Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
Nearly 38,000 people die in car crashes in the United States each year, and more than two million people are injured. California has the dubious distinction of recording more traffic fatalities than any other state aside from Texas. In a study of traffic problems, it was noted that fatalities dropped everywhere in the United States, except for California, where the number rose.
LA is high on the list of car accidents, perhaps because no one seems to walk in the city. During some of the busiest rush hours, the whole population appears to be on the road! So much traffic on the roads invariably leads to so many car accidents that require the help of a Los Angeles car accident lawyer.
What Should You Do If You’re Involved in an Auto Accident in Los Angeles?
Assess Yourself for Injuries:
Sustaining a personal injury is a common occurrence in an auto accident. When this happens, you should call 911 or let someone else do it on your behalf. Avoid moving as this may intensify your injury. If you become involved in an accident in the Los Angeles area, your first call should be for medical help, followed by a call to a car accident attorney.
Be aware that not all medical problems show up in the first few minutes or longer after a car accident. You may think that back pain means only a sprain, but it may be much more serious and should be examined immediately.
Check on Your Passengers:
If you had a passenger in the car, you can also seek emergency services or ask someone else to do so. Your second contact after an accident in the area should be a Los Angeles car accident lawyer who is well experienced in identifying and weighing all factors that have played a part in your accident. For instance, you are driving in the rain and an approaching car has a blowout and hits you.
Who or what is at fault? As your car accident attorney, we will work to uncover the facts. Is the poorly constructed or bumpy road at fault? Was the other driver drinking? What made the tire blow out?
Find Somewhere Safe:
If you are not seriously hurt, you can drive the car to the roadside, where you are safe from other road users. However, car accident attorneys would advise you to leave it at the scene of the accident to avoid tampering with the evidence.
Call the Police:
The police are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of the citizens and property. They will fill out the details of the accident detailing how and when it happened. If the accident was a minor one, you can drive to the nearest police station and report the accident.
Remember, your insurer may request a copy of the police report to process your claims.
Exchange Important Information with the Other Driver:
Whether you are at fault or someone else caused the accident, exchanging information is crucial. You will probably want the other driver to have your contact information, insurance policy number, model of the car, and license plates. An adjuster will assess the vehicles/ property damaged to facilitate the insurance claim process.
Inform Your Insurer and Start Processing Your Claims:
Calling your insurance representative while you are at the scene will facilitate a smoother claim process. The insurance company will tell you exactly what they need to process your claim.
Should I Take Pictures At The Accident Scene?
All things being equal, there are few categories of evidence more compelling to a jury or even a judge than photographs or video. At the same time, there is no evidence more devastating to opposing counsel than photographs or video. While the veracity of a particular set of exhibits can sometimes be challenged, once a plaintiff or defendant has photos or video that contradicts testimony or misinterpreted physical evidence, that’s the game.
This, among other things, is one reason mobile phones are fantastically useful in an emergency. Car accident litigation is notoriously replete with less-than-accurate accounts of the events before, during and after a collision. Mobile phones help get the facts on the record quickly and relatively permanently.
One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked at an accident scene is the utility of a digital camera in recording the presence or absence of relevant paperwork. Driver’s licenses, insurance cards, license plates, VIN numbers and any other identifying information should be collected from both involved drivers and bystanders if possible. The rule is anything with numbers or letters on it is going to be important later, so make sure you have a record of it now.
Both police officers and attorneys will tell you eyewitness testimony isn’t perfectly reliable, even in a situation where statements are taken immediately after an incident. Photographs, on the other hand, are virtually eternal, at least as far as litigation is concerned. Even if you have solid witnesses and accounts from bystanders, having photographs to back up what you were told is good practice. They are also relatively easy to acquire when the alternatives are considered. Some might credibly argue buying a dedicated “emergency” mobile phone and keeping it charged just for this purpose wouldn’t be a frivolous purchase.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?
Yes, you should hire an attorney, especially when you are not to blame for an accident. Under California law, a motorist who is not at fault for an accident could be entitled to receive compensation in a settlement or a lawsuit. This is what makes California a “fault” state when it comes to car accidents. The motorist who is at fault must pay compensation to victims to cover medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Contact one of our Los Angeles car accident attorneys after a crash. Going it alone could be a big mistake.
How A Lawyer Helps Most
As explained above, car accidents turn on determining “fault” for the collision. The car that hit another vehicle is not necessarily at fault (though it often is). Instead, we need to look at whether one driver did not operate his vehicle with sufficient care, and whether this lack of care caused the crash.
Here are some examples of negligent conduct that can lead to a driver being at fault:
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Refusing to yield
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Driving while distracted
- Fatigued driving
- Illegally passing
- Driving on the sidewalk
- Failing to use a turn signal
When a driver makes this kind of error and causes a crash, then he or she is at fault and must pay compensation to injured victims.
In some accidents, however, it is not always obvious which driver was at fault. Gathering evidence is critical to the success of a car insurance claim. Our Los Angeles car accident attorneys have extensive experience interviewing witnesses, looking for dash cam or surveillance video, and finding other evidence to use.
Important Evidence to Collect After a Los Angeles Motor Vehicle Accident
Hollywood, the movie and television industries, and the gorgeous beaches bring millions of visitors to Los Angeles every year. Add these people to the nearly ten million residents in Los Angeles County, and it is easy to see how the streets become so congested. Accidents are very common and when they occur, you can file a claim against any negligent party that caused the car crash.
