ca car crash

Driving on Wet Roads 101

Millions of California commuters woke up to wet roads this morning, and as is the case every time California gets significant rainfall, water on the roadway has undoubtedly attributed to more than a few car accidents already this morning. Because some parts of California, such as Orange County and San Diego County can go many months in between rainfalls, our driving habits become tailored to driving on dry roads. As those who have been involved in a car accident due to wet weather will attest, a vehicle stops and goes differently when there's water on the road, and the difference is significant. Here are a few things to keep in mind that might help you avoid a car accident.

Give Yourself Space

Your car takes longer to stop on a wet road than it does on a dry road. The best thing you can do to avoid causing a rear-end car accident is give yourself space between the front of your car and the back of the nearest car in front of you. Of course you can't control other drivers' actions, but you are the only one who determines your speed. Most car accidents related to water or ice on the roadway are caused by drivers who rear-end the car in front of them because they don't give themselves enough room to stop. Tragically, many of these accidents result in injury to both the driver who causes the accident, and they also often result in injury to the passengers and driver of the car that was rear-ended. The more road you can see in front of you, the more likely you are going to be able to control your vehicle and come to a safe stop.

Pump Your Brakes

What about getting rear-ended? A rear end accident can cause severe injury, and can cause injury even at relatively low speeds. Many California drivers don't think there is anything they can do to avoid being hit from behind, but this is not entirely accurate. Rear-end accidents happen when the driver from behind does not stop in time, and hits the car in front. What many drivers don't consider is that by pumping their brakes, they cause their brake lights to turn on and off, which may alert the driver from behind that they are stopping. The flashing on and off of lights may catch the attention of the driver behind you, giving him or her an added 'heads up,' and possibly resulting in their ability to stop sooner. It isn't your job to teach the driver behind you how to drive, and the tactic is certainly not foolproof, but it is better than getting rear-ended and possibly injured!

Decent Tires Matter

Don't drive on bald tires. The tread of your tires matters, and the lower the tread gets, the less able you will be to stop suddenly on a wet road. Nobody likes replacing their tires, as most people can think of a lot of things they'd rather spend a couple hundred dollars on than tires. However, a car accident can cost you more than a couple hundred dollars, even if you're not at fault. And, if you're in an accident, and you're injured, the cost can easily creep into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. By comparison, putting a decent set of tires on your vehicle may not be such a terrible expense after all.

Pay Better Attention

It may be as simple as paying better attention that keeps you out of an accident. Your car won't stop as quickly when the roads are wet, and even if you're aware of this, chances are someone around you is not paying attention. Don't assume that everyone on the roadway is even considering that the driving conditions have changed and that the added precipitation on the road could be dangerous. Watch for vehicles who are driving recklessly and stay out of their way. Keep an eye out for vehicles driving too fast for the conditions. Let them pass, and even move aside if safe in order to let them go by - it is worth it to be behind an aggressive driver, even if you have to change lanes for a second. Also, watch for surges of water on the roadway, such as from drain pipes and from water coming off irrigation ditches and hillsides. 

If Involved in a Car Crash, Take Care of #1 (Yourself)

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a car crash during a rainstorm, you may be tempted to just get home as soon as possible, meaning you may not call the police or California Highway Patrol, or seek appropriate medical care. If you're injured, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. This means going to the Emergency Room, or Urgent Care, or your primary care physician as soon as you are able. The decision to forego medical treatment can limit your ability to recover financially for your injuries. Don't let the convenience of going directly home keep you from seeking appropriate medical care. In the long run, for both your health and your financial stability, the sooner you seek medical care, the better.

Get Help Dealing With Insurance Adjusters

If you were injured in a car crash, and especially if the crash happened during rainy conditions, don't expect the at-fault driver's insurance company to just pay your medical bills right away. In fact, because weather was a factor, they may seek to diminish the amount of liability they will take responsibility for, or deny liability altogether. Don't get taken advantage of by loopholes you're not aware of. A good injury attorney who represents clients in California car crashes will be able to guide you along the way and make sure you get a fair settlement for your medical bills and pain and suffering. The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent injured clients throughout California, and have recovered good settlements for their clients in motorcycle, auto, trucking, pedestrian, slip and fall, and dog bite cases. If you were injured and it was not your fault, you owe it to yourself to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you avoid the headache and frustration of trying to negotiate with an insurance adjuster on your own. Putting your case in the hands of an experienced professional can mean the difference of getting good health care, and can result in tens of thousands (or more) dollars added to your settlement. Contact the Lions today, and speak with an actual injury attorney (not a salesman). 

