What if You Are Hit By an Uninsured Motorist

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Any auto accident is a nerve-wracking experience, but when you are hit by an uninsured motorist, you have to worry about even more potential issues. Someone who is driving without insurance is breaking the law; in California, you must have car insurance to protect others if you have a vehicle. For you, the victim of the accident, the lack of insurance is particularly worrisome; learning more about your options after a Redlands crash with an uninsured motorist can help you determine what to do and what to expect from the process. 

What to Do After a Collision with an Uninsured Motorist in Redlands California

While insurance is a legal requirement, drivers do break the law regularly. When this happens, it is essential for you to fully document the accident. Filing a police report is required already if the accident has injuries (read more about police reports and your accident here); it is absolutely essential to call the police after an accident with an uninsured person. The police report from the scene will be needed to document the accident for your own insurance company. 

You May Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage

If you are complying with the law and have car insurance, you may have uninsured motorist coverage as well; California requires all insurers to offer this coverage. While this will help protect you after you’ve been in a collision with an uninsured driver, it may not cover everything. This insurance is elective, but having it will save you time, money and trouble if you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist. 

If you do have uninsured motorist coverage (you can determine if you have this by reviewing your policy), then your own insurance company should cover your costs; they will then attempt to recover these costs from the other party. Problems can arise if your insurer does not cover the full extent of your damages and injuries; you may need an attorney to help if this happens. 

If you Don’t Have Uninsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage is optional; while your insurer is required to offer it, you do not have to buy it. If you do not have this coverage, you will have to pursue the other driver for your damages. In this situation, you will almost certainly need an attorney; the person who hit you will be facing stiff legal fines, penalties and paying you for the damage they caused may not be their top priority. A Redlands auto accident attorney can help you learn about your options and what to expect after a collision with an uninsured motorist. 

Do you Need Underinsured Motorist Coverage? 

Some drivers technically comply with the law, but fail to have enough coverage. In this case, you can use underinsured motorist coverage to recover losses in excess of the other driver’s policy. If you do not have this coverage, it is best to work with an auto accident attorney to help recover your losses and ensure you are treated fairly by the other driver and their insurer. 

Being hit by a driver who is not insured creates additional concerns and complications beyond those experienced by the typical car accident injury victim. When an uninsured or undersinsured motorist has hit you, you should seek out the advice of an attorney to ensure you are treated fairly. If you find yourself in this situation, we are here for you; contact Harshbarger Law right away to talk about your options.

What Your Rights Are as an Insured Driver?

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If you own a car, you need to have an insurance policy that covers you and others in the event of an accident. The State of California requires you to have insurance on your vehicle; by purchasing this required insurance you also receive a variety of protections and benefits from your insurer.

What is a Named Insured?

When you buy an insurance policy in Redlands you are the named insured; this means that you are the owner of the policy. As the person who owns the policy you are responsible for making timely payments and verifying any changes to your coverage. If you buy insurance for your family and you pay for it, you are still the named insured on the policy and are the person responsible for changes and dialogues with the insurer.

While most named insured are the actual owners of the vehicle in question, you do not need to hold the title. You can share insurance benefits and coverage with your spouse and children if you have more than one driver in the family. Your spouse may also be a named insured on your policy; your kids are considered additional insured parties.

What Benefits and Responsibilities Does a Named Insured Have?

When you are the named insured, you can:

  • Authorize any changes needed to the policy
  • Make decisions and cash claim checks if you have incurred a covered loss.
  • Receive benefits and claim awards if your vehicle is damaged in a way that is covered by your policy. Since policies vary, the amount of coverage you have and the type of benefit you will receive will vary as well. 
  • Be notified if a claim is filed on your policy; if a child or spouse has an accident you’ll still need to deal with the insurance company and work through the details if you are the named insured. 
  • Accept or decline a settlement if it is offered; for best results consult an attorney before making a decision on any settlement you are offered. 

Drivers vs. Named Insured

Drivers are just that – people who are able to enjoy automobile insurance and drive legally. Drivers do benefit from the policy but are not permitted to make changes or accept claim payments without the approval of the named insured.

Can a Named Insured be Removed?

It is possible to remove the main person on the policy or a spouse, but that person must be notified so that they can make arrangements for coverage elsewhere. This situation occurs most often during a divorce, when the parties want to fully separate all aspects of their lives.

Insurance is designed to protect you in the event of an accident; ideally, you’ll be fairly compensated. If you have been in an accident and are having trouble with an insurer or the other party, an auto accident attorney can help. Contact Harshbarger Law today to get the assistance you need and to be sure you get the best possible outcome from your case. 

