When you share the roads with careless or inattentive drivers in California, it can be hazardous for all vehicle occupants. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, a car accident occurs every sixty seconds nationally, which results in almost 34,000 traffic fatalities. The danger posed to California drivers is also significant with traffic fatalities numbering 3,081 in California, which amounts to ten percent of the national average. If you are involved in a car accident anywhere in California, you may face special challenges in recovering compensation for you injuries because there are a high volume of uninsured and unlicensed drivers in California. Drivers that lack insurance or a driver’s license will generally lack the financial resources to pay a personal injury judgment.
California has a disproportionate number of drivers operating a vehicle without a driver’s license or insurance, which means your chances of being involved in a car accident with an uninsured driver is much higher than you may realize. Approximately one-third of all California drivers have no insurance or inadequate insurance, and some estimates indicate that as many as one in seven California car accidents involve an uninsured driver. Nearly every auto collision involves some level of property damage with many also resulting in substantial injuries and even fatalities. When you suffer serious injury in a California car accident, the financial challenges can be crippling with enormous medical bills, lost income and other economic costs. It is essential that you proceed carefully to protect your California car accident claim.
When you are the victim of a car accident either as a driver, passenger or pedestrian, the actions you take following a car accident can have a dramatic impact on a potential personal injury recovery. When drivers or passengers are involved in a car accident in California, it is normal to be confused and anxious, which can substantially impair the quality of one’s decision-making. There are a substantial number of things that you can do at a car accident scene that will improve the probability of maximizing your car accident claim. Some people carry a checklist in the glove compartment of their car in case they are too shaken following a collision to remember all of the important things they must do to protect their California car accident claim. Alternatively, you might summon family members to the scene so that you do not forget anything important.
High Rate of Uninsured California Drivers Poses Special Challenges to Successful Car Accident Claims
Because there are so many uninsured drivers in California, it is especially important to summon law enforcement to the scene of your accident and to make sure that you get the driver’s license, insurance, vehicle description and license plate information for the other driver. The more information you obtain the easier it will be to identify the other driver if they later leave the scene of the auto accident. Even if the driver does not have insurance, the other driver may be a homeowner or have other assets against which a personal injury judgment can be enforced. It is also important to obtain the identity of any witnesses who observed the accident because they may be able to help you identify a driver who flees the scene of an accident. Even if you are involved in a hit-and-run accident where the other driver cannot be identified, our experienced California car accident attorneys may be able to help you file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim against your own insurance or identify other third parties that may share liability for your injuries, such as governmental entities that fail to provide safe roadways or manufacturers of vehicle components that are defective and contribute to a collision.
Where you are involved in an accident and the driver does not flee the scene, you should still gather all of the information above, which will help in pursue a claim against the other driver’s insurance company. You should also take photographs of the surrounding area, injuries that you suffered and any vehicle damage. While you may be anxious to have your vehicle repaired quickly, it is advisable to contact our California personal injury attorneys who can have an investigator examine the damage before it is repaired. It is also recommended that any debris that broke off your vehicle also be preserved. Our experienced California car accident lawyers work closely with accident reconstruction experts who will use photos, vehicle debris, the condition and position of the vehicles, the police accident report, witness statements and other evidence to facilitate building the strongest possible accident litigation strategy.
Preserving Evidence and Issues for Your California Car Accident Lawsuit
While it may seem obvious that obtaining medical attention following California car accidents is extremely important, many accident victims fail to do so because they have no significant symptoms. This is a mistake that comes back to haunt many California car accident victims. In a car accident lawsuit, the three issues litigated intensely are fault, causation and damages. When a California car accident involves little dispute about fault, such as an accident caused by driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI/DWI), the insurance company will typically focus its defense on disputing the cause and severity of your injuries. If you delay obtaining medical attention, this creates a foundation for the insurance carrier to assert these types of defenses. The insurance company may argue that you could not have suffered serious injury in the collision because you did not even go to the doctor until some period of time had passed after the accident. Many times insurance companies hire investigators to follow personal injury victims and take photographs of them engaging activities that might seem inconsistent with their purported injuries. This is another reason it is essential to seek a full diagnostic exam even if you suffered only minor injuries in a car accident in California because this may create objective evidence of your injuries in the form of a medical diagnosis/prognosis, x-rays, MRIs or CT scans.
One thing you should absolutely avoid following a serious car accident in California is making any kind of formal statement or signing paperwork provided by the other driver’s insurance company. This type of statement is not designed to facilitate paying your claim but rather to develop potential defenses that will allow the insurance company to avoid paying the claim or reduce the amount paid. If you sign paperwork provided by the other driver’s insurance company, you may find that you are signing an authorization for release of information that may permit the insurance company to obtain your medical records, employment records or otherwise seek information that may be personal or confidential. The insurance company may also try to provide a check and ask you to sign a document acknowledging your receipt of the check. It is highly probable that the check is for far less than the value of your claim while the accompanying document is a general release that waives all claims including those related to injuries that you are not even aware exist.
Experienced California Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyers – Helping Car Accident Victims Rebuild
This overview of basic issues that can impact your California car accident claim should provide some insight into why it is important to obtain prompt legal advice from a California car accident lawyer. An experienced car accident lawyer can investigate your auto collision, deal with the other driver’s insurance company and most importantly provide legal advice and guidance so that you do not make critical errors that compromise your car accident lawsuit. Our California car accident lawyers provide thorough research, effective negotiation and tenacious advocacy. We invite you to contact us today so that we can help you obtain the compensation that you need to move past your California auto accident.