Have you recently been injured in an accident and are curious about your rights?
This difficult situation requires an understanding of California’s liability laws. In general, victims of accidents due to another person’s negligence can pursue legal claims against the responsible party, but knowing the statutes that apply can be critical to protecting the rights of a person with injuries.
For one client in a recent California case, knowledge of how the law works meant the difference between having nothing to help with his injuries, and being awarded $1,250,000.
Understanding Fault In California Vehicle Accidents
Fault in California auto accident claims is based on negligence. If a driver causes an injury due to negligent behavior, that driver could be responsible for associated damages, like medical bills. Some examples of negligence include texting and driving, running a red light, speeding, or drunk driving, though other forms of negligence may be found.
In addition to negligence, California also uses what is known as a comparative fault standard, which means both parties may be found to share fault for the accident. While the injured victim can still recover damages, his or her damages may be reduced based on the percentage that he or she is deemed to have contributed to the accident. While fault for the accident may seem obvious to each of the parties, having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to build your case can dramatically influenced the percentage of liability, if any, that you might otherwise hold.
In a recent California personal injury case, the police report showed the pedestrian was found to share fault for the accident because he had attempted to cross the street on a red light. After reviewing the adverse results of the report, the attorney that the client initially hired withdrew from the case. The experienced attorneys at Dunnion Law, reviewed the details of the case, including the client’s partial responsibility for the accident, and knowing the relevant case law readily accepted the case. Within 40 days, the client and his attorney were able to recover damages of $1,250,000 due to the extent of the client’s injuries.
The police report is often the key piece of evidence in determining fault. While this report can be persuasive in illustrating fault, it’s not uncommon for both parties at the scene of the incident to allege that the other is responsible.
Furthermore, the report might not be entirely accurate. If this has happened to you, you might need an experienced personal injury lawyer, and accident reconstruction team to show the insurance company or the court that you were not at fault.
Important California Liability Laws To Know
When it comes to California liability law and accidents, there are a few key laws of which you should be mindful. This includes the permissive use principle, which means that an owner of a vehicle who loans it to another licensed driver does not face unlimited damages in the event of an accident. California Vehicle Code section 17151(a) states the car owner is limited to $15,000 for injury to or death of one person, and $30,000 for injury or death of more than one person.
Another aspect of California liability law to be aware of has to do with accountable parties. More than one party can be held accountable in an auto accident. Imagine a scenario in which a commercial truck driver strikes your car and you learn he was under the influence or did not have the proper safety training to operate that truck. You might have grounds for a claim against the individual driver, as well as his employer company who could be considered an accountable party.
Be aware that even when responsibility for the accident is clear, you cannot pursue a case beyond the statute of limitations, which in California is usually two years, and can be as short as six months. This is why investigating whether to pursue legal action should occur as soon as possible after the accident happens.
Damages When The Other Party Has No Insurance
Recovery for the injured victim can be further complicated if the liability is clear but the other party does not have enough insurance, or they have no insurance at all. Fortunately, there are still ways to recover damages in this situation. By carrying optional uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, you have an additional source of recovery that can be used to pay for your medical treatment and care.
Know your rights under the California liability laws if you’ve been struck or hurt in a serious vehicle accident or if you’ve lost a loved one because of another party’s negligence. If you are involved in a car wreck, pursuing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver can help you obtain the compensation needed for your recovery.
This article was prepared by Dunnion Law, a Monterey-based law firm that handles personal injury accidents and claims exclusively. For more than 40 years, the attorneys at Dunnion Law have helped thousands of injured Californians recover more than $400,000,000. For more information about Dunnion Law, and the personal injury accidents mentioned, please visit www.dunnion.com, or contact us at 800.386.6466 (800.DUNNION).