San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer
From head-on collisions and fires to T-bone accidents, most motor vehicle wrecks may cause devastating injuries and significant property damage. If a negligent driver caused you to get into a serious wreck, you may have a viable personal injury lawsuit. A San Francisco car accident lawyer can evaluate your case and determine your eligibility to seek damages.
While the process of gathering evidence and filing a personal injury claim can seem overwhelming and confusing, you do not have to handle this process on your own. A personal injury attorney can guide you through the legal process and advocate for your best interests.
Understanding Driver Negligence
Negligence is careless or reckless behavior that disregards the safety of others. All motorists have a legal obligation to obey all traffic laws and to drive in a responsible way that does not endanger others on the road. When a driver fails to uphold this standard of care, their actions may be considered negligent and the driver could be liable for any injuries that result.
Although a traffic violation does not automatically indicate negligence in a civil suit, it can be a reliable indicator. For example, if a driver caused an accident because he/she was speeding or failed to stop at a red light, the driver may be liable for damages. A San Francisco motor vehicle accident attorney can assess your case and determine if the negligent actions of another driver entitle you to compensation for your injuries.
In some cases, injured claimants may be partially at fault for their accident. Under comparative fault, these individuals may still be able to pursue damages from other negligent parties. However, they may not be able to recover the full amount of their losses. Instead, a court may reduce a plaintiff’s award by their percentage of fault.
For example, if a claimant is 60 percent at fault for their losses, they may only recover 40 percent of their damages. An experienced San Francisco lawyer can help evaluate how partial fault of an injured party may impact compensation in a car wreck claim.
Damages for auto accident claims should compensate injured plaintiffs for their economic and emotional losses. Some of these damages may include: Medical expenses, Loss of income, Repair and replacement costs for a motor vehicle and/or pain and suffering.
Claimants may also be able to seek payment for future medical treatment if some of their injuries require long-term care. A skilled car accident attorney in San Francisco can assess an injured party’s losses and identify the types of damages they may be entitled to based on their injuries. If an accident is fatal, a person’s loved ones might be able to pursue a wrongful death claim.
Common Car Accident Injuries
There are a number of common injuries that often occur as a result of a car accident. If you have suffered any of these injuries, you should consult with an attorney as soon as you have received the proper and adequate amount of medical care. Even if you feel like you have suffered relatively minor injuries, you should still get checked by a medical professional. Even minor head injuries can cause significant issues down the road. In addition, neck and spinal injuries may only become apparent months later. Here are some of the most common car accident injuries:
- Whiplash: This type of spinal injury typically occurs when individuals are “rear-ended.” The sudden impact from behind can cause your head and neck to jolt forward, and this can severely damage your spine in many cases. Spinal injuries such as these may only become apparent days or even months after the initial injury. This is why it is so important to get checked out right away.
- Head Injuries: Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) and other types of brain injuries can be very serious after a car crash. While airbags and other forms of safety technology can limit the possibility of a head injury during a car crash, they can still occur. Brain injuries can result in permanent disabilities, memory loss, cognitive decline, personality changes, and many other life-altering consequences.
- Lacerations: With flying shards of glass and metal, lacerations are common in car accidents. These cuts can sever arteries, resulting in serious and life-threatening blood loss. Even non-life-threatening lacerations can result in significant scars. In some cases, victims are left disfigured after a car accident. This can severely impact their quality of life.
- Fractures: Broken bones are quite common in car accidents. In many car accidents, individuals raise their arms to protect their faces. The arms may take the brunt of the impact, but they may also be fractured in the process. In other situations, individuals may suddenly jolt forwards, causing impacts to their legs and knees. In older cars, kneecap injuries are common due to impacts against the ignition mechanism.
When Should I File an Insurance Claim?
After suffering injuries due to a car accident, you typically have two choices: You can either file an insurance claim or take legal action and pursue a lawsuit against the guilty party. The minimum amount of insurance coverage you can have for an injury to one person is $15,000. This means that if you become injured in a car accident and your damages are worth less than $15,000, you could simply file a claim with your insurance company and receive compensation. You would not need to go through any legal process to do this, and you would not need to prove that anyone else was to blame for your injuries.
But what happens if your damages are worth more than $15,000? Once you have exhausted your options with your own insurance provider, you must then take things one step further. If another driver is at fault, you can then negotiate with their insurance provider. Their insurance provider can provide you with additional compensation for your injuries since the driver must be legally insured to cover injuries suffered by other drivers.
With all that said, it is important to understand that California is not a “no-fault” state. In this context “no-fault” insurance laws mean that you can file a claim and receive compensation regardless of who is at fault for your injuries. In California, you must actually prove that the other driver’s negligence led to your injuries. This is when it becomes imperative to enlist the help of a qualified, experienced personal injury attorney.
When Should I File a Lawsuit?
After filing a claim and negotiating with an insurance company, they may offer you a settlement. As the word implies, this sum of money will force you to “settle” and not take the matter any further. If you accept the settlement, you will not have the ability to ask for more money or file a lawsuit in the future.
If this sum of money is still inadequate, you can choose to file a lawsuit. In many cases, the insurance companies will try to do everything in their power to stop this from happening. Juries are unpredictable, and insurance companies understand that they might end up paying much more after a trial compared to a settlement. For this reason, it is relatively rare to see an injury claim go to trial.
However, it does happen. If this is the case, you and your attorney will gather evidence and build a strong case. The insurance companies will also try to build their own case, and they use a number of different strategies to expose weaknesses in your argument. This is another important reason to hire a qualified, experienced attorney. You can also choose to sue the negligent driver directly, but there is no guarantee that they will have enough money to cover your damages. On the other hand, insurance companies have tremendous amounts of wealth.
Types of Car Accident Lawsuits
The most common type of car accident lawsuit is a “normal” personal injury claim. In this situation, you will receive compensation for your medical expenses, missed wages, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. In order to reach a favorable legal outcome, you must show that the other driver was negligent. That being said, you can still receive compensation even if you were partly responsible for your own injuries. This is due to California’s comparative negligence laws.
You might also file a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the car itself. This could be the right choice if your car malfunctioned or was faulty in some way, and this is what directly caused your injuries. These types of claims may involve things like faulty airbags, malfunctioning driverless cars, and exploding engines.
If you were driving for your job, you might also have the opportunity to file a claim through workers’ compensation. For example, you might have been working as a taxi driver or a trucker. If you can prove that your employer was negligent in some way, then you could receive compensation for your damages as a result.
Consult with a San Francisco Car Accident Attorney
The resulting stress following a severe car wreck can be difficult to overcome, especially if you are trying to recover from significant injuries. Fortunately, a San Francisco car accident lawyer can help you file a claim for damages while you focus on your recovery. Our team has helped victims from San Jose, to Oakland and beyond. To learn how a skilled attorney can help you with your claim, schedule a case consultation today.