Due to the high speeds at which they often occur, highway accidents may result in catastrophic injuries or even death. If you or a loved one is hurt in a highway accident, you should call the police to the scene. The report created by the police may be useful in case you need to recover damages in a lawsuit with the aid of a car accident attorney. In cases involving injuries, death, or property damage of at least $1,000, you should also report the accident to the DMV. Experienced California highway accident lawyer Travis G. Black was previously an insurance adjuster and law enforcement officer, and he brings his insights related to these fields to bear on his clients’ personal injury lawsuits.
Seeking Compensation for Highway Accidents
California has laws that restrict the time within which you may file a personal injury lawsuit after highway accidents or another type of crash. Under California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, you have only two years to file a personal injury lawsuit after a highway accident. This timeframe may be extended somewhat in instances in which you do not discover your injuries right away. However, in most cases, the injuries in highway accidents arise at the scene of the accident, and it may be necessary to obtain emergency treatment or other medical care right away.
In most cases, you will need to establish that another driver was negligent. You will need to show that the other driver owed a duty to drive using reasonable care, failed to do so, and as a result caused your injuries. All drivers owe a duty of reasonable care to other people with whom they share the highway, and there are many ways that this duty is breached each day. For example, a driver who is texting while driving on the highway and rear-ends another car that has unexpectedly slowed is likely to be found negligent. Similarly, a driver who weaves in and out of traffic in a hurry to get to a destination and eventually hits a car is likely to be found negligent. A Folsom car accident attorney can help California residents identify each of the parties that may be liable in their case.
In some cases, however, a highway accident is a result of governmental or third-party negligence. For example, if the government has hired contractors to repair a portion of the road, and there are inadequate warnings, or another dangerous condition is created on the highway by the repairs, you may have grounds to file a premises liability claim against the government. However, a different, additional set of rules applies when the government is the defendant. You have a much shorter window of time within which to provide notice to the government and file suit.
Often, defendants raise a comparative negligence defense in highway accident cases. In California, you may recover compensation from an at-fault person or entity, but your compensation is reduced by an amount equal to your fault. For example, if you were speeding, and this contributed to an accident primarily caused by another driver, such that a jury finds you 30% responsible and the other driver 70% responsible, and the damages are $500,000, you may only recover $350,000 from the other driver.