Updated: Nov 11, 2022
Learn Why Is It Recommended to Hire A California Personal Injury Attorney For Car Crash Claims
We need to look at the latest available data from the California Office of Traffic Safety to understand how car crashes impact people in the state. There were hundreds of thousands of car injuries around the state during the most recent reporting year. There were a few that stood out: a.) Total injuries: 273,069; and b.) Total fatalities: 3,602
Although most car accidents result in only property damage or minor injuries, 14,188 of the injuries were categorized as "severe," meaning they had a major effect on a person's life. Most of us must drive regularly as part of our educational, family, and recreational lives. Without a car, getting from one location to another can be challenging. On the other hand, driving can become dangerous due to many other people using similar modes of transportation and traveling along the same streets and highways simultaneously.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in California
Speeding. In a matter of milliseconds, traveling at excessive speeds, particularly around other drivers and pedestrians, can prove fatal. It's more difficult to notice and respond to road hazards, assess a turn, or stop in the event of a sudden and unexpected obstacle when you're speeding. There's a justification for the speed limit.
Drunk Driving. Driving while under the influence of substances such as narcotics or alcohol can lead to serious accidents. In the United States, drunk driving is one of the main causes of car crashes. It is responsible for about a third of all fatal traffic collisions, resulting in over 10,000 deaths yearly. Drunk drivers endanger anyone on the road, including other motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, and themselves.
Distracted Driving. Most people believe they can drive safely while talking on the phone, texting, using social media, listening to music, or setting the GPS. It's not just mobile phones; anything that takes a driver's attention away from the road poses a significant risk to the car—trying to multitask while driving is a dangerous type of carelessness.
Driver Error. Drivers can make several mistakes, ranging from novice judgment errors to overly violent, dangerous driving—another form of negligence that can easily result in a traffic accident. Inexperienced drivers, teens, and adults getting their driver's license for the first time or in a long time, as well as arrogant drivers who have no regard for those on the road, can be dangerous to themselves, passengers, and other drivers and pedestrians. Keep vigilant, healthy, and alive.
Auto Defects. Vehicles of all kinds, including cars, trucks, vans, buses, and motorcycles, may have flaws ranging from design flaws to manufacturing errors. Due to auto defects, such vehicles are often recalled, posing serious risks to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Brake failure, seatbelt malfunctions, roof crushes, and other defects can make driving hazardous and even deadly.
Common Types of California Car Accidents
Any automobile accident will result in substantial property damage as well as injuries. The following are the most common types of car accidents:
Head-on collisions. Head-on collisions sometimes result in serious injuries. When a car attempts an overtaking maneuver, several head-on collisions occur, resulting in catastrophic front-end damage to all cars, drivers, and passengers.
T-Bone Collisions. A T-Bone crash happens when the front or back end of one vehicle collides with the center of another vehicle.
Rollover Crashes. A rollover accident can be extremely deadly, especially if there is a roof crush.
Sideswiping. When a car drifts into another lane or a driver tries to overtake.
Fleeing the scene of a car accident is immoral and puts the injured person at risk.
Common Injuries in Car Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), auto accidents injured 4.4 million people and killed 38,300 people in 2015. The pain usually starts when the smoke and dust from the screeching tires stop.
Car accident injuries are not only traumatic but also expensive. The undisclosed and sometimes long-term costs that can occur after a car accident include:
Hospital bills for care.
Any additional payments for counseling sessions.
Lost days of work.
No one wants to need a California Attorney For Personal Injury, but an attorney will help you defend your rights and meet your needs.
1. Head Injury - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that motor vehicle accidents were the third leading cause of traumatic brain injury overall and the second leading cause of TBI-related deaths in the country in a four-year analysis (2006-2012). Other examples of head injuries suffered in a collision include lacerations to the forehead, a fractured jawbone, or a broken nose.
