The Golden State has beautiful, scenic highways and roads that are traveled by thousands of people every day for both work and leisure. Unfortunately, the convenience of using the roadways comes at a cost: thousands of car accidents. According to NHTSA, there were 485,866 reported car accidents in California in 2017. There were 276,823 injuries and 3,898 deaths because of those accidents. Since 2013, car accident deaths have increased by 23.5%, and California alone accounts for 11% of the nation’s auto-related deaths. These statistics include car-on-truck accidents,motorcycle accidents, and pedestrian accidents.
With these car accidents comes the potential to deal with multiple issues: liability, personal injury, and even death. Trying to sort out the legal aspects of a car accident can be difficult, especially while you are trying to physically and emotionally recover from the accident itself. Thoroughly handling a car accident may require a lawyer experienced with the legal nuance associated with California traffic laws. Ewing Law Group, PC understands California laws and can help you understand your options following a car accident. Since 2004, we have represented clients in their car accident cases, whether it is personal injury cases, liability cases, or even wrongful death cases.
Being involved in a car accident can be a terrifying experience, but there are actions you should take to ensure your well-being. Understanding those steps before experiencing an accident is critical to handling it in the best possible way.
At the Scene of the Accident
After the Accident
Determining the at-fault, or responsible, party for a car accident is important from a legal standpoint and insurance standpoint.Each determining party may choose the at-fault party independently from the other.
Police will arrive on the scene and investigate by interviewing drivers, passengers, and witnesses. They will attempt to piece together the sequence of events leading to the accident, then submit their report to their department. Police reports may not identify an at-fault party, and even if it does, that does not necessarily mean the person will be held legally responsible. The police will issue any relevant traffic citations at the scene of the accident; these citations do not prove fault, but they can be used as evidence to identify a negligent driver.
Insurance claims will need to be filed by the car accident victims. The insurance companies will then assign a claim adjuster to oversee the investigation and settlement of the claim. Their job is to research the accident, look at the medical reports, determine the amount of vehicle damage, speak with any witnesses, and clarify insurance policy details. This investigation will identify who was at fault and the percentage of fault belonging to each driver if the fault lies with more than one person. California is a pure comparative state, meaning a victim can recover some damages, even if they are found to be 99% at fault for the accident. This is different than modified comparative fault, which states that plaintiffs with more than 50% fault in an accident cannot recover any damages.
If a lawsuit is filed by the victim to recover money for damages and injuries, the court will also decide who is at fault for the accident. Their decision will consider negligence – or a failure to take reasonable caution under the specific circumstances of the accident. The court will hear arguments and see presented evidence from the parties’ lawyers. Testimonies from police officers, witnesses, and experts relevant to the case may be heard to fully identify an at-fault driver. Depending on the type of case, a judge or jury will then use the evidence to determine the negligent party and if any money is due for injuries or losses.
Sometimes car accidents just happen and could not be avoided. More commonly, there is a driver at fault for the accident. In this case, you may have grounds to take legal action against the at-fault driver. As mentioned above, there are many ways a party can be determined at fault, but there are some major conditions that will play a large role in deciding an at-fault party. If you believe the other driver caused the accident due to negligence, inattention, reckless driving, or driving while under the influence, then it is time to contact a car accident lawyer. If you sustained injuries in the accident, it is important to choose a lawyer with experience in personal injury law to ensure you are fully compensated for the medical issues resulting from the accident. The faster you contact a car accident/ personal injury attorney, the faster you can let them fight your case for you so that you can focus on your recovery.
No two car accidents are exactly alike, as they are very specific to the case. There are many different factors that can affect a total settlement value.
There are no maximum values that can be sought in a personal injury claim. The value is tailored to the specific situation, and the number chosen is meant to cover all legal damages. You are entitled to damage compensation, even if you are partially responsible for the accident. The percent you are considered at fault will play into your awarded compensation, but that does not mean you should not speak with a legal team to determine how your case will likely end.
In the United States, reported cases usually settle for around $21,000, and the typical range of settlement value is $14,000 and $28,000. However, your case is specific and unique, so these numbers will likely not help you in anticipating any settlement you could receive. It is best to speak with an experienced attorney so they can help you make realistic expectations.
The responsible party’s insurance will cover the settlement if the driver was adequately and fully insured. Fully insured drivers are ideal to work with;their coverage limit is lower than the settlement amount determined by the courts. Unfortunately, not all drivers in California are adequately covered by their insurance. These drivers are underinsured; their insurance will compensate the victim, but only to the policy limit. The remaining amount must be paid by the responsible party with personal assets or some other party.
In the case of uninsured drivers, they will have no liability coverage to pay the settlement against them. It must be noted that California requires every driver to maintain auto insurance, but not every person will follow that law.Unfortunately, this circumstance makes it difficult for the victim to collect their settlement from the responsible party because it must come entirely from personal assets. A potential way to solve this problem is to carry uninsured motorist coverage insurance that will pay out on the settlement instead of relying on the responsible party to acquire your owed compensation.
Wrongful death occurs when an individual, business, or other entity’s negligence results in another’s death. The loss of a loved one is a traumatic experience, but it is even more traumatic if it is sudden and unexpected. Unfortunately, the roadways claim thousands of people every year.Some of those deaths are caused by the poor and illegal actions of others.
In these cases, certain family members can file a wrongful death claim. Only the victim’s spouse or domestic partner, their surviving children, or their surviving grandchildren can file for wrongful death. If no family members listed above are available, then California’s intestate succession laws allow for anyone entitled to the victim’s property to file a wrongful death claim.Wrongful death accidents are a very traumatic situation, but that does not mean you shouldn’t get help with holding the other driver(s) accountable. A knowledgeable lawyer can get you financial compensation to cover the bills that arise from any death-related costs. Though a court case will not bring your loved one back, it may get the closure you need to move on.
Wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the victim’s death, so delaying finding an excellent attorney is not in you or your family’s best interest. You will lose the right to pursue the case if you file for wrongful death outside of these strict parameters, meaning you will lose the chance to hold the responsible party accountable.
Vehicle use is a requirement for many California residents. Even if you drive safely and follow all the laws, you may still find yourself in an accident due to another’s poor actions. Injuries or even death can result from another’s negligence, and it is important for those people to be held accountable for the damages they cause. Though they may be prosecuted by a criminal court, that prosecution does not help you recover or get closure. This reason is why it is important to retain a lawyer, even if the car accident was not your fault.
Ewing Law Group, PC can examine your case and determine if there are legal grounds for you to continue with a lawsuit against the driver that caused the accident.We will handle your case’s procedural requirements while helping you understand the nuances of a personal injury or wrongful death claim in California.Ewing Law Group, PC has the tenacity and strong record that you are looking for in a Placer County, California attorney. A consultation with us can help you explore your options and make the best choice for you and your loved ones moving forward. Contact Ewing Law Group, PC today to see how we can help you get the results you deserve.