California Car Accident Lawyer
As we travel the roads and freeways in California each day, we usually trust that we will arrive at our destination without incident. Yet every day, careless drivers cause hundreds of accidents on California roads which lead to countless injuries and fatalities.
Fortunately, accident victims are able to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance in order to cover the cost of medical bills, lost wages, and other financial damages caused by the accident.
Maison Law was founded by Martin Gasparian to protect innocent drivers in the aftermath of these difficult situations. Mr. Gasparian worked for large, nationwide corporations for a decade and got a first-hand lesson in how insurance companies maneuver for their own benefit and never for the benefit of the accident victim who has suffered and sometimes continues to suffer. Mr. Gasparian then started his own law firm to give accident victims in California a voice and to make sure they are informed of their rights and given the power to demand what’s fair. These are things an insurance agent definitely won’t tell victims about.
California Car Accident Injury Claims Process
Free Car Accident Consultation
If you have been the victim of a serious collision caused by another driver, don’t leave your accident claim in the hands of an insurance adjuster. Contact Maison Law no matter where you are in California for a free, no-obligation evaluation of the circumstances of your case. By having legal representation you’ll let an insurance company know that they can’t dismiss your physical, emotional, and financial hardships.
Do You Really Need a Car Accident Lawyer in California?
After you’ve been in a traffic accident on a California freeway, city street, or back road, it’s fair to ask if you need a personal injury lawyer? The answer depends on the consequences of your collision.
You may have been shaken up, but if your accident involved mainly property damage, getting fair treatment while your car damage is evaluated shouldn’t prove too difficult. Insurance companies have largely standardized the process to get cars repaired or replaced.
It’s an entirely different case when you or a loved one are seriously hurt in an accident. A personal injury lawyer can prove crucial in getting the compensation needed to pay for recovery. When another driver is at fault his or her insurance company should be responsible for every medical cost and lost paycheck you endure.
You should call a personal injury attorney when:
- You have been badly injured in an accident.
- Adjusters want to blame you for part of an accident when you weren’t at fault.
- Your accident involves multiple parties or is complex.
- Your accident was caused by a professional driver like a big rig truck drive or a rideshare driver.
It’s also important to seek the counsel of a skilled personal injury lawyer if you’ve been in an accident involving a government employee or a public transportation vehicle. Accidents involving city, state, or federal agencies can be especially complicated and often provide much tighter deadlines for victims to file an injury claim.
How Much Is a Car Accident Injury Case Worth?
Many factors play a role in how much compensation you’ll receive after a car accident. It’s impossible to predict an exact amount because every accident case is so different. Injuries, even the same types of injuries, can all heal very differently and require more or less in medical care and medical expense.
One of the key factors in determining the value of your claim is how much your injury changes your lifestyle and for how long. Here are a few of the factors that can affect your car accident settlement:
- Severity of your Injury. A broken bone can lead to surgery, an amputation, and even a permanent disability. Permanent brain damage, organ damage, paralysis are other serious injuries possible after a crash. A permanent disability can diminish your freedom and your ability to support your family over a lifetime. Compensation can reach into the millions of dollars when it must cover care over decades.
- Lost Wages. The longer your recovery takes the more time you could spend away from your office or job site. That means more paychecks missed and more reimbursement you’d require.
- Driver’s Insurance Limits. The negligent driver’s chosen insurance provider and level of coverage can also affect your final award. Basic insurance coverage has cap limits that may run out before all of your hospital bills are paid.
- Physical and Emotional Trauma. Non-economic damages are awarded for the pain you endure with your injury and the emotional turmoil you’ve suffered. Victims may experience debilitating anxiety and depression. They may also be unable to enjoy life when they’ve had to give up the activities they love such as family outings, travel, hobbies, and exercise.
Furthermore, the skill and experience of the personal injury lawyer you chose to represent your case can make a substantial difference in the compensation you receive. A lawyer with an extensive background in injury settlement negotiation will more accurately estimate the costs of recovery you face and make sure you have what you need to pay your recovery bills.
