Getting involved in an auto accident can leave you devastated and in shock. Auto accidents are on the increase in California, and most of them result from negligence. If you or a loved one is a victim of an auto accident, you are entitled to compensation from the responsible party. By filing a personal injury claim, you have the opportunity to prove negligence from the defendant and acquire compensation benefits. The process of filing a successful personal injury claim can be complicated, and you will require legal guidance. At San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we provide advice and legal representation for residents of San Diego, CA, to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
Overview of Auto Accidents
Auto accidents are the most common causes of personal injury in California. Some of the most common auto accidents include:
- Head-on collisions
- Rear-end car collision
- T-bone crash
- Truck Accidents
- Rollover accident
Getting involved in an accident can be traumatizing both physically and emotionally. Depending on the severity and nature of the auto accident, you can suffer from minor or severe injuries. The juries you suffer from a car accident can put a toll on your financial life due to the medical bills you will need to pay. Also, you may spend a lot of time nursing your injuries and affect your employment.
Fortunately, you can get compensation for the injuries by filing a personal injury claim. After submitting the lawsuit, you will be required to present evidence of negligence from the defendant. Also, the police report and testimony from witnesses can help prove that you deserve compensation for injuries you suffered in an auto accident. The legal process of filing a successful personal injury lawsuit can be complicated, and you will require the help of a personal injury attorney. Even when you had a part to play in the accident, you can still seek compensation for your injuries. In California, the amount of payment you receive will equal the percentage of fault for the defendant.
Proving negligence in an Auto Accident Personal Injury Lawsuit
In most auto accident lawsuits, you have to show the negligence of the defendant before you get compensation for your injuries. Negligence is conduct that disregards the safety of other people. The following are the elements of negligence you need to show to prove negligence:
Duty of Care
A duty of care is the obligation that each driver has to ensure the safety of other road users. In an auto accident personal injury lawsuit, you have to show that the defendant owed you a duty of care. Since there are no specific rules as to how a driver should act, it can be challenging to prove that another party owed you a duty of care. A competent personal injury attorney can help you determine the duty of care and increase your chances of success in a personal injury claim.
Breach of Duty
Proving that a defendant owed you or your loved one a duty of care is not enough to prove negligence in a lawsuit. It should be clear that they breached the burden by creating an unsafe environment for you. Most driver’s breach the duty of care towards other road users by:
- Over Speeding - There is always a specific speed requirement for each section of the road. By driving over the legal speed limit, the driver puts other drivers and road users at risk of injuries or death
- Driving under the influence of drugs is one of the leading causes of auto accidents. A driver who is under the influence of alcohol cannot make the right decisions and increases the risk of causing an accident. Witnesses and police reports can help prove that the defendant breached the duty of care
- Distracted driving. Distracted driving can result from texting and driving or anything that diverts the driver’s attention from the road
Drunk driving, speeding, or failure to follow traffic rules does not mean that the defendant caused the accident. In a personal injury lawsuit, you have to show how the defendant’s conduct contributed to your injuries.
Compensation Benefits for Auto Accident
Damages in an auto accident are based on the severity of the injuries you suffered. By filing a personal injury claim, you will be seeking compensation from the person responsible for the accident. Damages in such an accident can be both economic and non-economic. Common compensatory damages for auto accident injuries in California Include:
If you are involved in an auto accident, it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even when you do not feel any pain, you may have suffered some internal injuries which take some time to manifest. Also, you need to be sure that any damages sustained from the accident are documented. Your medical records will be a piece of evidence required to get compensation in the personal injury. When another party causes an accident out of negligence, they are legally liable to take care of your medical bills.
The defendant is not likely to accept fault immediately, and you have to pay for your medical bills before the case is resolved. When paying for medical bills after a negligent auto accident, it would be wise to use a medical insurance cover. However, if you do not have a medical cover or cannot afford the deductibles, you can pay on a lien basis. Doctors who operate on a lien basis will delay payments until your injury claim is resolved.
If you are to pay on a lien basis, you will use the proceeds from the claim to cover your medical bills. It is essential to understand that you will be responsible for any medical bills which exceed your compensation in the lawsuit. However, if you use insurance coverage, the medical provider cannot charge more than the contracted rate.
Sometimes you have more than one insurance coverage. It can be challenging to choose the provider you want to cover your medical bills. With the help of a knowledgeable personal injury attorney, you will be able to select a coverage that makes the most sense to your situation.
