San Diego Car Accident Lawyers

San Diego car accident lawyers

Everyone should be prepared to obtain the help of a San Diego car accident attorney at some point.  Statistics indicate that the average driver will be involved in three or four auto accidents during his or her lifetime.  Nearly 30 percent of all crashes nationwide result in at least one injury or fatality.  As such, the odds state that every motorist will eventually be involved in a collision.  It’s also possible that a motorist will be injured in such an incident.  Most people do not plan for such a circumstance.  Unfortunately, this only tends to make matters worse for those who are wrongfully injured in an accident, as many of them simply are not aware of how to proceed.

The best way to protect yourself aside from driving responsibly and maintaining proper insurance coverage is to be ready to contact a car accident lawyer immediately after a crash.  Gomez Trial Attorneys is a team of lawyers that has been fighting for the rights of injured clients successfully for more than a decade.  Below is an overview of the issues relating to San Diego car accidents.  If you have been harmed by a negligent or a reckless driver, contact the firm to schedule an initial consultation as soon as possible.

Car Accident Attorney San Diego

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, more than 19,000 San Diego traffic accidents occurred in 2014 that resulted in at least one injury or fatality.  This total includes crashes involving all types of vehicles including pedestrians.  Specifically, the following number of injuries and fatal crashes occurred across the county during that calendar year:

  • Overall:  19,236
  • Alcohol-involved accidents: 2,233
  • Motorcycle accidents:  1,470
  • Pedestrian accidents:  1,223
  • Bicycle accidents:  1,059

More than 22 percent of these crashes were speed-related in nature.  More than 11 percent of these accidents involved alcohol.  What this all means is that every year, thousands of people are wrongfully injured in San Diego car accidents.  These people all need help in some regard.  The auto accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys can help, and have done so over the years for countless injured clients.

Common Injuries Suffered in Car Accidents

Every part of the body is vulnerable in an auto accident.  While lives are saved and injuries are minimized when people wear seatbelts, our attorneys have represented people who have been injured anywhere from their heads to their feet over the years.  However, some car accident injuries tend to be more common than others.  Examples of these common injuries include:

There are other types of injuries that can result from a auto accident.  These injuries are emotional/psychological in nature.  Every type of injury that is inflicted on a person by a negligent or reckless driver should be included in any pursuit of a financial recovery.  Our car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys will fully understand how to quantify the losses from a crash.

Should you call the police following an accident?

Yes. California Vehicle Codes require that you report all accidents with injuries or fatalities. Contact the local police department if you’re in an accident in San Diego. If your accident occurs on the highway, you must report it to the California Highway Patrol. If an SDPD or CHP officer doesn’t come to the scene to take your report, you must still comply with these reporting responsibilities:

  • You must report any accident that involves injuries or fatalities.
  • When a police officer comes to an accident scene, you and your passengers must produce identification.
  • If the vehicle you’re driving belongs to someone else, you must provide the owner’s information.
  • If you’re in an accident involving an injury or a fatality and a police officer doesn’t come to the scene, you must make a counter-report as soon as possible. You can file a counter-report with a local police department or a highway patrol location.
  • The vehicle owner must make a report for you if you are unable to do so.
  • The California Highway Patrol has the authority to follow-up with witnesses, drivers, and passengers to request additional information.

For property damage-only accidents:

  • You must comply with requests from involved drivers or passengers for identification and registration information.
  • If you strike an unoccupied vehicle, you must make an effort to locate the owner and exchange information. If you can’t locate the owner, you must leave a note containing your contact information and an explanation of the accident. You must also file a counter-report with a local police department or the Highway Patrol.

What to Do Immediately After a Auto Accident

If you have been injured in a car accident, the first thing you should do in the immediate aftermath is move yourself into a safe position if possible, preferably to the side of the road.  As you wait for the police to arrive, you should avoid discussing the specifics of the accident with the other party.  Doing so could harm your position later as you attempt to recover damages.  If you feel it’s appropriate, simply exchange contact and insurance information with the other motorist.

