Car accidents are some of the most frequent incidents causing personal injuries in Los Angeles. While most of the time negligence can be invoked as a cause of a car crash, from a legal point of view things are a little different because of the law and because fault must be proved before obtaining any compensation. Fault in a car accident is usually established by the insurance company, but it is not always that things are that easy and some cases end up in court where fault must be proved by substantial evidence. No matter the case, it is best to rely on our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys if you want to demonstrate the fault in a vehicle accident.
What are the options for obtaining a compensation after a car accident in California?
California is one of the U.S. states in which car accidents fall under the “fault system” which allows the injured party to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit against the presumably liable party. The injured may file an insurance claim with their insurance company or the driver’s insurance adjuster. However, before obtaining the compensation the person suffering the personal injury must prove who is at fault for the accident.
In most cases, the individual who will determine fault in a car accident will be the insurance claim adjuster. He will base his findings on a team of professionals, when necessary, and on the evidence gathered from the scene of the accident.
We invite you to watch the following video on how you can determine fault in car accidents:
Driver negligence in car accidents in Los Angeles
Driver negligence is the most common factor leading to car accidents in California. If you have suffered an injury as a consequence of a car accident, our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers can help you determine who is at fault by proving the driver’s negligence based on the following evidence:
police reports are the most solid evidence in determining fault in car accidents;
the California Vehicle Code can also be used to prove who is at fault in car crashes;
the evidence from the scene of the accident is also proof of fault in the car accident.
The main elements which can determine fault in a car accident in Los Angeles are:
the cars’ position on the road;
debris from the car accident;
the road or weather conditions.
Apart from these, the driver may have been on the phone, or not paying attention to the road which can be proved by talking to witnesses, where the case applies. Showing the driver violated traffic rules or the law itself can also be invoked by experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys to make a strong case.
In some vehicle accident cases, the term "no-doubt liability" is used. This means that the fault is almost 100% caused by the other driver. Examples include rear-end collisions, left turn accidents and crashes caused by driving under the influence.
It is important to know that California uses a comparative fault rule, meaning that the plaintiff may claim compensation even if he was also found guilty of the accident. This is important in the context of the aforementioned “no-doubt liability”, as the plaintiff can also be at fault in left turn accidents, for example, if he was driving over the speed limit or ignored a red light. The defendant can use this against you and diminish the value of the claim. One of our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys can help you if pure comparative negligence applies in your case.
Regardless of the manner in which the accident took place, plaintiffs are advised not to admit fault, even to a small percentage, in front of the insurance claims adjuster and, in some cases, even in front of the defendant.
Common injuries after car accidents in Los Angeles
Victims of car crashes suffer from various types of injuries. Some injuries are more common and can be attributed to less severe car crashes. Others, when the impact and the damage were substantial, can completely change the victim’s life and are referred to as catastrophic injuries.
The injuries may be classified according to their severity or the part of the body in which they occur. A common difference is made between soft tissue injuries and hard tissue injuries: those of the tendons, muscles, and skin as compared to those that cause damage to the bones.
In vehicle accident cases victims can present a mixture of the two types of injuries. For example, one may experience a whiplash, when the head is violently shifted backward and forward from a crash. This injury is a common soft tissue injury but it can also damage the spinal discs.
Types of injuries resulted in vehicle accidents in L.A. include:
- head and back injuries;
- spinal cord damage;
- neck injuries;
- broken bones.
Victims involved in pedestrian accidents or motorcycle accidents can suffer from even more serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries or severed limbs.
Even if the injuries do not appear too severe you should seek medical attention after the accident. A medical evaluation and report are very important if you are planning on seeking monetary compensation for the physical injuries resulted from the accident. One of our personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles can help you use the medical records as evidence in your case.
Compensations for vehicle injuries
If you or a family member or friend were involved in a car accident you can consider talking to a personal injury attorney to find out how you can obtain compensation for your injuries. You can receive monetary compensation for the medical bills and even compensation for the emotional distress which is not uncommon after vehicle accidents.
