Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Rear-end 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.
- T-bone accidents – 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.
- Head-on collisions – While less common in intersections, a head-on collision may occur when drivers are intoxicated, impaired, distracted, or overly fatigued.
- Right-turn accidents – 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;
- At a two- or four-way stop sign; or
- When a vehicle is turning right or left into a driveway from the roadway.
Driver obstruction of vision;
Types of Intersection Accidents
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.
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.
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.
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