Car accidents happen every day in the Hawthorne, CA, area and throughout the United States. These incidents are a leading cause of accidental deaths and injuries across America. One of the most tragic aspects of this is that many car accidents are preventable. Unfortunately, not every driver uses reasonable care when operating their vehicle. If you or a loved one suffers injuries in a motor vehicle accident due to the negligence of another driver, it is vital to know your legal rights and the available options for obtaining compensation for your losses.
At McLachlan Law, APC, our team understands how devastating a car accident can be for everyone involved and their families as well. Your accident may leave you with painful injuries that require extensive recovery time and prevent you from working. This can create a severe financial strain for a family. Our goal in every motor vehicle accident claim we represent is to maximize our client’s recovery as much as California law allows. We can provide the legal counsel and professional guidance you need after an accident and manage your legal affairs on your behalf so you can focus on recovery in peace.
Is It Worth Getting an Hawthorne Auto Accident Lawyer for a Car Accident?
If you have recently suffered injuries in a car accident, an attorney can effectively handle your legal affairs while you rest and recuperate. If you do not hire an attorney after a car accident, you will need to manage insurance claims and further legal action entirely on your own. This is a bad idea for many reasons. First, it will be very difficult to meet the court’s procedural requirements if you are unfamiliar with civil court proceedings. You could risk having your case thrown out on a technicality before it is even heard. Additionally, if you must deal with insurance companies, you are far less likely to encounter unjust pushback against your claim when you have an attorney draft your initial demand letter.
One of the most important benefits of hiring an experienced Hawthorne car accident attorney to represent you and handle your claim is that you will be able to focus on your recovery with peace of mind knowing your case is in capable hands. In addition, a good attorney will help you gather all the materials necessary for pursuing your case and provide you with timely updates as your case proceedings unfold.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?
It’s common for drivers to have very mild fender-benders with other drivers that only result in cosmetic damage to their vehicles. In this situation, you and the other driver may be able to work out a solution on your own. Recovery from this type of accident may only entail a small claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. If they do not have insurance, they may be willing to pay for your repairs out of pocket. Ultimately, it is possible to settle a minor auto accident without an attorney, but if there is any room for doubt or if you were injured in any way, it is best to speak with an attorney before accepting a settlement.
Most Common Causes of Car Accidents
Motor vehicle accidents happen for many different reasons. However, the causes most likely to generate personal injury claims include:
- Distracted driving accidents. Distracted driving remains the leading cause of car accidents throughout the US. When a driver ignores the safe operation of their vehicle and causes an accident, they are liable for all resulting damages to other drivers.
- Driving under the influence (DUI) accidents. Intoxicated drivers are extreme dangers to themselves and all other drivers around them. Whether a driver is intoxicated by drugs or alcohol, if they cause an accident, they are not only liable for the victims’ civil damages but will also face criminal prosecution for DUI.
- Moving violation accidents. Some drivers who fail to pay attention to traffic signals or who engage in moving violations can cause accidents. Running stop signs and red lights, turning without signaling, and speeding are some of the most commonly cited moving violations that result in personal injury claims for car accidents.
- Reckless driving. When drivers knowingly engage in reckless driving maneuvers, they can cause extreme harm to others. As a result, a driver who engages in such behavior will likely face civil liability to the fullest extent of the law, and they may face criminal charges as well.
Motor vehicle accidents can also occur due to forces beyond any driver’s control, such as vehicle defects, bad weather, and poor visibility. Some accidents can involve multiple vehicles, and liability may not be immediately apparent. Ultimately, if a car accident happened due to one of the drivers involved, that driver is liable for the other driver’s damages.
Insurance After a Car Accident
Typically, auto insurance is the first step toward recovery after any car accident. Every California driver must have auto insurance that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. An auto insurance policy must provide $15,000 or more in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person involved in an accident and $30,000 or more in bodily injury liability coverage for multiple people in a single accident. California also requires a minimum of $5,000 in property damage liability coverage. It is also heavily encouraged to purchase underinsured/uninsured driver coverage that will take effect if an underinsured or uninsured driver causes an accident with your vehicle.
When you must file a claim against another driver’s auto insurance policy, the process begins with a demand letter. This letter should include the details of the accident and a full breakdown of the compensation you seek. The insurance company has the right (and a legal obligation) to arrange an investigation of your claim to determine its validity. Unfortunately, insurance companies generally look for all reasons they can find to deny claims, sometimes going so far as to engage in bad faith tactics to encourage claimants to settle for much less than they rightfully deserve.
