What to Do When You’ve Been Hurt in a Los Angeles Accident That’s Not Your Fault
You’ve been in a car accident in Los Angeles. It wasn’t your fault but you’re hurt, you’re scared, and you’re worried about your finances during your physical and emotional recovery period. You’re not alone. Thousands of people go through these same scary emotions every year. Thousands of people struggle to get the medical help they need, rebuild their bodies after a car accident, and get their lives back in order.
But this Ultimate Resource Guide is about more than just learning how to win your Los Angeles personal injury claim. The information on California Law and resources below will help you walk through the steps to take after a Los Angeles car accident including finding immediate medical attention, filing a personal injury claim in Los Angeles, and finding resources you need to make that recovery speedy, effective, and as comfortable as possible.
You’ll find everything from local law enforcement contact information to DMV locations to doctors and therapeutic specialists to take out services (because taking care of yourself isn’t just about healing your injuries, it’s about rebalancing your mental and emotional health too.
Feel free to read down through the entire piece or skip to the parts that are important to you. And if you need to come back to this Ultimate Resource Guide for Your Los Angeles Personal Injury Case, it will be right here waiting for you. If you have any questions, you can contact us to schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.
Expert Advice from a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
Over the last 20 years, as a personal injury attorney serving the Los Angeles area, I’ve seen hundreds of people negatively impacted by accidents that weren’t their fault. I’ve also helped hundreds of them get the compensation they deserve to help with things like bodily injury, hospital bills and other medical expenses, lost wages, and the emotional burden that an extended recovery puts on their families. Any type of automobile accident in and around Los Angeles (whether it involves bicycles, cars, motorcycles, and rideshare vehicles) can have long-lasting effects for everyone involved. It’s my goal to help you get through this rough patch in your life—even if you never set foot in my offices.
That’s right, I’ve sent hundreds of people on the path to recovery armed with information and resources they can use to handle their Los Angeles personal injury case by themselves. Not only do I know whether or not you could benefit from the services of a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles, but I can also point you to self-care resources that help alleviate the emotional, physical, and mental impact of an accident in Los Angeles.
And I’m sharing that information with you freely so you can recover as quickly (and completely) as possible.
Real Help for Real People in Los Angeles
This informative Los Angeles personal injury accident resource page will walk you through all the steps you need to take, point you to resources you didn’t even know you needed, and help to remind you that it’s not just your physical or financial recovery that’s important.
The helpful information outlined below has been gathered over the past two decades as I’ve practiced Los Angeles personal injury law. It includes websites and contact information for local:
Getting back to work, back to everyday life, and back to your normal routines is your number one goal right now but you have to allow yourself the time it takes to heal. Having access to experts, personal care resources, and support services will not only help dramatically reduce your recovery time but will also improve the long-term outcome you enjoy as well.
Comprehensive guide to almost everything you’ll need to win your personal injury claim in Los Angeles.
#1. What You Can Do After an Accident in LA That Wasn’t Your Fault
It’s obvious to most people that you should call 911 immediately after a severe traffic accident in Los Angeles in which people were seriously hurt. But in the absence of life-threatening injuries many people don’t. You should!
If you or anyone else has been injured at all in any type of automobile accident in Los Angeles, or if anyone is in imminent danger of being injured, call 911 immediately!
Don’t worry that the accident you’ve been involved in isn’t serious enough to warrant a police response. Determining that is not your responsibility!
If you call 911 and the operator doesn’t think that a police response is warranted, the LAPD will not send a squad car. And, even when a car is dispatched, the LAPD won’t create an accident report when 1) there are no injuries 2) all parties have valid licenses 3) all drivers willingly exchange registration, insurance, and contact information.
So how do you know when to call the LAPD?
The LAPD has created a quick reference guide on its website to help people determine the best course of action immediately after a car accident in Los Angeles. The recommendations are broken down as follows:
In rare cases, the responding agency to your car accident in LA may actually be the California Highway Patrol. Roughly 1/3 of the agency’s resources are devoted to Los Angeles County and they often respond to 911 calls outside LA city limits. The dispatcher who takes your 911 call will decide which agency to send to your location. All of your responsibilities remain the same.
