Can I Sue the At-Fault Driver After an Auto Accident in Southern California?

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As a comparative negligence state, California allows injured individuals to recover economic damages even if they were partially to blame for the accident. A seasoned Riverside County attorney can provide you with the information and support you need to move forward.

The scene of an auto accident is usually chaotic and confusing. As you assess yourself and others for any injuries requiring immediate medical attention, you may worry about how this incident will impact you in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Auto accident injuries can lead to long and complicated physical recoveries, lost wages, costly medical bills, and other unanticipated financial challenges. It’s natural to worry about how you will be able to afford these costs, especially if your injuries prevent you from working during your recovery. Let’s take a look at what California auto accident victims can do to pursue and recover the compensation they need to support their physical and financial recovery.

Filing an Auto Accident Claim in California

The first step any auto accident victim should take is to report the accident to your insurance company. The company will assign an insurance adjuster to handle your claim and investigate the circumstances of the crash to determine which party bears responsibility for the incident. As a comparative negligence state, California allows injured individuals to recover economic damages even if they were partially to blame for the accident. However, the amount of compensation they receive will be adjusted based on their degree of responsibility. For example, if you’re awarded $100,000 in damages, but you are 20 percent at fault for causing the accident, you will only be able to secure $80,000 in total damages.

Negotiating a Fair Settlement Offer

Even if you believe you have a strong auto accident claim, the insurance adjusters will use tactics in an attempt to undermine your claim and pay you as little as possible. Unfortunately, their duty lies with the insurance company, and they will do what they can to protect the company’s bottom line. However, it’s essential that you recognize your right to push for a more equitable settlement offer—you have no obligation to accept the insurance company’s initial offer. Working with an experienced Riverside County car accident lawyer is the best way to ensure you negotiate your way into a more favorable settlement.

What Will the Compensation Cover?

Every auto accident is different, so there are multiple factors that influence the amount of compensation you can recover. Your auto accident lawyer will work hard to secure you the compensation you need to support the various aspects of your recovery. In general, the compensation you pursue may encompass several expenses, including your medical expenses, lost wages and employment-related benefits, pain and suffering damages, loss of personal enjoyment damages, and other potential punitive damages against the party responsible for the accident.

When Compensation Falls Short

It’s not impossible to have your insurance claim denied or severely undervalued. Even if you succeed in negotiating a settlement, you may find that your recovery requires much more financial support than what you’ve recovered from the insurance company. In these instances, you should explore your legal options with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. Some auto accident victims choose to file a lawsuit against the driver responsible for the accident. Many car accidents cause lasting impacts on victims, extending much farther than medical bills and lost wages. If your injury has caused permanent damage that affects your ability to find gainful employment, or if you’ve suffered psychological effects like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder as a consequence of the accident, you can pursue damages from the driver responsible for these losses.

Taking Action Sooner Pays Off

In California, auto accident victims have two years from the date of the accident in which to file a personal injury claim. While this may seem like a substantial amount of time, victims often feel overwhelmed and stressed with their post-accident lives and find themselves struggling to meet this deadline. Even if you are unsure whether you wish to proceed with a personal injury lawsuit, you should discuss your situation with a compassionate car accident lawyer sooner rather than later. Your attorney can help you understand your options for securing the compensation you need to support your recovery.

How a Skilled Temecula Auto Accident Lawyer Can Help

Although California law does not require auto accident victims to hire an attorney to file a personal injury claim, doing so maximizes your chances of obtaining a fair and favorable outcome. A seasoned Riverside County attorney can provide you with the information and support you need to move forward. Additionally, your attorney can answer your questions, address your concerns, and guide you through each step of the process, giving you the clarity and confidence you need during this challenging time. Together, you can work to secure the financial settlement you need to enjoy a brighter and more stable future.


If you need help pursuing an auto accident claim in Temecula or Murrieta, call Hales & Associates, A Professional Law Corporation, today at (951) 489-3320 to discuss your goals.

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