Can I File a Car Accident Lawsuit On My Own?
Injured victims in California are legally allowed to file a lawsuit and represent themselves in court if they choose to do so. However, individuals may not file a lawsuit themselves if they are representing a corporation, filing a class-action lawsuit, or suing on behalf of a child.
It is not recommended that you file your lawsuit unless you have some knowledge of California state law and courtroom proceedings. You’ll have to know how to collect and present evidence that proves your case. You’ll have to know what to ask witnesses and how to submit their testimony.
Even if you are somewhat familiar with the legal system, it’s still a difficult challenge to represent yourself. A vast majority of lawsuits never reach a courtroom and end up settled outside of court. This can also leave people representing themselves at a disadvantage.
Skilled lawyers have a much better idea of how much medical and financial recovery costs. They’ll hold out until insurance adjusters make a fair offer for the victim that covers all expenses. When insurance companies know they aren’t dealing with a legal professional they commonly offer much less money in the hopes you won’t know it’s a low-ball offer. You can lose out on thousands of dollars by using your own judgment when assessing a settlement offer.
You must also be careful to meet certain deadlines insurance companies won’t warn you about. One such deadline is the two years from the time of your accident you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Wait too long and your chance to earn the compensation you need is lost.
Even if you decide to move forward with your lawsuit on your own, you can still benefit from talking with a California lawyer. Personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to anyone injured in a car accident and they can help you determine if your lawsuit will earn you considerably more than a standard insurance injury claim.
You may try to avoid using an attorney because you’re worried about being able to afford legal counsel. Keep in mind that reputable personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis and don’t get paid unless they win your case. Their fee would come out of the compensation they earn for you.
Common Types of Car Accidents in California
While accidents can happen at any time under any circumstances, there are some common types of accidents that we see regularly at Maison Law. If you have been injured in one of these common accident types, click on the name for additional resources to answer your specific questions.
- Accidents Involving Cows
- Accidents Involving Pigs
- Accidents Involving Horses
- Accidents at Intersections
- Accidents at Night
- Delivery Drivers
- DUI Accidents
- Farm Vehicle Accidents
- Hit and Run Accidents
- Failure to Yield or Stop
- Head-On Accidents
- Hit and Run Accidents
- Rear-End Accidents
- Rideshare Accidents
- TBone Accidents
- Texting and Driving Accidents
- Uber Accidents
- Accidents on Mountain Passes and Mountain Hwys
Common Injuries In California Traffic Collisions
You’ll be fighting insurance companies for fair compensation for your accident. It’s an important step in your recovery because it doesn’t just affect your immediate health and economic stability.
You could have serious injuries that require surgery a year down the road and further physical therapy. You might have a disability that forces you to seek a new career. The costs of job training and medical equipment for travel and home life can add up. All of these costs should be factored into any settlement from an insurance company. They will be factored in if you have an attorney making sure every detail is included.
These settlements are vital for victims and their families because the injuries in car accidents can be so severe and affect everyone’s life down the road. Here are a few of the most common injuries seen by emergency room doctors every year:
Brain and head injuries: Severe concussions, skull fractures, brain bleeding, and scalp wounds can all result after taking an impact on the head. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can leave the brain bruised in a collision with the inside of the skull. The symptoms can be memory loss, light sensitivity, and seizures along with other complications.
Spine, neck, and back injuries: Whiplash (a violent tossing of the head back and forth) can leave victims unable to turn their heads. Spinal vertebrae can be fractured in the impact with an airbag or the tug of a seatbelt. Back and spine injures can leave victims facing a permanent disability.
Broken Bones: Fractures can occur in just about any part of the body. The clavicle is one of the most commonly broken bones in an impact. It’s the most fragile bone in the body and runs across the top of the ribcage. The fibula (lower leg) and femur (upper leg) are often broken when a car ends up partially crushed.
Soft tissue injuries: Muscles, tendons, and ligaments can all tear or bruise. This tissue connects and holds different organs and other body parts in place.