In some cases, the vehicle accident and can trigger an older injury or underlying medical problem. The defense attorney will usually try to undermine the importance of these recurrent medical problems and pin the cause on another trigger and not the accident itself. If this is the case, one of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers will help you prove that the car accident was the one that caused you the medical problems.
The State of California has various laws governing personal injury accidents and you should start seeking legal advice as soon after the accident as possible, in order to avoid exceeding the two-year statute of limitation.
Regardless of the severity of the injuries, you will need to bring forward evidence that will be used to establish negligence. Some vehicle accident scenarios are common and in these cases, the negligence is attributable to the defendant. These include speeding, running red lights, drunk driving or distracted driving. When liability is unclear in an accident, the victim will need to bring solid evidence and use it in trial or during the negotiation phase.
If you are injured in a car accident it helps to know that you can be compensated for the medical expenses associated with treating the injuries that would not have occurred otherwise.
Establishing negligence in car accident cases in California
Most vehicle accidents take place as a result of negligence. This means that the irresponsible or negligent conduct of one or both drivers caused the accident. As a plaintiff, your goal is to prove that the other driver was negligent. For this purpose, you need to establish that a duty of care existed in the first place and the defendant did not observe it.
- causation: the negligent actions were the ones to cause the injury;
- damages: the physical or material damages were a direct result of those negligent actions.
It is important to prove all of these elements when stating your case in front of the judge and jury. Our team of personal injury attorneys in Los Angeles is able to help you follow the legal steps, according to the particularities of your case and what caused the accident.
Common causes of driver negligence can include:
- not paying attention, like texting while driving;
- failure to yield to other drivers;
- failure to signal or maintain a proper safe distance from the car in front (common in rear-end collisions).
In some cases, a vehicle accident can be caused by using medication while driving or by driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These cases require special attention. If you have been the victim of a car accident and the defendant was driving under the influence, you can request the help of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers for adequate legal advice.
Proving fault in car accidents
When trying to prove fault in a car accident in California, the evidence needs to be convincing. This is especially important in those cases that are not solved merely through negotiation but they are settled in court. Examples of evidence include:
-the police report: although not the only source of evidence, it can become a starting point to prove negligence; plaintiffs are advised to highlight any inconsistencies that the police officer might have missed;
-the California Vehicle Code: the most important legal resource that can be used to the advantage of the victim;
-evidence from the scene: any details, including meteorological or environmental ones.
The police report is a summary of the policeman’s observations immediately after the accident. Our lawyers recommend that you use it as evidence but do not rely solely on it during the personal injury trial. This report will include details about the position of the vehicles, any debris or marks (including skid marks), the damage to the vehicles and the road conditions and weather conditions.
A special situation is that in which the accident took place because of improper road signaling or improper construction work. In this case, an attorney can help you determine negligence among the authorities and/or companies responsible for roadworks.
Shared fault in car accidents in California
The State of California has a pure comparative negligence rule. This means that the plaintiff can hold its own percentage of fault for the accident but is still able to recover damages. The degree of negligence is determined in court.
In California, drivers are required to have an auto liability insurance. This is used to pay for the damages resulted from a car crash and it is illegal to drive without an insurance in the state.
Another state law for personal injury accident in California is the statute of limitations of two years from the date of the accident.
The hit and run car accident
In addition to being the victim of a car accident, in a hit and run case, the plaintiff will most likely be frustrated by the fact that the driver who caused the accident and the injuries cannot be held liable immediately. It is important to try and remain calm and remember that hit and run cases are common.
You should try to pull over and call the police. If your injuries are not severe you can try to record as much information as possible about the car that hit you. Eyewitness reports can also be used as evidence in these cases and can be very useful.
You can also take pictures of the scene of the accident, the damages to your car and record the time of date when the accident occurred. Any other particular information may be useful. The police report will also provide valuable information for your case but you can use this details as evidence later on.
