Your Legal Options After A Car Crash

Updated: Sep 15

Tips On Filing Car Accident Claims In California

Driving in California is dangerous. Extreme weather, natural disasters, and even the poor state of road surfaces that might have gone neglected for decades may all threaten your trip while you're driving in California. You can also encounter drivers who are distracted by their phones or who speed and change lanes recklessly. Furthermore, you can encounter motorists who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol far too often.

That said, here's a quick guide to California car accident laws and claims, as they would be handled by top car accident attorneys in Los Angeles.

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These dangers can be seen on California's freeways and streets at any time. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), California had the highest number of fatal incidents in the country in 2019. In total, 3,316 fatal incidents occurred in our state, resulting in the catastrophic loss of 3,606 lives. With 3,294 fatal crashes, Texas came in second on the list. With 2,950 fatal collisions in 2019, Florida came in seventh.

California is known for its congested highways and reckless drivers, so it doesn't matter if you're on a congested freeway, a narrow city street, or a long stretch of farmland highway when you get into a car accident. Your physical rehabilitation from the accident will be your primary concern. If you've taken care of that, you'll be able to focus on rebuilding your life financially. Unfortunately, insurance firms can take a long time to make up for their policyholder's errors.

Difficulties with Insurance Claims After A Car Accident

If you collided with are were struck by another car, you will have to negotiate with the driver's insurance policy, assuming they have any insurance at all. If they don't have benefits, you will be forced to negotiate with your own insurance provider in order to obtain assistance from your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy.

Insurance companies can undermine a victim's allegation and resolve it in a variety of ways. Listed below are a few of their strategies:

  • Insurance firms may use stall tactics. This may include claiming that they are having a high number of incidents and asking you to wait patiently for a response to your claim for damages or a settlement offer. This dragging of the feet is often a ruse to postpone paying the hospital bills and monthly bills, such as car payments and rent. The longer you have to deal with those bills and debtor calls, the more hopeless you will feel. Insurance firms want you to be in a desperate situation.

  • Offers low settlement bid. They stall until you're desperate enough to accept whatever settlement offer they make. When you're facing thousands of dollars in monthly bills and are unable to function, any "lowball" bid can seem appealing. An expert prosecutor will recognize these delay strategies and lowball deals and will contest the insurance company's bad faith practices. When a California car accident attorney threatens to take things to court, insurance firms will begin to act far more quickly.

  • Shifting the blame/responsibility. They do this to either scare you into dismissing your argument or accepting any responsibility in a car accident. Don't be taken in by it. They might look at your driving record and make you appear to be a reckless driver. They might be able to get their hands on medical reports that prove you've had a similar car accident before. All of these are poor claims that a legal professional on your side can easily refute.

  • Using your statements against you. Another technique is to contact you immediately after an accident to see how you're doing. A representative from the insurance company actually wants you to make a written statement. Don't make a comment to someone. Refuse politely. Insurance brokers are searching for something you'll suggest that they can use later to misrepresent your version of events. Enable your California Personal Injury Attorney to handle all correspondence on your behalf. It relieves your tension and safeguards your situation.

Top car accident attorneys would advise that you avoid negotiation so soon after the accident, at least without a representative. You might be in shock, or you might not know the law that well.

California's Most Common Car Accidents

Although car accidents can occur at any time and in any situation, some types of accidents are more common than most. If you've been hurt in one of these common incidents, click on the name for more information on how to get answers to your questions.

  • Intersection Collisions. According to the Federal Highway Administration in the United States, about half of all motor vehicle collisions involving injuries and fatalities happen at or near intersections. A driver's failure to note a stop sign or traffic signal accounts for around 46% of such incidents. These estimates are backed by data from California intersection collisions. Distracted driving, failure to yield the right-of-way while making left turns, driving under the influence (such as alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two), unfamiliarity with an environment, and poor basic judgment of speed and distance are all common causes of intersection accidents.

  • Accidents that occur at night. When the sun sets, so does our ability to see clearly. Our vision deteriorates, our depth perception suffers, and we also have trouble perceiving colors. These are some of the reasons why California Car Accident Laws allow drivers to use their headlights from 30 minutes after sunset to 30 minutes before sunrise. Even in the middle of the day, there are several risky stretches of road that necessitate the use of headlights.