How To Post on Social Media After a Car Accident

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It seems like everyone today has a social networking account. People have no problem posting or tweeting details every minute about their daily lives and divulging information that perhaps should best be left to their knowledge alone. After you have been in a car accident, it can be tempting, if not natural, for you to go back to updating your statuses and posting pictures of yourself in a bid to stay active on social media. However, your online activities could be detrimental to any legal case you are building because of your accident. If you must return to social media, you are advised to use the utmost care and remember these tips to prevent your case from being jeopardized.

Avoid Posting Pictures of Yourself after the Accident

Even if you are bloodied up and bruised because of the accident, you should resist posting a “selfie” on social media after your wreck. The other side of the case could contend that you are obviously not hurt because you can hold a camera and you were smiling in your picture. Pictures are so subjective, even in the best of circumstances. Your pictures of yourself showing your post-accident injuries could actually be mistaken as a signal to your followers that you are okay.

Word Your Updates Carefully

If word leaks out to social media that you have been in an accident, you should avoid giving the impression that the wreck was minor and that you are perfectly fine. Your friends and family members will undoubtedly flock to your page and inquire about your safety and health. You should resist saying that you are fine, that the wreck was minor, that you feel okay, and other positive updates.

Even if you are indeed feeling okay, you should only update your friends and family members that you are at home or the hospital, or that you thank everyone for their good thoughts. Avoid saying that everything is fine because the other side could use this status update to prove that you were not hurt in the accident and that your case has no basis.

Guard Your Emotions on Social Media

It can be too easy to lambast the other side on Facebook or Twitter and join in the bashing of the person who caused the wreck. However, the responsible person could use your words against you and tell the judge that you are vindictive, hateful, and out to get him or her. The judge may gauge your words as signs that you are not gravely impacted by the accident and you have an ulterior motive for going to court. As much as it may tempt you, you would be well advised to stay off social media until your case is resolved.

Follow Your Attorney’s Instructions

Your attorney can provide the best advice for you if you want to get back on social networking sites. Listen to your attorney and avoid acting out in a way that could jeopardize your case. Harshbarger Law advises you to avoid talking to anyone, including the insurance company and friends on social media, until you talk to an attorney.

Social media has become a major way that people stay in touch with their friends and family members. However, your information on these sites could be used against you in court. You can protect your case by using these tips as you return to social networking.

What To Say and What Not To Say Following An Accident

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The things you say and do in the aftermath of a car accident can play a big role in the way your eventual settlement or lawsuit plays out. Anything you say can be taken as a statement – and if you apologize, admit liability or refuse medical help, you could jeopardize your own financial and physical wellbeing.

What NOT to Say After a Car Accident

Your words after an accident matter, whether you say them to the other party, the authorities or even your own mobile device. Strike these phrases from your vocabulary in the aftermath of an accident to protect your rights and fiscal wellbeing.

“I’m Sorry”

It seems like the polite thing to do, but using the word “sorry” in pretty much any context is a bad idea after a crash. This may seem like a simple courtesy and even be something automatic you feel you should say, but it can be used against you later and even taken as an admission of partial liability or guilt for the accident. A witness that hears you apologize could think you are saying you are to blame, and that could damage your case later.

“I don’t need a doctor”

If medical help is offered, accept it; this is not the time to be stoic or tough. EMS is there for a reason and you need prompt treatment, particularly if you have whiplash or a head injury. Since some injuries are not readily apparent, getting medical treatment is essential for your health; this will also document your injuries for a settlement or lawsuit later.

“You won’t believe what happened to me”

Social media is becoming more relevant than ever, so resist detailing your accident online. The words you choose to share on Facebook, Twitter or another social network could be used against you later. This information may feel private, particularly if your circle of friends is small, but oversharing on social media can wreck your case.

What you CAN Say After an Accident

As long as you don’t accept blame or apologize, you can be polite and you can ask the other driver and passengers if they are injured. You can call for assistance for your own passengers or those in the other car but stick to the facts and describe any injuries if asked, but do not say anything that could place you as the responsible party.

You can also exchange contact details with the other party as you wait for police to arrive. When police get there, you can answer questions factually and describe what happened. If the police believe the other party is to blame, they may speak to them first; resist interrupting or correcting them. Providing honest and correct information will help your case and ensure that the record is accurate.

