the flaws in the defense lawyers’ liability and damages defenses and arguments early in a case. This increases the likelihood of you receiving a fairer settlement offer without having to endure a trial.
Using just 2020 as a sample, when our lawyers hit a settlement wall and had to file a lawsuit, we beat the the insurance company’s final pre-suit offer 100% of the time.
Table of Contents
11 Steps to Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer
Below is a ten step guide to settling your own car accident case. But first, a word of caution.
The main risk in settling the case yourself is you do not know the fair range of what your car accident case is worth. It is analogous to bidding on a foreclosed house in a real estate auction with the intent to fix and resell it. Professional house flippers know how much it will take to fix the house and make a profit selling it. Inexperienced buyers will guess wrong, and not make any money. Worse yet, they could end up owing money.
Settling your own case is the exact same, in that no amount of internet research will inform you as to the truthful range of how much your case could be worth. This results in the insurance company getting the better of you close to, if not, 100% of the time without an attorney keeping the insurance company, and adjuster, honest.
With that caveat, below is an 11-step guide to settle your car accident claim without a lawyer.
Document the Accident
1 – After the accident, call 911 and get a police report or incident number.
Document the Property Damage
2 – Document the damage to your car. If a lawyer’s advice on this topic is to take pictures, that is inadequate advice. You need pictures and thoughtful damage reports to help get the best settlement.
Document Statutes of Limitations
3 – Make a note of any deadlines. In every case, a state specific filing deadline will apply. The California statute of limitations, barring exceptions, is 2 years.
Document Your Injuries
4 –Be seen by a doctor and follow through with any recommended medical care. If you are hurt in a car accident but never see a doctor, there is insufficient evidence of an injury and an insurance adjuster will not make an offer. Go to the doctor, report all your symptoms, and follow the doctors’ advice for care and treatment. Read about auto injuries, treatments, and strategies in our auto injury library.
Collect Medical Records
5 – Collect all of your medical records. These will show what injuries you had. The insurance companies will run the medical records through their automated systems that will spit out a number for what your case is worth based on the documented injuries.
Collect Medical Bills
6 – Collect all of your medical bills. If you try to settle the case yourself, the medical bills will have a major impact on how much money your accident is worth. How much your claim is worth will be very different if you have a skilled attorney advocating that case value for you. If you try to settle the case yourself, the coincidental amounts of your medical bills will account for nearly all of your settlement.
Collect Lost Wages Evidence
7 – Collect all information proving you lost money from work. Without a lawyer’s help, an insurance adjuster will typically only offer to reimburse you for a few days of lost wages, which amounts to a few hundred dollars.
We regularly recover over $2,500 of lost wages in run-of-the mill car accident cases where other attorneys only collect a few hundred. How? We investigated the insurance companies’ claims processing habits and found out how to document lost wages in a way that results in those computers assigning higher values to our clients’ lost wages.
Collect Health Insurance Information
8 – Collect your health insurance information, including EOBs and statements to show the cost of your medical care. Depending on the state, you might be able to recover the entire amount charged in the bills or you may only be allowed to recover what you paid out of pocket.
If your medical bills or out of pocket amounts are small in comparison to your injuries, you should NOT try to settle the case yourself, and you should immediately call an attorney.
That is a special circumstance case where you need to hire a car accident lawyer to get a fair result.
For example, one of our lawyers represented a client with approximately $5,000 of medical bills but the injuries were serious and we convinced the insurance company to pay $50,000 to settle the case.
Prepare Settlement Letter
9 – Prepare a settlement demand letter to the insurance adjuster where you outline your economic damages, which includes your medical expenses, lost wages, and damage to your car, along with your non-economic damages, which includes your pain and suffering.
10 – Negotiate with the insurance adjuster. Keep in mind the adjuster has limitations – a computer is telling them what they can and cannot do. They have some leverage, so it doesn’t help to argue with them. There is a lot of strategy and finesse in handling these negotiations.
Pay Off Medical Liens
11 – Pay back any medical liens or subrogation holders that have a right to recover money from your settlement. If you have health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, Tricare, disability benefits, or any other benefits that you used for your accident injuries, treatment, or losses, you will almost definitely have liens that must be paid back. We have a page devoted to explaining who pays these medical bills and how much, related to your accident.
