Suppose you have been involved in an accident arising out of the negligence of someone. In that case, you are not in the fullness of time solely bearing the costs of your medical expenses. The party that caused the accident shall be required to compensate you for the losses and any consequences that you went through because of the accident.
In as much as the above should happen in an ideal situation, it is not always the case as you have to go through an intense period in which you seek to recover compensation from the at-fault party.
In this blog, guided by the expertise of a car accident lawyer, we shall look into the person or entity who should ultimately be responsible for the accident. While examining the issue, we shall explore the circumstances and the factors that ordinarily affect the process of apportioning and ultimately paying for the liability.
Who Pays Medical Bills Following a Car Accident in California?
California is a comparative negligence state. The reason that makes it classifiable as a pure comparative state arises from the fact that any party ultimately found to be responsible for the accident giving rise to the various liabilities is made to compensate the accident victim for all the costs they catered for after the accident happened.
It follows from the above that the at-fault parties may utilize all the possible avenues to ensure that they are compensated for the damages, pain and suffering, lost income, funeral expenses, and any other inconvenience. Because of this, an injured party may file a personal injury claim through the auto insurance of the person who caused the accident.
In most instances, when a party files an insurance claim against the auto insurance company of the at-fault party, the insurance company reaches out to the victim with an offer for settlement. When this happens, it results in a back-and-forth discussion with the insurance company. If both parties agree on the final payment, the insurance company shall pay for the same, and the victim shall use the settlement funds to pay for the medical bills and other costs.
It is, therefore, imperative that the accident victim endeavors to use all the possible means to ensure that the insurance company pays an amount that is higher than the costs incurred by the victim in dealing with the consequences of the accident. This is because there could be possible future costs associated with treatment.
If parties do not agree on the issue of liability and settlement, the matter shall proceed to litigation. At this stage, the accident victim must collect and put together sufficient evidence supporting their claim and, after that, prepare and file a personal injury claim.
During the litigation and negotiation process with the insurance company, identifying the party at fault for the accident is an intense and taxing process. In car accidents and related accidents, the driver may not be responsible because the employer has to shoulder the accident’s responsibility under the vicarious liability doctrine. Because of this, you may have to file a claim through the employer’s insurance company.
It should be noted that most accidents result from different parties being responsible for the accident. When this happens, it is pointed out that the at-fault party is complex. However, you do not have to relinquish your claim in such an event. You shall have to engage the services of a personal injury lawyer so that you can be assisted through the complex situation and ultimately in filing a valid insurance claim.
Is there a Requirement That I Should Pay My Medical Bills While I Wait for the Insurance Company to Pay Them?
As has been pointed out above, the process of following up and getting insurance is long and tedious. With this in mind and with the knowledge that, in some instances, it is urgent to seek immediate medical attention, the circumstances may force you to incur medical costs. The avenues within which you can pay for the medical expenses may include any or all of the below, depending on the extent of your injuries:
- Private Health Insurance: Your private health insurance provider may shoulder medical bills. At the same time, you follow up with the insurance company while waiting for the court to render its final decision on your personal injury claim. However, it should be noted that in most instances, when you get compensation, you must reimburse your private health insurance provider for all the costs incurred in treating you.
- Medi-Cal: If you do not have a private health provider, California’s Medi-Cal group may step in to pay for your medical costs and surrounding expenses.
- Negotiation with Healthcare Providers and health insurance companies: In certain instances, you may agree that insurance providers pay medical bills and related expenses on your medical treatment. If they decide to step in and pay the amount, you may delay paying them until you receive your compensation.
While most at-fault parties have insurance coverage, there are certain situations where they do not have valid or uninsured insurance. If they have insurance coverage, the process of getting compensation becomes easier. In such an event, an experienced California car accident lawyer shall assist you in filing a claim through your own underinsured/uninsured (UIM/UM) coverage. If this becomes difficult, the personal injury lawyer shall advise you on the best way forward to ensure you receive adequate compensation.