Knowing what to say (and what not to say) after an accident can help preserve your rights and ensure that you are treated fairly by all parties. Learning what to do before you ever get into a crash makes it easier for you to cope with the aftermath. If you have been in an accident and are concerned about your wellbeing or finances or how you are being treated by the other side, we can help. Contact Harshbarger Law right away to talk about your case and get the help you need to move forward.

When to Call the Authorities – California Highway Patrol (CHP)

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The California Highway Patrol has specific guidelines covering collisions and reporting; you should be aware of the steps required to make sure that you are fully complying with the law, no matter who was to blame for the accident. A collision is already a stressful event, so knowing what to do to protect yourself and your loved ones afterwards will give you peace of mind and ensure you get the best possible outcome. Here’s what the California Highway Patrol (CHP) requires drivers to do after car accidents.

Reporting a Car Accident to the California Highway Patrol

The California Highway Patrol maintains a list of requirements for those who have been involved in a collision on one of the state’s many roadways. The first and most important of these is that you must stop after being involved in an accident; if you fail to stop, you could be charged with hit and run. You also have to call the CHP and DMV to report collisions with specific characteristics. You should call the authorities if any of the following conditions are in place after your accident:

There are any injuries present (even minor injuries count): Any fatality or injury of any type should trigger a report to the authorities. To protect yourself legally, you should always report a California car accident to the Highway Patrol or to the local police department. The Riverside or CHP officer’s notes and report will be used to support your case later and help document what happened.

Your call will also trigger an EMS response; this is so that any injuries can be evaluated and treated, or the injured party can be transported. No matter how minor an injury seems, if there is blood, pain, broken bones, neck or back stiffness or the signs of a concussion, you should call the authorities. This approach ensures you are complying with the law and that any injuries receive prompt attention.

There is Property Damage: Damage to your own car, the other driver’s car or even the property of a third party should also trigger a report. The law states that damages in excess of $1000 should be reported to the authorities, but if you see visible damage anywhere, it is a good idea to call even if you are not sure of the costs, just in case. 

Report to the DMV

The California Highway Patrol also requires you to notify the DMV and file a report within 10 days of your collision. The officers who came to the scene will not file this for you, you must do it yourself within the specified time period.

If you have been in a car accident, you can be sure you remain on the right side of the law by notifying the authorities. Their report will also be used for any settlement or lawsuit that results from the crash, so it will benefit you in a variety of ways. While you are not required to consult with a car accident attorney after your collision, it is usually in your best interest to do so; a lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure you are treated fairly by all parties. Contact us right away if you have been involved in a collision; we can help you move forward after an accident.

When to Call a Lawyer – Riverside California Accident Attorney

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Your first instinct after a collision is to make sure everyone is OK — your kids, friends or family members are likely the first things you think of after a car accident. Once you know help is on the way and injuries are being treated, it is time to start thinking about the legal and financial consequences of a car accident. Once the dust has settled and the tow trucks arrive, you need to figure out what to do next. In some cases, your next call should be to a car accident attorney; here are four clear signs you need extra help with your accident case. 

4 Reasons to Call a Car Accident Attorney

You’re Offered a Settlement

In many cases, an insurance agency (or even the negligent party that injured you) will rush to offer a settlement before your injuries and property damages are properly assessed. Any time you are offered a settlement it is a good idea to speak to an attorney first; otherwise you could end up accepting far less compensation than you truly need to recover from the accident. Never sign or accept a settlement without legal advice; you could end up with less money than you need for medical bills, treatment, missed work and more. 

There are Injuries

An accident with injuries can impact your life in a big way; if you or a family member are injured, you could incur expensive medical bills, miss days or even weeks of work and find yourself unable to do the things you usually enjoy, from sports to hobbies. Since some injuries are not fully apparent at the time of a crash (head, neck and back problems can worsen days later), the extent of your injuries may not be known right away. Contacting a lawyer can help ensure you are treated fairly and any medical bills or therapy needed after a car accident are covered by your settlement. 

You are Blamed for the Crash

If someone is trying to make you take responsibility for a crash — or partial responsibility for your injuries — and the other party was to blame, you will need an attorney who specializes in car accidents and personal injury cases. Shifting blame to you could result in fewer penalties or costs for the driver who harmed you and you’ll need someone on your side to help defend you after a crash. 

There are Special Circumstances

Crashes that occur in school or construction zones, where one party was drunk or impaired or where a commercial or fleet vehicle is involved may also warrant a phone call to an attorney. Any one of these special circumstances could lead to additional legal issues and an attorney can ensure you are treated fairly.

