Automobile Accidents in California and the Related Laws

Automobile accidents are not uncommon here in California. This is especially true for Southern California where roads are continuously jammed with trucks, cars, busses, motorcycles and pedestrians. Automobile accidents can happen to anyone at anytime. For instance, earlier this month, in Del Mar, California, five people sustained traumatic injuries and were hospitalized following a two-car accident. The driver of a Ford Explorer attempted to make a left turn, completely disregarding a red turn arrow, and in doing so was forcefully hit by a Kia Soul. If you were involved in an accident, it is critical that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Doing so will greatly increase your chances of being adequately compensated.

Negligence in California
In California, as with other states, if you (“Plaintiff”) were involved in an automobile accident at the fault of another (“Defendant”), you will need to at least show that Defendant was negligent. In California, proving negligence requires the Plaintiff to establish the following five elements:

i) That Defendant owed Plaintiff a duty to either commit an act or refrain from committing
an act. For instance, drivers on the road owe a duty of safe and reasonable driving
towards other drivers;
ii) That Defendant breached said duty. For instance, Defendant drove negligently;
iii) That Defendant’s breach was the actual cause of Plaintiff’s injury or injuries;
iv) That Defendant’s breach was the proximate, or foreseeable, cause of Plaintiff’s injury or
injuries; and
v) That Plaintiff suffered actual damages. Damages are not presumed in a negligence

These cases are normally settled outside of court, however. Accident cases typically start with the Plaintiff filing an accident claim with Defendant’s insurance company. Once the claim is filed, Plaintiff’s attorney will assist Plaintiff is gathering all medical bills, medical records, other expenses, evidence of pain and suffering and evidence of future lost wages. Once all this information is gathered, and once Plaintiff is finished with treatment/therapy, his or her attorney will piece together a thorough “demand pack.” The demand pack evidences everything that Plaintiff incurred from the accident. The Defendant’s insurance adjuster, upon a finding that Defendant was at fault, or most at fault, will then carefully review the demand pack and propose a settlement offer. Plaintiff will then accept or decline. If accepted, Plaintiff will sign a release of claims and then Defendant’s insurance adjuster will issue a check for Plaintiff.

From here, if the parties never reach an agreed upon settlement, Plaintiff may file the lawsuit with a court with proper jurisdiction. Yet, please note that the case must be filed within California’s statute of limitations period. If you want to recover from your injuries, you must file your lawsuit within two years. If you want to recover damages to your automobile, you must file within three years. These time limitations must be strictly adhered to. If you fail to file within the given period, you are most likely barred from later doing so.


Take Action
If you or your loved one was involved in an automobile accident at the fault of another, it is imperative that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Our team at the Law Office of Patrick G. Shea is here for you! Our staff will take the time to listen to the details of your situation and will use our years of legal experience to help pursue your goals. We know how to get the best results. No matter how many resources we allocate to your case and no matter how long it takes to help you achieve your goals after a car crash, we will not collect fees unless we win. Reach out to our San Diego auto accident department for personal representation and aggressive advocacy.

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