California Car Accident Lawyer
Two women died and a man was seriously injured in a recent accident on State Route 76 in Vista. The California Highway Patrol reported that the evening accident occurred when a 40-year-old man in a pickup truck rear-ended a Hyundai Sonata that was stopped for a traffic light at an intersection. The force of the crash pushed the Sonata into the back of another car. Two women in the Sonata were pronounced dead at the scene. Another passenger in the Sonata was transported to the hospital with major injuries. The occupants of the pickup and the other car were uninjured in the crash. Alcohol and drugs were not suspected factors in the crash.
Each day, car accidents like this one occur in the San Diego area. In fact, according to data from the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 9,476 fatal and injury accidents in San Diego alone in 2016.
If you were injured or lost a loved one due to a car accident, an experienced California personal injury lawyer can explain the legal options available to you.
We Have Helped Many Others Like You
In the past decade, we have been able to obtain more than $500,000,000 in verdicts and settlements for our clients, and we have had over 100 verdicts or settlements worth more than $1,000,000 each. Some of our car accident case results include:
- $13,500,000 verdict for a client who suffered a brain injury
- $5,200,000 settlement for a client who suffered a brain injury
- $1,700,000 verdict for a client who suffered an ankle injury
- $1,250,000 settlement for a wrongful death/ DUI case
- $1,000,000 settlement for a rideshare auto accident case
While each case is unique and past results are no guarantee of future outcomes, rest assured that the dedicated personal injury team at The Gomez Law Firm is committed to obtaining the best result possible for each and every client.
The Most Common Causes of Car Accidents
There are many reasons why a car accident may occur. Though a few of these reasons, such as inclement weather, aren’t anyone’s fault, most accidents are the result of human error or driver negligence. Car accidents tend to be more prevalent in nighttime hours, when there is less visibility, a higher likelihood of alcohol impairment, and a higher likelihood of driver fatigue due to the body’s natural nighttime sleep cycle. Some of the most common causes of car accidents in San Diego and around the nation include:
- Speeding: Speeding was the top cause of car accidents in San Diego in 2016, resulting in 2,245 fatal or injury collisions. Nationally, speeding accounts for more than a quarter of all traffic-related fatalities, according to the National Traffic Safety Administration. Speeding reduces the driver’s ability to control the vehicle, increases the distance that it takes to stop after the driver perceives a hazard, increases the degree of crash severity, and decreases the effectiveness of the vehicle’s protective equipment.
- Alcohol impairment: Alcohol was involved in more than 1,000 fatal or injury traffic accidents in San Diego in 2016, including 45 accidents in which the driver was under the age of 21. The Governor’s Highway Safety Association notes that alcohol impairment is a factor in nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities. In the U.S. in 2017, drunk driving resulted in the deaths of 10,874 people.
- Distracted driving: Every day in the U.S., around 9 people are killed and another 1,000 are injured in crashes involving a distracted driver, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports. Driving distractions are defined as anything that takes the driver’s eyes from the road, his or her hands from the wheel, or his or her attention from the task of driving. Some distractions, such as texting, do all three. In fact, in the five seconds that a driver traveling at a speed of 55 mph takes to read or respond to a text, he or she has traveled the length of a football field while being visually, manually, and cognitively distracted.
- Fatigued driving: The National Safety Council reports that nearly half of the drivers in the U.S. regularly get behind the wheel while feeling tired, and 20 percent say that they have fallen asleep behind the wheel at some point in the past year. Each year, police report distracted driving as a factor in around 100,000 crashes, resulting in around 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities. Drivers are three times more likely to crash if they’re driving while drowsy.
- Aggressive driving: According to the Insurance Information Institute, aggressive driving may be a factor in more than half of all traffic crashes in the nation each year. Aggressive driving is described as a person committing a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to injure other people or property. Examples of aggressive driving include: following too closely, improper or erratic lane changing, illegal driving on the shoulder, in a ditch, on the median, or the sidewalk, improper passing, failing to yield the right-of-way or to obey traffic control devices, failing to signal, speeding, racing, or making an improper turn.
Types of Car Accidents
Just as there are many reasons for car accidents to occur, there are many different ways in which a car accident can happen. Here are some of the most common accidents involving more than one vehicle:
- Rollover: Rollover accidents are particularly dangerous to a vehicle’s occupants. While this type of accident accounts for only a small number of the overall accidents in the U.S., they account for nearly 35 percent of deaths from traffic crashes. The majority of individuals who die in a rollover crash are not wearing seat belts and are ejected from the vehicle.