In a personal injury claim, you will be required to preset the copies of your diagnosis, treatment, and receipts of your medical bills. Also, the defendant’s insurance coverage will want to have a copy to ensure that you are seeking compensation for legitimate injuries. With these records, you can acquire compensation for medical bills. Other documents like the police report and photos of your injuries can help speed up payment for your auto accident injuries. If you had an existing injury that way made worse by the auto accident, you could file compensation.
After compensation is made in the lawsuit, you will be obliged to pay the health insurer from the claim proceedings. However, this will only apply if you recover some money from the defendant. Before filing a personal injury claim, the insurance providers may attempt to approach you to make an out of court settlement. In most cases, they will offer an amount lower than what you deserve for your injuries. Ensure that you negotiate for a larger settlement with the help of an attorney. If you are not comfortable with the compensation offered, you can proceed to court and file a personal injury lawsuit.
Lost Earning Capacity
Lost earning capacity is the loss of your ability to make money in the future. Lost earnings refer to the amount you would have earned if you did not suffer injuries from the accident. Depending on the severity and type of accident, you can suffer severe injuries that will prevent you from going to work. Some injuries will cause you to spend a significant amount of time in the hospital, and you won’t be able to work during that time.
It is crucial to understand that your injuries do not need to be permanent for you to receive lost earning capacity compensation. If injuries you suffered in the auto accident have not resolved by the date of trial, you are entitled to this type of payment. Lost earning capacity will be calculated by finding the difference between what you earn with the injuries and what you would have earned if the damage did not occur.
Lost earning capacity can either be:
- Monthly salary
- Commissions and overtime pay
- Income from self-employment
You need to prove the future lost earning capacity before you are compensated in a personal injury claim in California. Sometimes evidence of past income may be necessary to show how much you are likely to earn in the future. Also, proof for the lost future earnings can include the testimonies from:
- Your doctor - A physician attending to your injuries can explain how your current health is likely to affect your ability to work
- Your current employer - Your employer will testify on your work performance and how it was affected by the injuries from the accident
- An economist - A professional economist can establish salary trends in your field of work and what you expected to earn
- A Rehabilitation expert - A person who is experienced in vocational rehabilitation can be ale to estimate the treatment and duration of time you require to be able to return to work
After presenting your evidence of lost earning capacity, your age, terms of your employment as well as your health before the accident will affect the amount you receive as compensation.
In California, lost wages are all the amounts you would have earned if you were not injured. Lost wages will include regular pay, income from self-employment, bonuses, commissions, and overtime. Unlike the future earning capacity, lost wages are the past income you lose as a result of the injuries until the date of settlement for the lawsuit. When filing for compensation of lost wages in California, the law requires you to prove the amount you lost.
The duration of time takes it to decide the amount you deserve as compensation will depend on the severity of the injuries. Some of the ways you can prove the lost wages in the claim include:
- A lost wages letter from your current employer - If you had permanent and regular employment at the time of the accident, you could obtain a letter from your employer. The letter will put forward your job title, the number of hours you work per day, your regular pay ad for how long you have worked on the job. Also, the court may want to find out the amount of time you missed from work and the pay you expected to receive
- You produce pay stubs and tax returns from the past - If you find it challenging to obtain a lost wages letter from your employer, you can provide past tax returns and pay stubs.
If you are self-employed, you have to show the income you would have earned during the time you were nursing injuries. You can produce billing statements from the months before the accident and tax returns of prior years to establish the lost self-employment income.
It can be quite complicated to establish that you have lost some wages as a result of the injuries. It is, therefore, essential to have legal representation from a personal injury claim.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are some of the o economic benefits you receive in a personal injury claim. Since there is no fixed way to calculate pain and suffering after an auto accident, you must prove that you suffered some pain from the injuries. When seeking compensation for pain and suffering, you do not need to have physical injuries. Sometimes an accident may leave you in shock and psychologically traumatized.
However, if there is a physical injury, permanent disfigurement, difficult recovery, or high medical bills, you will have an increased chance of receiving compensation for pain and suffering.
Auto Accident Compensation Frequently Asked Questions
Involvement in a negligent car accident can leave you both devastated and in pain. It may be a confusing time since you will need to file a personal injury claim while you nurse the injuries. The following are some frequently asked questions on compensation for auto accident compensation:
- How Long will an Auto Accident Compensation Lawsuit take to Resolve?
