How to Find the Best Personal Injury Attorney in California [Updated 2021]

After an accident, you may need an attorney to help you get the money you deserve.

In this post, we share our ideas on how to find the best personal injury attorney. See below to get started.

1. Searching Online

Google

When choosing a personal injury lawyer, start by searching via a search engine like Google.

You can search by using terms like “good personal injury lawyers near me” or “personal injury attorney” followed by your City and State. So if you live in Los Angeles, CA, you would simply type, “personal injury attorney Los Angeles CA” into the search bar.

This type of search will usually give you a list of attorneys in your area and a list of legal (and non-legal) directories. See more about those below.

2. Legal Directories

Avvo

Legal directories are like mini-search engines of their own, but focus only on attorneys. We’ll go over the most popular ones and one non-legal directory, Yelp.

Avvo

Avvo is one of the more popular attorney directories. Avvo offers a lot of great info including ratings, law school attended, and contact info. More importantly, Avvo tells you if the attorney has ever been disciplined by the California State Bar. Visit Avvo by clicking here.

FindLaw

FindLaw is another popular legal directory that may show up in the search results. FindLaw includes attorney contact info and a bio. FindLaw lacks the robust review system you’ll find in Avvo, but given FindLaw’s search engine placement, we included it in our list. Visit them by clicking here.

Lawyers.com

Lawyers.com is owned by Martindale-Hubble. They’ve been around for years providing info on attorneys. Lawyers.com provides contact info, client reviews, and peer reviews. You can see more by clicking here.

Yelp

Although not a legal directory, Yelp has established itself as a go-to location for those seeking an attorney. Yelp includes contact info, bio, and reviews. Visit Yelp them here.

3. Online Reviews

Yelp Reviews

Many of the online directories listed above include personal injury lawyers reviews. When looking at reviews, make sure you don’t just look at the amount of reviews or overall ratings.

Instead, take the time to read the reviews – especially the longer ones. A long review might give you more insight into an attorney.

Another way to find attorney reviews is by using Google Maps. Once you’re there, type “personal injury attorney” and you’ll see results below with reviews.

4. California State Bar Page

California State Bar

No attorney search is complete without visiting their profile on the California State Bar website. On this site, you’ll see their official contact info, educational background, and further detail on their disciplinary history, if any.

You can look up any California lawyer by clicking here.

5. Asking the Right Questions During the Initial Consultation

People with with attorney

Most, if not all, personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation. This is a great time to ask a lot of questions regarding their practice and your case.

According to Los Angeles personal injury attorney Sherwin Arzani, here is a list of questions to ask a personal injury lawyer during the free consultation.

  • How many years have you been practicing?
  • Have you handled my type of case before?
  • Where did you attend law school?
  • Do you exclusively practice personal injury law?
  • How long have you exclusively practiced personal injury law?
  • Have you taken any cases to trial?
  • Have you been disciplined by the California State Bar?
  • Ask for a list of their previous victories – both verdicts and settlements
  • How much do you think my case is worth?

6. Be Prepared During Your Initial Consult

Prior to meeting with an attorney, take some time to learn a little about personal injury law in your state. For example, most personal injury attorneys will not take a car accident case which solely resulted in property damage.

Additionally, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with tort law and legal terms like negligence.

7. Understand the Fee Structure

Don’t sign a retainer agreement without making sure you understand the fee structure. We’ve all heard personal injury attorneys say, “I get nothing unless you win.” This means they work on a contingency basis. While that may be true, make sure you understand what they get in the event that you do win.

In California, an accident attorney will typically take somewhere between 25% – 40%. However, many attorneys will also require that you pay for any fees incurred throughout the process. Your attorney will charge these fees on top of the percentage. What you’ll want to know is exactly what these fees include. For example, it might include the cost for experts, private investigators, and depositions.

Make sure you don’t get blindsided, as these fees can significantly cut into your award settlement.