When trying to build your case the evidence can be very useful for proving the other party’s negligence. If you are willing to take the case to court one of our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys can provide you with legal assistance. In some hit and run cases, the defendant will flee the scene because he/she would most likely face multiple charges if caught on the spot. These include driving under the influence (of alcohol or drugs), reckless driving or others.
Filing a hit and run claim in California
The first step after the hit and run accident will be to file a claim with the insurance company. The details you managed to record at the scene of the accident may prove useful at this point, as some insurance companies may dismiss your claim and accuse you of fraud. You must be able to prove that this is not the case. What’s more, California has a pure comparative negligence rule, meaning that both parties may be found at fault; nevertheless, the plaintiff is still able to claim compensations although these will be reduced by the percentage of fault he has in the accident.
In some cases, the hit and run can take place while your car was parked. If this happens you should also try to document the damage as well as possible and then contact your insurance company.
In California, you may use the uninsured motorist property damage coverage to pay for the damages resulted from a hit and run accident. When you are able to gather enough evidence about the driver and identify him with the help of the police, you may file the claim with their car insurance company instead of filing a claim with your own insurance company and receive the damages under the uninsured motorists’ coverage.
If you are having trouble negotiating with the insurance company you can talk to one of our lawyers. We will be able to provide you with the needed assistance for negotiation, according to the particularities of your case.
Herniated disk injuries after a car accident
A herniated cervical disk is a source of unpleasant neck pain and other aggravating symptoms. Individuals involved in vehicle accidents are often left with neck injuries. Left untreated, or even worse, ignored completely, these seemingly smaller injuries can have a great impact on one’s ability to work and enjoy various activities.
The symptoms associated with a herniated cervical disk often include neck pain, shoulder and/or arm pain, tingling in the arm or hand.
After you talk to your treating physician and after you’ve received enough information on the extent of the injury you can talk to one of our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys. One of our lawyers can help you build your case and pursue the most suitable alternative for obtaining compensation.
Compensation for cervical disk injuries after a personal injury accident
The types of compensations for cervical disk injuries include the remuneration for the medical expenses that arise to treat the injury. The maximum insurance policy amount may not be enough to cover the treatment and the physical therapy needed for recovery after the injury. If this is the case, then the claimant may choose to opt out of settling with the insurance company and pursue damages in court. In most cases, the amount obtained in court will also cover the future medical treatment.
Anterior cruciate ligament injuries are typically signaled by the feeling of your knee giving out from under your weight, accompanied by a slight “popping” sound. The knee will usually swell and become painful within the first day after the accident. You can feel tenderness in the knee area, discomfort when walking and lose your full range of motion.
Nonsurgical and surgical treatment options are available for patients. Talking to your doctor before submitting a personal injury claim is important because a physician is able to provide you with a complete information about the extent of the injury and the costs that are likely for the treatment and during the recovery treatment.
One of our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys can help you calculate your settlement based on the medical costs and the lost wages, if applicable.
Compensation for victims that suffer ACL injuries
Victims that have suffered from ACL injuries have been known to obtain large settlement amounts. For example, one plaintiff was ultimately awarded more than two and a half million dollars for his injuries (that also involved an ACL injury). Examples of lower settlements include more than 50,000 $ for an ACL resulted from a slip and fall that did not require surgery. Anterior cruciate ligament injuries that require reconstructive injuries are typically settled for larger amounts and so are ACL injuries that occur as workplace accidents.
If you have suffered a car accident and need assistance in proving fault, you can contact our Los Angeles personal injury attorneys if you want to obtain the right compensation. You should also know that you can obtain the right settlement with the insurance adjuster and avoid an unpleasant and lengthy lawsuit with the help of our attorneys.
We can also help you in other personal injury cases because we have different teams of lawyers:
Marc Y. Lazo is specialized in personal injury cases as well as in complex business and commercial litigation. He has tried numerous cases to successful verdict and has obtained multiple six-figure judgments in both state and federal court.