Car accidents are a leading cause of insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits in California and throughout the United States. Any car accident has the potential of causing long-term damages, some of which may negatively impact the victim’s life for years to come. If you or a loved one recently experienced a car accident, it’s natural to wonder whether you have any legal grounds to file a civil suit against the at-fault driver. While you should do what you can to avoid car accidents at all times, you cannot always predict the actions of other drivers on the road, and you may need to take legal action to hold a negligent driver accountable after they have injured you. If you intend to take legal action for your recent car accident, knowing what to expect from the process is essential.
When Can I File a Lawsuit for a Car Accident?
The first step toward recovery from a car accident in San Diego, CA, is against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Every driver in California must have an auto insurance policy that meets the state’s minimum coverage requirements. However, auto insurance coverage may not be enough to fully cover the damages from a car accident in San Diego.
Suppose another driver caused your recent car accident, and their insurance is insufficient for covering all of your damages. In that case, you have the right to file a personal injury claim against them to recover the rest. If you are unsure whether you have acceptable grounds for a lawsuit following a car accident in San Diego, consult an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
Car Accident Damages in California
Car accidents are often damaging and capable of causing life-changing injuries. Your recent car accident could potentially involve various damages, including:
- Medical expenses, including immediate health care costs after your accident and your long-term health care costs for severe injuries. You could potentially recover compensation for hospital bills and ambulance fees as well as long-term care costs for rehabilitation and physical therapy.
- Lost income. You have the right to add lost wages to your car accident claim if you are left unable to work for an extended time. Additionally, if you cannot return to work due to your injuries, you would have the right to claim lost future earning capacity.
- Vehicle damage. Auto insurance may cover some vehicle repair costs, but you can also seek compensation for whatever insurance won’t cover through a personal injury claim.
- Pain and suffering. California state law allows a personal injury plaintiff to recover compensation for physical pain and emotional suffering caused by a defendant. The amount the plaintiff receives depends on the severity of their injuries.
It is also possible for a plaintiff to recover additional damages depending on how they occurred. For example, they could receive punitive damages or restitution if the defendant acted illegally in any way that caused their accident, such as driving under the influence of alcohol.
It’s common for car accident victims to discover their claims are worth much more than they initially expected once they consult reliable and experienced attorneys. A San Diego, CA, car accident attorney can be instrumental in a victim’s recovery, helping them secure compensation for claimable damages they may have otherwise overlooked.
The attorneys at Chris and Frank have helped San Diego, CA, clients navigate their car accident claims for many years. As a result, we have fielded many questions about accidents and recovery of damages. Consider the following frequently asked questions about car accident settlements in San Diego to hopefully gain a firmer understanding of your right to compensation following a car accident someone else caused.
Q: What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident in California?
A: Studies show that the average settlement for a car accident claim in California is roughly $20,000. This amount can include vehicle repair costs, medical expenses, and the victim’s other damages. A minor car accident can be worth much less, and it is also possible for a severe accident that causes catastrophic damages to be worth exponentially more.
Q: How Much Are Most Car Accident Settlements?
A: Every car accident involves unique details. Without assessing the variables in play in an accident, it is difficult to define an average for car accident settlements in California. Most car accident claims include medical expenses, lost income, vehicle repair costs, and pain and suffering.
Q: Can I Still Claim Compensation If I’m Partially to Blame for an Accident in San Diego?
A: California enforces a pure comparative negligence statute. This means a plaintiff who is partially at fault for causing their claimed damages can still recover compensation, but they lose a percentage of their case award. For example, if you claim $200,000 in damages, but the judge determines you are 10% at fault, you lose 10% of your case award and receive a net award of $180,000 instead.
Important Things to Remember Before Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in San Diego
It is natural to wonder about your legal options after experiencing a car accident in San Diego, CA. You and your family are likely reeling after your accident and facing significant economic challenges because of your damages. However, a few best practices can help you navigate this challenging situation more successfully:
- Secure evidence from the scene of the accident. Photos of the accident scene, including photos of your injuries and the damage to your vehicle, are beneficial for establishing liability for your accident.
- Never talk to an insurance company before consulting an attorney. Insurance companies typically attempt to coerce injured claimants into accepting the lowest possible settlement offers. Have your attorney correspond with the at-fault driver’s insurance company on your behalf, and do not contact any insurers without consulting an attorney first.
- Secure legal counsel as soon as possible. Working quickly after your accident is the best way to ensure the fullest recovery possible under California state laws. The sooner you hire an attorney, the better your chances are of securing complete compensation for your damages.
Keep these tips in mind after a car accident in San Diego for the best chance of maximizing your recovery. The attorneys at Chris and Frank can provide the comprehensive and compassionate legal counsel you need in this situation. Contact our team today to schedule a consultation with an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer.