- What to Do After a California Auto Accident?
- Recent Case Results
- Frequency of Car Accidents in California
- Prompt Medical Treatment & Legal Counsel
- Common LA Car Accident Injuries
- Los Angeles Car Accident Damages Recovery
- CA Car Accident Case Study
- California Insurance Company Tactics
- Get Help Today
- Additional Resources
As a Los Angeles, California motor vehicle accidents attorney knows, traffic accidents occur more frequently in the state than in any other state in the U.S. because of the high traffic volume on the state’s highway system. The higher volume of vehicles on the roadways in urban areas, including Los Angeles, San Diego, the Inland Empire, Ventura County, Orange County, the San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area, results in especially high crash and injury rates in those locations. More than one-third of the land that is located in the L.A. Basin, including the San Fernando Valley, is covered by roadways and freeways. If you are involved in an accident, getting the help of an accidents lawyer may make a huge difference in the outcome of your claim.
According to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, or NHTSA, 35,092 people were killed and 2,440,000 were injured in motor vehicle accidents during 2015. While the fatality and injury rates had been steadily declining, the year’s fatality and injury rates represented a substantial increase over the number of people who were killed and injured in 2014. During the year, 7.2 percent more people were killed than in 2014, representing the biggest single-year increase that had happened in 50 years. The preliminary numbers from 2016 show that the upward trend is continuing.
The number of people who are injured or killed each year in motor vehicle crashes is incredibly high. Because of the high numbers of cars on the road in urban areas and the lack of mass transit systems, a majority of these accidents happen in and near to major metropolitan areas such as the City of Angels, the O.C., the South Bay and the San Gabriel Valley. The Inland Empire and Orange County show especially high accident injury and fatality rates.
L.A. auto accident attorneys who have experience representing injured victims throughout the state understand how the traffic volume affects driving behaviors, leading to common types of accident scenarios such as tailgating on the freeway. This often results in rear-end collisions. Others include unsafe lane changes, which cause multi-vehicle collisions, failing to stop at red lights, which cause t-bone accidents, and many other examples.
Seeking prompt medical treatment after a car accident is crucial for several reasons:
Unrecognized Injuries: Many injuries, such as internal bleeding or brain injuries, might not be immediately apparent. Certain symptoms might take hours, days, or even weeks to manifest. Prompt medical attention can identify these injuries early and prevent further complications.
Avoiding Long-term Complications: Delay in treatment can lead to long-term health issues. For example, if you suffered a fracture but didn't seek immediate medical attention, it could lead to improper healing and long-term disability. Early intervention can help to minimize potential complications and promote better recovery.
Legal Implications: If you're involved in a motor vehicle accident and plan to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit, you will need medical documentation of your injuries. Delays in seeking medical attention can be used against you by insurance companies or opposing counsel to argue that your injuries weren't severe or were unrelated to the accident.
Preventing Condition Worsening: Prompt medical attention allows for immediate treatment that can prevent the condition from worsening. For example, if you have a severe cut, immediate treatment can prevent excessive blood loss and reduce the risk of infection.
Pain Management: Even minor injuries can cause significant pain and discomfort. Seeking immediate medical attention can help manage this pain effectively.
Psychological Support: Car accidents can cause significant psychological stress, including conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Early intervention can help manage these conditions and provide necessary support.
It is also very important for people who have been involved in automobile crashes to take specific steps immediately afterward. Doing so helps to make certain that your insurance carrier will have all of the information that it needs so that your injury claim is well-supported in case you have to file a personal injury lawsuit for compensation. Your first priority after being involved in an accident is to get medical care. Even if you do not think that you are injured at first, it is important to get a medical evaluation. There are many common car accident injuries that may not show symptoms for hours or days after the accident happened. Getting a thorough medical examination following an accident can reveal these hidden injuries so that you can enjoy a better prognosis. This can also show a causal relationship between your accident and your resulting injuries.
After getting medical attention, your next step following an accident that was caused by another driver should be to schedule a consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney. This can help to keep the value of your claims from being reduced. If your treatment is delayed, or you fail to get advice from an attorney soon after your collision, your case and your health may be seriously jeopardized. When people do not seek prompt medical attention after an accident, insurance companies will commonly try to deny that their injuries happened as a result of the collisions. Similarly, people who do not get legal help early on may find that witnesses are hard to track down and evidence may be lost, making their claims weaker and more difficult to prove.
While there are many different injuries that can happen in car accidents, there are some injuries that commonly occur. Injuries in accidents happen because of the physical forces that are released in collisions. The most common injuries that result in automotive accidents include the following:
Whiplash: This is a neck injury that occurs when the head is suddenly jerked backward and then forward, straining the soft tissues of the neck. It can cause neck pain, stiffness, headaches, and sometimes cognitive problems such as difficulty concentrating or remembering.
Broken Bones: The impact of a car accident can fracture or break bones, including ribs, arms, legs, and more.
Head Injuries: These can range from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries. Symptoms can include headaches, confusion, dizziness, and loss of consciousness.