What Our Clients Say
California Driving Dangers Each Year
When you’re behind the wheel in California, your trip can be threatened by extreme weather, natural disasters, and even the bad condition of road surfaces that may have gone unrepaired for decades. You can also face drivers who are distracted by their phones or recklessly speeding and changing lanes. And, way too often, you can face motorists who are traveling under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You can confront these hazards on any given day on California freeways and streets. The Insurance Institute Of Highway Safety (IIHS) found that California’s number of fatal accidents in 2019 led the entire nation in this unfortunate statistic. Our state recorded 3,316 deadly accidents in total resulting in the tragic loss of 3,606 lives. Texas was second on the list with 3,294 recorded fatal collisions. Florida was third with 2,950 fatal crashes over 2019.
California is notorious for its traffic congestion and reckless drivers, but it doesn’t matter if you’re on a packed freeway when your collision occurs, a narrow city street, or on a long stretch of farmland highway. The number one concern will be your physical recovery from that accident. Once that is addressed, your financial recovery will also become key to rebuilding your life. Unfortunately, insurance companies won’t be working quickly to make up for the mistake of their policyholder.
What happens if you are in an accident in someone else’s car?
If you’ve been hurt as a passenger in a car crash, you are permitted to file an injury claim for damages against the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. A claim can be filed against the driver of the car you were in if the driver was to blame.
Passengers in car accidents face the same injury risks as the drivers, and sometimes their injuries are even more severe. Passengers don’t always have the benefit of an airbag and seatbelts in backseats aren’t as advanced as those in the front seat.
Passengers can suffer serious injuries and face a stack of hospital bills while losing valuable time at work in recovery. To meet these bills, the car insurance companies for at-fault drivers must be called upon to provide compensation.
Passengers may feel conflicted if the at-fault driver was a friend or family member at the wheel. They may not want to cause the driver financial harm. However, this shouldn’t be a concern. Your claim will mainly target the insurance company of the at-fault driver. Your friend or family member would also want you to receive the best care available without going bankrupt trying to pay medical expenses.
If you are a passenger in a rideshare vehicle like an Uber or Lyft car in a collision, you should file a claim over your injury costs. You may be able to sue the rideshare driver’s auto insurance for support and call upon Uber or Lyft’s corporate insurance coverage for additional compensation.
Our Clients Frequently Ask...
Each accident that leads to a personal injury claim is different. That’s why it’s hard to estimate the length of time you’ll be made to wait before you get compensation. You could have to sit with unpaid medical bills for months or even a year or more before you receive support.
Accident settlements can happen quickly when insurance companies know their policyholder was fully to blame. But if there’s even a little bit of doubt, insurance adjusters will drag their feet and look for any chance to question your innocence.
These are a few factors that can extend personal injury case resolution beyond a few months:
- There are questions over fault.
- Multiple parties are involved.
- Serious injuries and/or permanent disabilities are involved. Disputes over how badly you are hurt.
- Your injuries haven’t fully healed.
- Cases involving potentially enormous settlement amounts.
When insurance companies stall and delay and won’t make a fair settlement offer, it can sometimes be necessary to file a lawsuit and take them to court.
When cases must be proven in court, it can take up to a year simply to get a court date. This will extend the length you may be waiting to earn justice. Luckily the overwhelming majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court.
California personal injury lawyers usually accept 1/3 of a car accident settlement and are paid on contingency.
Most personal injury lawyers don’t ask for any money upfront. They don’t get paid unless they win your injury case for you. In fact, if your case is lost, you’ll generally pay nothing at all.
In a standard personal injury case, attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means their earnings are “contingent” on you winning an insurance settlement or court judgment. When you earn compensation upon case resolution, your lawyer will then deduct his or her share from your award, including those expenses incurred while building your case.
Your attorney’s fee is set before you sign a “contingency agreement” to let that attorney represent you. You should discuss this fee with your potential attorney and also ask how you’ll get paid and how your attorney gets paid when your case is won.
On average, attorneys earn around 33% of the settlement or judgment your case earns. The percentage will run higher when cases are extremely complex or carry more risk of failure.
