California Auto Accident Claims, Injuries, and Lawsuits
UPDATED: February 10, 2020
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In California in the year 2008 there were 3,434 total fatalities resulting from auto accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. In addition to these fatalities, there were countless other car accident injuries suffered by California drivers. If you are one of the victims of a California auto accident, you need to understand your legal rights to make a car accident claim.
California Auto Accident Law
In California, pure comparative fault applies. This means that, unlike in a no-fault state where each driver's own insurance pays the medical bills from an accident, in California, the driver who is at fault for the California auto accident pays damages for any car accident claim or any car accident injuries that arise.
Fault is determined by either the insurance companies of both parties or by the court in the event that a lawsuit is filed to resolve a car accident claim. Insurance companies will look at the testimony of both parties to a car accident, as well as the information from police, witnesses, and experts. If the insurance companies agree, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will pay. If the insurance companies disagree, the case may go to arbitration or an injured victim may file a California car accident lawsuit and the court will decide who was at fault and what the appropriate settlement is.
Recovering Damages for Car Accident Injuries
In California, there are two main ways to recover damages for car accident injuries. First, you can negotiate directly with the insurance company without filing a car accident claim or lawsuit. The insurance company may offer you a settlement for your car accident injuries, or you may send a demand letter explaining what your car accident injuries are and what amount of money is needed to make you whole.
If the insurance company offers a low settlement, if you cannot agree on the appropriate settlement, or if your car accident injuries were severe and/or the accident led to death, filing a car accident claim in the form of a lawsuit may be more appropriate. By filing a car accident injury lawsuit, you can recover additional damages including damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress resulting from the accident. If you can prove that the defendant acted with malice towards you in causing your injuries, you may also be able to recover punitive damages under California law.
Filing a California Auto Accident Lawsuit
If you wish to file a lawsuit to collect damages for your California auto accident injuries, you must file the lawsuit within the two-year statute of limitations set forth for California auto accident claims. Typically, this means you must file the California auto accident lawsuit within two years from the date of the accident. If you suffer an injury that you were unaware of right away, you must file the California auto accident claim within two years of the date you first become aware of the injury.
A California auto accident lawsuit is handled under tort law, which means that a negligence standard applies. This means that you must prove that the other driver was negligent, or that he or she breached the standard of care required under the law, in order to recover for your damages. A reasonable person standard is used to determine if the defendant was negligent or not. In other words, if a reasonable person would have been more careful than the defendant was, then he or she can be found liable.
You also must prove that the defendant's negligence was the proximate (i.e. actual) cause of your injuries. If you were partially at fault, however, you are still able to recover, as California is a comparative fault state. This means that if you were 20 percent responsible for the accident, you can still bring a California auto accident lawsuit. Your damage award will simply be reduced by 20 percent.
What Can You Recover?
Under California law, you can recover damages for:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
If a car accident leads to death, the estate of the victim and the family members can bring a lawsuit and recover for:
- Wrongful death
- Loss of companionship or consortium
You will have to prove your damages in court, as well as proving that the defendant was negligent in causing them.
If you were injured in a California auto accident, the Law Offices of Barry J. Simon can help. Barry J. Simon has been handling auto accident cases in California since 1979, and has won California car accident claims for thousands of victims. Barry J. Simon has won record victories for auto accidents, including one of the largest jury verdicts for an auto accident causing a herniated disc, and has negotiated thousands of settlements. The Law Office of Barry J. Simon offers free consultations, so if you have suffered car accident injuries and are looking for a California auto accident attorney, contact Barry J. Simon today for advice on your case.