Motor vehicle accidents with an injury to occupants remains the number three cause of unintentional injury and death in Los Angeles. (Source, California Department of Public Health.) But these seem to be the most well-known injuries because so many people see the vehicle pileups as they drive around conducting day to day activities in their personal conveyances and commercial vehicles. In 2013 alone, Los Angeles County reported 54,994 car wrecks.
For example, take a look at the surface streets and freeways like the I-10, or I-405 during rush hour traffic. Any daily driver has seen people pulled over after a low speed rear hit bumper impact early in the morning, or around 5:00 pm at night. Typically people are delayed because motorists slow down to look at the crash scene as the victims exchange license and proof of insurance info.
In fact, this choke point can lead to more accidents because drivers are not paying attention to the brake lights in front of them. But it’s not just the main highways where this happens. In fact, many more terrible T-bone and left turn wrecks happen on surface streets near where consumers live and work. Everyone is inconvenienced by the hazards presented by car crashes in LA. Ehline Law acts as a shield and sword to those injured, thereby helping avoid drama and mistakes in presenting a valid insurance claim.
So What Exactly Is a Motor Vehicle Anyways?
A motor vehicle is any conveyance powered by an engine with an internal, or external power source not human. So it is not a bicycle powered by a human’s legs or arms. But it could be a motorcycle because it is powered by gasoline, internal combustion engine, or electrical motor, for example.
So what motor vehicles are often involved in LA roadway motoring incidents?
- Passenger Cars (including commercial taxis, limousines, Uber and Lyft).
- Motorcycles and Motor Trikes (Including off road ATV’s, quad bikes and other two-wheeled vehicles).
- Commercial and Light Trucks (including trash trucks, armored cars, UPS, FedEx and other transportation vehicles).
- Commercial and Non-Commercial Buses.
Are You the Victim of a Los Angeles Motor Vehicle or Car Accident and Need Help?
Passenger cars seem to be involved in a lot of roadside smash-ups.
A passenger car is a road motor vehicle, other than a motor cycle, intended for the carriage of passengers and designed to seat no more than nine persons (including the driver). (Source).
However, sometimes legal lines get crossed when a vehicle is used for seemingly commercial purposes. For example, what about Uber, Lyft, and Taxi? So here it is more about how it is used and not what it is called. A passenger car remains a passenger car. But technically, a 120, or 9 passenger limousine is a passenger vehicle. But sometimes it becomes a passenger car used for commerce. As such, it must carry commercial liability insurance. (Source.)
So in case you are hurt by or in a car for hire, the chances remain greater that commercial insurance will cover you. And this is often much more than for a noncommercial car. The same formula is used to determine fault in a passenger vehicle crash under Civil Code Section 1714. Does a duty exist to keep passengers or others safe? If so, was that duty breached and were people damaged as a cause of the breach?
If so, contacting a Los Angeles car accident attorney would be beneficial to the victim. A Los Angeles car accident lawyer will be able to investigate the accident scene, order police reports, and prepare a settlement demand package to the liability insurance adjuster. This is all vital to building a substantial personal injury motor vehicle accident claim. If no agreement is reached, the case should to trial and more mediation.
What Makes Los Angeles So Car Accident Prone?
In Southern California, we see all manner of cars and even custom bikes. We see sports cars, limousines, luxury sedans and everything in between. With L.A.’s distances and traffic, we have evolved a car culture unique to specific area codes and zip. For example, in the 818 or 213 area codes, cruising is a happening thing for blue collar types. Take Huntington Park, for instance. Have you ever driven the main street when there was an L.A. Laker’s win?
The scene is reminiscent of the L.A. Riots. All manner of cars with Dubs and custom features are rolling. An outsider risks crashing just out of sheer terror when traveling here. Then when we go to the 714 and 949 area codes, we see the white collar types driving sports cars and sports sedans rolling along and crashing. The common denominator is that sometimes drivers become drunk or distracted. In fact, millions of small cars ingress and egress along the many thoroughfares, highways, and freeways of Los Angeles proper.