Attorneys must ask for this percentage because of the risks they accept by taking on your case. They’ll cover investigative costs, court fees, expert witness fees, and other expenses themselves. If a case isn’t successful or takes abnormally long to litigate, attorneys can go a long time without earning a paycheck.
Attorneys need money to help pay their employees and to keep the lights on in their office building just like many other professionals. The potential earnings must be worth the risk.
If you’ve been in a frightening accident involving several vehicles, at some point you’ll likely wonder who will get the blame for everyone’s damages.
In California, if several drivers bear fault in a collision, they can share in the blame and be assigned percentages of responsibility. You could have been partially to blame for your own accident, but if you were injured, you can still receive partial compensation from the other motorists involved to help in your recovery.
California is a pure comparative negligence state meaning that any driver can be assigned anywhere from 1% to 100% of the liability in a car crash.
For example, a judge could assign you 20% of the blame for the accident that left you injured. Another driver may have to shoulder 40% of the responsibility. A third driver could be tagged with the other 40% of the responsibility.
When it came time to pay out injury compensation, the insurance for both drivers would be asked to pay their share of your damages. However, when you received your compensation, your own 20% of the blame would be deducted.
In California, multiple drivers can share liability in an accident. So if you suffer an injury in a crash and are forced to accept some blame, you can still expect injury support from the other drivers also found at fault in the crash.
The legal concept of comparative negligence allows blame to be assigned to several drivers in the same accident. In comparative negligence cases in California, you can be assigned a third of the responsibility, half of the responsibility, or even 98% of the responsibility.
For example, a crash on a freeway may have been caused by a distracted driver who came over into your lane. You may also have been found to be speeding. A judge may assign the other motorist 70% of the blame for your accident. The other 30% of the blame may fall to you.
If you are hurt in this accident, the cost of your damages would be totaled and the other driver’s car insurance provider would have to pay you 70% of your damages. Your 30% of liability would get deducted.
Of course, a skilled personal injury lawyer will be presenting evidence to keep the percentage of fault as low as possible. Your attorney may even be able to erase all of your blame in an accident and earn you full compensation for your physical and financial damages.
Very few personal injury cases are decided in a courtroom. Somewhere around 90% of all accident claims are settled outside of court.
Insurance companies avoid lawsuits as much as possible because going to court costs them a lot of money. A trial can also expose their “bad faith” practices publicly and damage their company’s image. They will do everything they can to make you an offer for your injuries that is satisfactory so you sign off on a settlement instead of dragging them into court.
In fact, having a personal injury lawyer representing your case can use an insurance company’s reluctance to face a judge and jury to your advantage. When they offer you a “low-ball” settlement offer that doesn’t fully cover the physical, emotional, and financial damages you’ve endured since the accident, you can reject it and demand a better offer.
Insurance companies will respect the real threat of a lawsuit and courtroom visit your attorney represents and often up a settlement offer by thousands of dollars. If they refuse to treat you fairly, you may be forced to take them to court, but don’t worry, you won’t do this alone. A good attorney will have already prepared a strong case backed up by powerful evidence in case your claim ends up before a jury.
Proving you weren’t to blame for your accident and your injuries is vital in making sure you don’t end up paying for your own recovery. But how do you figure out who was at fault and prove it?
One of the most important steps you can take right after a traffic collision is to call 911. No matter how minor you may feel the damage and your injuries are, having an officer respond to the scene can provide valuable evidence to prove you weren’t at fault.
Officers will be preparing an accident report that will lay out who they feel was to blame. Insurance companies can dispute this report, but it is still solid evidence to prove your innocence.
Witnesses can also offer powerful testimony to shed light on who should be to blame. On the scene, after an accident, you should speak with all witnesses to find out what they saw. You should also get their contact information so your personal injury lawyer can contact them later.
Video evidence can be the most powerful indicator of liability. Scanning around the scene of your accident to note if nearby businesses or homes have security cameras installed is a good idea. Also, ask witnesses in other vehicles if they happened to have dash cams rolling at the time of the accident. You should also take your own photos and video of damaged vehicles and your injuries.
