Hit by a Distracted Driver: What Happens Next?

In California, the number of licensed drivers has increased by 14.7% since 2010. While there has been a decrease in car accidents, the numbers are still high. According to the 2019 Annual Report of Fatal and Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic Collisions, there were 187,211 injury crashes and 3,438 fatalities. To put things in perspective, 2019 did not have a single day without a car accident. For Golden State drivers, car accidents are inevitable, and a significant cause is distracted driving. 

Distracted driving causes a driver to take their eyes off the road. Driving and dialing, talking, or texting on a cell phone are dangerous and increase the risk of a crash by three times. In this article, you will gain an understanding of the nuances of distracted driving and receive valuable tips. If you have a specific question, please contact our experienced attorneys at Dan Rose to assess the particular circumstances of your case.

What is Distracted Driving?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) leads national campaigns against distracted driving. The way they define “distracted driving” for Americans is, “anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the task of safe driving.”

In California, distracted driving means, “anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road, or hands off the steering wheel – especially when texting or using your phone.” Under this definition, much of a driver’s conduct can fall under this distracted driving definition.

Distracted driving activities fall under three categories

Visual Distractions

These occur when a driver looks at anything other than the road. Visual distractions include:

  • Glancing at the GPS device (either phone or car screen) for directions
  • Looking at children or pets in the vehicle
  • Reading text messages
  • Looking at videos playing on car televisions

Manual distractions

A manual distraction happens when a driver takes their hands off the steering wheel. Some examples include:

  • Drafting or sending a text message
  • Adjusting the car radio or adjusting the heat or air conditioning controls
  • Reaching for a snack or drink
  • Brushing your hair or other personal grooming
  • Rummaging for an item in a bag or the car

Cognitive distractions

These occur when a driver takes their mind off the road. Examples of mental distractions include:

  • Talking on your phone, even if you are using a hands-free device
  • Daydreaming
  • Actively listening to a podcast or singing along to music
  • Speaking with passengers in your car

California’s distracted driving law doesn’t make everything illegal. It’s unlikely to be pulled over if a driver reaches over to grab a French fry from a bag sitting next to them, even though it could be considered a “manual distraction.” The real problem is when reaching over to get something causes the driver to drive erratically or speed, creating a dangerous or “reckless” situation.

While any distracting behavior has the potential to create a dangerous driving condition, the use of cell phones or similar electronic devices has the highest correlation to accident rates. A study showed that dialing, talking, and texting increase the risk of a car accident by three times.

Distracted Driving Accidents and Injuries

Injuries sustained in car accidents caused by distracted drivers vary. Many factors can contribute to the severity of injuries. These include the location of the accident, circumstances surrounding the crash, the speed of the vehicles, the force of the impact, and the driver’s conduct at the time of the crash.  

Common accidents caused by distracted driving can include:

  • A rear-end crash occurs when a driver is distracted and following the car in front of them too closely; they can fail to break in time and collide with the rear of the other vehicle. 
  • T-bone accidents happen at an intersection where one car crashes into another, creating a “T” formation upon impact.
  • Multiple car pileup is when a distracted driver follows another car too closely and fails to stop. This can set off a chain of events and result in numerous vehicles crashing into one another.  
  • Sideswipes —Distracted drivers who aren’t paying attention to their surroundings are more likely to jump into a lane without seeing the car next to them, causing a sideswipe.
  • Head-on collisions are when a distracted driver veers into oncoming traffic.

After any car accident, it’s critical to seek medical attention immediately. Even when the crash seemed inconsequential, adrenaline and other factors may mask the extent of the actual injuries. Documenting the extent of injuries is essential, even for those with health insurance and in no-fault states. While no-fault benefits may cover a certain amount of your lost wages and medical expenses, these benefits can quickly be exhausted when serious injuries occur. When this happens, you can file a personal injury lawsuit to recover your damages.

What to do After a Distracted Driving Accident

Once you are involved in a car crash with a distracted driver, your first step should be to call the police when it’s safe to do so. Request an ambulance, even if you think you’re okay. You should be evaluated by a medical professional and receive timely medical care if needed. If you were the driver and had passengers in the car, it’s crucial for everyone in the vehicle to get checked for injuries. Some injuries may not show up immediately. A medical report can serve as evidence if you file a lawsuit.

If you feel fine, taking pictures of the vehicles would be helpful. Photographing your injuries, the location of the accident, and any damages will show the extent of the car accident. Perhaps there were damaged signs, guardrails, skid marks, or other evidence showing how bad the accident was.

You should also document what you recall about the accident on your phone or in a notepad. Perhaps you noticed the driver talking on their cell phone right before the collision. Maybe you saw the car swerving or speeding and tried to avoid it. Writing this information down can help you later if you file a lawsuit.

This is all information that you should give the police, too. Depending on the extent of your injuries, you can collect information from the other parties involved or any bystanders while you wait for the police and ambulance to arrive. Helpful information to obtain includes:

  • Names
  • Contact information
  • Insurance information
  • Any identifying information about the car, such as make, model, license plate number, and driver’s license details

All this information will be collected in a police report once they arrive. Obtaining the police report is important, especially if you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit. A police report will be produced at the end of the investigation and you will be entitled to a copy.

Do not talk to other people about the accident. You want to avoid making any statement that can be used against you. Examples that may show blame include apologizing or explaining what happened at the accident. 

You might also want to contact the insurance company to report the accident. Avoid speaking to your insurer about who was at fault.