The most common forms of head injury in car accidents are head-on, rear-end, and side-impact crashes. When a car rolls over, the skull makes contact with the upturned windshield, causing head trauma.
TBI can cause personality changes, extreme headaches, and cognitive impairments that render even simple tasks difficult to complete, to name a few. The signs can be short-lived or last a lifetime. A full recovery from head injuries necessitates immediate and continuous medical attention.
2. Back Injury - Back injuries from car accidents can be excruciatingly painful, if not completely incapacitating. The cervical spine, or neck, the thoracic or upper back, and the lumbar or lower back are the three regions of the spine. While most cervical spine injuries are known as soft tissue/whiplash, serious injuries to the cervical spine can result in death.
Herniated discs, complete disc slippage, muscle sprains, and tears in the thoracic and lumbar spine can cause pain and restrict mobility. A back injury can leave a person bedridden for several weeks, preventing them from returning to work.
3. Injuries to the soft tissues - Whiplash is the most well-known soft tissue injury suffered in a car accident (of the head and neck), but soft tissue injuries can occur anywhere in the body where tissues bind the muscles and tendons. This category includes sprains, strains, contusions, tendonitis, and bursitis.
Soft tissue injuries don't necessarily show up right away after an accident. They could go undetected for days before causing symptoms. This is why it's important to see a doctor immediately after an accident. If you know the magnitude of all your injuries right away, you'll be on the way to rehabilitation much sooner.
4. Leg Injury - According to several NHTSA reports, the hips, thighs, knees, ankles, and feet account for the vast majority (93 percent) of injuries in frontal collisions. Leg trauma is more common in older drivers and those with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI).
Lower extremity injuries may cause swelling, discomfort, buckling, dislocation, and ruptures, among other things. Repairing these injuries often necessitates intensive surgery.
5. Trauma to the spinal cord - Permanent paralysis or loss of feeling is probably the most debilitating outcome of a car crash. Nerve damage is normal in spinal cord injuries since the spine, and central nervous system is inextricably linked.
In-car accidents, full or partial paraplegia, which results in a loss of mobility and necessitates using a wheelchair or other assistive devices, are common. The estimated lifetime costs of spinal cord injury can be much more than a typical family can afford.
Surviving a car accident may hurt the mind as well as the body. Anxiety, depression, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder are all common side effects of car accidents. Some people may fear driving or riding in cars to the point that they refuse to travel at all. For months after the incident, this form of silent suffering will fully change a person's quality of life.
What Do You Do After a Car Accident?
If you've ever been in a car accident in California, consult this car accident guide for tips about what to do next. Following these measures will help you protect your health and safety while also bolstering your case if you plan to go to court
Get medical help immediately. Everything you know about the crash, including any pain you're experiencing
As soon as possible, file a police report.
Obtain the other driver's insurance documents, including their driver's license number.
Get all witnesses' names, phone numbers, and other contact details. Their testimonies will help you when you finally make your claim
Take several photos of the accident scene. Include all vehicles involved and all identifiable injuries sustained by all passengers in the vehicle.
Do not discuss the accident or injuries with anyone, particularly an insurance adjuster. Concerns about treatment can only be shared with the doctor or attorney.
To avoid making a mistake, consult a car accident attorney in Los Angeles before signing something.
Please report if you are disoriented, confused, or have trouble recalling things. These are also signs of a brain injury.
Get to know the resources available to you about car accidents.
Do You Have a Personal Injury Claim?
You might not be sure whether or not you have a claim for compensation after a car accident. Your accident must fulfill two conditions to be eligible for compensation:
Another party's fault was at least partly to blame for the crash.
You or a family member suffered significant physical injuries due to the crash.
You can find a Los Angeles car accident attorney who can answer any questions you have about what constitutes negligence and what it means to have a "serious" injury. You and your car accident lawyer in California will begin building your claim immediately, given that your accident satisfies both of these conditions.
What to Do if an Insurance Firm Contacts You?
