Should You Always Call the Police After a Car Accident?

It’s such a seemingly minor accident, it gets a cute nickname: fender bender. When it happens, you might not think there are any injuries or any damage to your vehicle. It can be tempting, especially if you’re on your way to an appointment or work, to skip calling the cops and just exchange information so you can be on your way. But should you call the cops after a fender bender in the Bay Area? Yes, you should. Let’s go over the reasons why so you’ll understand why the extra time to call the police is worth it.

Why do You Need to Call the Police After a Car Accident?

Because fender benders are such minor accidents, many people mistakenly believe they don’t need to call the police. There are five good reasons to make sure you call the cops to report even a minor accident:

  • California law requires that you report the accident to the local police department in the city it happened in or to the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours.
  • Injuries may not be immediately obvious. By calling the cops and getting a police report, you ensure a paper trail to try to get compensation for your injuries.
  • Damage to your vehicle may not be visible. Like injuries, calling the police allows you to file a claim if you discover later that your vehicle has hidden damage.
  • Many insurance companies require a police report to file a claim, so it’s always best to ensure you have that report just in case.
  • The involvement of police ensures that the other driver doesn’t try to avoid responsibility by giving you false information, such as a fake name, old address, or an insurance policy number that is canceled.

How Long do You Have to File a Claim?

Ideally, you should contact your insurance company to file a claim as soon as possible after an accident. Many factors could cause you to delay filing your claim, which is why California offers a statute of limitations.

The California Courts allow you to file a claim for personal injury up to two years from the date of the injury. If the injury isn’t discovered immediately, you have one year from the date the injury is discovered. You have three years from the date the damage occurred to file a property damage claim.

It is important to know that you must file a Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR 1) with the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident if any of the following occurred:

  • There is more than $1,000 in damage
  • There are any injuries (regardless of how minor)
  • Someone was killed

How Does California Determine Fault in a Vehicle Accident?

California law uses the theory of pure comparative fault. This means that more than one person can be held financially responsible for an accident. It also means that victims can be compensated even if they contributed to the accident. Financial responsibility is determined by the degree of fault and recovered compensation is reduced based on fault.

Let’s look at an example: Jane does a rolling stop at a stop sign and is hit by Joe, who is speeding. When the police investigate the accident, Joe is found to be 80% at fault because he was speeding and Jane is considered to be 20% at fault because she rolled through the stop sign. This means that Joe will be expected to compensate Jane for 80% of her damages and/or injuries and Jane will reimburse Joe for 20% of his damages or injuries.

What Happens if an Accident Isn’t Reported to the Cops?

If you are in an accident and do not report it to the cops, the best-case scenario is that you will struggle to be compensated for any property damage or injuries or may not be compensated at all. The worst-case scenario is that you could pay a fine, lose your license, or even go to jail.

Have You Been in a Fender Bender and Require Legal Assistance?

Whether you reported the accident or not, fender benders can get complicated. The apparent lack of severity can cause drivers and insurance companies to argue that your injuries or damage are not as significant as they are or that they weren’t caused by the accident. If you’ve been involved in an accident and need legal assistance to navigate your claim, our experienced attorneys may be able to help.

Examples of Reckless Driving in California

When a motorist engages in reckless driving, they willingly put others at risk of being injured or killed in a car accident. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that reckless driving played a role in more than 50 percent of car accidents in the United States in recent years. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recently reported that reckless driving was on the rise, as indicated by a related spike in car accident deaths across the U.S.

If you have been injured in a car accident caused by another person’s reckless driving, you deserve to be compensated fairly for your losses. Bay area car accident attorney, Daniel S. Rose, has over 26 years of experience in personal injury law and is committed to pursuing justice for those who have been injured through the fault of another person’s actions. Contact his office today by calling (415) 946-8900 for a free consultation.

What Is Reckless Driving in California?

California Vehicle Code 23103 VC states that a person is guilty of reckless driving when they drive a vehicle with “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” In other words, although a driver probably does not intend to cause injury, they are guilty of reckless driving if they knowingly drive dangerously.

Examples of Reckless Driving

“Reckless driving” is a broad term under California law that applies to any driving behavior that puts others at risk of harm. Speeding is one of the most common forms of reckless driving. However, it is not always classified as reckless driving. The circumstances and road conditions under which speeding occurs are used to determine whether this behavior qualifies as reckless driving. For example, a driver going 25 mph over the speed limit on an empty road or highway is likely to be charged with a traffic violation and not reckless driving. If, on the other hand, a driver is going 25 mph over the speed limit under dangerous road conditions while also weaving in and out of traffic, they are likely to be charged with reckless driving since they are knowingly disregarding the safety of others.