When filing a claim, your word is simply not enough to prove your case, unfortunately. You will need strong evidence that shows the other driver was careless, and that their negligence caused the accident that resulted in yourinjuries. Below, our Los Angeles motor vehicle accident lawyer explains the pieces of evidence most important for your car accident case.
Pictures and Video of the Scene (Use Your Cell Phone to Document the Scene!)
Most people have cell phones on them these days. If you have one, take pictures of the damage to any vehicles involved, the license plates of all vehicles, your injuries, and the accident scene as a whole. Videos can provide an even clearer view of the accident scene and may indicate how the car crash occurred.
If you do not have a cell phone on you or it became damaged during the accident, ask someone to take photos for you. You can even take pictures of the witnesses and the other drivers involved.
Statements From Eyewitnesses
Los Angeles is a busy city and people are always on the move. As such, there is a very good chance that someone saw the accident happen. Locate eyewitnesses after a car crash and ask for their names and contact information.
Witnesses are sometimes very happy to provide a statement about what happened. When they are not, a motor vehicle accident lawyer may have to subpoena them. Keep in mind that there are video cameras everywhere now and you should canvas the scene to look for nearby video cameras.
Retaining a lawyer early on can help you preserve the video evidence. Many businesses routinely delete video evidence after a set time.
A Copy of the Accident Report
California State law requires you to report any accident that results in injury, death, or significant property damage. After you report the accident, law enforcement will visit the scene and file a report. The report may indicate which driver was at fault for the accident, so it is important to obtain a copy of the report and use it as evidence in your claim.
The form can be located at this DMV link.
You should always seek medical treatment after any motor vehicle accident, even if you do not think you were hurt. Seeing a doctor will also document your injuries in your medical reports, which are very useful when providing the nature and severity of your injuries.
Get the Facts: Number of Daily Car Crashes in California
The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) provides the following facts about car accident frequency in the state:
- Nearly 198,000 car accidents resulting in nonfatal and deadly injuries happen every year in California, which averages out to more than 542 accidents every day resulting in serious or fatal injuries;
- More than 193,000 car accident injuries occur annually, averaging out to more than 531 injuries per day in accidents; and
- More than 3,600 people are killed in traffic accidents each year, which averages out to nearly 10 deaths every day in a collision.
Intersection Accidents Statistics
Driving straight ahead, with no obstacles or cross-traffic, is not always so difficult. It’s when cars come to an intersection that things start to get complicated, especially when there are no traffic signals. Which driver has the right of way? There’s nobody coming, so is it safe to go?
Intersections lead to a large number of accidents, and roughly half of all injuries or fatalities related to car crashes occur at or near intersections. That’s why many cities and governments are working on enhanced safety measures to help prevent these types of auto accidents. Intersections can be deadly for motorists.
From 2015 to 2016, fatalities at intersections increased but then dropped off in the subsequent years. In 2015, there were 35,484 auto accident fatalities in the United States. Of those, 9,664 occurred at an intersection. Of those, most — 6,741 — happened at unsignalized intersections. At those unsignalized intersections, 885 pedestrians and 218 bicyclists were killed.
In 2016, the number of traffic fatalities increased to 37,806. Intersection fatalities rose to 10,414, with 7,116 fatalities occurring at unsignalized intersections. The number of bicyclists killed decreased slightly to 205, but pedestrian fatalities increased to 1,009.
In 2017, traffic fatalities dropped off to 37,133. Intersection fatalities also decreased, going down to 10,301, as did fatalities at unsignalized intersections, declining to 7,030. Pedestrian and bicyclist deaths also saw decreases — to 983 and 198, respectively.
The good news is that 2018 continued to see declines for the most part. Total traffic fatalities went down to 36,835. Fatalities at intersections also dropped to 10,011, with 6,737 deaths at unsignalized intersections. Pedestrian fatalities dropped slightly to 979. Bicyclist deaths did increase to 220, but that was the only increase in 2018.
Interesting Car Accident Statistics by Gender
It is argument men and women have been having for decades. While men have joked that women are the worst drivers, women have a claim the exact opposite. To settle the debate once and for all, at least until new stats come out, here are some car accident statistics by gender, and they are pretty interesting.
Below, we highlight some interesting trends seen over the years. These include:
- Every year, more men die in traffic accidents than women.
- Men are more likely to drive greater distances than women and are more likely to engage in dangerous behavior while behind the wheel, such as drunk driving, distracted driving, and failing to use seat belts.
- Traffic accidents involving men are usually more severe than those that involve women.
- Men generally drive faster.
- In traffic accidents of equal severity, women are more likely to be killed than men.
While there are more female drivers than males, it is men that generally get into more accidents. The statistics show:
- 80% of all car crashes involve male drivers.
- Men drive approximately 30% more miles every year.
- Female drivers make up 50.6% of all licensed drivers in the country, while male drivers only make up 49.4%.
- Men under 34 are twice as likely to be involved in a fatal crash caused by speeding than women.
- According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, men made up 71%of car accident fatalities over one year, while women only accounted for 29%.
- Men drive approximately 30% more miles than women on average every year, which may be why the higher numbers of men are involved in crashes.
- While men drive 30% more miles than women, they are also implicated in just under 30% of car accidents, so while men do cause accidents, they may be less at fault than women.
- While women only cause 4.4 million accidents per year, men cause 6.1 million.
