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San Diego Car Accident Lawyer

A car accident is an unpredictable event that can occur at any given moment. Drivers may face minor fender benders, moderate to severe injuries, or even death. The outcome will be different for each person, and may put them in a financial burden if they suffered heavy losses as a result.

Fortunately, once the at fault driver has been identified, legal consequences may be administered. However, you will need to find the right auto accident attorney to guide you through a personal injury lawsuit to ensure no mistakes are made that can affect the damages you may be entitled to. At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our knowledgeable San Diego car accident attorneys are available 24/7 to assist personal injury victims. We will analyze your case, identify the liable driver, provide our input on how the situation should be handled, and aggressively argue with the opposing side to get you the financial compensation you deserve for your losses. To schedule a free consultation, we welcome you to reach out to us by calling (619)-789-4494 or finishing our quick online contact form.

Common Types of Car Accidents in San Diego

Car accident between two white cars in San Diego. Navigating yourself in and out of traffic can be challenging, especially if you are met with negligent drivers or hazardous conditions. To improve your knowledge on road safety and to contribute to a better driving environment, you should learn about each type of car accident listed below.

Rear-End Accident

Rear-end accidents occur when one vehicle crashes into the back of another vehicle. This can be caused by:

  • Distractions,
  • Impairment,
  • Manufacturing defects,
  • Road damage, or
  • California weather.

Head-On Collisions

A head-on collision happens when two vehicles strike one another while traveling in opposite directions. This type of car accident is very dangerous, and can result in a devastating outcome for all parties involved. It can happen due to the following reasons:

  • Driving on the wrong side of the road,
  • Operating a vehicle while impaired,
  • Distracted driving, or
  • Unresponsive brakes.

Single-Vehicle Accident

A single-vehicle accident is when one vehicle collides into a stationary object, such as a traffic sign, building, or light pole. This could be triggered by multiple factors, such as:

  • Reckless driving,
  • Vehicle malfunction, or
  • Poor road conditions.

Multi-Car Accident

Multi-car crashes involve more than two vehicles collide amongst one another. The outcome can be minor or catastrophic depending on how powerful the impact is. This type of car accident usually occurs on highways, intersections, or on roads affected by extreme weather conditions.

Rollover Accident

A rollover accident occurs when a vehicle crashes into an object and lands on its side or roof. Experiencing this kind of impact can be dangerous, especially since you are likely to get ejected out of the vehicle.

Side-Impact Accident

Side-impact accidents, also known as a “T-bone accidents,” happens when the front of one vehicle crashes directly into the side of another. This is typically caused by drivers who fail to yield to oncoming traffic or disobey signs or signals. Road designs, particularly on intersections, could also confuse drivers and get them into a car accident.

Sideswipe Accident

A sideswipe accident is when two vehicles traveling in the same direction crash into one another. It can be caused by drivers who failed to yield or make improper merges or lane changes. Narrow roads are another contributing factor.

Pedestrian and Car Accidents

Pedestrian and car accidents typically happen on crosswalks, parking lots, or intersections. Some factors that can contribute to this type of collision include:

  • Driver or pedestrian negligence,
  • Dim lighting, or
  • Poorly designed roadways.

Bodily damage may vary based on the intensity of the impact. But, it is more likely for pedestrian injuries to occur since they are considered more vulnerable compared to a driver.

Bike and Car Accidents

Bike and car accidents usually take place on intersections, parking lots, and bike lanes. Poor decisions, such as improper lane changes, distracted driving/riding, or ignoring traffic signals, are some of the many elements that may cause a collision between a driver and bicyclist. Harsh injuries are more expected to occur for bicyclists since they do not have enough protection that can reduce the force of the crash.

Motorcycle and Car Accidents

There are several components that have lead to a motorcycle and car accident, such as:

  • Speeding,
  • Blind spots,
  • Lane splitting,
  • Left-turn accidents, and
  • Drunk driving.

Motorcyclists are known to endure severe or fatal injuries after getting struck by a vehicle. It is heavily encouraged for riders to wear protective gear, like helmets, eyewear, gloves, long pants, and a jacket, to reduce the likelihood of serious bodily damage.

What Can Cause a Car Accident?

"Other danger" road sign with grassy field in the background.

Understanding the common causes of a car accident can help promote a safer road environment. The sections listed below will dive into each one to shed light onto issues that have been known to trigger dangerous driving conditions.


