Car accidents in California usually happen when one or all drivers involved have been negligent. Every person when operating a motor vehicle has a duty to exercise reasonable care. Negligence can take many different forms. It could involve driving at an illegal speed, ignoring traffic signals, distracted driving as well as other violations of the California Vehicle Code.
After a car accident, there will be an effort made by the insurance companies to determine which driver was at fault. Insurance adjusters will try to gather all essential information. This could involve police reports, statements from drivers as well as any witnesses. Physical evidence could involve images of skid marks on the highway, vehicle damage, damage to the surrounding areas and more. In many cases, the fault of a car accident is not easily determined. California is a fault state. The driver who is determined to be at fault for an accident must pay. In some cases, the decision of who is at fault is determined by a court.
In California, if an individual is in an accident, and it’s easy to prove the other party was at fault, the responsible party will be required to pay for any resulting injuries or damages. If both drivers contributed to the accident, each driver could be made responsible for paying their percentage for injuries or damage. It is often insurance adjusters who determine the percentage of fault in a car accident. Should a claim develop to a point where it becomes a lawsuit, and it goes to court, a jury or judge will determine the percentages of liability for each driver. If a person’s settlement is to be $20,000 for injuries, and the insurance adjusters agree that the person is 25 percent at fault for the accident because of their actions, the settlement amount will be decreased by $5,000.
Statute of Limitations
Every state places a time limit on individuals seeking personal injury claims or lawsuits resulting from a car accident. This is known as the Statute of Limitations. In the state of California, an individual has two years from the date of the car accident to reach a settlement for their claim or file a lawsuit. People may experience their claim taking longer than expected. When someone is injured, they are focused on their ongoing treatment and lose track of time. It is important the Statute of Limitations does not expire before a person files a claim or lawsuit.
These are the most common types of damages. These include lost wages, property loss, loss of earning capacity, medical bills and any specific damages associated a particular car accident. This could also involve general damages and more.
An accident victim can file a lawsuit resulting from a car accident for medical expenses. The goal will be to cover the cost of a person’s injuries. This could amount to just bad bruises and minor cuts. It could also be as serious as paralysis or some type of permanent disability. Some injuries may not immediately show symptoms. Other injuries may require long-term medical care. Covered medical expenses could include physical as well as cognitive therapy, items such as crutches, heating pads and more. Ambulance fees, disability, in-home services and other items necessary for recovery could be covered.
Pain And Suffering
This is defined in the legal world as physical or mental distress one may seek compensation for in a lawsuit. This is a conditional injury and based on the type of injury as well as the level of pain experienced by an accident victim. Any pain that could occur in the future as a result of the injury is also taken into consideration. This could include mental as well as emotional damages resulting from the accident. It could also include stress, anxiety and more.
This is monetary compensation awarded to an accident victim intended to punish behavior that is extremely outrageous. This is awarded in addition to compensatory damages. It is designed to be a deterrent against horrific misconduct. Punitive damages are intended to discourage similar negative behavior by the defendant in the future as well as others who may engage in such behavior. This is covered under California Civil Code Section 3294
Immediately After An Accident
If a person is not seriously injured, they need to try and gather information on the driver and any possible witnesses. It’s important to get the license plate and vehicle identification numbers (VIN) for any vehicle involved in the accident. It’s also good to take cell phone pictures of the accident scene if possible. A person should never admit to being at fault for an accident at the scene no matter what the circumstances.
The Day After An Accident
If a person does not have serious injuries, they should report the accident to their insurance company. The company should provide fair compensation for injuries and property damage. Most insurance companies will try to pay as little as possible for an accident claim.
A person may need to speak with a knowledgeable attorney to protect their rights and get fair compensation. These legal experts know the process and usually only get paid when they win a case for their clients.