Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
If you live in the greater Los Angeles area, then you know first hand just how important cars are in the region. While cars are a necessity in our lives, that doesn’t mean that they’re risk-free. In fact, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), Los Angeles is one of the most dangerous places to drive, with the highest number of fatal and injury-causing crashes in the state.
Being in a motor vehicle accident can be incredibly traumatic, leading to serious injuries, emotional distress, property damage, and more. If your crash was caused by another driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. A skilled Los Angeles car accident attorney can help you with the process.
A personal injury claim allows you to recover financial compensation for injuries suffered in a car wreck, motorcycle accident, pedestrian accident, or any other type of collision. Starting with a free consultation, our law firm will advocate for you and help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Common Causes of Los Angeles Car Crashes
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the vast majority — 94% — of all motor vehicle accidents in the United States are caused by driver error. While mechanical issues and road or weather conditions may also play a role in crashes, most often, the reason for a wreck is something that a driver did or failed to do.
As Los Angeles personal injury attorneys, we regularly represent injury victims who were hurt in accidents caused by:
- Texting while driving
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving/driving under the influence (DUI)
- Running red lights and stop signs
- Failure to yield right of way
- Turning across an intersection without looking
- Hit and run
- Rear-end accidents
When another driver causes a collision, you may be able to file a claim against their insurance company to recover for your losses.
Traffic accidents have the potential to cause very serious injuries, or even lead to death. Common car accident injuries include
- Broken bones/fractures
- Spinal cord injuries/paralysis
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Internal injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Bruises and road rash
- Scarring and disfigurement
A driver or passenger may even pass away from their injuries. In this situation, their loved ones may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for the losses that they suffered
Proving Fault in a California Auto Accident Case
California personal injury cases are based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation. To prove that a person acted negligently, you will need to prove four things:
- Duty: the other driver (defendant) owed you (plaintiff) a duty of care;
- Breach: the defendant violated that duty of care;
- Causation: this violation was the proximate or but-for cause of the accident; and
- Damages: you suffered damages as a result
In the state of California, all drivers owe others on the road a duty to use reasonable care when operating a motor vehicle. This includes looking out for pedestrians and other vehicles, controlling the speed of the vehicle, and controlling the movement of the vehicle. If the other driver fails to use reasonable care, then they may be held liable for any injuries that result from an automobile accident.
In a personal injury lawsuit, you can seek financial compensation for the full range of injuries that you have suffered. This may include three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages are meant to compensate for an injury victim for their tangible losses. They may include things such as medical bills, future medical treatment, property damage (vehicle repairs or replacement), lost wages, and reduced earning capacity
By contrast, non-economic damages are meant to compensate you for intangible losses, like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life. These types of losses can be more difficult to prove, but a skilled Los Angeles car accident lawyer can use their experience to build a strong case for damages
Finally, punitive damages are rarely available in California personal injury lawsuits. This type of damages is meant to punish a wrongdoer who has engaged in intentional or reckless conduct (instead of negligent driving). There are limited situations where punitive damages may be awarded in a personal injury claim, such as situations where a repeat drunk driver crashed into your vehicle
Your attorney will thoroughly investigate the facts of the case, working to determine who exactly was at fault for the accident and who may be brought into a potential lawsuit. Based on these facts and their knowledge of California personal injury law, they will aggressively advocate for your right to compensation with the insurance company. If necessary, your lawyer will file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver — and even take the case to trial.
What Should I Do If I Am in a Car Accident?
If you are in a motor vehicle accident, the first and most important thing that you should do is seek medical care immediately — even if you don’t believe that you were seriously hurt. Seeing a doctor can help to ensure that you are properly diagnosed and that you get the treatment that you need to fully recover. It can also help to establish that the car accident, and not a pre-existing condition, was the cause of your injuries.
Next, if you are able to do so, get the name, contact information, insurance information, and license plate number of any other driver involved in the crash. When talking to the other driver(s), it is important to stick to the facts. Do not apologize, as this could be used against you during your car accident claim.
At the same time, gather witness information. You may also choose to use your phone to take pictures or videos of the scene and your injuries. If the police arrive, ask for a copy of the police report. All of this will be used by your attorney to build your car accident case
If you are approached by an insurance adjuster, do not give them a statement or sign anything. The insurance company’s goal is to make money — not give you the highest possible settlement. Instead, politely tell the adjuster that you are seeking legal representation, and that your lawyer will handle all communications on your behalf
Finally, schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled personal injury lawyer. During this appointment, your attorney will advise you of your legal rights and options. If you decide to work with them, they will fight for your right to compensation.
What Happens If I Am Partially at Fault for the Accident?
In California, you can still recover for your injuries in a car accident even if you are partially to blame for the crash. Under California’s comparative fault law, even if you were somewhat at fault for an accident, you can still recover for your losses. However, the total amount of your recovery will be reduced by the percentage that you were at fault.
For example, Emily was driving down the highway when George made a left-hand turn across traffic, hitting her car in the process and causing serious injuries. George didn’t have right of way when he made the turn and thought he could make it without hitting anyone. Emily was speeding at the time of the crash.
In this situation, a jury may determine that Emily was 15% at fault for the accident. If she suffered $100,000 in damages, then her recovery will be reduced by 15%, or $15,000, for a total recovery of $85,000. In this way, injury victims can still get the compensation that they deserve, while taking their own share of the blame into consideration.
What Happens If the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
In California, all drivers are required to carry auto insurance. Unfortunately, far too many drivers either don’t carry car insurance — or only carry the minimum amount required by law. This can leave injury victims in a bad position if they are in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.
If you have uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM), you may be able to file a claim against your own insurance company to get coverage. This type of insurance is not required in California, but insurance companies must offer it to their policyholders.
While making a UM/UIM claim may seem relatively straightforward, insurance companies often fight these cases — even though it is their own insured who was injured. For this reason, it is important to work with a seasoned Los Angeles car accident lawyer who can advocate for you with your insurer.
Will I Have to Go to Trial?
The overwhelming majority of personal injury cases result in a settlement. However, there is still a possibility that your case will go to trial. This typically happens when there is a significant issue in dispute, or when the insurance company refuses to give you a fair settlement offer.
Personal injury cases start with a demand letter to the insurance company. In this letter, your lawyer will set out the facts of the case, the reason why their insured is responsible for the California car accident, and then make a demand for damages. This typically starts the negotiation process, as the insurer will then make a counteroffer.
Negotiations will go back and forth. If the parties can’t come to an agreement, then your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit. Negotiations may continue as late as the morning of trial.
Having a California car accident lawyer with a track record of success and trial experience can help increase the possibility of a settlement. When the insurance company knows that your attorney can and will take your case to trial — and win — they are more likely to offer you a settlement that fully compensates you for your losses.