When you get into a car accident, you likely are dealing with the high cost of property damages and medical expenses. Car accidents have resulted in fatal injuries, and in 2016, 2,483 car accidents caused a fatality or personal injury in Stockton, CA. This is far higher than neighboring counties. If you experienced a serious personal injury because of a car accident that isn’t your fault, it is time to speak to a car accident attorney. According to personal injury law, when someone else causes an accident, they can be held responsible for the damages. For this reason, you can speak with an attorney to find out how much you may be eligible for in your settlement.
How Can The Other Driver Be At Fault?
To prove that the other driver is at fault, your attorney would have to show how their actions caused you to get into a terrible accident. Fatal car crashes are often caused by the neglectful actions of another.
Four Tenets of Proving Neglect
California is a fault state and the person responsible must compensate you for your losses. For your attorneys to prove that you were not at fault for your crash, they would have to show that the other driver meets these four conditions: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, harm.
Duty of Care
This is the general obligation that other drivers must act appropriately on the road and follow traffic laws. Other drivers have to perform a duty of care and pay attention to the road so that they do not injure other drivers.
Breach of Duty
When another driver falls below expectations and causes a collision due to driving errors, this is a breach of duty. They may be recklessly driving or inebriated, creating danger for nearby drivers.
If the other driver’s breach of duty is the same reason you got into a car accident, this is causation. Your attorney would have to tie the other party’s activities to your car crash to show that there was causation.
The other driver may have caused harm because of their behavior, which often results in damages. When there are no damages, there is no harm caused. You can only seek a settlement if harm was done, such as damage to your vehicle or physical injuries.
Different Ways Accidents Are Caused
You may have experienced a car crash for a variety of reasons.
One of the leading causes of car accidents is distracted driving. This activity happens when the driver isn’t paying attention to the road conditions around them because they are too busy on their phone, talking to passengers, or doing things inside their car. They can be texting, mapping out their destination on GPS, or talking on the phone. This puts drivers at risk of causing an accident due to inattentive driving.
Sometimes the road conditions are the best because of rain, wind, snow, fog, and sleet. When it is difficult to see the road due to terrible weather conditions, the driver is more likely to get into an accident. They may not see other drivers nearby when they switch lanes or cannot stop in time because of wet conditions. Hydroplaning is a common occurrence when it rains heavily because the grips on the tire get filled with water; because of this, the tires can begin to glide across the road.
A large number of drivers speed on average during their daily commute. Because of this, the number of accidents on highways and freeways is typically higher than on residential roads. Drivers that speed don’t have enough time to react or slow down, and the impact of their crash is a lot more fatal because they are traveling at a higher velocity.
Drivers often get emotional on the road, causing them to react irrationally. They may get upset at other drivers and cut others off, speed, or change lanes without signaling. When other drivers are exhibiting road rage, they ignore the road and can cause a car accident by acting carelessly towards others driving around them.
It is unfortunate when drivers take illicit drugs or act irresponsibly by driving drunk. Substances such as alcohol or other drugs can cause an accident because these harmful chemicals influence the driver’s cognitive ability. Their reaction time to other drivers may be slower, or they simply don’t see what’s happening around them because their vision is affected.
The other driver may have attempted to get around a road hazard before they caused an accident. There are potholes, fallen trees, debris, animals, and other obstacles that might get in the way of traffic. Sometimes a driver swerved or stopped abruptly not to hit an object on the road, resulting in a bad wreckage.
While it is highly recommended that some drivers take prescription medicine before they hit the road. Most pharmaceutical drugs have listed on their label to not take medicine before operating heavy machinery or driving. Not everyone follows this suggestion and may end up sleepy behind the wheel. In other cases, drivers are fatigued from work or sleeplessness. This makes them not fully attentive and sleepy when driving to and from work.
How Would a Car Accident Attorney Help?
You may not know if the other person is at fault for your accident and whether the type of accident you encountered can be eligible for compensation. Your lawyer can review your case and find out more information about how your accident happened. Using this evidence, they can fight for your right to a settlement based upon the other driver’s negligence. You can let your lawyer know how the accident happened, the damages you experienced, and why you think the other driver may be at fault for your wounds.
What Damages Can I Seek?
With the help of your lawyer, you can include economic and non-economic damages in your settlement. They will calculate these damages accurately and fairly, based upon the circumstances surrounding your accident.
