The Cost of California Car Accidents

More California drivers are getting into car accidents than ever before. In 2016, there were 3,680 fatal car accidents in California. Some blame the economy, arguing that as more jobs are created more drivers hit the roads to get to work. Others blame the rise in technology, arguing that drivers tend to multitask behind the wheel.

Regardless of the reason, the fact remains that car accidents are becoming more common in California. If you have been involved in a California car accident you may be able to recover compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Speaking with an experienced California car accident attorney is the best way to learn about your options.

Costs of California Car Accident Injuries

Car accident victims can suffer from a wide range of injuries. It can be incredibly expensive to treat and recover from these injuries. In 2013, the CDC estimates that California car accidents resulted in nearly $38 million in medical costs. Those accidents also resulted in $4.44 billion in work loss costs. Together, that adds up to nearly $4.48 billion in car accident-related costs.

How do most California car accident victims pay for these incredibly high costs? A recent study found that more than half of Americans have $1,000 in savings. The same study found that about a third of Americans have no savings, at all. If the average American is injured in a car accident it is unlikely they will be able to cover the costs by themselves.

Fortunately, California allows car accident victims to file personal injury lawsuits to recover compensation for their injuries. A personal injury claim for damages can help to cover costs including:

In the event of a car accident-related death, a wrongful death lawsuit can help to cover the costs associated with a victim’s funeral.

Steps to Take Following a Car Accident

If you are involved in a car accident in California it is important to keep the following suggestions in mind. These steps will help to make sure that you are safe, your rights are protected, and that you are able to maximize any future damages.

  1. Ask for Medical Attention: The most important thing after an accident is your health and safety. Go to a hospital or doctor for a medical evaluation after an accident, even if you do not think you have been seriously injured. A full medical evaluation will serve two purposes. First, it will help to rule out whether you have suffered any internal injuries that could be very harmful. Second, the information recorded in the evaluation can be used as evidence in any future personal injury claims you file. The sooner your injuries are documented, the more likely it is that they will be associated with your accident.
  2. Ask for a Police Report: A police report may not be admissible in court as evidence, but it is a great starting point for an investigation. When an officer arrives at the scene of the accident ask them to file a police report. The report can include information that may later be lost or forgotten. This can include witness names and statements or details about road and weather conditions. This can be very helpful to your attorney if you decide to file a claim for damages.
  3. Contact an Attorney: Insurance companies will try to take advantage of the fact that you don’t specialize in personal injury law. They will try to get you to agree to a low-ball settlement that doesn’t fully compensate you for your damages. When you hire an attorney to handle your claim you will have an expert on your side who knows how to maximize compensation.

Recovering Compensation Through a Personal Injury Lawsuit

When you file a personal injury claim for damages after a car accident it is generally based on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence occurs when one person owes a duty of responsibility to another person but fails to fulfill that duty. When you get behind the wheel of a car in California you have a duty to follow the rules and regulations of the road. You also have a responsibility to drive safely and prevent foreseeable harm. Speeding, distracted driving, and drunk driving are all examples of ways in which a driver could be negligent. When you are injured in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence, you can file a lawsuit to recover compensation.

In California, you can even recover compensation if you were partly responsible for the accident. Your recovery will be reduced by the percent of the accident that is your fault. Imagine you were injured in a car accident and you suffered $100,000 in damages. It is determined that you were 20% at fault for the accident because you were speeding. You would then only be entitled to recover $80% ($80,000) of your total damages. You would also be liable for 20% of damages suffered by the other driver.

The best way to learn about your legal rights following a California car accident is by speaking with an experienced attorney. They will review your case, determine potential liability, and answer the questions you have. Most car accident lawsuits in California must be filed within two years of the accident, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as you can.

Why Should I Hire a California Personal Injury Attorney?

California Personal Injury AttorneyOne California man is dead and another is reportedly fighting for his life after a car accident on June 8th in the Glen Valley area of Los Angeles. A waste management truck reportedly ran a red light and struck a pickup truck, killing its driver. The force of the collision sent it into a third car. Two passengers in the third vehicle were trapped in the “twisted wreck.”