Drivers who go over the posted speed limit are putting themselves, and others, at risk of getting into a car crash. Operating a vehicle at a rapid rate will:

  • Reduce your reaction time,
  • Lessen the distance between you and other vehicles ahead, and
  • Cause you to lose control over your vehicle.

It is always encouraged to drive at a safe pace, and to follow traffic laws to protect yourself from harm.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of an automobile accident. Drivers who take their eyes off the road, even if it is for a few seconds, may put themselves at risk of a car wreck. Factors that may influence a distracted driving accident include:

  • Reading or answering text messages,
  • Daydreaming, or
  • Eating food.

Doing any of the actions listed above could affect your:

  • Awareness,
  • Response time, or
  • Decision-making skills.

To reduce the likelihood of such a car accident, you should avoid taking your eyes or hands off of the wheel to focus on other tasks, like texting. If you absolutely have to respond to an emergency call or message, we suggest finding a safe location where you can park on the side of the road to avoid putting yourself in harm’s way.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive drivers are known to create a hostile environment that can ultimately lead to car accidents. The following is a list of actions they are known to perform on the road:

  • Speeding,
  • Tailgating other drivers,
  • Making unsafe lane changes,
  • Road rage, and
  • Abruptly braking.

If you notice an aggressive driver nearby, you should try avoid communicating with them and keep an appropriate distance. We heavily suggest contacting the police if you believe your safety is at risk.

Impaired Driving

Impaired driving involves operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Consuming such substances can greatly impact your vision and mind process. This can persuade you into making poor driving decisions, and may eventually lead to a car accident. If you are planning on drinking or are taking prescribed medication that may affect your vision, you should consider having a friend, family member, or a rideshare driver pick you up and/or drop you off at your destination.

Drowsy Driving

Drowsy driving can increase the chances of a car accident due to the reasons listed below:

  • Lack of awareness,
  • Reduced reaction time,
  • Poor judgments, and
  • Failing to notice traffic lights or signals.

If you are experiencing fatigue or drowsiness, it is encouraged for you to take as much rest as you need before going out.

Defective Vehicle

A manufacturing defect, such as unresponsive brakes or loose tires, may trigger a car accident. If you were involved in one because of a defective car part, you may be entitled to sue the:

  • Manufacturing company,
  • Distributor,
  • Dealership, or
  • Others associated with the chain of distribution.

It is important that you consult with a car accident attorney. They will take a look at the evidence you provide them with and determine who should be held liable for the damages you endured.

Road Hazards

There are various forms of road hazards that may cause an auto accident, such as:

  • Wet or slippery surfaces,
  • Potholes,
  • Uneven pavement, or
  • Debris.

In cases like this, car accident victims can sue the property owner for any injuries and/or damages they sustained while driving on an unstable pathway.

Weather Conditions

Bad weather conditions, like heavy rain, hail, or fog, can greatly impact a person’s ability to drive safely on the road. Limited visibility will make it difficult to detect other vehicles and traffic signs. In addition, slippery surfaces may be present, meaning that drivers are more likely to experience hydroplaning if they are not cautiously navigating their way in and out of traffic. Under such circumstances, it is suggested for drivers to:

  • Slow down,
  • Increase space between you and the vehicle ahead,
  • Turn on your headlights,
  • Use your turn signals early, and
  • Pull over if conditions worsen.

Common Injuries After a Car Accident

Crash dummy with head against airbag during a collision test. Car accident injuries may vary depending on the severity of the impact. Some common reports of bodily harm victims have suffered from include the following:

Psychological Injuries From a Car Accident

Car accidents do not only cause physical harm, but psychological injuries, as well. It is a traumatic event that can create emotional distress. The severity of the symptoms may differ for each person depending on how well they cope in the aftermath of the impact. Although most will go through a quicker physical and emotional recovery, others may take longer. If you continue to suffer from mental trauma long after a car accident, you may be diagnosed with one or more of the following conditions: depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression is one of the most common forms of mental disorders in the United States. It may cause you to suffer serious symptoms that can alter the way you feel, think, or go about your day. Those who are diagnosed with depression are expected to experience the following signs:

  • Constant feeling of sadness or emptiness,
  • Insomnia,
  • Irritability,
  • Loss of interest in hobbies,
  • Suicidal thoughts, or
  • Guilt or hopelessness.

Psychotherapy and/or medication is usually used to treat depression.


Anxiety disorders can interfere with your personal life and work performance by triggering an overflow of stress and worry to take over your thoughts. This can make it difficult for you to engage in social interactions, and may impact your overall health. Symptoms associated with an anxiety disorder involve:

  • Feeling on edge,
  • Lack of sleep,
  • Muscle tension, and
  • Inability to control thoughts or emotions.