When the police arrive, provide your identification, insurance information and registration to the officer.  Provide a factual description of how you saw the accident unfold.  It’s likely that the police officer will record the names of witnesses, but once again you should not assume that this is occurring.  Take names down yourself as you may need them later.  Finally, get the name of the police officer who has reported to the scene.

The first place you should go afterward is to the nearest medical facility in order to obtain a full evaluation.  Even if you do not feel as though you are seriously injured, you should always take this step.  That’s because there are serious injuries that can occur, such as to the brain, that may not present themselves outwardly or in the form of excruciating pain.  You will also need a record of your injuries later in the recovery process.

Finally, file a claim with your insurance company.  However, you should not speak to any insurance company representatives or sign any documentation from insurance companies, particularly those that represent the other driver.  Instead, contact an experienced car accident attorney who understands how to work with insurance companies in this regard.  Doing so will help you avoid making mistakes and focus on your physical and emotional recovery from what was a traumatic experience.

California Comparative Fault

Many auto accidents are not clear-cut in terms of who is at fault and who is not.  With some crashes, both parties are partially at fault and in others things can happen so fast that it’s very difficult to know who could have caused the accident.  This is not a reason to not protect your legal rights.  You should let a car accident lawyer help you determine who may be at fault for the crash and if it’s you and the other driver, how much fault is yours and how much is the other driver’s.

California law explicitly accounts for this type of a situation by way of a legal doctrine known as comparative negligence, or comparative fault.  California is a “pure” comparative negligence jurisdiction.  What this means is that a plaintiff that files a California personal injury lawsuit against a driver can recover damages even if he or she was more than 50 percent at fault.  For instance, if a car accident causes the plaintiff to suffer $100,000 in damages, he or she can still file the lawsuit even if that motorist is deemed to have been 55 percent at fault.  If the plaintiff’s claim is successful, he or she will have that recovery reduced by the amount of fault assigned to that party.  In this case, the successful plaintiff would recover $45,000.  Therefore, you should still contact car accident attorney at Gomez Trial Attorneys after a crash even if you’re not sure who caused it.

Uninsured Motorists in California

According to the Insurance Information Institute, an estimated 15 percent of motorists in California may not carry auto insurance.  Further, some drivers carry minimum coverage that may not compensate you fully for your injuries. Therefore, it is possible that you may be injured in a car accident by someone who does not have coverage, or has insufficient insurance coverage.  If this happens to you, it does not mean that you are out of options.  You may have uninsured motorist coverage as part of your own insurance policy, and if you do you may be able to pursue a claim against your insurance company.  There are several other situations in which options for recovery may be possible, but every one of them should be analyzed by a car accident lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys so you can obtain a full understanding of how you should proceed.

Common Car Accident FAQs

How do you obtain a copy of your accident report?

Do one of the following:

  • If the San Diego Police Department investigated your accident, you may print a report online 24 hours a day at Lexis/Nexis Police eCrash. Online reports cost $10.
  • You can also obtain your SDPD report in person for a $12 fee at the Records Division, 1401 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101.
  • You may submit a mail request by sending a self-addressed envelope and a $12 fee to SDPD Records MS#726, P.O. Box 121431, San Diego, CA, 92112-1431.
  • To request a California Highway Patrol report, you must complete an Application for Release of Information. CHP report fees are $10 for up to 25 pages. Your request must include a copy of your driver’s license or identification card to prove you are a party of interest who is entitled to a copy of the report.

Of course, if you’re recovering from serious injuries, the last thing you need to do is deal with paperwork. These are things your car accident lawyer can do for you.

How do I verify the other driver’s proof of financial responsibility?

Any driver involved in an accident must provide identification and insurance information when you request it. If you neglect to obtain the information at the accident scene, the Department of Motor Vehicles provides verification when you send in a Financial Responsibility Request Form.

What if the other driver leaves the scene?