8. Personality

People meeting with an attorney

The last thing to consider is how well you got along during the initial consultation. Did you find it easy to speak with the attorney? If not, you might want to consider continuing your search until you find someone who is a good personality fit for you.

Did We Miss Anything?

We hope that this guide will help you find a reputable personal injury lawyer in your area. Did we miss something? If so, please comment below.

Reasons Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer:

We put together this infographic dealing with the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer after an accident. These reasons include:

  1. Medical Issues: A good attorney will work with a team of experts that can properly evaluate your injuries.
  2. Financial Issues: An attorney will help you with the financial issues that inevitably arise after an accident.
  3. Higher Settlements: An experienced attorney can often help you negotiate higher settlements with the negligent party’s insurance company.
Why Should I Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer?

What is Considered a “Reasonable Person” When It Comes to Negligence?

Accidents can happen for many reasons. Often, they’re the result of someone’s negligence. If you’re injured because of another party’s carelessness, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and other damages.

To show you deserve compensation, you must prove the other party was negligent. Negligence requires proof that the party failed to act as a “reasonable person.” However, what is the reasonable person standard?

Understanding the ‘Reasonable Person’ Standard

Negligence is composed of four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. You must show the following to win your negligence claim:

  • The defendant owed you a duty of care
  • The defendant breached that duty of care
  • The breach caused your injuries
  • You suffered damages

The reasonable person standard relates to the first two elements. Many situations and relationships give rise to a duty of care. For example, a driver has a duty to others to obey traffic laws and avoid driving dangerously. A property owner owes their guest a duty to maintain safe premises. A medical professional owes a patient a duty to provide the proper care.

These duties are ones of “reasonable care.” A person breaches their duty by acting unreasonably given the circumstances. Specifically, a breach happens when a party fails to act as a reasonable person.

A reasonable person is an ideal or hypothetical person, not a real person. A reasonable person exercises caution and prudence when engaging in certain behaviors that could put others at risk of harm. Likewise, they avoid dangerous and reckless behaviors that could injure others.

Ultimately, a jury is the reasonable person in personal injury cases. It decides whether a defendant behaved like a reasonable person in the circumstances leading up to the plaintiff’s injury. If the jury finds that the defendant behaved unreasonably, they would conclude the defendant breached their duty to the plaintiff.

A Reasonable Person Example

Generally, a person fails to act as a reasonable person when they engage in preventable behaviors that expose others to harm.

For example, suppose a driver runs a red light and collides with your car, injuring you in the process. As mentioned above, a driver has a duty to obey traffic laws and drive safely to avoid accidents. 

A reasonable person stops at red lights and complies with other traffic signals. A reasonable person would not run a red light because it increases the risk of an accident. A jury would likely find that the driver failed to act as a reasonable person by running the red light. They would presumably find the driver negligent for causing your collision.

The Complexities of the Reasonable Person Standard

There are some exceptions to the reasonable person standard; they typically involve children. Young children should not be held to the same standards as adults. Instead, the law requires children to behave like children of the same age, experience, and intelligence. In some jurisdictions, the law holds children to the (adult) reasonable standard of care when they engage in dangerous activities, such as driving a motor vehicle.

Determining whether someone did or didn’t behave reasonably requires a thorough understanding of the law. This is one of many reasons it’s important to work with a qualified attorney when filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit.  A personal injury attorney can review your case and determine if another person injured you due to negligence. They can help you prove the other person failed to act as a reasonable person and caused your damages.

How to Find the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in San Diego

Find the Best San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer

Have you recently been hurt in an accident in San Diego? If so, you might be entitled to financial compensation. Hiring a San Diego personal injury lawyer will ensure you maximize the money you deserve. Read on to learn some tips on how to find the best personal injury lawyer in San Diego.

How Can a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Help me After an Accident?

Personal injury cases can be challenging. That’s why it’s smart to hire an attorney to take care of every detail for you.

