Motor vehicle accidents are one of the most common causes of personal injuries on U.S. roads, and the number of accidents is increasing each year. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 42,393 people killed in nationwide motor vehicle accidents in 2021. Thousands more individuals sustained serious, life-altering injuries.
In California, a driver who is at fault for a car collision is liable for the injuries and damages that other drivers and passengers sustain. Even if you were partially responsible for an accident, you may still be able to recover compensation for damages.
Not all car accidents are caused by negligent drivers. Other parties who may be at fault include auto manufacturers or government agencies if they failed to take steps to keep individuals safe from defective car parts, automobile malfunctions, or hazardous road conditions.
If you were injured in a car accident, it is essential that you hire a car accident lawyer who can help you file a claim and pursue maximum compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
Common Causes of Car Accidents
It is critical for all motorists to understand the common types of car crashes so that they can take the necessary steps to stay safe and understand their rights. In many cases, driver negligence or recklessness is often the root cause of automobile accidents. However, there are other parties that could be found to have acted with negligence.
Some of the most common car causes of car accidents include:
Drunk driving is all too common and extremely frequent during nighttime hours. When under the influence of alcohol, a person’s visual cues are not in focus making it difficult to see the road and steer a vehicle properly. Also, alcohol can cause reaction time to be much slower. These factors often lead to major car accidents.
High speed driving can prevent drivers from making those last minute maneuvers which cause car accidents to be avoided. When speeding causes costly injuries, you’ll want an excellent team of personal injury attorneys by your side to ensure proper recovery for damages in a court of law.
Distracted driving occurs when the driver’s attention has been diverted in some way. Such distraction can cause serious car accidents and injuries. Common distractions are: cell phone use (talking or texting), applying makeup, adjusting audio, and eating.
Reckless driving is common with teenage or elderly drivers, drivers who lack experience, or drivers with visual or physical impairments. Lack of knowledge, skill and experience in terms of driving often lead to car accidents and serious injury.
Hazardous Road Conditions
Not all car accidents are the result of negligent drivers. Dangerous road conditions can cause even the safest drivers to lose control of their vehicles and result in multi-vehicle collisions. Some types of hazardous road conditions include potholes, cracks in the road, lack of guardrails, lack of proper road signs, faded lane markings, poor lighting, or road debris.
Cars come in a variety of different models and features, but some are not perfect no matter how expensive the cost. Design defects are often a reason for car accidents, especially if the driver does not become aware of the defect in time to obtain repairs.
Determining Fault in a California Car Accident
Determining fault in a California car accident can be complicated. Fault is based on the concept of “negligence.” When a driver is negligent and causes injury to another person, he or she is liable for any resulting injuries and other damages. In order to successfully file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver, negligence must be proven.
Drivers in California have a basic duty of care that they must exercise any time they get behind the wheel of a vehicle. This basic duty of care involves:
- Using reasonable care and acting in a way that any other reasonable driver would
- Taking steps to prevent collisions with other drivers, pedestrians, or obstacles
- Remaining vigilant, as well as controlling the speed and movement of the vehicle
When a driver fails to uphold this basic duty of care and causes a collision that results in injuries, he or she may be found to have acted negligently and, thus, be liable for resulting damages. The legal standard for negligence in California car accident causes are:
- The driver owed you a duty of care.
- The driver failed to uphold this duty of care.
- This failure caused the accident.
- The accident resulted in you sustaining some type of damages.
It is important to note that you may still be able to recover compensation even if you were partially at fault. Under California’s pure comparative negligence law, your award amount will be reduced by the percentage you were found to be at fault. For instance, if your award amount is $100,000, but you were 20% at fault, your award will be reduced by $20,000.
Car Accident Injuries and Types of Collisions
Crashes affect each person differently, the types of injuries that a person can sustain range vastly. Even a seemingly “minor” accident can result in debilitating and painful injuries for accident victims. Some of most common types of car accident injuries include:
- Bruising and internal bleeding
- Broken bones and fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Face and dental trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Neck injuries
- Soft tissue injuries
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Pain and distress
There are many types of car collisions, and each one can affect injuries sustained, fault, and who is liable for damages. Some of the most common types of vehicle accidents in California are:
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Speeding accidents
- Uber/Lyft accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Crashes with drunk drivers
- SUV rollovers
- Tire defect accidents
- Sideswipe collisions
- Hit and run accidents
- Single vehicle crashes
Damages Available in a Car Accident Case
Determining the total amount of your damages will require the assistance of a skilled personal injury attorney. Your attorney will work as your legal advocate to deal with the insurance company and legal system, all while keeping you informed throughout the duration of your claim and pursuing maximum compensation on your behalf.
In general, you are entitled to receive damages for the injuries and other losses that you sustained. These damages include economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include those that have a set dollar amount, while non-economic damages are more subjective and are tied to the emotional distress and life impact the injury had on the victim.
Common types of compensatory damages that your attorney can help you pursue include:
- Past, present, and future medical expenses
- Hospital bills and surgery costs
- Lost income from being out of work
- Lost earning capacity due to a long term injury
- Physical therapy or occupational therapy
- Mental health services
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Loss of limb, bodily function, or organ
- Scars or disfigurement
- Lost quality of life
- Loss of consortium
In some cases, you may even be able to pursue punitive damages. This is a unique type of award amount and may be pursued if it is found that the negligent party acted intentionally or with gross negligence.
The steps that you take after a car accident can ensure that your safety is prioritized and your rights to compensation are protected. Here are 13 steps that you should follow:
- Remain at the scene and move to a safe area.
- Call 9-1-1 or seek medical attention immediately.
- Assess for injuries.
- If possible, exchange information with the other driver, including insurance information and driver’s license number.
- Do not admit fault or say that you are uninjured.
- Take photos and videos of the injuries, the vehicles, and the surrounding scene.
- Make a record of what happened.
- Get the contact information of any witnesses.
- Give a police report and write down the number of the report.
- Report the accident to the DMV within 10 days if it is more than $1,000 in damages or injuries.
- Report the accident to your insurance company.
- Hire a car accident attorney.
- Follow all medical advice and focus on your recovery.
Get Skilled Car Accident Attorneys in Your Corner
When you find yourself facing the consequences of a car accident, contact a trusted car accident attorney at Shegerian & Associates. You’ll need their skilled expertise to handle the often complex legal issues involved in obtaining the compensation, and justice, you deserve. Our team can help you:
- Gather evidence and launch a thorough investigation.
- Issue a demand letter to the insurance company.
- Negotiate a settlement with the insurance company.
- File a lawsuit if the insurance company offers you a lowball settlement.
- Take the burden off of your shoulders while you heal.
We are standing by ready to go to bat for you. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for a no-fee, no-obligation case evaluation.