Auto Accident Settlements and Verdicts

While beautiful, the Pacific Coast Highway is a potentially dangerous stretch of freeway for drivers.

Car accidents that result from other drivers' negligence can lead to injuries and ongoing medical treatment. However, settling a personal injury claim that involves a car accident is oftentimes an uphill battle. Insurance companies do not make the process easy and will do anything they possibly can to undermine a car accident claim and avoid paying out sufficient compensation to settle it.

To increase your chances of maximizing the monetary compensation you deserve, you should have a knowledgeable car accident attorney advocating for you at every stage of your case. At Blair & Ramirez LLP, we can help you pursue the compensation you deserve through a favorable settlement or litigation result. Our team can also advise you about all of your legal options and help you select the best course of action for your case. Our team will aggressively fight for your legal right to recover the monetary compensation and damages you need.

For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with an experienced auto accident lawyer in California, please call us at (213) 568-4000 or contact us online for more information.

California Car Accidents

California auto accidents are typically the result of negligent, careless, or reckless driving maneuvers by others. When other drivers do not follow California traffic laws or engage in other types of reckless driving, they are more likely to cause a serious car accident. Some of the most common road rules that at-fault drivers violate include speed limit laws, right-of-way laws, and turn signal laws.

Another common cause of traffic accidents in California is road rage or aggressive driving. Many California drivers become upset when the vehicle in front of them goes too slowly. In those situations, some drivers have a tendency to honk their horns and engage in aggressive driving patterns, such as tailgating – or following another vehicle too closely. At other times, an angry driver might cut another vehicle off in traffic or fail to use their turn signal when switching travel lanes. Unfortunately, in these situations, drivers are more likely to cause traffic accidents.

Car accidents in California also happen when drivers do not utilize their backup cameras, mirrors, and other vehicle safety features when operating their vehicles. Drivers may also cause an accident with another vehicle or pedestrian if they fail to use their backup camera or rearview mirror when pulling out of a parking space at a parking lot or parking garage.

California car crashes may also happen when people drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Intoxicated drivers often experience physical symptoms such as nausea, blurred vision, and dizziness. However, they may experience mental symptoms, including lack of concentration, delayed reflexes, and delayed reaction time.

Consequently, a drunk driver may be unable to stop their vehicle in time to hit the brakes and avoid a traffic accident.

In California, a driver is legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of at least 0.08 percent. However, the BAC limit for commercial drivers, including commercial truck drivers, as well as minors who are under age 21, is significantly lower. Because of the many dangers of drunk driving, DUI is prohibited by criminal statute.

Therefore, if a driver violates the law and ultimately sustains a conviction in criminal court, they can be looking at various administrative and criminal penalties, including fines, jail time, and probation. Moreover, if a drunk driver causes a traffic accident that leads to physical injuries, the drunk driver – through their motor vehicle insurance company – may have to pay the accident victim reasonable damages for their accident-related losses.

Finally, some California car crashes happen when people drive while distracted. A distracted driver is one who does not pay sufficient attention to the road or who looks down (or to the side) while driving. Various electronic devices in vehicles, including GPS navigation systems, tablets, and cellular phones, may prove distracting for some drivers. In addition, vehicle passengers – especially rowdy ones – may distract a driver from watching the road attentively. When a driver becomes distracted, they may lose focus and fail to see an approaching vehicle, cyclist, or pedestrian in the vicinity, bringing about a serious car crash.

If you recently sustained injuries in a California car accident that resulted from one or more of these types of negligence, you should get the legal help that you need right away. The knowledgeable California car accident attorneys at Blair & Ramirez LLP can assist. Our legal team can first meet with you to discuss your accident circumstances and determine your eligibility for filing a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. We can also assist you with every step of the claims process, including filing your claim with the appropriate insurance company.

What Are Some Common Types of California Auto Accidents?