However, if your injuries are severe, it’s best to seek medical attention first. Even if you can’t piece together information at the time of the crash, having an experienced personal injury attorney can help you present your best case. An attorney can help collect evidence and details about the car accident.

Injured by a Distracted Driver in California? Our Injury Lawyer Team Can Help

In California, if you were hit by a distracted driver, our experienced attorneys can help.

Car accidents that are caused by distracted driving can be stressful and overwhelming. A San Francisco personal injury lawyer with experience navigating car accident lawsuits can help you understand your legal options and provide support to help you.

Traumatic Brain Injury After a Car Crash

According to the National Library of Medicine, car accidents are the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury (TBI). These wrecks don’t only involve other drivers but also cyclists and pedestrians. Being diagnosed with a TBI can be emotionally nerve-wracking and physically debilitating. For TBI survivors, life after a crash is life-altering. If you’ve been hit in a car accident and suffered a TBI, there are multiple options for recovering damages. These include legal recourse.

What is Traumatic Brain Injury After a Car Crash?

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI for short, is brain damage caused by an outside force instead of a genetic disorder or illness. This outside force disrupts the brain’s normal functioning and results in bruises, torn tissues, and other injuries. In car crashes, there are two primary causes of TBIs:

  1. Direct hit to the head involves a foreign object hitting the head or the head hitting a foreign object. Examples include a person’s head hitting the dashboard, the driver’s window, or something else. Usually, direct hits to the head result in closed-head injuries. This means that the damage may not be visible to the naked eye. In some cases, there will be bleeding or cracks on the head, but these visible markers will be absent at other times.
  1. Shaking of the head. When a person’s head violently jolts, it causes the brain to move against the skull’s inner walls, resulting in injuries. This type of TBI is also associated with closed-head injuries. Injuries may not be visible by just looking at the head. However, on the inside, the person can experience hemorrhaging and pressure. These are especially dangerous because the injuries can present complications and become fatal.

TBIs after car accidents can be incredibly elusive. While you may feel like there is something wrong, a TBI can go undiagnosed because the brain can appear “normal” during an MRI or CT scan. It’s not uncommon for a TBI to take days, weeks, or months, after the accident to become apparent. It’s essential to understand how this specific type of injury presents itself to ensure that you get the proper medical attention quickly.

It’s also critical to understand that symptoms related to a TBI are often delayed. The car-crash victim can have other injuries, and the symptoms of a TBI may be attributed to another more visible collision-related damage. The TBI is often masked by another more obvious injury. For this reason, it’s essential to understand TBI to ensure a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Other essential factors to be aware of include the following:

  • Mild forms of traumatic brain injury have long-lasting impacts
  • A second TBI can worsen the effects of a previous one
  • TBI impacts cognition, mood, perception, communication skills, and physical activity
  • Treatments for TBI include various therapies, from surgery and medications to physical and occupational therapy

What do I do After a Traumatic Brain Injury Caused by Car Accident?

Seek medical attention. In any car accident, it’s important to get proper medical attention so that a medical professional can assess your injuries. This is especially true if you believe you hit your head or were jolted during the car crash. The more proactive you are about seeking medical attention for your injuries, the sooner you will receive proper medical treatment. You want to ensure that you are referred for appropriate diagnostic imaging to detect a TBI. Receiving a diagnosis and a proper treatment plan means that you can start the process of recovery.

Documentation. In today’s world, having a paper trail can be helpful. Seeking medical attention from the beginning will make it easier for future litigation. There may be many records from the start, including emergency room visits, family doctor visits, and other specialists who treated you shortly after the car crash. These records can show health insurance and no-fault insurance companies that your TBI was caused by the vehicle accident.

Contact a TBI attorney. In California, you only have a limited amount of time to file a personal injury case and therefore, you want to ensure that you are protecting yourself from missing any filing deadlines that may leave you without recourse. Even if you are unsure if you wish to sue the driver who caused the accident, speaking to a TBI lawyer as soon as possible is critical. A knowledgeable lawyer can answer your questions and advise you on the best route.

The sooner you move forward with a TBI case, the better off you’ll be. First, your lawyer will start collecting your medical records and investigating the specifics of the car accident. The longer a party waits to collect evidence, the more at risk they are for losing witnesses, pictures, or records, which can get lost or damaged with time.

Second, at-fault parties start crafting their defense immediately after a car crash. When another driver’s negligence or carelessness caused the accident, a lawyer could determine the potential success of your case. A lawyer can also evaluate your case’s worth, factoring in pain and disability.

Beware of insurance companies. Insurance companies are not your friend. Their representatives do not work for you. They work for a company. Unfortunately, the insurance company often does what’s in their best interest ꟷ that’s to settle the case as quickly and as inexpensively as possible. If you are presented with settlements, releases, or waivers related to your car crash, it’s best to speak to a lawyer first. In fact, if an insurance company presents you with anything and requests your signature, you should first speak to a lawyer. The last thing you want to do is sign away your right to litigate without assessing your options.

Traumatic brain injuries caused by car collisions are potentially devastating and life-altering. California provides ways for TBI victims to receive compensation for injuries sustained. You may be entitled to receive money for medical bills and replace lost wages.

For more information, call our law firm at (415) 946-8900 or email us by visiting our site.

