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Car accidents can be incredibly stressful and often times even traumatic situations. Dealing with insurance, the other driver, car damage, and bodily injury are just a few things that an accident might entail. However, no matter how big or small the scale of the accident, we’re here to help ensure you received just compensation.
With an ever-increasing amount of cars on California’s roads, the likelihood of an accident is higher than ever. In fact, the number of motor vehicle related deaths increased by 19% from 2014 to 2016. The leading causes of auto accidents in California include speeding, impaired driving, and distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, just under 33% of all traffic fatalities from 2002 to 2012 involved speeding. Impaired driving accounts for just as many traffic fatalities if not more; with 29 alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities occurring per day in 2016. Finally, smartphones have greatly contributed to accidents due to distracted driving. In 2014, approximately 60% of all drivers in California reported that they had at least one collision or close call with a driver on a cell phone. Injuries due to auto accidents vary widely; perhaps the most common injuries concern the back and neck, such as whiplash and disc displacement. Auto accidents can also produce much more serious injuries including traumatic brain injury, 3rd degree burns, broken bones, and even death. Thus, with the chances and consequences of an accident becoming more serious every day, it is important to have an attorney who knows how to fight for the best possible settlement on your behalf.
If you find yourself in an automobile accident, there are several things that are important to keep in mind. First, California has a handful of hit and run laws, which differ depending on whether the accident results in an injury or not. CA vehicle code 20002 states that the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to any property, including vehicles, shall immediately stop the vehicle at the nearest location that will not impede traffic or otherwise jeopardize the safety of other motorists. Failure to stop could make one eligible for hit and run, which can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor offense in California. It is therefore incredibly important to stop immediately and gather as much information as possible. One should get the name, phone number, license information, license plate number, and insurance information of the other driver. It is also important to jot down as much information as possible about the accident itself, such as where the accident happened, the speed of the other driver, the other driver’s direction, etc. If you happen to hit an unattended vehicle and cannot find the owner, you must leave a note with your name, contact information, and a brief description of the accident. It is also imperative that one calls the police. Without a police report, it is impossible to prove that the accident happened at all. Another important thing to keep in mind if involved in a car accident is insurance; if you are at fault, you should contact your insurance company right away.
If you have been involved in an accident, you might be entitled to various forms of financial compensation through a lawsuit, which could include both economic damages (such as medical bills and lost wages) and non-economic damages such as pain and reduction in quality of life. With so many moving legal parts, having an experienced attorney is guaranteed to make the process much less intimidating. We are here to help you achieve the best possible compensation and prevent you from being taken advantage of.
If you or someone you know has been involved in an auto accident, please call for a free consultation at 1 (888) 350-9338.
Auto Accidents Q&A
Q: Does insurance cover the car if an unlicensed person is driving my car and has an accident, but is not at fault? Person A is driving the car of a friend. has an accident that is determined not to be at fault for. Person A does not have a valid license, but the car is fully insured. The accident was not the fault of Person A, Person B admits they were at fault. Will the insurance still cover the car repairs even if Person A was not licensed?
A: A permissive driver will generally be afforded coverage in this type of scenario, that is, assuming without further facts that the friend driving your car was not an excluded driver on the insurance policy or resided with you without the insurance company being made aware that they were residing with you. It's best to check the insurance policy for the determining coverage, exclusions and policies
Q: How would fault be determined in this case? Last week I decided to take a trip up to my local ski resort. The car I was driving was a 1999 AWD Honda CR-V and it was snowing moderately. While on the way up I slowed down from 25 MPH to 20 MPH to take a wide turn. When I did my car began to lose traction in the back wheels and I started to slide to the oncoming lane. To counter this I turned towards the right so that my car would not go into oncoming traffic. A truck that was following directly behind me did not have enough to stop and swerved into the other lane to avoid hitting me but still ended up Hitting part of my car, and as a result pushed me into the snow bank perpendicular to the road. However, the cars behind him were all able to come to a complete stop behind me. my insurance told me that he was at fault but his insurance is saying the complete opposite. the driver was obviously too close, however it's my word vs his at this moment. Any clarification would be greatly appreciated thank you. This all took place in California.
A: This sounds like it may be a split liability issue, as the insurance carriers may see it as two instances of drivers not being aware of "prevailing conditions" since there was snow coming down and the weather appears to be a factor in this accident scenario.
In this instance, each insurance carrier may deny liability against the other and most likely end up in arbitration over the payment of the damages; but may be able to resolve the issue if there are any independent witnesses that saw the accident and can clarify some of the facts. I would recommend contacting an attorney if you are injured.
Q: Does the car insurance company have to pay the quote I provided for the damage to my car? A lady hit my car and her insurance has accepted fault. I went to a reputable body shop and got a quote for $2K. Her insurance has only offered me $600. I have a luxury car and a scratch is very expensive to fix. I don't have time to fix the car and just want my check for $2K. Doesn't the insurance company have to cover the costs to fix my car at my desired shop, even if I don't fix it?
A: The insurance company is usually only required to pay for the labor that is "reasonable and customary" for the area where the body shop is located. For example, some body shops want to charge a labor rate of $90 per hour, while the majority of the body shops in the area charge a labor rate of $60 per hour. In this scenario, the insurance company would generally be required to pay a labor rate of around $60.
I would recommend asking the current body shop what their labor rate is and see if that is a reason why the estimates are so far off between the insurance company and the body shop.
Q: Can I sue century 21 insurance company for giving insurance to someone who did not qualify for the Calif low income insurance? I was hit by a drunk driver who carried low cost insurance from Century 21. which is below the California state min requirements. One requirement is not to have previous DUI's on record or any driving uninsured or felonies. I performed a background report and found the driver had both. My expenses for medical and repairs lost wages and out of pocket expenses were not covered. There were two cars involved, insurance only covered $10,000 for medical per person and $3,000 total for damages. My car along was $5,800. If the insurance company would of done their job to check his record to make sure he qualified he would of not been able to get the low income insurance. The Calif min requirement insurance would have covered my losses. Do I have a case to sue the insurance company to recover my losses?
A: You can also look at it from the perspective that if he didn't qualify for the low-cost insurance, he may not have been insured at all. Uninsured and underinsured drivers in California are rather common, this is one of the reasons why I recommend to friends, family and clients that carrying a sufficient uninsured/underinsured coverage through their insurance will be one of the best investments they can make. The cost of the additional coverage will be nothing compared to the protection you will get.
Q: Rear-ended accident, at-fault party denying claim as I started treatment 40 days after date of accident. My car was rear-ended. I had to rush wife (30 weeks pregnant) to hospital as she was also in the car and had sharp pain. My wife was traumatized and stopped driving the car. I had to drive her to office everyday as she was going to be on pregnancy disability leave after 30 days and had to train the new employees. I kept doing home treatment in the meanwhile to take care of my neck pain. Eventually when my wife stopped working, I got time to go and see a Chiropractor. Now the insurance company is denying my claim due to the fact that I took 40 days to go and get checked out.
A: I would agree that the insurance carriers typically see a "gap" in treatment after an accident as a reason to deny or lessen the damages that you may have incurred from the accident. However, a gap in treatment should not deter you from pursuing your claim against the driver that rear-ended you. A good lawyer will often be able to argue a legitimate reason for a gap in treatment and potentially file a lawsuit on your behalf if the insurance carrier continues to deny your claims based on a delay in your treatment. I recommend you contact an attorney to help you with this matter.