Driving is a necessity for most people in the modern world. So, the chances of being in a car accident that results in a personal injury are high. Motor vehicle accidents can stem from a wide array of causes, including distracted driving, speeding, operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, improper turns, reckless driving, bad weather, failure to signal, and other traffic law violations. It is important to remain cognizant of the statute of limitations so that you are able to pursue your claim.
Determining whether your potential lawsuit remains within the statute of limitations requires a close understanding of the law because failure to file it timely will most likely spell the end of your legal claim. Furthermore, clever defense attorneys will attempt to reduce any claim for compensation by applying California’s comparative negligence statute. This means that they will allege that you share at least partial fault.
If successful, the compensation you may be entitled to recover could be reduced by your percentage of fault. This is why it is so important to consult the knowledgeable, experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyers, Prosmushkin and Davis, P.C. to review the facts of your case.
The Best Auto Accident Attorneys for Los Angeles
Thousands of car accidents occur in California every year. Whether you have been involved in a serious car accident or a small fender bender, the impact on one’s life can often be devastating. Driving is a necessity for most people in the modern world. So, the chances of being in a car accident that results in a personal injury are high. If you have sustained a personal injury in a car accident, you may be able to obtain compensation for your damages.
Prosmushkin and Davis, P.C., are Accident Lawyers In Los Angeles devoted exclusively to personal injury cases in the Los Angeles area. We have been serving clients for a combined 25 years. Our seasoned and professional car accident lawyers have garnered a reputation for zealously advocating for our clients. Having a respected car accident lawyer at your side can greatly increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries.
COMMON CAUSES OF MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENTS
Motor vehicle accidents can stem from a wide array of causes. Provided below are some of the most frequent causes of car accidents.
- Distracted driving – the practice of driving a motor vehicle while engaged in another activity, typically one that involves the use of a mobile phone or other electronic device
- Speeding – exceeding the posted speed limit or what is reasonable given the road conditions, weather, and other safety factors
- Driving while intoxicated (DWI) – operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Improper turns – turning against posted traffic signals or signs or otherwise in violation of traffic laws
- Reckless driving – driving a vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property
- Bad weather – somewhat self explanatory, bad weather contributes to hazardous roadways and poor visibility
- Failure to signal – in California, any signal of intention to turn right or left shall be given continuously during the last 100 feet traveled by the vehicle before turning.
- Traffic law violations – this includes any other violation of traffic laws, including running stop lights and signs, mechanical violations, etc.
A qualified Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer, like the team of Prosmushkin & Davis P.C., have decades of experience dealing with personal injury lawsuits caused by car accidents of all kinds.
Negligence is the most common legal theory applied when bringing a car accident claim. The injured party (the plaintiff) must demonstrate that the other driver was negligent. Proving negligence consists of satisfying four elements: duty, breach, causation, and damages. These elements are discussed in further detail below but Accident Lawyers In Los Angeles are best equipped to make these arguments on your behalf:
- Duty: Every person who chooses to drive on California roads has an implicit duty to exercise reasonable care to other drivers and pedestrians who share the road. This element is often easiest to prove.
Example: A driver operating an automobile or other motor vehicle through a busy downtown intersection has a duty to watch for pedestrians, obey traffic signs and signals, and move at safe speed.
- Breach: Additionally, the injured party must show that the other party breached their duty of reasonable care by not exercising sufficient caution while driving. In other words, a breach occurs when the other party’s conduct falls short of their duty of reasonable care.
Example: A driver is operating an automobile that is traveling at a speed which would not allow him to safely stop if a pedestrian is crossing the road or if a traffic light changes.
- Causation: This element actually consists of two separate sub-elements: actual causation and proximate causation. To satisfy the former, the injured party must demonstrate that their resulting damages were actually caused by the other party’s negligence. To satisfy the latter part, the victim must also show that the event was sufficiently related to an injury such that the court deems it to be the legal cause of the victim’s injuries.
Example: The driver operating an automobile through a busy intersection at an unsafe speed does, in fact, hit a pedestrian who was lawfully walking through the crosswalk when the turn signal instructed the driver to stop or yield for pedestrians.
- Damages: Finally, the injured party must also show that the other party’s negligence brought about injuries and other economic and non-economic damages. If the other driver’s behavior was especially egregious, the court may impose punitive damages, as well.
Example: The pedestrian who was hit by the driver operating an automobile unsafely through the busy interaction is severely injured, thereby incurring medical expenses, lost wages, and additional expenses otherwise known as “damages.”
