Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney
Everything You Should Know About California Car Crash Injury Law
Millions of Americans are injured every year in motor vehicle accidents and thousands more are killed. Those who do survive these crashes are often left to deal with various forms of injury, including permanent disabilities such as brain damage and spinal cord injuries.
Car crashes are reportedly the fourth leading cause of premature death in Los Angeles county, ahead of homicides, strokes, and lung cancer. Out of the 200 most populous cities in the U.S., Allstate ranked LA as the 195th safest city to drive in.
Fatal car accident numbers continue to fluctuate in California. From 2014 to 2016, there was a noticeable increase in fatal collisions. However, from 2017 to 2020, there were slight increases and decreases. As of recently, California has experienced a 5 percent increase of motor vehicle deaths from 3,540 in 2019 to 3,723 in 2020.
Some form of negligence on behalf of one, or multiple drivers, is often the culprit in the majority of all car accidents. However, it is possible for more than one driver to share liability for causing an accident. Also, many car accidents are not caused by negligence at all, but by defective car parts, poorly maintained roads, or inclement weather.
A car accident victim may be entitled to compensatory damages for:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of earning capacity
- 1. Determining Liability After a Car Accident
- 1.1 What is Negligence?
- 1.2 What is Duty of Care?
- 2. California’s Comparative Liability Laws
- 3. Available Damages After a Car Accident
- 4. What if I’m Involved in a Car Accident With an Uninsured Motorist?
- 5. What Can a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer Do for Me?
- 6. Types of Car Accidents
- 7. Read More Resources on Car Crashes, Insurance Claims, and More
1. Determining Liability
Determining liability after a car accident in the state of California can be a complex process, especially when multiple parties are involved. But this determination is generally based on negligence by each driver involved. This means that the driver who caused harm to another will typically be held liable for any injuries sustained, as well as the resulting damages. However, there are instances when negligence will not play a factor, such as when poor road maintenance causes an accident.
1.1 What Is Negligence?
Negligent behavior is unacceptable. All drivers must drive safely. As it relates to car accidents, negligence is usually some form of careless or reckless behavior. Common examples of driver negligence include:
- Driving while under the influence
- Not paying attention to the road
- Disobeying traffic laws
1.2 What Is Duty of Care?
Every driver has a duty of care while behind the wheel. This means that all drivers are legally responsible for using reasonable care while operating a vehicle. They must also be mindful of pedestrians and road conditions, as well as maintain control of their vehicle.
If you were injured by another driver, you must be able to show that negligence directly caused your injuries. The legal standard for negligence in the state of California will consider the following three elements:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
- The defendant breached his or her duty of care through negligence
- The defendant’s negligence was the primary cause of the injuries sustained
2. California’s Comparative Liability Laws
It is possible for more than one individual to be held liable for causing a collision. California is a comparative negligence state, which means that more than one party may be found liable for causing a car accident. Therefore, liability can be divided based on the degree of fault. Damages are also divided based on the share of fault. Finally, any available damages will be reduced depending on a driver’s individual degree of fault.
Consider the following example:
Ana is driving a car with faulty brakes. The brakes on Ana’s car can bring it to a stop, but they sometimes delay in doing so. Ana realizes there is a risk in driving this car, but she does so anyway.
While on the freeway, Ana is driving behind Carl, who is driving a brand new van. Carl is very excited about his new car and its navigation system. Due to his excitement, Carl spends a little too much time looking at his dashboard and doesn’t notice that traffic has come to a halt. Carl slams on the brakes and is fortunately able to stop in time.
However, Ana is unable to avoid colliding with Carl because her brakes are not working properly. In this example, both drivers are partially responsible for the accident, regardless of injuries or property loss sustained. Ana was negligent by driving an unsafe vehicle, and Carl was negligent for driving while distracted.
Therefore, liability will be divided according to each individual’s negligence. As mentioned, damages will also be divided according to each individual’s degree of liability.