For almost 50 years, the trends and statistics on car accidents by gender were largely the same, but today, they are changing. The most startling statistics of these are as follows:
- For almost every year between 1975 and 2019, male car accident fatalities doubled female car accident fatalities.
- During the same timeframe between 1975 and 2019, traffic fatalities declined for both men and women. Men saw a 22% drop in auto accident fatalities, while the number of female fatalities dropped by 12%.
Can You Sue the City of Los Angeles for Poor Road Conditions?
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a motor vehicle collision caused by hazardous or damaged roads, you may be wondering if you can sue a LA for bad roads. Many different types of poor road conditions can result in serious accidents and injuries, such as faded or missing lane markings, potholes, missing asphalt or blacktop, cracks in the road, and road debris. Generally speaking, property owners in California have a duty to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe and that any defective conditions are remedied in a timely manner.
Does this requirement also apply to cities and to local governments? In other words, can a city or municipality be liable for injuries caused by poor road conditions? The short answer is that yes, a government can be responsible for injuries caused by hazardous road conditions. To find out more about filing a claim against your city for damaged roads, you should seek advice from an experienced Los Angeles premises liability lawyer at our firm.
Cities and other government entities must maintain public roads so that they are in a reasonably safe condition. While cities are not necessarily obligated to immediately repair a hazard on a roadway, if the city learns of a hazard through a driver or resident report, or should have learned about the defect through regular surveys of the area, then the city may be responsible for injuries resulting from the road hazard.
Major Car Accident Locations in Los Angeles
Auto accidents can happen anywhere and to anyone. Nonetheless, with LA being the fifth-most congested city in the country, some locations in the state see more crashes than others. This disparity in distribution is mainly caused by variations in traffic volume, population density, and road layouts or conditions.
Sierra Highway is statistically the most hazardous stretch of roadway in LA. Its 3.5 miles have a higher rate of crashes per mile than any other route. Other hotspot routes include the I-5, the I-405, Route 118, and the I-710. In terms of surface streets, Adams Boulevard, Sherman Way, Victory Boulevard, Sepulveda Boulevard, and Crenshaw Boulevard are the most dangerous.
Main Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents in Los Angeles
Auto accidents are all too common. This is, perhaps, because no one seems to walk in the city. On any given day, in any given hour in California, virtually everyone is on wheels.
The excess traffic on the roads inadvertently results in numerous cases of Los Angeles car accidents. A wide range of factors can cause these traffic accidents. The three major ones are:
Usually listed as the number one cause of car accidents. It refers to a situation where a driver was not paying enough attention to traffic signs or road conditions.
Distracted driving is one of the most dangerous behaviors, leading to thousands of car accidents, injuries, and deaths each year. Sadly, due to the ubiquity of cell phones and handheld mobile devices and their use by drivers, distracted driving has actually increased in recent years.
However, mobile devices are not the only sources of distraction that take drivers’ attention. Other acts of distracted driving include:
- Putting on makeup;
- Talking to passengers;
- Attending to children or pets;
- Cracked or dirty windshields
- Driving at night;
- Using a map or GPS device;
- Changing the music or adjusting the volume;
- Looking out the window/rubbernecking; and
- Eating or drinking.
While distracted driving may not be illegal (the state of California only prohibits the use of a handheld device while driving), it is negligent.
This is a significant contributor to car crashes. If the driver is drunk or intoxicated on a drug, they may cause an auto accident if they go out on the road. Intoxicated drivers are responsible for their actions, especially when they are aware of their condition but chose to ignore it.
In this case, the accident is caused by a vehicle fault. It may be a defective tire that blows and leads to a crash. In such a case, a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles can win a car accident case by proving that the manufacturer is accountable for the accident, even if there was no actual intent to cause harm.
Traveling at speeds over the speed limit is seriously dangerous. One may also be putting themselves and others at risk for traveling too quickly for the conditions they are in. If someone is speeding where inclement weather, poor road conditions, or traffic-packed roads is present, they are more likely to get in an accident.
According to the National Safety Council, speeding was a factor in fatal crashes for 19% of drivers on dry roads, 21% of drivers on wet roads, 33% of drivers on snowy or slushy roads, 45% on roads with standing or running water on them, 42% of roads with mud, dirt, or gravel on them, and 42% of roads with ice or frost on them.
While there are a number of dangerous behaviors that drivers can engage in from behind the wheel, ranging from distracted driving to impaired driving and more, driving aggressively is one of the most dangerous. “Aggressive driving” refers to a number of dangerous driving behaviors that include, but are not limited to:
- Following too closely/tailgating;
- Illegally changing lanes;
- Cutting off another driver;
- Tapping one’s brakes in retaliation;
- Running a red light or stop sign;
- Failing to yield;
- Weaving in and out of traffic;
- Intentionally blocking other drivers who are attempting to turn or change lanes; and
- Flashing lights or using lights inappropriately.
In some cases, an act of driver aggression will lead to a crash; in other cases, it could be dangerous enough to result in one of the drivers involved actually getting out of their vehicle and assaulting the other. Aggressive driving charges can lead to fines, jail time, insurance rate hikes, loss of driver’s license, and having their car impounded.
California defines reckless driving as the operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that shows a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. This may include a broad array of offenses and dangerous behavior, including:
- Excessively speeding;
- Driving while intoxicated;
- Eluding a police officer;
- Driving in the wrong direction; or
- Passing another vehicle on a two-lane highway when passing is not permitted.