The driver of the car is in critical condition and his passenger is reporting chest pains and other accident-related injuries. The family of the pickup truck driver and the occupants of the third car may be able to recover damages through a personal injury lawsuit.

How a Personal Injury Claim for Damages Can Help Car Accident Victims

Car accidents, especially those that cause significant injuries, can be incredibly expensive. One study found that the average cost of a bodily injury claim was over $15,000. Most Americans do not have savings sufficient to take care of one $500 emergency, let alone a $15,000 injury. If injuries sustained in an accident are serious and require extensive medical care, these costs can cost victims tens of thousands more.

Fortunately, car accident victims (and families of those who are killed in car accidents) may file a claim for damages from at-fault parties. Damages recovered through a personal injury lawsuit can help to pay for unexpected medical costs, rehabilitation, nursing care, property damage, and compensate for lost wages.

Why Should I Hire a California Personal Injury Attorney?

Immediately after an accident, you may be contacted by insurance companies who represent other drivers who were involved. It is important that you do not speak with them without consulting a personal injury lawyer. These insurance companies will try to take advantage of your confusion during this overwhelming and stressful time. They will take advantage of your lack of specialized legal knowledge and will likely try to convince you to agree to a small settlement. Insurance companies are not in the business of paying out on each and every claim that is submitted. It is in their best interest – and not yours – to pay as little as possible.

An experienced California personal injury attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and that you are able to recover the compensation you desperately need after your accident. Insurance companies will fight you each step of the way. Hiring an attorney can be incredibly important, especially if you are unfamiliar with the legal processes and laws involved. In fighting to recover compensation on your behalf, an attorney may:

  • Conduct an independent investigation of the accident that caused your injuries;
  • Review the details provided in the police report;
  • Find and interview witnesses;
  • Contact and hire expert witnesses;
  • Determine potential liability;
  • Research accident statistics; and
  • Communicate and negotiate with other parties, including insurance companies.

Attorneys are experienced negotiators who understand the nuances of the law. Your chances of maximizing your recovery increase when you hire a California car accident attorney.

Many Car Accident Personal Injury Claims Based on Negligence

Many California car accident claims are based on the argument that (at least) one party was negligent, and that this negligence caused your injuries. Negligence occurs when you have a responsibility to act in a certain way and fail to fulfill that responsibility. The success of your claim will be based on your attorney’s ability to prove the negligence of another party. Negligence can be broken down into different elements. Your attorney must prove each element to be successful. A successful negligence claim for damages will show that:

  1. The defendant had a duty (responsibility);
  2. The defendant breached this duty;
  3. This breach caused your injuries; and
  4. You suffered damages as a result.

What is a ‘duty’ that a California driver may have? All drivers on California roads have a duty to “use reasonable care” when operating a vehicle. According to California law, basic standards of care that must be kept include “keep[ing] a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles” and “control[ling] the speed and movement of their vehicles.” In California, a failure to exercise reasonable care is considered negligence.

So, in the case of the accident we discussed above, let’s say that the driver of the third vehicle decided he wanted to pursue compensation from the driver of the garbage truck. A successful claim would require him to prove (1) the truck driver had a duty to follow traffic laws, including traffic signals; (2) the truck driver did not follow traffic laws and signals; (3) running the red light caused an accident involving your vehicle, in which you were injured; and (4) you suffered financial damage (medical bills, property damage) and/or other damages such as pain and suffering.

Claims based on the negligence of another person can become complicated. This is especially true when getting down to the nuances of actual and proximate causation. These theories of causation can be difficult to prove and are best handled by an experienced California car accident attorney.

Contact an Experienced California Car Accident Attorney

If you or someone you know has been injured in a California car accident you may be entitled to recover compensation from an at-fault party. An experienced California car accident attorney can help to maximize the compensation you receive. Contact our Los Angeles office today to tell us about your accident and learn about your legal options.