Many people have been in a car crash. Most crashes, fortunately, are minor and the people involved walk away without severe personal injuries. However, others are not so fortunate, and can suffer life-change injuries, and even death. So, what are your rights if you are injured in a car wreck in California?
The Statute of Limitations
The first and most important thing to be aware of is the “statute of limitations”. A statute of limitations is like a deadline by which a lawsuit must be filed; if you do not file by that date, you lose the right to file the lawsuit at all.
There are two different and important statutes of limitations associated with car crashes in California:
- A personal injury claim must be brought within two years from the date of the accident
- A property damage lawsuit must be brought within three years from the date of the accident
What Role Does Fault Play in a Car Crash Case?
California follows a “pure comparative negligence” scheme. This means that the parties involved in the car crash may share liability for any resulting damages. For example, you get into a car wreck and have damages totaling $10,000. You sue the other party involved in the wreck to recover some of your damages. The court could find that other party was speeding and texting, but was only 60% at fault because you were also texting and, therefore, are 40% at fault. As such, you can only recover $6,000, or 60% (the same percentage of fault attributed to the other party) of your damages.
What About Car Insurance?
California follows a “fault” scheme for car insurance in car crash cases. This means that the party at “fault,” or responsible, for the crash must use their insurance to pay for injuries and damages suffered by the other party.
A minimum amount of liability car insurance is required in California. Specifically, car owners must posses certain dollar amounts of car insurance. The purpose of liability insurance is to compensate parties injured in a car crash for any physical or property damage. The coverage minimums are:
- $15,000 for injury or death for another involved party
- $30,000 for injury or death to multiple people
- $5,000 for property damage
However, we know only too well that such amounts barely touch the surface where serious injuries are concerned, which is why it is important to seek legal advice about your rights in such a situation.
What Do you Need to do to Prepare Your Case?
The first thing to do is to make sure that you seek, and record, medical treatment for your physical and psychological injuries. Even if your injury appears minot, it is a good idea to notify your doctor or physician that you have been in a car wreck so that they can better assist you, and record your injuries.
The next step is to prepare all relevant documents, including reports, maps, pictures, and witness statements.
Finally, be prepared to draft a complaint naming the appropriate and liable parties.
Most Importantly, You Should Hire an Attorney
While car accidents may seem simple on the surface, they require a certain amount of expertise and aggression to be certain you get the compensation to which you are entitled. The experienced attorneys at Redkey Gordon are here to help you with your car crash case. We invite you to call us at (209) 267-1685 today to set up a consultation.