Of course, this list is not inclusive. What’s more, basic acts of negligence, such as driving while distracted, can also cause serious car accidents and warrant a car accident claim or lawsuit against the responsible party.
Dangerous Road Conditions
Fallen rocks, sinkholes, game crossing, fallen trees or poles, and other hazards can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles.
Examples of road hazards that can lead to car crashes include:
- Objects in the road, such as downed trees, power lines, animals, accident debris, and more;
- Potholes and other dangerous road conditions, such as unmarked lanes or erosion of roadways;
- Water on the road that creates hazardous driving conditions (due to poor drainage);
- Inadequate skid resistance;
- A lack of guardrails;
- Unmarked sharp turns or curves;
- A lack of appropriate road signage;
- Poorly placed traffic signals;
Clearly, some road hazards are not foreseeable nor preventable. For example, if an animal darts in front of your vehicle, or if you’re caught in a sudden downpour of rain, no one may be to blame for an accident that results except for Mother Nature.
Many of the hazardous road conditions listed above are preventable, and occur as the result of defective road design and planning, defective construction, or/and defective and negligent road maintenance. When you can prove that your car accident would not have occurred but for the negligence of the party responsible for road design/maintenance, then you may be able to bring forth a claim for damages.
Disregard For Traffic Signs
Many people think rolling through stop signs or red lights while turning right won’t cause any harm. However, simple acts such as these can result in motorcycle accidents, head-on collisions, sideswipe accidents, and rollovers.
Negligent drivers who think those ahead of them have already turned, pulled up in traffic, or who simply aren’t paying attention can cause accidents resulting in horrible whiplash, broken bones, internal organ damage, spinal cord issues, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Working with our Los Angeles auto accident attorneys to hold these negligent drivers accountable is crucial in maximizing your compensation.
Driving while tired can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Drivers falling asleep at the wheel is more common than you may think; especially among commercial vehicle drivers as they often work long hours overnight. There are road signs, emergency pull-off areas, and stopping points for drivers to get the rest they need before driving.
If they disregard these options and cause an accident, they can be held liable for the damages they inflict on others.
Careless Intersection Maneuvers
Blind turning in an intersection can injure bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other automobile drivers. Drivers always need to be aware of their surroundings; especially in a bust intersection.
T-bone accidents are the most common intersection accident type, and are characterized by one vehicle hitting the other from the side, forming a T-like shape. These usually occur when one vehicle fails to yield to the other and happens when one vehicle is making a left-hand turn and the other is proceeding straight through the intersection.
– While less common in intersections, a head-on collision may occur when drivers are intoxicated, impaired, distracted, or overly fatigued.
Finally, one of the most common intersection accidents is a right-turn accident. These accidents involve a motorist and a bicyclist or pedestrian and happen when the bicyclist/pedestrian is crossing the intersection and a vehicle making a right-hand turn turns into the victims as a result of failure to yield.
Unmarked Construction Zones
Road repair seems to be a never-ending task for the DOT. Some of these workers can improperly mark their construction zone or not even mark them at all. These minor-seeming acts of negligence can cause catastrophic accidents.
There are various potential automobile defects that can either contribute to an accident, cause an accident, or cause or contribute to more serious injuries. When a defective automobile or auto part is the cause of an accident, the auto manufacturer can be held liable.
In addition to the auto or auto part manufacturer, other parties who may be held liable include anyone along the chain of distribution, such as a car dealership, an auto repair shop, or a shipper of the parts if one of the party’s negligent actions caused the defect, or if the party knew of the defect yet distributed the auto (part) regardless.
Failure To Yield
Failure to yield accidents most commonly occur at intersections, but may take place in a variety of different locations – nearly any time a motor vehicle is proceeding forward, there is a risk of a failure to yield accident. For example, a failure to yield accident may occur:
- When a car is pulling out from a driveway on the main roadway;
- When a car is making a right-hand turn and there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk;
- When a vehicle is making a left-hand turn and another is proceeding straight through an intersection;
- Driver obstruction of vision;
- At a two- or four-way stop sign; or
- When a vehicle is turning right or left into a driveway from the roadway.
Types of Intersection Accidents
This type of accident may occur in an intersection when a rear driver, assuming that the driver in front is going to proceed through the intersection (i.e. when making a right- or left-hand turn), hits the front driver from behind.
What Is Failure to Yield?
What is failure to yield? While many drivers understand that this behavior is dangerous, not everyone understands what it entails. When a driver ignores another road user’s right of way, otherwise called failure to yield, they may create a dangerous situation that could lead to a car accident. Common collisions caused by this behavior include side-impact, head-on, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents.
According to the California Vehicle Code Section 21800-21804, a driver about to enter or cross a highway from a public or private property should yield right of way to all traffic. The driver must also yield when approaching a highway at a close enough distance to create a dangerous condition and continue to do so until they can join traffic with reasonable safety. In essence, failure to yield refers to a driver’s refusal to follow the set rules on when to yield to other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.
Most cases of failure to yield happen at lane changes and intersections and can be a hazard to everyone involved. As the Insurance Information Institute reports, failure to yield is the fourth most common dangerous behavior of drivers in fatal accidents. They account for 7.1 percent of all fatal crashes.
In failure to yield accidents, the impact to an oncoming driver, cyclist, or pedestrian is usually head-on, making these collisions all the more dangerous. Some of the ways they occur are when a driver fails to yield to the following:
- Pedestrians at a designated crossing lane
- Traffic lights or yield signs
- Emergency vehicles
- Oncoming vehicles when turning left on a green light
Failure to yield accidents also often occur when a driver fails to yield when merging or emerging from a private drive or parking space.