When drivers behave negligently while behind the wheel, they are more likely to cause a serious accident that leads to equally serious injuries. The type of car accident that occurs when a driver is negligent depends upon many factors, including the location, the speeds of the vehicles, and the number of vehicles involved in the crash. Sometimes, the force of a collision is so severe that it involves multiple vehicles and collision. The most common types of car accidents that result from driver error include:

  • Rear-end accidents, where one vehicle strikes another vehicle from behind, usually because the at-fault driver is speeding or not paying attention to the road
  • Sideswipe accidents, where the sides of two vehicles traveling in the same direction hit one another, usually because one driver is not paying attention and negligently drifts over into another travel lane
  • Head-on accidents, where the fronts of two vehicles traveling in opposite directions strike one another, often leading to permanent injuries and fatalities
  • T-bone or broadside crashes, where the front of one vehicle hits the side of another vehicle that is traveling on a perpendicular road, bringing about a crash

If you sustained injuries in a California auto accident that another driver caused, you have legal options that you can consider. The skilled legal team at Blair & Ramirez LLP can go over all of your options with you and help you select the course of action that is most likely to maximize your overall monetary recovery.

Common Auto Accident Injuries

Victims of California auto accidents may suffer a variety of injuries, depending upon the specific accident circumstances, the type of accident that occurs, and the way in which the accident victim's body moves in the vehicle during the collision. In some cases, the force of a collision causes the accident victim's body to move sideways or back and forth, causing soft tissue neck, back, or shoulder injury. At other times, some part of the accident victim's body might strike a part of the vehicle, such as the headrest or steering wheel, leading to a concussion or other traumatic head injury.

Other possible injuries that a car crash victim might suffer include bone fractures, rib fractures, bruises from airbag deployment, spinal cord damage, paralysis injuries, internal organ damage, internal bleeding, or open lacerations.

Upon suffering injuries in an accident, you should complete your medical treatment regimen after visiting a hospital emergency room or urgent care facility. As part of that treatment regimen, you may need to follow up with your primary care doctor, attend ongoing medical appointments, consult with a medical specialist (such as a neurologist or orthopedic doctor), undergo surgery or other medical procedure, undergo injections, or attend ongoing physical therapy sessions.

The main purpose of all of this treatment is to help you make a full recovery from your injuries. Seeking ongoing follow-up treatment after your accident also shows the insurance company that your injuries warrant favorable monetary compensation because they are serious.

Our legal team can begin advocating for you even while you finish treating your accident-related injuries. Specifically, we can begin gathering documents that are pertinent to your case, including medical records and bills, and begin assembling those documents into a complete settlement demand package for the insurance company's review. Once your medical treatment is over, we can begin the claims-filing process on your behalf and start negotiating with insurance company representatives for favorable settlement compensation.

Is California an At-fault State When It Comes to Auto Accidents?

When it comes to auto accidents that occur in California, the state utilizes a fault-based system, meaning that victims who suffer injuries in car crashes that result from another driver's negligence can file a claim with that driver's insurer. To recover a monetary settlement or litigation damages, the accident victim must satisfy their legal burden of proof. Specifically, they must show that the other driver owed them a duty of reasonable care that they subsequently violated. For example, the driver might have been speeding or violating some other California traffic law. The accident victim must also demonstrate that the other driver's negligence was both the actual and the foreseeable cause of their car accident. Finally, the accident victim must show that as a direct result of their accident, they sustained one or more physical injuries.

Our legal team can help you satisfy your legal burden of proof in the case and pursue the maximum amount of monetary compensation to which you are entitled.

Negotiating with Difficult Insurance Company Adjusters

The first step to recovering favorable settlement compensation after a California traffic accident is to submit a personal injury claim – usually with the at-fault driver's insurance company. As part of this claim, we can attach a settlement demand letter, which makes a monetary demand for settlement within the at-fault driver's insurance policy limits. We can also include favorable documentation in your case, including a copy of the police report, statements from eyewitnesses to the accident, property damage photographs, injury photographs, medical treatment records, medical bills, and lost income documentation if you had to miss time from work after your accident.