Unless your crash was very minor, with no injuries and little to no damage, you may need the assistance of a car accident attorney to help untangle the legalities and protect you from lost wages or high medical bills that often occur after a collision. If you’ve been in an accident it is time to call for a free consultation and learn more about your potential case and put your mind at ease. Contact Harshbarger Law to schedule a consultation today.

5 Important Things To Do Within 24 Hours of an Auto Accident

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You’ve taken care of some of the most important steps immediately after your car accident, but there are still some things to do the following day. You and your passengers are likely feeling the effects of the impact; aches and pains are common after even a minor collision. The steps you take next will help protect your financial wellbeing and your future.

5 Things to do 24 Hours After a Car Accident

Contact the Police

While most people call the police immediately after an accident, in California you have a window of 24 hours after the crash to file a report.  If you have not already done so, take the time to contact the police and file a report about your crash. Your insurance company and auto accident attorney will need this documentation later.

Take Pictures of your Car

If your car was so damaged it can no longer be driven, head to the location it was towed and snap photos of the final condition of the vehicle. While a mechanic can detail the damage thoroughly, pictures are also essential to document your case and to show what happened.

Go to the Doctor

If you did not see a doctor the day of the accident, it is time to head in. Concussion, neck and back injuries may not be readily apparent right after your accident, but you could begin experiencing pain or symptoms the next day. Since some damage, including concussions, do not heal well without medical attention, it is critical to be seen. Seeing a doctor also helps document your case and ensures that the correct amount of compensation for a settlement is reached.

Call your own Insurance Company

Even if you were not at fault, you should reach out to your own insurance company to let them know there is a claim and outline the circumstances of your accident. They need these details to properly service your account.

Speak with a Car Accident Attorney

Whether an insurance company offers you a settlement or you just need help and reassurance, contacting an automobile accident lawyer can help ensure your rights are protected and you get the best possible advice and outcome for your case. If you try to do it yourself, you might end up with a much smaller settlement than you are entitled to, leaving you responsible for missed wages, repairs to your vehicle and medical costs.

Time matters after an accident; make these items a priority in the 24 hour period after a crash and you’ll protect your health, finances and future. If you’ve been in an accident and need help, contact Harshbarger Law today. 

5 Immediate Steps To Follow After An Accident in Riverside, California

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If you’ve been in an accident in Riverside, CA, the steps you take after the impact will have a huge bearing on any eventual settlements or lawsuits that arise from the collision. Car accidents can lead to extensive injuries and property damage; knowing what to do in the aftermath can help you protect yourself and any loved ones involved and ensure you are treated fairly by the people who harmed you. Discovering these important details now can help you take action after an accident; the time immediately after a crash can be overwhelming and confusing, so knowing what to do can help you cope in this stressful time. 

5 Immediate Steps To Follow After An Accident in Riverside, California

Get Emergency Assistance

Call the police to report the accident and emergency services to assess any injuries. Some injuries may be more evident than others, so having EMS on the scene allows for immediate treatment. The police and ambulance reports will also help document what happened and what caused the accident. 

Document the Accident

Use your phone to take pictures and videos of the cars in the aftermath of the crash; this should be done before the cars have been moved, if possible. Get images of the damage to all vehicles, the road and any obstacles that could have contributed to the crash and even the weather conditions. These critical details can be used later to support your case. 

Speak with Witnesses

People who witness car accidents often stop to assist. Make sure you get his or her names and contact details of anyone who witnessed the crash or the aftermath. These individuals could help you in your case later and their input could help uncover the contributing factors in the accident. 

Visit a Doctor

Even if emergency personnel have seen you, both you and any occupants of your vehicle should see a doctor as quickly as possible after the crash. Since injuries to the neck, back and head may not be immediately apparent, seeing a doctor allows you to reduce your risk of further harm. A common car accident injury like a concussion, whiplash or back injury may not be felt until a day or two later; getting prompt treatment further documents your case and protects your health. 

Speak with a Riverside Car Accident Attorney

Even if you have incredibly bad luck, this is likely the only, or one of the only accidents you’ve been involved in; car accident attorneys deal with cases like yours every day and can help ensure you are treated fairly by the other side. Seeking out the advice of an attorney is a critical step after an accident and is the best way to be sure you will be treated fairly after an injury. Call our team at Harshbarger Law today if you need help after a car accident; we understand how upsetting this time can be and stand ready to assist you during this difficult time. 

