Auto accidents happen every day across the country. Although some collisions may only cause minor damage, other crashes may lead to catastrophic or life-altering injuries. Victims may face lengthy and painful physical recoveries, requiring costly hospital stays, invasive surgeries, and intensive physical therapy sessions. In addition to these time-consuming and physically demanding aspects of your recovery, you will likely become overwhelmed and anxious about the medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses that are accumulating quickly. Fortunately, California allows car accident victims to pursue and obtain compensation to assist them with covering these costs. Enlisting the guidance of a knowledgeable and caring Temecula auto accident lawyer is the best way to ensure that you navigate the claims process as smoothly and efficiently as possible to maximize your settlement offer. Let’s take a closer look at one core component of the auto accident claims process—determining fault and how your share of responsibility can impact the amount of compensation you receive.
Understanding Comparative Negligence in California
Like many states, California adheres to a model known as comparative negligence when dealing with auto accident claims. Essentially, the comparative negligence rule allows injured parties to receive compensation that is proportional to the degree of responsibility they hold for causing the accident. For example, if investigations determine that you were 40 percent liable for causing a car collision and the court awards you $200,000, you will only be entitled to recover 60 percent of the total ($120,000). Although you will still be able to receive compensation to help you cover the costs of your injuries, the amount of the financial award will reflect the degree to which you were responsible for contributing to the accident. Additionally, it’s important to recognize that you may still recover compensation if you were more than 50 percent liable for the accident; in other states, being more than 50 percent at fault for a collision disqualifies you from receiving compensation.
Types of Negligence That May Cause an Auto Accident
There are many behaviors that can lead to a car accident. Inattentive driving or failing to adhere to posted speed limits are common factors in Riverside County auto collisions. Other types of negligent or reckless driving habits that can cause a car crash include tailgating, unsafe lane changing, running a red or yellow light, disregarding a pedestrian traffic light, failing to stop at an intersection, driving fast in hazardous weather conditions, not checking mirrors before changing lanes, and texting while driving. When the insurance adjuster assigned to your claim investigates the accident, they may determine that you and the other party engaged in unsafe driving practices that led to the collision. It’s up to the investigators to assign a percentage of liability to each party before you can determine how much compensation you will be able to recover.
How to Maximize the Amount of Compensation You Can Recover
Even if you were partially to blame for the accident, you still have the right to pursue and obtain compensation to support your recovery. Just as every car accident is different, no two auto accident cases are the same. As you start to consider your options for seeking compensation after suffering an auto accident injury in Southern California, keep the following strategies in mind to maximize your settlement offer.
Report the Accident to Local Law Enforcement
After you have assessed yourself and others at the scene for injuries, contact local law enforcement to report the accident. The responding officer will compile a police report that includes relevant details about the scene (i.e., road conditions, contact information for the parties involved, witness statements, etc.). When you file an accident claim, you may request a copy of the police report to include with your claim. The police report often serves as an unbiased account of the accident, and the information it contains can help to establish that the other driver was more responsible for causing the accident.
Seek Medical Attention For Your Injuries
You may wonder whether the injuries you sustained in the collision are severe enough to warrant medical attention. Even if you are not experiencing debilitating symptoms, you should still visit a physician within a few days of the incident. The doctor can assess you for any harder-to-detect conditions, such as traumatic brain injuries or internal bleeding. What’s more, the documents created by your visit will strengthen your claim, as they will detail the nature, severity, and prognosis of your injuries.
Enlist the Guidance of a Trusted Temecula Auto Accident Lawyer
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed during your recovery. As you adjust to your new reality, you may worry about your finances and the long-term impact of your injuries. However, you do not have to go through this difficult period alone. Enlisting the guidance of a caring and experienced Riverside County car accident lawyer can empower you to move forward with greater clarity and confidence. You can trust that your lawyer will work hard to negotiate a favorable settlement offer and secure you the compensation you need to support your recovery.
If you need help securing compensation following an auto accident in Temecula or Murrieta, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320.