Representatives from your insurance company or the at-fault party's insurance company can contact you after they are informed of your accident. It's better if you don't speak to them. Innocent remarks may be used to make it seem as though the accident was your fault or to say that your injuries aren't serious. They may even attempt to get you to sign a much less settlement than you require.
An experienced Car Accident Lawyer In Los Angeles will consider the current and future medical costs, missed earnings, and other expenses to ensure you receive the money you deserve to cover the full cost of your accident.
Accidents should not occur in a vacuum. There are several possible causes for such collisions and scenarios in which they can occur. A presumption of negligence may arise if a California Vehicle Code Section is intended to prevent a specific type of person from being injured by a specific type of accident or injury, and harm occurred due to a violation. It is critical to consider all of these variables when attempting to put together the entire scene. Although independent research and police reports may definitely help, a professional car crash attorney is typically the key to knowing it all.
What's the Difference Between Strict Liability and General Liability?
Strict liability claims that any persons responsible for a tort, in this case, a car accident, will be held solely liable regardless of whether they were incompetent or not because of their superior status. A taxicab or bus driver, for example, is a specialist who has your life in his or her possession. As a result, if an accident happens, these defendants will be held solely liable.
Compared to negligence per se, which is based on a breach of a law or code, strict liability for parties such as cruise ship owners or cab drivers to a passenger will occur. They have a special responsibility to protect their passengers from accidents caused by their role as common carriers for hire. Are you following along so far? If you're still perplexed, a car accident lawyers in Los Angeles will clarify the situation in greater detail.
What Does a Negligence Per Se Car Accident Claim Look Like?
The following hypothetical of a car crash on a California highway with charges of drunk driving is a good example to help you understand what negligence per se is. A violation of a Vehicle Code section that meets the negligence elements until rebutted becomes definitive proof of duty and breach.
Let's imagine that rider A is stuck behind another car, at a stoplight, on his motorcycle and following the rules. Behind A, in a fast-approaching Big Rig Truck, is B, who is under the influence of alcohol and drugs. B fails to brake and collides with rider A, killing him by riding over his motorcycle. B later tested positive for Crystal meth and had a blood-alcohol level of over 0.10 percent at the hospital. ("B.A.C.") is an abbreviation for "BAC."
It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle when under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, according to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (a).
It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle if you have 0.08 percent BAC or more alcohol by body weight, according to California Vehicle Code Section 2315d (b).
It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle when under the influence of any substance, according to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (f).
It is illegal to drive when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to California Vehicle Code Section 23152 (g).
B broke all four of the aforementioned laws when he killed A in a drunk and drugged driving crash. Any of their breaches may be used in a potential wrongful death case brought by A's surviving spouse or children to create a presumption of negligence. The court may issue the rebuttable presumption of negligence instruction and proceed to the damages process because A was a member of a protected category under the statute or code (other road users, pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and vehicle occupants), and the defendant violated the laws designed to prevent that form of injury.
Under this theory of law, a driver who hits another person while also breaking a traffic law can be considered reckless. The breach, however, must be a direct consequence of the mishap. On the other hand, the complainant would have to consider the statutory intent. The aim of DUI laws is to avoid deaths and serious injuries, which is the direct intent. On the other hand, a simple moving infringement can simply be intended to improve traffic flow. As a result, under CACI No. 418, the court will not give a negligence per se jury instruction in that case.
Furthermore, the Vehicle Code is a guideline rather than a ceiling. Assume the defendant did not break the vehicle code but also caused a car accident. It's not a get-out-of-jail-free card to follow the Vehicle Code. Since the Vehicle Code is merely a guidebook and includes common sense rather than blind compliance, the defendant will be judged by ordinary negligence standards. You can always contact a personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles to learn more about the complexities.
Are There Any Negligence-Related Exceptions?
Yes, but there are some exceptions, such as when:
Following the legislation would have resulted in more damage than gain.