Hiring a Hawthorne car accident attorney to help you after an accident with your car, especially with a commercial vehicle, is one of the best ways to avoid this situation. Your attorney can help you draft your demand letter, and their signature will inherently lend authority to your claim, reducing the chance you will encounter any undue pushback or bad faith tactics from the insurance company.
Proving Fault in a Car Accident Claim in Hawthorne
Remember that California state law requires all drivers to report any car accident that results in an injury or death. It’s also a good idea to call the Hawthorne police if an accident does not cause injury or death but results in significant property damage. Indeed, it’s generally best to err on the side of caution and notify the police of any car accident if you are unsure; this way, you know there will be an official police report on file regarding the incident, and you will need this if you intend to file an insurance claim and/or personal injury claim.
An insurance claim may be enough to cover your losses after a minor car accident, but if you suffered catastrophic injuries and substantial economic damages, you might need to go further than an insurance claim to recover as completely as possible. If an insurance claim cannot fully cover your damages, your Hawthorne car accident lawyer can help you file a personal injury claim against the party responsible for causing your accident.
To succeed with your claim, you will need to identify the defendant or defendants you believe to be responsible for your damages. Next, you must provide a clear explanation of how the defendant is liable for your damages. This explanation should be backed by material evidence and eyewitness testimony that your attorney can help you gather. Finally, your complaint must also include a complete accounting of your claimed damages and proof that those damages resulted from the defendant’s actions and not some other cause.
Possible Damages and Compensation in a Car Accident Claim
California state law allows a personal injury plaintiff to recover compensation for all damages resulting from the defendant’s negligence. Therefore, as long as you and your Hawthorne car accident attorney can successfully prove the defendant’s negligence, you can potentially secure compensation for:
- Property damage to your vehicle. If your vehicle was damaged or destroyed in the accident, you could claim any repair or replacement costs that exceed the scope of available insurance coverage.
- Immediate medical costs. If your accident resulted in physical injuries, you could claim the cost of hospital treatment and ambulance transportation from the crash scene.
- Long-term medical costs. Many car accidents result in severe injuries that require extensive long-term medical care. If you need multiple surgeries, physical therapy, rehabilitation, or in-home medical care due to your car accident, you can include these costs as damages in your lawsuit.
- Lost wages. When an accident prevents you from working while you recover, you can claim the income lost during this time.
- Lost future earning potential. A catastrophic injury from a car accident can potentially prevent you from working at all in the future. However, it’s possible to collect compensation for the future income you would have reasonably expected to earn if your accident had not occurred.
- Pain and suffering compensation. Personal injury plaintiffs can receive compensation for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. The amount received depends on the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries and the likelihood of those injuries causing permanent damage.
An accident claim after a car crash can potentially yield substantial compensation when you have an experienced attorney on your side through every stage of the civil claim process. The attorneys at McLachlan Law, APC, are ready to put our experience to work in your case.
What to Expect From Your Hawthorne Car Accident Attorney
When you hire a Hawthorne car accident lawyer to represent you in a civil claim, they will likely begin handling your case by gathering as much evidence and documentation related to the incident in question and your claimable damages. Your attorney should clearly outline what you can reasonably expect in your recovery and help you determine the best legal strategy for pursuing your recovery. Generally, a car accident claim will begin with an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s policy, and your attorney will then suggest further legal actions if an insurance claim does not offer enough compensation to fully cover your losses.
If your attorney believes you can increase your recovery by filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver, they will assist you in drafting your complaint to submit to the Hawthorne, CA, civil court. Once the court receives your complaint, they will serve formal case paperwork to the defendant named in your suit and provide them the opportunity to submit a response. At this point, the case is likely to move to settlement negotiations. Next, the two parties meet with their respective attorneys to determine a suitable resolution to the situation. If settlement negotiation is fruitless or the parties cannot negotiate a settlement, the case will proceed to litigation.
The majority of personal injury claims filed in the US settle outside of court. Simply put, settlement offers both the plaintiff and the defendant the most expedient path to putting the incident behind them. Settlement may not yield as much compensation as the plaintiff could potentially receive from litigation, but the tradeoff is a much faster recovery. Additionally, there is no guarantee a civil court judge will deliver the amount of compensation a plaintiff may hope to see from litigation. On the other side of the table, the defendant has the chance of moving past the situation and offering a settlement in exchange for release from future liability for the accident.
Find Your Legal Team Today
Time is a critical factor after any car accident. While you do not want to rush to file a personal injury claim until you know the full scope of your losses, it is best to start working with a reliable attorney as soon as possible for the best chance of success with your claim. If you or a loved one sustained injuries due to another driver’s negligence, we can help. If you are ready to speak with a Hawthorne, CA, car accident lawyer about your legal options, contact McLachlan Law, APC, today and schedule a consultation.