California Bay Area Distracted Driving Statistics 2021

Across California, traffic accidents have been steadily increasing. California, including the San Francisco Bay Area, has now suffered two consecutive years of unfortunate dramatic increases in traffic fatalities, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Sadly, there has also been a nationwide increase in distracted driving traffic accidents and deaths. California has also witnessed a spike in driving and resulting crashes caused by drivers under the influence of either illegal or legal drugs, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) and also included in California legal code VEH statute 23123.5. Below is an overview and statistics of distracted driving in California, including the Bay Area. The following outline comprises different forms of distracted driving, measures to address the issues, the traffic fatality crisis, and what to do after an accident involving a distracted driver, including why to seek the guidance of a seasoned Bay Area car accident attorney.

What is distracted driving and what forms can it take?

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving. Such actions include but are not limited to texting or talking on smartphones, eating and drinking, conversing with passengers, fiddling with music, entertainment, or navigation systems — and anything that diverts your attention from driving safely.

California had the most deaths due to distracted driving of any state, according to NHTSA’s 2018 report. Unfortunately, the issue has remained a substantial concern. 74.3% of Californians cited distracted driving as the most significant safety threat on California’s roads in a 2021 OTS survey. Electronics use while driving is the main culprit in California’s distracted driving crisis. Distracted driving derived from electronic use jumped 2.2% from one year to the next, as reported by the 2017 CA Statewide Observational Survey of Cell Phone & Texting Use by Drivers released by the OTS. 59.6% of California drivers participating in the California Traffic Safety Survey reported being hit or narrowly missed by a driver talking or texting. Direct hits or near misses can trigger multi-vehicle accidents, pedestrian traffic fatalities, and driver and passenger severe injuries and death. There were 3,179 deaths and 431,000 injuries caused by distracted driving back in 2014, as reported by Distracted.gov. More recently, the California Highway Patrol issued over 55,850 citations for distracted driving, including 56 distracted drivers who passed away in fatal crashes and over 6,300 severe injuries in 2021. The Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) found more than 13,000 accidents caused by driver inattention (associated with distracted driving) in 2021.

Impaired Driving Leads to Distraction and Chaos

50% of all California drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes who were tested, tested positive for legal and or illegal drugs, an increase of 8% from 2018. In 2019, California’s total alcohol-impaired driving fatalities came at the cost of 949 individuals. Data released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety California had 3,847 motor vehicle crash deaths in 2020 — the second highest nationwide. The report also included numbers related to alcohol-impaired driving. Out of 1,550 drivers killed in 2020, 880, or 57%, had their BAC taken, implying a likelihood of drinking and driving. The actual numbers for individuals with a BAC over 0.08 were not available for California.

Negligent Drivers Beware

When found liable for a car accident rooted in negligence, the driver and their insurance company will feel the costs for driving distracted or impaired by drugs or alcohol. Insurance premiums will rise. The driver, in addition to potential summons and fines, could lose their license and potentially face even more significant consequences as well as lawsuits if another individual involved in the accident is critically injured or dies. Chronically negligent drivers likely have a long history of driving violations and points on their records. However, it is possible for anyone, even those with the best intentions, to be distracted while behind the wheel. A California distracted driving accident lawyer can help you if you have been involved in an accident with a distracted driver or you are concerned that you may be responsible for the accident.

California’s Scenic Wildlife — Rich Landscapes Often Equal Disaster

Wildlife vehicle collisions and distracted drivers are a recipe for disaster; human and wildlife fatalities sometimes result in multi-car crashes. The University of California-Davis released a report from their Road Ecology Center on wildlife-vehicle collisions or WVCs. The information included hot spots for these accidents throughout California. The San Francisco Bay Area had thousands of miles of the Bay Area included in its list.

The University alerts drivers to watch for wildlife interactions on the following Bay Area roadways:

  • US 101 through Southern Marin County
  • I-680
  • I-80
  • State Route 24 and SR 13 through the East Bay
  • SR 17 near Lexington Reservoir

Wildlife itself can be a driving distraction. Accidents also occur when drivers stop to admire wildlife and unintentionally create a hazard by blocking the road. Other times, an animal jumps out or crosses a roadway. A distracted driver is more likely to have less reaction time and swerve into oncoming traffic, a divider, or the animal itself. Disastrous accidents, even involving semi-trailers (also known as 18-wheelers, semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and big rigs) with devastating consequences, damages, and loss of life often occur in these wildlife hotspots. As their habitat shrinks, mountain lions and black bears become more vulnerable to traffic collisions. UC-Davis reported that from 2016 to 2020, more than 300 mountain lions and 557 black bears were struck and killed. Due to the construction of interstates slicing through wildlife home ranges, the Bay Area was identified as a prime region for such types of wildlife-vehicle collisions.

Safety Tips:

  • Pay attention to road signs
  • Avoid distractions that would divert your vision from the road
  • Mind the speed limit at tight turns
  • According to wildlife.com, using your vehicle’s brake system is wiser and less dangerous than attempting to swerve out of the way. Swerving can be particularly dangerous on congested roads when larger vehicles are present and in any form of inclement weather.

Note: According to the NHTSA, reading or typing a text takes your gaze off the roadway for an average of 5 seconds. While moving at 55 mph, this is comparable to driving the span of a football field blindfolded. An animal or other hazard could quickly appear during this window of time. You can only safely drive if you give your full attention to the task.

The Last Text They Ever Sent

Texting is one of the leading forms of distracted driving that triggers accidents and deaths. A Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) study found that texting while driving increases your risk of being in a traffic accident by 23 times.