Finding the Best Medical Help Immediately After Your Accident
If you’re unconscious or incapacitated in the aftermath of your car or Uber accident in Los Angeles, you won’t be able to tell responders and EMTs what ambulance service or hospital you would like to use. Those emergency professionals will make those decisions for you and their decisions will likely be based on the speed with which they can deliver the necessary medical treatment to keep you alive and minimize the long-term health impacts of your crash.
However, if you are lucid and not in imminent danger you may be able to make decisions about your own health care after a collision. If that’s the case, we can help you find the best EMTs, doctors, and specialists to take care of you.
Finding the Best Medical Help Immediately After Your Accident
If you’re unconscious or incapacitated in the aftermath of a car accident in Los Angeles, you won’t be able to tell responders and EMTs what ambulance service or hospital you would like to use. Those emergency professionals will make those decisions for you and their decisions will likely be based on the speed with which they can deliver the necessary medical treatment to keep you alive and minimize the long-term health impacts of your crash.
However, if you are lucid and not in imminent danger you may be able to make decisions about your own healthcare after a collision. If that’s the case, you will likely want to seek treatment covered by your health insurance network. Or, this guide can help you find the best EMTs, doctors, and specialists to take care of you.
The Best Ambulance Companies in Los Angeles
If your injuries are serious and responding EMTs deem them serious enough to warrant immediate medical intervention, you’ll likely be whisked to the nearest hospital. There are several Level I Trauma Centers in Los Angeles, including the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s emergency room, Ronald Regan UCLA Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (for minors).
However, if you suffered lesser injuries, you have the legal right to request transport from the ambulance service of your choosing to the hospital of your choosing (likely the primary emergency facility for your health insurance).
Here are some of the best ambulance services in Los Angeles.
Transportation by ambulance in LA is pricey (running around $1,200 according to the LA Times). But, keep in mind, if your personal injury accident in Los Angeles was not your fault, the at-fault party is legally liable for 100% of that bill.
We encourage you to take an ambulance to a nearby emergency room if you are seriously injured. Even if you only suspect you may be seriously injured (for instance if you were hit by a car as a pedestrian in Los Angeles), you should get checked by a medical professional as soon as possible. Not only does doing so have a tremendous effect on your long-term recovery, but it can also provide invaluable medical evidence in the event that your Los Angeles personal injury claim goes to court.
However, if your injuries are minor, call a friend or relative (or even an Uber) to get you to the doctor of your choosing.
The Best ER’s in Los Angeles
Finding the best ER in the area to take care of you is one of the most important steps to take after a Los Angeles car accident. You do have the option of requesting which hospital you’re taken to if your injuries (non-life-threatening) allow but it’s important to remember that individual ambulance services may be contractually obligated to deliver patients to a specific list of hospitals for treatment.
Below is a partial list of some of the best emergency rooms in Los Angeles (based on real reviews from real patients).
But Do You Really Need to See a Doctor?
One of the first things you might ask after a car accident in Los Angeles that’s not your fault is “do I still need to see a doctor?”
The best answer is “yes” and I’ll tell you why.
You might not even know that you’re injured as badly as you are—keep in mind, Traumatic Brain Injury can manifest symptoms a few hours or even a few days after your accident. From the standpoint of a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles, a doctor’s visit (or a trip to the ER) does more than just safeguard your health and wellbeing.
That initial visit begins the all-important evidence collection and documentation process of your physical and financial recovery. Not only do those medical records (admissions charts, x-rays, and other test results) demonstrate exactly how (and how severely) you were injured, not waiting to see that medical professional demonstrates that you felt the need was urgent. If you put off going to a doctor, a defense attorney or insurance adjuster could argue that your injuries weren’t severe enough to warrant the dollar amount associated with any future claim you file.
LAs Top Urgent Care Centers
But if you don’t need to go to an ER and can’t get in to see your primary care physician, the nearest urgent care facility may be just what the doctor ordered! And—if your injuries do turn out to be more severe than you had assumed, an urgent care professional will be able to spot signs and symptoms you could otherwise miss.
Here are a few of the best urgent care facilities in Los Angeles.
Keep in mind that urgent care is not an emergency room. If you have serious injuries (like broken bones, head trauma—including concussion, internal injuries) you should call an ambulance and get to a Level 1 Trauma center near you. And if you go to an urgent care facility with these symptoms, they’ll tell you the same thing—likely calling the ambulance for you.
