In 2014, five people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents on roads in Pasadena, California while countless others were injured. I-210, which is also known as the Foothill Freeway, runs through downtown Pasadena; at practically any hour of the day or night, this popular thoroughfare is thronged with speeding vehicles.
If you’ve been injured in a car crash on I-210 or any of the other streets or boulevards in Pasadena, an experienced Pasadena car accident lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation for any economic or non-economic damages you’ve sustained.
The Legal Ramifications of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents are the number one type of personal injury claim in the United States. If you’re involved in an automobile accident that was caused by another driver’s actions or inattention, you may be entitled to recover damages even if you carry insurance that was designed to compensate you in these types of situations.
Pursuing a personal injury claim in the California court system can be a complicated process. It requires the assistance of an experienced attorney with a comprehensive understanding of the relevant laws and timelines for submitting documentation. You’ll need to prove that the other driver was derelict in a duty owed to you and that this breach of duty harmed you in some way.
Proof of negligence alone is not sufficient grounds for a successful personal injury claim. When an individual is issued a California driver’s license, that person assumes a duty of care that obligates him or her to drive safely. However unsafely another motorist drives, however, if you’re not injured by that motorist, you have no grounds for a civil action.
California’s Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1 stipulates a two-year statute of limitations for filing personal injury lawsuits while California’s Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1 stipulates a three-year statute of limitations for filing lawsuits related to property damage. California also uses the standard of “pure comparative negligence,” which means that if your own negligent behavior contributed in some way to an accident, the amount you’ll be able to recover will be your damages minus the percentage of your fault.
Motor Vehicle Accident Damages
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you have the right to sue for compensation for any damage sustained by your vehicle or other property as well as the right to recover compensation that will cover your medical expenses, your lost income, and psychological pain and suffering.
• Vehicle and personal property damage
You may have the right to be compensated for any damage your own vehicle sustained in the accident. You may also have the right to be compensated for damage to any personal possessions that were in that vehicle as well as out-of-pocket expenses such as car rentals and taxi rides that you’ll need while your vehicle is being fixed.
• Medical expenses
You have the right to be compensated for any medical expenses you incurred in conjunction with your accident. Such medical expenses include bills for treatment, consultations with physicians and other specialists, ambulance rides, medical supplies and equipment, and rehabilitative therapies. Note that if your own health care insurance covered a portion of these payments while your treatment was ongoing, your health insurance company may demand to be reimbursed.
• Lost income
If the injuries you sustain in an accident prevent you from going to work, you may be able to sue for lost wages. Lost wages are calculated by multiplying your pay rate by the amount of time you were forced to take off from work. Self-employed individuals may also be able to sue for lost income by referring to tax returns or billing invoices from previous years.
• Pain and suffering
You may be entitled to compensation for damages associated with a car accident that aren’t strictly economic in nature. Non-economic damages, which are commonly referred to as “pain and suffering,” include things like anxiety, insomnia, worry, and grief. In fact, you may be entitled to compensation even if you weren’t in the vehicle yourself if someone you love or depend upon was injured in the accident a manner that disrupted his or her relationship with you. California Civil Code Section 3333.4, however, specifically prohibits uninsured motorists from collecting damages for pain and suffering.
You Need an Attorney
Most motor vehicle claims are settled out of court because most California motorists comply with state laws requiring all drivers to carry a certain amount of insurance. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the insurance companies charged with compensating you for damages have a financial incentive to get you to accept as small a settlement as possible. Legal representation, which carries the thread of a civil court action, may be able to help you attain a much larger financial settlement.
At the Scene of the Accident
Once you’ve taken steps to ensure that any serious injuries are being tended to, it’s important to gather as much information as possible at the scene of an accident. You’ll need the names and personal information of the other driver and any passengers in his or her car as well as information about that car and about the other driver’s insurance coverage. If you can, get contact information for witnesses to the accident.
Even if an accident seems minor, it’s important to contact the police so that a police report can be filed. A police report will contain information that can help determine fault, and this will be helpful if you decide to work with a Pasadena car accident lawyer in bringing a civil action.