WARNING – If you do not handle this correctly, you could end up losing your entire settlement to liens and subrogation interests. Our lawyers have resolved over a million dollars in liens and subrogation interests. In some cases, our team successfully reduced $50,000+ liens down to $5,000. Recently, a lawyer on our team wiped out a $25,000 lien for a client, which helped the client net an extra $25,000.
How to Prove Liability in a Car Accident in 4 Steps
In every case, the injured claimant or plaintiff must prove liability, which includes proving that the other driver was at fault for the car accident. Here are the 4 things you must prove to establish liability for your car accident:
1 – the other driver was supposed to follow a driving rule
2 – the other driver broke that driving rule
3 – the other driver breaking that driving rule caused you to suffer an injury
4 – you suffered identifiable, non-speculative damages from that injury
It is possible to have a foul without a harm. In other words, not every accident results in a recoverable claim.
Those are situations where you can prove the first two or three items from this list, but the last one or two you cannot prove. In those situations, you have failed to establish liability and cannot recover any money for your accident.
As a basic rule, if your injuries are complex you need an attorney to help you with your case. If your injuries are not complicated, there is no dispute about the first two elements above, and you have a very small or nominal case, those are cases you may be better off trying to settle yourself.
How Do I Prove
A Car Accident Was Not My Fault in 8 Steps?
One of the first things an insurance company and adjuster will try to do after a car accident is find a way to say you were at fault.
An insurance adjuster’s job, contrary to what the insurance companies would have you believe, is not to “fairly resolve claims.” Their job is to find ways to not pay for claims because that increases the insurance companies’ bottom lines.
To stop that, these are eight things you should do that will help you prove a car accident was not your fault:
1 – Do NOT give an explanation to the other driver as to why you believe the accident happened (unless you have first spoken with an attorney).
2 – Do NOT speak with the other driver’s car insurance company without first speaking to a lawyer. If you try to settle the case yourself this is not an option. Anytime you do this, however, you are at a disadvantage and vulnerable to the insurance company tricking you into saying something that suggests you did something wrong and are partly to blame for the accident.
3 – Do NOT testify in traffic court about how the accident happened without first speaking to a lawyer. Again, if you decide to settle the case yourself you may end up having to do this. A lawyer can use this as an opportunity to improve the value of your case. If you wing it, it is almost guaranteed that you will say something you don’t realize is hurting your case.
4 – Get statements and contact information from witnesses who saw what happened.
5 – Get the other driver to explain at the scene what happened. Similar to a negotiation, whoever talks first and talks the most loses. The same applies to this situation. The other driver will likely volunteer their errors if politely confronted about why they caused the accident.
6 – Take pictures of the cars before they are moved. These types of pictures have helped our lawyers win cases. They show the position and location of cars within lanes and can prove where someone stopped, or who came into whose lane.
7 – Research your state’s traffic laws. Insurance adjusters are not lawyers or police officers, and do not know or appreciate the context of specific driving rules for each state. These vehicle codes, rules of the road, or statutory transportation articles will outline the rules the other driver broke that lead to the crash.
You can spend hours sifting through these statutes to find a rule violation, or you can hire a car accident injury lawyer who does this for a living and is familiar with those rules and how to use them in settlement letters.
8 – If there is even the slightest indication that you could be at fault for the accident, you should hire a car accident lawyer before you do anything for that case.
To be clear, the prior sentence does not say “if you think you could be at fault for the accident, you should retain a lawyer.”
You may think there is no way you are at fault. But if there are any facts which can suggest you could be at fault, the insurance adjuster will be aware of those facts, and they will be used against you to deny your claim.
With an experienced auto insurance attorney by your side, and when you are in the right, those claim denials are of no consequence. Statistically, the lawyers at Injury Advocates Group have won over 85% of their disputed liability cases. These are cases where the insurance company denied that the defendant did anything wrong, and fought us on liability.
