An average driver in the U.S. drives more than 13,000 miles a year on streets and highways that may see average traffic of 11,000 to 50,000 vehicles a day. Driving a car has become even more challenging with the increase in the number of motorcyclists, bicyclists and distracted drivers who are flooding the freeways. Car accident attorneys assist drivers who are involved in car accidents.
In 2009, more than 13,000 people died in passenger car accidents alone across the United States.
Faced with these statistics, motorists should be prepared for auto accidents, know how to handle themselves in an accident, and know in advance a reliable accident attorney. Contact auto accident attorney Los Angeles firm Jacoby & Meyers before an accident so you are prepared!
Causes of California Car Accidents
Individuals who have been drinking, pedestrians, speeders, people driving at night, and drivers who flee the scene (hit and run) most commonly cause auto accidents.
Auto accidents also occur when a person operates a car in a careless or unsafe manner. This might include ignoring traffic signals, following too closely, or being distracted by eating, texting, or talking on a cell phone.
In all of these cases, a person has been “negligent” in following general rules of automobile safety and using “reasonable care” in operating a car. The negligent person is considered to be at fault in the accident.
Responsibility in a California Car Accident
Responsibility for the accident and for the healthcare and property costs associated with the accident depends on which person involved has been negligent and at fault.
Unfortunately, in order to receive compensation for injuries or property damage, the person injured has the burden of proof. He or she must prove:
- Who was negligent.
- That the motor vehicle accident caused the injuries and/or property damage.
- And that the injuries or property damage deserve compensation.
Sometimes, more than one driver is considered to be at fault or fault is shared among several drivers involved in the accident. Fault is sometimes assigned as a percentage, so one driver might have 80% responsibility while two other drivers have 10% responsibility each.
For example, in a multiple car pileup, one driver probably caused the accident initially, but other drivers, who might have been following too closely, could be considered to have partial responsibility.
Los Angeles Car accident attorney, Jacoby & Meyers has extensive experience researching the causes and responsibility in accidents and in proving those cases in court. Contact Jacoby & Meyers to discuss your accident and the resources they can make available to prove your claim.
After a Car Accident
After the confusion of an auto accident, you have very limited time under stressful conditions to gather as much information as possible.
Immediately after the accident–when everyone involved is still on the scene and the vehicles are still in place–is the best time to gather information that may be critical in proving responsibility for the accident. Failure to gather that information can permanently limit the compensation you receive for injuries and damage.
Everyone involved in an auto accident wants to leave the scene and continue what he or she was doing before the accident. Before everyone scatters, make sure you have everything you need to assure that you can effectively handle the fallout from the accident.
- Make sure everyone is safe.
- Assure that anyone who needs medical attention receives it as soon as possible.
Before you leave the scene: Gather as much information as possible.
Anything you document or record may work to your advantage as you deal with the consequences of the accident. This includes
- Time, date and location of the accident.
- Road and weather conditions.
- Specifics about other cars involved in the accident: license number and registration at a minimum.
- Information from the other driver: name, driver’s license number, address, telephone number and insurance information.
- Information from passengers: names, addresses and contact information.
- Pictures of the accident and the cars.
- Diagrams or notations about the damage to each car.
- Names of witnesses, including contact information.
Do not say or do anything that would indicate that you accept responsibility for the accident. This is particularly important if there are police at the scene.
Immediately after the Auto Accident
- Establish a record of the accident. Notify the police and make a police report if that was not done at the scene. A police report is critical in establishing fault for an accident.
- Seek medical attention. Symptoms of accident-related injuries do not always surface immediately. Go to an emergency room, urgent care service or your personal physician as soon as possible.
- Contact a reliable car accident attorney.
- Delay settling with your insurance company until you know the full extent of the accident.
- Get a copy of the accident report.
Jacoby & Meyers can quickly respond to an accident, gather necessary information and preserve evidence. Contact Jacoby and Meyers as soon as possible after an accident.
Damages and Compensation in Car Accidents
Compensation in an auto accident is not necessarily limited to immediate injuries and repairs. If you have been injured, you may receive compensation for the following immediate and long-term costs.
Immediate medical costs. These might include emergency room or urgent care visits, doctor visits, physical therapy, hospitalization, x-rays, examinations, tests and even chiropractic visits.
