Car accidents are traumatic, all too common occurrences in society and especially in urban Southern California cities like Temecula. The average household in Temecula, a city of over 110,000 owns 2 vehicles while the employee population in Temecula – over 50,000 – spends over 32 minutes a day commuting. This provides ample opportunity for accidents to commonly occur on major streets such at the 15 freeway, Temecula Parkway, Margarita, and Butterfield Stage Road.
In comparison to the rest of California, where there are over 150,000 crashes annually causing injury and 2,800 causing fatalities, Temecula has higher than average injury rates and fatality rates resulting from automobile accidents. Additionally, it has an additional risk factor due to the fact 61% of fatal crashes in California occur in urban areas. Because of the increased risk in Temecula and the extensive use of vehicles there and in surrounding cities, it is important to understand how you can protect your rights and what to do if you are injured in a car accident.
How Do I Prove I Was Injured in a Car Accident in Temecula and Recover Damages?
In order to recover for personal injuries sustained in a car accident, victims usually put forward the argument that the other party involved was negligent and such negligence resulted in their injuries. Under California law, people are charged with operating under a duty to exercise the same care that an ordinarily prudent person would exercise when placed in their situation. When someone breaches that duty of care through either an affirmative act or an omission when they should instead have acted, they are considered negligent. If a victim can show this negligence caused their injuries, they may recover. In California, violating a traffic law is considered per se negligence.
What If I Am Partially at Fault for the Accident Around Temecula?
Not all car accidents are the result of a single person. Car accidents producing injury in Temecula may be caused for various reasons and all parties involved may be held partially at fault for driver errors or negligence, such as:
- Distracted driving;
- Texting and driving;
- Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs (Prescribed or Otherwise);
- Failing to Yield;
- Failing to Obey Traffic Signs or Signals;
- Driving While Fatigued.
In these cases, California has adopted a policy of comparative negligence to handle these scenarios. In car accident cases, pure comparative negligence works by assigning a percentage of fault to the parties involved in the accident. The amount of fault for each party corresponds to the amount of damages they must pay. If a victim suffered $10,000 in damages and is found to be 40% at fault for their accident while another party is found 60% at fault, the other party would only be responsible for $6,000 worth of the victim’s damages.
What Can I Recover?
If a car accident injures you, you have a right to recover damages from whomever is at fault due to their negligence or recklessness. Temecula has laws allowing car accident victims to seek compensatory damages from the offending party in order to make them whole for their injuries. Compensatory damages may be economic or noneconomic. Economic damages are harms that are financially quantifiable and include such things as:
- Medical expenses (past and future);
- Lost future earnings and earning potential;
- Property damage;
- Costs associated with a funeral; and
- Lost wages.
Noneconomic damages are damages to compensate for nonquantifiable harms. Courts may award compensation for harms such as:
- Loss of consortium (companionship);
- Pain and suffering;
- Mental anguish;
- Disfigurement; and
- Permanent disability.
In addition to compensatory damages, Temecula victims may also receive an award of punitive damages in some cases – these damages specifically mean to punish a wrongdoer’s egregious, particularly reprehensible, reckless, or intentional conduct and serve as motivation to avoid engaging in the same behavior in the future. The victim must show a party acted with oppression, malice, or fraud. Once a showing has been made by the victim a judge or jury can then determine both if punitive damages should be awarded and in what amount. The award may be based on a variety of factors, but there is no fixed standard and so judges and juries must consider punitive damages on a case by case basis.
Does Temecula Have A Time Limit for Filing A Lawsuit?
If you were injured in a car accident in Temecula or the surrounding area, it is important to take immediate steps to try and recover damages. California has statutory limitations on the amount of time you may wait before filing a cause of action for personal injury – once that has passed, your claim is time barred and lost forever. Currently, Temecula car accident victims have 2 years to file their claim, which begins running the day of the accident. Filing after 2 years will result in dismissal by California courts. You should act quickly to collect records and seek the advice of an attorney experienced in car accidents; we are skilled practitioners in the Temecula area and can help evaluate your case and decide how best to proceed going forward.
What Should I Do Now?
Just because you have the right to sue for personal injuries or wrongful death as soon as the car accident occurs does not mean it is always the best idea to do so immediately. Serious injuries may require extensive recovery times and multiple types of treatment. You and all medical professionals treating you should establish a firm treatment plan to ascertain the quantity of care you require and the cost of such care in the future to quantify your damages properly.
Additionally, you should keep records of all:
- Medical expenses;
- Medical treatments;
- Lost wages;
- Repairs to your property; and
- Other financial damages you suffer as a result of the accident and your injuries.
Consult a Skilled Temecula Car Accident Attorney Today
You should consult with a personal injury attorney experienced with car accident cases in Temecula to understand your options, have a professional evaluation of your case, and determine the best way to proceed. Our attorneys represent California clients in Temecula and the surrounding Southern California areas such as Murrieta, Lake Elsinore, Sun City, Fallbrook, and Perris. Contact the experienced Temecula car accident attorneys at Walton Law today to schedule a no-risk, confidential case review. There is no obligation and you will pay no fees unless we win your case. We are available 24/7 at (866)-338-7079 or you may use our online Contact Page to set up your initial consultation today. Our skilled attorneys will evaluate your unique circumstances and help you or your loved one attain the best outcome possible.