Car Accident Attorneys serving all of Sonoma County
Car Accidents in California
You’ve been in a car accident. The other driver totaled your vehicle, you’ve sustained a serious personal injury, and insurance companies bombard you with questions. Car accidents can be overwhelming and traumatic events. After seeking medical attention for any injuries and reporting the accident to your insurance company, call our Santa Rosa Car Accident Attorneys for expert car accident legal counsel.
What to Do After a Car Accident
If you’ve been in a car accident in California, don’t drive away from the scene; this will lead to hit and run charges. Stay and find out if anyone is injured. Call the police and report the accident, requesting an ambulance if necessary. The police will instruct you on how to proceed until they arrive. If you’re injured, stay where you are as long as it’s safe. Wait for medical professionals.
Don’t admit fault for the accident. Even if you were partially at fault, the other driver may be more at fault than you. Admitting fault may hurt your chance of winning compensation for the accident. Instead, gather the information of anyone on the scene, including the other driver and any of his or her passengers. Obtain the driver’s insurance information, license plate number, vehicle make and color, and contact details. If there are witnesses to the accident, write down their names and contact details as well. Take photos of any property damage as well as the damage to both cars, if possible. Request a copy of the official police report.
If an ambulance doesn’t take you to a hospital, visit a medical professional as soon as possible, even if you don’t think you’re injured. You may have sustained an injury without realizing it, such as a slipped disc in your back. Failing to visit a doctor immediately following a car accident can hurt your case if you decide to file a personal injury claim against the other driver. It can make a jury believe your injuries weren’t severe enough to need medical attention or follow-up care.
Keep detailed records of any medical visits, including any prescribed treatment plans. Follow your treatment plan exactly. Deviating from what your doctor or other health care professional advice may affect your compensation in a personal injury lawsuit later on.
Once you’re on the road to recovery, contact an attorney. Li & Lozada Law Group, LLP, has helped dozens of Sonoma County residents file claims against distracted drivers, vehicle manufacturing companies, and negligent roadway workers for damaging car accidents. Don’t wait too long, however, as California’s personal injury statute of limitations sets how much time you have to file a claim.
Negligence and Car Accidents
Negligence is the most common cause of car accidents. Human error, such as driver distraction or a poorly maintained vehicle, is 100% preventable. Yet it causes thousands of accidents, injuries, and fatalities every year. In 2014, distracted drivers killed 3,179 people and injured 431,000 more. As cell phone usage while driving increases, the number of car accidents increases too. Although California law makes it illegal to write, read, or send text messages while driving, thousands of drivers disobey this rule.
Common causes of car accidents include:
- Using a cell phone to talk, text, email, or access social media apps while driving
- Eating or drinking while driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Drowsy driving or falling asleep while driving
- Reckless driving
- Wrong-way driving
- Failing to obey road rules, such as speeding and running red lights or stop signs
- Poor weather conditions
- Vehicle design defects
Every victim of a negligence-related car accident can file a claim against the responsible party. An experienced attorney can prove someone else drove while distracted by looking at the police report, accessing the driver’s phone records, and interviewing witnesses. Recreating the accident may also be necessary.
The legal team at Li & Lozada Law Group, LLP, has experience reconstructing accidents, investigating crime scenes, and performing detective work. Our unique mix of expertise is ideal for building a negligence case against a defendant in a car accident.
Common Types of Car Accidents
On California’s busy roadways, one of the most common types of car accidents is the rear-end collision. While these “fender benders” typically may not be severe, they can result in harmful whiplash and other injuries—not to mention thousands in property damage. In a rear-end collision, the driver in back is almost always at fault. Even if the first driver stopped abruptly and unexpectedly, the driver in back should maintain enough distance between vehicles to be able to avoid a collision. Proving fault in rear-end collisions is relatively easy.
A more severe type of car accident is a broadside collision, more commonly known as a “T-bone” accident. In these cases, one vehicle collides with another’s driver side. For example, this may happen when one driver fails to stop at an intersection and collides with another driver. A driver who runs a red light could cause a high-speed collision in which the passengers of both vehicles are injured. Broadside accidents commonly cause head injuries, brain injuries, and fractures.
