California has a huge number of drivers on all different types of roadways. This, obviously, leads to circumstances where car accidents happen. One of the most impactful and devastating accident types is a wrong way collision, which happens for a variety of reasons and more often than you may expect.
At Maison Law, our California car accident lawyers understand the difficulties that come with any type of accident, but especially a wrong way accident. Whether it be injuries, emotional trauma, damage to your vehicle, or anything else, we can help you. We’ll explain your legal options and then guide you through the recovery process to get the compensation you deserve from the person responsible. Contact us today to set up a free consultation to get started.
What’s the Legal Process After a California Wrong Way Accident?
Each car accident is unique, but California wrong way accident claims generally follow a common procedure when you or another injured party decides to pursue legal options. Typically, a car accident case can take one of two routes towards a recovery:
- An insurance claim
- Personal injury lawsuit
Most of the time, a case starts via an insurance claim and eventually goes into a lawsuit. However, the path your case follows depends on the specifics of your accident. Here are the main differences between the two:
When an injury results from an accident, an insurance company usually becomes involved, either through your insurance or the at-fault party’s insurance.
After you file a claim for review, an adjuster will contact you and employ various strategies to determine the value of your claim. Settling a personal injury claim outside of court has some advantages:
- Lower court costs and fewer attorney fees
- Faster compensation
- Less involvement and reduced hassle
- A better understanding of your case’s value since you’re directly dealing with the insurance company.
However, negotiating with the insurance company can have downsides:
- The process may be prolonged by the insurance company, leaving you in a difficult financial situation.
- The settlement offer may not cover all your damages.
- The insurance company has the final say in determining your settlement amount.
If you choose to proceed, our team can assist you through the litigation process.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
In simple terms, filing a lawsuit means taking your case to court. While more rewarding, it also requires more time and resources. Although it’s a bit more involved, a lawsuit offers the potential for more substantial recovery.
You will have a more active role in the litigation phase, but with our team’s support, we handle responsibilities such as:
- Filing a Complaint with the Court
- Managing and filing legal documents, including motions
- Assisting with evidence requests and responses (discovery)
- Getting you ready for depositions and other court hearings.
- Conducting depositions with crucial witnesses and individuals connected to the case.
- Obtaining testimony from expert witnesses.
- Engaging in negotiations with the opposing party.
- Participating in mediation and other discussions.
- Preparing your case for trial and presenting it in court.
It’s crucial to remember that there are no guarantees of a positive outcome in court. While litigation can be lengthy, extending beyond the initial claim by several months or even years, it’s a vital option to secure the benefits and support you deserve under California law. However, because a wrong-way accident is somewhat unique, a key part of the overall process is figuring out exactly who is responsible.
Liability in California Wrong Way Accidents
Any California car accident claim revolves around two key aspects: liability and damages. These elements are interconnected and profoundly influence the course of your claim and the impact of your injuries following the accident. In a general sense, the person responsible for causing the car accident bears the responsibility for the resulting damages.
In legal terms, this responsibility is known as liability, which is established through the concept of “negligence.” Negligence comprises four essential elements:
- Duty of care – The driver involved in the accident is obligated to prevent injuries from occurring.
- Breach of duty – The driver failed to fulfill their duty of care, leading to the accident.
- Causation – The accident transpired because the driver did not meet their duty of care.
- Damages – The injuries and losses you sustained directly result from the driver’s actions.
Once liability is established, you can proceed with filing a claim for damages. “Damages” is another legal term that refers to the compensation available to you under California law. While every case is unique, a wrong way accident claim typically covers the following types of damages:
- Medical expenses related to the accident.
- Lost wages due to time off work.
- Loss of future income if your injuries have a long-term impact on your earning capacity.
- Costs associated with vehicle or property damage.
- Pain and suffering endured.
- Psychological trauma stemming from the accident.
- Reduced quality of life.
- Scarring or disfigurement.
- Wrongful death expense, if there are fatal injuries.
- Punitive damages, in certain cases.
The specific amount of damages you can recover depends on the particulars of your case and the losses you’ve experienced. In California, car accident law follows the principle of “comparative negligence,” meaning your potential recovery may be reduced based on the percentage of fault attributed to you in the accident.
With all of this in mind, it’s important to do everything you can to protect your claim.
How Do You Protect a Wrong Way Accident Claim in California?
Even with liability established, you still have to manage your claim as it progresses through the legal system. To that end, it’s important to not only protect your health, but also the strength of your claim. While this relies mostly on the evidence, the insurance company is going to try to do anything they can to pay out as little as possible. So, in order to protect your claim, make sure to do the following after the accident:
- Check for injuries – Always check for any injuries, including injuries of any passengers. If possible, move to a safe location away from traffic and activate your hazard lights to alert other drivers.
- Report the accident – Dial 911 immediately to report the accident. Provide your location and provide details about what transpired.
- Stay composed – Maintain your composure and avoid engaging in disputes with the other driver, as it won’t aid in resolving the situation.
- Take note of the other driver – If it’s safe, assess the well-being of the other driver involved, particularly if they were at fault. Offer assistance if necessary, but exercise caution and keep your distance if they appear hostile or aggressive.
- Swap information – Exchange contact and insurance details with the other driver, as you would in any accident. Obtain their name, phone number, insurance company, and policy number.
- Talk to witnesses – If there are witnesses, request their contact information. Their statements can be valuable for insurance claims and investigations.
- Talk to police – When the police arrive, provide them with an accurate account of the events leading up to the accident. The police report is significant for insurance claims and potential legal proceedings.
- Gather evidence – Capture photographs of the accident scene, including the involved vehicles, their positions, and any relevant road signs or signals.
- Tell your insurance company about the accident – Notify your insurance company about the accident as soon as possible. Supply them with all necessary information and follow their instructions regarding the claims process.
- Get medical attention – Even if you don’t immediately feel injured, it’s wise to seek a medical evaluation. Some injuries may not manifest right away, and having a medical record can be beneficial for insurance claims.
The way you respond to the accident is a critical part of the overall recovery process. Not only does it ensure your health and well-being are taken care of, but responding promptly and appropriately can strengthen your case.
Contact Maison Law After a California Wrong Way Accident
If you’re injured in a wrong way car accident in California, our experienced team of lawyers is here to provide you with support and guidance. We understand the importance of acting swiftly to safeguard your health and legal rights. You don’t have to tackle these difficulties on your own when you’re injured. Contact us now to find out more about our approach. We’re here to assist you with your injury.