Right of Way Laws in California
Right of way laws in California dictate who can proceed when vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians meet at an intersection. The following are some of those rules:
- When two vehicles meet at an intersection, the car on the left should yield to the one on the right.
- At a 3-way intersection, the vehicle traveling on the road that ends must yield to those on the roadway that continues.
- When a driver faces a yield sign, they should yield to the vehicle traveling on the road intersecting with the road they are on.
- All vehicles must yield to pedestrians at crosswalks, regardless of whether the crosswalks are marked or unmarked.
- Pedestrians who choose to jay-walk must yield to traffic.
- When a vehicle is turning left at an intersection, it must yield to oncoming traffic.
Common Car Accident Injuries Sustained Around Los Angeles County
Depending on the severity of the wreck, accidents on the road in Los Angeles often result in the following common injuries:
- Whiplash: The most common car accident injury, occurs when a car is hit by another vehicle or slams into a structure. Very often, you may not realize you have whiplash. Symptoms like back and neck pain are likely to manifest days after the accident.
- Head and Neck Injuries: If a seat belt is not fastened correctly or not fastened at all, the driver or passenger may be thrust against the steering wheel or dashboard. This impact may cause headaches, blurred vision, and even memory loss.
- Back Injuries: May be caused by a broken bone or fractured disc.
- Broken or Fractured Bones: Hip and leg fractures are common injuries for Los Angeels car accidents.
- Cuts, bruises, and lacerations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
Most car accident injuries may not be evident immediately after the accident. However, if treatment is delayed, the repercussions may be traumatic to car accident victims.
Proving Negligence in California Car Accident Cases
California is a fault state. After an accident, you will need to file an insurance claim to receive compensation for personal injuries and damages to your car. This works when someone else is at fault.
But if you caused the accident, your insurer is liable to pay the complainant for the personal injury they may have sustained, as well as other losses. Thus, Los Angeles car accident lawyers need to prove negligence on behalf of their clients. To do this, they have to show that the other driver:
- Had a responsibility to operate their vehicle safely
- Breached that responsibility
- Caused the accident through their actions
- Directly caused your injuries and monetary losses
Our lawyers can also pursue an injury claim against a county, city, or state if the accident was due to a defect in the road, faulty traffic sign, or inoperable street light. Additionally, we may bring a liability lawsuit against the distributor or automaker of a vehicle with mechanical defects.
Can I Pursue a Claim With an Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist?
You may find yourself in an accident with a driver who either has no insurance or has some insurance but not enough liability coverage for the entire accident. Instead of paying the extra money out of your own pocket, you can utilize uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage from your own policy, if you have it. Such coverage is entirely optional in some states and mandatory to varying degrees in others. It is generally a good idea to have such coverage, and our LA auto accident attorneys can help.
You can choose to use this coverage any time you are in an accident and unable to get the other driver’s insurance information either because they will not give it to you or it was a hit-and-run accident. The other driver may also simply not have any liability coverage. You must cover all your damages using your own coverage. You could use a combination of uninsured motorist coverage, collision coverage for vehicle damage and your own health insurance if you don’t have enough coverage for injuries under your auto policy.
In many cases, the other driver has some insurance, but his liability limits are not high enough to cover the entire cost of the accident. You can only reasonably expect to claim damages up to the maximum allowed by the at-fault person’s policy. In this case, you must cover the remainder using your own insurance.
In the case of an underinsured motorist, you will file a claim against both the other insurance company, a third-party claim, and your own insurance, as an underinsured motorist claim. These claims will probably happen concurrently because they are highly connected to each other. It is likely that you will settle both at the same time because the third-party claim settlement may impact your underinsured motorist claim.
There are limitations to how much you can claim from your underinsured motorist coverage that is very important to keep in mind and is easy to overlook. In most policies, if you file against the other insurer, you can only claim the difference between your maximum coverage and what they pay. There may also be a strict time limit on filing an underinsured motorist claim. Many policies have a 30-day window to the file the claim, so you should let your insurance company know your intention to file as soon as possible.
If you even suspect that you may need the additional coverage, then you should let your insurance company know your intent. The actual payout will be resolved as part of the process of determining damages and liability. If the combination of your third-party claim and your uninsured motorist coverage doesn’t resolve all your accident expenses, you may wish to consider other types of coverage you have access to.
Your auto policy may also have collision coverage, which you may use to make up the difference. The downside is that you would pay a separate deductible to use your collision coverage, and it may raise your rates for an accident that wasn’t your fault.
Distinguishing Aggressive Driving From Road Rage
According to research, about 66% of road accidents are caused by aggressive driving. Aggressive driving may be manifested in many forms. A symptom of aggressive driving is overspeeding. Road rage is when a driver commits moving traffic offenses. As a result, they may endanger the lives of other road users and their property. Road rage involves aggressive or extreme behavior while driving; examples of road rage may include cursing other drivers out and using rude gestures.
Symptoms of aggressive driving include; running red signs, tailgating, and overspeeding. Although they are different, both road rage and aggressive driving can lead to accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there is a clear distinction between the two. While road rage is a criminal charge, aggressive driving is a traffic offense.
What Is Considered Wreckless Driving?
