Car accidents are a common cause of death and severe injuries for road users in California. Car crashes range from less severe rear-end collisions to catastrophic head-on collisions. A driver's motor vehicle insurance is responsible for the injuries suffered in a car accident in California. However, drivers are not the only parties who suffer injuries in case of a collision. Most car accidents result from negligence from different parties.

If you or your loved one is injured in a negligent car accident, you are entitled to compensation from the individual responsible for the accident. When you file a personal injury claim, you have the burden to identify at-fault parties and prove liability for the accident before you can recover compensation. The process of filing a personal injury claim could be challenging, especially when you have suffered serious injuries. Therefore, it would be wise to navigate the claim with legal guidance like The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm. We serve clients throughout California to ensure the best outcome in your lawsuit.

Determining Fault in a Car Accident

Car accidents are common in California. Most car crashes result from circumstances that could be avoided if all people exercise reasonable care. If you are involved in an accident and suffer significant injuries, you can file a lawsuit and seek compensation for the injuries. However, the fault for the accident needs to be established before you are compensated. If you or your loved one is injured in a car accident in California, you have up to two years to file a personal injury lawsuit against the parties liable for the accident. 

What to do After a Car Accident

A car accident can be a traumatizing experience for you and your loved ones. The events that follow a car accident could help you establish fault and recover compensation for the injuries. If you are involved in a car accident, you should:

  1. Move away from the wreckage but remain at the scene. When you are involved in a car accident, you should consider your safety by moving away to a safe place.
  2. Call the police. Multiple parties are often involved in car accidents. When you call the police, they will assess the accident scene and write a report. It is crucial to let them know the occurrences, but you should avoid speculations. The police report is one of the most significant pieces of evidence in a personal injury lawsuit. The report can help you identify the person liable for the accident.
  3. Seek medical attention. Even when you do not have a physical injury, it is crucial to seek medical care as soon as you are involved in the accident. This is because some injuries will only start to manifest after some time. The medical report will help establish the extent of your injuries and medical expenses to prompt compensation.
  4. Avoid admitting fault for the accident. It is crucial not to any wrongdoing in the accident even when you think you had something to do with it. Apologizing or mentioning your involvement to the police could be used to deny you compensation. Also, the fault party's insurance company could approach you, attempting to make you confess to causing the accident. However, it is crucial to avoid speaking with insurance providers without guidance from a personal injury attorney.
  5. Do not say that you are uninjured. Even when you feel that you are not injured, you should not say that to the other driver. Some injuries are not often apparent and could manifest after a while. Therefore, you should not give an official statement until you receive treatment.

After an accident, you need to seek guidance from a personal injury attorney. Your attorney will guide you through the situation to ensure you do not say or do anything that could ruin your compensation chances.

California Comparative Fault Law 

Involvement in a car accident caused by the negligence of another person could be devastating. However, you can file a lawsuit and recover compensation for the losses you incurred from the accident. To receive compensation, you have to identify the parties liable for the accident and establish fault. Sometimes, it is obvious who is at fault for the accident, while sometimes it is not. The laws surrounding fault determination in California could be challenging to understand. Therefore, guidance from a competent personal injury attorney is crucial when you want to establish fault for a car accident in which you are involved.

When you are injured in a car crash, you have the right to claim compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. In California, an injured party receives compensation based on the percentage of fault for the defendant. California comparative fault law dictates how fault is divided after a negligent care accident.

Under comparative fault, you will receive compensation even when you were partially responsible for the accident. The judge or jury often determines the fault for an accident based on the testimony provided by you, the defendant, and other witnesses. Initially, you will sue the defendant for100% compensation. However, if they can prove that your actions significantly contributed to the accident, the damages are reduced with an increasing percentage of your responsibility.

Comparative fault is divided into pure comparative and modified comparative negligence. California follows the pure comparative fault where you could recover any percentage of damages caused by the defendant. In a car accident involving multiple vehicles, it is common to have multiple liable parties. In this case, the court will establish the percentage of fault for each party to determine the amount of compensation you deserve.

Establishing Negligence in a Car Accident Lawsuit

Most car accidents are based on negligence. Under California law, negligence is the failure to exercise reasonable care, and the failure results in injury or death of another person. Negligence involves what one failed to do rather than your actions. A lawsuit involving negligence is based on the notion that the injured party seeks compensation for their injuries. Negligence claims often involve complex analysis to determine whether or not the defendant failed to follow their safety duty. In California, you prove negligence by establishing the following elements:

  • Defendant Owed you a Duty of Care

A duty of care is the responsibility that each road user has to ensure they do not cause harm to other people. The standard of care owed is based on what a reasonable person would do under the given circumstances. All drivers owe other drivers, pedestrians, and other road users a duty of care. Drivers are expected to drive with reasonable care, avoid drunk driving and follow all traffic rules to ensure safety on the roads. When you want to establish fault for an accident in your lawsuit, you need to establish that the defendant owed you the duty of care.

  • The Defendant Breached their Duty of Care

Proving that a defendant owed you a duty of care is not enough to establish fault for the accident. It would be best if you showed that the defendant breached their duty of care. Breach of duty occurs when one fails to exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of others. Some of the actions that portray breach of duty from the defendant include failure to yield the right, drunk driving, or failing to follow the traffic rules.

