After being in injured in a car accident, you may have many questions regarding your rights and compensation for your damages.
At Citywide Law Group, we have nearly 20 years of combined experience helping accident victims throughout Los Angeles get the money they deserve from the negligent party. We have recovered millions for their clients and are known for their personalized service and understanding of both medical and legal aspects of car accident claims. Speak with a Los Angeles car accident attorney at Citywide Law Group today for a free consultation.
HOW AN EXPERIENCED CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY CAN ASSIST YOU
Although being in a car accident is a scary and difficult occurrence, it is far worse to go through the process without an experienced attorney that can help you every step of the way.
One of the most common problems that our clients have is that they are not taken seriously by the insurance company of the at fault party. As a result, without a qualified Los Angeles personal injury attorney representing you, you may not receive the medical care and treatment you need and deserve and not be properly compensated for your pain and suffering.
Unfortunately, insurance companies put more value into making money than treating claimants and clients as people. We are here to help. We can make sure you receive the proper care and treatment and are here to fight on your behalf. This allows you to focus on recovery and healing, and will allow you to get back to normal life sooner. We can also help you recover money for loss of earnings during the time that you are recovering from your accident.
Our law firm will take hold your hand and direct you through every step of the process to make sure you understand what is going on, are comfortable, and receive the care and compensation that you deserve.
WHAT YOU CAN RECOVER FOR AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
After a auto collision, you may be eligible to recover for all of the following.
Injuries caused by car accidents are permanent in approximately two-thirds of the cases, and you only have one chance to settle with the at fault party.
In serious injury claims and cases, especially those that result in traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injury, whiplash or the loss of limbs, as well as those that result in a fatality or wrongful death, car accident lawyers are a necessity and can reduce the stress and hardship on you, your loved ones and friends.
At Citywide Law Group, which has handled thousands of such accident cases, our auto accident attorneys have the experience and contacts to make sure that experts in the medical field are consulted so you can be assured of getting the care you need. We have repeatedly fought against and successfully concluded many cases with unwilling insurance companies, and we will push the limits to make sure you receive the highest possible settlement on your accident claims.
Car Property Damage
Car property damage, whether it’s just a damaged fender or if the automobile is totaled, happens in almost every car accident. The insurance companies often attempt to minimize the payouts for the vehicle damage. This, along with the burden of missing work (lost income) and expensive medical treatments, may leave you in a hard financial situation. With the help of Citywide Law Group, you are more likely to recover those expenses and be compesated for lost wages and pain and suffering.
Collecting From an Uninsured Motorist
If you have been hit by an uninsured motorist, you need to know your rights and need an accident attorney that knows the laws in California for Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Altough the accident may have been caused by an uninsured motorist, it does not mean that you will not be able to recover money for the accident.
We can try to provide you with the help and information you need to fix your vehicle, receive medical treatment and money for pain and suffering, even when the at fault party does not have insurance.
WHO MAY BE AT FAULT FOR YOUR AUTO ACCIDENT
The most common type of car accident case is when an individual owns a vehicle and causes an accident while driving their own vehicle. This type of accident is a negligent driver situation, where the driver did something they weren’t supposed to do, such as:
- Making an unsafe lane change,
- Making an unsafe left turn,
- Going through a red light, or
- Not paying attention to stopped traffic in front of them.
In these situations, the driver and owner of the vehicle are responsible, and by law, they should have insurance coverage to cover the damages caused by their negligence.
Agencies and Organizations
A driver of the vehicle may not own the vehicle, but in fact, be driving it on behalf of another person. For example, an employee driving on behalf of their employer.
In these cases, not only is the actual driver liable, but so is the employer based on the theory of Respondeat Superior. According to this theory, the employer who allowed the person driving at the time of the accident is also responsible because they allowed a negligent driver to act on their behalf.
In situations like this, both the driver and the organization, agency or individual who authorized the driver to act on their behalf are responsible and will be required to compensate you for the accident that was caused.
