Car accidents are common on California roads. The risk of catastrophic injury or even death is high depending on the seriousness and type of collision you are involved in. Often, the accident will leave you with severe physical, emotional, and financial strain. Most auto accidents stem from the negligence of road users.
Fortunately, you do not have to deal with the financial consequences of another person’s actions. All victims of auto accidents are eligible for compensation in a civil claim or personal injury lawsuit. However, you have the burden to identify liable parties and establish their responsibility in the accident. Therefore, you will have to deal with aggressive insurance teams who do not want to spend money on your compensation.
Navigating an auto accident personal injury lawsuit is complicated, especially when you are nursing your injuries. Therefore, you will require the guidance of a skilled personal injury lawyer. At Foos Gavin Law Firm, we offer expert legal advice to all our clients battling a personal injury claim in Sacramento, CA.
Overview of Catastrophic Auto Accidents in California
Auto accidents are a leading cause of severe injury and death in California. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that at least 3,600 people die’’ in car accidents. While accidents can occur anywhere, a collision is more likely on a stretch of the road with many vehicles.
If your accident results from another person’s negligence, you can seek compensation from their auto insurance company by engaging in an out-of-court settlement or filing a civil claim. The following are some common auto accidents:
- Rear-end collisions. A rear-end collision happens when one vehicle hits the other vehicle from behind. Failure to pay attention on the road or leave enough distance between these vehicles is a common cause of these accidents. Although the rear-driver violates the traffic rules by following too closely, they are not always at fault for the accident. Even at low speeds, a rear-end collision can cause severe injuries.
- Head-on collision. One of the most severe auto accidents is a head-on collision. Since these accidents occur when vehicles move from opposite directions, the impact is significant. For this reason, a head-on collision is likely to cause serious injuries or even death.
- Side-impact collision. When vehicles form a T after a collision, the accident is known as a side impact crash. This type of accident is particularly catastrophic for vehicle occupants hit from the side. The sides of the vehicle will absorb the impact from the collision. Side-impact collisions are caused by drivers who fail to yield the right of way or obey traffic rules.
- Roll-over accidents. A vehicle does not need to collide with another car to cause an accident. Sometimes, you may be involved in an accident where the car hits an obstacle, loses control, and rolls over on the road. The force of being flipped multiple times while in the vehicle inflicts severe injuries on the occupants.
- Pedestrian accidents. You can be involved in an auto accident as a pedestrian. A serious pedestrian accident can occur if a driver fails to stop on the designed crossing area or the car veers off the road. If you are hit by a vehicle, your body absorbs all the impact from the collision. Individuals who survive pedestrian accidents are left to nurse severe and life-changing injuries.
Common Causes of Catastrophic Auto Accidents
When you are involved in an auto accident, knowing the exact accident cause helps you establish liability which is a crucial part of recovering compensation for your accident. Typical car accident causes in California include:
In California, a driver is considered distracted when their physical and mental concentration is not on the road. Often, a driver could be distracted by activities like cell phone use, snacking while driving, or grooming, among other factors. A distracted driver cannot respond promptly to road emergencies, making it easy to collide with other vehicles.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a crime in California. A drunk driver has impaired concentration and a wrong perception of distance or speed. DUI is a leading cause of auto accidents in California. After your accident, the traffic officers could perform an alcohol or drug test on all involved parties. If a driver is found intoxicated at the time of the accident, they could be held liable for the accident and injuries.
Following Too Closely
In California, there is a set distance that each driver should leave between their vehicle and the driver. When a driver follows too closely, there is a risk of hitting the other car from behind. If one driver breaks, you could be part of a severe multiple-vehicle rear-end collision.
Operating a vehicle at high speed increases the risk of serious accidents. A car traveling at high speed is more difficult to control and stop. Additionally, the high speed increased the vehicle impact, making accidents more serious. Sometimes, speeding means that the vehicle exceeds the legal speed limit of a particular road section.
Disregard for Traffic Rules
Traffic control devices are put in place for the safety of drivers and other road users. Unfortunately, some drivers ignore the seriousness of these signs and warnings, which puts them and others at risk of injury. A driver failing to follow traffic rules like yielding the right of way could cause a severe collision. If you are hit by a driver who blatantly disregards safety rules, you can file a lawsuit against them and recover compensation.
Faulty Vehicle Parts
Sometimes, a competent and experienced driver who is alert could cause an accident. If one of the vehicle parts fails while the driver is on the road, you could suffer a severe accident. Common faulty parts that could contribute to auto accidents include the following:
- Faulty brakes.
- Malfunctioning steering.
- Burst tires.
- Faulty vehicle engines.
When these parts fail, the driver finds it challenging to control the direction and speed of the vehicle. This can cause them to hit other cars or pedestrians on the road.