Some other examples of reckless driving that commonly occur on California roads include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Road rage or aggressive driving
  • Running a red light or stop sign
  • Illegal or unsafe passing, such as crossing a double yellow line or passing on a curved roadway
  • Failing to yield right of way
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road or outside of traffic lanes
  • Street racing
  • Knowingly driving an unsafe vehicle

Penalties for Reckless Driving in California

Reckless driving is treated more seriously than a basic traffic violation. It is classified as a misdemeanor offense and may involve penalties such as:

  • Up to $1,000 in fines
  • Up to 90 days in jail
  • Two points on a driver’s license
  • Up to a six-month driver’s license suspension

A reckless driver who causes an accident involving injuries is given even harsher penalties. If the accident caused serious injuries, the driver might be charged with a felony, which is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to three years in jail. “Serious” injuries, as defined under California law, include:

  • Brain injury
  • Concussion
  • Paralysis
  • Loss or impairment of the function of a body part or organ
  • Fractured bone
  • Wound requiring significant suturing

How a Bay Area Car Accident Attorney Can Assist

If you have been injured in a car accident in which you believe the other driver was acting recklessly, you deserve to be adequately compensated for your losses. The compensation you receive should cover the cost of past and future medical bills, as well as lost income and loss of quality of life due to the injuries you have suffered.

The first step in pursuing compensation is to file an insurance claim with the reckless driver’s auto insurance company. A San Francisco auto injury lawyer can assist you with this complicated process to help maximize your payout. They can also help you assess whether your payout adequately compensates for your losses. If it does not, they can guide you through the process of filing a lawsuit against the reckless driver, which involves gathering evidence to prove the reckless driving behavior and calculating your losses. A reckless driving lawsuit may also involve criminal proceedings heard in a California court in which you, as the victim, would need to participate as a witness.

Bay area car accident attorney Daniel S. Rose understands the trauma and shock you may be facing in the aftermath of a car accident. He has dedicated his career to pursuing justice for accident victims to help them rebuild their lives after injury. He has handled more than 1,000 cases to date and has recovered several hundred million dollars for his clients. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel S. Rose at (415) 946-8900 today to discuss your case and find out how he can help you.

Who’s at Fault in a Rear-end Collision?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions are the most common type of car crash in the United States. They make up 29 percent of all traffic accidents across the country and are responsible for causing thousands of injuries and deaths each year. Although it is commonly assumed that the trailing driver is always at fault in a rear-end collision, there are some circumstances in which the front driver may be partially responsible as well. If you have been injured in a rear-end collision, it is essential that you consult with an experienced San Francisco car accident injury lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you understand who is liable and what compensation you may be entitled to. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel S. Rose today by calling (415) 946-8900 for a free consultation.

What Is a Rear-End Collision?

A rear-end collision is a crash in which a car is hit from behind by another car. Most rear-end collisions involve two vehicles, but some involve three or more vehicles, often referred to as a “pile-up.” This occurs when one vehicle rear-ends another, pushing that vehicle forward into the one in front.

The most common causes of rear-end collisions are:

  • Speeding or tailgating – Driving over the speed limit or too close behind another vehicle may mean a driver does not have adequate time or stopping distance when they need to stop or slow down. Speeding and tailgating are even more dangerous under hazardous road conditions.
  • Distracted driving – When a driver is not paying full attention to the task of driving, such as texting while driving, they may fail to slow down or stop in time to avoid a crash.
  • Driving under the influence – Drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol suffer impaired judgment increasing their chances of causing a crash.

Understanding Fault in a Rear-end Collision

In most cases of rear-end collisions, the trailing driver is assumed responsible for causing the accident. However, there are some instances where the leading driver may be partially or fully to blame. Examples of rear-end collision scenarios in which the leading driver may be liable include:

  • Unsafe lane change or U-turn – A driver making a lane change or U-turn must yield to oncoming traffic. If they fail to do so, they may unexpectedly enter oncoming traffic without giving other drivers enough time to slow down to avoid a crash.
  • Sudden change in speed – If a leading driver is speeding and suddenly slams on their brakes, they could be held partially responsible if they are hit from behind.
  • Malfunctioning brake lights – Brake lights serve the purpose of notifying other drivers that a vehicle is slowing down or stopping. A driver who fails to replace a broken brake light can be held partially liable if a rear-end collision occurs.
  • Pile-up collision – Depending on the specific circumstances of a pile-up, fault may be shared between two or more drivers. For example, if a driver is speeding and rear-ends the car in front, they would be liable for the accident. If the front car driver followed behind another vehicle too closely and rear-ended that car, they would also be responsible for the accident.

Determining fault in a rear-end collision can be a complicated task involving investigating the accident’s details and gathering evidence to support a claim. If you have been involved in a rear-end collision in which you believe the leading driver may be partially or fully to blame, consider speaking with a San Francisco auto accident injury lawyer who can assist you in understanding your options.