As you may have seen, there have been many recalls in the recent past, where automobile companies have admitted to allowing vehicles with defective parts or malfunctioning parts to be sold to the public. Sometimes these malfunctions or defects cause accidents, some of which can be very severe.
Many times, an accident which was caused by a defect or malfunction will look like it was the driver’s fault, when in fact it was the fault of the manufacturer who allowed the malfunctioning vehicle to be used in public. In these situations, the manufacturer of the vehicle is responsible and must be held liable.
If this occurs, we are prepared and to pursue a claim against the big manufacturers to make them pay for their careless actions and the damages and pain that they have caused. If you are unsure of what caused an accident you were in, or think that an accident which you were blamed for, wasn’t your fault, contact one of our expert car accident lawyers in Los Angeles who can help you figure out who else could be at fault.
Although not common, sometimes government agencies allow improper signage to be used on public roads which lead to excessively dangerous situations and can sometimes put the blame of an accident on that government agency. Beyond improper signs, sometimes the malfunction of traffic lights or defectively designed or built roads can also lead to accidents.
Especially in the case of defectively built roads, there are agencies which monitor the types of roads that are built and how they are designed. For example, the Federal Highway Agency (FHA) has put out a warning video for states regarding the proper way to create road edges on highways, because the “drop off’s” have been the cause of severe accidents. If you have been in an accident where you believe the road conditions caused the accident, contact our office to give you a free consultation.
ESTABILISHING LIABILITY AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT
Under California law, drivers are required to use “reasonable care” when operating a motor vehicle. This means that “Drivers must keep a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles. They must also control the speed and movement of their vehicles. The failure to use reasonable care in driving a vehicle is negligence.” (Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instruction 700).
This standard also applies to minors and drivers with mental disabilities. (Prichard v. Veterans Cab Co. (1965) 63 Cal.2d 727, 732; Fox v. City and County of San Francisco (1975) 47 Cal.App.3d 164, 173).
Although liability in every case must be determined on a case by case basis, which takes into account the exact details of each accident, including:
- Time of day,
- Placement of lights,
- Road conditions, and
- Types and locations of the vehicle,
There are some specific rules which make it more likely than not as to who is liable.
Under most circumstances, when there is a rear-end collision, where one vehicle does not stop in time and hits the rear of the vehicle in front of it, the vehicle in the back is usually the “At-Fault” or liable party.
If there are multiple collisions in a rear-end type collision, it may be possible for more than one person to be liable or for the liability to be split either evenly or proportionately among the vehicles that are at fault.
Although this makes the apportionment of liability more difficult, our staff and attorneys have been trained to ask the proper questions to allow for the most favorable outcome for our clients. We have, on many occasions, successfully maximized outcomes for clients involved in collisions that have included up to ten different parties.
Left-hand Turn Collision
California law requires that a party attempting to make the turn ensure that the road is clear prior to starting the turn. If there is a collision which includes a party making a left turn, under most circumstances, that party will be at fault.
Although it is always on a case by case basis that liability is determined, the person making a left turn has the burden to ensure the road is clear, and for that reason, is usually put at fault.
There are exceptions to this rule, such as having the other vehicle speeding, driving through a red light, failing to yield to yield signs or if the party making a left turn has a green left turn arrow giving it the right of way.
Using The Police Report To Establish Liability
Generally speaking, if the police are contacted, they will attempt to collect the information that is available, including:
- Statements of the drivers, pedestrians (if involved), and witnesses,
- Observations of the locations of the vehicles,
- Severity of the impact to each vehicle, and
- Place of impact to each vehicle.
All of this information will be put into a police report and will be made available to all involved parties down the line. Although the police attempt to come to the correct conclusion, they are not always correct in their observations and assumptions, because in most cases, they are not present when the accident occurred.
If there are cases where the you have been put at fault in a police report and it seems to be incorrect, we have the ability to use biomechanical experts and accident reconstruction experts to:
- Negate the police report,
- Show you were not at fault, and
- Create an understanding of who or what actually caused the accident.