Collect Evidence from the Scene as Soon as Possible
But the evidence collection process should begin well before you see a medical professional. If you are able, you should begin collecting evidence immediately after the accident in order to better recreate what exactly happened, who was involved, and what outside factors may (or may not) have come into play. This first-hand evidence collected immediately after a crash can be invaluable when it comes to proving your side of the story to insurance companies, defense attorneys, and—ultimately—a jury.
Indeed, if you’re wondering what to do after a Los Angeles bicycle accident or car accident that was not your fault in order to improve your chances of getting a substantial settlement, or successfully winning a personal injury lawsuit in Los Angeles this is it. Any information may be essential in proving the other party’s liability.
What Kind of Evidence Should You Collect After a Personal Injury Accident in Los Angeles?
The things you should be collecting and recording include:
Also, take a moment to make note of the locations of any traffic cameras or security cameras attached to nearby businesses as these may have recorded the actual crash! Keep in mind, you may even be able to get access to bodycam footage of the LAPD officers that respond to your personal injury accident in LA.
Physical evidence is probably the best, most persuasive tool you’ll have when it comes to proving your case, especially if you were involved in a LA motorcycle accident, as motorcycle accidents are usually contested by the at-fault driver. However, documentation is just as important. You should make a concerted effort to collect:
What to Do in the Days and Weeks after Your Traffic Accident in Los Angeles
Taking care of your health should be your top priority but once you start the mending process, there are other things you should do in order to bolster any potential personal injury lawsuit in Lo Angeles. And, unfortunately, you’ll have to do all of this while still struggling through the emotional and psychological pain caused by your accident. And while it may seem like a bunch of unnecessary red tape, accurately navigating the bureaucracy of the personal injury financial compensation process is how to get the most money from a car accident settlement.
For the most part, you’ll be dealing with insurance companies. However, an involved party or their insurance company may hire legal representation if they think their liability will put them at significant risk of losing a large sum of money.
What Should You Say to Insurance Companies?
“I was in a car accident in Los Angeles. It was not my fault. I’ll just tell everyone that.” While honesty is always the best policy, you don’t want to unnecessarily volunteer any evidence when speaking with insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, or legal investigative teams. Your initial communication with any insurance company representative working for the at-fault party should be limited to stating a few concrete facts:
That’s really all you want to volunteer. Even something as innocent as describing the accident in your own words could come back to haunt you. Above all, do NOT give the insurance adjuster for the other party your social security number. That personal identification number can be used to dig up a whole wealth of information on you that can then be used against you in the negotiation process. This is not how to get the most money from a car accident insurance claim in LA.
These basic facts are enough to get the ball rolling. Later, your Los Angeles personal injury attorney will craft a demand letter that contains all of the necessary information and evidence to support your claim in a logical, well-structured, and persuasive manner.
And when you let a legal professional like a top-rated Los Angeles personal injury attorney deal with the recovery process, you’re dealing with someone whose job is knowing what your injuries are worth.
#2. Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me
The simple answer is “no.” No matter how serious your injuries are after being involved in a personal injury accident in Los Angeles, you don’t necessarily need a lawyer to represent you. Many people opt to struggle through the financial recovery process after pedestrian, motorcycle, bicycle, car, or Uber accidents in Los Angeles alone. You can take a case to trial without the assistance of a legal professional if you so choose. You are always in charge of your personal recovery process—whether or not you decide to work with a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles.
However, you must keep in mind that while opting not to work with a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles might save you some money upfront; it’s often not the best option. Legal professionals can help you:
If you’re struggling with how to win your Los Angeles personal injury claim without a lawyer, let’s take a closer look at your particular accident to see if hiring one really is the best option after all.
#3. How Can I Tell if I Have a Valid Personal Injury Case?
Getting into the complex financial recovery process may seem complicated from the start—especially if you’ve never done it before. However, determining whether you have a solid personal injury case in Los Angeles is actually pretty simple when you get right down to it.
- You have suffered injuries (of a certain level of severity) in an accident (car accident, bicycle accident, motorcycle accident, pedestrian accident, etc.).
- That accident must have been at least partially caused by another person (or in some cases a legal entity like the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority).
- The “cause” of the accident must be recklessness, negligence, a poor decision, or the carelessness of that other party. (This is critical for proving liability in a personal injury case.)