Similar to depression, treatment options that are presented to patients with an anxiety disorder include psychotherapy and medication.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is defined as a psychiatric disorder that happens when people experience life-threatening events, such as car wrecks, that create a negative impact on them physically and mentally. Common signs that have been noted for PTSD include:

  • Being easily startled,
  • Lack of sleep,
  • Feeling tense,
  • Memory issues,
  • Negative thoughts,
  • Social isolation, and
  • Reckless behavior.

To get diagnosed with PTSD, you will need to consult with a psychiatrist or psychologist. Once they have evaluated your condition, they will create an effective plan to help you maintain your symptoms.

Steps to Take After a Car Accident in San Diego

Man taking pictures of damage to his car after an accident. Getting into a motor vehicle accident can be a frightening experience. Although it is easier said than done, car accident victims should try to do the actions sectioned below.

Check on Yourself

Assess your condition. If you notice any injuries and/or damages, you should contact local authorities.

Call the Police

Once the police arrive, they will create a written document that goes over the car accident. You may request a copy of the police report to use in your personal injury claim.

Gather Evidence

If possible, try to collect as much evidence as you can, like:

  • Photographs of your injuries, damages, and accident scene,
  • CCTV footage,
  • Witness information,
  • A copy of your health records pertaining to the treatment you have been receiving for your car accident injury, and
  • A copy of the police report.

Seek Medical Attention

You should get medical attention regardless of whether it was a minor car accident. Your doctor will examine your condition, and will provide a diagnosis if needed. Then, they will create a medical care plan that will help with your recovery.

Find Legal Representation

You should seek legal representation from a San Diego personal injury attorney. They will evaluate the situation and determine what steps should be taken to ensure a reasonable car accident settlement has been recovered on your behalf.

Can I Still File a Car Accident Claim if I Was Partially At Fault?

Under California comparative negligence laws, you can still file a claim even if you were partially at fault for the car crash. All parties involved will be evaluated to determine the amount of negligence committed. Compensation will be reduced based on the severity of your reckless conduct.

What Do I Do if I Get Into a Car Accident With an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver?

If you got into a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you will likely have to reach out to your insurance company to cover the costs of damages you endured. Or, if you own uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, it can help compensate the losses you sustained after the incident.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)

If you were injured in a car accident with an uninsured driver, UM coverage will pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses associated with the incident. It will also cover the costs of property damage you endured, such as a car wreckage.

Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)

If the at fault driver does not have enough to cover the costs of your medical expenses, UIM coverage will kick in and compensate for bodily injury. Just like UM coverage, it will also pay for property damage.

What If the Uninsured Driver Is Using an Insured Vehicle?

A keyboard key reading "insured uninsured" surrounded by other keyboard keys.

If you were involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver who was using an insured vehicle, the owner’s insurance company will typically cover the costs of injuries and damages you experienced. However, this will not apply under the following circumstances:

  • The uninsured driver took the vehicle without permission or
  • The uninsured driver was excluded out of the owner’s insurance policy.

If the owner’s insurance does not have enough to compensate for all the losses incurred up to the policy limits, then the uninsured driver will have to step in and pay for the remaining costs.

What Should I Do if I Get Into an Accident in a Rental Car?

If you are involved in a rental car accident in San Diego, you should consider reaching out to a San Diego personal injury attorney for legal insight. They will assess the situation and let you know what you should do to ensure you make no mistakes if you are planning on filing a car accident lawsuit against the other driver. You should also speak to your insurer and the rental car company about the crash. Since each rental agency has policies that handle cases like this differently, you should communicate with them to learn what needs to be done as a response. It is possible that you may be asked to complete an accident reporting form.

Can I Hire a Different Car Accident Attorney to Handle My Lawsuit?

If you are not satisfied with the services you are getting, you can hire a different car accident attorney to work on your lawsuit instead. Although it may feel like a hassle to start from scratch, it will help you in the long-run. The list below describes what the process would look like:

  • Research a new attorney and make sure that they have the qualities you are looking for, such as good experience and communication skills.
  • Once you have found someone, you should schedule a consultation and go over your car accident case with them.
  • Reach out to your current attorney and let them know that you are no longer interested in using their services anymore.
  • File a substitution form with the court.
  • Share all important details and evidence pertaining to your car accident case with your new attorney.