When to Call an Injury Attorney

Nobody expects to get injured in a car accident, and so people injured in auto crashes are often uncertain how to proceed. The reality is most people who are injured incur some medical expenses, and without the help of a personal injury lawyer, these same people often forego appropriate medical treatment because they don't know how they will pay for it. A common question injured victims face is when they should call an attorney, and what the attorney will do for them. There are a few common misconceptions that go against the injured, such as the assumption that an attorney only helps at the end, once medical treatment is complete.

What Kind of Injuries do 'Personal Injury' Law Firms Handle?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 31 million people each year seek treatment in a hospital or emergency room for accidental injuries. These injuries may include broken bones, muscle or tendon tears, cuts and burns, as well as accidental ingestion of toxins and damage to internal organs. The most common causes of injuries are:

  • Automobile accidents, including motorcycle and trucking accidents
  • Bicycle/pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Strike by a falling object
  • Dog bites
  • Medical error (commonly assumed to be medical malpractice)
  • Defective or dangerous products (often called 'product liability' cases)

Most of these accidents involve someone else's negligence. In California, if you were injured in one of these situations, and someone else is partially or fully to blame (liability), they may be responsible for making you "whole" again, or providing the financial means to pay for your medical treatment to help you recover to the state of health you were in prior to the accident or car crash. 

When to Call an Injury Attorney or Car Crash Law Firm

In California, you have two years to file your claim for your injury. After two years, you cannot recover money for your injury. This rule, called the statute of limitations, applies regardless of where in California you live. For example, the statute of limitations for car crashes is the same whether you live in Orange County, Los Angeles County, or in the Bay Area. All California residents must file before the two year limit. The same applies for visitors to the state of California.

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If you were injured in a car crash, you should call an injury attorney as soon as possible. There are many reasons why time is very important right after your injury. For example, the at-fault driver's insurance will likely push you to accept a small amount of money as a settlement. Their insurance may pressure you to make a recorded statement, which will most often be used against you in the future. Many people have a hard time seeing an appropriately trained doctor soon after a crash; many law firms can help injured people gain access to lien-based medical treatment, meaning the doctors will treat the patient at no out of pocket cost to the person, and the law firm will pay the doctor when they win the case.

Don't Settle Your Claim Alone

Most people assume that if they hire an attorney, they will need to either pay the lawyer a lot of money up front, or they will have to pay a large portion of their settlement to the law firm. In many cases, the injured person does not know what his or her case is worth. It can be very difficult to know if the settlement amount the insurance is offering is fair. In most cases, an experienced California injury attorney will be able to compare your case against thousands of other injury claims in order to determine how much money is fair and reasonable. Once an amount is determined, a good injury law firm will have a specific strategy to achieve the best possible outcome for their client. Also, most car crash lawyers in California are willing to work on a contingency fee basis, meaning the lawyer does not take a fee unless he or she wins. This is good for plaintiffs (the injured) because most people do not have cash on hand, ready to pay a lawyer just in case they are injured. 

Don't Underestimate Car Insurance Claims Adjusters

Auto insurance adjusters may seem friendly on the phone, but make no mistake, their job is to get you to accept as little money as possible to settle your claim. After all, these are multi-billion dollar publicly-traded companies that are trying to make as much money as possible. Next time you're watching sports, pay attention to how many insurance companies are advertising during commercial breaks. Why do they do this? Auto insurance is an extremely profitable industry. That's all fine, of course, but when you're injured and the person who caused your injury has an insurance policy that is supposed to cover the costs of your medical treatment, you should not have to fight tooth and nail to get what is rightfully owed you. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters often rely heavily on complex computer algorithms, meaning no matter how friendly you are to them, or visa versa, at the end of the day, the computer spits out a number and that is how much money they will try to get you to settle for. With an injury attorney who knows what he or she is doing, that computer-generated number is meaningless.