3. Available Damages After a Car Collision
If you were injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver, you have the right to obtain compensation for your losses. Car accident victims may be entitled to damages for:
4. What if I’m Involved In a Collision With an Uninsured Motorist?
If you were involved in an automobile accident and the party at fault doesn’t have insurance or has insufficient coverage, you may be able to receive compensation from your own insurance carrier if you purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
In the state of California, all automobile insurance companies are required to offer uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage to their policyholders. In many situations, the amount of coverage for uninsured/underinsured motorists will be equal to the liability limits of your auto policy.
For example, if you had a $50,000 underinsured/uninsured motorist policy limit and the other at fault driver had only $25,000 liability limits, you would be entitled to collect the full $25,000 difference from your insurance carrier along with $25,000 from the insurance carrier for the at-fault driver. If your underinsured or uninsured policy limit was $30,000, you would first collect $25,000 from the at-fault driver’s policy and then only be able to collect $5,000 from your own carrier.
However, if you have not purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you may still be able to recover damages. An experienced Los Angeles auto accident attorney can help explain other options for you to recover the damages.
5. What Can a Car Accident Lawyer Do For You?
Trying to handle a car accident claim on your own will not only get you less money than you deserve, but it is more stressful than you may think. The insurance companies are not on your side. They are trained to pay car accident victims less than what they deserve. Their success is entirely dependent on making money by paying you less than what they collect in premiums.
Our experienced team of Los Angeles car accident attorneys will take care of everything for you. We will file a claim with the insurance companies, help with your medical treatment, take care of all the paperwork, build a strong case in your favor, and help you win the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. It is also important to understand that there are times when it is better not to file a claim.
If necessary, we are prepared to go to trial and we will not stop fighting until we recover all the compensation you are entitled to.
6. Types of Car Accidents
There are several types of car accidents that can be caused by different circumstances. Below is a list of the most common types of car accidents:
- Accidents Caused by Speeding
The faster a car is moving, the more energy and time it takes to bring it to a complete stop. Driving at high speeds increases the likelihood that a driver will lose control of their vehicle. Traveling at excessive speeds reduces driver reaction time and the ability to adapt to unexpected changes in traffic or emergencies, which can easily lead to horrific injuries. Due to the reckless nature of speeding, injuries caused by a speeding driver may also qualify for punitive damages.
- Accidents Caused by Distracted Driving
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined that, on average, 9 people are killed every day in the U.S. because of a distracted driver. Despite what some drivers may believe, you cannot drive safely unless you’re completely focused on the task of driving. The most common and dangerous example of distracted driving is texting.
- Accidents Caused by Drunk Driving
Operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol is reckless and a serious criminal offense. Along with speeding, driving while under the influence of alcohol is particularly destructive and very dangerous. Being convicted of a DUI charge will often carry punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded on top of the normal damages for medical expenses and property loss a victim would be entitled to. They are intended to punish a defendant for their reckless behavior.
- Accidents Caused by Aggressive Driving
In California, aggressive behavior, sometimes known as road rage, has been added to the list of behaviors which are now included in the state’s reckless behavior laws. A reckless behavior is an action which lacks an intention to cause harm, but which goes beyond simple negligence.
- Accidents Caused by Inexperienced Drivers
Accidents caused by inexperienced drivers tend to be catastrophic. Consider the fact that people in the 15-19 age group account for only 7% of the U.S. population, yet account for 11% of all motor vehicle injuries in the country. On average, teen related car crashes account for $13.6 billion (8.4%) of the accumulated costs of all motor vehicle injuries in the U.S.
- Accidents Caused by Drug Impaired Drivers
Alcohol is the most common intoxicant involved in substance impaired car crashes, but marijuana is the second most commonly found drug in blood tests conducted on drug impaired drivers. Given how common marijuana use has become in the state of California, it’s important to understand its effects. Marijuana may create delays in reaction times, affect one’s perception of time and space, and reduce muscle coordination.
- Accidents Caused by Drowsy Driving
Drowsy driving is a dangerous blend of driving while sleepy or fatigued. A driver who sleeps for only five to six hours doubles their risk of being involved in a serious car crash, in comparison to someone who has enjoyed seven hours of sleep or more. Crash rates increase with the less sleep a person gets. Drivers who sleep for only four to five hours have the same risk of being involved in a collision as a drunk driver.