When to Call the Authorities After a Car Accident- Riverside Police Department

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A car accident is incredibly stressful, and injuries simply make things worse. It can be difficult to determine what to do first and to collect yourself after a collision. Should you call for emergency help, head to an urgent care facility or call a tow truck? No matter how minor the accident, one thing you should always do is contact the authorities. If you have been involved in an accident in Riverside, then you need to call the Riverside Police Department to report the incident while you are still at the scene.

Reporting a Car Accident to Law Enforcement in Riverside

When you are in an accident with injuries in California, you are required to make a police report about the incident. If your accident was in Riverside, then you’ll need to make a report to the Riverside Police Department. According to California Vehicle Code Section 20008 as the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident that resulted in injuries, you are required by law to make a report within 24 hours.

If you have already called the police and they arrive at the scene of your accident to make a report, then you do not need to head to the police department on your own. The officer will file the appropriate report and if needed, forward it to the correct department.

What Kind of Injuries are Included?

Any accident that has an injury or death needs to be reported by law. Injuries to drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, vehicle passengers and other parties should trigger an immediate call to the authorities to report the incident so you can fully comply with the law. Any deaths at the scene should also be reported immediately; for most cases you need to call emergency medical assistance as well, to be sure any injuries are properly treated and that your case is fully documented. 

Do I Need to Report the Accident to the DMV?

The laws that apply to filing a police report also stipulate that you should report car accidents to the California DMV in certain conditions. If there were injuries, even mild ones, if someone was killed in the accident or there was property damage in excess of $750, then you also have to report the accident to the DMV within 10 days.

Who Else Needs to be Notified? 

Your car insurer will want to know that you have been in an accident; you are not required by law to inform them, but the terms of your car insurance likely stipulate that they be notified as soon as possible. You should also seek out the help of a car accident attorney to ensure that you are treated fairly by the other parties involved and to get the best possible outcome for your case. 

If you have been in an accident, you need to report it to the police, both to comply with the law and to document the accident in the event of a lawsuit or settlement. We understand how difficult the aftermath of an accident can be and stand ready to help you gain closure after you’ve been injured. Contact Harshbarger Law right away to talk about the specific details of your case and to discover what your next steps should be.

Who is Liable for a Dog Attack When the Dog is Loose or Off Leash?

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Even a well-behaved loose dog is a problem, he could be struck by a car or lost — but what happens when that loose dog harms someone? California has strict leash laws that are designed to protect the public from dangerous dogs; unlike some states, a dog does not have to have a previous history of aggression before the owner is considered liable for the animal’s actions. Since the burden is on the owner to properly secure his pet, that liability remains, even if the dog is off leash or escapes an enclosure.

Escaped Pets

A dog that digs out from under a fence, escapes a yard or slips outdoors is considered off leash or loose; the owner is liable for any injuries that animal causes to others. Those others need to be in a public space or in a private space with permission. If you are in someone’s yard for a party and his dog runs out the door and bites you, that owner is liable, since you were there with permission. If you are walking down the street and a loose dog bites you, the dog’s owner is still to blame, since you were in public and the dog was loose. The exception would be dogs that are defending their own homes and property from an uninvited intruder. Someone breaking into a home or trespassing in a yard who is then bitten would not likely be protected by California dog bite law in this case.

Who Owns the Dog?

In some cases, the person harboring the dog may be the one liable. While most dogs live with their owners, some escape while staying with relatives, visiting or even being dog-sat. In that case, the person caring for or harboring the dog may also have some liability. Since most dog attacks are local — meaning nearby residents and neighbors can generally identify the owner, even in the absence of tags, determining whom the dog belongs to or who is responsible for it is usually not difficult. Determining negligence and where blame lies can be more complicated; if you are not sure who the dog belongs to, or the person responsible for the dog claims not to be the owner, it is important to seek out legal help from a dog bite attorney right away; you’ll need to know who the animal belongs to so you can pursue a claim.

Non-Bite Injuries

While California’s dog bite law covers bites, other injuries are possible. If a dog knocks you down or causes injury to your child or otherwise harms you, you should get in touch with an attorney to talk about your case in detail. Not all injuries are bite related, and you can still have significant medical costs and pain after a fall or other injury caused by a loose pet.

If you have been harmed by a loose or off leash dog, you should seek medical attention right away. After your injuries are treated, get in touch with our office to learn about the next steps to ensure you are treated fairly by the other party. We’re ready to help when you need us most. Contact Harshbarger Law today.