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What are some important things to know after a car wreck?

If you've recently been injured in a car wreck, you probably have a lot of unanswered questions.

Let's tackle a few of them together:

Can you still get compensation if you weren't wearing your seat belt?

Possibly. In California, the courts follow a rule known as pure comparative negligence. Essentially, that means the court has to decide how much of your injuries you are responsible for causing compared to how much the other driver is responsible for causing. Your award for any damages has to be reduced accordingly.

For example, if the court says that your damages were worth $100,000 but you're 50 percent at fault for your own injuries because you weren't wearing your seat belt, you'd receive $50,000. An attorney can better advise you.

Should you agree to let the other driver's insurance have your medical records so that they can see how injured you really are?

Not without the advice of an attorney. You have no idea what the insurance company might be digging for and you open yourself up to all sorts of inquiries by agreeing to turn over your records.

You may eventually release your medical records to the other side, but probably through your attorney. That way, you retain as much of your privacy as possible under the circumstances. The other side's insurance shouldn't be allowed to go on a "fishing" expedition to look for other possible causes of an accident.

The insurance company has offered a settlement that you think is fair. Should you just accept it and be done with the whole thing?

Many personal injury attorneys offer free consultations and will honestly tell you if a case is worth more than the insurance company is offering -- and when it isn't. You generally have nothing to lose by waiting a little on the decision.

If the offer is valid, it won't disappear overnight. If the insurance company is pressuring you to accept in a hurry, that's your first clue that the claim may be worth more than you realize.

Source: FindLaw, "Car Accidents - FAQ," accessed May 03, 2018

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