We have experience with accident reconstruction and can help assist you to better understand who really was at fault.
SOURCES OF COMPENSATION FOR AUTO ACCIDENT INJURIES
There are several sources of compensation, not all of which are immediately understood. When an accident occurs, the person at fault is primarily liable to compensate those who were hurt or whose property was damaged.
California law states that everyone driving a vehicle must carry, at the very minimum, liability insurance in the amount of:
- $3,500.00 for property damage, and
- $15,000.00 per person/ $30,000.00 per accident in bodily injury coverage.
This is the minimum, and many drivers carry much larger policies, some even have extra policies on top of their car insurance coverage called an umbrella policy. These policies can be very large and reach into the multi-million dollar level of coverage.
These policies are the first source of compensation that an injured party or someone with a personal injury claim can attempt to recover from. After the at-fault parties insurance coverage is depleted, the injured party can either go after the at-fault party personally and look to recover based on the at-fault parties assets, including any properties they own or to garnish some of their wages.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
Conversely, if the at-fault parties insurance policies have been depleted, and the at-fault party does not have any assets or the injured party does not want to go after the at-fault parties assets, we can help collect from the injured parties Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Coverage (“UIM”) (if available).
This is a policy which can be purchased from your personal car insurance company to ensure that if you are in an accident with severe injuries, and the at-fault party does not have sufficient coverage to pay for your bodily injuries, that the UIM will cover the deficiencies. We recommend that all of our clients maintain UIM coverage of at least $100,000.00/$300,000.00 or greater, to protect them in the unfortunate event of a severe car accident.
If the accident was caused by a driver of a business or a government entity, then the business or entity will be liable for the accident and the injured party can collect from the business or entity directly, even if the business or entity does not have insurance.
Although most businesses are insured, some are considered “self-insured”, meaning that they are required to put a certain amount of money in a bond in case of an accident and our office is well versed in negotiating and recovering money from so called “self-insured” companies and agencies, who otherwise are adverse to paying out money for any reason.
AMOUNT OF COMPENSATION AFTER AN AUTO ACCIDENT
The amount of compensation you can get from a car accident varies based on each individual case. There are several factors that go into the amount of compensation. First and foremost, how injured you are and how big are the insurance policy limits or assets which are available to collect on. Next, the amount you can collect is classified as such:
Economic Damages: These are damages that can be directly compensated for with money. Example include:
- Property Damage
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Income
Non-Economic Damages: Non-economic damages refer to damages caused by the accident that cannot be returned to the way they were with money. In most cases non-economic damages are the amount that the at fault party or their insurance company thinks that a jury would award the injured party for everything they have gone through, specificially:
- Pain and suffering, which encompasses:
- Physical pain
- Loss of enjoyment of quality of life
- Loss of ability to perform certain life functions
- Mental anguish
- Physical impairment
Future Damages: The at-fault party will also be responsible for the damages they have caused which have not yet been resolved or which are likely to occur in the future as a result of the accident. This can include:
- Possible need for future surgeries or treatments,
- Future therapy needed to recover from surgeries,
- Future pain and suffering, and
- Future loss of earnings as a result of missed work or inability to work in the future.
Often proving future damages is a tough task, but can increase the amount recovered exponentially. If your case goes to trial, we have certified life care planners, who are experts in proving future costs, pain and suffering and lost income. Through our proven process, with the help of the certified life care planners, we are able to persuade insurance companies to increase their offers and thereby increase your recovery.
COMMON CAR CRASH INJURIES
Depending on the type of accident and the severity of the accident, an injured party may have different types of injuries:
Back and Neck Injuries:
The most common type of injuries occur to the back and neck because they are the support system of the base of the body and absorb most of the impact, especially in rear-end type accidents. These injuries can include:
- Sprain or strains,
- Whiplash, and
- Fractures or disc displacements including bulges, protrusions or herniations.
