Oxnard CA Car Accident Lawyer
The iconic United States Highway 101 hugs much of the Pacific Coast and passes through Oxnard, California. According to 2020 Census figures, Oxnard claims 202,063 residents. The population as of April 2020 in Ventura County stands at 843,843.
With a sizeable population and well-traveled roads, you face appreciable odds of being in a car accident. If such an incident befalls you, the consequences could leave you physically, emotionally, and financially harmed. Below, we answer questions that typically arise in a personal injury claim after a car accident.
Who is at Fault?
As with most states, California law holds the at-fault driver responsible for paying the damages of the injured person. Fault typically arises from a violation of the rules of the road.
Excessive or unsafe speed contributes to many serious car crashes. In 2019, roughly one out of every four traffic fatalities nationwide had speeding as a culprit in the crash. A study of 2016 crashes in California reported that speeding contributed to 29 percent of the 3,623 deaths from motor vehicle crashes. Under California law, speeding represents a factor to be considered in a driver’s negligence. Depending on the circumstances, driving above the posted speed limit can constitute negligence.
California and its municipalities have “presumed” speed limits. In such zones, a statute or ordinance sets the speed limit when it is not posted. For example, the presumed limit stands at 25 miles per hour in school zones, residential districts, and business districts. Oxnard’s city ordinance establishes presumed limits for various streets and roads within Oxnard. By illustration, the presumed limit on Camino Del Sol Street from Oxnard Boulevard to Del Norte Boulevard stands at 45 miles per hour.
Other Grounds For Fault
Other actions and omissions cause car accidents. These include:
*Unsafe passing on the right
*Running a stop sign or red light
*Using a handheld wireless phone while driving
*Not giving turn signals
*Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
What If I Was Negligent?
If you violate a traffic law or drive unsafely, you do not necessarily lose all chance at recovery for your injuries. California operates as a “pure comparative negligence” state. You experience a deduction of your compensation based on the percentage of your fault. For instance, if you’re 60 percent at fault, you recover only 40 percent of your damages. As a pure comparative negligence state, California does not bar compensation if your negligence exceeds a particular threshold, such as 50 percent.
What Are the Types of Compensation From a Car Accident — And the Limits?
Serious automobile wrecks can translate to significant injuries. You may suffer broken bones, burns, cuts, bruises, and concussions. Spinal cord injuries might leave victims paralyzed, while traumatic brain injuries lead to memory loss, depression, other mental illnesses, and declining motor skills. Your damages from these and other personal injuries have economic and non-economic components.
Economic damages represent actual dollars you lose at the hands of a motor vehicle crash. You quantify economic losses through medical expenses, lost wages, and lost earning capacity or lost future wages.
Medical expenses arise from your stay in hospitals, surgeries, doctor’s visits, physical therapy sessions, medications, and the ambulance ride. California law recognizes your medical expenses as what your insurance or you actually had to pay, not necessarily your bill. Insurers and medical providers often negotiate or have arrangements for insurers to pay only a portion of the actual bill. Medicare or Medicaid may recover from your settlement or verdict at least part, if not all, of the benefits either program paid on your behalf for medical expenses arising from the crash.
With lost wages, you normally multiply your hourly pay rate times the number of hours you missed work. A count of the days missed can come from your own testimony or that of your employer.It helps to have a doctor’s note or finding on when you should have remained away from work.
If you spend four days out of work, you work eight hours per day, and you fetch $15 per hour, your lost wages total $480. For eight weeks away from the job (not counting Saturdays or Sundays), a worker with 40-hour work weeks at $15 per hour can claim lost wages of $4,800.
Lost Earning Capacity
Lost wages refer to past income, while lost earning capacity compensates you for lost future income. Proving lost future earnings requires a showing that you likely would have earned that income but for the injury. Your lost earning capacity takes into account past work, the job you performed at the time of the wreck, the types of injuries, your age, and your education.
You may have heard the phrase “pain and suffering.” This refers to physical pain and discomfort, shock, physical and mental trauma, anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and other emotional distress from the crash.
Pain and suffering constitutes part of the non-economic damages from a crash. Other injuries in this category include loss of your ability to engage in recreational or other daily activities and the loss of companionship or society of your spouse or others. For instance, photographs or images of visits or walks you once took to Mandalay State Beach, Oxnard State Beach and Park, or the harbor areas can demonstrate the loss of society or recreation.