Spinal Cord Injuries: These are serious and potentially life-altering injuries. They can lead to partial or complete paralysis, depending on the severity and location of the injury.
Internal Injuries: These can be to organs such as the lungs, heart, liver, or kidneys. These injuries can be difficult to detect without medical examination, but they can be very serious or even life-threatening.
Cuts and Abrasions: Glass and metal shards from a car accident can cause cuts and abrasions, which can range from minor to severe.
Burns: If a car catches fire or there's a hot metal or steam release following a crash, occupants can suffer burns.
Psychological Injuries: It's also important to note that car accidents can cause psychological injuries, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.
Some of the injuries that can happen in car accidents may not be immediately noticeable. Because of the adrenaline that is released when people are involved in collisions, they may not realize that they have been injured at first. Some injuries, such as whiplash, may not show symptoms for hours or even days after an accident. Whiplash often happens in rear-end collisions when a car occupant’s head and neck are thrown violently forward and then rebound backward as the physical force of the accident dissipates. The backward movement may cause the person’s neck to be overextended, leading to tears, strains, pulls and damage to the bones and tissues of the neck and shoulder. Whiplash may be minor or debilitating. More serious cases of whiplash may leave people suffering from chronic pain and other problems for many months after the accidents.
Internal bleeding is another serious injury that may not be immediately noticed. When a person is involved in a motor vehicle collision, he or she may endure blunt-force trauma from being hit by objects. Internal bleeding may occur because of blood vessels rupturing as a result of the force of the blow. People may not be initially aware that they have suffered an injury that has resulted in internal bleeding when there are initially no outward signs of the injury. Internal bleeding can leave people feeling fatigued, dizzy or lightheaded. It can happen in the abdomen, brain or other areas of the body. Without prompt medical care, internal bleeding can cause people to die from their injuries. It is very important for people to get immediate medical attention if they are dizzy, feel faint, experience abdominal pain or severe headaches following an accident as this may mean that they are bleeding internally. If you or your loved one has been injured in an accident, call 866-966-5240.
If your injury has prevented you from being able to return to your normal activities, it is very important for you to document everything having to do with your injury and your activities. Keeping accurate records of your appointments, follow-up care and how your injuries are affecting you from day-to-day can help to strengthen your claim. You can ask your doctor for copies of all of your medical reports so that you can have them available if you needed them. Your insurance company will likewise need this information in order to process your claim. If you are injured and want to seek compensation by filing a claim, contact a personal injury lawyer who is experienced with settling motor vehicle accident claims as soon as possible.
Our law firm has more than 20 years of experience in helping accident victims who have been seriously injured and the families of victims who have been killed with recovering compensation. Steven M. Sweat has a reputation as a highly skilled representative for his clients. He has been awarded the Super Lawyer designation by Los Angeles Magazine and Thomson Reuters News Service as being among the top 5 percent of personal injury attorneys who represent injured plaintiffs in California. He has recovered millions of dollars in compensation for his clients throughout the state. We have the experience and ability to prosecute even the most complicated wrongful death and personal injury claims that arise out of motor vehicle collisions.
If you are not able to return to normal activities then it is even more important to keep accurate records of all of your appointments that you have with your physician and to ask for copies of the medical reports so that you will be able to re-produce these documents if necessary. Your insurance carrier will also need a copy of the medical records so that they can process the information as well. If you are injured and plan on filing a claim for injury compensation, contact a personal injury lawyer that is experienced in settling auto accident injury claims as soon as you can. Our office has over 20 years of experience representing car accident victims who have suffered serious bodily harm and the families of those killed in motor vehicle accidents throughout the State of California. Steven M. Sweat has an established reputation as evidenced by being awarded the “Super Lawyer” designation by Thomson Reuters News Service and Los Angeles Magazine for personal injury attorneys who represent accident victims which puts him in the top 5% of car accident lawyers in the State of California. Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC has recovered millions of dollars for auto accident victims throughout California. We are experienced trial attorneys with the ability to prosecute even the most difficult personal injury and wrongful death claims arising out of car crashes.
The damages that may be available following an accident will depend on several things, including the extent of a person’s injuries, the facts of what happened, whether the injured person shared a percentage of fault, the person’s age and earning capacity and other situational factors. Experienced lawyers may assess a case in order to determine a range of values of damages. Under the law, the potential damages that may be recoverable include the following:
- Past and future medical expenses, including surgery, ambulance transportation expenses, physical therapy, rehabilitation and chiropractic care
- Related expenses for prosthetic devices, braces, walkers and crutches
- Past and future lost wages
- The repair costs or fair market replacement value of property losses
- Current and future physical pain and mental suffering
- Losses for the reduction of the enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement and physical impairment
- Anxiety, grief, humiliation and emotional distress
- Loss of consortium for spouses
- Reasonable funeral and burial costs in wrongful death claims
Our client was 25 years old, active in various intramural sports and a manager at his place of employment. He was stopped at a red light in a major intersection in Southern California when the driver behind him (distracted by her cell phone and not noticing the traffic had stopped in front of her) rear ended our client at a significant rate of speed. We assisted our client in getting quality medical treatment (including and MRI, which revealed a herniated disc in his back). We found a neurosurgeon to perform a repair of the disc and he followed up with physical therapy and was eventually able to return to work and playing sports. He received a significant 6 figure settlement for his lost wages, medical expenses, and emotional distress related to the accident. Note: “this testimonial or endorsement does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.”
