Car accidents occur daily throughout the country. Every sixty seconds, at least one car accident happens somewhere in the U.S. Because of how universal cars are, some drivers don't realize how dangerous car accidents are and engage in reckless or dangerous behaviour.

In the United States, motor vehicle accidents are the most frequent cause of personal injuries. Nearly 2 million people are injured in motor vehicle crashes annually. Meanwhile, approximately 200,000 people are injured every year in California due to major car accidents.

Getting involved in a car accident isn't easy. Victims have to deal with the pain of getting injured and the stress of facing expensive medical bills and lost income. This is why hiring a capable California car accident lawyer is necessary if you're involved in a car accident.

In California, all drivers are required by law to practice safe driving. Violating traffic safety laws or driving recklessly even if it doesn't result in an accident is punishable by law. Unfortunately, irresponsible drivers often put others at risk due to their reckless behaviour. If you have been injured due to another driver's carelessness, you have the right to hold them accountable for their negligence.

Driver Negligence in California

When proving negligence in a car accident claims in California, the plaintiff must be able to provide proof of the following elements of negligence:

  • The other driver breached his duty of operating his or her vehicle safely.
  • The actions and decisions of the other driver caused the accident.
  • The accident resulted in injuries and monetary losses.

Negligence and reckless driving come hand in hand. Reckless driving in California is defined as someone "who drives a vehicle upon a highway with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property" ( California Vehicle Code Section 23103).

Drivers who operate their vehicles aggressively or recklessly are putting other people's lives unnecessarily at risk. Innocent people shouldn't have to suffer due to someone's careless actions on the road. Drivers who operate their vehicles in such a manner should be held liable for the damages and injuries they cause.

The following are just some examples of reckless driving:

  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Not watching the road
  • Tailgating
  • Sudden Braking
  • Making illegal turns
  • Failing to yield right of way
  • Failing to use turn signals
  • Street Racing
  • Passing on the wrong side of the road
  • Running stop signs or red lights
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
  • Changing lanes dangerously

Proving the negligence of the defendant can be more complicated than victims realize. If you wish to prove the defendant's negligence, you must have a California car accident lawyer by your side. Lawyers know their way around the law and have the tools and resources that can help you win your case.

How Negligence May Affect Your Settlement or Award

Comparative Negligence

Comparative negligence is typically used to determine liability in a car accident in California. Comparative negligence means both parties in an accident might share fault depending on the specifics of the situation. A claimant can be partly responsible for causing a wreck yet still eligible for compensation.

For example, in an accident that is caused by a driver running a red light while the other made an improper turn, the first driver maybe 60 per cent at fault while the second will take 20 per cent fault.

Contributory Negligence

Contributory negligence is more strict and complicated than comparative negligence. Contributory negligence is defined as the failure of the injured plaintiff to act prudently. If it is proven that they contributed to their injuries in any way, the amount that they'll recover from their claim may be reduced.

To put it in simpler terms, if the injured party shared any responsibility for their injuries in the accident, their compensation might be reduced. In some cases, they may not receive any compensation at all.

What To Do After An Accident to Help Prove Negligence

The actions you take after a car accident may greatly affect the results of your claim. Being involved in a car accident may leave you confused and shocked at first, but here are some measures you should take to help you prove the negligence of the other party:

  • Report it to local authorities. Write down an accurate and detailed report about the events that took place, including any deaths, injuries, or substantial property damage in your report.
  • Don't hesitate to record or take pictures of the scene. Especially these days, almost everyone's mobile phones are equipped with cameras. Use it to your advantage and record and document the scene. Take pictures of the other driver's license, insurance card, license plates, and any visible damages. Don't forget to take pictures of the street names, traffic lights, and signs as well.
  • Get the contact details of both the witnesses and the involved party. Make sure that you ask for their full name, phone numbers, and addresses for easy contact in the future.
  • Preserve evidence by taking a picture of the extent of your injuries as well.
  • Immediately seek the assistance of an experienced California car accident lawyer.

Some victims tend to make the mistake of unintentionally admitting fault after an accident. To avoid this, here are some things you should absolutely not do after an accident:

  • Say sorry to the other party. By apologizing, you are admitting fault in a way.
  • Speaking with the other party's insurance company without your attorney. Some insurance agents are master manipulators and may try to take advantage of you, especially if you are unfamiliar with the law. Having an attorney represent you on your behalf will reduce the odds of getting manipulated by insurance companies.
  • Give a recorded statement to the other party or insurance companies. You may be unaware of it, but they will try to use it against you in a way.
  • Don't let your car be towed to their tow yard. Insist that they tow it to your home.

The Statute of Limitations in California

The statute of limitations for personal injuries in California is two years from the date of the injury. This means that those injured in a car accident have two years from the date of their injury to file a personal injury case.

Two years may seem like a long time; however, it goes by fast after a car accident, leaving some victims with only a short window of time to get the appropriate paperwork filed. You must contact a compassionate California reckless driver accident attorney as soon as you can after your accident.