Who Can Be Held Responsible For My Injuries?
Liability for car accidents will depend on the underlying cause of the crash. In California, more than one person can be held financially responsible for your injuries. When you hire the Law Offices of John Rapillo to represent you, our attorneys will thoroughly investigate your accident and pinpoint all potentially liable defendants.
- Motorists — All drivers on the road, including motorcyclists, truck drivers and bus drivers, have an obligation to drive safely. This means that they must have a valid license, use caution while operating their vehicle and follow all posted traffic laws.
- Pedestrians — People on foot must exercise caution when sharing the road with cars, bicycles and other vehicles. This means that they must exercise care, stick to dedicated sidewalks and crossroads at marked intersections when the signal indicates it is safe.
- Car manufacturers — Any company that designs, manufactures or sells a car has an obligation to make sure that the vehicle can be used safely. When a product is defective, the company that is responsible for putting it on the market can be held strictly liable for injuries.
- Employers — Sometimes employees are required to drive for their company or employer. Employers must ensure that all employees are properly trained and drive safely.
- Ride-share drivers/companies — Companies like Uber and Lyft have thousands of drivers on the road. If you are injured in an accident with an Uber or Lyft driver, the driver and/or the ride-share company may be held responsible for damages.
What If I Was Partially At Fault In A Car Accident?
In California, you can recover compensation for an injury even if you are partially at fault. The state follows the rule of pure comparative negligence, which simply means that the amount of compensation you can get will be reduced by your own degree of fault. As long as someone else also contributed to your injury-causing accident, you can recover monetary damages.
Common Causes Of Car Collisions
While any negligent behavior can contribute to a car accident, some causes are reported more frequently than others. The leading causes of car accidents in Orange County include:
- Speeding and aggressive driving (25%)
- Alcohol use (10%)
- Failure to properly navigate an intersection (30%)
- Driving at night (8%)
Other causes of vehicular accidents include distracted driving, dangerous road conditions, weather conditions and defective vehicles.
What Can I Do If The Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
While all drivers in California are required to carry minimally acceptable amounts of car insurance, some do not. This does not mean that you will not be able to recover compensation after an accident with an underinsured or uninsured motorist. There are two primary ways to recover compensation after an accident with an uninsured driver: collecting uninsured motorist insurance benefits and filing a personal injury lawsuit:
- Uninsured motorist coverage — Insurance companies are required, by law, to offer uninsured motorist coverage to California drivers. This coverage can be purchased in addition to standard insurance coverage. When you are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, you can collect benefits directly from your insurer.
- Personal injury lawsuit — You also have the option of filing a personal injury lawsuit against anyone who is responsible for causing your accident or injury. If the uninsured driver is the only at-fault party, recovering damages in this way can be difficult.
What Damages Are Available To Car Accident Victims?
Car accident victims in Orange County will generally be able to recover both economic and noneconomic damages. The specific type and amount that you can receive will depend on the severity of your injuries. Economic damages, which are commonly known as compensatory damages, are paid to victims to make up for out-of-pocket financial costs related to an accident and injury. These damages help to put a victim back in the financial position they would have been in if the accident had never happened. Examples include:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs
- Travel expenses for medical treatment
- Nursing care costs
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
Noneconomic damages are paid to help victims with injuries that may not have direct financial implications. These injuries tend to be very personal and are difficult to value monetarily. Examples include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of sexual relations
- Loss of enjoyment of life
When Can I File A Car Accident Lawsuit In Orange County, California?
The statute of limitations for bodily injury cases in California is two years. This means that you must file a personal injury claim for damages within two years of your car accident if you want to recover monetary damages. If you do not file your claim before the statute of limitations expires, you will be prevented from getting the money you deserve. There are limited situations when the statute of limitations can be extended. If any of the extenuating circumstances apply, you may be able to file a claim after the two-year period:
- You do not discover your accident-related injury right away, despite reasonable efforts
- The defendant is incarcerated
- The defendant cannot be physically located
- You were a minor at the time of the crash