When a driver leaves the accident scene without providing his or her personal and insurance information, it’s a crime under California Vehicle Codes. The court prosecutes hit-and-run drivers and penalizes them with fines and/or imprisonment. If the accident involves injuries, the penalties are harsher. When a hit-and-run driver injures you, you may file a liability claim against your own insurance company if you have uninsured motorist coverage.

Do I have to report my accident to my insurance company?

Yes. You should report your claim to your insurance agent or company for several reasons.

  • Personal auto policies usually have a clause that requires an insured to promptly report accidents. This is especially important if you, your passengers, or anyone in the other vehicle sustained an injury.
  • A delayed claim report sometimes jeopardizes your insurer’s right to conduct a timely investigation and settle pending claims. Even if you believe that you didn’t cause the accident, insurance companies must evaluate liability claims.
  • To comply with California’s financial responsibility laws, your insurance carrier or agent must verify to the Department of Motor Vehicles that you had liability coverage in force when the accident occurred.
  • If you’re injured and the other driver doesn’t have insurance, a claim submission places your insurance company on notice of your potential for an uninsured motorist claim. A timely report allows the company to make relevant investigative decisions.
  • While most insurance companies may not deny your coverage or reject your claim because of a delayed report, the company may reserve its right to deny coverage at a later time. Insurers sometimes use a reservation of rights letter to motivate you to cooperate. They also use coverage issues as leverage when negotiating your property damage, underinsured motorists, underinsured motorists, and other first-party claims.

 

How does uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage work?

Uninsured motorist (UM) coverage pays your injury claim when the driver who caused your injury doesn’t have liability insurance. Underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage pays when the other driver has liability coverage, but his or her coverage is less than the amount necessary to compensate you for your harm.

UM and UIM coverages aren’t mandatory in California, but an insurance company must offer them to you. If you don’t want UM or UIM coverage, you must sign a waiver.

Auto policies generally include a broad uninsured driver definition:

  • A driver who has no bodily injury liability insurance
  • A driver with a lower limit than required by the financial responsibility law
  • A person whose insurer denies coverage or is confirmed insolvent
  • A hit-and-run driver who leaves the scene unidentified

When you make a UM or UIM claim, your insurance carrier fills the liability insurer’s role. The claim department investigates the accident, analyzes the liability, evaluates your injuries, and settles your claim. Just as you would with the other driver’s liability carrier, you must provide documentation for your injuries and negotiate your injury claim. You must also cooperate with your insurer and provide whatever documentation it requests.

Do I need a lawyer if I’m in an accident?

Yes. Consult a personal injury lawyer who has experience handling car accident cases, espeically:

  • If you are injured: When you pursue a damage claim against another driver, you should have an attorney represent you from the initial investigation through settlement.
  • If a non-relative/non-resident passenger is injured.
  • If the other driver and their passengers sustain injuries.

Why Gomez Trial Attorneys?

There are law firms out there that make it their practice to negotiate settlements on behalf of clients whenever possible after a car accident.  The reason is that settlements will pay out faster.  Yes, clients get their money earlier, but some may not enjoy the full recovery to which they were entitled.  One of the many reasons that you should work with Gomez Trial Attorneys if you have been injured in a crash is because we are voted #1 personal injury attorney in San Diego.

The reason we are known as such is because we closely examine every case before we take it on.  We work to quantify the amount of damages that should be recovered based on our legal experience.  We decide on the best way to obtain the recovery of those damages.  If we can recover by way of a settlement that’s in the best interest of our client, we will do so.  However, if we need to proceed to trial to protect the rights of our clients, we will not hesitate to do so.  Contact the car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys to schedule a free initial consultation if you have been injured in a crash.

We also serve all of San Diego County: Del Mar, Chula vista, Coronado, El Cajon, Escondido, Imperial Beach, Lemon Grove, National City, Oceanside, Poway, Oceanside, San Marcos, Solana Beach, and Vista.


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