Owing to circumstances outside the defendant's control, compliance was unlikely.
Even if the four-part test is met, if an exception applies, there would be no presumption of negligence. If not, the negligent wrongdoer broke a section or statute of the Vehicle Code.
The transgression had to be the direct and indirect cause of the emotional and physical distress and other damages. In addition, the perpetrator must be a member of a protected community. Was the law or code enacted to protect people from this kind of harm? If this is the case, it is referred to as negligence.
Is This Jury Instruction in and of Itself Enough to Give You an Advantage in Your Potential Lawsuit?
Obtaining victim leverage by establishing a presumption of negligence in the eyes of the insurance adjuster and, later, the prosecution team(s) is generally positive for those seeking monetary compensation for serious injuries. The probability that the at-fault element is subject to negligence per se instruction is still present.
As a result, this legal principle places the burden of proof on the accused party to assert and demonstrate that they are not at fault. This burden will operate in the accused's favor by pressuring them to deny the statute infringement. A defendant may claim that it has nothing to do with the law's purpose. However, after the bell has rung, this becomes a daunting burden to resolve.
Costs of a Car Crash in California
Car accidents can be costly, resulting in collateral damage, high medical bills, lost wages, and other hidden costs. The total cost of your accident may be influenced by several factors, including:
Vehicles involved in the accident
The number of passengers who were involved
Injuries that have been suffered
Following Are the Costs You Might Expect Following a Car Accident:
The costs of a car accident begin to mount on the first day. Your vehicle can begin to cost you time and money as soon as it is towed from the scene. The following expenses can be incurred as a result of property damage:
Towing Charges. If your car cannot be driven, it will most likely be towed to a tow yard. You can need to tow your car to a body shop, house, or scrapyard at some point, which can result in three to four tow bills.
Storage Fees. Your vehicle is most likely accruing regular storage costs as it sits in a yard or body shop, particularly while waiting for an insurance company inspection. Yards can also charge additional fees. In Los Angeles, storage costs are particularly high, and a car crash attorney will help you negotiate some of these costs.
Costs of Maintenance. You may obtain several estimates, the shop may have to wait for parts, or the shop may discover additional damage after beginning repairs. It's important that the insurance provider pays enough to completely fix your car.
Replacement Vehicle. If your vehicle is considered a complete loss, car accident attorneys in Los Angeles will review the report and features of your vehicle to ensure you have a fair replacement value.
Personal Property. When things inside your vehicle are harmed, ranging from small, daily items like mobile phones to costly and essential items like handicapped vehicle lifts, it's critical to be compensated.
Hospital bills will rapidly accumulate after a car accident. Ambulance and emergency room bills, hospital visits and check-ups, chiropractic visits, physical therapy, ongoing care, and other expenses are among them. Some incidents result in mild scrapes and bruises, while others result in debilitating injuries that last a lifetime.
Loss of earnings
There will be missed earnings and productivity if you cannot work due to an auto accident injury. A Los Angeles car crash attorney will help you figure out how much money you've lost and get paid for the time you've missed at work. Nobody expects they'd ever be in a car accident, and if you are hurt, you can not be able to return to work.
And if the condition becomes irreversible, you should not be held accountable for missed income when you recover or cannot work.
If you are permanently injured (from Catastrophic Injuries) due to an auto accident, it can affect your ability to work, earn money, and enjoy personal activities. A serious car accident that leaves you disabled for the rest of your life is not anything to take lightly.
Pain and Suffering
An insurance provider will not use a single formula to determine how much it will pay you for pain and suffering. Instead, businesses depend on their claim-settling expertise.
Many businesses, in reality, have large databases containing information about how much coverage they give to different individuals based on various injuries. It's not uncommon for an insurance provider to insert the data into a computer program, producing a figure.
What kind of data does an insurance firm look at? They'll usually look at the following:
The extent of the injury you sustained. A long-term injury is more painful than one that heals in a month or two.
