Experienced Car Accident Lawyers in Carlsbad
It can be difficult to prove fault and damages in auto accidents cases. Obtain compensation you deserve with a skilled car accident attorney.
Car accidents can occur at any given time and cause minor to severe injuries to the drivers and passengers. It is never easy to deal with the physical and emotional consequences of a car accident. The injured victim should not have to suffer the additional time and expenses of making a personal injury claim. Instead, the victim should be focused on recovering and receiving all of the medical treatment needed to get healthy and back to normal.
The State of California allows car accident victims to seek money damages when the accident was caused by someone else’s negligence. Establishing negligence and obtaining compensation is not an easy process without the assistance of a Carlsbad car accident lawyer.
Obtain the Compensation You Deserve with an Aggressive Carlsbad Car Accident Attorney
Savage Law is 100% dedicated to helping accident victims recover from their injuries and obtain maximum compensation for their damages. The firm specializes in complex personal injury & motor vehicle collision cases, including challenging auto accidents. Savage Law is a skilled and aggressive car accident law firm dedicated to obtaining the full value of your case without unnecessary delay. Consider contacting Savage Law for a free case evaluation today. An attorney will answer all of your questions and provide you with legal options for your case.
How to Determine If You Have a Valid Car Accident Claim
Proving that the other driver is liable for causing the accident can be very challenging. Most at fault drivers will deny responsibility for the accident, or argue that your injuries were not caused by the accident. When an auto accident case is filed in California, the injured party has to prove that the other driver was negligent. The injured party must establish four elements to be successful in a negligence claim.
Elements of Negligence Claim in a California Car Accident Case
Duty of Care – A duty of care is the legal obligation to use reasonable care to avoid harming others. The Judicial Council of California established a basic standard of care for drivers to use reasonable care in operating a vehicle. Drivers must keep a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles. Drivers must also control the speed and movement of their vehicle. The failure to use reasonable care in driving a vehicle is negligence.
Breach of Duty – A breach of duty occurs when a driver fails to use reasonable care in operating his or her vehicle. Common examples of breach of duty in a car accident are: Driving while distracted; Driving while under the influence; Making an illegal turn; Driving above the speed limit; or Engaging in other illegal or reckless behaviors that put other people in danger.
Causation – An injured party must show that the at fault driver’s negligence caused his or her injuries. The other driver’s conduct does not have to be the sole cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. California courts use the “substantial factor” test, meaning that the plaintiff must show that the at fault driver’s conduct was a substantial factor in causing harm to the plaintiff. California Civil Jury Instruction 430 defines a “substantial factor” as a factor that a reasonable person would consider to have contributed to the harm. It must be more than a remote or trivial factor, but it does not have to be the only cause of the harm.
Damages – The injured party must show that he or she suffered actual damages as a result of the auto accident. Actual damages can be economic or non-economic. California Civil Code §1431.2 defines economic and non-economic damages, and provides some common examples of each type of damage.
Economic Damages – objectively verifiable monetary losses, including: Medical expenses; Loss of earnings; Burial costs; Loss of use of property; Costs of repair or replacement; Costs of obtaining substitute domestic services; Loss of employment; and Loss of business or employment opportunities.
Non-Economic Damages – subjective, non-monetary losses, including: Pain and Suffering; Loss of enjoyment of life; Disfigurement; Physical impairment; Inconvenience; Grief; Anxiety; Humiliation; Emotional distress.
How Much Money Can an Injured Party Receive in a Car Accident Case?
The value of a car accident case can depend on several factors, including the percentage of fault of each party, the amount of property damage to the vehicles, the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries, the plaintiff’s past and future medical treatment, and lost wages or income. A seasoned personal injury lawyer will investigate your car accident and gather evidence to support your claim and demand for compensation. Examples of important evidence than can be obtained to prove damages include the following: Medical records; Video surveillance of the accident; Pictures of the scene, property, damages, and injuries; Eyewitness testimony; and Police reports.
