Injuries are the costliest part of an auto accident. Due to the high costs of medical care and the serious nature of many accident injuries, it is possible to incur incredibly large medical bills for treatment that may continue on into the future.
In a crash, there are three impacts. The first is when your vehicle and the other vehicle collide. This impact will stop your vehicle, but your body continues moving. The second impact comes when your body hits the interior of the car or stops against your seat belt. The impact will stop your body.
The last impact is the most dangerous and where the majority of the serious injuries in an accident occur. This impact happens when your internal organs crash into your body structures. There is potential for serious organ damage during this impact.
During all the impacts, there is the potential for injuries to happen. The most common injuries in a motor vehicle accident include:
• Soft tissue injuries due to overexertion of muscles, ligaments, tendons
• Scrapes and cuts from flying objects, such as glass and airbags
• Head injuries that range from minor to severe
• Broken bones in the arms, legs, hands, feet, face
• Internal organ damage, which includes bleeding and bruising
Injuries are not always immediately obvious. Adrenaline can cover up your pain and even allow you to overcome a debilitating injury for quite some time. So, it can take a while to feel certain injuries. You should always pay attention to symptoms that appear two to three days after a San Diego car accident.
When you have a car accident, there are three general types of compensation you can seek:
Injury damages can cover any medical costs you incurred. They may also include mental anguish payments, reimbursement for any modifications you've had to make to your auto, home or life due to your injury and payment for any future medical care you will need. You need to work closely with an experienced accident attorney to help you figure the damages for your injuries as this can be complex, especially if you need to seek future medical compensation.
Property compensation will cover the cost of the damages done to your vehicle in the crash. Depending on the extent of the damage, this could include payments for repairs or the complete replacement cost of your vehicle.
In the event you have a loved one die in the accident, you can also make a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death is when a person causes the death of another person due to negligence. Typically, you can bring a wrongful death claim if you are the spouse of the person who died. In some cases, children, parents and siblings of the deceased may be able to bring a claim.
Before you take your personal injury case to court, you need to understand the legal aspects of such a claim. To begin with, there is a statute of limitations, which is a time limit for how long you have to file your case. In California, this is two years for personal injury and wrongful death claims.
You must file your case within two years of the date of the accident. If you fail to do so, you cannot bring a claim in court. Your San Diego car accident attorney can assist you with ensuring you get your case to court in time.
The statute of limitations for property damage in an auto accident is three years. So, you do have slightly longer to bring this claim, but you will usually request compensation for injuries and property damage at the same time, which means you have to do it within two years.
You also need to understand that the state uses comparative fault law. The court will assign fault to you and the other party. This allows for the collection of damages based on the amount of fault assigned. For example, if the court says you are 20% at fault, then you can only get 80% of the damages. Either driver may request damages, even if the court says they are the majority at fault.
Before you go to court, you will have to work with the other party's insurance company. The insurance will pay first in this type of situation as long as you prove the other driver was at fault. However, the insurance company will only pay out up to the policy limit. Anything over the limit is the responsibility of the other driver.
This is an important point because many drivers only carry the state minimum required liability insurance. Liability insurance will pay for injuries and property damage, but the state minimum required coverage is only $5,000 for property damage and $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident for bodily injury.
The average cost of a serious injury accident could be $500,000 or more. Obviously, that would leave a lot unpaid by the insurance, which means you need to go to court to recoup the remaining damages.
It’s understandable for anyone who experiences an unexpected car accident to have lots of questions about insurance, liability for damages, and their best legal options for securing compensation for their losses. Zentz & Zentz have extensive experience handling personal injury claims on behalf of clients in the San Diego, CA area, and the following are some of the most common questions we hear from car accident victims regarding their legal options.
Q: What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident in California?
A: Every car accident is different. Some accidents can be resolved with minor insurance claims while others lead to heated legal battles. Most car accident settlements in California hover around $20,000. Depending on the scope of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage, their policy may fully cover the injured driver's damages. If it does not, the injured driver can pursue a personal injury claim to recover the remainder.
Q: How Much Do Car Accident Lawyers Charge in California?
A: Most personal injury attorneys working in California use contingency fee billing. This means the client pays nothing upfront for their legal representation and only pays legal fees once the attorney wins their case. If your attorney offers contingency fee billing, make sure you fully review the details of their billing policy before agreeing to their representation so there are no surprises when it comes to your bill.
Q: How Much Can I Recover for Pain and Suffering?
A: California does not limit the amount a plaintiff can seek in pain and suffering compensation in a car accident claim. Your San Diego car accident attorney can help you determine a reasonable figure based on the seriousness of your injuries and whether you face long-term medical complications from them. If your car accident caused a permanent disability, your pain and suffering compensation could potentially form the bulk of your total case award to reflect the severity of your situation.
Q: How Long Will My Case Take to Conclude?
A: Most car accident claims can be resolved in a matter of weeks to a month or two, but more complex claims will take longer. When liability isn’t immediately clear, when multiple parties bear fault for an accident, or when an at-fault driver denies liability for damages, the claim can take several months to a year.
You probably have many questions related to your unique personal injury case. An experienced San Diego personal injury attorney is the best resource to get the answers you need to your most pressing legal questions after a car accident.
It is a good idea to hire an attorney if your accident involves injuries, death or expensive property damage. You should always consult with an attorney to gather evidence to prove you were not at fault to increase your ability to recover damages. A San Diego car accident attorney can also help you with statute of limitations issues.
Find out what a lawyer can do for you by calling our office at 702-800-3190
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