When a car accident occurs, it’s most often due to the negligence of one of the parties involved, which is the failure to act with the same degree of care as a person of ordinary prudence would demonstrate in the same scenario. In itself, negligence is not against the law (although, sometimes, negligent acts, like speeding, are indeed illegal – this is called negligence per se). Another top cause of accidents is reckless driving. If you’ve been in a crash, here’s what you should know about reckless driving and how our Los Angeles car accident attorney can help.
As found in California Code Section 23103, reckless driving is defined as driving a vehicle in a manner that demonstrates a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Reckless driving might include speeding excessively, driving while intoxicated, drag racing, or driving in an exceptionally aggressive manner. Reckless driving is extremely dangerous and can result in accidents that cause serious injuries to those involved.
Potential injuries resulting from reckless driving including head and traumatic brain injuries, internal injuries, injuries to extremities, spinal cord injuries, and other severe injury types. In the event that reckless driving causes an accident, the driver may face charges in violation of California vehicle code, including a large fine and jail time in some cases. But in addition to facing penalties through traffic or criminal court, the at-fault individual can be held liable for civil damages, too. Indeed, if you have been injured by the actions of a reckless driver, you can hold that driver liable for damages if you can prove that your injuries would not have been incurred but for the reckless driver’s actions.
In doing so, you maintain the right to seek compensation for the full value of your damages, including compensation for pain, medical expenses, suffering, lost wages, and any other economic or noneconomic damages you suffer. Note that criminal and civil cases are separate and distinct. Even if the driver isn’t convicted by a traffic court and therefore doesn’t incur points on their record, go to jail, or pay a large fine, you may still be able to hold them liable for your damages with the right evidence and help of the right lawyer.
One of the most stressful things about being involved in a hit-and-run accident is determining who will pay for the damages you have sustained. Because California is an at-fault car insurance state, those who cause accidents are responsible for paying for them – but if the driver has fled the scene of the accident and has not yet been identified, how will you get paid?
In the event of a hit-and-run accident, you may be able to turn to your own insurance policy for compensation if you carry certain coverage types. California insurance companies offer three types of coverage that may help you to pay for damages, even if the other driver hasn’t been identified. These include:
- Physical damage coverage – If you purchase physical damage coverage, then this coverage will pay for damage caused to your vehicle as a result of a collision with another vehicle (or object).
- Medical payments coverage – Medical payments coverage, or MedPay, pays for your and your passengers’ medical expenses up to your policy limits, regardless of fault in an accident.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage – In the event that you’re in an accident with a driver who isn’t insured or doesn’t have enough insurance–or, in this case, isn’t even identifiable–your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can pay for bodily injury and property damage costs.
A sideswipe accident, also called a side-impact or broadside collision refers to a car accident where the sides of two different vehicles collide. A sideswipe accident may also refer to an incident where the side of one car swipes/collides with a stationary object.
Sideswipe accidents, like most accident types, are preventable and occur as a result of a driver’s negligence. Acts of negligence that can cause a sideswipe accident include:
- Distracted driving;
- Texting or using a cellphone;
- Driver impairment or intoxication;
- Failure to look;
- Driving in another’s blind spot (this is especially common in accidents involving large trucks); and
- Overreacting to/over-correcting in response to another road hazard, such as another vehicle transition into one’s lane or an object in the road.
Rollover accidents can be multi-vehicle collisions (involving two or more vehicles), or single-vehicle collisions. The risk factors for a rollover crash include:
- Vehicle Type – While all vehicles can roll over, vehicles that are taller and narrower are more likely to roll over;
- Speed – Rollover crashes, especially those that are fatal, are often speed-related;
- Location – Rollover crashes are more likely on rural roads that are undivided and without barriers;
- Alcohol – When drivers are alcohol-impaired, rollover crashes are more common;
- Distracted Driving – Driving distraction is a top cause of various types of car crashes, including rollover accidents.
- Hazardous Road Conditions – Uneven pavement, hitting potholes or high speed limits on dangerous curves create dangerous conditions. Government entities could be held responsible if they neglect their duties for keeping roads well-maintained and safe.
- Defective Vehicles – SUVs, minivans and trucks have a particularly high center of gravity, making these vehicle more susceptible to roll over and cause serious injuries to you and/or your passengers. Because of this, these vehicle are expected to have adequate roll cages or bars to prevent a roof collapse.
Single Vehicle Accidents
Single vehicle accidents, despite the name, often result from another driver’s reckless actions on the road or another party’s negligence. For example, a single-vehicle crash might occur when a driver swerves to avoid a vehicle weaving between lanes, or when a motorist hits a poorly maintained piece of highway. In addition, single-vehicle wrecks can result from defective automobile parts. In any of these situations, it is extremely important for an injured party to seek advice from a Los Angeles single-vehicle accident attorney.
We often work with drivers and vehicle passengers who have been in single-vehicle crashes caused by the following:
- Another driver’s negligence;
- Driver’s own negligence (driver of the car involved in the single-vehicle crash);
- Mechanic negligence;
- Poorly maintained roads;v
- Defective auto products, like brakes or tires; and
- Inclement weather.
When a driver is injured in a single-vehicle crash, it is important to speak with Los Angeles single-vehicle accident attorneys to learn more about filing a claim. The injured driver may be able to obtain compensation through a first-party insurance claim. However, in situations where another party is responsible for the accident, the injured driver may be able to file a lawsuit against that party in order to seek financial compensation for losses.