- Multi-Car Collisions
Multi-car accidents often result in multiple claims and can become contested, drawn out affairs. There’s no real standardized method for assigning liability in these types of collisions. Sometimes, one driver will be deemed 100% responsible, but multiple drivers may also share responsibility. An experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney can help you understand liability as it applies to multi-car collisions.
- Rear-End Collisions
A rear-end collision is a collision in which one car hits the back of another. These types of crashes, while rarely deadly, can still cause serious injuries and significant loss of property. Rear-end crashes, while seemingly minor, often result in painful neck or back injuries. Injuries as a result of a rear end collision may not manifest themselves immediately or in severely at first.
- Head-On Collisions
Head-on collisions often occur as a result of mechanical failure or a driver’s negligence, such as when a driver ends up on the wrong side of the road, is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or is distracted. The impact of a head-on collision is more severe than in other types of car accidents, and the accumulated costs of medical care associated with treating subsequent injuries will likely be extreme. Head-on collisions often involve punitive damages.
- Side-Impact Collisions
A car that is struck in a side-impact collision is completely vulnerable to being impacted with brutal force and has literally nothing to protect itself, or the driver inside, from an oncoming vehicle. The potential for horrific injuries, especially if there are high speeds involved, is very high and nearly guaranteed in a side-impact collision.
- Side-Swipe Collisions
Side-swipe accidents almost always happen when two vehicles travelling in a parallel manner — whether in the same or opposite direction — make contact with the side of one another’s vehicle. Side-swipe accidents are more or less universally associated with either an intentional or unintentional lane change. In the worst cases, an intentional lane change can be deliberate or reckless in nature.
- Rental Car Accidents
Accidents can happen under even the most unideal of circumstances, like while driving a rental car during a vacation. If you are the driver at fault in an accident involving a car you were driving as a rented vehicle, know that you will only have the damages covered for which you purchased rental insurance or if you purchased a premium on your personal car insurance that covers rental cars. If you are not the driver at fault of the accident, the other driver’s insurance company will have to cover your damages.
- Single Vehicle Collisions
While a single vehicle collision involves only one vehicle, there could be another party liable for the damages caused by the crash. This is especially true since California is a Fault state, meaning that some party must be held liable for damages caused by the accident. The party at fault could be the driver themself, another driver, or even the city.
- Rollover Accidents
Rollover accidents are extremely dangerous for all parties involved in the crash, but especially so for passengers within the vehicle that rolls over. A person not correctly seat-belted can find themself tossed around in the vehicle and even a person who is properly seat-belted can find themself trapped once the vehicle is rolled over.
- Weather Conditions and Car Accidents
Weather conditions can affect obscure drivers’ vision and impact a vehicle’s traction on the road. This is especially true on the rare occasions when it rains in Southern California, when drivers used to the sunny days suddenly have to accommodate the rain.
- Most Common Types of Serious Auto Accidents
There is danger in all car accidents, however some serious car crashes occur more regularly than others. These most common serious crashes include rear-end collisions, head-on collisions, side-impact collisions, rollover accidents, single-vehicle collisions, and multi-vehicle collisions.
7. Read More Resources on Car Crashes, Insurance Claims, and More
Below, our car accident attorneys have curated several articles discussing various scenarios relating to insurance claims:
- How Can I Stop My Car Insurance From Increasing?
A simple way to control your insurance rates is to manage your driving behavior. Driving safely and avoiding accidents can create a positive impact on your driving record, thus affecting your premiums on a long-term basis.
- Car Accident Recovery Tips Car Accident Property Damage Settlement Guide
Property damage and personal injury are considered separate issues. Property damage refers to the destruction of a personal estate by means of another person’s negligence or voluntary behavior. Personal injury refers to the injuries sustained to people involved in the accident.
- No-Fault Car Accidents
In most cases, the court decides who is at fault and the guilty party’s insurance is usually responsible for the damages. However, what if unpredictable conditions, such as a deer in the road or harsh weather, cause your vehicle to swerve off the road and damage someone else’s property?
