California car accident laws
To recover damages by filing a car accident claim or lawsuit, it is essential to show that negligence was a contributing factor. To do this, you must be able to demonstrate the following four components of a negligence-based car accident:
- The other party (generally the other driver) had a duty to act in a safe manner;
- The other party breached this duty;
- This breach of duty caused the accident; and
- The accident was a direct cause of your injuries and other damages.
In some cases, it is not another driver, but a city, state, or government agency. For example, you may need to sue the city or county if a malfunctioning traffic signal caused the accident. However, there are strict rules to follow when making a claim against a government entity. An experienced Los Angeles car accident lawyer can help you determine how to proceed.
Furthermore, there is a two-year statute of limitations on car accident claims in California. As such, it is extremely important to start the process as soon as possible after the accident. In addition to ensuring a timely filing, consulting with an attorney immediately also helps with the processes of collecting evidence, preserving memories, and highlighting the severity of your injuries.
Car insurance claims in California
After a car accident, several key rules and regulations are helpful to keep in mind.
In California, you must file an injury claim within two years of your accident, in order to abide by the state’s statute of limitations. If you file a claim regarding property damage, you have three years from the date of the accident.
Furthermore, California law requires that vehicles be covered with a minimum of 15/30/5 insurance. This means that your insurance company would pay up to:
- $15,000 for an injured person or fatality,
- $30,000 for more than one injured person or fatality, and
- $5,000 for property damage.
If the other driver was at fault, you would file the claim with their insurance provider.
It is also worth noting that California’s liability laws take into account partial fault. If you were found to be 60 percent at fault, for example, you could still receive compensation for damages based on the percentage that you were not at fault.
Do I need a lawyer for a car accident claim?
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in an auto accident, or a loved one was killed, it is critical to hire an experienced car crash lawyer immediately. Following this type of accident, the only thing you should be focused on is healing—physically and emotionally. Serious car accidents can take a major toll on your physical, emotional, and financial well-being.
A skilled Los Angeles car accident lawyer can review the details of your case, determine fault, gather evidence, calculate damages, and negotiate for the maximum settlement. And if a reasonable settlement isn’t offered, the tenacious injury team at MAJK Law will fight for you in court. Although we always strive to settle out of court, we are prepared to go to trial if it’s in your best interest.
Furthermore, car insurance companies are notorious for offering ridiculously low settlements to injury victims, especially those without legal representation. They have no problem taking advantage of your vulnerability after a serious auto accident. Don’t miss out on thousands, or tens of thousands of dollars because you tried to represent yourself. An experienced injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you need to recover and get your life back on track. Contact MAJK Law today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.
California insurance company tactics to be aware of
If you have been injured in an auto accident, it is imperative that you avoid talking to the other driver’s insurance company until you’ve had a chance to speak with your lawyer.
It is the insurance adjuster’s job to pay as little as possible to claimants. As such, they employ various tactics to get injury victims to accept the lowest possible settlement.
Some of these tactics include:
- Contacting the victim immediately following the accident;
- Asking the victim for a recorded statement; and
- Asking the victim to sign a release form, permitting the insurance company to review the victim’s medical history.
Insurance adjusters do these things as a means of gathering ammunition against the victim if there is a resulting injury claim. If you are contacted by an insurance adjuster after an auto accident, simply explain that you are not speaking or signing anything until you’ve talked to your attorney.
What to do after a car crash
If you have been involved in a car accident in Los Angeles, you are not alone.
According to a report by Statista, in 2020, there were around 3,723 fatal motor vehicle accidents in California, with the majority of deaths involve passenger cars.
In Los Angeles, 238 people died in collisions in 2020, a virtually unchanged number compared to the previous year, even though the traffic was historically low in 2020.
These crashes involve head-on collisions, sideswipe accidents, rear-end crashes, t-bone collisions, and auto/pedestrian accidents, with broadside and auto/pedestrian accidents being among the most deadly.
- In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, the first thing you should do is check for injuries, your own, and anyone else’s.
- If someone is hurt, call 911 immediately. People’s safety and health should take top priority following a crash.
- While you are at the scene of the accident, it is recommended to call the police, even if no immediate injuries are apparent.
- In addition to ensuring everyone’s safety, this will result in the creation of an official police report, which can provide important evidence if you end up filing a claim, or offer protection if the other driver makes an unfair claim against you.
- Be sure to exchange contact information with the other driver(s) and take pictures of the accident.
- Let your insurer know about the crash in a timely manner. Your auto insurance company may penalize you for failure to notify them of the accident within a few days.
- Please note: do not discuss any details of the crash with the insurance company until you’ve consulted with a Los Angeles auto accident lawyer.
- If anyone was injured or the vehicle damage was above $1,000, you must also report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days, as directed by California Vehicle Code 16000. Failure to do so may result in your license being suspended.
Given the complexity of California car accident rules and regulations, it is in your best interest to contact a car accident attorney immediately following a crash.
A knowledgeable Los Angeles auto accident lawyer will advise you based on your specific situation and ensure that you fully understand your rights and options before moving forward.
What not to do after a car crash
While it is important to take the above steps after a car accident, it is also critical to avoid taking certain actions, so as to not jeopardize a potential injury claim.
Specifically, we advise against arguing with others involved in the collision, admitting fault (even saying “I’m sorry” could be misconstrued as an admission of guilt), making promises with regard to payments, and telling the other driver that you sustained no injuries in the crash.
Many injuries, such as internal bleeding and soft-tissue damage, do not produce immediate symptoms, so you may not realize that you’ve been injured. It is not advisable to state that you were uninjured at the scene of the accident, this could give the driver’s insurance company a reason to deny your injury claim down the road.
Car accident injuries
Motor vehicle accident injuries range widely, from bumps and bruises to death, but certain injuries are particularly common in car accidents. These include:
Minor injuries may not require medical intervention, but others, such as concussions, broken bones, and post-traumatic stress disorder, likely will.
If you were injured in a car accident, your Los Angeles County car accident lawyer can help calculate damages, accounting for the cost of medical treatment, disability accommodations, lost wages, emotional pain and suffering, and/or other factors relevant to your case.
Who is responsible for my injuries?
In many cases, the other driver is solely responsible for your injuries, but there could be multiple at-fault parties, and you may even be partially responsible.
If, for example, a truck driver crashes into you after falling asleep at the wheel, it may seem at first glance that he is solely responsible for the accident. But if his employer encouraged him to work over the federally regulated maximum hours per day, the trucking company may also be responsible. And if an investigation into the accident reveals that defective brakes also contributed to the severity of the accident, the brake manufacturer may be on the hook. Your LA car accident lawyer can help you determine fault and calculate damages following a crash.
Types of damages car accident victims can recover
The types of damages you can recover after a car accident are largely dependent on the cause of the accident, and the severity of any injuries and property damage. Common types of damages in a motor vehicle crash include:
- Medical expenses, current and future;
- Lost income, current and future;
- Vehicle repair expenses;
- Emotional pain and suffering;
- Alternate transportation costs;
- Disability; and
- Wrongful death.
Economic damages, such as medical and vehicle repair bills are relatively straightforward. If you have $25,000 in medical bills, you will likely seek $25,000 in damages to cover the cost of those bills. Noneconomic damages, on the other hand, are more challenging to calculate, but they frequently account for the most significant percentage of the total settlement. This is just one more of the many reasons why you should hire an experienced L.A. auto accident attorney following any type of crash.
Contact an LA car accident attorney today
If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, the skilled legal team at MAJK Law can help. With more than 45 years of combined experience, our car accident attorneys can get you the compensation you need promptly so that you can heal and get on with your life. Our compassionate, knowledgeable lawyers will work tirelessly to get you the maximum settlement amount, and we will remain by your side throughout the entire process. Don’t complicate an already stressful situation by trying to represent yourself. Let us shoulder the burden for you. Let us work the magic. Contact MAJK Law today for a free and confidential consultation about your case. We serve clients throughout LA county including Arleta, Van Nuys, North Hollywood, and Northridge.