In fact, these are some of the most crowded streets in the world. Poorly maintained roads, road-ragers, and other factors only add to the problems. In 2014, the California Office of Traffic Safety counted 37,546 injury and death collisions in Los Angeles County. Also, 3,409 of these wrecks were alcohol related. (Source).
Will You Always Know You Are Injured After a Crash?
Being dazed and confused is part and parcel of a newly motorized vehicle accident. Adrenaline, fear, and shock all tend to mask pain. So you may not even know you are hurt. The time right after a surface street or even a parking lot crash is one of the most critical moments for protecting yourself and preserving your ability to get compensated down the road. There is never a better time to collect evidence about how the accident happened then right after the crash.
Is Making a Record Important After a Crash?
Yes. Making a record and collecting evidence is key to winning a car accident case. Below are some ways you can help your lawyer protect the case.
We suggest the following:
Make a Digital Record. Ask for permission from percipient witnesses to use your iPhone to videotape them. Have them narrate what happened, and identify who they are. Even though the car may look like a crate, take pictures of license plates and vehicle damage.
Take Written Statements From Each Witness. Just the facts. Time of day, date, place, location, directions of travel. And get a narrative of how the accident happened. Don’t rely on the CHP or local police to interview everyone. Even if they do, it could be absent in the Traffic Collision Report.
Gather Witness Names, Addresses, and Phone Numbers. Be nice. Don’t spook potential witnesses. For example, what if witnesses are illegal aliens? They may be scared to speak in a court setting in the future. But qualified lawyers can explain there is nothing to fear. And always try and get phone numbers too. Focus on contact info for their place of employment. And get their cell phone number. You need this info.
Document the Defendant’s Driver’s License and Insurance Numbers. By law, the parties in a motoring accident must exchange info. Make sure you verify proof of valid auto insurance with your own eyes. Refuse to rely on the defendant to pen the info. Of course, the other driver may be scared and shaking too. Maybe thinking straight was impossible. And take a picture of these items with your phone camera? Be smart.
Call the Police. If injuries and vehicle damage happened, get a copy of the police report. (Source.)
Here is a partial list of parties who may have to compensate you for an accident.
- Companies and Government Agencies. Both private and public organizations can be liable for a car accident. For example, when the employee causes a crash while acting within the ordinary scope of business, the employer bears some liability under the legal theory of vicarious liability. But if the employee was off the clock, or exceeding the scope of their job description, employers can wiggle out of the case. Of course, government employees and agencies can cause a wreck by failing to maintain or repair roads, for example. So the City and County of Los Angeles could be liable, along with the private contractors they hire. Traffic signal phasing problems have been known to result in massive casualties. But failing to place a light or stop sign in an area known to have substantially changed is also a basis for legal liability. Unfortunately, many lawyers don’t even know the various statutes of limitations in cases against the state, local or federal government.
- Vehicle Makers. Automobile manufacturers regularly recall defective vehicles for some sort of latent defect. Often it is learned that a design error has led to a partial or complete failure of a safety system, such as an airbag. But bad or brittle fuel hoses have been known to start vehicle fires. Sometimes seat belts fail and need to be retrofitted. These are just some of the more common defects faced by commuters. If such a defect was the cause of occupant’s injuries, the passengers can sue all those in the chain of commerce. In other words, the dealership, car factory, and anyone else involved in the construction or sale of the car remains a potential defendant.
What are Some Insurance Coverage Problems in Car Accident Cases?
Whether a slip and fall, car collision, or some other mishap, many victims think they can turn their problems over to their own insurer and wash their hands of building their case. Defendants assume they will be protected. Plaintiffs may even think their insurer will have their best interests at heart. But we have all seen property damage claims handled shabbily by adjusters. We have seen crummy aftermarket parts installed on exotic vehicles, and worse.
Besides that, the personal injury claims are almost always undervalued by both Defendant and Plaintiff’s insurance alike. Sometimes UM and UIM won’t cover everything. In any event, only a personal injury lawyer will be able to evaluate the case honestly. For example, sometimes no insurance exists at all.
Only the most qualified Los Angeles car accident lawyers understand the nuances of these complex cases. Contact one now at (213) 596-9642.