Non-economic harm does not have a truly objective measurement. Quantifying pain and suffering and other non-economic damages involves considerable subjectiveness. California law does not cap non-economic damages in motor vehicle wreck cases. To evaluate the value of your pain and suffering and other non-economic losses, adjusters or personal injury lawyers may apply a multiplier to medical expenses. This multiplier takes into account the seriousness of the physical injuries. For instance, if you apply a multiplier of “4” to medical expenses of $20,000, your non-economic damages would total $80,000. In some instances, plaintiffs or their lawyers may use a “per diem” approach of assigning a per-day dollar figure to the number of days you may reasonably be expected to experience pain and suffering.
While California law does not have a dollar-cap on non-economic damages in car wreck, it does not permit “joint and several liability” for non-economic losses. By “joint and several,” we mean that all defendants and each of them would bear responsibility for all losses. If you’re in a wreck caused by multiple drivers, such as a multiple rear-end crash, the fault of each driver is apportioned for purposes of non-economic losses. For example, if two at-fault drivers were equally blameworthy and you have total non-economic losses of $50,000, each at-fault driver would be liable only for $25,000.
When Must I File a Lawsuit For My Wreck
Statutes of limitations set deadlines for parties to file a lawsuit. If you seek compensation for injuries from an automobile wreck, that deadline stands at two years from the date of the wreck. California law uses the date of the crash as the starting point because a victim has suffered at least some harm. The statute of limitations starts running even if you do not know or experience the full extent of your harm on the crash date.
If you or your child has not reached eighteen (18) years old on the date of the wreck, the two-year deadline does not start running until you or the child becomes 18. Thus, any such person has until the 20th birthday to file a lawsuit.
How Do I Get Paid For My Injuries?
If a private passenger vehicle collides with you, look first to the at-fault driver’s insurance. California motorists must have liability insurance of at least $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident.
If the at-fault driver lacks liability insurance, you need uninsured motorist coverage on your vehicle. Underinsured motorist coverage fills the gap when your losses exceed the limits or coverage of the at-fault driver’s liability insurance. As a prerequisite to recovering from your uninsured or underinsured coverage, you must establish the fault of the other driver. In effect, your own automobile insurance company defends against your personal injury claim.
The liability insurance limits rise much higher for commercial buses and commercial trucks. For commercial passenger motor carriers, the figures turn on the number of passengers the vehicle can hold:
*$750,000 (Seven or less)
*$1,500,000 (Eight to 15)
*$5,000,000 (16 or more)
Ridesharing companies such as Uber and Lyft feature drivers using their own vehicles to transport customers to various destinations. These transportation network companies (TNCs) match drivers with passengers through the use of apps. You may have used one, for example, for a ride to and from the Los Angeles International Airport.
California law establishes minimum coverage requirements based upon the use of the vehicle at a particular point in time, or “periods.” In period “0,” the driver need only carry the minimums required for private passenger vehicles. This period applies when the driver does not have on the app. Where the driver has the app running but has not been matched or paired with a passenger (“Period 1”), the minimum liability coverages stand at $50,000 per person or $100,000 per crash. If the driver has the app and a passenger (“Periods 2 and 3”), California law requires a minimum of $1 million of liability coverage.
Uber provides its drivers liability coverage of $50,000 per person and $100,000 per crash. For Lyft drivers, these coverages apply if the driver does not furnish insurance on the vehicle.
What Should I Do If I Am in a Car Accident?
Get medical attention at the scene. Should the first responders recommend it, take an ambulance to the hospital. Otherwise, have yourself examined at an emergency room or by a physician as soon as you can. Follow the recommended treatment. Neglecting medical care could aggravate medical problems and open you to an argument that you have failed to reduce your damages.
Capture the Crash Scene
Take photographs of the vehicles involved. You want to capture the location and severity of the impact. Significant damage from a collision may support your contentions of fractures or other trauma. The photographs or videos also show the point of the crash. Skidmarks could indicate that the at-fault driver may have been following too close or driving too fast to avoid the crash. You may want to photograph or indicate any security cameras from nearby buildings or a redlight camera to indicate who ran a redlight or how the crash occurred.
Minimize Your Statements
Saying “I’m sorry” might raise an argument that you admitted your own fault in the wreck. Comments such as “I’m fine” or “not hurt” might undermine your claim of injuries if you in fact claim serious injuries. Also, prior to a lawsuit, you have no obligation to talk to the other driver’s insurance company. If you volunteer to such an interview, you may unwittingly make comments that support the insurance company’s defense of your claims.
Contact an Oxnard CA Car Accident Lawyer Today
Before you talk to the other driver’s insurance company or accept a settlement check, contact us for a free consultation and case evaluation. An initial consultation usually involves explaining to the attorney how the wreck happened and your injuries. We will let you know about every legal option available to you.