Fender Bender Accidents
Most car accidents are minor in nature are commonly referred to as ‘fender benders.’ Fender benders are accidents that do not result in any injuries. They are usually settled swiftly and result in no lawsuits. However, a fender bender may result in minor property damage which is where the name comes from (a bent fender). The question is what to do in a fender bender with no damage? You may still need to contact Los Angeles Car Accident Attorneys but the main question for most people is ‘Do I need to report a fender bender?’ Read on to find out if you do.
The answer to “what to do if you witness a fender bender?” can be summed up as, “ensure safety.” If you are driving behind the vehicles that are involved in a fender bender, pull over at a safe distance. It is recommended that you drive at least 100 feet from the accident and put on your hazard lights. You should only exit the car if it is safe. If you are on foot, you should keep a safe distance from the accident scene at first. The reason for safety is that there could be broken glass, fuel leaks or smoke which may do you some harm.
You should call for assistance before attempting to help the accident victims yourself. You should make the call regardless of the severity of the accident. Remember every second is precious in an emergency situation so never assume that someone else has called for help. Be the one to do it. Calmly describe the accident scene, the location, number of people involved among other important details.
If it is safe to approach the scene of the accident and there are people in dire need of assistance, you should carefully approach the vehicle and help. Help can be offered in a variety of ways. You can set up roadblocks and flares so other drivers veer away from the accident scene. You could also just offer encouragement to the accident victims. Unless the car is on fire, you should not move any of the accident victims. Moving someone injured in a car accident might end up exacerbating their injuries. Avoiding any confrontations between the victims of the car accident could also be an act of assistance.
Most fender benders do not result in serious injuries. Therefore, you can help the victims of the accident move their vehicles so that the accident does not impact other drivers on the road. Setting up an accident zone is also a great move in this respect. You should wait at the scene of the accident until help arrives. Giving a witness account of the accident will be crucial in justice being served to those responsible and those that aren’t.
Your presence could also be vital to helping those affected by the accident. Give facts when asked to make a report and avoid any bias. Your statements should be factual, honest and consistent. When it comes to what to do when you witness a fender bender, being calm and staying safe are the main priorities. Helping the victims is also important.
How Long Do You Have to Report a Car Accident to Your Insurance?
After getting hurt in a car accident, it is important to know about any time limits that could impact your case and your eligibility for compensation. Generally speaking, California law does not set a specific amount of time that you have to alert your auto insurance company to the fact that you were involved in an accident. However, the agreement you have with your insurance company—your insurance contract—could have specific language about the time limits. Many insurance contracts require insureds to report accident claims within a reasonable amount of time, which the insurance company may interpret to be 24 hours after the crash, 48 hours after the collision, or another short time window.
Sometimes insurance contracts will specify that the insured has, for example, 24 hours after the accident occurs to report the claim in order to remain eligible for coverage. It is best to report the accident as soon as possible to your insurance company, but remember to stick to the facts. Your insurance company is not on your side, and you should avoid providing any subjective information that could lead the insurance company to deny coverage.
If you fail to properly report the accident to your own insurance company within a reasonable period of time or the specific amount of time specified in your contract, the insurance company can deny your claim. This does not necessarily mean that you will be unable to obtain coverage. One of the car accident lawyers in Los Angeles at our firm can speak with you about filing a third-party insurance claim, as well as options for filing a car accident lawsuit against the responsible party.
How Long Does a Car Accident Stay on Your Record?
The answer to this dreadful question is that insurance companies look at your driving record as far back as three to five years. Therefore, an insurance company can charge you higher premiums for a car accident that happened up to five years ago. Some fraudulent insurance companies may try to charge you for incidents that go farther than that.
Each and every car accident that happens in California is reported to and recorded by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). On the contrary, if the report states that you were not the one at fault for the accident, it may not show up on your record at all. Instead, it will be on the record of the person responsible for the infraction.
However, the California DMV also states that if you or another party involved in your car accident has suffered over $750 in damages, or if someone is injured or dies in an accident, it is mandatory for the accident to be reported on a SR-1 accident report. The report must be recorded by the California DMV and stored. You get one point on your license from the California DMV if you are at fault for the accident. The information about the accident and why you were awarded the point will then be included in your driving record and will remain on your record for the next three years.
An auto insurance company will usually review your driving record when you apply for a policy, renew a policy or alter your policy in any way. They will request for your record from the California DMV, check your record and then calculate your liability insurance rates. The insurance company will also keep a record of all claims against car accidents.
They use the record to see your previous claims and rate you based on their evaluation. The company keeps the records even if you were not at fault for the accident as long as any claim was filed against you. In conclusion, an accident can stay on your record for three to five years and will affect the insurance premium rates you pay. Some insurance firms will try and charge you more by going farther than that.
Do I Have to Report a Fender Bender to Law Enforcement?
There are many factors determining the answer to the question above. The nature of your accident is one of the most important factors in this situation. Your state of residence is also crucial when deciding whether to report a fender bender.
Most states will require you to report an accident only if it results in injury. However, there are some states that require you to report a minor accident if it results in property damage above a certain amount. The Los Angeles Police Department recently rolled out a way to report minor traffic offenses online so that you do not have to call the police.
One thing you must do regardless of where you live or who is at fault is exchange contact information. Every state requires drivers to do so when they are involved in any kind of car accident. Only when the driver is uncooperative or when he/she does not have insurance should you call law enforcement.
If you believe the other driver may not deal with you in good faith, you should also contact law enforcement. The police will record the circumstances of the accident and physical evidence at the scene.
