There is no question that car accidents are a frequent occurrence in Los Angeles, ranging from minor fender benders to catastrophic collisions.
Whether you are crawling at a snail’s speed down the 101, merging onto the 405, or honking your horn from Hollywood to Ventura, it is reasonable to expect other drivers to be as careful and attentive as you are.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Los Angeles, consider contacting a Los Angeles car accident attorney.
You should not have to be financially responsible for harm caused by the negligent actions of another person or party. And the best way to ensure you get the compensation you deserve is to have a car accident attorney in your corner.
Traffic Accidents in Los Angeles
In 2021, Los Angeles saw the highest traffic death rate in almost two decades.
Data from the LA Police Department shows that 294 people died in traffic accidents in Los Angeles in 2021, including pedestrians and cyclists.
This is a nearly 22% increase from 2020. The total number of vehicle accidents reached 40,699.
In 2015, the LA Department of Transportation (LADOT) committed to an initiative called Vision Zero, which is intended to eliminate traffic deaths in Los Angeles by 2025.
Since the commencement of the initiative, traffic deaths have increased by 58 percent. LADOT is continuing to improve roads in the hope that these changes will reduce the number of accident victims.
Minor Car Accident vs. Major Car Accident
Car accidents come in two types—minor accidents and major accidents. How do you differentiate between the two? Several indicators help separate the two types of accidents. The kind of accident at issue will generally determine the category and amount of damages available in a related personal injury claim.
If you’re involved in a minor automobile accident, the damage to your vehicle will likely be minimal. For example, a small dent or a broken car part is minor damage.
On the other hand, a major accident causes severe damage to the vehicle. When your car is “totaled,” it means that it would take more money to fix it than the car is currently worth. Major accidents usually involve cars that are totaled or close to totaled.
A vehicle that sustains such severe damage renders the car undrivable and, in some cases, unsafe. The car usually has to be towed away for major vehicle damage. The financial loss for personal property depends on the extent of the damage.
More important than the degree of personal property damage is personal injury. The difference between a major and minor accident can be the varying degrees of personal injury. In a minor accident, common injuries include the following:
- Cuts and lacerations,
- Neck and back injuries,
- Internal injuries,
- Bone fractures,
- Facial injuries,
- Concussions, and
- Internal injuries.
The above injuries may require extensive treatment, but they represent injuries most people can fully recover from. The at-fault party is responsible for damages associated with these damages, but they do not amount to catastrophic injuries. The financial loss from minor injuries is substantially less than the losses from catastrophic injuries.
A catastrophic injury occurs in a major accident and can include the following:
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Full or partial paralysis,
- Loss of limbs and disfigurement,
- Spinal cord injuries, and
- Severe burns.
When you experience a catastrophic injury, these injuries can be either life-threatening or life-altering—or both. Whether your accident was major or minor, you have the right to pursue compensation for losses you suffered due to another’s negligence.
Common Causes of Los Angeles Car Accidents
There are countless reasons for vehicle accidents to occur. Generally, the reason that they happen has something to do with a mistake being made by one or more drivers.
We all make mistakes, but when a driver’s errors harm others, that driver needs to be held accountable.
Thus, understanding what happened and who is at fault is important information for your Los Angeles car accident attorney to help them fight for the compensation you deserve.
Here are some of the most common causes of LA car accidents.
Anything that diverts attention from the road is considered distracted driving.
This could be eating, drinking, talking to other passengers, trying to grab something on the floorboard, changing the radio, or just focusing too closely on something outside of the vehicle.
The most prevalent distraction is cell phone use. Texting while driving, checking email, changing music, and looking at social media causes countless accidents each year.
Speeding reduces a driver’s ability to react to LA’s constantly changing traffic conditions. High-speed collisions often cause greater damage to people and property. It is important to pay close attention to the speed limit at all times.
Turning does sound complicated, but a surprising number of accidents take place because of improper turns.
These can occur anytime a driver fails to follow all traffic laws, including failure to signal a turn, turning where signs instruct that turning is prohibited, or not yielding the right of way to pedestrians.
Left turns are especially dangerous when not completed properly.
Car accidents are not always the fault of the drivers. Sometimes there is a problem with the way the vehicle was made. Car distributors and manufacturers are legally obligated to ensure that the vehicles and vehicle parts they sell are reasonably safe.
Defects like faulty brakes, steering systems, or airbags can cause catastrophic injuries. These companies should be held liable for product defects.
Driving conditions can play a significant role in causing vehicle accidents. Though Los Angeles is not likely to have snow, heavy rains are possible. This can cause tires to hydroplane and skid, causing potential collisions with other vehicles or objects.
Poorly Maintained Roads
Drivers have the right to reasonably maintained roads. That is something that taxes go to pay. If traffic signs are knocked over or roads are ill-maintained, this causes a greater likelihood of car accidents occurring.
