Accidents involving cars are the most commonly seen form of personal injury suffered by individuals in California, and many of those accidents take place on California’s many intersections. On average, over 200,000 people in California suffer injuries as the result of crashes involving motor vehicles each year. The cost of an intersection accident is usually highly expensive due to the high speed at which many drivers are moving in these types of collisions. The victim of such crashes usually loses tens of thousands of dollars, not only due to the cost of seeking medical aid for any injuries caused by the accident, but also through wages lost during the recovery period and costs related to car repair.
Victims of intersection accidents also often seek the help of an attorney in order to recuperate some of the costs incurred as a result of the accident. This attorney may be able to help you in dealing with insurance company, and help make sure that the car insurance company pays fully for the damages to your car. Also, this attorney may be able to help you file what is called a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party, and force them to pay for monetary damages. If you have recently been injured as the result of a car accident and are looking for legal help, call 424-231-2013 to speak with personal injury attorney at Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney. The lawyers with our law firm have handled hundreds of personal injury cases in the greater LA area, and boast a 98.6% client satisfaction rate.
If you have suffered an injury as the result of an intersection accident, it’s advisable to read up on the ABCs of personal injury law surrounding intersection accidents. Continue reading below to learn a bit about this area of the law and your legal recourses.
Laws of the Road Surrounding Intersections
There are a number of laws that govern how people operating motor vehicles must behave in California’s intersections. Here are a few of the most important intersection laws:
Section 21800 of the California vehicle code states that the driver of a motor vehicle who is approaching an intersection is legally required to yield the right of way to vehicles which have entered the intersection first from a different highway.
Section 21800 (b) (1)
Section 21800 (b)(1) of California’s vehicle code states if two cars approach an intersection simultaneously, then the driver on the left must surrender the right of way to the driver on the right. The only exception is that the driver of a motor vehicle on a highway that is ending has to yield the right of way to a vehicle that is on an intersecting highway.
Section 21800 (c)
Section 21800 (c) dictates that if two drivers approach an intersection with stop signs in all directions at the exact same time, then the driver on the left must yield the right of way to the driver on that person’s right-hand side.
Section 21800(d)(1) dictates that when a driver approaches an intersection that governed by a traffic signal that isn’t properly functioning, then that motorist is required to stop before proceeding with caution.
Section 21801 dictates that drivers who are looking to turn left or make a U-turn at an intersection must yield to drivers heading in the opposite direction before proceeding.
Section 21802 mandates that drivers approaching intersections governed by stop signs must come to a full halt at the stop sign and yield to motorists who have already entered the intersection before proceeding.
Section 21803 dictates that drivers who are approaching an intersection that is governed by a yield sign must yield to the drivers who have already entered the intersection before proceeding.
Determining Fault in Intersection Accidents
In order to bring a successful lawsuit against a person who you believed caused an intersection accident that left you with injuries and substantial costs, you must be able to prove fault against that person. Typically, since the overwhelming majority of car accidents don’t occur as the result of intentional actions, fault is generally based upon what is called “negligence.” If a driver causes an accident as the direct result of negligence, then they may be liable for the accident and forced to pay damages, even if the intersection crash was a complete accident. Negligence is when a driver is operating a motor vehicle in a careless manner, or is not fully paying mind to other drivers on the road. Common acts of negligence while operating a motor vehicle in an intersection include running a red light, texting while driving, speeding, or failing to yield the right of way according the intersection laws outlined in the previous section.
Through negligence laws outlined in the California vehicle code, if a driver causes an intersection accident as the result of negligent driving, he/she is responsible for any monetary damages sustained by the victim of the negligent behavior. So, in a personal injury lawsuit, the victim and his/her legal representation must prove that the defendant was negligent in order to win the case. This is usually done through what is called “duty of care.” Operators of motor vehicles in California are required by law to use reasonable care when driving in an intersection, or any other part of the road. Duty of care includes acting in a generally safe manner when operating a motor vehicle, looking out for obstacles, other vehicles, and pedestrians, as well as controlling the movement and speed of the vehicle.
In some rare cases, it may be possible for both drivers in an intersection accident to be partially at fault, due to the fact that both drivers were acting in a negligent manner. However, interestingly under California’s comparative fault law, even when both drivers were both somewhat responsible for the accident, the injured driver can gain damages through a lawsuit. However, these damages may be reduced depending on the injured driver’s share of the fault.
Damages Available for Intersection Accidents
When you file for a personal injury claim, you are requesting compensation for the monetary losses you incurred due to the intersection accident. Damages in personal lawsuits come in two main forms. The first is economic compensatory damages, which are costs related to vehicle repairs or medical bills. The second category is non-economic compensatory damages, which make it more difficult to determine a dollar value, such as psychological damage caused by the accident. Common compensatory damages include costs related to fixing a motor vehicle, medical costs, lost incomed, costs related to pain medication, as well as costs for psychological damage such as counseling sessions for trauma.
In order to gain these damages, the accuser and their attorney must prove that the person who caused the intersection accident exhibited negligence. Without video footage of the accident, it is often difficult to determine if the driver was really being negligent, and legal debates around this topic often devolves into he-said she-said argumentation. However, it is often much easier to employ a legal argument which accuses the defendant of being “negligent per se.” A driver is negligent per se when they violate the statutes governing traffic intersections outlined in the first section. This means that if a driver does not yield properly at an intersection, speeds through an intersection, or runs through a red light at an intersection, then that person will be deemed negligent without any further evidence, and almost assuredly be required to pay for damages.