Poor Climatic Conditions
Sometimes, auto accidents are not a result of negligence. For example, it may be difficult for a driver to see ahead on a rainy or foggy day. Therefore, the likelihood of colliding with another vehicle or a cyclist is high. Additionally, rain and snow can make the roads slippery, which takes away a driver’s ability to control the car.
Poor Road Conditions
There are authorities tasked with maintaining the roads. It is common to suffer an auto accident due to poor road conditions. When a vehicle hits a pothole or an obstacle on the road, the driver could lose control and roll over or collide with other cars. If you have suffered an injury resulting from poorly constructed or maintained roads, you can file a claim against the city authorities responsible for road works.
Injuries Common to Catastrophic Auto Accidents
The nature of the injuries you suffer from an auto accident depends on the type and seriousness of the accident. For example, a head-on or roll-over accident will attract more severe injuries than a side impact or rear-end collision. The following are some injuries you could sustain from a car accident:
Head and Brain Injuries
Head and brain injuries are some of the most severe injuries you can suffer from an auto accident. A brain injury occurs when your head is jolted, hit by a hard object, or penetrated by sharp objects. There are different types of brain injury, including the following:
- A concussion results from a sudden change in head movement or trauma to the head. Concussions after an accident are accompanied by dizziness and loss of consciousness.
- A contusion is a bruise to the brain occurring when the brain is shaken within the skull. Often, this type of injury may require surgery to correct.
- When a sharp object penetrates your skull, it can cause a serious injury to your brain. Any blood oozing from a penetrative wound to the head may indicate brain injury.
After an accident and impact to the head, you should look out for the following symptoms and seek immediate medical attention:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Sound and light sensitivity.
- Loss of balance and coordination.
- Severe headaches.
- Poor vision.
Mostly, there is no cure for severe brain injury. Therefore, you may have to deal with the consequences of the accident for a lifetime. This includes the inability to return to work and a diminished quality of life. If you have suffered a brain injury in a negligent car accident, you must identify the liable parties and file a claim against them.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spine is a critical part of the body that controls multiple body functions like motion, reproduction, and bowel functions. According to Mayo Clinic, auto accidents are the leading causes of serious spinal cord injuries in the United States. A spine injury occurs when a sudden blow to your back damages the vertebrae. The spinal cord is made of spongy tissues which are sensitive and easily damaged.
A spine injury can be complete or incomplete, depending on the extent of force applied. If your spine is completely severed, you are unlikely to recover your motion and may be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of your life. Additionally, the injury can affect your bladder and bowel movements. It is essential for back injury victims from an accident to undergo extensive treatment for easy detection of a spinal cord injury and treatment.
Although the bones in the body are designed to withstand the immense pressures of daily life, broken bones, and fractures are common injuries from auto accidents. Often, the impact from the vehicle’s walls or being hit by the car as a pedestrian can break even the most robust bones.
While bone injuries are not life-threatening, they take a long time to recover. You may need to spend weeks or even months in the hospital undergoing extensive surgeries. This will keep you away from work and take a toll on your financial life. Sometimes, the broken bones can damage the limb, prompting an amputation and permanent disability.
Soft Tissue Injuries
A soft tissue injury damages your body’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This is an injury common, even in minor car accidents. The most common type of soft tissue is whiplash. You could suffer whiplash when your head is jolted forward and backward rapidly, causing a stretch in the neck muscles. Whiplash is common in rear-end and head-on collisions and can recover with minimal treatment. However, you must seek medical care.
Most victims worry about visible injuries like wounds and broken bones when a car accident occurs. Unfortunately, the less visible injuries are more challenging to detect and treat. Therefore, you must seek medical attention. In your checkup, the doctor could discover any of these injuries that do not have visible wounds:
- Internal bleeding. When an internal organ is injured, the blood can flow to the abdomen. Common signs of internal bleeding include slurred speech, confusion, low blood pressure, and lightheadedness.
- Torso and rib injuries When your bond experiences blunt trauma, you could suffer bruises to the ribs or torso. Many hazards within the vehicle could cause blunt trauma, like the dashboard, seatbelt, and steering wheel.
- Organ contusions. Bruising of the internal organs is challenging to diagnose. Therefore, you must watch out for symptoms like back pain, abdominal pain, and soreness after an accident.
Scrapes and Cuts
Any loose object in a vehicle may be thrown toward you during an accident. Therefore, suffering a cut or scrape is common in an auto accident. Unless the accident is serious, most of these scrapes are minor and can recover after first aid. However, with a high-impact collision, you could suffer severe cuts which become infected when left untreated.