Every car accident is different from the other. Sometimes the case will resolve in a few months while others take longer. With the help of a competent personal injury attorney, you can be able to get full and maximum compensation for the injuries you suffered. Some of the factors that can complicate the case are:
- The ability of the defendant to accept fault for the accident - After presenting your evidence to prove negligence, the defendant may not be willing to accept that they were at fault for the accident. This will delay resolving the case and getting compensation for the injuries
- Type and seriousness of the injuries you suffered - For minor injuries, the insurance may take less time to compensate you for the damages. If you suffered severe injuries, the lawsuit might take a longer time to resolve, and compensation will be delayed
- The complexity of the accident - There are different ways through which accidents occur. The nature and complexity of the accident will affect the duration of the lawsuit.
- The parties who are liable in the accident - Liability in an auto accident lawsuit will depend on the percentage of fault in the accident. There can be different people liable for the accident. The time taken to present evidence against each defendant can delay compensation for your injuries
- Timeline and offers made by insurance companies - If the defendant has an insurance cover for their vehicle, they will give compensation on behalf of the defendant. After an accident, the insurance company may attempt to provide you an offer lower than what you deserve. The time you take to accept their offer or file the lawsuit will affect the duration you have to wait to get compensation
Based on the facts of your case, your attorney can help you get an estimate of how long the claim will take.
- Will I Still Recover Compensation if I was Partly Liable for the Accident?
California law follows the pure comparative negligence to determine liability in auto accident claims. In this case, you will be allowed to recover damages even when you were partially at fault for the accident. However, compensation will be made depending on the percentage of fault for each party involved in the accident. The number of damages you receive as compensation will equal the percentage of fault for other parties. For example, if you were 30% liable for causing the auto accident and a drunk driver contributed 70%, you will be awarded 70% of the damages.
- If I did not seek immediate medical attention after the accident, can I still recover compensation in an auto accident personal injury lawsuit?
After an accident, you may be too shocked to realize that you are injured. Especially when there are no apparent visible injuries, you may walk away from an accident scene and fail to seek medical attention. Some injuries, especially those in the brain, can take some time to manifest. With the help of a competent personal injury attorney, you can successfully prove that your injuries resulted from the auto accident. However, it is always important to seek medical attention as soon as possible to avoid complicating the personal injury claim.
- What is the Period Provided for in the Statute of Limitations in which You Should File for an Auto Accident Personal Injury Lawsuit?
If you are injured in an auto accident in California, you have two years from the time of the accident to claim compensation. After the two years, you will be arrested from bringing the personal injury lawsuit to court. If you are injured in an auto accident where the fault lies in a government entity, the statute of limitations is six months from the date of the accident. Recovery from severe injuries can take a long time, and further treatment may be required to recover fully. This may cost you a lot financially and keep you away from your income-generating activities. Even though you need to file a lawsuit within the given time limit, it can pay off to wait and see how much you spend in treating your injuries.
- What should I do if a loved one dies in an auto accident in California?
Serious auto accidents can result in severe injuries or even death. If your loved one is killed in an auto accident, you can file a wrongful death claim to seek compensation for death. Some of the family members who can seek compensation in an auto accident wrongful death include:
- Domestic partner and spouse of the deceased
- Children of the deceased
- Grandchildren when the children are also deceased
- Other people who are entitled to the property of the deceased
When your loved one suddenly dies in an accident, it may be a devastating time. Filing a wrongful death claim will help offset the financial troubles brought by death. A successful wrongful death claim can see you recover compensation for burial and funeral expenses. Also, you may get compensation for the loss of companionship and emotional support from the deceased. If your loved one dies in a negligent auto accident, it is vital to seek legal representation.
Find a San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
There are several ways through which an auto accident can occur, which include rear-end car collisions, head-on collision, bus crash, truck accidents, among others. Car accidents are the most common causes of personal injury in the United States. Depending on the severity and nature of the accident, injuries resulting from these accidents range from minor to fatal. If you are injured in an auto accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries. With the help of a competent attorney from San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, you can get compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and lost earning capacity. Contact us today on 619-478-4059 from any location in San Diego, CA, and we will help you navigate the lawsuit.