Car accidents can happen unexpectedly and cause tremendous damage, often leaving victims wondering how they can recover. In California, the fault standard applies to car accidents, meaning that the driver who caused an accident is liable for the resulting damages and that every driver must have auto insurance that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements for bodily injury liability and property damage liability. However, insurance alone may not cover all of your damages after an accident, and the at-fault driver may not have insurance at all.
Helping Car Accident Victims Recover in Carson, CA
Ultimately, every car accident case is unique, and while it is technically possible to pursue recovery on your own without hiring legal counsel, you have a much greater chance of success with a car accident claim when you have legal representation you can trust on your side. McLachlan Law, APC, has successfully represented many personal injury cases on behalf of Carson-area clients, including those generated by car accidents. If you need help proving fault for a recent accident, proving the full scope of your claimable damages, and securing the compensation you need to recover, you can rely on our firm to provide comprehensive legal counsel through all stages of your recovery efforts.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
Proving fault is an essential first step in recovering from any car accident in Carson. You must identify the driver responsible for causing your accident and prove exactly how they caused it. Most car accidents reported in Carson are the results of “negligence,” a legal term that defines a failure to exercise reasonable care in a given situation. A few of the most common examples of negligence responsible for car accidents include:
While it’s relatively common to see drivers slightly exceeding posted speed limits, any amount of speeding is inherently dangerous because it reduces how much time and distance a driver will have to avoid a crash if traffic conditions suddenly change. Excessive speeding can potentially lead to reckless driving charges, especially if the driver caused an accident at high speed.
Moving violations. Drivers are expected to follow the rules of the road, obey posted traffic signals, and use good judgment behind the wheel at all times. When drivers fail to navigate intersections correctly, fail to yield the right-of-way, run stop signs or red lights, or commit other traffic violations, they can easily cause serious accidents. Traffic camera footage is often vital to car accident claims filed in response to moving violations.
Distracted driving. This is one of the most common causes of vehicle accidents throughout the country. Cell phone use behind the wheel and anything else that takes the driver’s hands, eyes, or attention away from the safe operation of their vehicle can easily cause a devastating collision. Drivers’ cell phone records and witness testimony are often crucial for proving fault in these cases.
These are only a few ways that negligence can cause serious car accidents in Carson. It is also possible for an illegal act to cause a car accident, the most common example of which is driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. DUI is a serious criminal offense punishable by fines, driver’s license suspension, mandatory drug and alcohol treatment, and even jail time. Penalties for DUI will automatically increase significantly if the defendant causes serious bodily harm or death, potentially rising to the felony level. If your recent car accident resulted from any intentional illegal act, your Carson car accident attorney will advise you as to how this could influence your recovery efforts.
Filing Your Auto Insurance Claim in Carson
Auto insurance is generally the first available option for recovering from a vehicle accident. State law requires every driver to have auto insurance that meets the state’s basic coverage rules, which include at least $15,000 for bodily injury liability, $30,000 or more in total accident liability coverage for bodily injury, and at least $5,000 in property damage liability coverage. These coverage amounts may be sufficient to cover the damages from a minor accident, but if you suffered severe injuries, you are likely to find that your total losses outpace the coverage available through the at-fault driver’s insurance policy.
Dealing with an insurance company can be very difficult and stressful. They generally look for ways to reduce settlement offers as much as possible or outright deny claims whenever they can. Some insurance company representatives will even engage in bad-faith tactics to coerce desperate claimants into accepting lowball settlements. However, if you have a seasoned Carson car accident attorney representing you, the insurance company will be less inclined to attempt any such behavior. You will also be prepared to confront any disputes raised against your claim, and your attorney can ensure that your settlement offer is fair under the terms of the at-fault driver’s policy.
Recovering From a Car Accident With a Personal Injury Suit
Your insurance settlement may only cover a fraction of your total damages, or you may not be able to file an insurance claim at all. The state has one of the highest rates of uninsured drivers in the country, so there is no guarantee that you will be able to rely on auto insurance after an accident someone else caused. Regardless of whether the at-fault driver does not have insurance or does not have enough coverage to fully compensate you for your losses, the next step in your recovery process is to file a personal injury claim against them.
The foundation of a personal injury claim is “actual harm,” meaning you must prove that the defendant named in your suit caused some type of measurable loss before you can claim compensation from them with your personal injury suit. Success with your case requires accurate identification of the defendant or defendants responsible for causing the accident, along with proof of your damages. Finally, you must prove those damages resulted directly from the defendant’s actions and not any other cause.
California upholds a pure comparative fault rule that may come into play in your case if you share fault for your accident. Under this rule, a plaintiff found partially at fault loses a percentage of the total compensation won from the defendant, and they keep the remainder. For example, 10% fault means losing 10% of your case award, 30% fault would mean the loss of 30% of your case award, and so on. If you have any reason to worry that you bear partial liability for your accident, it is imperative that you speak with an experienced Carson car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident.
Claimable Damages in Your Personal Injury Case
The goal of a personal injury case is for the plaintiff to prove fault for the damages they suffered and collect compensation for those damages. While you might be able to account for immediately recognizable losses like your vehicle repair costs and medical bills, assessment of your long-term financial damages resulting from the accident can be much more challenging. An experienced Carson car accident attorney is your most valuable asset when it comes to recovering compensation such as:
Medical expenses. The defendant who caused your accident is liable for any and all medical care you need to recover. Any medical expenses you cannot recover through your insurance claim can be cited as economic losses in your personal injury suit.
Property damage. Insurance may cover some vehicle repair costs, but any property damage that you cannot recover through insurance can be claimed in your personal injury case.
Lost income. When you are unable to work because of your injuries, the defendant who inflicted those injuries is liable for the income you are unable to earn in the aftermath of the accident. This includes lost future earnings if you have been permanently disabled by catastrophic injury from the accident and will not be able to return to work in the future.
Pain and suffering. California law allows the plaintiff in a personal injury suit to recover recompense for the physical pain, psychological trauma, and emotional suffering they experienced because of the defendant’s actions. There is no cap on the amount you can claim in a car accident case, and your attorney can provide valuable guidance for helping you determine a suitable amount to reflect the severity of your experience.
Your car accident case may be worth much more than you initially expected, and the right Carson car accident attorney is your most valuable asset when it comes to proving the full scope of your losses and holding the defendant appropriately accountable for the harm they’ve done.
McLachlan Law, APC, approaches every car accident case with the goal of helping our client recover as fully as the law allows. As soon as you secure our representation, we will immediately begin gathering the evidence you need to firmly establish liability for the crash and the scope of your damages. We have years of experience dealing with all the major auto insurance carriers and know how to effectively negotiate an acceptable settlement. When you must proceed with a personal injury claim, you can rely on our firm to guide you through all phases of your proceedings until you reach a favorable outcome to your case.
Contact us now to discuss your case and learn more about our firm.
What Our Client Say About Us
"Attorney Mike McLachlan, did such an awesome job for me and I feel like anyone who has Mr McLachlan representing them is completely in capable hands as well as fortunate. Between his knowledge, compassion for the law, he takes his time and listens to your concerns and answers all questions thoroughly (Even the ones you ask three times, with patience!) returns phone calls or emails on a timely manner as well. Mr McLachlan and his team was always there for me at every step during this long process."
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