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Car Accident Lawyers

Automobile accidents in California are one of the biggest causes of death and serious injury in all the state. The truth is that every time an individual steps into a vehicle, they run the risk of being involved in a serious car accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a person in the United States deals with a car accident every 20 seconds. Fortunately, over the past few decades, car manufacturers have invested considerable efforts to creating a safer automobile, including better seat belts, air bags, reinforced frames and warning systems. However, even these “safety” mechanisms have been known to cause serious injuries of their own.

The fact remains that serious injuries resulting from car accidents are, and will remain for the foreseeable future a risk to human welfare. The period immediately following an accident is no doubt a very daunting time for many victims. In addition to coping with the many types injuries and health ailments on a day-to-day basis, victims must additionally cope with medical bills, mental anguish and suffering, as well as time away from work. Furthermore, harm caused by car accidents are not restricted to the victims alone, but also to their family, friends and significant others.

Liability In Car Accidents

Liability or fault in car accidents is determined on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence is the failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in a similar situation. Unlike criminal acts, the harm caused in car accidents is negligent because it is not caused through an intentional act such as an assault or robbery, but rather through the carelessness of another person. In regards to car accidents, negligence can be shown by demonstrating that,

  1. The other driver was careless, which was the direct and proximate cause of the accident
  2. The crash caused some sort of physical or property damage; and
  3. The other driver was at fault for the damages

In many car accident cases, the case is won or lost based on fault. Insurance companies, as well as the courts will use several different variables to determine whether or not a party was negligent. Some of these variables include:

  • Failure to abide by or disobeying traffic signals
  • Failure to check before entering an adjacent lane, or failure to signal
  • Driving while talking or texting on the phone
  • Loss of concentration
  • Disregarding weather or traffic conditions
  • Driving with faulty or broken system

Furthermore, drivers can be at fault for reckless driving. A driver is reckless when he or she drives with clear disregard for human safety. The NHTSA characterizes reckless driving as a progression of unlawful driving actions, and can include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Tailgating
  • Swerving

Statute Of Limitation

Statute of limitations refers to the amount of time a party has to file a lawsuit. The statute of limitations varies for different types of claims, as well as for different states. In the state of California, a party has 2 YEARS to file a lawsuit for damages following a car accident.  Certain exception exists, such as claims filed against government agencies, or those filed by a minor. It is best to contact a car accident attorney to elaborate your rights.

Sources Of Compensation For Your Car Accident Injuries

Another important aspect you will need to discuss with your personal injury attorney is which parties you may sue in your claim. Suing more than one party can increase your chances of maximizing your strategy, so it is important to initiate a good legal strategy before pursuing any claim.

  • Driver
  • Owners of the vehicle other than the driver. Instances where the vehicle was borrowed or loaned.
  • Employers are responsible for the driver’s actions during company hours.
  • Automobile manufacturers in situations where a product or design defect was responsible for the accident.
  • Government Agencies – examples include road defects or poorly constructed signs.
  • Mechanics, in instances where faulty workmanship is to blame for the accident.
  • Your Own Insurance as outlined above for uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) claims.

What To Do After The Accident

Safety first. In any accident situation, the most important thing a victim can do is take care of the medical needs of everyone involved. This includes emergency medical care and being transported to the hospital. In many situations, the initial shock and scare of the accident may mask some of the potential injuries. Therefore, it is often necessary to seek medical care even when an injury is not immediately apparent.

  • Stay at the scene. It is extremely important to stay at the scene unless you are seeking medical attention or the police tell you to leave. Leaving the scene can also result in sanctions against your driver’s license or even criminal charges.
  • File a car accident report with the police. You should do this even if the accident is minor. Filing the report will ensure that all facts are correctly documented. And remember to be truthful and thorough with the officer.
  • Get all the information. The moments directly after your accident may be the only time to obtain valuable driver and accident information. This includes:
  • Driver’s name, address, driver’s license number
  • Insurance information
  • Police officer’s business card, as well as the “incident number”
  • Location: This includes the time and place of the accident (including the intersection), the weather, road conditions, speed limits, lighting, or any other information that may seem pertinent.
  • Take pictures and take very thorough notes. Pictures of the scene will help bolster your case
  • Get witness information. Sometimes, witnesses are your strongest bit of evidence when fault becomes an issue. Don’t be shy. Obtain their number and contact info regardless of whether or not the other party admits fault. You never know when they might change their story

Compensation Services

Below is a list of the types of compensatory damages you might receive in a car accident case.

MEDICAL BILLS

This includes all past and future medical bills. You should be reimbursed for any medical treatment you have already received, as well as the cost of all future medical treatments. Medical bills should include treatment, medical devices, medicine and prescription drugs, and therapy.

PAIN AND SUFFERING

Most insurance adjusters would have you believe that your pain and suffering following an automobile crash is not worth anything. However, a good attorney can argue on behalf your pain and suffering, which could afflict a victim for a lifetime.

EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

Emotional distress relates to the psychological impact of the car accident. Emotional damages can include stress, anxiety, fear, depression, and loss of sleep.

LOSS OF INCOME

Victims of a car accident are entitled to receive money lost due to time missed at work such as salary or wages.

LOSS OF EARNING CAPACITY

Loss of earning capacity is based on any future wages or salaries that have been compromised as a result of a car accident. Often times, a personal injury attorney will have to hire a vocational expert to determine the full loss of earning capacity based on past performance and industry standard.

LOSS OF CONSORTIUM

A person suffers from loss of consortium when the accident affects the relationship with the their spouse. Often times, a car accident diminishes a plaintiff’s ability to enjoy their spouse’s companionship, or sexual relationship. In these situations, the victim is entitled to compensation.

Can You Receive Punitive Damages For An Automobile Accident?

Punitive damages are generally awarded to punish a plaintiff, and therefore are usually reserved to intentional crimes. Therefore, punitive damages do not generally apply to car accident cases where the defendant was being simply careless or even reckless. However, there are certain circumstances where drivers acts are so reckless or wanton, that courts may award punitive damages. These damages most often occur when the driver was driving drunk or under the influence of drugs. Punitive damages can often multiply the amount of compensation a car accident victim receives.

 

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