  • Failure to yield or come to a halt. In 2019, 3,606 people died as a result of injuries sustained in California traffic collisions, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. About 200,000 people were injured. Los Angeles led California with 685 traffic deaths, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. There were 169 deaths in Sacramento County and 134 in Fresno County. Motorists who refused to yield, halt, or otherwise reduce their speed to prevent a car accident were responsible for more than 99 percent of these fatalities.

  • Head-on collisions. Between 2017 and 2018, the California Highway Patrol reported 13,543 head-on collisions in Los Angeles County alone. There were 183 deaths as a result of the accidents, with 4,615 people suffering visible injuries. About 57 percent of all victims of head-on collisions claimed personal injury.

  • Accidents involving a hit-and-run driver. In 2016, there were 337 hit-and-run deaths in California, according to the most recent data available from AAA. This figure was the highest in the country. Bicyclists and pedestrians were the victims of the majority of these hit-and-runs. The 337 deaths were 60 percent more than ten years ago. The number of hit-and-runs in the state ranked seventh in the nation.

  • Accidents with a rear-end collision. The higher the trailing vehicle's speed is at the moment of impact, the more severe the injuries in the lead vehicle are likely to be. The leading vehicle is usually stopped, and the following driver is distracted. At other times, the lead vehicle is moving, but the following driver is not keeping a reasonable distance between them. Rear-end accidents account for approximately 30% of all motor vehicle collisions that result in severe injury, according to the National Highway Transportation Administration. They account for 7% of all traffic accident fatalities and 20% of all traffic accident fatalities in two-vehicle accidents.

  • Ride-sharing services (Uber/Lyft) Accidents. Uber alone claims to have 200,000 drivers in California, according to the Wall Street Journal. Another 200,000 people could be Lyft and other ride-sharing drivers. Many of these drivers offer transportation services to customers using their own cars. It is their ride-share insurance policy that is on the issue. A critically injured car accident survivor can be advised that ride-share coverage does not extend to the accident and that he or she must pursue compensation from the ride-share driver's personal insurance.

  • T-bone Accidents. It's a great feat that planners are able to safely monitor traffic flows on California highways, given the size of some intersections. There is a lot of reliance on drivers doing the right thing at the right time, and T-Bone impacts can happen when they don't follow the rules of the road at intersections. Every year, about 8,000 people die as a result of T-Bone crash injuries, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. In these types of injuries, children are particularly vulnerable. Thousands of other people are wounded as a result of the crash. A driver failing or refusing to yield the right-of-way at a red light or stop sign is the most common cause of a T-Bone collision. Other potential triggers include power outages, traffic signal timing issues, or even a burned-out light bulb.

  • Distracted driving. Distracted driving causes injuries, and texting while driving is a form of distracted driving. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, it is illegal to use a mobile phone or other similar devices when driving on any highway in the state. It's just a question of public safety. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, texting while driving is the most dangerous method of distracted driving because it needs three types of diversion at the same time.

Common Injuries in Car Accidents

You'll have to battle insurance providers for a just settlement for your crash. It's a crucial step in your rehabilitation because it has ramifications beyond your immediate wellbeing and financial security.

You could sustain permanent injuries that necessitate surgery and further physical therapy. You could be forced to change occupations due to a disability. Job training and medical supplies for travel and at home can be expensive. Many of these expenses should be accounted for in every insurance settlement. If you have an advocate on your side, they will be taken into consideration.

Because the injuries of auto accidents can be so serious and affect everyone's life down the road, these settlements are critical for victims and their families. The following are some of the most common injuries that emergency room doctors see each year:

  • Brain and head injuries. Severe concussions, skull fractures, brain bleeding, and scalp wounds may all occur as a result of a head injury. In a collision with the inside of the skull, traumatic brain injury (TBI) will cause the brain to bruise. Memory loss, light sensitivity, seizures, and other complications are also potential symptoms.

  • Whiplash (a sudden back and forth tossing of the head) will render patients unable to turn their heads. The impact of an airbag or the pull of a seatbelt may fracture spinal vertebrae. Injuries to the back and spine may result in permanent disability.

