San Diego is the second most populous California city, with just over 1.4 million people. It is also on the coast and has many attractions, which encourage tourists to visit. While many people fly in, they rent vehicles so they can get from place to place. This significantly increases the traffic on the streets, which also increases the risk of a car accident.
Car Accident Causes
Not knowing where you are going because you are new to the area could cause accidents if you drive too slowly or make a sudden stop or turn. If you have a drunk or drugged driver on your tail, or someone that is driving while distracted, your risk of wrecking is significantly higher.
The San Diego area is full of attractions, including the beaches, parks, the San Diego Zoo, The Gaslamp Quarter, the Convention Center, museums, Seaport Village, Old Town State Historic Park, national monuments, cruises, and historic sites.
With year-round temperate weather and few days of rain, people travel to the area throughout the year to visit these places. Because San Diego sees tourists throughout the year, the risk of getting into a wreck is higher throughout the year, instead of just during “the tourist season.”
Types of Car Accidents
People get into car accidents for many reasons. It is a driver’s fault in many cases, but in some, no one is at fault. You can collect damages from your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company. Since California is not a no-fault insurance state, you would file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You could also sue the driver if his or her insurance is not enough to cover all of your damages.
Types of car accidents include:
- Drunk driving. These include those driving under the influence of drugs, whether legal or illegal prescription drugs and illicit substances.
- Distracted driving. A driver could be on the phone, texting, reading a book, eating, watching the kids in the rearview mirror, or fiddling with the radio. These are all types of distracted driving.
- Speeding, including excessive speeding.
- Aggressive driving.
- Reckless driving, including weaving in and out of traffic because a driver is in a hurry.
- Road rage.
- Tired and fatigued drivers.
In all of these cases, the driver’s actions are the cause of the accident. In some cases, the court could find a driver to be grossly negligent, such as in driving under the influence, distracted driving, or excessive speeding.
In some cases, the driver might not directly cause the accident, but he or she could bear fault.
These are usually road- or weather-related accidents and include:
- Wet roads, whether from rain, ice, snow, or sleet. While these conditions are rare in San Diego, it is possible to see them. Because they are rare, drivers from the area might not have enough experience driving in these conditions. If a driver is driving the speed limit after a heavy rain, he or she could be negligent in his or her actions, as the driver should know that wet roads are slippery and that his vehicle could hydroplane.
- Windy conditions. Wind could push a smaller vehicle out of control, or it could flip a taller vehicle, such as a big rig, trash truck, or school bus.
- Poorly maintained roads. If a driver sees that a road is not maintained well, he or she is obligated to slow down. A driver that doesn’t slow down and careens out of control because of a pothole or debris in the road could be found negligent in his or her driving behavior. However, the municipality that maintains the road could also share in the liability for accidents on the road.
- Foggy conditions, which always rate lower speeds.
In some cases, a driver that causes an accident might be doing everything correctly. You might still recover damages from the other driver’s insurance company. For example, if a tree falls for no reason and pushes the driver into you, it’s not the driver’s fault. He or she couldn’t have known that the tree would fall until it fell on him. In these cases, you could still recover damages from the driver’s insurance company.
In some cases, the other driver might not be at fault or may share liability for the wreck with a third party.
These types of accidents include:
- When another driver crashes into the driver who hit you. The other driver’s actions could also cause the driver who hit you to take evasive action, and the evasive action could draw you into the wreck.
- Vehicle failure. In this case, the vehicle manufacturer could hold responsibility for your damages.
- After-market part failure. In this case, a defective part or an auto technician who did not install the part correctly could share the fault for your damages.
Finally, many third-party wrecks involve commercial vehicles, such as big rigs, trash trucks, delivery vans, and other types of commercial vehicles. While the driver could be responsible for the wreck, others might also share in the liability.
Some examples of these types of accidents include:
- A dispatcher “encourages” a driver to violate the hours-of-service regulations. The driver then drives while he or she is tired and wrecks. The dispatcher could share in the liability for the accident.
- A third party loads cargo on a flat-bed trailer. The load is not centered properly and causes the trailer to tip in a curve. Because a trucker is supposed to check his load before leaving, the person or company loading the cargo and the driver might share the liability for the wreck. By the same token, if a third-party company loads a box truck and does not load the cargo properly, it could shift, causing the driver to lose control. Because it is the driver’s responsibility to check his or her cargo, the driver and the loading company could share the liability for the wreck.