Potential Liable Parties in California Personal Injury Cases
As pointed out above, there may be situations in which various parties are responsible for the accident. In light of this, either or all of the following parties may be fully or partially responsible for the accident. The various possible parties include:
Depending on your case specifics, any of the following parties could be wholly or partially liable for medical expenses and other damages in an injury case:
- The driver or drivers involved in the accident;
- The manufacturer of the motor vehicle or motor vehicles which caused the accident;
- The relevant trucking companies may have put too much pressure on their drivers to violate the regulations in place;
- The entity or establishment that served the driver or drivers substances that impaired their judgment
- The local government or authority that employed the drivers or people who caused the accident.
Other parties other than the above likely caused the accident. In light of this, you must engage the services of a personal injury lawyer so that they can help you analyze the situation and come up with possible liable parties to ensure that they are made responsible for the accident.
How do Personal Injury Lawyers prove liability in California?
Upon putting together a list of possible parties, your personal injury lawyer shall assist you in compiling a claim that ultimately ensures they are found liable for the accident.
The process of proving liability can be long and tedious. However, with the lawyers’ experience and training, the lawyers shall help you. Under the laws of California, the lawyer shall have to ensure that all the elements of negligence are present for the claim to be successful. The factors of neglect that have to be proved for the at-fault party to be found negligent include the following:
- Duty of Care: The requirement and expectation that the at-fault party behaves responsibly when acting or doing something. An example includes the duty of care not to drink and drive a vehicle or the requirement that the driver drive the car soberly and responsibly.
- Breach of Duty: A breach of duty of care encompasses a situation in which the party who is expected to behave in a particular manner behaves in a way that is detrimental to the rights and safety of other people.
- Causation: Causation illustrates the relationship between the breach of duty of care and the resultant harm. The personal injury lawyer shall have to demonstrate that had the at-fault party not breached their duty of care; the accident would not have happened.
- Damages: These encompass the losses and other damages that resulted from the breach of duty of care. The damages shall include expenses such as medical bills and additional costs related to the harm suffered because of the breach of duty of care.
Your lawyer will gather evidence to prove negligence. This may include medical bills, accident reports, traffic camera footage, witness testimonies, or other relevant evidence. According to California’s pure comparative negligence rule, you can still recover compensation, regardless of your fault.
In light of the above, it becomes necessary that you engage the services of a personal injury lawyer so that they can assist you in putting together all the essential pieces of evidence in support of your claim. The lawyers shall put together witness statements, camera footage of the accident, police reports, and any other accident report. It should be noted that you can still be entitled to receive compensation regardless of your degree of fault in the accident.
What Other Damages Can I Claim in My Personal Injury Case Besides the Medical Bills?
As indicated above, you can be entitled to various forms of damages. Besides the claim for medical bills compensation, you may be entitled to claim for the following:
- Damages for physical pain and suffering as a result of the accident
- Damages for emotional distress following the accident
- Damages for the wages that were lost as a result of the accident
- Damages for diminished earning capacity as a result of the injuries suffered after the accident;
- Damages for possible future medical expenses, transport costs to the hospital, and any other costs related to seeking further treatment:
- Damages for any property damage.
You may be entitled to more damages than the ones that have been summarized above. Given the above, your personal injury lawyer shall help you identify other possible damages.
When should I file a claim in California?
You should file a claim within two years of the happening of the accident.
What happens if I do not file my claim within the two years?
If you do not file your claim within two years, your claim shall become stale which means that you would not be able to get any compensation from it unless there are exemplary circumstances.
Contact Big Ben Lawyers for a Free Case Evaluation and No-Fee Guarantee
If you have been injured as a result of the fault of another party, you should not be made to solely shoulder the burden of paying for them. The at-fault party must be made liable for the same. However, for them to be made responsible for the accident, the evidence against them must sufficiently return no verdict other than being found liable.
It follows from the above that you should have a party that ensures you can attain compensation from the at-fault party. In light of this, you must engage the services of a competent personal injury lawyer so that they can help you navigate the tedious process of seeking compensation.
At Big Ben Lawyers, we shall offer you a free case evaluation to help you identify a list of potentially responsible parties and the damages you may claim against them. Our free case consultation is individualized so that your individual needs are addressed.
We also have a no-fee guarantee that you shall only pay us a single penny once we recover your compensation. We are available 24 hours a day and throughout the week. Contact us today so that we can commence the process of getting you adequate compensation. Reach out to us today.