Here’s a look into what your personal injury lawyer will do:

  • Listen to your story – probably multiple times on several different occasions – to get a sense of what happened.
  • Answer all your personal injury questions.
  • Research relevant statutes and case law to find the most compelling legal support for your personal injury case.
  • Coordinate an investigation into your accident, enlisting the help of experts along the way.
  • Gather and scrutinize evidence and relevant information – like physical evidence, accident reports, medical records, photographs, and witness statements.
  • Prepare and submit a formal demand for compensation to the proper insurance agency.
  • Handle negotiations with other parties and insurance company defense attorneys.
  • Advise you of settlement offers and help you decide what to do (accept vs. reject).
  • Build a civil lawsuit and submit your claim with the local court within the applicable statute of limitations.
  • Serve defendants with copies of the complaint and personal injury lawsuit.
  • Secure additional information during the discovery phase.
  • Continue to negotiate in an effort to secure a fair deal as quickly as possible.
  • Litigate your case in front of a judge and jury, if a settlement can’t be reached.

Don’t try to handle all of this on your own. Let your San Diego personal injury lawyer put their experience and legal skills to help you. After all, this is what they do every day.

How to Find the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in San Diego

How to Find the Best Personal Injury Lawyer in San Diego

The lawyer you choose for your injury case could have an enormous impact on the outcome. A lawyer provides advice to help you make decisions in your case. Your lawyer may negotiate on your behalf with insurance companies or advocate for you in front of a jury.

Most people will go through their lives without ever hiring a lawyer. For this reason, when an injury happens, you might not even know where to start your search or what to look for.

Here is some information about how to find the best personal injury lawyer in San Diego.

Understand Your San Diego Personal Injury Case

Understand Your San Diego Personal Injury Case

Before you can find a lawyer to represent you, you’ll need to understand the skills and experience that your lawyer will need. Understanding the nature of your case will help you to find a lawyer that can get the best result possible for you.

For example, if you suffered injuries due to a defective product, you probably need to find a law firm with experience in product liability cases. Similarly, when your injuries arise from a medical error, you need a lawyer who has experience and knowledge in medical malpractice cases.

Finding a San Diego injury lawyer to match up with your claim will ensure that they are comfortable handling the issues that may arise during the case. Although similar legal principles apply to a car accident and a semi-truck accident, a lawyer who lacks experience in dealing with commercial trucking companies and their insurers might get overwhelmed with a truck accident claim.

Some cases might also require a lawyer to have specific knowledge. Medical malpractice cases might require a much more detailed understanding of medicine and medical practices than other kinds of injury cases. Finding a lawyer with an understanding of the key matters in your case will help you to win or settle your case.

Research Your Personal Injury Attorney Options

Even after you determine the type of experience you need in a lawyer, you will still have many, many lawyers from which to choose. According to the State Bar of California, San Diego County has over 16,000 active lawyers. Over a thousand lawyers in the area practice injury law.

To create a manageable candidate pool, you will need to identify some criteria that you want your San Diego personal injury attorney to satisfy. Some of the ways you can research your candidates include:

1. Trusted Referrals

Trusted Referrals

The best injury lawyers get referrals from past clients. When friends and family members recommend a lawyer, you can trust that the lawyer helped them to obtain good outcomes in their cases. 

2. Other Lawyers

Other Lawyers

When a lawyer has the respect of their colleagues, you know that they can produce good outcomes. If you have a relative, friend, or neighbor that is a lawyer, give them a call. Ask them for the names of some respected San Diego injury lawyers. 

Even if your contact does not practice injury law, they might have seen a good injury lawyer in court or heard about a lawyer who gets good outcomes.

3. Attorney Referral Services

california state bar

The California Bar Association does not run a lawyer referral service, but many local bar associations and legal associations do. A lawyer referral service will give you the names of lawyers in your area who handle cases like yours. After you got the name, you can look them up on the California State Bar. Every attorney eligible to practice law in California has a profile that includes important information about their professional legal career. Click here to search for a specific attorney.

