Car Accident Liability
Car accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injuries and hospitalizations in the U. S., and are usually the result of driver negligence. Pursuing insurance claims and civil litigation can also be one of the most difficult and confusing processes for accident victims who attempt to handle cases on their own. The truth of the matter is that retaining a knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorney can make all the difference in achieving the compensation you deserve. Many injured people find this out the hard way. Experience is critical when dealing with insurance adjusters. They are trained professionals. Very few injury victims stand a chance in dealing with a trained adjuster.
We at the Law Offices of William C. Bibb have extensive experience in handling all aspects of automobile accident personal injury cases. I am well-versed in all of the tactics that insurance companies employ in order to avoid fully compensating accident victims. I also know the exact steps necessary to ensure that negligent drivers are held liable for their actions. In addition to providing for my clients' immediate medical care, I help establish damages for wage loss, pain and suffering, and wrongful death when appropriate. Liability, causation, and damages all require proof.
Statute of Limitations Guidelines
California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1 provides a time limit of two years for actions such as assault, battery, injury, or death to or on a person caused by the wrongful act of another person. That means that you only typically have two years from the date of your injury accident to pursue personal injury claims and damages. There are a number of factors and conditions that affect statute of limitation guidelines, one of them being that different time restrictions apply to filing personal injury complaints against government entities. Understanding and abiding by state and federal statute of limitation guidelines can be difficult for anyone not familiar with such protocols. I am committed to preserving the rights of my clients to achieve the compensation they deserve. I know when and how statutes of limitation apply to individual cases, and have the resources to challenge those time restrictions when necessary. Unfortunately, many good cases are lost by the passage of time.
The State of California defines negligent behavior as actions outside of what is listed in California Civil Code section 1714(a), meaning that every individual is responsible for his or her own willful acts, and any injuries caused to anyone else by lack of ordinary care or skill in the management or his or her property or person – except in cases where the other person has willfully or through his or her own lack of ordinary care brought the injury upon his or her self. This legal standard is referred to as the "reasonable man standard." Each of us is under a legal duty to act in a reasonable manner, exercising due care under the circumstances to avoid foreseeable injuries and damages to foreseeable persons.
The California Vehicle Code further defines the standard of care for protecting persons and property through the passage of safety statutes. Therefore, proving that the defendant in a car accident case violated the statute enacted to protect persons and property from injury or damage establishes the breach of the reasonable man standard. Showing evidence that the defendant ran a red light before causing your injury accident, for example, would establish his or her liability for damages.
Some examples of driver negligence include:
- exceeding the posted speed limit
- entering an intersection on a red light
- failing to yield
- not using headlights in the dark
Incidents of drunk driving and texting while driving are known to cause serious and fatal automobile, bicycle, and pedestrian injuries. These types of accidents can result in different and/or more serious tort claims.
The California Vehicle Code refers to the "basic speed law," which stipulates that motorists must not exceed speeds that conditions permit. Similarly, motorists must properly maintain their vehicles to prevent accidents. A vehicle's speedometer, headlights, brakes, and tires should be in working order. The California Vehicle Code also mandates that each person is under the duty to act as a reasonable person would act under similar circumstances – keeping a proper lookout, observing conditions on the road, and being careful for children and pets.
California negligence law operates under a system of "comparative negligence," which requires the court or jury to make determinations of percentages of fault. Consequently, two drivers that are found to have contributed to the cause of an injury accident may both be held partially liable for the incident.
"Damages" is a term used to describe what the court awards as monetary compensation. Multiple types of damages exist, and can be awarded in automobile accident injury cases. Economic damages are referred to as special damages, and can account for financial losses to the accident victim, such as medical expenses, property damage, and loss of earnings or wages.
General damages are based on the nature of the injury, and can account for issues like pain and suffering. Loss of consortium – which describes the loss of duties and support that a spouse performs – also falls under the category of general damages.
Future damages may be awarded if they are certain to happen, and can include the loss of earnings, expected promotions, planned surgeries, and future pain and suffering. Achieving future damages can be a complex process; it is for that reason that we at the Law Offices of William C. Bibb call upon expert witnesses specializing in everything from vocational rehabilitation to forensic economics to life-care planning to discuss future losses and evaluate their costs.
Punitive or “exemplary” damages are awarded in instances where the behavior of the defendant was found to be malicious, oppressive, fraudulent, and/or in conscious disregard of the safety of others. Insurance does not cover these damages in California.