This is often the responsibility of the state or local municipality. If you are planning to bring a cause of action against a government entity, having a car accident attorney in Los Angeles on your side will be important.
Pure Comparative Negligence in California
Knowing what caused the accident is critical to determining liability. Determining liability for negligence is at the heart of any car accident case. It is important to know that California follows the rule of pure comparative negligence.
This means that you can still file a lawsuit even if you were partially responsible for the accident. The damages you recover will be subject to liability apportionment under California law.
For example, if a jury finds you 20% at fault, then you have the right to collect 80% of your damages. If a jury finds you 75% at fault in California, you can still collect 25%.
The insurance company and negligent party will undoubtedly try to blame as much of the liability on you as possible because doing so will reduce the amount the insurer has to pay.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Los Angeles
Your car accident lawyer in Los Angeles will help you determine the best course of action for your situation.
The first step in receiving compensation for your car accident is generally to file an insurance claim, which may lead to filing a lawsuit, depending on your circumstances.
It is important to remember that the insurance company will act in its own best interest, which means it may offer you a lower amount than what your claim is worth.
An experienced car accident lawyer in Los Angeles can help you determine the value of your claim and negotiate on your behalf. If a reasonable settlement cannot be reached, you may consider filing a lawsuit.
Car Accident Lawsuit Process
Filing a lawsuit for personal injuries is probably the last thing you want to do while recovering. But sometimes, it’s necessary. A car accident attorney will do the heavy lifting, but knowing what to expect in the car accident lawsuit process is helpful.
Reach out to a car accident lawyer
The best thing you can do if you’ve sustained an injury in a car accident due to the negligence or recklessness of others is to hire an experienced attorney.
A skilled car accident lawyer will have a strategic approach to handling your case. They can leverage skill, experience, and resources to make the process as painless as possible for you.
Building your case
Your attorney will review every aspect of your case, and they’ll need to know the following:
- The extent of your injuries,
- The circumstances that caused the harm,
- Your employment history and income,
- Your family circumstances, and
- Anything else that can strengthen your case.
Once complete, your attorney has enough to tell your story in a complaint.
Filing your lawsuit
The first step in the official “lawsuit” process is to file the initial papers with the appropriate court. This step will initiate the lawsuit. In California, you have two years from your injury to file a lawsuit for most personal injuries and injuries leading to death.
Most California personal injury cases for car accidents begin in the trial (Superior) court. Your lawyer will file your complaint in the correct venue. The complaint details the claim, the parties involved, and your demand.
Your lawyer must formally notify the defendant that you filed a lawsuit against them. And the cost of filing a lawsuit is relatively modest. Most litigation costs come from legal expenses, not the filing fee.
That being said, most personal injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. This means that there is no out-of-pocket or upfront cost to you. Your lawyer will take their fee from any compensation you get, and attorneys fees for such cases is typically 33% to 40% of any settlement or judgment obtained.
The discovery process is often time-consuming and expensive. Discovery involves gathering and sharing information about the case with the opponent. Both sides can see every possible piece of documentation the other side has that could help support or refute the claim.
So you will also be required to share information with the other side. When there are disputes during this exchange of evidence, the parties can request that the court get involved to help resolve the issue.
Providing evidence to prove that the accident was not your fault and caused your injuries is critical. During discovery, the parties seek to understand the strengths and weaknesses of their case.
Although you probably already attempted to settle your claim with the insurance company at the outset of your claim, the stakes are higher after you file a lawsuit. Once discovery is complete, this presents another opportunity to enter into settlement negotiations.
Average car accident settlements cannot accurately predict the amount you may receive in a settlement. As any reasonable attorney will tell you, every case is different. Several factors, however, commonly impact most settlements. These factors include the following:
- Severity of injuries,
- Strength of the evidence,
- Insurance limits, and
- Emotional and mental trauma caused by the accident.
At the brink of trial, each party will have had the opportunity to fully evaluate each factor that impacts the settlement value of a car accident case.
Each side knows that going to trial is risky because you never know what a jury will do, and both sides know they could experience a great payoff or a devastating loss. Your attorney can explain the benefits of pretrial settlement versus going to trial under the circumstances of your case.
Going to trial
When a case fails to settle, it goes before a judge and jury. During the trial, your attorney will argue your case, which includes presenting evidence and calling witnesses.
When your case goes to trial, your car accident attorney must be effective in the courtroom. The accident attorneys at Peerali Law have extensive trial experience and are not afraid to go toe to toe with the insurance company lawyers at trial.
Contact A Car Accident Lawyer in Los Angeles
Peerali Law Firm provides innovative and unique strategies for each case we take.
Recovering from a vehicle accident is more than physical. We are here to support you throughout the entire process and obtain a fair settlement or verdict so that you have the resources to heal and move on with your life.