Simi Valley Car Accident Lawyer
According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Simi Valley claimed 126,356 residents. The city covers approximately 42 square miles. Yet, in its own right, this community roughly 37 miles northwest of Los Angeles boasts many characteristics of an urban area.
Traffic represents one of those qualities. Consider that the average worker of at least age 16 years spends almost 31 minutes traveling to work in Simi Valley (per Census figures, 2015-2019). From Highway 118, you can connect to major thoroughfares such as Interstate 5 and U.S. Highway 101.
With such a density in population and traffic, the chances you will be involved in a motor vehicle crash should grab your attention. Automobile wrecks may lead to injuries and damages for which you may have substantial claims and need for an attorney’s help.
The Causes of Car Accidents and the Consequences
California is an at-fault state when it comes to compensating victims of motor vehicle crashes. Generally, the negligent driver or drivers must pay for your injuries to the extent of the driver or drivers’ fault.
Fault generally refers to a negligent act or omission of the drivers involved. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs factors in serious consequences, even death, to those involved in a crash. In 2019, alcohol use contributed to 1,066 deaths from motor vehicle crashes. That year, of the drivers killed in a wreck, one out of every two tested positive for a controlled substance.
Drivers using smartphones and cell phones often lose attention of the road and traffic. Consider that drivers can travel 100 yards with five seconds of texting and driving at 55 miles per hour. According to a survey, nearly 58 percent of drivers in California in 2019 were struck or almost struck thanks to a driver using a cellphone. California bans the use of cellphones by hand.
Fault also arises from speeding, following too closely, reckless driving, disobeying traffic lights and signs, and not driving in a manner appropriate for the road, traffic, and weather conditions. Accidents also happen when drivers fail to signal turns or lane changes. These omissions result in drivers’ not having sufficient warning or notice of car movements.
Under California’s pure comparative negligence approach, you bear responsibility for your damages proportional to your fault. For example, if a jury considered you to be 65 percent at fault and found your damages to be worth $100,000, the other driver would be liable to you for $35,000.
Types of Injuries
According to the Insurance Information Institute, automobile crashes in California claimed 3,606 lives.
Aside from death, automobile crashes injure drivers, motorists, and pedestrians physically, emotionally, and mentally. These personal injuries include:
*Soft-tissue injuries such as contusions, bruises, sprains
*Traumatic brain injuries, resulting in memory loss, blurred vision, headaches, mood swings and disorders, sleep disturbance, excessive sleeping, behavioral problems, and loss of coordination
*Spinal cord injuries, resulting in paralysis, loss of strength or sensation, and reduced mobility or total immobility
*Shock, embarrassment, and anxiety
*Facial or other skin disfigurement
Bodily and psychological injuries from a crash generate economic and non-economic damages. California law compensates you for both, within certain limits.
Economic losses are measured largely on an objective basis. These represent lost dollars because of the crash.
California law allows you to recover the amounts paid by you, your health insurance, or med pay coverage (more on that below) for medical expenses. These consist of payments for:
*Emergency room visit and care
*Hospital stay and care
*Visits to and treatments by physicians, doctor’s offices, physical therapists, psychologists, mental health counselors, home health nurses, nursing homes
*Prescriptions for pain and other injuries caused by the wreck
*Wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, and other medical equipment to assist with movement
Your damages do not include necessarily the entire amount billed by healthcare providers. Health insurers and hospitals, doctors, and other providers may have arrangements for reduction of bills. Moreover, Medicare and Medicaid have a right to recover from personal injury verdicts or settlements payments for injuries caused by the crash. This right of reimbursement is subject to reduction based on certain circumstances such as the financial condition of the injured person and the seriousness and duration of the injuries.
You can recover the wages you lost from missed work. Time or days you spend at the hospital or attending appointments with your doctor or therapist count so long as the treatments relate to injuries caused by the crash. The fact that a physician writes you out as unavailable for a certain period of time can support your claim of missed time. Generally, you can include sick days or personal days used for appointments. Typically, you multiply your hourly wage by the number of hours you lost to get past lost income.
Lost future income brings into play the jobs or opportunities that a wreck takes from you. These economic damages require proof that you would have reasonably been able to obtain such opportunities. Courts and juries will examine your age, prior work experience, education, and physical and mental condition.