Organizations like the San Diego County Bar Association require lawyers to meet practice criteria and receive approval from a screening committee before they can be included in the program.

4. Lawyer Rating Services

Legal publications like AVVO and Martindale-Hubbell use proprietary rating systems to score lawyers. 

AVVO uses public records from state bar associations, regulatory agencies, and courts to score lawyers. The score goes from 1 to 10. A lawyer with a good rating would have a six or higher score. Ideally, you want your lawyer to have a 10 Avvo rating, such as San Diego personal injury attorney David Muñoz. This rating is based on his experience, knowledge, and ethics. 

avvo rating

Martindale-Hubbell uses surveys of clients and other lawyers to score a lawyer’s reputation for skill, knowledge, and ethics.

Both scores tend to give more reliable indicators of a lawyer’s reputation and background than user ratings on Yelp or Google. Users can manipulate Google and Yelp ratings up or down to give a misleading impression of a lawyer.

Questions to Ask a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer During the Free Initial Consultation

Questions to Ask a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer During the Free Initial Consultation

Most injury lawyers provide a free consultation for new clients. Use this consultation to interview the lawyer.

As you talk to the lawyer, get a feel for their communication skills. An effective lawyer will be a good communicator. 

An experienced San Diego personal injury attorney will have the ability to explain your legal options, negotiate with a claims adjuster, and persuade a jury. If you have a hard time following the lawyer or understanding the points the lawyer makes, it could mean that they’ll have trouble communicating with a claims adjuster or jurors.

Your injury case could take several months or even years of work. Think about how well your personalities mesh and how the lawyer will act as the representative of your case. 

Some clients want tenacious and aggressive representation, while others want a more cooperative approach. Neither one is necessarily better than the other. It simply comes down to your personality and the type of person you’d like to work with.

Before your initial consultation, you should prepare some questions. A “free consultation” does not mean an “unlimited consultation.” Writing down some questions and topics to cover ahead of time will help you to make the most efficient use of your limited time.

Some questions to consider asking include:

1. How Much Do You Charge?

Many fee disputes arise from misunderstandings about how lawyers charge for their services. Use a free consultation to understand a lawyer’s fee structure.

Most injury lawyers charge a contingency fee. This means that the lawyer only receives a legal fee if you settle or win your case. If you lose or drop your case, the lawyer will not recover anything. 

An injury lawyer will start on your case without any fees given upfront. Instead, the lawyer will take a percentage of the compensation you recover at the end of the case as payment for their services.

Ask the lawyer about the percentage charged. It’s typically between 33% and 40% – but that varies from case to case and firm to firm. 

Make sure you understand how the lawyer bills for expenses apart from their legal representation, too. Some lawyers will expect reimbursement for court filing fees, court reporter fees, and expert witness fees, regardless of the outcome of your case.

2. Who Will Handle My Personal Injury Case?

In some law firms, partners or shareholders originate cases by meeting with clients, but they assign the cases to associates for the actual work. While this produces an efficient structure, some clients find it to be impersonal.

In smaller law firms, the lawyer you meet will likely handle your case. This can produce a more personal connection. But the lawyer might not have the time or support to handle larger cases, like a product liability case against a billion-dollar corporation.

3. How Will I Receive Updates?

The most common dispute between lawyers and clients arises from a lack of communication. Under California’s Rules of Professional Conduct, lawyers must keep clients reasonably informed about their cases and respond promptly to reasonable requests for updates.

When you talk to the lawyer, ask about the ways that you can contact the lawyer for updates. Also, ask about any others in the firm that can provide information about your case in the event that you cannot reach your lawyer. 

Having the number and email address of the lawyer, paralegals, and legal secretaries working on your case will provide you with several paths for getting updates.

4. Have You Handled Cases Like Mine?

Experience instructs a lawyer in what works and what does not work. When you discuss your case, ask about other cases the lawyer has handled that had similar issues. 

While you can hire a lawyer who doesn’t have any prior experience in cases like yours, you could face greater uncertainty throughout the case.