Returning to work when you can handle it and your doctor declares it safe won’t hurt your injury claim. However, you should never return when doing so could make your injury worse or when the medication you are taking will affect your work.
When asking an insurance company for an at-fault party for financial support during recovery, you’ll want to continue to demonstrate your commitment to healing. That’s why you should do your best to follow a doctor’s recommendations, see specialists, and complete physical therapy.
Ideally, this effort will leave insurance companies little room to cast doubt on your injury. They’ll be forced to admit fault, accept the severity of your injury, and provide full compensation for your hardships.
Once your doctor has signed off on returning to work, you’ll also have to feel you are ready to go back. If you don’t feel physically or emotionally ready, no one can make you return.
After resuming your work, your personal injury claim would demand compensation for all medical bills you’d seen to that point. And you could still include an estimate on the care you might need in the months ahead. Your lost wages up until you returned to the workplace could also be reimbursed, plus any expected time to be missed in the future.
Going back to work doesn’t discount the physical pain you’ve endured and it doesn’t end the emotional trauma you’ve suffered. These non-economic damages could still factor into any settlement you received.
Even if you think your car accident case is clear-cut, there are risks involved by handling it yourself.
As you build out your settlement claim, you need to account for every potential damage from your accident. This goes beyond medical bills and repair costs. If you don’t hire an experienced car accident lawyer, you risk having to pay out of pocket for expenses not covered in your settlement agreement.
Insurance Pitfalls for California Accident Victims
If you are hit by another driver, you will be stuck dealing with the insurance provider the driver has chosen to carry if they carry any insurance at all. If they don’t have insurance you may be left to deal with your own insurance company trying to get help through your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
There are dozens of national and local insurers available like Geico, Progressive, and Mercury Insurance and they all operate under the same strategies. Keep a victim confused and ignorant of their true rights.
There are several ways that insurance firms weaken a victim’s claim and their resolve. These are a few of their tactics.
- Stall Tactics: Insurance companies can say that they are experiencing a high volume of accidents and ask you to wait patiently for them to respond to your claim for damages or to make you a settlement offer. This dragging of the feet is often just a trick to let your hospital invoices and monthly bills, like car payments and rent, build up. The longer you have to face those bills and calls from debtors, the more doomed you may feel. Insurance companies want to get you desperate.
- Low Settlement Offer: They stall so that you’ll be desperate enough to take any amount they offer in settlement. When you’re facing thousands of dollars in bills each month and not able to work, any “lowball” offer may look good to you. An experienced lawyer will spot these stall tactics and lowball offers and challenge the insurance firm on their bad faith practices. Insurance companies can start to move much faster when an attorney threatens to take them to court.
- Shedding Blame: Insurance adjusters may look for ways to pin the blame in an accident onto you. They do this to either get you scared enough to dismiss your claim or to accept some of the blame in an accident. Don’t fall for it. They could check your driving record to try to make you seem like an unsafe driver. They might get their hands on medical information to show that you’ve had a similar injury in the past. These are all weak arguments that a legal expert on your side will disprove immediately.
- Use Your Statements Against You: Another tactic is to call you shortly after an accident under the guise of checking on your recovery. An insurance representative actually wants you to give a recorded statement. Don’t give anyone a statement. Politely decline. Insurance agents are looking for you to say something they can use later to discredit your account of what happened. Let your attorney handle all communication for you. It saves you stress and it protects your case.
Passenger Injuries After a Car Accident
As a passenger in someone else’s car, you are at just as much injury risk as the driver. After an accident, you may be seriously hurt and wonder who can be called upon to help with your recovery costs.
As an injured passenger, you may file a claim for damages against any at-fault drivers involved in an accident. This claim would seek compensation for the cost of your medical care, your lost wages while out of work, and other physical and financial damages.
In some cases, the at-fault motorist may be the driver in the car you were in. The driver found to be careless or reckless could be a family member or friend. In this situation, you may feel conflicted about filing a claim against someone you know.
You shouldn’t worry over this though. A claim generally targets the driver’s car insurance company and not the driver. It’s also how car insurance is designed to work.
