Car accidents are a leading cause of severe injuries and death in California. Involvement in a catastrophic car accident could leave you with physical and financial disabilities. Fortunately, a person who gets injured in a negligent car accident is entitled to recover various forms of compensation for the injuries. In most cases, the insurance companies will not have your best interest at heart. They are likely to offer you a settlement that cannot cover all the losses incurred from the car accident injuries. However, by filing a civil lawsuit, you will have a chance to fight and receive maximum compensation. When claiming damages in California, the legal process is complicated, especially for a person who is nursing bodily injuries. Therefore, it would be wise to enlist the legal guidance of an attorney from the Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney.
Overview of Car Accidents Claims in California
Car accidents are a common occurrence in California. There are different type of accidents in which you can be involved, including:
- Head-on collisions
- Rear-end car Collisions
- Pedestrian accident
- Rollover accident
Depending on the severity of the accident, it is likely that you will suffer severe injuries from such a collision. Most car accidents result from negligence. In California, negligence is a reckless disregard for the safety of others. Besides the injuries you suffer, a car collision that can take a toll on your financial life. Fortunately, if you are injured in a car accident, you can recover compensation for the losses you incurred.
Since liability for an accident is based on negligence, the liable party will be responsible for paying your damages. However, before a party is held liable for the accident, you should prove the following elements of negligence:
- Duty of care. In California, road users owe each other a duty of care. This is the responsibility to ensure that you do not cause harm to others. A person who owes you a duty of care should control their vehicle’s speed and follow all traffic rules to avoid a collision. Before you can prove that a person was liable for your injuries, it should be clear that they owed you a duty of care.
- The defendant breached their duty of care towards you. An individual breaches their duty of care if they act in a way that puts you at risk. This can be by over speeding, reckless overtaking, swerving in different lanes, and failure to obey traffic rules.
- Causation. Before the defendant is held liable for your losses in a car accident, you should prove that their negligence was a substantial factor in causing your injuries. However, their actions do not have to be the only contributing factor to the accident.
- Prove of Damages. Before you recover damages in a car accident lawsuit, you must provide proof of the losses you incurred.
Evidence Required in a Car Accident Lawsuit
If you are trying to recover damages for the losses you incurred from a car accident, you will need evidence of the losses. Also, you need to show the nature of the accident so you can hold another party liable for your damages. The following are some types of evidence that can work to your advantage in a car accident lawsuit:
Photographic Video Evidence
If you have been involved in a car accident, it would be wise to take photos at the scene before it is cleared. Some of the scenes you could capture are the external and internal damage of the vehicle, your injuries, and road conditions. These photos could be critical in showing how the car accident occurred. One of the most valuable pieces of evidence in your claim is video footage. This will indicate the occurrences before and after the crash. However, obtaining video footage could be quite complicated.
Many businesses have cameras on their properties to record accidents or robberies. You should identify if any cameras are existing in the area. You can then find the owner of the footage and request a copy to present it as evidence in your lawsuit.
While injuries suffered from a car accident may prevent you from speaking with the witnesses, it would be wise to get contact information from anyone who witnesses the collision. Especially when the witness is someone you do not know, their testimony can significantly help your claim. This is because a third party can provide unbiased accounts of the accident. Your car accident attorney can help you track witnesses and recover their testimonies.
One of the first steps you need to take after a car accident is to call the police. When they arrive at the scene, you should help them by giving an account of the accident. When speaking with the police, you should not give assumptions or personal opinions. The police will write a report on their accounts of what happened. During your car accident claim, you can present the police report as evidence of how the accident occurred. The official police report of the accident is seen as an objective view of the crash’s facts. Your car accident attorney will help you request the police report.
Your medical report is vital to demonstrating the degree of your injuries. When you seek medical care after an accident, it is crucial to ensure that all your injuries are documented. Also, ensure that the records are well kept to be used as evidence of your damages and medical costs in your car accident claim.
Proof of Lost Wages
There are different forms of damages you can recover in a car accident claim. If you have lost an income due to the accident injuries, you will be required to show proof of the lost income. This could be informed of past tax returns or a letter from your employer indicating the amount you earn and what you lost.
