In Los Angeles County alone, there are more than 7.5 million registered vehicles. While driving has become a necessity in Los Angeles, we often overlook the dangers that come with it. According to LAPD statistics and IIHS reports, over 250 people die every year due to car accidents in Los Angeles and nearly 4,000 throughout California.
Los Angeles County is especially dangerous for pedestrians, topping the list of most pedestrian traffic fatalities in America (over double the second-ranked county). Additionally, nearly 4.5 million are seriously injured each year in a vehicle collision nationwide.
With the NHTSA estimating the economic cost of motor vehicle accidents at over $240 billion in 2010 alone, it is no wonder that the insurance companies fight tooth and nail for every dollar they spend paying out auto accident claims.
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Common Causes of Car Accidents
Drivers are constantly distracted by eating, texting, listening to loud music, and speaking on the phone -- among countless other distractions. Some reports estimate that distracted driving accounts for up to 50% of all accidents on the road.
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol
In 2016 alone, drunk driving comprised 28% of total traffic deaths in the country. Despite the fact that driving under the influence can be considered a felony offense in California under certain circumstances, it does not automatically trigger liability in a civil suit. Negligence must still be proven for the plaintiff to recover damages.
Lack of Sleep
It is no secret that sleep deprivation severely impairs cognitive function. The CDC concluded that going 18 hours without sleep has the same cognitive effects of having a blood content (BAC) of .05%. Going 24 hours without sleep is equivalent to a BAC of .10%, well over the legal limit in all 50 states. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over 80,000 crashes resulting in nearly 900 deaths each year are attributed to lack of sleep.
Some estimates attribute 50% of fatal car accidents to indicators of aggressive driving, such as speeding, driving recklessly, and failing to obey traffic signs and right-of-way laws.
Unsafe Road Conditions
Roads in California are horribly maintained, with many experts attributing increased congestion, delays, and accidents to our poorly kept infrastructure. In 2017, The American Society of Civil Engineers gave California a “D” grade, finding that our unsafe road conditions cost Californians over $60 billion every year. US News & World Report ranked California in the bottom 5 in the country in both the “Road Quality” and “Commute Time” categories.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Nothing will ever restore an individual who has been injured in a car accident to their former self, however compensation for their medical expenses and pain and suffering is a good place to start.
To ensure that all medical bills, time off work, reduced earning capacity, damage to property and any additional compensation is awarded, it is vital for individuals who have been involved in car accidents to secure an attorney as soon as possible. According to IRC and ARAC research, individuals who are represented by an attorney in a car accident case can receive up to 40% higher settlement payouts.
In addition to securing higher payouts and settlements, here are a few reasons why hiring an attorney is beneficial following a car accident:
- Having a fighter on your side
- Peace of mind
- Proving negligence of other party
- Free case review
It is extremely important to have a lawyer fighting for you. Insurance companies will often try to have an individual who is not represented by an attorney sign away “low-ball” offers immediately following an accident. Clients are often tempted by four or even five-figure initial offers, however these offers are typically fractions of what the case is actually worth.
Once the insurance company realizes that you have retained an experienced lawyer, it quickly becomes clear that you will no longer be taken advantage of. You can also rest assured knowing that an advocate is handling all other communication with the insurance company, medical expenses, and communication with the other party’s lawyers, letting you focus on healing and regaining your mental and physical health. Most Los Angeles based personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis.
This means that the lawyers don’t get paid until you get paid. After a cost-free consultation, an attorney will review your case and quickly assess your probability of success.
Why a Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney
Not all lawyers and law firms are created equal. Some corporate law firms practice in a wide range of legal fields, making car accidents one of many types of cases their attorneys take on. On the other hand, California Personal Injury Attorneys focus only on car accidents and personal injury cases.
Years of legal representation solely servings victims of car accidents and personal injury claims results in valuable experience that helps us better serve our clients. For example, only an experienced car accident lawyer will be able to quickly assess the strength of a claim, know how to negotiate the highest settlement offer, and know when it may be appropriate to aggressively pursue litigation.
Additionally, evidence must be carefully recovered, examined, and employed to craft the strongest case for our clients. It is too often the case that less-experienced attorneys will try to settle with the insurance companies for less than the claim is worth. An experienced attorney will know when to settle, and when to hold their ground and fight a case through litigation.
Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Attorney
- Specialized set of skills
- Experience dealing with car insurance companies
- Targeted gathering of evidence
- Potential for higher settlement
- Ability to take a case to trial
Why Trust CPIA LA Accident Attorneys with Your Case
We Specialize in Auto Accidents
Unlike other firms, California Personal Injury Attorneys focus mainly on auto accidents, ensuring that you receive the most effective legal representation. We understand the particular needs of car accident victims. From dealing with the insurance company to making sure you receive the best medical care; our most important priority is to support our clients in the best way possible.
24/7 Concierge Service
Our dedicated team of Los Angeles personal injury lawyers are committed to providing the absolute best service to all our clients. While other firms limit their clients’ access to the supervising attorney, our clients are encouraged to directly contact their attorneys anytime of the day or night to discuss their case. Our phone lines are always open, and clients are encouraged to call and speak about a case review, medical issues, or any other concerns they may have. Our client-centered approach seeks to provide a warm, inviting environment to all of our clients.
Los Angeles Based Car Accident Attorneys
Being based in Los Angeles gives CPIA a unique advantage. The rules and regulations of the road differ from city to city; giving CPIA the edge in car accident cases that occur in Los Angeles. All of our attorneys are licensed in California and are familiar with California and Los Angeles specific laws.
Additionally, in an effort to accommodate the diverse Los Angeles community, we provide additional legal services to Spanish speaking and Farsi speaking clients. While we provide legal service to clients throughout California, we are uniquely equipped to service the Los Angeles community.
Free Case Review
An initial consultation to review the facts surrounding your case is risk free! During the case review process, we will carefully review your circumstances to access the most effective plan of attack for your specific case. All cases are unique, and it is important to thoroughly review all the facts before making any quick decisions that will affect the outcome of your case. Clients will never be pressured to accept a settlement that they believe to be unfair.
All decisions regarding settlement offers and case strategies are carefully reviewed with the client before any action is taken.
If you are injured in a car accident, your ability to recover damages from the insurance company and other parties involved depends on proving fault. California is a Pure Comparative Negligence state, meaning that your ability to recover damages is limited by your proportion of fault. For example, if you were involved in a car accident, you incurred $100,000 in damages, and the jury determines that you were 60% at fault for the accident -- you will be able to recover up to $40,000.
Building an evidence-based case that limits your proportion of fault is key to recovering as much as possible. This complex craft requires the skill and knowledge of an experienced car accident attorney.
Taking Your Case to Court
Along with limiting your proportion of fault, the key to securing a high settlement from the insurance company is the legitimate threat of taking the case to court. Just as any economically efficient business would, insurance companies try to avoid costly litigation when possible.
A competent car accident attorney is usually able to negotiate a higher settlement offer using the legitimate threat of litigation. Nonetheless, if the insurance company refuses to offer a settlement that the client is willing to accept, your attorney must be willing and able to make a compelling case in court.
Car Accident Lawyer’s Plans of Attack
There are three main litigation avenues an attorney can pursue following a car accident. First, if a manufacturing defect such as a faulty airbag or brake pad caused the accident, an attorney will pursue a product liability claim. Next, an unsafe road condition may create a plausible case against the city, state, or federal government. Finally, the most common avenue is a Negligence Cause of Action against the other driver.
To win a claim in court, your lawyer will likely need to prove negligence of the other party. There are four elements to a Negligence Cause of Action that must be satisfied for the client to recover damages in their case, each playing a critical role in the ability to recover.
1. Duty of Care
First, the plaintiff (person bringing the lawsuit) will need to show that the defendant owed the plaintiff has a legal duty. Everyday commuters on the road owe a duty of “reasonable care” to one another, but certain businesses owe a greater standard of care.
For example, a trucking company employee transporting a particularly dangerous substance may be held to a higher duty of care, thereby making it easier to prove a negligence claim. When gathering information immediately following an accident, it is important to find out if the other driver was an employee on the job at the time of the accident.
2. Breach of Duty
Once the plaintiff has established that there exists a legal duty, they must show that the defendant has in some way breached that legal duty. Under normal circumstances, a plaintiff can show that the defendant was “negligent” –and breached his duty of care – by showing that he failed to exercise “reasonable care” under the circumstances.