- Car Accident — No Insurance, No Police
When the amount of cars on the roads increase, the chances of you getting into a car accident increase as well. Though having car insurance is required by law, some drivers may be negligent or confused about Los Angeles car and car insurance laws.
- Car Insurance Laws For New Los Angeles Residents
With the 39.56 million people living throughout the state and the thousands that drive to work everyday, California has established a strict set of guidelines to regulate commuter and pedestrian safety. If you’re moving to Los Angeles and plan on bringing your car with you, you may have questions about how you can legally operate your vehicle on the road.
- Legal Guide to Owning a Classic or Custom Car in California
Learn how to drive your classic car in style legally. Auto enthusiasts tend to drive more safely when in their custom cars to preserve the vehicle’s condition and value. Combined with the average amount of vehicle coverage, classic cars often receive several perks.
- Filing a Car Insurance Claim in California
Filing a car insurance claim in California seems like an easy feat, however don’t be fooled – car insurance companies are not on your side. These companies are in the business of making money off of their policyholders, offering the least amount of compensation possible when they need it the most.
- California Sees Speeding Double Due to Coronavirus: Its impact on Auto Insurance
Since the coronavirus hit in California, stay at home orders have been issued in place and speeders have taken advantage of the more vacant roads. How does coronavirus, empty roads, and speeding impact auto insurance?
- Can I Change My Car Accident Lawyer?
Perhaps you’ve been working on your car accident insurance claim case with an attorney and so far, the relationship doesn’t seem to be working out. It could be time to break up with your attorney and find a new personal injury lawyer.
- Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?
A minor car accident seems like no big issue to start a fuss about, however, complications you didn’t anticipate from this accident could arise down the line. This is especially true in the case of developing injuries due to the accident.
- Why Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Some people think that there is no need to hire an attorney after a car accident, that they can file the insurance claim and handle any medical issues themself. However, it is important to know that insurance companies will try to swindle their customers, pressuring them to accept the lowest amount of compensation they can offer. An attorney who knows how to take on the insurance companies can get you the maximum compensation that you deserve and make sure your medical bills are covered.
- California Car Accident Statistics
California is the country’s most highly populated state and Los Angeles, one of the country’s most densely populated cities. It should come to no surprise that due to these factors, California is also home to the state with one of the country’s highest accident rates as well.
- Drag Races in California Roads During Coronavirus
With fewer vehicles on the roads during the California coronavirus stay at home orders, street racers have taken full advantage of the open streets. Drag racing is a dangerous and illegal sport that can pose a danger to the public.
- What Happens If I’m Injured in an Accident When Visiting California?
Say you were on a road trip in California, visiting from out of state, when you got into a car accident. How can you pursue filing an accident insurance claim if you live outside of the state? An experienced California licensed car accident attorney can handle your case for you while you go back home and focus on recovery.
- Psychological Injuries After a Car Accident
Getting in a car accident can be damaging, not only to the vehicle and the body, but also to the mind. If you experience psychological harm as a result of a car accident, you can get compensation for these damages.
- 7 Crucial Steps to Take After a Car Accident
The aftermath of a car accident can flurry high with emotions and you may not know what to do next. Our excellent team of car accident attorneys put together a list of the several important steps to take after a car accident to ensure that you get the assistance you need and take the correct steps to build up your case.
- Car Accident Victim Compensation
A car accident can leave all parties involved in the crash with physical, mental, and emotional injuries and scars that can affect their day to day well-being for the rest of their life. An insurance company’s job is to ensure that car accident victims receive compensation for these damages. An experienced car accident attorney can hold the car insurance companies accountable to get the maximum compensation that you deserve.
- Uninsured Car Accidents
Although in the state of California, it is required to have car insurance in order to operate a vehicle, some drivers might be driving without the proper insurance, for some reason or another. While getting into an accident with someone who does not have car insurance can be a hassle, getting compensation for losses is still possible.
- How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
If you have gotten into a car accident, you should consider getting an attorney. Filing a car insurance claim on your own will result in you getting short-handed from insurance companies. An experienced car insurance attorney knows how to handle the insurance companies and get the maximum compensation for your losses.