- Either you or the at-fault party must have an active insurance policy. (Technically, a policy isn’t required for you to have a personal injury case but without a policy, the likelihood of getting any sort of financial compensation for your injuries becomes increasingly difficult and—in some cases—unfeasible.)
The Risks and Benefits of Simple Insurance Claims
Most personal injury claims in Los Angeles are settled long before they ever get to a courtroom without any party ever hiring an LA personal injury attorney. These types of cases are most often presented to insurance companies as simple insurance claims. Those companies do cursory investigations, calculate what they deem a fair price for the injuries suffered, and make an offer (That’s often much lower than the victim is actually entitled to under California state legal precedents.
These lump-sum payouts can be used to:
Basically, however, you see fit. Once you have the check in hand, the money is yours.
Minor Injury Claims
Claims for small accidents resulting in minor injuries (like whiplash) and minimal property damage can be processed in weeks (or sometimes even days) without any legal help from a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer. These simple insurance claims are often the quickest way for a victim of a minor traffic accident in Los Angeles to get the money they need to cover the minor financial impact of a “fender bender.”
Indeed, it sounds like a quick and easy solution to your personal injury case in Los Angeles and for many, it might be. But there are a few things you need to know about personal injury insurance claims before you decide to go that route.
Major Injury Claims
If your injuries are more severe, if you were transported to an emergency room, were hospitalized, required surgical procedures (even the setting of broken bones), or if medical experts suspect you may suffer from long-lasting effects from your accident, a simple do-it-yourself insurance claim is NOT the right option for you. The financial impact of such an accident can quickly run into the tens of thousands of dollars and—if you’re not prepared—can easily bankrupt you.
When You Deserve Better Compensation
If you’re wondering how to get the most money from a Los Angeles car accident, it shouldn’t surprise you that hiring an experienced personal injury attorney in Los Angeles is probably the best way to do so. If you’ve suffered serious injuries in any sort of traffic accident in Los Angeles, a personal injury attorney can represent you in making an insurance claim for damages (aka money). This gives you:
There are a few signs that you should consider at least consulting with a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles after a personal injury accident.
If any (or all) of these apply, you should consider speaking with a Los Angeles personal injury attorney to discuss the options available to you before you decide which course of action to take.
What if I Was Given a Citation?
Sometimes victims are issued citations as a result of car or motorcycle accidents in Los Angeles. However, just because you share some of the responsibility for the accident doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve compensation. California is a Comparative Negligence state. This means that each individual (or legal entity) involved in a given traffic accident in Los Angeles will be designated a fraction of the “fault” or “liability” (usually expressed as a percentage). This figure will be used to calculate how much you’re entitled to based on the total amount of the potential insurance claim.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
If your injuries are severe or the insurance company with which you’re dealing won’t negotiate a fair settlement, you may choose to take your claim to court. While you don’t have to file a personal injury lawsuit in Los Angeles immediately after your accident, you don’t have unlimited time to do so. California has placed a firm two-year time limit (or statute of limitations) on personal injury lawsuits. This is to protect individuals (and companies) from being unfairly sued years—or even decades—after an accident occurred. The clock begins ticking from the date of the accident and expires in exactly 24 months.
One important exception to this rule: If you plan on bringing a lawsuit against a governmental entity (like the state of California, the City of Los Angeles, or the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority) you only have six months in which to do so.
What if You Were Just Visiting Los Angeles When the Accident Occurred?
If you were vacationing in Los Angeles at the time or here on a business trip, you’re probably wondering what to do after a car accident in LA that was not your fault.
In such cases, it’s important to speak with legal professionals from Los Angeles. Don’t wait until you get back home to consult with a local lawyer. Personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles have experience dealing with local laws and regulations. They have access to local resources and assets they can easily call upon. They have personal working relationships with multiple parties (like the LAPD) which may be involved in your case. Your hometown lawyer has none of this and while their intentions may be good and their work ethic flawless, having an attorney from Los Angeles working for you is the best way to get the most from your Los Angeles insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
As a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles who has had to deal with this exact situation in the past, I know the importance of keeping victims in the loop and out of the chaos during long-distance injury representation. Indeed, you may never have to return to LA after you’ve started the recovery process unless your case ends up in court. To give your LA traffic accident case the best possible outcome, find a Los Angeles tourist accident lawyer to help you.