Damages Available After a Car Accident
If you are involved in a car accident, you can recover several types of damages by filing a car accident claim. Auto accident victims can recover compensation for:
If another person has breached their duty of care and caused an accident, they are responsible for the medical bills you incur when treating the resulting injuries. Most people will accept fault for an accident. Therefore, you may have to cover your medical expenses before the claim is awarded. You can pay your medical bills using a medical insurance cover. If you do not have health insurance, the law requires the hospital to offer you a discount.
Alternatively, you can seek medical care from doctors who are paid on a lien basis. However, it is crucial to understand that these doctors are paid with the proceeds of the claim. If what you receive from the claim is not enough, you will have to cover the balance. After your claim is settled, then you can reimburse your health insurers.
When you claim compensation for medical expenses, the insurers of the defendant may want to look at copies of your medical bills. Also, your health records dating back at least five years may be needed. This is to ensure that the injuries for which you are seeking compensation resulted from the car accident. If you had an injury that was worsened by the car accident, you are also entitled to compensation.
Collision coverage is not a requirement in California. However, most people still purchase them if their vehicles are valuable. If you are involved in a negligent car accident, you can use the collision coverage to repair your vehicle. A driver who doesn’t have a collision cover has several options for getting car repairs including:
- Cover the repairs and claim reimbursement from the insurance company of the at-fault party
- Wait until the lawsuit settles and repair the vehicle
- Try to settle property damage with the insurance company outside of court
You can prove property damage by producing photos of the accident scene. You do not need a professional camera to capture this kind of evidence. You can use your cellphone to take photos before the accident scene is cleared.
Most car accident injuries may cause you to spend some time in the hospital. During this time, you may lack the ability to go back to work. Lost wages in California is all the amounts you would have earned from work if you hadn’t been injured. Lost wages could be in the form of regular pay, commissions, overtime or income from self-employment. If you are claiming compensation for lost wages, California law requires you to prove the number of earnings you lost.
Some of the ways through which you can prove lost income after a car accident include:
- Getting a lost wages letter from your employer — A lost wages letter indicates the nature of your working contract, the number of hours you work in a day, and the amount you earn per hour. Also, the number of working days you missed when you were nursing your injuries is indicated.
- Past pay stubs and tax returns — If you cannot obtain a lost wages letter from your employer, you can use your tax returns and pay stubs to prove lost wages.
Lost Future Earning Capacity
Some car accident injuries produce serious injuries that you have to bear for a lifetime. These injuries may make it difficult to return to your normal job. When you file a car accident claim, you can recover compensation for lost future earning capacity. However, your injuries do not need to be permanent for you to receive this type of compensation. Since the loss has not yet occurred, it can be difficult to prove lost earning capacity. The court can consider the following factors when awarding this type of damages:
- The duration which your incapacitation is likely to last
- Your age
- The number of working years you have left before retirement
- Your life expectancy
- Your health status before the accident
Loss of Affection and Companionship
If you are married, an injury to you or your spouse could deprive you of showing affection, including sexual activity. Unlike other damages, loss of consortium can only be claimed by the spouse of the victim. For this type of claim, the jury will consider whether you were legally married and the general impact of the death or injuries on the ability to be affectionate with your spouse.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is the mental and physical distress you suffer from a car accident. Most injuries that arise from these collisions take a long time to resolve. Also, the effects of the injuries may cause you emotional pain and suffering. Even though there isn’t enough compensation you can receive for the pain you experience from the accident, you are entitled to some form of compensation.
When determining compensation, the court will consider the seriousness of the pain you suffered and the possibility of future pain associated with the injuries. Guidance from a car accident attorney will go a long way when you seek to recover damages for pain and suffering in California.
Loss of Enjoyment of Life
Every person has a unique combination of the things they like and enjoy to do in their lives. Car accident injuries are likely to affect your health and ability to do the things you like. This could be the case if you suffer permanent injuries such as spinal cord and brain injuries. There is no specific method of calculating compensation for loss of life enjoyment. The factors that affect the compensation you receive for loss of life enjoyment will depend on the severity of your injuries. Also, the injuries in your professional and personal life are considered when making your settlement.