If you were in an accident in which an uninsured driver was at fault, then it can become more difficult to recover damages, although not completely impossible depending on the circumstances. California law surrounding car insurance obligates car insurance companies to offer both uninsured and underinsured coverage to drivers, meaning that they are required to offer to cover drivers in the case of an accident with an uninsured/underinsured driver. However, the requirement is only that they are required to offer such insurance, not that they actually provide it to every driver. Thus, you only may be able to gain compensation for damages caused by an uninsured driver if your insurance covers uninsured drivers. If damages were caused by an underinsured driver, and the damages caused by this driver are higher than their insurance coverage, then underinsured motorist insurance should cover the rest, if you have it.
Also, even if you don’t possess uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you still might be able to recuperate damages from an uninsured motorist. Through a personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to force the uninsured driver to cover the costs of the accident. In this situation, many uninsured drivers claim that they do not possess the funds to cover your damages. However, your personal injury attorney may be able to investigate the situation and determine whether or not this person possesses assets they are hiding. Also, family members of the uninsured driver can be held responsible for the accident, if it can be shown they let the uninsured driver use their car. This violation is called negligent entrustment of a motor vehicle, and it makes it a crime to allow an incompetent uninsured drive to use their motor vehicle.
If the driver in an intersection accident was killed as a result of the motor vehicle crash, then the family members of that person might be able to recuperate damages nonetheless. Through California’s laws surrounding wrongful death, the family member of deceased car crash victim may be able to hold the perpetrator of the accident fully liable for their negligent behavior. People that can file a claim for damages in such a situation include domestic partners, children, grandchildren, and spouses. These damages can include funeral expenses, burial expenses, loss of income to a household, and compensation for the emotional damage caused by the death.
Role of an Attorney in your Intersection Accident Case
The purpose of hiring an attorney when dealing with an intersection accident is to act as a representative for the victim in all necessary arenas. This means that the attorney will help you deal with the perpetrator of the crash, the California court system, as well as your insurance company. Even people with top-rate insurance should strongly consider hiring a personal injury lawyer, as insurance companies are for-profit businesses that care more about their bottom line then about your financial and physical wellbeing. Your attorney will support you from the beginning to the end of the process, which will be explained in detail in the subsections below.
If the police responded to the intersection accident, then officers will have probably conducted an investigation of the scene. This includes sketching out the details of the scene, acquiring statements from both of the involved parties, as well as statements from any witnesses. Insurance companies may also launch their own investigation if the police didn’t complete one. However, these types of investigations aren’t always reliable, and often contain errors or false statements made by the negligent driver. As a result, it is typical for a personal injury attorney to conduct their own investigation of the crash. They will review the police report and/or insurance company report, interview witnesses of the crash, if possible, obtain surveillance footage of the accident, and review any relevant medical records. Through this more thorough investigation, an attorney can often catch details missed in the other reports that proves the defendant’s negligence beyond a doubt.
If you suffered an injury in a crash, you might be tempted to ignore the injury, out of a fear that treating the injury will cost a significant amount of money. An attorney will encourage you to seek medical treatment, by guaranteeing that these medical costs will be covered via awarded damages through a personal injury lawsuit. This is a huge benefit of hiring an attorney, as otherwise you might allow these injuries to linger, which can cause even further damage to your health in the long run.
Gathering of Evidence
Your attorney can also help a great deal in gathering evidence surrounding the circumstances of the accident, as well as the crash itself. This legal representative can have someone take pictures of the damage, and obtain medical records that may be relevant in determining negligence. Also, as part of this evidence gathering process your attorney may be able to spot if the other driver is trying to hide evidence regarding the cause of the accident. An attorney can also take measures to hire engineering experts who can take a look at a damaged car, and provide evidence that wouldn’t appear in a standard police report.
An attorney is also extremely helpful when it comes to issuing a demand letter to the person who caused the crash through negligent behavior. The attorney will understand how to word the letter with the proper legal language, and outline the basis of the claim. Generally, a demand letter will at minimum include the names of the involved parties, the level of damage involved, the facts of the accident, losses caused by the accident, and correctly worded demand for compensation. The demand letter generally acts as the initiator in the negotiation with an insurance adjuster.
Insurance Company Negotiations
Negotiating with the insurance company is often one of the most difficult parts of an intersection crash aftermath, and is something that is almost impossible to do without the help of a lawyer. This is because the insurance companies hire lawyers and adjusters who understand every little intricacy involved in car accident law, and will attempt to get you to say things that the insurance company can use to reduce the amount of money they owe. A personal injury lawyer understands exactly how to deal with these people, and will make sure to say nothing that would result in you losing money on damages. Your attorney can also help you determine if you should accept the settlement offer from the insurance company, or take the case to court.
Personal Injury Lawsuit
If negotiations with the insurance company fail, or if they don’t offer you enough money to cover your damages, then your attorney can help you file a personal injury lawsuit in a California civil court. This lawsuit includes a basis for liability as well as a claim for damages. While this attorney can and will represent you in court if need be, the very presence of a lawsuit often convinces a defendant to pursue a settlement, out of a desire to avoid a lengthy and expensive trial process.
Find an Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you were injured in the recent past as the result of a car accident that occurred in one of California’s road intersections, you should seriously think about hiring a personal injury attorney as your legal representative. This lawyer can help you regain the money you lost as a result of this accident. To speak with the best personal injury attorneys in the LA area today, call Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney at 424-231-2013.