- A truck wrecks because of a malfunctioning part, such as the brakes. The inspector, as well as the driver, could share in the liability because the driver is also supposed to inspect his or her truck.
These are just a few examples of when other parties could share responsibility for a wreck. This is why accidents are often complex, especially when commercial vehicles are involved. Others who might share in the responsibility for the wreck include the company the driver works for, a truck owner, lessor, lessee, or even the vehicle or parts manufacturer.
Your car accident lawyer will review your case and start an investigation. Part of the investigation is figuring out who the liable parties are that caused your injuries.
Car Accident Stats
Overall, California traffic accidents caused 3,606 deaths in 2019. In the same year, drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration caused 1,066 fatalities. Fifty percent of all drivers tested in 2019 tested positive for some type of illegal or legal drug.
Injuries You Might Suffer in a Car Accident
The injuries you might suffer in a car accident could be anything from minor cuts to catastrophic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries. Your injuries depend on several factors, including the size of your vehicle and the vehicle that hit you, the speed of both vehicles, the angle at which the vehicle hit you, the condition and type of road you are on, the number of vehicles near you, and what you are pushed into or off of, such as a rock wall or a drop off.
Injuries could include:
- Cuts, scrapes, bruises, bumps, and scratches.
- Strains, sprains, pulled muscles, torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries.
- Road rash.
- Thermal and chemical burns.
- Face and eye injuries.
- Internal injuries.
- Simple and compound fractures.
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries.
- Traumatic brain injuries.
- Back and spinal cord injuries.
You could also suffer secondary injuries, such as infections, or your accident injuries could exacerbate underlying conditions. For example, if you have diabetes, any open wound could take much longer to heal, which would significantly increase the risk of infection. Also, if you have immunodeficiencies, open wounds could quickly become infected—within days of suffering the injury.
Because you would not have otherwise suffered infections or pain from exacerbated conditions if not for the accident, the defendant is also responsible for the medical expenses for secondary injuries.
You can recover two types of damages: compensatory damages and punitive damages. The court orders compensatory damages—economic damages and non-economic damages—in an attempt to make the accident victim financially whole again. The court only orders the defendant to pay punitive damages if his or her actions or inactions were grossly negligent.
You have just two years to file a lawsuit to recover damages. While that seems like a long time, it is actually quite short. It takes time to investigate the case, review all of your medical records, and attempt a settlement. If a settlement fails, the attorney must prepare for a trial so that you can recover the compensation you deserve. Part of trial preparation includes retaining expert witnesses and obtaining more evidence the defendant was liable for your injuries.
Special damages, or economic damages, have a monetary value and include:
- Past medical expenses for those you incurred because of the accident and before a settlement or trial award.
- Future medical expenses for those you incurred because of the accident and after a settlement or trial award. Future medical expenses also include any therapy you might require, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, and other psychological therapies.
- Past lost wages for those you lost because of the accident before a settlement or a trial award.
- Future lost wages for those you lost because of the accident after a settlement or a trial award. Future lost wages include partial future lost wages if you can go back to work, but your injuries or disabilities caused by accident injuries preclude you from making the same salary or hourly wage.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property, including your vehicle and any damaged or destroyed personal property inside the vehicle.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses.
General damages, or non-economic damages, do not have a monetary value. These are damages that are subjective and focus on how the injuries have affected your life.
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress for those who suffered injuries in a car accident.
- Emotional distress for those who lost a loved one in a car accident.
- Loss of quality of life if you have to take medications or use ambulatory aids for the rest of your life.
- Loss of companionship if you can no longer take part in or enjoy family activities and events.
- Loss of consortium if you can no longer have a physical relationship with your spouse.
- Amputation, whether it happened in the accident or as a direct result of the accident, or later because of infection, including gangrene.
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a finger, hand, toe, foot, arm, or leg.
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight, bladder control, or bowel control.
- Inconvenience if you have to hire someone to do the chores you usually do, including grocery shopping, cleaning the house, lawn maintenance, and home repair and maintenance.
- Disfigurement and/or excessive scarring.
A victim can recover punitive damages if the jury awards compensatory damages. Unlike compensatory damages, which the court orders to make you financially whole again, the court orders the defendant to pay punitive damages as a punishment for his or her grossly negligent actions or inactions.
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a San Diego car accident, contact a San Diego car accident lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys for a free case evaluation today.