If you happen to get involved in a California car accident, you are more likely to suffer from bodily injuries and property damage in most cases. In some car crashes and collisions, these injuries can sometimes be fatal. However, vehicle design in the last twenty years has greatly improved the safety of vehicle occupants. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that a vehicle accident occurs every two minutes across the country, injuring thousands of people every year. Yet, bodily injuries incurred from car and vehicle accidents may range from minor bruises, soft-tissue type injuries, and cuts to more serious injuries such as head, neck and back, lower body, hard-tissue (including bone breaks, fractures) and spinal cord injuries. These injuries can affect or cause serious damage to internal organs such as the nervous system. In fact, you can have a soft-tissue injury which affects the soft tissues of the body so great that it can cause permanent impairment to the range of motion of the neck (cervical spine), as one example of many.
Car accidents may also lead to catastrophic injuries where a victim could suffer from life-altering consequences such as brain injury, paralysis, or paraplegia and quadriplegia. This is tragic for the person going through such an injury, and the case is a huge responsibility for the lawyer. In California, car accident victims are entitled to receive compensation for bodily injuries they incur as a result of another person’s negligence or recklessness. Under California law, a victim may recover the following damages:
- 1. Economic damages which include compensation for present and future medical expenses, loss of income and benefits
- 2. Non-economic damages such as payment for pain and suffering, and loss of consortium, among others.
- 3. Punitive damages (this is usually for reckless conduct above and beyond mere negligence; like drinking and driving (DUI) and then striking a car causing bodily injury).
With the assistance and legal work of a competent California car accident lawyer, you can settle your bodily injury claims more easily, and usually for a higher dollar amount. First, the following documents are essential to your specific bodily injury claim in California:
- Police accident report (California Highway Patrol, or local city police department, or Sheriff/Border Patrol) – This report/document contains all the information about the accident including the name and address of the other party involved, name of passengers and the time and place where the accident occurred;
- Medical report – This contains the medical findings of the physician or doctor who attended to you. This is often accompanied by the medical bills and recommended treatment and medical procedures that a victim must undergo (the intensity, frequency, and duration of medical care);
- Wage loss documentation from employer (loss earning potential, contracts, and future wage loss);
- Other documents such as parking receipts which can support your claim (out-of-pocket expenses, like copays and the like);
If you live in a "fault state" like California, you can pursue your claim and hold the offending party liable for your injuries and property damage. Liability in car accidents is often pursued by establishing negligence of one of the parties involved in the car accident. Consult with your lawyer before negotiating for your claim with the insurance company, since, in most cases, the insurance claims adjuster will review your case and make a settlement offer. Without the assistance of a lawyer, you might settle for less than what you are legally entitled to.