VTTI data also suggests that hands-free electronic devices are less likely to cause accidents than handheld ones. Many drivers consider using voice-to-text to input the name of a song into a music streaming service as hands-free. However, accidents have resulted from these seemingly quick and effortless actions. For example, tapping a few buttons on the navigation screen while driving can lead to an accident, multi-vehicle crash, a fender bender, or a wildlife collision. According to NHTSA statistical findings, distracted driving led to the deaths of 3,142 people and injuries to an estimated 324,652 people in 2020 — a year that overall saw less traffic on roadways due to the Covid-19 pandemic-related lockdowns.

According to an annual survey by The Zebra, an insurance comparison site, 40.4% of Apple users admit to using their phones while driving, which is nearly a 14% increase from 2021 study results. Among Android users, 55.1% admitted to employing their phones while driving.

The NHTSA estimates that 660,000 US drivers use their cell phones while they drive a vehicle at any given time. The decision to pick up your phone while driving affects not only other drivers and passengers on the road, but also non-occupants (bikers, pedestrians, and others). In 2019, 566 non-occupants died in crashes involving distracted drivers, according to the US Department of Transportation (US DOT).

According to a Zogby Strategies poll commissioned by Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) and Root Insurance, Bay Area drivers are five times more likely than Southern Californian drivers to use their phones when they get a call or text. In addition, our youngest drivers, teenagers, are some of the most susceptible to distracted driving, according to the California Highway Patrol, NHTSA, and OTS reports. OTS reports teenagers are most likely to suffer serious injury crashes due to driver distraction. An example needs to be set for the younger generations to reduce the tragic loss of life and decrease the rate of accidents and injuries on Bay Area roadways.

Tip: Stress the importance to those your love and care about to not text you or others while they drive and avoid other driving distractions. In addition, consider sharing articles like this one, filled with driving facts and statistics, with family and friends. You can help drive the message home on the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of handling this issue together as a community. Drivers, policymakers, and all Californians must be prepared to address this urgent crisis marked by the 20-year high traffic fatalities spike in 2022 and its correlation to distracted driving practices.

Texting is among the most dangerous forms of distracted driving as it involves all three kinds of distraction: visual (not focusing on the road), manual (not controlling the vehicle), and cognitive (not thinking about driving).

What is Vision Zero, and is it working?

San Francisco adopted Vision Zero — a traffic safety model that originated in Sweden in the 1990s. The model proved successful across much of Europe and is being employed in many US cities. Vision Zero looks at traffic safety through the lens that crashes, injuries, and fatalities are all preventable. The Vision Zero program recognizes that drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists sometimes make mistakes. Hence, road system designers, stakeholders, and legislators must address the issue together as a multidisciplinary approach aimed at ensuring errors don’t result in serious injuries or fatalities. Although the number of traffic deaths in San Francisco fell notably in 2017 following the program’s first few years, traffic deaths began to rise again from 2018 through 2021. Policymakers are working on employing new strategies and enforcing California distracted driving laws.

What to do after a California collision

California suffers approximately 200,000 auto accidents each year that result in injuries. Distracted driving has played a significant role in the nationwide all-time high of traffic accidents the US is currently facing.

After an accident, always call the police to ensure everyone remains safe and to initiate an official report. Move yourself and your vehicle to a safe position near the accident site, away from traffic and dangerous debris. Always seek medical attention, even if you feel fine at the moment, as hormones like adrenaline can mask pain and other injury symptoms. In addition, some injuries, like whiplash, can take days, even weeks, to surface. You will likely need to file an insurance claim. The claims process can be overwhelming, but it is necessary. Medical expenses and other damages can be costly and accumulate rapidly.

When to Consider Hiring a Bay Area Car Accident Attorney

As a driver in a distracted driving car accident, it is crucial to note that you may be held liable for the accident if it is determined that you were distracted while driving. As well as paying for the damages caused by the crash, you may have to compensate the other party for their injuries. However, a skilled Bay Area distracted driving lawyer will review the details of the impact and the accident report. Your attorney will look to identify points that may prove that the other driver was also distracted, in violation of California vehicle or traffic laws, or partially or totally at fault by other means, reducing or eliminating your liability. In addition, by demonstrating how another driver was at fault for the accident, you could be eligible for recoverable damages.

Distracted driving is the number-one cause of car accidents, and many people don’t realize how dangerous it can be. If you’ve been in a car accident caused by a distracted driver, you may be able to receive compensation for medical debt, lost earnings, and pain and suffering. A distracted driving accident lawyer can advise you of your rights and options and get the compensation you deserve.

If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a California car crash, contacting an experienced California distracted driving accident attorney is critical. Schedule a free and confidential consultation with a compassionate and knowledgeable attorney.

What to Do When an At-Fault Driver Dies in the Crash

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), California saw a 10% increase in traffic deaths last year, with approximately 4,300 fatalities. Sadly, the spike in traffic-related deaths was not new, as it was the second consecutive year of increased motor vehicle crash fatalities. The nation also experienced a 16-year high in traffic deaths in 2021. Today, the world has more car accidents and related fatalities than ever.

Outlined below, are crucial steps to heed after an accident, followed by how to navigate an accident involving a fatally injured at-fault party.

  • When you are in a safe location adjacent to the accident, you should always call the police as it ensures proper procedures and cooperation of all parties involved and official and adequate documentation through a police report. In addition, the accident or injured parties may require emergency medical technician (EMT) services.
  • Check yourself for any immediately apparent wounds and the well-being of passengers in your vehicle.
  • If you can, taking photos of the vehicles involved will be helpful later in the process, and identifying and speaking with potential witnesses. Taking notes of your recollection of the events leading up to and causing the accident is also beneficial.
  • Always follow up with a medical provider, even if you feel fine, and get checked out at the emergency room, an urgent care clinic, or your primary care doctor for injuries that may not be immediately visible to you.

These steps should always be followed but are easier under typical circumstances. However, in some accidents, injuries sustained, and fatal events can prevent some of the above steps from taking place.

What happens if you get into a wreck, are injured, and incur damages, but the at-fault driver passes away in the accident?

Can you still seek compensation if the at-fault driver died in the accident?

Yes. In short, if the at-fault driver dies in a car accident, their insurance company is still obligated to pay damages to the other driver. Due to California’s at-fault status, the responsible party’s insurance company is accountable for paying damages. In the event the driver who caused the crash passed away as a result of the accident, their insurance policy would still be the source of compensation for any injuries or property damage you may have sustained but bear in mind the insurance policy likely has a limit.

What happens if the compensation offered doesn’t cover medical expenses, future expenditures related to the injury, and other associated costs and damages? The negligent driver’s estate might be able to provide compensation if the at-fault individual had inadequate or no insurance. Although seeking compensation in this way can be more complex and may require filing a lawsuit, you still have the right to pursue it. Under such circumstances, it is wise to seek the knowledgeable legal guidance of a San Francisco Bay Area attorney.

Concern for the Loved Ones of the Deceased

In addition to such instances being more challenging, they can also be emotionally burdensome. You may feel concerned for the at-fault driver’s family, what they are going through, and what the claim or suit process and receiving rightful compensation may mean for them. Yes, the individual likely has a family who is now mourning the loss of their loved one. However, medical debt and related expenses can add up quickly after an accident, so it is best not to postpone filing a claim and reaching out to a lawyer. Keep in mind that your primary point of contact, in most cases, will be with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. An experienced California Bay Area attorney can guide you through this process, provide support at each juncture, and ensure that you receive the total compensation to which you are entitled. We invited you to contact our offices to schedule a free consultation with our skilled Bay Area car accident attorney.

The Eight Most Common Mistakes Injured Car Accident Victims Make When Talking to Their Doctor

Over the past several years, traffic fatalities have risen in the US, reaching a grim 16-year high in 2021. In the aftermath of a collision, emotions usually run high, heightened by additional responsibilities like filing an insurance claim, providing a clear and concise statement for the police report, documenting damage, and seeing a physician if you have any injuries. Signs of trauma to the body may not be initially apparent in some instances, and in others, the injuries are obvious. Either way, getting proper medical attention is crucial. However, errors and oversights individuals commonly make when meeting with physicians after a traffic accident can be detrimental to insurance claims and personal injury suits. Below, we examine car accident victims’ most common mistakes when consulting a physician.

1. Initially Turning Away Medical Attention

People often think they can simply “tough it out” after a car accident, but this can exacerbate underlying injuries. Regardless of initial feelings, it’s always wise to seek medical care after the crash. With many injuries, including whiplash, symptoms may not manifest for days or even weeks after being hit. Symptoms for many injuries are often masked by hormone release following traumatic scenes. Hormones like adrenalin and cortisol regulate the body’s stress and pain management after a motor vehicle accident. When released as coping mechanisms, hormones can provide the perception of momentary relief while covering a range of injuries from mild to severe. Delaying initial consultation and diagnosis can hinder recovery and can limit treatment options. Thus, it is best to have a qualified medical professional examine you for any damage inflicted by the accident’s impact.

2. Missing, Skipping, or Avoiding Follow-up Appointments

Once you have seen a doctor for your injuries, it is essential to follow up as recommended. Some instances may include attending physical therapy, seeing a specialist, or scheduling additional appointments to monitor the progress or regression of an injury. Failure to do so could result in your injuries getting worse or taking longer to heal. When pursuing a personal injury claim due to an accident, it is critical to follow the guidance of the attending physician.

3. Not Getting a Second Opinion

Seek a separate opinion from another medical provider if you are unsure about your current doctor’s diagnosis or treatment plan. If you have doubts regarding your physician’s assessment and conclusion, it is in no way an insult to the doctor to seek a second opinion. After all, your health and well-being come first.

4. Keeping the Doctor in the Dark

It would be best to advise your doctor about areas of concern, pain levels, bruising, other injuries you may have noticed, or changes in your physical ability and range of motion. In addition, providing the physician with a description of how the accident occurred can be incredibly helpful in discovering injuries and underlying concerns early enough to treat them correctly. By explaining how the collision happened, a doctor may determine which side of the body received the brunt of the collision’s impact and if you are at risk for a concussion or other trauma to the brain, head, or spine. For example, left unchecked, a moderate injury to the back can turn into years of chronic pain and trigger other conditions. By being honest and providing your physician with these vital details, you increase the likelihood of receiving a proper diagnosis and management of care.

5. Consulting Your Physician About Legal Matters

Your doctor’s primary focus is on improving the accident-induced injuries, restoring your overall health, and encouraging your recovery progress rather than addressing legal concerns. Your claim or lawsuit could be adversely affected by divulging sensitive case information. Physicians will frequently refer patients with litigious matters to another physician or remove themselves from the patient’s treatment plan, to avoid legal implications. Distancing may occur once a personal injury suit or litigation comes to light. Many physicians have a full caseload and prefer to avoid the added responsibilities, paperwork, and involvement attributed to legal matters such as court cases and lawsuits. Promptly mentioning a lawsuit can make a physician apprehensive about taking you on as a patient.

6. Unorganized Medical and Expenses Records

Following an accident, you will likely receive a slew of paperwork, including medical records. It is a disservice to yourself, your recovery, and a personal injury claim to lose track of related documents. It is best to keep all paperwork organized in files and make hard copies. You may also request copies of x-rays and other medical diagnostic results. All bills and receipts, for example, urgent care statements, therapy costs, prescription charges, and medical equipment receipts, document the expenses related to the injury. Debt can quickly accumulate after an accident, and a primary goal of insurance claims and personal injury suits is obtaining appropriate compensation for all expenses associated with your injury, pain and suffering, and other damages. All of the above elements are crucial to your attorney’s power to negotiate and fight effectively for rightfully owed compensation on your behalf.

7. Lack of Effective Communication of Injuries’ Impact

Ineffectively conveying an injury’s impact on your work, life, and daily task performance to your doctor can paint a false picture of your physical condition and the weight of the injury. Often, patients complain about their injuries until they reach the doctor’s office. Still, pain and other symptoms are downplayed once in the exam room to avoid burdening the “busy doctor” or medical staff. Remember, doctors, nurses, and medical assistants are there to help and work for you.

8. Precluding Treatment Early and Ignoring Mental Health Treatment

Terminating treatment regimens before being medically recommended can be dangerous. In addition, ignoring trauma symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD can be harmful and costly in the short and long term. Most injured victims develop anxiety disorder or depression or suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) due to the crash. Consult your physician regarding such symptoms. Lastly, confer with your doctor before discontinuing a prescribed or recommended treatment.

The above are only some of the most common mistakes traffic accident victims make when addressing their physician. An experienced Bay Area car accident attorney can offer knowledgeable guidance on critical aspects of a personal injury case. If you were injured in a car accident or suffered a personal injury in California, we invite you to schedule a free consultation with one of our skilled attorneys.

Calculating Lost Earning Capacity in a California Car Accident

After sustaining an injury in a California motor vehicle accident, whether caused by someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or other wrongful acts, you are entitled to compensation. An accident victim who is left unable to work temporarily or, in extreme cases, permanently, due to an accident-related injury, can quickly fall into debt. Fortunately, California realizes the heavy financial burden such circumstances can place on victims and their families. In California, victims have the right to seek compensation specifically for what is known as “loss of earning capacity” and other economic damages.

California Loss of Earning Capacity and Lost Wages

Lost earning capacity, or time and money yielded due to the detrimental loss of one’s ability to work and garner income in the future, can be calculated and recovered as compensation. Though both “lost wages” and loss of earning capacity are examples of economic damages, the two are notably different. Lost wages or loss of income refers to the money lost from being unable to work while you are recovering before either filing a suit or until a settlement goes into effect. Lost wages are typically easier to calculate as they have already transpired. However, loss of earning capacity looks to establish the hypothetical earnings an individual will lose out on, in the future, due to their injury.

Common Questions Regarding Loss of Earning Capacity

Loss of earning capacity income is not calculated as current wages but is instead a projection of what the victim would have presumably earned if they hadn’t been injured in the accident.

What types of income fall under “loss of earning capacity”?

Including income like hourly wages and salary pay, lost earning capacity examples also include benefits, 401ks, self-employed income (business owners), overtime pay, sick pay, vacation pay, commission, stock options, and potential raises.

 How is loss of earning capacity calculated?

To recover damages for loss of earning capacity, a thorough calculation is made. Along with analyzing earnings, the type of injury also needs to be considered; can you be fully rehabilitated? Will you be able to return to work in the future, and in what capacity, if at all? For example, your employer may be asked to testify about your job performance and outlook. The position you held and potential for growth, your educational background, workforce-related job trends, and the area you live and work in are some additional factors assessed. A medical expert may be asked to describe your injury and how it has impacted your life and health in the present and future. Having a skilled personal injury attorney with ample experience in cases involving economic damages is advisable.

Does an Injury have to be life-changing to qualify for loss of earning capacity?

A common misconception is that lost earning capacity only applies when the plaintiff has sustained an injury from which they cannot recover. However, this simply is not true. Even if the injury could or does resolve in the future, the plaintiff is still eligible for loss of earning capacity at the time of settlement or trial. A serious injury, but not necessarily life-altering, still allows a victim to pursue lost earning capacity damages.

Personal Injury Law in California

Proving that you have lost your earning capacity due to a personal injury is a complex process. Still, it is essential if you want to focus on your recovery plan and eliminate any stress related to debt, future medical costs, and living expenses. A personal injury attorney with extensive knowledge of California personal injury laws will know how to proceed and maximize your compensation successfully. If you or a loved one have suffered a severe injury following a California car accident, contacting an experienced Bay Area personal injury attorney is crucial.

Understanding Comparative Negligence & Fault in California Bay Area Accidents

California is an exceptionally beautiful place to live; however, it also has some of the most traffic-congested areas in our country, notably the Bay Area with major cities like San Francisco and Oakland. In densely populated regions, accidents are much more prone to happen, and nationwide, there was a surge of traffic-related fatalities in 2021. In the aftermath of an accident, there are several vital steps to take, like filing a police report, visiting urgent care to treat or check for injuries, documenting damage to vehicles, filing insurance claims, and figuring out who is to blame for the collision. When involved in a crash, determining fault is always a priority, but many are unaware that it’s not always clear-cut; responsibility may be assigned to multiple parties, and a partially at-fault party may still seek and receive compensation for damages.

What is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative fault laws or the doctrine of comparative negligence pertains to how much fault is assigned to each party involved in a collision. In California, relative negligence laws allow individuals to still recover damages from a crash, even if they partially contributed to its cause. In such cases, compensation is calculated in relation to the percentage or amount of fault. For example, in the event you are deemed to be 40 percent at fault for an accident, you would be liable for 40 percent of damages, but you will still qualify for compensation. While all states have some variation of this law, in those with modified comparative negligence rules, an individual cannot recover compensation if their fault in the accident is typically greater than 50 percent. Fortunately, California is a pure comparative fault law state, meaning an individual can still seek compensation despite being 99 percent at fault.

Comparative Negligence Defense

In car accident lawsuits or claims, comparative negligence can be utilized as a defense. A person accused of fault may argue that the victim was partially responsible for their injuries. The court or the jury determines each party’s percentage of liability in a comparative negligence case. Your compensation will be adjusted or reduced depending on how much you contributed to the accident.

Accidents may be triggered by various forms of negligence, which can impact the amount of damages you owe. A knowledgeable California car accident and personal injury law attorney can assist you in identifying the fault and pinpointing critical elements of the accident that can help your case. Some examples of negligence include but are not limited to:

  • Running a traffic light or failing to yield
  • Driving recklessly
  • Failure to signal
  • Tailgating
  • Speeding
  • Disregarding seatbelt laws
  • Ignoring pedestrian crosswalks, signs, and traffic lights

Pure comparative negligence can positively or negatively affect your case if you are partially at fault for an incident. Motor vehicle accidents, the claims process, and determining fault percentages are complex, making the process of recovering compensation both overwhelming and challenging. It can be additionally stressful when another party tries to claim they are the sole victim in a crash, and you are entirely to blame for the collision. If you or a loved one have been in a car accident, it is wise to contact an experienced Bay Area car accident lawyer right away. Schedule a free consultation today and have your questions and concerns addressed by our skilled and proficient attorney.

FAQs: California Car Accidents and Personal Injury Claims

Does filing a personal injury claim require a court appearance?

A motor vehicle accident claim is usually settled out of court and through negotiations with the parties and related insurance companies involved. Despite this, many insurers attempt to settle claims quickly and for the least amount possible. However, in instances where the insurance company does not make an acceptable offer, we are prepared to litigate on your behalf for complete compensation.

In California, how much compensation am I entitled to after a car accident?

California allows you to recover both general and special damages.

General damages are for elements such as pain and suffering or how the accident and injury have affected your quality of life. It is challenging to specify how much money should be allocated for such damages as there is no set rule. It typically depends, however, on what kind of injury you suffered, how much discomfort you endured, and how long your injury lasted.

Among special damages are healthcare-related expenses due to the accident (e.g., general medical fees, prescription costs, and therapy or treatment expenses). Also included under special damages may be lost wages and repair costs for your vehicle.

You will receive compensation based on the type of injury you sustained, the cost of hospital care and medical treatment, and any losses you have incurred due to the accident. Many accidents may cause significant trauma to the victim, which deserves consideration when establishing compensation amounts.

Is it possible to seek compensation for both past and future expenses?

Past and current medical expenses are more straightforward to calculate as bills, statements, and receipts are all accessible. Although future medical expenses are not as simple to document, as they have not yet occurred, they can be evaluated and determined. Traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries, and any injury requiring extensive treatments or long-term therapy can add up quickly as future costs. During litigation or negotiations for compensation, your attorney can establish reasonable estimates for these costs as well as treatment needs. Expert testimony from doctors and healthcare providers is often used for this purpose.

What do I have to prove for my California accident claim to succeed?

California law requires that you prove the other party was negligent in how they operated their vehicle. In other words, you must demonstrate the following factors:

  • The defendant was negligent in how they operated their vehicle or neglected traffic laws. For example, the defendant may have sped, ran a red light, or engaged in distracted driving behavior.
  • That plaintiff suffered an injury.
  • That defendant’s negligence significantly contributed to the harm the plaintiff suffered.

Note: In instances where you are partially at fault for an accident, you may still recover compensation if you can demonstrate that the defendant’s actions also played a meaningful role in the collision.

When pursuing a personal injury claim, how can an attorney help?

Although you won’t always require an attorney to file a car accident or associated personal injury claim, having proficient counsel on your side can significantly reduce the stress of the entire process and ensure you receive just compensation. An attorney can assist in investigating the collision, gathering evidence to demonstrate fault and determine damages, and estimating the value of those damages. In addition, your lawyer may negotiate settlements when appropriate, represent you in litigation and fight on your behalf for your right to complete compensation. Contact our Bay Area personal injury firm today for a free consultation.

Types of Traumas After a Car Accident

According to data from UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), California experienced a significant increase in traffic-related injuries in 2021. An injury related to a motor vehicle accident may leave you wondering what trauma effects can arise.

A car accident victim may suffer temporary or permanent injuries, depending on the extent of the accident and its impact. These are in addition to legal and economic ramifications, along with navigating insurance claims.

Victims must be conscious of the extensive trauma, mental pain, and adverse effects that car accidents often produce.

Trauma following an accident; what and why?

Trauma is a physical and psychological reaction to an accident’s stress and unrest. It is not uncommon for victims to feel powerless, helpless, in pain, shocked, and even left with fear and doubts about their self-worth. The fear of getting behind the wheel can result from an injury from a collision. Others may become anxious about traveling in vehicles in general. Despite these common reactions, they can make daily life and activities more challenging.

Six Car accidents trauma-related conditions

Trauma effects after a car accident are difficult to predict, although they are more likely to develop among car accident victims. Among the predominant conditions linked to car accident injuries and trauma are:

  • Acute stress disorder (ASD)
  • Stress response syndrome
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Psychological distress
  • Emotional trauma

Acute Stress Disorder: Develops in the days and weeks following an event characterized by an intense and painful reaction to trauma. Some individuals may feel detached or numb in an emotional sense, while others may exhibit unpredictable behavior.

Stress Response Syndrome: When an individual has difficulty coping with or adapting to a particular source of stress, such as a significant change in life, accident, loss, or event. The syndrome is often referred to as “adjustment disorder,” as patients often face hurdles attempting to adjust to life after a traumatic event.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: PTSD is a psychiatric disorder triggered by scary, startling, or life-threatening events. As reported by the American Psychological Association, car accidents are a leading cause of PTSD in Americans. PTSD is denoted by persistent flashbacks or reliving memories of the event that precipitated the trauma and disorder.

Traumatic Brain Injury: 1.5 million traumatic brain injuries (TBI) occur in the U.S. annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and occur when a strong external force damages the brain. These injuries range from mild to severe. However, they account for the majority of disabilities and deaths in adults. Signs of a TBI can manifest immediately or develop over time.

Psychological Distress: Moods can fluctuate wildly and cause painful physical and mental symptoms. Psychological distress can signal the beginning of major depressive episodes, panic disorders, and anxiety. In addition, the trauma can result in impairment of cognitive functions. An extremely stressful or traumatic experience can cause psychological distress.

Emotional Distress: While emotional distress can take many forms, its generally characterized by mental anguish, feelings of hopelessness, self-isolation, and depression. Emotional distress is usually a response to a particular crisis or event.

Many forms of trauma, unfortunately, go unnoticed, undiagnosed, and untreated. Getting appropriate care is imperative. The following are symptoms of trauma to be aware of:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Flashbacks or night terrors
  • Avoidance
  • Development of new fears
  • Self-isolating behavior
  • Emotional detachment or “numbness.”
  • Mood swings (frequent ups and downs)
  • Insomnia or new and poor sleep patterns
  • Problems focusing or learning
  • Depression or low moods
  • Loss of interest
  • Loss of motivation
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling foggy
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite or change in diet
  • Reduced libido
  • Aggressive or unpredictable behavior
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Can compensation after an accident include trauma?

Compensation may be available depending on the specifics of your claim. Consult an attorney specializing in this field to ensure you receive fair compensation. Compensation can assist with medical bills, prescription expenses, treatment costs, therapy, and more challenging to measure losses like pain and suffering. The trauma of a car accident can be grave and debilitating, but an attorney who is supportive and experienced can make all the difference.

How to be Compensated for Your Injuries as a Passenger in a Vehicle

If you have been injured while riding in someone else’s car, you are likely facing many of the same challenges as the driver, with the added difficulty of knowing how to navigate compensation for your injuries when the vehicle you were riding in was not yours.

Can you file a claim through the insurance of the driver? Can you initiate a claim through your own insurance? What if you were riding in an Uber or Lyft when you were injured? You may have a lot of questions following your accident and more confusion than answers.

In this article, we will explore these issues to help you move forward and collect the compensation you deserve.

Can you file a claim through the insurance of the driver?

Yes. As an individual who was injured in the vehicle of an insured driver, you can file a claim for damages through the driver’s motor vehicle insurance company. These damages may include your past medical bills, future medical bills, and lost wages from time off from work. If your injuries were significant, these damages may also include compensation for temporary or permanent disability, loss of earning capacity if you are no longer able to physically work at your job, and pain and suffering.

Can you initiate a claim through your own insurance?

If you are finding it difficult to file a claim through the motor vehicle insurance of the driver, you can also file a claim for compensation through your own insurance company. Typically, your insurance company will demand payment from the insurance company of one of the drivers involved in the accident on your behalf. They may also try to resist dealing with your claim altogether. If your insurance company does pay you for the claim, your compensation will likely be reduced by the amount of your deductible.

What if you were riding in an Uber or Lyft when you were injured?

Being injured as a passenger in an Uber or Lyft ridesharing vehicle presents its own set of unique questions and challenges. In these cases, there may be more than one party you can seek relief from including the driver of the Uber or Lyft vehicle, as well as the companies themselves.

Contact an Experienced Injury Attorney Today

If you have been injured as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, the path to and challenges involved with recovering compensation for your damages may be different, but you are still entitled to be made whole by the individual who was negligent in causing the accident, whether that individual was the driver of the vehicle you were riding in or the driver of another vehicle.

Our team of highly skilled and experienced personal injury attorneys can help you navigate all of your options and pursue the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not owe any legal fees out of pocket, and we only get paid if you win your case in a settlement or court judgment.

For more information and to schedule a complimentary consultation of your case contact Dan Rose Law today.