This is ultimately a decision for the jury, but a skilled personal injury attorney will be able to put forth evidence proving that the defendant engaged in negligent actions, including:
- Texting while driving
- Distracted driving
- Driving under the influence
- Failing to obey traffic laws
3. Proximate Cause and Cause in Fact
Next, a plaintiff will have to show both proximate cause and cause in fact. Cause in fact is commonly referred to as the “but-for” test. This test is aimed at proving the defendant’s actions were the actual cause of injury. The question to ask when attempting to show cause in fact is: “But for” the defendant’s conduct, would the injury to the plaintiff have occurred.
Proximate cause is proven by showing that the harm to the plaintiff was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligent actions. These intricate legal arguments are nuanced and take months to develop. Finding a car accident attorney that is willing to devote the time and effort to your individual claim is one of the most important factors in building a strong case.
4. Proving Damages
The settlement amount of a car accident case (or any Negligence claim) is entirely dependent on the damages that are able to be proven. Damages could include:
- Medical costs
- Repair costs
- Time off work
- Rehabilitation of injuries
- Pain and suffering
- Psychological trauma
A good attorney will begin compiling a history of damages right away, but it is up to the client to start this process by collecting evidence themselves or seeking legal counsel immediately.
What to Do if You are Involved in an Accident
It is critical to gather all of the evidence proving the other party’s liability while it is still available. The sooner you call a lawyer, the sooner they will be able to help you compile the evidence needed to prove the other party’s liability. The following is a list of steps to take following a serious accident:
1. Call the police
A police report is often-times the only official evidence documenting an accident. The contents of the police report will likely shape the approach both sides take in trying to establish liability. When speaking to the police, you must always be honest and truthful about your recollection of the events. If you are unsure about a moment, don’t give opinions or possibilities as to what could have happened. Stick to the facts that you remember and don’t forget to request a copy of the police report.
2. DO NOT admit fault
Whether you are speaking to the police or the other party, never admit that you were at fault. Even if you believe at the time that you may have been partially to blame, evidence may come out in the future that sheds light on the true circumstances around the accident. Your job is to collect as much evidence as possible, while it is up to your attorney and the insurance adjuster to determine fault. Whatever you say to the police or other driver’s insurance company may be used against you further down the line.
3. Take pictures, videos, and notes
Take as many pictures, videos, and recordings as possible. Be sure to take pictures of all angles of the accident as well as pictures of the other party’s car. Try to take clear photos that can be easily identified in the future. Additionally, be sure to gather the following information from the other driver:
- Driver’s license
- Insurance card and policy information
- VIN #
- License plate #
- Address and telephone #
It may be helpful to take pictures of the intersection or surrounding area in order to get a clearer image of all the circumstances around the accident. Additionally, take notes of any potentially relevant information that you remember such as the lane and direction you were driving in, approximate speed of both drivers, and if you noticed whether the other driver was distracted.
If there are any witnesses who clearly saw the accident, take down their information as they may have useful information to offer. Any nearby business’s security camera may have also captured footage of the incident. All of this information is time sensitive evidence that a client should diligently record on their own, even before an attorney is retained.
4. Receive and document medical attention as soon as possible
In order to get an accurate estimate of your damages, you must seek medical attention and document it as soon as possible. Immediately following an accident, victims often find themselves in a state of shock. This may result in a failure to realize injuries until you calm down and your adrenaline subsides. It is usually a wise decision to visit a hospital and get checked out to ensure your health and wellbeing in addition to documenting any damages.
5. Resist accepting low-ball offers
Insurance companies will often contact victims of a car accident and offer to settle the case for a fraction of what the case is really worth. Accepting a low-ball offer from the beginning will severely hurt your chances of recovering the full potential of the case. When speaking to any insurance agent or adjustor, be sure to limit the discussion to the facts of the case. If possible, contact and hire an attorney before speaking to the insurance company to ensure that none of your testimony will be later used against you.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious or minor accident in the Los Angeles area, Contact us as soon as possible to ensure all of these important steps will be taken. Our attorneys will help you navigate your case, fight the insurance company, and secure a settlement as quickly as possible. We are available to speak 24/7 and your initial case review is absolutely free.
To learn more about our commitment to providing a client-focused environment, visit our testimonial page.
Accessibility for Clients
In the wake of a worldwide pandemic, we are working hard to accommodate the needs of all of our clients. Depending on the client’s specific technological capabilities, we are able to give online case reviews, updates, and consultations over a video conference or phone call for any client who is not comfortable with an in-person meeting. Our attorneys are able to accommodate both Spanish, and Farsi speaking clients in-person and through virtual conferences.