Many people’s natural response to an insurance adjuster denying their claim will be to fight the denial and try to prove they were not at fault. In doing that, they will violate rule numbers 1, 2, and 3, often repeatedly, creating a trail of detrimental evidence.
This will dig you deeper into a hole that the vehicle lawyer. The best advice here is if there is any evidence suggesting you could be at fault, or if the adjuster suggests this, follow the above rules and hire a car accident lawyer to dispute the liability denial from the beginning.
Car Accident Q&A
Do I need an attorney if I have been in accident?
If you have been in an accident, you might need an attorney. You do not always need an attorney. It will depend on your injuries, whether there is a liability dispute, and difficulty of your specific claim.
How can an attorney help me?
You don’t know what you don’t know. An attorney can help you navigate the insurance world, ensure you do the things that insurance adjusters like to see, and don’t do things they don’t like to see. A good attorney will take the guesswork out of claim handling and keep you on the path with the greatest chance of success.
The other driver’s insurance is calling me, should I talk to them?
No. You should never speak to the other driver nor the other drivers insurance company until you’ve spoken with a lawyer. These conversations can all be used against you to undermine your settlement and your future case. If you’ve decided to not use a lawyer, that’s the only time you should speak with the other driver’s insurance company.
Are there ways to make my settlement chances better?
Yes, there are many ways to make sure your case has a better chance of getting a larger settlement. That is done through papering and developing supporting witness and documentary evidence for your lost wages, pain and suffering, medical treatments, and future harm. It goes well beyond simply collecting medical records. If the proper things are not done, you could be looking at a liability denial or a lowball settlement offer.
What things should I document after my car accident?
Document as much as possible. This includes photos of your car, police reports, note if people were on their phones, any photos were taken, any witnesses were present and take their names and make sure to listen to all doctor’s advice and appointments as directed. We have an 11 point checklist above that you should follow. Give it a read if you skipped down to this question.
Can I prove that the liability is not my fault?
Yes, you can take steps to show that you are not at fault and not liable for your accident. But that is not your only path to success. With aggressive representation, sometimes the insurance company will make an offer simply because the cost of litigating the case outweighs the cost of a settlement offer, even in a disputed liability case. The point is, the real question should be, “how can I force the insurance company to make me an offer?” One way of doing that is proving that the liability is not your fault. There are others, most of them fairly strategical, which you need to discuss with your lawyer.
When should I contact an attorney after my accident?
The sooner you contact an attorney after an accident, the better it is for you because you will have far less chance to make statements hurtful to your case or take steps that cannot be undone. There are also major medical treatment issues and landmines that must be dealt with within the first 72 hours. If you already missed that window, you do not have any cushion left to work with and should call an attorney, any attorney, ASAP.
Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyers on Standby to Help You
Our Los Angeles injury lawyers can help you with any accident in Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Kern County, Santa Barbara County, and San Luis Obispo County.
Even if you are outside of the Southern California area, you can benefit from our access to lawyers around the country, and can still use our free consultation to understand your case.
If you would rather review our free online library of claim issues and injury-settlement topics, you are invited to do that. You will find helpful articles on dealing with police reports, how to value cases, and dealing with medical liens and bills.
We are available 24/7 for you. Call or email us immediately for a free consultation before you speak with anyone else, especially the insurance adjuster. We will fight to protect your financial recovery and help you get the largest settlement and recovery possible.
Supporting Citations, Literature & Resources:
Allstate (2019). What To Do After A Car Accident: A Step-By-Step Guide
The Center for Orthopedic and Sports Medicine. Why You Should Always See a Doctor After a Car Crash
About the Author
Article Author: This law article was written by attorney Ray Benyamin, Esquire. Mr. Benyamin received his Juris Doctor degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and his license to practice law from the State Bar of California. His law license number is 277263. He has been practicing law for 10 years. Mr. Benyamin is a registered member of the following legal organizations: Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles (CAALA), the Los Angeles County Bar Association (LACBA), the State Bar of California, the American Bar Association (ABA), and the American Association for Justice (AAJ). Mr. Benyamin has personally helped his clients recover over $10,000,000 dollars in vehicle accident insurance claims in the State of California.
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