One of the most fatal types of car accidents is the head-on collision. A head-on collision may occur when a driver goes the wrong way on a road or when a vehicle crosses into oncoming traffic. Head-on collisions are particularly deadly due to the immense g-forces exerted in the crash. During this type of accident, the cars collide at a speed that equals both speeds combined. If both cars were driving 50 miles per hour, for example, they would collide at the equivalent of one car crashing into a wall at 100 miles per hour. Therefore, the damages are severe and can be fatal.
Proving fault in any type of car accident means the difference between paying for your hefty expenses out-of-pocket and making the responsible party pay instead. Li & Lozada Law Group, LLP, will investigate your accident to determine who was at fault. If we decide that you have a claim, then we will present your case to a judge and jury, recreating the crash scene if necessary. Choosing the right attorney to prove negligence can make or break your car accident claim.
Types of Car Accident Injuries
Car accidents are some of the most catastrophic events that can happen to a person. The human body cannot withstand the extreme gravitational forces that come into play during high-speed collisions between two vehicles, a vehicle and a stationary object, or a vehicle and a pedestrian. During a car accident, there are three separate collisions that take place:
- Vehicle collision. The first collision occurs between a vehicle and another object. The vehicle begins to stop upon collision, crushing inward and absorbing some of the energy generated in the crash. In a car crash at 30 miles per hour, the vehicle takes about one-tenth of a second to stop.
- Human collision. The human collision occurs when passengers inside the vehicle experience motion that abruptly stops when the body comes into contact with an outside force. This may be the seatbelt, steering column, dashboard, or windshield. During the human collision, the body absorbs the energy of the crash. Injuries that occur during the human collision include broken bones and contusions.
- Internal collision. The third collision (internal collisions) is the most damaging to the human body. The internal collision occurs when the internal organs continue to move toward the point of impact after the body has stopped moving. Organs may collide with each other, bones, and the skull. The internal collision causes injuries, such as traumatic brain injury and organ bleeding.
Car accident injuries can vary widely depending on the type and severity of the crash. The most common car accident injuries involve the back and neck, such as a whiplash-type injury. Back injuries may be minor, leading to back pain for weeks or months after the accident, or severe, resulting in paralysis. Other injuries can lead to temporary or permanent disability, including broken bones, bruised organs, and concussions. No matter what type of injury a car accident victim suffers, he or she has the right to file a claim to receive compensation.
California Car Accident Law: What You Need to Know
Every state abides by its own car accident laws and regulations. When two people try to settle a car accident case, the court follows specific rules. In California, we follow a pure comparative fault rule with car accident cases. Pure comparative fault allows two parties to share fault for an accident. This means that you may be eligible to receive compensation even if you were a percentage at fault for the accident. However, the courts will reduce your award by your fault percentage. If you’re more than 50% at fault, you won’t receive any compensation.
Our Santa Rosa accident attorneys know how to make the pure comparative fault rule work to a plaintiff’s advantage. Previous clients for whom we’ve won settlements recognize our talent for proving to judges and juries that the other party was more than 50% at fault for an accident. Car accidents can amount to thousands of dollars’ worth of personal and property damages. Partner with a law firm you can trust for your best chance of obtaining most or all the award you deserve.
If you’re involved in a truck accident in California, this comes with separate laws of its own. There are several federal and state regulations regarding 18-wheelers and their drivers. For example, drivers must obey hours of service regulations that mandate sleep between shifts. If a truck driver breaks any regulations or the typical rules of the road, it can result in a serious accident.
Motorcycles also have special rules that don’t apply to passenger vehicles. California is the only state in which lane splitting (riding on the line between lanes) is legal for motorcyclists. Motorcyclists and their passengers must also wear helmets at all times. If you’re in an accident involving a motorcycle, you need an attorney who specializes in local motorcycle laws for your best chance of receiving compensation for injuries. Otherwise, you could risk a jury siding with the other driver.
Whether the other driver was texting, intoxicated, or just not paying attention, Li & Lozada Law Group, LLP, has the capabilities to prove negligence. It only takes one second of inattention to cause a devastating car accident. As drivers, we each have the responsibility to navigate the roads safely. If someone’s mistake causes your life-changing accident, call us at (707) 321-5287. Request your free consultation today with respected Santa Rosa personal injury attorneys at Li & Lozada Law Group, LLP.