5. What Do You Think About My Personal Injury Case?

Very few cases are perfect. You want to know about the merits and problems in your case. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can identify both and discuss them with you so you can set your expectations accordingly. 

An experienced San Diego personal injury lawyer should also explain the range of outcomes you could get in your case and rough probabilities for each outcome.

Most importantly, discuss the lawyer’s strategy for handling your case. This discussion will allow you to ask questions and provide input into the way that the lawyer will proceed.

Recommended San Diego Injury Lawyers

Law FirmLawyer NameTypes of Cases HandledExperienceAreas ServedOffice LocationCase Results
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, P.C.David MuñozMinor injuries to major injuries
43+ years of combined experienceSan Diego, Chula Vista, La Jolla, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas2515 Camino del Rio South 350
San Diego, CA
92108
619-777-5555
Tens of millions of dollars
Hamparyan Personal Injury
Lawyers San Diego, APC
Robert HamparyanMajor injuries20+ years of experienceSan Diego, Carlsbad, El Cajon, National City, Escondido2221 Las Palmas Dr, Suite H
Carlsbad, CA 92011
100 million recovered
Law Offices of Andrew H. Griffin III, APCAndrew H. GriffinSerious injuries only
30+ years of experienceSan Diego, El Cajon, National City, Chula Vista275 E. Douglas Avenue, Suite 112
El Cajon, CA 92020
Millions of dollars recovered

Do I Have a San Diego Personal Injury Case?

Do I Have a San Diego Personal Injury Case?

Did you get hurt because someone else was careless? If so, you might have a personal injury case. 

You might also have a case if the other person was cautious, but you got hurt, anyway. Under California law, they could potentially be strictly liable for your injuries. This is most often seen in situations involving defective products, inherently dangerous activities, and dog bites.

If you think you have a case – or need more legal information – speaking with a personal injury lawyer in San Diego is the best thing you can do.

Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

On the fence about whether or not you should hire a personal injury lawyer after an accident in San Diego?

Here’s why you absolutely should:

  • You’re statistically more likely to win your case.
  • Hiring a lawyer is correlated with a bigger payout. Accident victims working with lawyers recover up to 3.5x as much in compensation than those who don’t.
  • Insurance companies love to blame the victim. Sharing fault can destroy your injury case.
  • Personal injury litigation is complicated – a single misstep can keep you from getting the money you need.
  • You’ve got enough on your plate right now. Hiring a lawyer gives you time to really focus on getting better.

You’ve got one shot at winning your personal injury case. Hire a personal injury attorney to make the most of this opportunity.

How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?

How Much is My Personal Injury Case Worth?

It depends on a lot of different factors.

Consider:

  • The type of injuries you’ve sustained and how severe they are
  • What you’ve spent – and will have to spend – on medical care, rehabilitation, and other injury-related costs
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Whether your ability to work and generate an income has changed 
  • How you’ve been affected mentally and emotionally – what kind of pain and suffering have you endured?
  • The extent to which you share some of the blame.

The more serious your injuries and suffering, the more your case is likely worth. But, valuation isn’t simple. Choose a lawyer who has experience building cases like yours and access to reliable resources to aid them throughout the process.

How Much Does a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Charge?

How Much Does a San Diego Personal Injury Lawyer Charge?

Nothing upfront. Then if (and only if) your lawyer wins your case, they’ll be paid a percentage of your financial recovery. This percentage varies but typically ranges between 33% and 40%

What can affect an attorney’s contingency fee?

  • Their overall legal experience, career, and reputation
  • The lawyer’s specific experience handling cases like yours
  • The type of case you have – some areas of personal injury law are highly specialized
  • Where you live – an attorney in the city of San Diego will usually cost more than a lawyer practicing in a small rural part of California

These are just a few of the things that can impact what a particular attorney or personal injury lawyer will charge. Always discuss fees – and whether the lawyer’s fee comes from the gross or net recovery – before hiring representation.

