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Car Accident FAQ


Car Accident Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

If you were injured in a car accident, you likely have many questions about what steps to take and how to receive compensation for your injuries. The moments following your accident are the most challenging and trusting in a proven attorney from the start can make all the difference.

At the Ellis Helm, APC, we offer a steady hand for those facing serious car accident injuries. Below are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions about car accidents in California. For more guidance about your specific accident case, schedule a free consultation by calling our Temecula office at 951-289-0628.

How do I pay for medical bills after a car crash?

While your car accident lawsuit will help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, you will likely have to pay for medical treatment on your own at first.

The first place you should turn is your own insurance – auto insurance and health insurance policies should both help cover the costs of your medical care. Some hospitals and medical providers may offer their services in return for a medical lien as well, allowing them to collect their payment later from your personal injury settlement or verdict.

How much is my car accident case worth?

There is unfortunately no way to pinpoint the exact amount a particular case is worth until it is resolved. Your attorney will fight for full and fair compensation for all of your damages, including:

  • Medical treatment and rehabilitation
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Lost earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

The amount of money this results in depends on a variety of factors. Additionally, the amount you actually receive may be lower if you are determined to be partially at fault for the accident. An attorney will take all of this into account when advocating for your claim.

What steps should I take after getting in a car accident?

  1. Call 911 to report the accident. If you sustained any injuries, your first priority should be to seek medical attention. Stay where you are and wait for emergency personnel to arrive to the scene.
  2. Exchange information with other drivers and witnesses. Obtain names, phone numbers, insurance policies, vehicle models and other pertinent information from those involved in the accident.
  3. Take photos of the scene and document what happened. Make sure you take photos from multiple angles if possible. You may also wish to ask police for the accident report as well.
  4. Consult an attorney. The sooner you start working with a car accident lawyer, the stronger your case will be. An attorney will also be able to help you through every step of the process, so you can focus on getting the care you need.
  5. Call your own insurance company to let them know the accident occurred. You should not speak to anyone else’s insurance company without an attorney present.
  6. Notify the California DMV within 10 days of the accident. This is required by California law if anyone was injured or if the accident resulted in over $1,000 in property damage.

How long do I have to file an auto accident lawsuit?

California has a two-year statute of limitations on car accident claims, meaning you typically have two years from the date of the accident to begin your lawsuit. Once that time passes, you will be unable to make a claim. If you lost a loved one in an accident, you have two years from the date of their death to file your claim.

There are exceptions to this, such as if a government vehicle was responsible for the accident (giving you a six-month time frame to file). Additionally, for property damage claims, you have up to three years to get started. Always consult an accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident to make sure you are taking all the right steps.

How long does a car accident case take?

Every car accident case is unique. Depending on the details of your accident, your claim may take several months to resolve. For more complex cases or when the other party is being particularly combative, your case could last a year or longer. It is difficult to predict how long your case will take, but an experienced attorney will work their best to streamline the process while fighting for the best possible outcome.

How much does a personal injury attorney cost?

Hiring an injury lawyer costs nothing up front. At the Ellis Helm, APC, we work on a contingency fee basis – this means that you only pay us if we recover compensation for your claim. And even then, we simply receive a percentage of what we recover for you. Even our consultations are free, so there is no risk to calling and getting started.