Sometimes the injuries to the back and neck cause pain that shoots into the extremities such as the arms and legs, or causes numbness in those areas as well. It is not uncommon to have a neck or back injury that is mistaken for pain injuries in the legs or arms or both.
Head and Brain:
Closed head injuries, which can be anything from a momentary loss of consciousness to a concussion to a traumatic brain injury, are injuries that commonly occur as a result of car accidents, even accidents that are not very severe can still cause head and brain injuries.
These injuries often take place when the head has a direct impact with part of the vehicles, sometimes even the perceived soft part of the headrest or the airbag can create enough resistance or stopping force to cause a head or brain injury.
Broken and fractured bones often occur when there is a hard impact in a car accident or when a persons body is not perfectly aligned as they drive. Broken boes also occur when a body part comes into contact with a hard surface in the car during an accident.
Common broken bones are:
- Collar bones,
- Toes, and
Although it is possible to break any bone in an accident, depending on how the accident occurred and whether you were prepared for the accident before the impact.
Burn injuries are very common in car accidents and can be caused even if there is no fire in the car. Burns can be caused by the airbag system, which inflates very quickly and can cause a burn from the hot air or from the rubbing of the material, and burns can even be caused by the rubbing of the seatbelt against your body while holding you in place.
Burns can also be caused by the road if the injured party comes in contact with the road or with moving parts in the vehicle. These friction burns occur often and should be documented at the time they appear and while they are healing to be used as evidence of pain and suffering. Burns can also occur in the unfortunate event of a fire in the vehicle. These burns can range from first degree burns to third degree burns and should be treated by a professional immediately.
Loss of Limb:
When a car accident is very serious, there is the possibility of part of a body becoming trapped during the accident. In those very serious cases, when body parts are injured or trapped, the injures may lead to partial or full amputations.
In cases of amputations, our attorney’s are well equipped to help you recover and introduce you to vocational rehab experts to create the most accommodating future possible for you.
Cuts and Lacerations:
In the process of the impact occurring, many pieces from the vehicles, including sharp shards of glass go flying through the air with great speed. These fragments and shards can cause cuts and lacerations, which if not treated properly may lead to infections and future problems.
If you receive and cuts or lacerations during an accident, documents them with pictures and immediately consult with a healthcare professional to determine how to treat them properly.
Also known as wrongful death, in the most extreme of accident circumstances, a party may not survive or may not survive very long after the accident.
Although this situation is extremely tough, as family members of the deceased you have rights to recover money to compensate you for the emotional distress and loss of consortium that you have suffered as a result. Let us help you through the process to relieve some of the stress and to ensure you receive the justice that your loved one deserves.
CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM PROCESS
The process starts first with our law firm collecting the information that you have from the accident, including
- Names of all witnesses,
- The at fault parties information,
- Your information, and
- Any pictures that you may have.
We then will move forward with locating the at fault party and witnesses to acquire written or recorded statements. These will be used to fight the insurance companies when they attempt to reduce the value or severity of your accident and claim.
We will simultaneously set up a bodily injury and property damage claim with the insurance company to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve for your accident, while maintaining constant contact with you and your doctors to get you the treatment neccessary to quickly and fully recover from the injuries that the accident may have caused you.
During this time, we will also put together a plan of action on how we will confront and disassemble the insurance company’s attempt to minimize your case so that you will get the compensation you deserve for your vehicle damages and your personal injury claim. We have extensive experience in negotiating with insurance companies to increase the settlement and have repeatedly received higher recoveries for our clients than they expected.
Although negotiating settlements which exceed our clients expectations is always preferred, in certain situations, it becomes necessary to file law suits and take the claim to trial. By retaining our law firm, you will have a strong legal team that will advócate for you and with the experience and proven track record to take you claim to trial.
If you’ve been in a car accident there are several things you should immediately do. First off, don’t panic. Take a deep breath and prioritize your next steps:
- Move to a Safe Location. If your accident occured in a high traffic area, make sure you are safe s another accident does not further aggrivate the situation. Although it is important to collect as much information as posible and take pictures of the accident, make sure you are in a safe place to do so.