Once the insurance company adjuster handling your claim reviews all of this information, they might make an opening offer to resolve your case. However, you should always be wary about accepting the first offer that a settlement adjuster puts on the table because initial settlement offers are routinely far below the true value of a car accident claim. Insurance company representatives make these low offers to try and entice the accident victim to resolve their case quickly and cheaply. After all, the insurance company has absolutely no incentive to pay out a significant amount of money to resolve a claim. In fact, insurance companies often stand to lose a large amount of money if they have to pay out a sizable settlement, jury verdict, or binding arbitration award after a car crash.

Our legal team can combat the insurance company's tactics by aggressively negotiating on your behalf, submitting the necessary documentation, and pointing out the favorable components of your case, including favorable medical records and expert opinions. Settlement negotiations in a car accident claim typically move back and forth between the accident victim's attorney and the insurance company adjuster. In many cases, it takes several weeks to resolve a car accident case, while at other times, it may take months before the insurance company raises its offer to a favorable amount. If the insurance company does not increase their offer appropriately, we can threaten them with courtroom litigation and, if necessary, file a lawsuit in the California Court System for you. We can then proceed with litigating your case to an efficient resolution.

Litigating an Auto Accident Case in California

We can begin the litigation stage of your case by filing a car accident lawsuit in the court system. At that point, the insurance company will retain legal counsel to represent the at-fault driver. The parties will then typically engage in a process known as discovery, during which time they will answer written Interrogatories and undergo depositions. Our legal team can fully prepare you for your deposition – and for the types of questions that the defense attorney is likely to ask. At most depositions, accident victims must testify about how the accident happened, the injuries that they suffered, the amount of time that they missed from work, the medical treatment that they underwent, and any ongoing negative effects of the accident on their life.

Sometimes, after a discovery deposition, the insurance company will increase their offer to a reasonable amount. However, if that does not happen, the parties may take their case to a jury trial or resort to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR). At a jury trial, the jury will listen to all of the evidence that the parties introduce and will make a decision on all issues that are in dispute, including the issue of monetary damages. If the parties elect to proceed with alternative dispute resolution, they may take their case to a mediation hearing or binding arbitration proceeding. At mediation, a neutral mediator will listen to the parties' respective versions of their case and help them engage in focused settlement discussions. Some cases resolve at mediation, while other cases do not.

Alternatively, at a binding arbitration proceeding, the parties essentially have a mini-trial outside of court and present evidence to a neutral, third-party arbitrator rather than to a jury. The arbitrator then decides how much monetary compensation to award the car accident plaintiff.

Our legal team will be by your side during all of these proceedings and will ensure that you are well-prepared. We can also aggressively litigate your case in court – or at an ADR proceeding – and help you secure the best possible result.

Recovering Monetary Damages for Auto Accident Injuries

Victims of California auto accidents can recover various damages, depending upon the nature and extent of their injuries, the cost of their medical treatment, and whether or not their injuries are permanent. Common monetary damages that car accident victims may recover include compensation for all of their:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Lost income
  • Inconvenience
  • Mental distress
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Loss of the ability to use a body part
  • Loss of life enjoyment
  • Permanent disfigurement or disability
  • Permanent scarring
  • Loss of spousal companionship or consortium
  • Lifetime care costs

Our legal team can help you determine which of these damages you are eligible to recover in your case and will do everything possible to maximize your total settlement or litigation result.

Contact an Experienced Auto Accident Attorney in California Right Away

Handling a California auto accident case on your own can be an extremely daunting task. Therefore, it is advisable to have skilled legal counsel in your corner as early on in the process as possible. At Blair & Ramirez LLP, our legal team prides itself on thoughtful, result-oriented legal representation and will help you pursue the highest possible settlement or litigation result in your case.

For a free case evaluation and legal consultation with an experienced car accident attorney in California, please call us at (213) 568-4000 or contact us online for more information.