Most car accident injuries do not become apparent until several days after the accident even in fender benders. If there are any signs that you have been injured, you have to report the accident to the authorities or risk the other driver getting away with injuring you since there will be no evidence of the incident.
Is Car Insurance Mandatory for Drivers in Los Angeles?
The question of auto insurance for Los Angeles residence isn’t easily answered, though it may be safer to assume that all California residents do need some type of car insurance. In California, the requirement is for “financial responsibility,” which does include typical automobile insurance, but also covers a broader base of options. Looking at those options reveals that, for most people in Los Angeles, regular insurance may be the best and cheapest option.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles states that financial responsibility, or auto insurance, is required for every motor vehicle in the state, whether the vehicle is driven frequently or remains parked on a public street. Proof of coverage must be carried within the vehicle at all times so it can be produced under special circumstances. Most commonly, proof of financial responsibility will be required, when requested by a police officer, renewing the vehicle’s registration, or when the vehicle is involved in a traffic accident.
In most cases, the Department of Motor Vehicles is immediately notified by insurance companies via electronic submissions, whenever a vehicle insurance policy lapses. This regulation applies only to private citizens. Lapses in insurance on commercial vehicles don’t fall under this same requirement. Additionally, the electronic records of insurance is available to officers and court personnel through a unified computer system.
What Do I Do If The Other Driver And Insurance Company Deny Liability?
Just about any car insurance company will deny a claim so long as it has a viable basis for doing so. That’s how insurers make money. They collect premiums, and they pay as little as possible or nothing on claims. That denial doesn’t have to end the process for you though. It might just be supported by the facts and evidence surrounding the accident.
The denial of a claim can occur for any number of legitimate reasons. One of the most common is that the insured person got cancelled as a result of not paying the premium. Another reason is that the insured person might have a valid liability policy in effect, but he or she had no coverage for the claim being made. This issue is often seen in the context of those who are driving on bare minimum statutory liability coverage with no collision, comprehensive or uninsured motorist coverage.
Calculating the Value of a Car Accident Claim
The worth of your car accident claim in Los Angeles depends on the extent and nature of your injuries and damages or losses to your vehicle or property. The more significant the injuries, damages, and losses, the higher the value of your claim. Overall, car accident victims in California are liable for compensation for physical, nonphysical, and punitive damage.
Typical items included in a compensation claim include:
- Medical bills: If your accident results in injuries, you will need to get treatment and rehabilitation, which can be costly. Your complaint should cover the cost of emergency treatment, surgery, hospitalization, medication, medical equipment, and physical or rehabilitative therapy.
- Loss of wages or earning capacity: Your injuries can force you to take some days off work for recovery. This can lead to loss of wages, for which you will need to be compensated. Additionally, if your injuries result in a permanent disability that causes you to lose your source of income, you should set a claim for the loss of future income.
- Non-monetary damages: Accidents cause significant trauma to both car accident victims and their families. Non-monetary claims include damages and losses that cannot be counted in dollars. It covers all nonphysical injuries such as emotional distress, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.
Our auto lawyers will work diligently to get you the maximum possible remuneration for your anguish and suffering.
The Toll of a Car Accident on Mental Health
Many people experience post-traumatic stress after a car accident. Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can include:
- Recurring and invasive thoughts about the crash
- Avoidance of medical appointments
- Fear or anxiety when riding a vehicle or driving
- Irritability or general uneasiness
In severe accidents, some victims even develop a condition known as dystychiphobia, of the fear of accident, which can significantly reduce a person’s quality of life. Individuals with this fear may refuse to travel outside of their homes, may limit or eliminate travel altogether, and isolate themselves from friends and family.
Contact An Experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer Today
You are the victim, and we want to make sure that you do not spend your after-accident period in a frenzied fight with insurance companies. Let our experienced Los Angeles car accident attorneys help you.
If it concerns a car accident in the Los Angeles area, let us begin to work for your complete recovery.
Car Accident FAQ’s
What Should You Do If You Witness a Fender Bender?
Maintain Your Safety: As much as you wish to help, your actions will be counterproductive if you get hurt. Make sure you don’t put yourself at risk. Relax and maintain a cool head so you can assess the situation accurately. Only proceed if you feel safe to do so.
- Park You Vehicle Out of the Way: Fender benders are minor accidents. Most likely, there won’t be many emergency vehicles arriving at the scene. Nonetheless, make sure your car is out of the way, especially if there are injured people at the scene. This should allow any responders that arrive to reach them with ease. Park your vehicle at a safe location and turn on your hazard lights.
- Call for Help: After you have secured yourself and your vehicle, call 911. Describe the details of the accident to the dispatcher, including the location, number of cars involved, and severity of the victim’s injuries. You can also ask the victims if they would like you to call someone, such as a family member.
- Gather Evidence: Try to document the fender benders. You can do this by taking photos and videos of the scene, damage to vehicles, and injuries suffered by the victims. This should help the injured party seek compensation later from the at-fault driver.
- Help Those Involved: If you can do it safely, help the people involved get out of their vehicles. However, if the victims appear hurt, don’t move them unless you are professionally trained to handle such situations, or there is immediate danger. Watch out for deployed airbags as they can also make it difficult to move the drivers.
- Give a Report to the Police: When the police arrive, they may require a statement. Give a detailed account of the fender bender and answer any questions they may have. The information you provide could prove valuable to an accident case. That said, be factual and to the point. Avoid speaking from emotions.
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