The total sum of medical attention you've had. If you've been seeking medication for six months, the pain and suffering are likely to be worse than if you just went to the doctor once.
Who provided you with medical care? Seeing a doctor indicates that the condition is more severe than visiting a chiropractor.
In your arm, for example, you may have a fractured bone, a concussion, and nerve damage. You spent a night in the hospital for concussion treatment and received six months of rehabilitation to recover arm and hand control. The insurance provider will enter this information into a computer to determine how much to pay you.
What a California Personal Injury Attorney Looks for When Assessing Pain and Suffering Damages
The best car accident attorney in Los Angeles commonly uses two methods to determine how much a client can be compensated for pain and suffering.
1. The Multiplier Approach
The "multiplier process" is one of them. This entails adding up the financial losses—medical expenses and missed wages—and then multiplying the sum by a factor of 1 to 5. This provides the car crash attorney with a number for pain and suffering, which is then subtracted from the financial losses.
The severity of the physical injury normally determines the multiplier. A multiplier of 2 could be used for someone with a bad bruise and a sprain, for example. If the accident costs $3,000 to treat, multiply the number by two to get $6,000 in pain and suffering. This client will obtain a cumulative compensation of $9,000 in total.
On the other hand, the multiplier for someone who has sustained a more severe injury would be higher. For example, an individual who is permanently paralyzed may have a multiplier of 5.
2. The Per Diem Approach
The "per diem" approach is the second choice. For each day that the person is injured, a certain dollar amount is assigned, such as $150. An Orange County car accident lawyer would multiply the number of days by the per diem sum (30 times $150) if it took 30 days for the individual to achieve medical improvement. In this scenario, the victim's gross compensation for pain and suffering may be $4,500.
How Do You Calculate Damages for Pain and Suffering?
Consider the following:
How have your physical injuries influenced your mental well-being?
How have your injuries changed your life?
If you are willing to enjoy your favorite hobbies or whether your injuries prohibit you from doing so.
If your injuries have affected your family and friends' relationships
Jurors are also mindful of the anguish that a person would endure if they are unable to play with their grandchildren or go for a walk with their spouse. Jurors are more likely to award compensation to compensate for intangible damages when the pain and suffering are made vivid.
In general, the more your quality of life deteriorates, the more compensation you can get. Your Los Angeles car crash attorney will work with you to carefully record how the injuries have affected your life to help build your case for pain and suffering damages.
In certain cases, this would mean keeping a pain log in which you record where you feel pain and how it limits your everyday activities. Los Angeles car accident attorneys can also consult with family members and friends who can testify to how your life has changed since the accident.
Pain and Suffering Limits
The cap on the defendant's insurance policy is one apparent limit on the amount of money you will get. You can't sue for $150,000 if the claimant only has $15,000 in liability insurance (the state minimum for auto liability insurance).
In certain cases, a defendant might have additional assets that you may obtain by filing a lawsuit, although this is uncommon. In practice, unless you can find another defendant with deeper pockets, the insurance policy cap would serve as the ceiling on any financial recovery you get.
The California legislature has imposed two significant restrictions on an accident victim's ability to recover noneconomic damages. First, a survivor of a car accident will not be entitled to noneconomic damages if:
Even if the injured driver was not at fault, the victim was convicted of intoxicated driving (including driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher) in connection with the crash that caused the injury.
The victim was driving his or her own car and did not have the proper liability insurance under California law.
The victim was driving someone else's car and is unable to meet California's financial responsibility standards (usually by having insurance or posting a required bond)
If the victim was driving his or her own vehicle and the driver who caused the accident was accused of an intoxicated driving charge, the statute makes an exception for uninsured victims. In such cases, an uninsured traffic accident survivor may be able to recover noneconomic damages.