- What to Do After a Hit and Run Collision
Hit and run accidents can be devastating and complicated if the driver at fault gets away. There are certain steps that can help make the process of recovery and pursuing an insurance claim from a hit and run accident a little easier.
- Comparative Negligence – Seat Belt Law in California
California is a comparative negligence state, which means that more than one person can be found liable for causing the injuries sustained in an accident. California also requires all people in a moving vehicle to wear a seatbelt. A victim of injuries from a car accident can be partly held liable for their own injuries if they were not properly wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident.
- Common Types of Car Accident Injuries
Being involved in a car accident can result in a number of different injuries, however some including head injuries, broken ribs, chest injuries, internal bleeding, and post-traumatic stress disorders are more common than others.
- DUI in California
Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) can cause a serious accident with dire consequences. Drivers caught in a DUI can collect points on their driving record and can even be punished with a fine or jail time for their offense.
- How to Determine Fault in a Car Accident
Determining fault in an accident depends on the negligence of the parties involved in causing the accident. California is a comparative negligence state, meaning that more than one person can be found at fault and be held liable for causing an accident.
- 50/50 at Fault Car Accident
Since California is a comparative negligence state, more than one party can be found at fault for causing a car accident and be held liable for causing injuries. This means that if two parties are involved and they took equally negligent actions which caused the accident, they could be found equally at fault.
- Whether to File an Auto Insurance Claim or Not
While it is important to almost always file an insurance claim in order to recover your losses from a car accident, there might be some cases in which it might be better to not file a claim. This is especially true if the accident was minor and/or if you are concerned in an increase in your insurance rates.
- Compensation for Lost Wage from a Car Accident
If you sustain injuries from an accident that leads to you being unable to work, you can receive compensation for lost wages and prospective lost wages too. An experienced car accident attorney can ensure that you get the maximum compensation that you deserve to cover all your medical bills as well.
- Car Accident Recovery Tips
Recovering from a car accident is a process that should be taken seriously. However, not all injuries are the same – different injuries require different treatments and recovery. It’s important to take the time and care to recover properly so you can get back on the road.
- No Fault Car Accident
What happens if no one caused a car accident that happened? There exist such cases where accidents happen as a result of nature or malfunction – who’s responsible for the accident in that case? California is a fault state, meaning that some party must be held responsible for causing the accident.
- Poor Road Maintenance – Can I Sue the City for My Car Accident?
Sometimes, poor road conditions such as potholes, can cause an accident. The city is responsible for maintaining these roads using the tax dollars you pay. You have the right to sue the city for causing your accident if poor road conditions caused your accident.
- Los Angeles Traffic, Accidents, and Safety Tips
Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic and accident rates, which are some of the highest in the country. This comes to no surprise considering the city’s high population density and drivers road rage.
- Car Accidents While Driving a Rental Car
While driving a rental car, you should get car rental insurance in case that you get in a car accident to protect you and any other parties involved in the case of an accident. If you don’t purchase rental car insurance, you should be sure that your personal car insurance plan covers car rental accidents.
- Who Pays Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
If you’re injured in a car accident, you will need medical attention and we all know that these expensive bills can’t pay themselves. You can get compensation from the insurance companies to cover your medical bills after a car accident. An experienced car accident attorney who knows how to take on the insurance companies can help you get the maximum compensation that you deserve to cover your medical bills.
- Loss of Consortium
Sometimes car accidents where the lives or physical capabilities of loved ones are lost. This can leave people without companionship and possibility to reproduce with their partners in the future – this is known as loss of consortium. You can receive compensation for these losses as well as others.
- Med Pay Auto Insurance
Med pay is a kind of auto insurance that can help cover medical bills in the case that the other party involved doesn’t have an insurance policy you can file a claim to. Though this kind of insurance is not required to have in California, since it is a fault state, it is optional.
- What to Do if You Witness a Car Accident
A witness to a car accident can help make sure that the victims of a car accident get the attention and support that they need in the aftermath of an accident. A witness’s testimony can play a key role when it comes to filing a car accident insurance claim and or during a hearing in a courtroom.
