The diversity of lifestyles and attractions in Southern California are virtually unprecedented, but one unifying factor that applies to everyone that drives, bikes or walks the streets of SoCal is the reality of heavy traffic congestion and serious car accidents. Whether you are navigating the San Diego, Los Angeles or Orange County area, the high volume of motor vehicles means that Southern California car accidents are an unavoidable reality of life.
Even those who commute on Southern California freeways and observe almost daily traffic accidents tend to presume that they will never be personally involved in a Southern California collision. There are more than 3,400 California car accidents annually with Los Angeles and San Diego accounting for the highest number of accidents.
Why You Need a Southern California Car Accident Lawyer: Balancing the Scales of Justice
When you or a close family member suffers serious injury in a SoCal traffic collision, it can create difficult issues for your family. While an injury victim struggles to cope with physical healing and intense pain, financial obstacles, insurance hassles and legal complexities can interfere with one’s physical recovery. Some Southern California car accident victims make the mistake of trying to handle their SoCal car accident claim without the assistance of a qualified and experienced Southern California car accident lawyer. This course of action can be a huge mistake because the typical accident victim has no experience navigating the formal legal procedures and evidentiary rules that are part of any Southern California accident settlement or personal injury trial.
Insurance companies process thousands of auto accident claims annually and have virtually limitless resources. When you hire a skilled Southern California car accident attorney, you are leveling the playing field by putting litigation experience, legal knowledge, refined negotiation skills and persuasive advocacy on your side. The best part about working with a Southern California car accident lawyer is that generally there is no risk. The SoCal car accident law firm will typically work on a contingency basis so that they only get paid when they obtain a recovery through settlement or verdict. In most cases, the law firm also will advance all of the costs associated with pursuing your Southern California auto accident claim.
There is a wide range of unethical tactic that an insurance company may employ to induce you into dropping your claim or settling for pennies on the dollar. Insurance adjusters know that injuries suffered in a car accident anywhere in Southern California can leave someone partially or completely disabled. This means that your expenses may go up because you must deal with the repair of your vehicle and medical costs while your income has ceased. It is not uncommon for insurance companies to take advantage of stress and financial pressure by extending a low-ball offer or dragging out the process until the financial pressure becomes so intense that you are induced to settle for far below the value of your SoCal car accident claim.
Key Issues in Southern California Car Accidents Explained
There are three distinct but carefully interrelated issues that are at the core of most auto accident claims in Southern California: fault, causation and damages. Fault is usually based on the legal concept of negligence, which essentially refers to driving behavior that a reasonable person would avoid to prevent injury to other drivers, vehicle passengers, bicyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. One distinction worth keeping in mind is the principal of “ordinary negligence” as opposed to “gross negligence” or “recklessness”. While the difference between these types of unsafe driving behavior does not impact fault, it may have a substantial impact on the damages that a Southern California car accident lawyer may seek on behalf of injury victims.
Ordinary negligence provides a legal basis for providing compensation to an injury victim for their actual tangible and intangible losses. The goal is to put the injury victim in the position he or she would have been if not for the negligence of the defendant or at least to the degree this can be done through awarding financial compensation. While this would include tangible economic losses like property damage, lost wages and future impaired earning ability, compensatory damages also include less tangible forms of loss, such as suffering from physical pain and mental anguish as well as the adverse impact on your enjoyment of life experiences and your marital relationship. If the defendant has engaged in gross negligence or recklessness, this may justify punitive damages, which are awarded to discourage future similar acts and to punish the defendant.
While these less tangible forms of loss are harder to put a precise value on, they typically amount to the most significant component in a Southern California personal injury settlement or verdict. The skill and experience of your Southern California car accident lawyer can have a significant impact on this component of damages by helping a judge or jury really understand the depth of these intangible forms of loss. The best Southern California personal injury attorney can guide a judge or jury so that it steps into the shoes of the injury victim or the victim’s family and empathizes with the victim and his or her family.
Insurance companies will battle mightily on the issue or damages and may argue that a Southern California car accident victim is exaggerating his or her loss or that their injuries were not caused by the auto collision involving their insured. Insurance companies frequently seek extensive medical records to develop evidence of prior illness or injury to establish an alternative cause of an injury victim’s medical symptoms or condition. The insurance company may even hire private investigators to conduct surveillance and obtain video or photos of injury victims engaging in activities that seem inconsistent with the nature or extent of their injury. Insurance company attorneys may even go so far as to attack the strength and stability of an injury victim’s marriage to suggest that there was little negative impact on one’s marital relationship. These tactics make the services of a dedicated Southern California personal injury attorney invaluable.
Who Do I Sue? – What Did They Do Wrong to Cause My Orange County Car Accident Injuries?
While it is accurate to say that either ordinary negligence or gross negligence (i.e. recklessness) is the cause of most Southern California car accidents, the real question is what types of acts lead to car accidents in Southern California. Most of the time the negligent actions will be committed by other drivers, but third parties may also be responsible, including vehicle owners who lend their cars, employees and employers driving company cars, vehicle manufacturers that produce defective vehicles and even governmental entities that fail to build or maintain safe roads. While a comprehensive list of the types of negligent conduct that may contribute to a car accident and form the basis for liability in a Southern California auto accident claim would take pages, some of the most common examples include:
- Drivers who travel at an unsafe speeds
- Operating a vehicle with a BAC of .08 percent or above (i.e. DUI/DWI) (leading cause of head-on collisions)
- Driving while under the influence of prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or illegal drugs
- Failing to maintain one’s lane (frequent cause of sideswipe crashes)
- Not allowing sufficient following distance based on one’s speed (most common cause of rear-enders)
- Producers of cars or car parts that have product defects (commonly results in rollover accidents)
- Distracted drivers who run traffic lights, stop signs or otherwise make errors due to inattention (leading cause of T-bone collisions)
- Traveling long distance without adequate rest or sleep (i.e. drowsy driving)
- Public entities that do not give adequate consideration to driver and pedestrian safety when designing roads
- Failure of a governmental entity to perform remedial measures after multiple accidents or near misses at a specific location
- Failure to check the rear of a vehicle before getting in (often causes driveway backup accidents)
Damages in Your Southern California Personal Injury Claim: Foundation of Your Financial Future
When you are incapacitated and suffer injuries that limit your ability to do all that you did before a Southern California car accident, the damages that your SoCal car accident lawyer obtain will form the impetus for you to maintain your quality of life and protect your future. This is especially true when you suffer catastrophic injuries like loss of limbs, massive third-degree burns, paralysis from spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injuries or the tragic death of someone you love. While financial compensation will not ease the pain of a serious injury or the emotional heartache of losing someone you love, it will provide a financial foundation for the future of you and your family.
When your life is derailed by the careless or reckless conduct of a negligent driver, it is essential to obtain immediate legal advice. A Southern California car accident attorney can guide you through the potential litigation minefields and help you avoid insurance company traps. A dedicated and experienced Southern California car accident law firm may be able to assist you with any type of motor vehicle collision in any of the following Southern California counties including: Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, Ventura County and Kern County as well as all major metro-areas in these counties and all smaller, rural or unincorporated areas within these counties.