Long-term medical costs. Sometimes long-term medical care, treatment and other rehabilitation are necessary. These can also be reimbursed if they are a direct result of the car crash.
Support and care during recovery. If a person is severely injured, he or she may require nursing care or assistance in the home. These costs may also be factored into the compensation for the accident.
Pain and Suffering caused by an auto accident. The pain and limitations caused by your auto accident affect your ability to work, to share life with your family and to handle your routine day-to-day activities. There are real costs associated with the severity, duration, and nature of an injury in an auto accident.
Lost wages. If a person is unable to work or must work reduced hours, lost compensation and wages can be considered as compensation. This applies even if a person was able to take medical leave or vacation time while recovering. Lost wages can still be recovered by people who are self-employed or who work on commission.
These calculations can become quite complicated, and a person is better off working with a lawyer who is experienced in determining these losses.
Reduced earning capacity because of long-term injury or disability. Car collisions can cause permanent or long-term injuries or disabilities. These, in turn, can reduce a person’s earning capacity. When a person’s ability to earn an income is affected for an indefinite or permanent period, the lost wages and costs of retraining or education can be part of compensation.
Again, a reliable auto accident attorney like Jacoby & Meyers has access to economic experts who can put a cost on those long-term injuries or disabilities. With this information, the attorney can ask for and win compensation for these costs.
Lifestyle Changes. Sometimes a vehicle accident causes permanent changes in a person’s ability to follow the lifestyle he or she had before the accident. In those cases, a person may be eligible for compensation because of these changed circumstances.
Life Care. In catastrophic accidents, a person’s health and physical situation are so changed that he or she requires medical care or assistance for life. When this permanent situation can be demonstrated, the settlement of a claim for an accident can provide the resources to care for the person for the rest of his or her life.
Punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded for wrongdoing. They are not commonly allowed in car accident cases. However, sometimes punitive damages are appropriate. Situations might include accidents caused by a drunk driver or by a person involved in a high-speed chase with the police.
Only an experienced car accident attorney firm like Jacoby & Meyers can determine when punitive damages are appropriate and build the legal case for awarding them.
Sources of Compensation in Car Accident Cases
An insurance company is one source of compensation in an auto accident. However, insurance policies have coverage limits.
The priority of an insurance company is to manage your claim and to minimize their costs. As a result, they will not usually pursue other sources of compensation for damages.
That could include denying your claim if conditions of the accident give them a cause to do so. You cannot depend on the insurance company to protect your interests.
In California, one in every three drivers is uninsured. In an accident with an uninsured motorist, be certain that your insurance includes that coverage.
Most individuals involved in a car crash do not understand that they may have other sources of compensation beyond insurance. Here are some examples of other parties that might be responsible for compensation in your accident.
Uninsured motorists. You may have additional sources of compensation buried within other terms of your insurance policy or insurance policies of you passengers.
The owner of the vehicle. Owners might include parents of someone under the age of 18 or a business.
Employer or business owner. A company or business could have liability if a person is driving a company car or conducting company business. This responsibility can extend to parent companies of the business owner.
Government agencies. Different local, state and Federal agencies maintain and improve roads and highways. When these agencies have failed to design and maintain safe roads or have proper traffic controls, they may have liability for accidents that occur because of these conditions.
Auto manufacturers. Everyone is familiar with the spectacular examples of unsafe design and accidents caused by errors or flaws in car design or manufacturing. However, even relatively minor car problems can cause accidents in the right circumstances.
It is often necessary to identify some of these alternative sources of compensation after an accident so you can be fully compensated for injuries and property damage.
Claims involving these other parties require knowledge and research. They can quickly become complicated and time consuming. Insurance companies will seldom pursue them.
Reliable personal injury lawyers like Jacoby and Meyers know these sources and have experience with similar claims. They also have investigators who know how to research the specific aspects of the accident and the claim.
Jacoby & Meyers: Experienced Car Accident Attorneys
The lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers have demonstrated over and over again that they are reliable car accident attorneys. Jacoby & Meyers has more than 40 years of experience and has successfully handled more than 100,000 auto accident cases.
In addition to the extensive experience of its lawyers, Jacoby & Meyers uses proven experts in investigation, economic analysis and other areas that are essential for documenting the costs and compensation required in an auto accident case. To date, there clients have received more than $1 billion in compensation.