Car accidents are an unfortunate reality for thousands of Americans every day. California is notorious for its traffic, and San Mateo residents should bear this in mind on the road. Traffic collisions happen for a variety of reasons including inclement weather, vehicle defects, road hazards, and more. Drivers must carry auto insurance policies to cover unexpected damages, but when other drivers cause accidents due to negligence, the injured victims have to secure compensation for their losses, in most cases, through personal injury claims.
If this sounds like you, contact the Sam Mateo car accident attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for immediate help. With free consultations, no attorney fees unless we win and more multi-million compensation awards than any other law firm in Northern California, we’re the legal team worth your trust and time.
Negligent Behaviors in Car Accidents
If you’ve incurred injuries and additional damages in a San Mateo car accident, you may be able to collect compensation for the harm you suffered under California law. Successfully navigating a car accident claim requires the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. The lawyers at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger commit to protecting your best interests and securing fair compensation for your injuries. Contact us for a free review of your legal options today.
Determining Fault in a Car Accident
You may be able to collect both monetary and nonmonetary damages from an at-fault driver in the wake of an accident, assuming the following conditions apply:
- The driver owed you a duty of care. Under California law, all drivers owe an equal duty of care to one another on the road (commercial drivers may owe a higher duty of care).
- The driver breached his or her duty of care. This represents an act of “committing negligence.” Negligence in a car accident typically arises from failing to follow applicable traffic laws.
- The driver’s breach led to your injuries.
- You suffered monetary and/or non-monetary harms as a result.
Assuming these elements apply to your case, the full extent of your damages may be compensable in accordance with California law. One of the main aspects of determining fault, however, is identifying the negligent behavior that led to the car accident.
Motor Vehicle Collision Injuries and Damages
The state of California saw more than 3,000 deaths from motor vehicle crashes in 2015 alone. Considering the state’s huge population and widespread traffic density, it’s vital for San Mateo drivers to recognize the inherent dangers of driving in California. Many victims of car accidents caused by negligence suffer property damage to their vehicles and personal belongings, severe injuries including deep cuts, burns, broken bones, and head trauma, and may even have trouble returning to work after an accident.
The right San Mateo car accident attorney can help the victim of a traffic collision secure the compensation he or she needs to recover losses and return to normalcy. When a driver suffers injuries and other damages due to the actions of another driver, the subsequent lawsuit falls under the purview of personal injury law.
Like any other personal injury lawsuit, the injured plaintiff has the burden of proving the defendant’s negligence. This typically involves establishing four facts in court:
- First, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care at the time of the incident. For car accident cases, this simply means explaining to the court that the defendant had a duty to follow the traffic laws and operate his or her vehicle responsibly.
- Second, the plaintiff has to show how the defendant breached this duty of care. This could include speeding, using a phone while driving, failing to signal a turn or lane change, or otherwise failing to drive safely.
- Third, the plaintiff must prove that he or she suffered actual harm. If the plaintiff suffered no injury or incurred no financial loss as a result of the defendant’s actions, the plaintiff has no claim.
- Finally, once the plaintiff has proven the extent of his or her losses, the plaintiff must prove that those losses were the direct result of the defendant’s negligence and not some other cause.
Common Causes of Automobile Accidents
One of the most common causes of motor vehicle accidents is human error. While drivers all have a responsibility to be reasonably careful on the roadways, not everyone follows this duty. Some common examples of human error leading to car accidents include:
- Failure to yield
- Cell phone use and texting
- Distracted driving
- Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failure to keep a safe following distance
- Fatigue or sleepiness
Even overconfidence can play a role in car crashes, as vehicle operators tend to believe they are better drivers than they are.
Not all car accidents arise from driver error, however. Sometimes, negligence on the part of the government or other municipal bodies may play a role in the accident. This applies to car accidents resulting from improper road maintenance, construction zones with improper labeling, and more. Even roadway design can affect a crash.
Lastly, car accidents can arise from manufacturer or vehicle maker negligence. Inherent flaws in a car’s design, such as an SUV that’s prone to roll over, can play a role in deadly or injury-causing crashes. In other cases, the manufacturer of a car’s components can play a role in a driver’s injuries. One recent example is the Takata airbag company; its airbags shot debris into a driver’s face upon impact, causing injuries and death.
Help With Car Accident Claims
There could be many parties at play in a car accident. While another driver may be responsible for your injuries, you may also have a claim against a vehicle manufacturer or even the government. Car accident claims can become very complex and require the guidance of an experienced attorney.
Car accident claims also have a unique statute of limitations or a time limit for filing. If a government entity is responsible for your injuries, your statute of limitations could be a short as six months. Therefore, it is essential to seek help from a car accident attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can help identify the parties responsible for your injuries and seek fair compensation for them.
Any number of negligent behaviors may be responsible for your car accident. A Sacramento accident attorney can help you navigate these claims and secure the compensation you deserve.
Winning Your San Mateo Accident Lawsuit
Time is a critical factor in any personal injury case. An injured driver’s first priority after an accident should be to seek medical attention and obtain a report of his or her injuries and treatment plan. This document will be essential to building a personal injury case. Injured San Mateo drivers can turn to the attorneys at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for comprehensive legal representation. Under California law regarding personal injury statute of limitations, car accident victims have two years to file their claim or be barred from legal action.
Don’t wait to contact us to schedule a free case evaluation. Our attorneys will let you know how we can help and what to expect from filing a lawsuit. We also operate under a contingency fee basis, meaning our clients are only responsible for legal fees if they win. Our firm has secured more million-dollar case awards and settlements than any other firm in Northern California and we are ready to put our talents, experience, and resources at the disposal of injured drivers in San Mateo.