Liability in an Catastrophic Auto Accident Lawsuit
When you are involved in a car accident, the word fault becomes a common term in your quest for compensation. Before recovering your damages, you must identify the faulty parties and establish their liability for your accident and injuries. In California, liability is based on negligence. A person is considered negligent when their actions disregard the safety of others. Negligence is based on the following elements:
Duty of Care
A duty of care is every road user’s responsibility to ensure they do not cause harm to others. Before you recover compensation for our auto accident injuries, you must establish that the defendant owed you a duty of care. This is the most straightforward element to prove.
Breach of Duty
It is not enough that a defendant owes you a duty of care. You must prove that they breached that duty to show their negligence. A person can breach their duty towards you when they act in a manner that places you at risk of injury or death. Typical forms of the breach are:
- Drunk driving.
- Manufacture of faulty vehicle parts.
- Failure to maintain vehicles in the right conditions.
- Failure to repair the roads.
Whether or not a person breached their duty towards you is determined by the judge. The court will compare the defendant’s conduct with what a reasonable person would do under similar circumstances.
Causation is critical in a personal injury case. This involves linking the defendant’s actions with the accident and your injuries. Therefore, you must prove that the breach of duty is a significant factor in the accident. However, whether or not the defendant could have anticipated the outcome of their actions will be considered. A person will only be labeled negligent if they know that their actions could potentially cause harm to others.
The final element that proves negligence is the presence of damages. Monetary compensation is the only relief you can receive for the injuries and losses you suffered from an auto accident. Therefore, the court expects you to provide evidence of your damages. Typical forms of damage suffered may include physical injuries and financial losses arising from your injuries.
Recovering Compensation from a Catastrophic Auto Accident Lawsuit
You can file a claim or lawsuit against liable parties in your auto accident. The main aim of the claim is to recover compensation for your losses. You can negotiate a settlement with the insurance company out of court or file a lawsuit allowing the court to determine the compensation you deserve. Whether your case is resolved in or out of court, you stand to recover for the following damages:
Most auto accidents result in catastrophic injuries. In your injury claim, medical expenses make up a large percentage of the compensation you will recover. Your medical bills accumulate when emergency medical responders arrive at the accident scene and begin first aid. Surgical procedures, laboratory tests, medication, and follow-up care will incur additional medical expenses.
Some injuries, like broken bones, require you to spend a significant period in the hospital undergoing extensive procedures. Since most liable parties are reluctant to accept liability, you may have to cover your medical bills before settling the case. You can pay the bills using your medical insurance or seek care on a lien basis. After settling your case, the insurance company and lien doctor will recover their money.
A huge part of recovering your medical expenses is presenting evidence of injuries and treatment. Often, you can do this by seeking immediate medical care, ensuring all the damages are documented and obtaining records from your physician. Sometimes, the fault party’s insurance company will want to look into your past medical records to determine if you have existing injuries before the accident.
Lost Wages and Earning Capacity
Lost wages are the money you lose for missing work while you nurse your accident injuries. After a severe auto accident, some injuries will keep you out of work for weeks or months.
During the compensation phase of your claim, you are entitled to recover these losses. Lost wages could be from monthly income, bonuses, or income from self-employment. You can prove your lost amount by obtaining a letter from your employer or using your pay stubs and tax returns.
On the other hand, lost earning capacity is the loss of a person’s ability to return to work and earn a decent living after a car accident. You can recover for lost future earnings if your injuries haven’t recovered at your compensation. However, you must understand that a permanent injury is unnecessary to recover this compensation.
Pain and Suffering
While you cannot equate pain to a dollar value, you can be compensated for the physical and emotional pain resulting from the accident. Even when you do not have serious physical injuries, the trauma from involvement in a collision can take a toll on you. However, your changes at a higher settlement for pain and suffering increased with the severity of your injuries.
If you have lost a spouse, child, or loved one in a car accident, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable parties. This allows you to recover compensation for burial and funeral expenses.
Find a Reliable Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me
If you are involved in an auto accident, you could suffer serious injuries like broken bones, amputations, head injuries, and spinal cord injuries, among others. These injuries could take a toll on your life physically and financially. Unfortunately, most auto accidents can be avoided if road users exercise reasonable care while operating their vehicles. You are entitled to compensation for your injuries if you prove that one or multiple parties were negligent and caused the accident.
For individuals who have suffered an injury or lost a loved one in an auto accident, filing a claim against the negligent parties may be the only way to recover compensation for the losses. California personal injury laws are complicated. Therefore, hiring and retaining a personal injury attorney throughout the case is critical. If you or your loved one battle an auto accident lawsuit in Sacramento, CA, you will benefit from the expert legal guidance we offer at Foos Gavin Law Firm. Call us today at 916-779-3500, and let us guide you through your claim.