Future Medical Care and "Pain and Suffering"

You should call an injury law firm when you are trying to figure out how to pay for future medical expenses. Depending on your injury, the cost of your future medical expenses may be large. It can be difficult to know whether you have calculated enough money to cover future medical costs. Many California car accident law firms hire expert witnesses to calculate how much a client will need to treat their injury in the future.

Another challenging aspect injured persons encounter is how to calculate general damages, commonly known as "pain and suffering" damages or money. This amount is the money the at-fault person pays to compensate you for the pain they put you in. How much is your pain worth? Experienced injury attorneys can look at past cases and build your claim based on their knowledge of California case law. Pain and suffering damages are not commonly offered by insurance companies, and a good lawyer will fight hard to recover as much money as possible on your behalf.

The Lions Injury Lawyers are proud to represent clients throughout California, from San Diego all the way to the Oregon border and everywhere in between. If you were injured, you owe it to yourself to speak with a good attorney. You have nothing to lose, and even a short conversation with a good injury law firm will give you peace of mind, if nothing else, that you are proceeding correctly. You will speak with a lawyer (not a salesman), who will answer your questions and give you a free, no pressure evaluation.

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Car Accidents Involving Large Trucks: What You Should Know

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It's no surprise that the large semi trucks that carry much of the food we eat and the products we use throughout the country can cause serious safety threats to other drivers on the road. After all, most of these trucks weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds, and are nowhere near as agile and maneuverable as a common automobile. California highways are sometimes choked with trucks, which is due to the large population of California, as well as the several shipping ports, where the trucks receive their loads from abroad for distribution in California and throughout the country. If you're driving on California highways, there are a few safety tips you should be aware of in order to stay safe.

Remembering Elementary School Science: Inertia

Remember learning about objects in motion staying in motion until another force acts upon it to slow it down? A large truck will stay in motion unless the driver tries to slow it down. This is all common sense. The catch is, even when the driver of the truck tries to stop the truck's intertia, depending on how big and heavy the truck is, it can take a very long time to slow a moving truck. Now consider how fast trucks travel on California freeways - usually at least 60-70 miles per hour. Going this speed, it can take a great distance for a typical 18 wheeler carrying a normal load to slow. Now recall how often you see passenger vehicles, like your standard car or SUV, dart in and out of traffic. Large trucks cannot stop in time to avoid contact, it is as simple as that.

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Driver Fatigue and the Laws Regulating Trucker Drive Hours

Truck drivers make their living by carrying loads from point A to point B. The more distance they travel, the more money they make. There are regulations in place to keep truck drivers from getting too tired and drowsy to drive, but the reality is that truck drivers get tired and occasionally doze off or fall asleep at the wheel, often times causing collisions with other cars. The laws regulating truck driver hours are not always clear cut, either. For example, consider the "14-Hour Limit," which states that commercial truck drivers cannot  "drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period." This limitation applies to truck drivers who are carrying goods and products in their cargo, while other limitations apply if truck drivers are carrying passengers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates truck driver hours, and these limits apply to the following drivers in specific vehicles only, known as a "CMV" vehicle: 

In general, a CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

While these regulations certainly prevent some drivers from driving too long and becoming dangerous due to the human propensity to need sleep and doze off after long hours of driving, the rules to not obviously apply to all potentially dangerous drivers. Not all trucks meet or exceed the weight limits, or are transporting goods requiring special placards. 

Common Trucking Accidents or Crashes

There are several categorizations of car crashes, and those involving commercial trucking vehicles tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Rear end collision (usually from common cars cutting in front of trucks and the truck can't slow)
  • Head on collisions (often from cars darting in front of a truck, again, trucks cannot slow down)
  • Jacknifes
  • Rollovers
  • Sideswipe
  • T-bone or other side-impact collisions (often resulting from vehicles turning into the path of the truck, which is unable to avoid collision due to an inability to slow in time)
  • Cargo shift causing rollover or jacknife
  • Cargo spill

Trucking Accidents Resulting in Injury

Tragically, many crashes involving commercial trucks result in injury. Sometimes, the injuries are non life-threatening, such as whiplash, sore neck and back, and what are categorized as "soft tissue" injuries. Unfortunately, due to the heavy nature of commercial trucks, many auto versus truck accidents result in catastrophic injury and death. The amount of property damage a truck can cause a pedestrian vehicle is also significantly greater than a typical auto versus auto car crash.