Options for Recovering Damages from a Rear-end Collision 

California is an “at-fault” state, meaning that the driver responsible for causing a rear-end collision must pay for injuries and property damage caused to other parties. California law requires all drivers to carry liability coverage as part of their auto insurance policy. Therefore, if you have been injured in a rear-end collision that another driver caused, you have the right to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. An alternative option is to file an insurance claim with your auto insurance company, which will then make a claim against the at-fault driver’s policy. In some cases, insurance payouts do not adequately cover the losses caused by an accident, particularly in the event of severe injury. In this case, a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver may be required to recover fair compensation.

The Law Offices of Daniel S. Rose are Here to Assist

Determining fault in a rear-end collision is not always a simple task. While a trailing driver is most commonly assumed to be responsible, the specific circumstances which led to the crash may provide evidence that the leading driver was either partially or fully to blame. San Francisco auto accident injury lawyer, Daniel S. Rose, has extensive experience in handling car accident cases. He can help you to determine who was at fault in a rear-end collision and gather evidence to support your claim. He can also help you calculate the true value of your damages and will work tirelessly to pursue fair compensation for you, whether through an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel S. Rose today by calling (415) 946-8900 for a free consultation.

 

 

The Most Dangerous Intersections in San Francisco

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) reports that around 30 people are killed each year in traffic accidents on San Francisco roads, and more than 500 are severely injured. Pedestrians and cyclists are the most at risk. The most dangerous intersections in San Francisco are where many of these accidents happen.

If you have been injured or have lost a loved one in a traffic accident in San Francisco, you need to speak with an experienced San Francisco injury lawyer immediately. At the Law Offices of Daniel S. Rose, we are committed to pursuing justice for traffic accident victims who are being treated unfairly. Allow us to handle your case while you focus on your recovery. Contact us today by calling 888-575-7144 for a free consultation.

The Dangers of Intersections

The Federal Highway Administration reports that 50 percent of all traffic accidents occur at or near an intersection, making them the second most common type of car accident in the U.S. after rear-end collisions. Several factors can contribute to making an intersection dangerous, including:

  • Multiple points of entry to an intersection – The greater number of driveways leading into an intersection, the greater the chance of an accident. The entry and exit driveways for many businesses in San Francisco feed into intersections, thereby creating greater risks not just for motorists but for pedestrians and cyclists as well.
  • Drivers making illegal or unsafe turns – Drivers put other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists at risk if they fail to yield right of way when making a turn or if they make an illegal turn at a red light.
  • Distracted driving and distracted pedestrians – Drivers and pedestrians alike put themselves and others at risk when they do not pay full attention to the road and the traffic around them. Drivers or pedestrians who are looking at a cell phone may fail to yield right of way at an intersection or may not notice another car or pedestrian on the road when they enter an intersection.

Most Dangerous Intersections in San Francisco

The most dangerous intersections in San Francisco are those that have experienced the most traffic collisions over recent years. Motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists should, therefore, be extra cautious when traveling through these intersections. Data from the City of San Francisco indicates that these are the intersections in San Francisco with the highest number of collisions occurring between 2005 and 2022:

  1. 5th and Market
  2. Market and Octavia
  3. 6th and Market
  4. Mission and Van Ness
  5. 16th and Potrero
  6. Duboce and Mission
  7. Market and 8th
  8. 13th and Van Ness
  9. Market and 7th
  10. 19th and Sloat

Specifically, 5th and Market, 6th and Market, and Market and 7th are the most dangerous intersections in San Francisco for pedestrians, as indicated by the number of vehicle and pedestrian collisions recorded by the City of San Francisco.

What is Being Done to Make San Francisco Intersections Safer?

The SFMTA is working to improve the safety of various intersections around the city with measures such as:

  • Lowering speed limits
  • Adding poles and speed bumps to roads to encourage slower turns
  • Adding more pedestrian signals and crosswalks
  • Widening sidewalks

Improvements to street design and regulation are also being made over the long term through the Vision Zero SF plan.

What to do if You Have Been Injured in a Car Accident in San Francisco

If you have been injured in a car accident in San Francisco, you are likely dealing with both physical and emotional stress related to the incident. Your losses may include medical bills, property damage, lost income, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life. Under California law, you have the right to receive compensation for these losses if another person was at least partially to blame for the accident.

One of the most important steps you can take to protect your legal rights is to contact an experienced San Francisco injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. At the Law Office of Daniel H. Rose, we can help you identify and prove your losses to an insurance company or a judge, so you can recover fair and adequate compensation for your injuries.

Bay Area car accident attorney, Daniel S. Rose, has dedicated his career to pursuing justice on behalf of those who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing. He has over 26 years of experience in successfully handling all kinds of complex personal injury cases. Contact his office to discuss your case today.

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.