- Construction Site Car Accidents in California
Highway construction is necessary to keep the roads safe. However, construction sites can cause dangerous driving conditions that can lead to accidents. This is the reason why safe driving practices and visibility on the end of the construction company need to be executed to keep everyone safe on the road.
- 10 Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
The aftermath of a car accident can be overwhelming and flurried with emotions. However, it’s important to take the important steps needed to successfully file an insurance claim and get the compensation that you deserve.
- Defective Car Parts Can Cause Injuries and Accidents
Vehicles are designed to safely protect their passengers, however, with hundreds of different parts that work together to make a vehicle run, when just one piece is defective, it can cause a series of issues that can lead to an accident or make the consequences of an accident even worse.
- How to Negotiate Your Car Insurance Claim Settlement
Getting into a car accident can have serious financial consequences and this is the reason why car insurance companies exist, to offer coverage to their policyholders when they need help the most. However, insurance companies are in the business of making profit, first and foremost by offering low settlements. You don’t have to accept cheap compensation for your accident insurance claim, you can negotiate for more and an experienced attorney can help you do that.
- Compensation for PTSD After a Car Accident
Car accidents are the leading cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among civilians. PTSD is a debilitating mental health injury that can affect the overall quality of life for the car accident victim. For this reason and more, victims of PTSD from a car accident are eligible for compensation for their losses.
- Car Accidents with Handicap or Disabled Drivers
Whether a driver is disabled or being able bodied, all drivers have an equal legal duty to obey traffic laws and to drive safely. When a driver fails to act with reasonable care, ultimately causing injuries to someone else, this person will be considered a negligent driver and will be liable for damages they may cause.
- Rental Car Accident Attorney
Rental car accidents are just like any other kind of car accident, with the option of purchasing additional car coverage in the case of an accident. If you’re injured while driving a rental car, you typically cannot sue the rental car company, unless the rental car itself caused your injuries.
- Hit by a Rental Car Accident
If you were injured in an accident caused by a rental car driver, you can hold the driver accountable by filing a claim against them personally. If they purchased additional auto insurance from the rental car company, this could also extend to cover the costs of your damages one their personal insurance has exhausted.
- Zip Car Accidents
Getting into a ZipCar accident can be tough, as it is common for ZipCar drivers to be college students who don’t own a car or car insurance themselves. ZipCar offers third party liability coverage if someone was hurt, but is only implemented once a person’s personal insurance claim has been exhausted.
- No Contact Car Accidents
A no contact car accident, also known as a phantom car accident, can be hard to handle. Especially if the driver of the other vehicle decides to go ghost. An experienced car accident attorney can help you figure out how to hold the other driver accountable when filing your claim.
- California Car Accident with an Animal
Sometimes, an animal might make an unexpected crossing on the road, causing you to crash into it. California is a fault state, meaning that in this case, you would be considered the party at fault. However, you may still be able to recover compensation from your insurance policy.
- Why You Shouldn’t File a Car Accident Claim on Your Own
Insurance companies are in the business of making profit at your expense. If you try to file an insurance claim on your own without the help of a car accident attorney, the insurance company will either deny your claim or try to make you settle for far less than you deserve.
- How to Obtain Compensation for Your Injuries from a Used Car Accident
You bought a used car in the good faith that it was in good shape, but then an accident happened and you were badly injured. Who can you hold liable for the injuries? Can you sue the used car seller?
- What to Know if Your Car Crash Involves an Unlicensed Driver
Unlicensed drivers out on the road are involved in about 20% of the fatal car accidents throughout the country, according to the AAA. However, just because a driver is unlicensed or has an invalid license doesn’t mean that they are automatically at-fault for causing an accident.
- Car Accident Traumatic Brain Injuries
Car accidents are the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. However, oftentimes, especially if the injury is internal and left no open wound, these kind of injuries go undetected.
- Passengers of a Car Accident
Being a passenger of a car accident can make you feel like you’re in an awkward position to file an insurance claim. But have no worries! You have plenty of options and can get the compensation that you deserve without breaking your relationship with the driver.
West Coast Trial Lawyers is Here to Help
If you have sustained injuries as a result of another driver’s carelessness, you have the right to hold that driver responsible. An auto accident attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering from your injury.