Trucking Accidents Often Result in Fire

When an 18-wheeler crashes into a small SUV, for example, the result is often fatal, sometimes due to fire. Crashes with trucks often result in fire, as the trucks necessitate large amounts of petroleum based fuel, or gasoline. Fortunately, as clean(er) energy options enter the market (such as the newly-announced truck from California's own Tesla), future crashes with trucks may be less likely to result in fire. Many large players in the domestic shipping business have placed orders for the Tesla truck, so hopefully the technology will soon spread throughout the industry, bringing safer trucks to the roads.

What To Do If You Were Injured by a Truck

If you were injured while traveling in California by a truck, you should first take care of your health. Seek medical attention immediately. Proceed to take care of yourself and any passengers involved as you would with a common accident - your health is most important. When you are able to think clearly and are beginning to try to figure out how to recover financially and physically, a call to a California injury law firm may be beneficial. Trucking companies are often represented by aggressive law firms that tend to deny liability on all crashes, sometimes even in contradiction with reports issued by the California Highway patrol or the local police department. Even if you think you were not at fault and that it is obvious that the trucker was at fault, do not assume the truck's insurance company will pay for your medical bills. In fact, if you were injured by a truck, you are actually more likely to face an uphill battle in recovering your costs. 

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent injured plaintiffs throughout the state of California, and are ready to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have. The sooner you discuss your injury claim with an experienced and trusted attorney, the more likely the attorney will be able to help you. When you call The Lions, you will speak directly with an injury attorney, not a salesman. Access to a lawyer who is experienced in handling California injury claims will help you navigate the often complicated world of injury insurance claim settlements.

Dealing With Your Car Insurance After A Car Crash

Despite writing that monthly check to your auto insurance for liability and injury coverage, most people are understandably confused regarding what happens following a car crash when it comes to speaking with insurance. The assumption is that everything will be taken care of. After all, that is why you pay for insurance, right? And if you were not at fault for the car crash, why would you have anything to worry about? Unfortunately, reality is less cut and dry, and there are several things you should (and should not do) when communicating with your insurance provider following a car crash, especially an accident that resulted in injury to you or your passengers.

What Does Your Insurance Cover

In California, the state minimum policy, or the least amount of insurance you need to legally drive in the state, is a 15/30 policy. This is the amount of insurance coverage that is likely to cost you the least amount of money. What do the numbers mean? The 15 represents $15,000 for bodily injury you cause another individual. That is, if you injure someone, your insurance will pay up to $15,000 towards their medical bills and pain and suffering. This amount must cover everything, and is the maximum amount of money any one individual can recover as a result of an accident that was your fault. Even if that person's medical bills exceed $15,000, that's the most your insurance will pay. If you were injured by someone who has this insurance policy, the most you can recover from their insurance is $15,000. Even if your medical bills are extremely high, let's say $500,000, you will only get a check for $15,000 (in the best case scenario) from the at fault driver's insurance. 

The second number represents $30,000, or the total amount that your insurance will pay towards injury claims from a given accident. This means if there were multiple people injured, they must divide all their claims into the $30,000; if, for example, ten people were hurt, and each have $100,000, the total amount any one person can get is $15,000, and the entire group's net recovery cannot exceed $30,000. Given the high cost of medical care, a 15/30 or "bare minimum" insurance policy may not be enough to cover the medical bills and pain and suffering of those involved in the crash.

Will Your Insurance Premiums Be Increased?

The short answer is no, not automatically. This depends on whether you were at fault, and whether you were issued a citation or ticket from the California Highway Patrol or another law enforcement office. The amount you pay for car insurance depends on what you use your car for (business or pleasure), what kind of car you drive, where you live, what your driving/criminal records looks like, among other factors. If you were not at fault in a car accident, you should not see an increase in your insurance premiums. If you were at fault, you will likely see an increase. This is because it will cost more for your insurance company to insure you, and you are a greater risk of costing more money to insure in the future.

