What You Need to Know Before Filing an Insurance Claim

Close up of a person filling an insurance claim document.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction

II. Understanding Car Accident Insurance Claims in California

III. The Factors Influencing the Financial Offer

IV. What if the Offer is Too Low

V. How an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

VI. Conclusion



If you were involved in a car mishap, you will not only deal with bruises and scrapes (if you have any). You also must talk to the insurance company and the other party in the car accident. Most of the time, we are ignorant of the value of the damages.

Sadly, many insurance companies would shortchange car accident victims. It is prudent to reach out to a lawyer to help you with your dilemma. However, it is also wise to understand the factors determining the compensation you are entitled to.

This article will discuss your rights as a car accident victim. We will not bombard you with legal jargon but give you a general overview of filing a claim.

Unfortunately, car accidents are prevalent in the U.S. Every day, highways are full of vehicles going to and from work. Many of you commute to work and school everyday. When these vehicles crash, the injuries vary.

Since car accidents can be very complex, you need an attorney to help you unravel your case. Even if you have no lawyer, it is crucial to understand the factors that can affect your claim.

However, many cases are not so simple to settle. When the accident has caused permanent damage, your claim will become complicated. It would help if you had legal assistance to assert your rights.

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Understanding Car Accident Insurance Claims in California

The Importance of Car Insurance

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Car insurance is crucial in California, as it provides financial protection in the event of a car accident. It helps cover medical expenses, property damage, and other losses resulting from the accident. Having adequate car insurance coverage ensures that you are prepared for unexpected situations.

Types of Car Insurance Coverage

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In California, drivers are required to carry liability insurance to cover the costs of injuries and property damage they may cause to others. The minimum liability coverage limits are:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person.
  • $30,000 for injury or death to multiple people in one accident.
  • $5,000 for property damage.

While the minimum coverage is mandatory, it's often advisable to carry higher coverage limits or additional types of coverage, such as uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection (PIP), to protect yourself in case the other party involved is uninsured or underinsured.

California's Fault System

California follows a "fault" system when it comes to determining liability in car accidents. This means that the person responsible for causing the accident is typically liable for the resulting damages. California's comparative fault laws allow for recovery even if you are partially at fault, although your compensation may be reduced based on your percentage of fault.

The Factors Influencing the Financial Offer

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Several factors determine your compensation. All of these factors are interlinked and are dependent on each other. Take note! The value of your claim depends on the following factors:

● The injuries you sustained

● The amount of time it took for your to recover

Loss of wages

Pain and suffering experienced

● Whether your injuries will cause long-term effects

The time it takes for you to recover is a highly critical factor because the longer you are unable to work, the higher the compensation you can expect. Any permanent disabilities you may have will also increase your indemnity.

The period you lost because of your injuries is another factor. If any of your injuries prohibit you from working, you can receive compensation depending on how much money you lost. You may also be compensated for your medical expenses or the physical therapy you had to undergo.

Your compensation may increase should you lose income. Future earnings are also considered. If you cannot work because of the injuries, you may be entitled to compensation.

The pain and suffering you have gone through is another factor that can affect your claim. If your injuries have caused you severe pain and suffering, you can demand more compensation, but you have to have a doctor assess your pain. If your pain is less severe, your payment will be less.

What Damages Are Available in an Insurance Claim?

The compensation that you will get from the insurance company after your car accident is not a random number chosen by an actuary. Generally, it is a sum of money that will come close to the injuries you inflicted and your expenses.

The insurance company will enumerate how much money you are entitled to. You will also receive compensation for any pain and suffering you experienced.

You will also get the money you lost because of the accident. You can receive financial compensation for anything you lost due to your injuries, such as your work loss. In sum, your claim can entitle you to the following:

● Past and future medical expenses

● Past and future loss of income

● Past and future pain and suffering

●  Past and future physical impairment

What If the Offer Is Too Low?

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If you are unhappy with the insurance's settlement offer, you can consult with an accident lawyer. You can go to trial and fight for your rights. However, kindly remember that going to court can be time-consuming and expensive.  

Filing a personal injury claim is your right. If you are not satisfied with the insurance company's offer, you can always ask for an increase. An attorney can help you with the negotiation process.

The compensation you will get directly reflects how much you suffer. You should hire an expert to aid you in the whole process. If a family member was injured in the accident, you could also ask for compensation for your loved ones.  

You can always consult with the insurance company and the other party involved to negotiate your claim. An experienced lawyer can help you secure the compensation you need.

Should I Accept the First Offer?

The answer to this depends on the amount of money being offered. You need to assess the damage and losses incurred. Also, it would be prudent if you considered how much your medical expenses cost and your lost earnings.

The amount of money you deserve is a subject of negotiation. If you are still in pain, you can always hire an attorney to help you. An experienced lawyer will help you secure the compensation you deserve.  

If you do not accept the offer, you can still settle the matter without going to trial. Your solicitor can negotiate on your behalf and discuss an acceptable settlement amount. Now that you know the factors influencing your compensation and the compensation you can expect, you can determine if your insurance company's offer is reasonable.  

If you want to make sure you will receive the maximum amount of your compensation, you should not welcome the first offer the insurance company makes you. You may ask for a second offer and even a third one.

If you feel that the offer is still not enough, you can consult with a lawyer. A competent accident lawyer can help you if you think the insurance company is not giving you fair compensation. After all, you need to cover the expenses you incurred because of your injuries.

How an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Help

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Investigating the Accident and Gathering Evidence

A personal injury attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident, gathering evidence such as police reports, witness statements, medical records, and expert opinions. This evidence will strengthen your case and help establish liability and the extent of your damages.

Calculating Damages and Losses

Accurately assessing the value of your damages is essential to ensure you receive fair compensation. An experienced attorney will evaluate your medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and non-economic damages like pain and suffering. They will employ proven methods and consult with experts, if necessary, to determine the full extent of your losses.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

Insurance companies often attempt to minimize settlement payouts. A personal injury attorney will skillfully negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf, using their knowledge of the law and experience in handling similar cases. They will fight for your rights and pursue maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.

Representing You in Court

If your case proceeds to trial, an experienced personal injury attorney will provide vigorous representation. They will present your case before a judge and jury, cross-examine witnesses, and argue for your entitlement to compensation. Having a skilled litigator on your side can significantly enhance your chances of success in court.


Being in a car accident can be unnerving. After you regain consciousness, the first thing you should do is contact a personal injury law firm. Accident lawyers can also help you recover as soon as possible. They can also help you get the compensation you deserve.  

You should, however, understand that the insurance company's offer is not just a random number. There are factors to be considered before you can reach the "perfect" settlement.

Once you can do so, you should immediately contact Mendez & Sanchez Law. As reliable accident lawyers in Los Angeles, we will fight for your right so that you will get just compensation after such a harrowing incident. Schedule an appointment now!


In California, you generally have two years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim. However, it's advisable to initiate the claims process as soon as possible to avoid any complications or potential loss of evidence.

While it's possible to handle your claim without an attorney, having an experienced personal injury attorney can greatly benefit your case. They understand the legal intricacies, can navigate the claims process efficiently, and maximize your chances of receiving fair compensation.

Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they secure a settlement or win your case in court. The fee is typically a percentage of the compensation obtained, allowing you to pursue your claim without upfront costs.

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