After a scary car crash, you can expect to have medical bills of all kinds, including medical tests, imaging scans, prescription medicine, and other healthcare remedies. When you need surgery, follow-up visits, or ongoing physical therapy, all of these medical expenses can be included in your settlement. You may also realize that you can’t work full-time because your income is severely limited due to your wounds. Your income and future lost wages can also be added in. If your insurance doesn’t entirely cover the property damage of your car, this becomes part of your compensation.
When you endure terrible wounds from a car crash, you will experience a lot of pain and suffering. This can include grief, misery, depression, anxiety, and other dark emotions you wouldn’t have experienced had you not had a personal injury. Physical discomfort such as fatigue, aches, and soreness is also a form of suffering. Our Stockton personal injury lawyers can calculate how much your pain and suffering is worth based on a multiplier that considers how severe your car crash was.
If the other party happened to behave in a grossly negligent way, such as intentionally causing an accident, breaking traffic laws, or engaging in substance abuse, then they can be charged in court. This is not always the case and only happens in some instances, but your California car accident lawyer has to prove that they were grossly negligent using evidence. A police officer would have to notice that the other driver was acting strangely or under the influence of illicit substances or alcohol before administering a drug test.
Wrongful Death Damages
When you are the surviving family member of a victim who passed away in a fatal car collision, you can seek wrongful death damages from the other driver. You can request additional damages to cover funeral and burial fees, along with economic and non-economic damages unique to a wrongful death case. Our Stockton personal injury attorneys can guide you through how this is done.
Car Accident FAQ
At the Law Offices of Brown & Gessell, our Stockton car accident attorneys frequently field questions from clients who have been injured in car crashes. These are some of the most frequently asked questions about their personal injury cases. If you would like specific information about your case, contact our office for a free consultation with a Stockton personal injury lawyer.
What is the statute of limitations for California car accident cases?
For most car accident cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the crash. However, if the defendant is a government entity, the car crash victim typically has six months to file a car accident claim. Two years might seem like ample time, but when it comes to personal injury matters, an attorney requires time to tabulate damages, assemble evidence, file a personal injury claim with the insurance company, etc.
Can I still collect damages from the insurance company if I am partially at fault?
Under California’s pure comparative fault law, an auto accident victim can still claim damages, even if their injuries were not entirely caused by someone else’s negligence.
For example, if you were in a motor vehicle accident because a distracted driver failed to stop at a red light, but the accident investigators determined that you were speeding at the time of the accident, the court may determine that you were 20% liable for your injuries. Under California law, you could still collect 80% of your damages.
Will my case result in a personal injury lawsuit?
In most motor vehicle accident cases, your car accident attorney will file a lawsuit against the insurance company. In a car accident case where the at-fault driver does not have liability coverage, you can file against the uninsured or underinsured driver.
Just because our law firm files a personal injury lawsuit does not mean that the case will go to court, however. Our Stockton car accident attorneys will do their best to reach a settlement with the insurance company before taking it before a judge.
Do I need a car accident attorney if I do not have serious injuries?
Under California law, a car accident victim can file their case without a motor vehicle accident lawyer. In most cases, the auto insurance company will agree to pay your immediate economic damages — your medical bills so far, lost wages, and motor vehicle repairs.
This money may seem like a blessing in the wake of a car accident, but your settlement will, in all likelihood, be much less than if you allow a Stockton car accident lawyer from our firm to handle your case. We help car crash victims recover damages not only for their medical treatment and property damage but for future medical expenses and other costs, as well as for non-economic damages.
What is a Letter of Protection?
If you require extensive medical treatment, your doctors may begin questioning your ability to pay — or you may decide not to pay once you recover compensation. This could make finding medical care difficult. A letter of protection (LOP) is a guarantee to doctors that they will be paid with the proceeds of a settlement or court award.
This is a legally binding agreement under California law executed by a Stockton car accident attorney. For example, if you sustained head injuries, brain injuries, or spinal cord injuries, your medical bills could easily climb into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. An LOP would help you get the care you need.
Get The Help You Need from a Car Crash Lawyer
At Brown & Gessell, our law firm represents individuals who have suffered injuries in Stockton car accidents. You can work with an attorney who has your back and can identify key evidence to use in your case without having to pay out of pocket. Our lawyers understand personal injury law from years of experience and can give you reliable advice. Contact Brown & Gessell for a free consultation.