- Rear-end: Often regarded as “minor” accidents, some rear-end collisions are anything but minor. This is the most common type of two-car collision and it occurs when one vehicle is following another too closely. The lead vehicle slows down or comes to a stop while the following vehicle continues moving at speed. In addition to tailgating (following too closely), rear-end crashes are generally caused when the driver of the following car is not paying attention to what is going on with traffic in front of his or her car. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that rear-end collisions cause the deaths of around 1,700 people a year.
- Side-impact collision: Also known as broadside or T-bone accidents, side-impact collisions account for around a quarter of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths. Side-impact collisions involve the front of one vehicle hitting the side of another. Injuries are often severe for the occupant sitting on the side of the vehicle that was struck. This type of accident generally occurs at an intersection, when one driver fails to yield the right-of-way to another.
- Head-on collision: While head-on collisions only account for around 2 percent of all traffic crashes that occur in the U.S. each year, they account for about 10 percent of all traffic fatalities, making them a particularly deadly type of accident to have. Head-on collisions, also known as frontal impact collisions, involve two vehicles traveling in opposite directions, crashing into one another. Part of what makes a head-on such a dangerous accident to have is the speed at which both vehicles are moving when they collide, as well as the velocity in which they change direction. Head-on collisions often occur on rural, two-lane highways in which a vehicle is required to travel in the oncoming traffic lane to pass another and on winding roads where drivers are unable to see if someone is coming around the curve from the opposite direction. These accidents also are a result of wrong-way drivers or a driver leaving his or her lane of travel due to an accident, crossing a median, and entering the oncoming lane.
- Pileups: While relatively rare, multi-car collisions—also known as pileups—often garner media attention simply because of the number of vehicles involved. These accidents generally occur in high-traffic areas, such as an Interstate, and may be precipitated by an initial one- or two-car accident. There may be inclement weather involved. This type of accident involves extensive investigation to determine who was at fault.
Not all accidents involve more than one car. Single-car crashes, in which a vehicle leaves the roadway for whatever reason, account for about 20 percent of all traffic crashes and result in the deaths of about 8,000 people in the United States each year.
The Injuries a Car Accident Can Cause
Nearly every injury imaginable can take place when two cars—each weighing several thousand pounds—collide. Some of these injuries can cause a lifetime of difficulties, including:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Burn injuries
- Limb amputation
- Emotional distress
If you were injured in an accident, seek medical attention immediately, even if you don’t feel hurt. Many accident injuries present delayed symptoms that can worsen rapidly hours or even days after they occur.
Should You File a Lawsuit?
If you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, you likely have a lot of questions. One of the most pressing is: Should I file a lawsuit? The answer to that question depends on the circumstances.
What might be a better option is to first talk to an attorney with experience in car accident cases before you speak to any insurance companies about your claim. A personal injury attorney can explain the liability of others involved in the accident and how much compensation you should seek from an insurance claim. An attorney can also assist you with the claims process and can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Your car accident lawyer can also advise you in situations such as what to do if the at-fault party didn’t have bodily injury liability coverage, if there was more than one liable party, if you shared liability, or if your expenses exceed the insured’s policy limits.
If the insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement or your damages exceed the limits of the policy, a lawsuit may be filed. Some of the expenses that California allows car accident victims to seek compensation for include:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Lost wages, loss of future earning capacity and/ or loss of job opportunities
- The cost of at-home care
- The cost of household tasks that you’re no longer able to perform due to your injury
- The cost to repair or replace your car or other property damaged in the accident
- Loss of consortium, which relates to how your injuries have changed your relationships with family members who may now carry the responsibility for your care. In particular, this damage revolves around a loss to the normal marital relationship with your spouse.
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Permanent disability
In California, most personal injury cases must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. However, your attorney will inform you if there are exceptions in your case.
Personal injury claims, whether settled with the insurance company or through jury verdict are generally a time-consuming process. You should be wary of an insurance company’s quick settlement offer, as these often don’t take into consideration what your maximum medical improvement will be or your long-term prognosis. If a lawsuit is filed, the process may take even longer due to courthouse caseloads and other factors, including:
- The severity of your injuries
- Legal and factual problems encountered in your case
- A large amount of damages
While many attorneys may eagerly push for a fast settlement, The Gomez Law Firm are more interested in getting the compensation you need for the damages you’ve incurred—even if that means going to court to do so. We thoroughly examine every case before we agree to represent the client and use our extensive legal experience to establish a value of the case that can provide our client with sufficient resources to cover the costs of all future care, as well as the psychological costs that an accident brings.
Call Our Car Accident Lawyers Now
For a free, no-obligation consultation and case review, contact us online or by calling (619) 237-3490.