The person you know pays car insurance premiums in order to provide protection and support to the victims of an accident. Someone you are acquainted with should want you to receive the care you need, even if it results in a rise in their insurance premiums.
Is there compensation for California accidents resulting in emergency C-sections?
An expectant mother in an accident faces an enormous risk to her health and the health of the unborn baby. A personal injury claim can earn support from an at-fault party for the financial and emotional toll of an emergency C-Section.
Mothers-to-be may require an emergency cesarean section (C-section) after any accident, even if an accident is relatively minor. Injuries suffered to the mother or baby, or both in a car accident or a slip-and-fall at a store can lead to premature birth, birth defects, or a miscarriage.
If a vaginal delivery is deemed unsafe for a mother and her baby, the baby would be delivered by C-section. This requires surgical incisions made in the abdomen and the uterus of the mother.
The insurance provider for an at-fault party, such as another driver or a store owner or operator, could be held liable in a personal injury claim. The amount of any settlement offer would have to include all medical costs built up in the treatment of the mother and the pain and emotional trauma experienced.
A claim might also consider the effect of an emergency birth on the health of the baby. This would also include any developmental difficulties expected for the child in years to come. Talking with a personal injury lawyer is the best way to determine every hardship that could earn financial support for mother and baby in an injury claim.
Can I sue my insurance company for my injuries if I was at fault?
Generally, if you were injured in a car accident you caused, you wouldn’t be able to ask your insurance company or an opposing driver’s insurance company for injury compensation.
However, when you feel are being unfairly blamed for an accident, it is possible to fight back on that determination and even sue your own insurance company for acting in “bad faith.” Your insurer owes you a fair investigation into your accident and should defend you when another driver is making false accusations.
It’s also possible you were partially to blame in an accident and you shouldn’t have to accept full blame. California allows multiple drivers to be assigned blame in a traffic collision.
You might have to accept 20% of the liability for a collision, but two other drivers might have to accept 40% of the responsibility. In this example, you could still seek partial injury support from your insurer or another driver’s insurer. Your award would just be reduced by your 20% of liability.
When your insurance company doesn’t bother to fully protect you after an accident, it’s time to call a California Car Accident Lawyer. Your lawyer will fight to get your portion of blame reduced to as small of a percentage as possible. Your lawyer could also find a way to get your liability reduced to nothing at all if you weren’t actually at fault.
Once blame is justly placed on the other drivers involved, you can begin the process of suing to get injury compensation from an insurance company.
Can an attorney help with a non-injury accident?
Generally, victims in a property damage-only accident will be able to handle their own insurance claim They’ll usually get the money they need to make repairs or replace a vehicle. The car damage repair process has become fairly standardized with cooperation between body shops and insurance companies.
However, if you are being unfairly blamed for an accident you didn’t cause, it’s at least worth talking to a qualified car accident lawyer about your options.
A good car accident lawyer offers all victims a free, no-obligation case consultation. There’s no risk in talking over your situation. Reputable car accident lawyers will always let you know when they can’t really improve the outcome of your case.
This is an important quality because other lawyers may push for you to sign with them when you don’t really require legal help. These types of lawyers often take a large portion of your insurance money without really helping you that much or at all.
Trust your case to a proven car accident lawyer like Martin Gasparian, the founder of Maison Law.
Contact a California Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one are seriously injured in an accident caused by a careless driver, you might wonder if you’ll have to cover the cost of recovery alone. According to California Law that should never be the case. If you didn’t cause your accident, the person who did and their insurance provider should be front and center to lift those financial burdens off your back.
Unfortunately, insurance companies will make the journey to return to your normal life harder than it has to be. They will have experienced adjusters and agents attempting to weaken your case every step of the way. Make sure you have an attorney from Maison Law watching over every document exchange and communication you have with them.
After an accident involving a serious injury or the tragic loss of life in California, contact attorney Martin Gasparian for a free, no-obligation case consultation for your family. Mr. Gasparian takes a hands-on approach to every case and only gives victims advice that’s in their best interest.