Second, even though the felony has nothing to do with the accident that caused the injury, the victim cannot recover non-economic damages if the injury occurred while committing a felony or fleeing to escape prosecution after committing a felony. This restriction only applies if the injured driver has been convicted of a crime.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to the third restriction on the right to recover noneconomic damages. California law caps the amount of money that can be recovered at $250,000.
You can never presume that the law would bar you from recovering noneconomic damages incurred by the negligence of another individual. Always obtain legal advice from a California personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure that you are mindful of your rights.
Wrongful Death in California
Wrongful death actions in California allow families to file a lawsuit against the person who caused their loved one's death. A wrongful death lawsuit would help you keep another person responsible and provide you with the financial compensation you need to move on with your life if your parent, partner, or child died because of another person's negligence or recklessness.
A knowledgeable California wrongful death attorney will look into the situation, figure out what happened, and advocate for justice on your behalf. Although a lawsuit can not make your family whole again, it will help you bring the pieces of your life back together after a traumatic loss. Consider one of our prescreened car accident lawyers in Los Angeles in your California Attorney Search.
When Is a Death in California Considered "Wrongful"?
Wrongful death in California is described as one caused by another person's wrongful act. This may involve incompetent, grossly careless, reckless, or even malicious acts. An individual who deliberately causes harm to another person can face criminal charges due to their acts.
Only those members of the decedent's family can bring a wrongful death action: parents, domestic partners, decedent's children, decedent's grandchildren (if the decedent's children are also deceased), and other minor children, such as stepchildren, who were financially dependent on the dependent for at least 50% of their help. This form of claim may also be filed by someone who may be eligible for the deceased's assets (property) under California's intestate secession laws (i.e., how property is inherited if an individual dies without a will).
A survival case is a different form of civil action that may be brought in California for wrongful death. The victim's estate brings this form of legal action to recoup the losses they sustained before dying (as opposed to the damages that the family has suffered). If the mother was seriously wounded and spent months in the hospital before dying, her estate would be entitled to recover damages for pain and suffering, emotional anguish, medical expenses, and funeral costs.
Different causes of wrongful death cases in California
Under California law, "wrongful death" is defined narrowly. A wrongful death case can be filed over almost any death that was caused by someone behaving negligently or recklessly. In the following situations, a wrongful death claim may be filed:
Nursing Home Neglect
These are just a few of the many types of wrongful death lawsuits that can be filed if your loved one or family member dies due to someone else's or a company's negligence.
Bringing a Claim for Wrongful Death
According to California law, personal injury lawsuits must be filed within a certain time, known as the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for wrongful death is two years from the date of the victim's death. The lawsuit could be completely blocked if the case is not filed by that date.
While monetary compensation cannot truly compensate for the loss of a loved one, filing a wrongful death lawsuit can assist you in holding the party liable for their death. At the same time, it will help to alleviate the financial strain that sometimes comes with wrongful death. Considering a wrongful death lawyer with experience would be the best option for you to get this handled properly.
In wrongful death lawsuits, there are two types of damages available. Both of which are designed to compensate claimants for the injuries they have suffered. Economic and noneconomic damages are used together to compensate survivors for the financial and emotional support they would have received if their loved one had lived.
The following are examples of economic damages:
The amount of money that the decedent would have provided to the family during his or her lifetime
The loss of any gifts or other advantages that the decedent's survivors may have expected
Expenses for funerals and burials
The fair market value of household services provided by the decedent
Compensation for the decedents' loss of protection, affection, society and companionship, moral support, training and guidance, and even sexual relations are all examples of noneconomic damages. It excludes liability for the survivors' grief, sorrow, pain, and suffering.
In a wrongful death case, there is no set sum that can be awarded for damages. Instead, a court looks at things like the decedent's life expectancy at the time of the wrongful act (or the wrongdoer's life expectancy at the same time, whichever is shorter), and how many survivors were financially dependent on the deceased and the deceased's potential earning capacity.
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