- Check For Injuries. If you or a passenger in your vehicle has been injured as a result of the accident, you should seek medical treatment as necessary. If the injury is severe, call 911, otherwise, find an urgent care facility or contact your primary care doctor to make sure everything is ok. Although your injuries may seem minor at the time, it’s important to see a doctor immediately after your car accident. Some symptoms may not appear for days or weeks, or may be dulled by the adrenaline rush, and medical treatment can help prevent your injuries from increasing.
- Collect Information. Once you have ensured your safety and that of the others around you, start collecting data; take pictures (including the placement and positions of the vehicles and the injuries that occurred, if possible); get witness information; copy the drivers license and insurance card of the other party involved; write down the date, time and location of the accident; and make note of any other information that you think is relevant
- Hire an Attorney. Contact an Los Angeles personal injury attorney you trust and that specializes in auto accident cases.
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR CHANCES OF BEING INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT
Although sometimes it is not possible to prevent an accident caused by another driver, certain actions increase the chances of accidents and increase injuries:
- Distracted Drivers: One of the most common causes of accidents are drivers that are splitting their focus between driving and another task or multiple other tasks. This is known as “distracted driving.” Common examples include texting, moving items on the chair next to them, talking with other people in the car, using the navigation/adjusting the radio, or grooming. The most concerning of all the distractions is texting while driving. It is one of the leading causes of accidents and the accidents caused by texting while driving are some of the most severe, because the concentration of the driver is on texting, and as a result, the driver doesn’t even have a chance to hit the brakes prior to the impact.
- Speeding: Many drivers are in a hurry to save a few minutes on their drive by increasing their speed on open highways, however, the likelihood of an accident increases with the speed of the vehicle you are driving, because it takes longer to come to a stop from a higher speed, and distances are closed much more quickly, so if a driver is speeding and a car at a lower speed changes lanes in front of that vehicle, there is a greater chance of an accident occurring, and at higher speeds, the accidents cause significantly more damage and injuries.
- Driving Under The Influence (DUI): Although the legal limit for drinking and Driving in California is 0.08 BAC, any alcohol in the blood stream at all can impair a drivers ability to watch the road or ensure their own safety or the safety of those on the road around them. If you have had any alcohol, it is always safer to have someone who has not been drinking, drive.
- Other Causes: There are many other causes of accidents which increase the severity and frequency of accidents including, but not limited to, driving when tired, focusing on other distractions on the road or from oncoming traffic, unsafe road hazards and conditions, not following displayed signs and even defective car parts. Some of these causes can be avoided or prevented, others may not even be known until the accident occurs.
If you are in an accident and you are not sure whether you are at fault or not, or if you do not know what caused the accident, contact our team to discuss your case and protect your rights. Remember, in cases of road defects or faulty car parts, you may even be put at fault on the police report when you are not responsible at all!
And if you are in an accident caused by someone who was driving under the influence, texting/distracted,
or speeding, you may have a stronger case which can increase the compensation that you are entitled to.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED LOS ANGELES CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY TODAY
Regardless of the type of auto accident you have suffered, we are here to serve your needs. We have successfully settled numerous car accidents result from defective equipment, and parts, whether it’s air bags that have not deployed, or a vehicle that unexpectedly turned off while driving. The Los Angeles car accident attorneys at Citywide Law Group can help. Call today.
Blog for Car Accidents
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- California Traffic Safety Info
- Car Accident Do’s and Don’ts
- Statute of Limitations Info Provided by the California Courts
- What To Do After a Car Accident
Mr. Arzani and his team have over 15 years of combined experience successfully representing those injured due to the negligence of a third party. Mr. Arzani graduated from top ranked University of Michigan School of Law and has achieved several million dollar settlements for his clients.
Sherwin was recently chosen as a SuperLawyer, is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Form, and was recognized as one of the “Top Attorneys in Southern California” by Los Angeles Magazine.