When Should You Report A Car Accident To Your Insurance?

Most people don't want to talk to their insurance because they don't want to see their bills increase. However, if you were injured, or someone else was injured, you should call your insurance company. Also, if property damage exceeds $500, or is likely to exceed that amount, you should call your insurance company. Some insurance policies (the "contract" between you and your insurance) require you talk notify them immediately after any motor vehicle collision.

What Should You Say To Your Insurance Following A Crash?

They need to know where it happened, when, any contact information from the other vehicles involved, and a basic explanation of the crash. That's it. You do not need to try to explain everything. In fact, doing so is likely to hurt you more than help you. Don't accept fault for the accident, and don't give a full list of possible injuries to you or anyone else. If you were injured, say you were injured and you have not yet visited a doctor. If you give a detailed accounting of injuries, you may miss something, and you will most certainly not give an accurate accounting of your injuries when compared to your medical records. This enables insurance adjusters to deny payment towards medical treatment later. You therefore shoot yourself in the foot by trying to be helpful. 

What Shouldn't You Say Following A Crash?

First, make sure you're safely off the road and are emotionally in a good spot. Too many people try to get on the phone with their insurance when their vehicle is still in the roadway, or they are in shock and still flustered from the accident. Take care of yourself first.

  • Don't admit fault. Just don't give your opinion. State the facts as simply and straightforward as you can. 
  • Don't say you are uninjured, or were not injured. If you feel pain a day or two later, which is very common, you may negate your ability to recover in the future. If you have medpay, or excess liability coverage, for example, your insurance policy that you've been paying for may cover you. It won't cover you if you make a statement that to you seems harmless, but allows your own insurance company do deny payment later on. 
  • Don't give a recorded or "official" statement. It won't help you and it can only hurt you. Sounds overly critical of insurance company, perhaps. But attorneys that handle car accident injuries regularly in California have seen time after time cases where the injured person makes a seemingly harmless recorded statement that is later used against that person. If you make a recorded statement (some insurance providers require this), you should do so only after consulting with an attorney. 
  • Don't estimate. Communicate the facts and stick to that. The more you try to connect the dots, the more likely you are to make a statement that although it sounds harmless to you, will prejudice your case in the future. This means it will work against you in the future. Keep it simple.
  • Don't sign medical records or releases. The insurance adjuster may say this is required, but it is not. You should consult with your attorney prior to signing medical release forms. 

Don't Settle Without First Consulting With An Attorney

Above all else, if you are considering settling, you should first speak with an injury law firm or an attorney who handles injury cases. Even if your case seems simple and straightforward, there are many loopholes that allow insurance companies to settle for less than fair value. If you don't know any better, you are likely leaving money on the table. Settling without an attorney almost always means you will get less money in your pocket. 

Depending on the facts of your case, you may be leaving large amounts of money on the table that you don't even know about. This is money that you have been paying for as part of your insurance premiums, or is money that the at-fault party is covered for. Remember, insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They want to spend as little money as possible on your claim. The less money they spend on your case, the more money they keep in the business. However, this does not mean you are getting a fair settlement for your California injury claim. Don't pad the pockets of the insurance company by accepting less than fair value. 

California Car Accident and Injury Attorneys

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. handle injury claims throughout the state of California. The lawyers at The Lions Injury Lawyers do not work on other matters, but focus exclusively on injury cases. This means they have the experience and knowledge to help you get fair compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one were injured, the attorneys at The Lions Injury Lawyers will answer your questions free of charge. All representation is done on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will never have to write a check or pay for your attorney out of pocket. Your fee is taken as a percentage of the amount your attorney wins on your behalf. If your attorney does not win, you owe nothing for the services provided. Also, you will speak directly with an attorney, not a salesperson. Don't sign up with an injury law firm after speaking with only a salesperson. Salespersons are fine at selling tires and perfume, but when it comes to your health and financial wellbeing, you deserve to speak with an attorney. Contact The Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free consult.