Who Can Sue After a Car Accident in California?
Victims of another person’s negligence have the right to sue that negligent person for compensation. When negligent companies and corporations are at fault for an accident, then any legal action taken should be aimed at them.
If you have qualms about suing another person, you may be relieved to learn that when you sue a driver, you are actually suing their insurance company. It is the insurance company that will be responsible for compensating you, and it is the insurance company that will attempt to negotiate a settlement with you.
In the event that the at-fault driver is uninsured, you may be able to seek compensation through your own insurance company. Should it refuse to compensate you, the potential for a lawsuit remains.
To sue the correct party, victims must first determine who was responsible for the accident. Our auto accident team can help you investigate your accident and find the answers you need to move forward with your case.
How to Determine Fault for a Car Accident
Whether it was a negligent driver or a manufacturer that created a defective car, the bottom line is, somebody made a mistake that led to your accident. Finding who is at fault can still be tricky, however—especially for complex collisions involving multiple parties and commercial vehicles.
The most common causes of car accidents include:
- Improper car maintenance, bad tires, or worn brake pads
- Speeding/driving too fast for weather conditions
- Aggressive driving exhibited by tailgating, passing on the right, and other actions
- Distracted driving, such as driving while talking on the phone, eating, applying makeup, or texting
- Poor road conditions or visibility problems contributing to the collision
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs
- Defective auto parts, such as airbags or tires
It is important to discuss these and other variables with our car accident lawyers in San Francisco as soon as possible. We will review the specific causes of your accident to help you determine who is at fault.
What If I Was Partially Responsible for the Accident?
California accident fault laws allow a victim less than 50% responsible for the crash to be compensated. Their settlement or awarded amount will be reduced by however much they were found to be at fault.
An example would be if a driver was found to share 20% of the blame for a crash that caused them $50,000 in damages. Here, they would only be compensated for the remaining 80%, or $40,000, of the damages.
Liability for car accidents isn't always straightforward. Sometimes, the clients we represent are partially to blame for their accident; other times, the defendant's insurance company attempts to shift blame in order to reduce the amount of compensation they must pay.
In either case, it is essential to have an experienced attorney on your side to support you and maximize your compensation.
What Types of Damages Can I Be Compensated For?
Available damages in a car accident case may include:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of earnings
- Property damage, such as to your vehicle
- Reduced future earning potential
- Hospital treatment and medical expenses
- Assistive devices and other disability accommodations
Common injuries suffered in motor vehicle accidents include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
- Paralysis (paraplegia/quadriplegia)
- Severe burn injuries
- Loss of limbs
Injuries caused by a collision often require significant, ongoing medical treatment. Getting back on your feet may require extensive rehabilitative therapy sessions as well. Any compensation you seek should account for all aspects of your recuperation.
In cases where an accident results in a fatality, surviving family members can pursue a wrongful death action, which can help them pay for funeral and burial expenses, final hospital fees, and lost future wages the decedent would have earned over their lifetime.
How to Deal with the Insurance Company
At Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn, we have helped thousands of Bay Area clients file auto insurance claims, deal with insurance companies, and sue these companies when they fail to pay.
Here are some important tips for how to approach your case:
- File as soon as possible. There are time limits for personal injury claims, so make sure that you do not miss your deadline. Car accident victims have two years from the date of the crash to file for compensation. If you let this statute of limitations run out, you could lose your right to compensation. Waiting too long to take action could also weaken your case.
- Include all the necessary information. Make sure to include all the evidence you can, such as pictures of the damage to your car, medical records of your injuries, and any other details to support your claim.
- Contact a lawyer. Car accident claims can involve a mountain of detailed paperwork. Make sure that you prepare everything right the first time with the help of a lawyer to minimize the chance of a denied or underpaid claim. A lawyer can also help you calculate the correct amount of compensation owed to you.
- Don’t take the first settlement offer. Insurers may pressure you to settle quickly. Be aware that most initial offers from insurers are far less than what you may actually be entitled to receive. Even if the insurance company quickly agreed to pay what you asked, it is best to speak to your lawyer before accepting the offer.
- Exercise caution when speaking to the insurance company. You are not obligated to speak with adjusters or on-site investigators sent by an insurance company. Insurance companies can and do use victims’ own statements against them to devalue or deny their claims.
Get Started on Your Case with a Free Consultation
Our legal staff at Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn pride ourselves on our ability to get our clients the best results possible.
We have continually improved our advocacy over our more than 40 years of practice, recovering half a billion dollars and counting for those injured in the Bay Area.
Further, we don’t believe in taking a cookie-cutter approach. We treat each of our clients like the real people they are, tailoring our representation to fit each case we work on.
Hire a legal team that genuinely cares about you.
Call (415) 940-7176 to learn more about your rights. Our San Francisco car accident lawyers will work to maximize your compensation.