The town of Calabasas in California sees its fair share of motor vehicle accidents. The area is nestled right next to U.S. Route 101, which is a major north/south highway that links the Greater Los Angeles area with the San Francisco Bay area. Far too many motorists drive this route without heeding speed limits or other safety guidelines.
If you’ve been injured driving on Route 101 or elsewhere in Calabasas through the careless behavior of another motorist, you may have legal recourse that can help compensate you for expenses associated with the accident. Speaking with an experienced Calabasas car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident may be able to help you protect your rights.
Motor Vehicle Accidents and the Law
California’s criminal code applies to certain situations where accidents have been caused by factors like driver impairment. Under many sets of circumstances, however, legal actions associated with motor vehicle accidents are torts. Torts are negligent actions that give rise to civil liability. The doctrine of civil liability stipulates that an individual whose own carelessness results in an injury to a third party or to damage to that third party’s property may be held responsible for the damages suffered.
All licensed motorists on California highways have a duty to drive safely. If a driver’s own behavior or inattention causes an accident, then that driver has breached this duty. If that accident harms you, then you may have cause to file a civil legal suit. If that accident does not harm you, however, you will have no grounds for a suit even if the accident was caused by the original motorist’s violation of duty.
In California, you have two years from the date of your injury in which to file a personal injury claim. This is why it’s so important to speak with a car accident lawyer just as soon as you can. In California, your own actions may also have some bearing on the outcome of your claim. If it can be proven that your own careless behavior contributed in some measure to the accident, then any potential compensation to which you’re entitled may be reduced in direct proportion to the percentage of your culpability.
Types of Damages
A client who brings a successful motor vehicle claim may be entitled to recover compensation for medical and rehabilitative expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
• Medical expenses
Even if your injuries seem trivial at the time of the accident, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Some injuries like whiplash may not manifest fully until days after the accident.
You may be able to obtain compensation for all medical expenses associated with the accident, including treatments, consultations with health care professionals, ambulance rides and necessary medical equipment. You may also be able to recover the costs of in-home services, even if these services are not specifically medical in nature if you need them in order to carry out everyday activities such as cooking and cleaning while you’re recovering.
• Lost wages
You may be able to be compensated for any wages you’re forced to forgo as a result of the accident. The exact compensation amount will depend upon a number of factors, including your occupation and your life expectancy.
• Pain and suffering
In California, a court may decide you’re entitled to compensation for non-economic damages you suffered as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Pain and suffering includes emotional and psychological distress as well as physical pain. It can also in loss of consortium or spousal services if your husband or wife was the victim of the accident.
If you don’t carry auto insurance, however, in most instances, California law prohibits you from recovering non-economic damages. The one exception to this is if the motorist who caused the accident was impaired by alcohol or drugs.
An Attorney Can Help
In California, as noted above, the statute of limitations for filing an accident claim is two years. If you believe you have grounds for a civil action that could result in compensation, it’s important to begin this legal process right away. Many attorneys offer free initial consultations during which they will evaluate the strength of your case. If you and your attorney decide to continue with a legal action, there are precise deadlines for the many documents you’ll have to file as your case moves forward through the legal system, and your attorney will help you stay on top of these.
Most civil disputes arising from motor vehicle accidents are settled outside of the court system. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the other side’s insurance adjustors don’t have your best interests in mind. Chances are you’ll be offered a higher settlement if you have experienced legal representation during the negotiation process.
At the Scene of the Accident
If you’re involved in an accident, your most important priority should be the wellbeing and physical safety of all the individuals involved. Even if an accident appears to be minor, it’s important to involve the police so that a police report will be filed. This police report will contain information that may help establish which driver was at fault.
Collect pertinent information from the individuals involved, including names, addresses, driver’s licenses, vehicle licenses and insurance policy numbers. If you have a camera available, photograph the accident scene. If you decide to consult with a Calabasas car accident attorney, this information will be very useful is establishing the strength of any legal claim you may wish to bring.