When people are injured in motor vehicle collisions that were caused by another driver’s actions, it is common for insurance company representatives and adjusters to contact the injured victims as soon as the companies learn about the collision. They may ask for victims to make recorded statements and to sign release forms. The reason that insurance companies do this is to minimize their losses. The releases are often blanket authorizations that allow insurance companies to review people’s entire medical histories. They want to be able to do this so that they can blame a person’s injuries on prior incidents rather than on the accident itself. This may make it much more difficult to prove the value of the claim.
Companies also want recorded statements from victims soon after their accidents so that they can use their statements against them later in any resulting injury claims. For these reasons, it is very important for people to avoid talking about the accident and to refuse to sign anything until they have had a chance to speak with experienced personal injury attorneys. When they are contacted, they should simply inform the adjusters that they need to talk to their lawyers.
When you have been injured in a California car accident, it is important for you to seek the help of an injury law firm that will fight for the maximum amount of compensation for your losses. Contact the Steven M. Sweat, Personal Injury Lawyers, APC statewide at 866-966-5240. Our consultations are free, and there are no up-front fees or costs. You will not have to pay any legal fees unless we recover compensation for you. Call us today.
The so called "Statute of Limitations" or time deadline for filing a lawsuit in court on a California car accident claim is two years from the date of the incident. This is shortened if you are filing a claim against a public entity (e.g. city, county or state-owned vehicle hits you) to 6 months from the date of the accident to file a "Government Tort Claim" and a short time after it is rejected to file suit. Even though California law provides two year to file a lawsuit, it is important to seek out the assistance of an attorney and file a claim with the insurance company as soon as possible after a crash. Delay in informing the insurance company of a claim can result in denial of the claim or argument from the insurance company that such delay indicates a lack of true injury (i.e. if you were really hurt, you would have filed a claim sooner).What to Do After a California Auto Accident?
If you are involved in a car accident in California, there are several steps you should take, both for your safety and to comply with the law:
Stop and Protect the Scene:
- Always stop after an accident, regardless of the severity. Leaving the scene of an accident, especially if someone is injured, can result in serious criminal charges.
- If it's safe, move your vehicle out of traffic. If you can't move the vehicle, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers.
Check for Injuries:
- Check yourself and other passengers for injuries. If someone is seriously injured, it's best not to move them unless they're in immediate danger.
- Call 911 if there are any injuries.
- Gather information from all involved parties, including:
- Name, address, and phone number
- Driver's license number and expiration date
- Vehicle license plate number
- Insurance information (company and policy number)
- It's also useful to collect contact information from witnesses.
- Gather information from all involved parties, including:
Document the Accident:
- Take pictures of the accident scene, including damage to the vehicles, license plates, and any injuries.
- Write down the location of the accident, the time and date, weather conditions, and any other pertinent details.
Notify the Police:
- For significant accidents, especially those with injuries, it's crucial to call the police. They will create a police report which can be valuable later.
- For minor fender-benders without injuries, you might choose not to call the police. However, having a police report can be beneficial in settling disputes or claims.
Avoid Discussing Fault:
- Be careful about what you say at the scene. Do not admit fault, even if you believe you might be responsible. Statements made at the accident scene can later be used against you.
Seek Medical Attention:
- Even if you feel fine, some injuries, like whiplash or concussions, might not manifest symptoms immediately. It's essential to see a doctor soon after the accident to establish a record and ensure you haven't sustained unseen injuries.
Notify Your Insurance Company:
- Inform your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. They will provide guidance on the next steps and inform you about your coverage details.
- Document all medical treatments, bills, and any other expenses related to the accident. Also, keep a journal of how the accident has affected your daily life and any pain or discomfort you experience.
Consult an Attorney:
- If there are disputes over fault or if you've sustained significant injuries, consult with a personal injury attorney. They can provide guidance on your rights and potential compensation.
Comply with California Reporting Requirements:
- California law requires that a Traffic Accident Report be filed with the DMV within 10 days if:
- There was property damage of more than $1,000 or
- Anyone was injured (no matter how minor) or killed.
- California law requires that a Traffic Accident Report be filed with the DMV within 10 days if:
- $2,000,000 - Los Angeles car accident
- $1,250,000 - Wrongful Death Motor Vehicle Collision in Los Angeles
- $1,500,000 - Wrongful Death
While no lawyer can or should guarantee a result on a motor vehicle accident claim, we have shown a consistent record of success for over 25 years.
- How to obtain a copy of a traffic collision report from the California Highway Patrol
- State Bar of California – “What should I do if I have an auto accident?”