Where a motor vehicle accident is due to a defect in the city’s infrastructure, like poorly maintained roads, hard to see signs, or inoperable street lights, it may be possible to advance a personal injury claim against the at-fault municipality or government entity. To do so, the injured party must file notice of the claim with the appropriate government agency within six months of the date of the injury. Similarly, if a car accident was due to a product defect inherent in the car, it may be possible to bring a product liability case against the appropriate manufacturer or dealer.
Comparative Negligence Law in California
In order to bring a personal injury claim against someone who you believe is responsible for a car accident, fault must be demonstrated by the injured party. Moreover, California applies a comparative fault theory in car accidents and other personal injury cases, also known as comparative negligence. Under the comparative negligence law, the damages to which an injured person is entitled are reduced by the percentage of fault attributable to their own actions. Thus, for example, if a court awards $100,000 in damages to the injured party but also finds them 20 percent at fault, the total damages would be reduced to $80,000.
California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that if you share fault for causing a car accident, you may be able to recover compensation from another party who also shares fault, regardless of the degree of your own fault, but the compensation you will be entitled to recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
Defense attorneys will often use comparative negligence in an attempt to minimize the damages owed to an injured party. If you have been injured as the result of a motor vehicle accident, an experienced and professional Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer at Prosmushkin and Davis, P.C., will deal with the defense attorneys and insurance companies so you don’t have to. For more information, or to set up a free legal consultation with one of our Auto Accident Attorney Los Angeles, call Prosmushkin and Davis, P.C., today.
California Reporting Requirements
California laws require that the driver of any motor vehicle that has been in an accident that resulted in injuries or death of any person, whether directly or indirectly involved in the crash, must report the incident to the appropriate officials within 24 hours of the event. The appropriate officials are usually law enforcement officials like the California Highway Patrol or a local police department where the accident took place. More often than not, a law enforcement officer will prepare a written report of the accident as a result of responding to the accident, such that a separate written report from you may not be necessary.
In addition, the driver may need to report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and their insurance company. The accident should be reported to the California DMV within 10 days when there has been an injury, death, or property damages in excess of $1,000. California does not require policy holders who get into a car accident to report the accident to their automobile insurer; however, if you have a policy, it may be advisable to do so to begin the process of recovering compensation for expenses as soon as possible. If the driver fails to report the accident within a reasonable period of time, the insurer may attempt to deny coverage for the accident. Some insurers have been known to define a reasonable period of time as being only a day or two.
One caveat to this is that it can be useful to have a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer to represent you even before dealing with your own insurance company. The reason for this is because your interests are not necessarily aligned with the insurance company’s. Your interests are to be placed financially whole after suffering the expenses related to an automobile accident. The insurance company’s interests are to pay only what is legally required under the terms of the policy contract. Some insurance companies use complicated legalise and other questionable tactics to confuse policy holders and avoid paying additional amounts of money. They may also attempt to draw out the process with undue delay and obfuscation. That is why having an Auto Accident Attorney Los Angeles can trust available to represent you at the outset of your claim is so crucial.
California Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
A Statute of Limitations is a law that sets the maximum amount of time people involved in a legal dispute have to initiate formal proceedings, which usually begin the date of the accident or event which gave rise to the dispute. There are both civil and criminal statutes of limitations. Car accident lawsuits would fall under the category of a civil dispute; although, there may be separate criminal offenses to contend with. Examples of cases where there may be both a civil and criminal component are hit and runs, driving under the influence or while intoxicated, and reckless driving.
The Statute of Limitations laws relating to car accident cases can become complicated. A car accident can entail several types of legal claims and the time the clock begins ticking for the purpose of meeting the statute of limitations might depend on which of these is being asserted and when. One of the more obvious reasons to file a lawsuit is to recover compensation for personal injuries that were caused by the negligent actions of the other driver. Perhaps another obvious reason to bring a lawsuit is to recover compensation for damage to your vehicle or other property. But what happens if there has been a death? California law requires a wrongful death claim to be filed within two years of the date of death. Are the rules different for children? Under California law, the statute of limitation to bring a personal injury lawsuit is generally two years from the date of the accident, but for minor children the two-year statute of limitations may be tolled until the minor child reaches his or her 18th birthday. There may be additional exceptions or “tolling” (i.e. pausing) of the statute for other reasons, like if the defendant is a public entity.
Ultimately, determining whether you remain within the statute of limitations requires a close understanding of the law. Failure to file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations will most likely mean the end of the line for your claim. There are precious few exceptions to statutes of limitation. This is yet another reason having a knowledgeable, experienced Auto Accident Attorney Los Angeles can rely on to review the facts of your case sooner than later is so important. Do not delay. Contact Prosmushkin and Davis, P.C. for a free consultation.