Wrongful Death Compensation
Death is a common result of car accidents in California. It can be very devastating to lose a loved one as a result of negligence. Fortunately, you can claim wrongful death benefits as part of your car accident claim. The process of claiming wrongful death damages is quite difficult. This is because the main witness in the case cannot tell their account of the occurrences. The damages that you can recover after a wrongful death in California will vary depending on the personal loss you incurred from the death of your loved one. The following are some of the damages you can be able to recover:
- Reasonable burial and funeral expenses
- Loss of financial support for the household if the deceased was a bread wiener
- Loss of love and affection from the deceased
- Loss of income and benefits the deceased would have earned in their lifetime.
Car Accident Damages Frequently Asked Questions
Car accidents are emotionally and physically traumatic events. After an accident, you may be unsure how to move forward, considering the immense effect of the accident. Recovering maximum compensation after a car accident in California can be quite confusing is the case, especially when you are fighting an insurance company. However, a competent car accident attorney can walk the journey with you to improve your chances of recovering maximum compensation. The following are some frequently asked questions about car accident damages in California:
How are Damages Calculated After a Car Accident in California?
When you file a compensation lawsuit after a car accident in California, you are entitled to receive different forms of damages. There are different ways of determining the amount of compensation you receive, depending on the type of loss for which you are suing. However, the severity of the injuries you suffer and nature if the accident is considered when awarding compensation. In order to increase the amount you recover, it would be wise to collect relevant evidence showing your injuries and losses and present them in the lawsuit.
Who Pays my Damages after a Car Accident?
Most car accidents in California are as a result of the negligence of a road user. After the accident, it is crucial to investigate the nature of the accident and identify the liable parties, if you are injured in a car accident, the fault party will be liable for paying your damages. You can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company via their liability coverage. It is crucial to understand that California operates on comparative negligence, and you will receive compensation based on the percentage of fault for the other party. If you are partially at fault for the collision, you are still entitled to some form of compensation.
How Long Does an Insurance Company Take to Settle a Claim in California?
After a negligent car accident in California, the fault party’s insurance company is responsible for paying your damages. You can either settle the compensation out of court or by filing a lawsuit. California insurance companies have up to forty days to accept or deny your claim. If the insurers require more time to evaluate your claim, they are required to notify you every thirty days about the status of the claim. Once your settlement is agreed upon, the payment must be issued within thirty days.
What Should I Do Right after a Car Accident in California?
The moments after an accident can be quite confusing since you don’t understand what to do next. However, it is crucial to understand that what you do after the accident could affect your claim and the damages you recover for your injuries. Immediately after the accident, you should ensure to seek medical attention. This is to help avoid worsening the injuries and get medical evidence of your injuries. One of the damages you recover from an accident claim is the medical bills, and a report from the doctor will be crucial evidence when claiming this type of compensation.
You should ensure that all your injuries are treated and documented. Also, you need to have a copy of the medical report indicating the type of injuries you suffer and the amount you spent to treat them.
Should I Accept the Compensation Settlement offered by my Insurance Company?
If an insurance adjuster offers you a settlement after a car accident, you should remember that you have a single chance to recover damages. Once you accept a settlement, you cannot return to claim for more even when your injuries worsen in the future. A good settlement is the one that covers your present and the future loss you experience as a result of the car accident. It would be wise to wait until you have recovered from the injuries so you can be sure of the loss and the worth of your claim. Also, it is crucial to have guidance from an attorney before accepting any offer.
What Can I do to ensure I receive Maximum Compensation after a car accident?
If you are injured in a car accident in California, you can recover compensation for your losses. After the accident, the insurance company will likely approach you with a compensation offer. Ensure that you do not discuss your injuries or your intention to file a claim with the insurance adjusters. Also, seeking legal guidance from a car accident attorney will be a great way to ensure your rights and interests are respected during the claim. Your attorney will help you negotiate a maximum compensation for your losses.
Find a Car Accident Attorney Near Me
When you have been injured in a car accident, you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. For most individuals, this will be the only way to ensure they have the necessary medical and financial resources needed to curb the effects of car accident injuries. You already have enough to deal in the form of injuries, and you need to fight for compensation. Guidance from a competent car accident is crucial when navigating the process of recovering damages after an accident. At Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney, we work diligently to ensure that you receive maximum compensation for the injuries you suffered. If you are in Los Angeles, CA, you will need us by your side. Contact us today at 424-237-3600 to discuss more details of your claim.