  • The Defendant’s Breach Caused your Injuries

For you to prevail in a car accident lawsuit, you and your attorney need to prove that the breach of duty caused your injuries. Proving this element could be quite complicated, mostly when the accident involved multiple vehicles. Insurance companies could try to pass the blame around to avoid liability for your injuries. Fortunately, multiple parties could be held liable for a single accident in California.

A defendant's actions do not need to be the only cause of the accident. However, your injuries should be a direct consequence of the breach of duty.

  • You Suffered Damages from the Injury

Depending on the collision's severity, a car accident could leave you with multiple types of harm. If you suffer significant injuries, you are likely to spend a fortune in treatment. Also, you may not be able to go back to work to earn a decent living. When seeking compensation in a car accident lawsuit, you are required to show evidence of the losses you incurred.

Common Negligent Acts that Cause Accidents

If an individual acts negligently and causes an accident and injury to other road users, they could be liable for the accident. There are different forms of negligence that can lead to traffic-related crashes. If you can prove that the defendant acted in any of the following ways, you could be able to establish fault for the accident:

  1. Distracted driving

Texting or using a smartphone is one of the most common distractions. However, many other activities like eating or personal grooming could distract a driver from the road. If you can prove that a driver was distracted, the court could hold them liable for your injuries.

  1. Driving under the influence of drugs 

Driving under drug influence is when a driver's conduct is impaired by drugs or alcohol. Operating a motor vehicle with a BAC that exceeds 0.08% is also considered drunk driving. It is a crime to drive under alcohol or drug influence in California. When a driver is intoxicated, they are incapable of making the right decisions and can cause an accident. If you suspect that a driver is drunk at the accident scene, you can mention it to the police.

  1. Aggressive driving

The traffic in California can be quite frustrating. However, when an impatient driver opts for aggressive driving, it could cause serious accidents. Establishing aggressive driving could help in determining fault for the accident.

  1. Dangerous roads

Driver error is a common cause of car accidents. However, not all accidents result from vehicle-related issues. Sometimes, dangerous and poorly maintained roads could cause serious accidents. Government entities have the responsibility to ensure that roads are safe by constant repair and maintenance.

 If a poorly maintained road causes an accident in which you are injured. The government could be held at fault for the accident. Filing a lawsuit against the government is complicated, and you will require competent legal guidance to navigate the claim.

  1. Defective auto part

If a vehicle manufacturer sells a defective vehicle or auto part, a part malfunction could lead to an accident. Several vehicle parts such as tires, steering, brakes, and engines could fail and cause serious injuries. If a vehicle part malfunction caused an accident, the manufacturer might be found at fault for the accident.

Violation of Rules While Driving That Can be used to Determine At-fault Party

Another way to determine fault in a car accident is to know whether there was a violation of the law in driving. If a driver or road user violates the vehicle code, they are presumed to be at fault for the accident. Some of the violations that could help establish liability in a car accident include:

  • Speeding is the prevalent cause of many accidents. When driving over the speed limit, a driver's reaction to an emergency could be slow and cause the accident to be more serious. California law sets different speed limits for different parts of the road, and a driver who violates this law is held liable for the accident.
  • Failure to yield the right of way. Failure to yield the right of way as expected by the law can cause a severe car crash. If you are injured by a motorist who failed to yield the right way, you can recover compensation for your injuries.
  • Running a red light. When two vehicles collide with one vehicle running a red light, the effects could be catastrophic. When a driver runs a red light in the wrong place, causing a crash, they could be held liable for the accident and your injuries.

Who Determines Fault in a Car Accident?

There are too many negligent drivers on our roads, making it common for road accidents to occur. There are several factors you need to consider after an accident. The need for medical care, repairing your vehicle, and evening filing a lawsuit. However, one of the most stressful aspects of an accident is figuring out who is to blame for your losses. Different individuals play a role in the determination of this information, including:

The Police

The police officers who arrive at the accident scene have a significant role in establishing fault for the crash. When you call the police to the scene, they must write a report that contains all information about individuals involved in the accident. They will also assess the scene and speak to all involved parties for more information on the accident.

When you speak to the police at the accident scene, ensure you only give the correct information and avoid speculations. This is because the information you provide may be used against you in the personal injury claim.

Insurance Agencies

If the at-fault driver attempts to deny liability for the accident, insurance providers can review the evidence to determine fault. It is vital to take photos or a video of the accident scene. Also, you can write down information from the witnesses. You could use this information as evidence to support your version of the story to insurance adjusters.

Admission of Fault

A simple way of determining fault in a car accident is when you or one of the involved parties accepts liability. If you attempt to apologize to the other driver or an injured person, you could be admitting fault even if you did not cause the crash. You should avoid admitting fault at an accident scene since this could hurt your chances of recovering compensation. Insurance agents may attempt to coerce you into accepting full or partial responsibility for the accident. Therefore, you should not speak or take any interviews with the agents without your attorney's presence.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me

Many car accidents in California occur as a result of negligence or violation of rules in driving. Involvement in a collision, especially when another person causes it. Most car accidents result in serious injuries that could significantly impact your life. Depending on the severity of the injuries you suffer from the accident, your ability to lead a normal life could be affected. Fortunately, the fault party in a car accident is expected to compensate you for the losses resulting from the accident.

In California, you can seek compensation by filing a lawsuit against the fault parties. However, before you recover any form of compensation, you should establish liability for the accident. If you are successful in your claim, you can be compensated for the medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity that resulted from your injuries. Legal guidance is vital when you are pursuing compensation for car accident injuries. At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we will offer you guidance and representation to possibly ensure you recover maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact us at 619-625-8707.