  • Fractures can occur in virtually every part of the body. One of the most frequently fractured bones in an impact is the clavicle. It extends around the top of the ribcage and is the most delicate bone in the body. When a car is partially crushed, the fibula (lower leg) and femur (upper leg) are often broken.

  • Muscles, tendons, and ligaments may all be broken or bruised in soft tissue injuries. This tissue binds and keeps the various organs and body parts together.

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What to Do If You've Been Injured in a Car Accident

The acts you take after a car accident can either support or damage your case. Some drivers make simple mistakes that cost them time and money. We've outlined the steps to take after a car accident to help you from making the same mistakes.

  • Make everyone's well-being a priority, including your own. Some people are able to walk away from a car crash, while others are critically injured and unable to leave their cars. If you're in a lot of pain or need emergency medical attention, have someone call an ambulance for you. If you are able to exit the vehicle, ask those involved in the accident if they need an ambulance and if so, call one.

  • You should contact the authorities if someone was hurt (even if just marginally) or if there was $1,000 or more in property damage; California Car Accident Laws require you to report the accident. A police report may be written by the responding officer and may contain useful information.

  • Never admit fault or say something that could be construed as an admission of fault. A victim's compensation will be reduced by their percentage of liability under California Car Accident Laws if they are partly to blame for their injuries. So, if you're 25 percent to blame, you'll only get three-quarters of what you'd get otherwise. "I'm sorry," "I couldn't even see you," and "I'm fine" can seem to be innocent words, but they can be used against you by an insurance adjuster.

  • All involved in the accident should share insurance details. Get the driver's name and address, as well as the details on his or her driver's license and license plate number.

  • Given your injury, document the accident as best you can. You may, for example, make a list of all witnesses to the accident and their contact details. Take photographs of the cars involved in the collision and where they ended up right after the accident if you are able to drive about. These images may be useful in identifying a problem later in the process. If you are unable to do so, have someone you trust do it for you.

  • If you were not evacuated by ambulance, make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. Any signs you're experiencing can be detected by a doctor, and your injuries can be meticulously reported. Follow your doctor's instructions and take all prescription medications as directed. If you don't think you're getting better, get a second opinion, but stop self-diagnosing your injuries.

California Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Personal Injury Lawsuits

In California, there is a statute of limitations that determines the maximum period of time you have to file a case. If you miss this deadline, you will lose your legal right to sue the at-fault driver for damages. As a result, you can consult with a car accident lawyer in California as soon as possible to resolve your case.

For traffic accidents in California, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. Only a few very unique exceptions cause this period to be extended. To secure your interests, it is best to consult with a Los Angeles car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

Negligence as Proof of Liability

Drivers in the state of California are expected to follow safe driving guidelines. It is negligence if you do not do so. In order to receive compensation after a car accident, injured parties must prove the other driver's negligence.

According to California statute, negligence occurs when:

  1. The driver disobeys traffic laws and safety regulations.

  2. The driver does not follow the rules when driving their car.

  3. The accident happens as a direct result of the actions of the other driver.

  4. Injuries, medical costs, missed income, and other financial problems have arisen from the crash.

Comparative negligence is used in California law. Each person involved in the car accident is responsible for a portion of the damages due to comparative negligence.

If all parties are at fault in an accident, the court will allocate a percentage of fault to each driver to assess the final award for monetary damages. And if you think you are at fault or liable, you should wait to make a comment until you have spoken with your car accident attorney in Los Angeles, California.

After a car accident, avoid these blunders

Automobile collisions are inconvenient, disturbing, painful, and sometimes fatal. In the aftermath of an accident, you can make rash or ill-informed decisions.

As a result, it is advisable to contact the best car accident attorney in Los Angeles as soon as possible. Your car accident lawyer will help you reduce the risk of making a mistake or making a wrong decision.

If they do not find a lawyer after a car accident, several victims make the following mistakes:

  • You are choosing not to contact the authorities. Even if you don't think your accident was serious enough to record, an official police report will help you prove your case in court. The police will gather this information, write a report, and issue any required citations for infractions.