Property Owners Affected by Car Accidents

Property owners may face liability for a car accident if a hazard present on the premises triggered the impact to occur. The court will review the following matters before determining accountability:

  • The level of danger,
  • Whether the property owner knew or should have known about the unsafe condition, and
  • If the contributing factor could have been predicted to play a role in the car accident.

If the outcome of such a case lead to injuries and/or other damages, you should consult with a premises liability attorney for legal insight. However, if death was involved, the estate or immediate family may file a wrongful death claim against the property owner to recover compensation.

Can I Sue a Government Agency for a Car Accident?

You can sue a government agency for a car accident if either of the factors listed below apply:

  • Poor road conditions,
  • Insufficient number of signages available,
  • Defective traffic signals, or
  • A government-owned vehicle crashed into you.

In either case, you will be granted six months from the date of when the incident occurred to take legal action. To ensure you make no mistakes during the filing process, it is encouraged that you seek assistance from a San Diego car accident lawyer.

Car Accidents and Wrongful Death

Not only can car accidents lead to wrongful deaths on hazardous property, but it can also be triggered by reckless driving behaviors, as well. Under such circumstances, the decedent’s estate or surviving family member(s) may file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at fault driver. You will need to incorporate the following elements into your case to prove negligence:

  • The defendant owed the victim a duty of care,
  • The defendant breached their duty of care,
  • The defendant’s reckless behavior lead to the victim’s death, and
  • You encountered financial and emotional losses as a result of your loved one’s passing.

Under California’s wrongful death “one-action” rule, only one claim can be filed. The intent behind this is to prevent similar proceedings from moving forward, which will help resolve the issue in a timely manner.

What Should I Do if the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Refuses My Car Accident Claim?

Man's hand signing car insurance policy. If the other driver’s insurance company refuses your car accident claim, it could be due to several reasons, like:

  • Your claim does not have enough evidence,
  • The insurer is hoping you do not move forward with the claims process,
  • The decision could be made based on the information provided by the witness(es),
  • The insurer is trusting their client’s perspective of the event (if there is no police report included), or
  • The police report indicates that liability is not clear.

Other additional factors that could influence the insurance company to deny your claim include the following:

  • A natural event was the primary cause of your car accident,
  • The other party’s policy was inactive when the collision occurred, or
  • You did not notify the insurance company about the car accident at a reasonable time.

If you would like to fight the denial, you should seek legal representation from a San Diego car accident lawyer. They will create a draft of a demand letter that may elaborate on:

  • Your perspective of the car accident,
  • The damages you experienced as a result, and
  • How the other driver is at fault for the crash.

The insurance company will either respond by providing a detailed reason as to why they chose to deny the car accident claim, or may have the decision overturned. If a formal appeals process is available, your car accident attorney can negotiate with them to get you a favorable settlement.

What Is the Statute of Limitations to File a Car Accident Claim in San Diego?

Car accident victims are given two years from the date of when the injury occurred or was discovered to sue the at fault party. Although it seems like enough time to sue the opposing side, you should consider working on your personal injury claim as soon as possible. It is important to find the right car accident lawyer and to collect a substantial amount of evidence that will help strengthen case. If you exceed the deadline, you will no longer be granted the opportunity to recover damages. However, there are a few exceptions that may toll the statute of limitations. For instance, if the defendant is out-of-state or a minor, the time limit will begin once the reason for the tolling has ended.

What Damages Are Available in a Car Accident Case?

Damages available in a car accident case may vary depending on the circumstances involved. Typically, victims will be granted economic and non-economic damages.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are financial losses you encountered after a collision, such as:

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are intangible costs that may occur after a car accident. This includes the following:

  • Emotional distress,
  • Loss of consortium, and
  • Pain and suffering.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are rarely awarded in car accident cases. You will need to prove that the defendant displayed egregious behavior towards you. If successful, they may be obligated to provide additional pay on top of compensatory damages. The intent behind this is to punish the other driver for exhibiting negligent behavior, and to prevent similar conduct from occurring in the future.

Get Legal Assistance From Our San Diego Car Accident Lawyers

If you were involved in a car accident in San Diego county, you may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver. It is important that you consult with a qualified legal team to assist you with the filing process.

At West Coast Trial Lawyers, our San Diego car accident attorneys are readily available to assess your situation. From there, we will determine liability and what necessary steps should be taken to ensure we get you maximum compensation.

To schedule a free consultation, we welcome you to reach out by calling (619) 789-4494 or completing our easy online contact form.

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