When working on contingency, law firms take care of case-related costs and expenses. 

This means they pay for things like:

  • Filing fees
  • Court costs
  • Administrative expenses like copying, filing, and mailing
  • Copies of police reports and medical records
  • Costs associated with discovery, like the fee for a stenographer hired to document a deposition
  • Expert witness fees
  • Trial exhibits, and more.

If the lawyer’s fee is calculated using your gross recovery it’s taken right off the top. Then these costs are deducted from the remaining award. If the fee is calculated using the net award, it means these costs are deducted first. Either way, the amount that’s left is what you get to take home.

A personal injury lawyer should be forthcoming and transparent about their fee structure. If they’re not, that should be a red flag.

How Long Will My Personal Injury Case Take?

How Long Will My Personal Injury Case Take?

Ultimately, that’s up to you. Do you want to sacrifice the amount of money you get for a quick payout? Would you rather hold out for a bit, let your San Diego personal injury attorney work their magic, and apply pressure to get the defendant to pay up in full?

Regardless, settling your claim will take less time than going to trial. And a settlement doesn’t mean giving up value. But, good settlement terms take time. Your lawyer will need time to investigate, analyze evidence, research the law, work with experts, and build a solid foundation for your case.

A good personal injury attorney will keep you informed throughout the process. They’ll keep you updated on progress, roadblocks, and potential setbacks. They’ll also help you make important decisions when the time comes – like whether a settlement offer is good enough to accept or if you should press on.

What is the San Diego Personal Injury Claims Process?

The process of submitting a claim and/or filing a lawsuit after an accident in San Diego can be complicated. There are important deadlines that must be met and procedural rules that must be followed. 

Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect:

  • Investigation: An investigation will allow your attorney to get a clearer picture of what happened, gather evidence, and begin to build a claim for damages on your behalf.
  • Notify Insurance Company: You’ll have up to two years to file a civil lawsuit after an accident in California – but insurance companies have special rules about insurance claims. Most require notice of an accident/injury within a reasonable timeframe. Failing to notify the insurer could lead to a denial of your claim.
  • Submit a Demand Letter: A demand letter is your formal request for benefits from the at-fault party’s insurance provider. In it, you’ll tell your side of the story, explain why the insured party is at fault, and demand a specific amount of compensation for your injuries.
  • Negotiations: Typically, insurance companies don’t agree to pay the full amount that’s requested in an initial demand letter. Rather, they’ll probably either deny the claim in full or come back with a counteroffer for less money. It’s up to you (and your lawyer) to decide whether to accept this lower offer or reject it and try to negotiate a higher payout.
  • Filing a Complaint: If your claim is denied, if the insurer refuses to negotiate, or if your damages exceed the at-fault party’s policy limits, you can file a lawsuit. The process begins when you file a complaint with your local court and serve copies on the defendant.
  • Discovery: The discovery phase allows both parties to gather additional information and evidence related to their cases. Your lawyer might conduct depositions, send interrogatories, or issue subpoenas during this process.
  • Settlement: Most cases settle before they get to trial. Both parties privately negotiate the terms of a deal to avoid the cost and time of going to court.
  • Trial: If a settlement can’t be reached, the case will head to trial. There, both sides will have the opportunity to argue their cases call and examine witnesses, introduce evidence, and present facts to a judge and jury. 

San Diego personal injury lawyers know the process well – and also understand how to navigate it to get the bess results for their clients.

San Diego Accident Statistics

Accidents are incredibly common in San Diego. In fact, according to the County of San Diego

Department of the Medical Examiner, accidents are the leading cause of death in the area. In 2019, 50% of all deaths in San Diego County were the result of avoidable accidents. That’s one out of every two fatalities.

Not all accidents result in death. Most, in fact, are not fatal. But, they do leave victims struggling with serious injuries. In 2018, there were a total of 20,270 car accidents in San Diego County resulting in injury or death. More than a quarter of those – 5,607 – happened within San Diego’s city limits.