Automobile wrecks cause a lot of damages that you cannot objectively quantify. Pain and suffering feature prominently among these non-economic injuries. These damages arise from the physical pain, discomfort, anxiety, stress, and other mental distress that occurs in and following a crash. Your medical records and observations of family and friends can show your depression, withdrawal, aches, pains, insomnia, and mood swings.
Disfigurement, depression, and pain may limit your willingness or ability to recreate or perform daily activities. Your photographs or images of past visits to beaches, the Corriganville Movie Ranch, the Arryo Simi Bike Path, Rocky Peak Trail, and other Simi Valley landmarks can capture recreational or pleasure activities taken from you by the crash.
Your spouse may have personal injuries even if your spouse was not involved in the crash. These loss of consortium claims compensate you for the loss of affection, companionship, and society.
Limits on Non-Economic Damages
For non-economic damages from a car accident, California law imposes no specific dollar caps. Personal injury attorneys may use the multiplier method or per diem method to place a dollar amount on non-economic injuries.
In the multiplier approach, your pain and suffering damages is the product of your economic losses and some factor to account for the severity of your injuries. For example, if your economic losses total $50,000, and a jury were to apply a multiplier of five, your non-economic losses would stand at $250,000. Your total recovery would come to $300,000.
The per diem method assigns a dollar figure per day for each day of recovery. If a jury decided you needed 60 days to recover and set your per diem at $200 per day, your non-economic damages would reach $12,000.
Getting Compensation for Your Injuries
The at-fault driver’s liability insurance represents the first source of payment for your personal injuries. Drivers of private passenger vehicles in California must carry liability insurance of at least $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident.
Certain vehicles bring higher liability limits. For Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing drivers, the limits rise to $50,000 per person or $100,000 per accident when the app is activated, but the driver does not have a passenger. California law requires minimum liability coverage of $1 million for ridesharing drivers with both the app on and a passenger. Uber and Lyft offer their drivers liability insurance with limits of $50,000/$100,000.
If you’re hit by a commercial vehicle, you likely will have access to greater amounts to satisfy your injury claims. Commercial vehicles have minimum liability coverage based on the seating capacity. A vehicle that can hold seven or less passengers must carry $750,000. With a capacity between eight and 15, the minimum rests at $1,500,000. Vehicles with a capacity of at least 16 must have liability coverage of $5,000,000.
Uninsured or Underinsured
If the other drivers lack insurance or don’t have enough to cover your injuries, you may resort to uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. These insurance benefits come from your own automobile insurance if you purchased the coverage before the crash. To get compensation from uninsured or underinsured policies, you must show that the other driver was at fault. Your automobile insurer can raise defenses against you, such as a lack of fault of the other driver or your own fault in the form of comparative negligence.
California’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
California law gives you two years to sue for death or personal injury caused by an at-fault party. In motor vehicle cases, this statute of limitations starts its run from the date of the crash. This is so even if you have not reached the fullest possible recovery or returned to work.
Mistakes to Avoid After a Motor Vehicle Crash
Beyond waiting too long to sue, your actions and non-actions after the wreck may complicate your claim for compensation. These mistakes include:
*Leaving the scene of the crash before law enforcement arrives and you get information on the other drivers, vehicles, insurance carriers, and passengers
*Apologizing for the crash, as it might create an appearance that you were at least partially, if not totally, at fault
*Telling others you’re not hurt when in fact you are or may be hurt
*Not seeking medical treatment
*Speaking to the other driver’s insurance company
*Accepting and cashing a settlement check without first consulting with a personal injury attorney
*Not getting a crash report
You want to document as much of the crash scene as possible. Take video or photographs of the crash scene or have someone do so for you if you’re not able. Note the presence of cameras on nearby buildings, skid marks, debris, and bottles of pills or alcohol in or near the other vehicle. You might even want to fetch feed from a television station or from someone who captured the crash or scene with a smartphone or video camera.
Contact a Simi Valley Car Accident Lawyer
Rather than jeopardizing any compensation that you might receive, contact the Oxnard personal injury lawyer at Quirk Accident & Injury Attorneys, APC for a no-cost confidential consultation and case review at your earlies opportunity. We can talk about how the accident has affected you and your family, and your questions will be answered too. After that, we can talk about how you can best control your case.