Minimum Car Insurance Coverage Requirements in California
Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
California law requires motor vehicle drivers and owners to show financial responsibility in case of injuries to other people. The California Department of Insurance provides that vehicle owners carry a minimum of $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage per person, and $30,000 per accident. For example, assume another driver hits your vehicle and causes you to suffer injuries. If the other driver has minimum liability insurance coverage, you can collect up to $15,000 from the other driver’s insurance company for your injuries. If more than one person in your vehicle was injured in the collision, the other driver’s insurance carrier would pay up to $30,000 for everyone’s injuries, with a maximum of $15,000 for each person.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM)
In addition to the at fault parties’ auto insurance coverage, you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries through Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage. These two types of insurance are covered through the plaintiff’s auto insurance policy. California law requires auto insurance companies to offer Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage, but drivers and owners can decline and waive these coverages.
Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage pays for injuries to you and your passengers when the at fault driver is uninsured. For example, the at fault driver did not have auto insurance, but you have Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage of $50,000 per person, and $100,000 per accident. You could recive compensation up to $50,000 for your injuries, and a total of $100,000 is available if multiple people in your vehicle were injured.
Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage pays for injuries to you and your passengers when the at fault driver does not have enough insurance to pay for all of the damages. For example, the at fault driver has $15,000 of liability insurance, and you have $50,000 of Underinsured Motorist Coverage. You could collect up to an additional $35,000 ($50,000 – $15,000) for your injuries.
California does not permit drivers to stack (combine) insurance policies, so the $15,000 collected from the at fault driver’s insurance company has to be deducted from the total amount received through Underinsured Motorist Coverage. So, if you only had $15,000 of Underinsured Motorist Coverage in this scenario, you could not collect any compensation in addition to the $15,000 you collected from the at fault driver’s insurance company.
If you chose to have Uninsured and Underinsured insurance, these coverages should be listed in a separate section of your auto policy “declarations page.” Some auto insurance policies only list Uninsured Motorist Coverage, and omit the word “Underinsured” as part of your coverage. In this case, your Underinsured Motorist Coverage likely applies through the Uninsured Motorist Coverage portion of your policy.
California is a Pure Comparative Negligence State
In some cases, there may be more than one party at fault for causing an automobile accident. California follows the Pure Comparative Negligence standard, meaning that each party is liable for his or her percentage of fault for an accident. A plaintiff is still able to recover damages if he or she contributed to the accident. If you were partially responsible for the accident, your damages will be reduced according to your percentage of fault. For example, if you were 10 percent responsible for the accident, you can recover up to 90% of your damages.
Obtain the Support of Aggressive Automobile Collision Attorneys
When you have been injured in an auto accident as a result of another driver’s negligence, you deserve financial compensation for all of your economic and non-economic damages. Be careful! The other driver’s auto insurance company is not on your side. Insurance companies routinely take advantage of people injured in car accidents who don’t have an attorney. The less money insurance companies pay out for personal injury claims is more money they make for themselves.
Insurance adjusters will attempt to get you to give a recorded statement that can later be used as evidence against you. Adjusters will make extremely low settlement offers before knowing what type of injuries you suffered and how much medical treatment you need. Once you accept a settlement offer and sign a release, you can’t go back and ask for any more money.
The Carlsbad car accident attorneys at Savage Law have experience dealing with the tactics used by insurance companies to diminish your injuries and devalue your case. Savage Law will not allow these companies to treat you unfairly. The firm’s passionate injury attorneys use the law to your advantage and relentlessly advocate for you and the money you rightfully deserve. The car accident lawyers at Savage Law are knowledgeable in valuing car accident cases and negotiating fair settlement agreements. The attorneys take pride in maintaining constant communication with clients, and persistently working to resolve your case without unnecessary delay. Consider obtaining the support of Savage Law Personal Injury Attorneys by calling or emailing us for a free initial case evaluation.