Which Personal Injury Attorney Should I Choose?

Which Personal Injury Attorney Should I Choose?

We hope all the information provided in this article will help you find the best San Diego personal injury attorney.

Remember, do not feel pressured to choose a personal injury lawyer during your free consultations. You should consider your decision carefully. But also bear in mind that your case may have impending deadlines that you cannot miss.

When you’re choosing a personal lawyer, you will need to prioritize your wants and needs. You may find lawyers with a wide range of experience, diverse backgrounds, and specific legal resources they can apply to your case. Choose the lawyer who will fulfill your needs and expectations for your case.

Additional San Diego Resources

San Diego Courts

San Diego Law Library

Can You Still Use a Car Seat After an Accident?

Can You Still Use a Car Seat After an Accident?

Several sources recommend that you replace a car seat after an accident. The NHTSA recommends replacing a car seat after a moderate or severe accident.

However, a car seat might not need to be replaced after a minor car crash. The NHTSA defines a minor car crash as:

  • You could drive the vehicle away from the accident scene
  • The vehicle door closest to the car seat was not damaged in the collision
  • There is no visible damage to the car seat
  • None of the vehicle occupants sustained crash injuries
  • The airbags did not inflate during the collision

If any of the above factors apply, you need to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines and consider replacing the car seat. Whenever in doubt, it may be best to replace the car seat. Your child’s safety could be at risk if you use a car seat involved in a car accident. 

The Insurance Company Should Pay for a New Car Seat

If you were involved in a car accident that damaged your car seat, the insurance company should replace the car seat as part of your property damage claim. Don’t allow the insurance adjuster to convince you to replace the car seat. 

You should obtain evidence of the cost of a new car seat that is the same or similar model to your previous seat. You deserve to be reimbursed for the cost of a new car seat if another driver caused the car crash.

Car Seats Decrease the Risk of Death or Injury in a Car Accident

According to the Centers for Disease Control, using a car seat reduces the risk of injury for children by 71 to 82 percent compared to seat belt use alone. Using booster seats reduces the risk of serious injury by 45 percent for children between the ages of four to eight years. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides detailed information about car seats online. Families can use the guidelines to choose a safety seat or booster seat that meets their child’s needs. Parents should also read the manufacturer’s guidelines to ensure their child’s height or weight does not exceed the maximum limits for the car seat.

Generally, the AAP recommends using rear-facing car seats for as long as possible. Once a child outgrows the rear-facing safety seat, the parents can transition the child into a forward-facing safety seat. 

The child should use the forward-facing car seat until they outgrow it. Once they outgrow a car seat, the parent can use a booster seat with belt-positioning functions until the child is tall enough for a seat belt.

Parents should check their car seats for recalls and register the car seat to receive recall notices. Each state has laws regarding child passenger restraints. Most state laws follow the AAP and NHTSA guidelines for car seats, but it is up to parents to know the laws in their state.

What Should I Do If My Child Is Injured in a Car Accident?

Children injured in car crashes can sustain traumatic injuries. Even minor injuries could have long-lasting developmental, emotional, physical, and cognitive impairments.

After a crash, you should have your child examined by a physician — regardless of the severity of the crash. You should also watch for symptoms of injuries in the days and weeks after the car accident.

You can protect your child’s legal right to compensation by filing an injury claim. However, child injury claims can be complicated. Seeking legal advice to understand personal injury claims is generally in your child’s best interest.

If you are considering filing an injury claim, you should:

  • Document the details of your child’s recovery with pictures and notes 
  • Take pictures of physical injuries right after the crash and as the injuries heal
  • Keep a journal detailing your child’s recovery 
  • Make notes about your child’s daily struggle with pain, depression, withdrawal, nightmares, and other symptoms

This information can help your attorney prepare a case for maximum compensation for your child’s damages. 

It is always best to verify claim deadlines with an attorney. Missing a deadline for filing a lawsuit could result in the loss of compensation for damages.