Vision is impaired at night, and night driving accidents are thus not uncommon. Often, drivers are faced with the problem of trying to see in the dark as well as facing the glare of headlights. This makes for difficulties moving back and forth between dark and bright objects. Even though there are many fewer people on the road at night, over 40% of fatal car accidents happen at night. If you are injured or a loved one was killed in a night driving accident, California car accident attorney Travis G. Black may be able to help.
Why You Need Legal Representation for a Night Crash Claim
Any car accident has the potential to cause severe injuries and costly economic damages for the victim. Damages from accidents that occur at nighttime often eclipse the amount of damages for an accident that occurs during the day. This is because drivers are more likely to be able to maneuver to mitigate crash damage in good visibility. Many of the factors that cause night crashes are less likely to be present. However, night crashes pose some unique challenges that demand the attention of an experienced Folsom night driving accident attorney.
Immediately after an accident, it is crucial for the victim to know what to do. This increases the chance of success with a future insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the driver responsible for causing the accident. As a general rule, if the victim is able to do so safely, they should take photos of their vehicle, their injuries, and the positions of the vehicles in the road. This should be done before first responders arrive and clear the accident scene. These photos can be instrumental in securing an insurance claim payout or proving the other driver’s fault for causing the accident in a personal injury claim.
Unfortunately, nighttime can make it difficult to secure such evidence. Additionally, night crashes are more likely to involve severe injuries, and the victim may not be able to take photos while they wait for an ambulance to take them to the hospital. Working with a reliable Folsom night driving accident attorney can help overcome these obstacles. Your attorney will know how to secure the evidence you need to prove liability for your accident. Vehicle computer data, traffic camera footage, and even CCTV footage from nearby businesses may have captured your accident. Your attorney can also subpoena phone records to determine if the driver responsible for your accident was driving while distracted by their cell phone.
Night Driving Accidents
Night driving accidents can happen at any time from dusk to dawn. Often, drivers have difficulty adjusting to lower levels of light while also accommodating bright headlights. Even though there are fewer cars on the road at night, more drivers are fatigued, speeding, drunk, on drugs, distracted or drowsy. Many fatalities occur on the roads at night.
All drivers have a duty of care to follow the rules of the road and operate their vehicles as safely as possible. When driving conditions are poor, such as nighttime with low visibility, drivers have the added responsibility of using extra caution. Unfortunately, not all drivers use the appropriate level of caution when driving at night when even momentary inattention can lead to a serious accident. Determining fault for a nighttime crash comes down to proving that the at-fault driver did not uphold their duty of care and caused the victim’s damages.
Damages and Compensation for Night Crash Claims
If you are injured in a night driving accident, you may be able to recover damages by establishing negligence. You will need to show that the other driver owed you a duty of care, breached this duty, caused your injuries, and through their carelessness led to your sustaining actual damages. In California, all drivers owe a duty to use reasonable care, given road conditions and the circumstances. This may mean driving more slowly at night and paying closer attention. The duty to use reasonable care may be breached by a driver who is sleepy and runs a stop sign, by a drunk driver who weaves into your lane, or by a driver who cannot judge distance well in the dark and rams into the rear of your car, for example. You would need to show that your injuries would not have occurred if the other driver (or drivers) had acted carefully under the circumstances.
Often, a defendant driver tries to argue that the plaintiff was partially to blame. Your damages can be reduced based on your comparative negligence. The defendant will need to submit evidence about your negligence while driving at night. The jury will evaluate the evidence and can assign a percentage of fault to each of you. Any damages that it awards will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
The purpose of damages recovered in a personal injury lawsuit is to put you back into the position in which you would have been had you not been injured. Damages that may be recovered include medical bills, lost wages, household services, loss of enjoyment of life, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of consortium.
Personal Injury vs. Wrongful Death Actions
As a loved one of someone who died as a result of a night driving accident, you may be able to recover wrongful death damages. Wrongful death damages can include burial expenses, funeral expenses, the lost income that the decedent would reasonably have expected to earn had they lived according to a normal life expectancy, hospital bills, the loss of financial support, the value of household services, and the loss of love, community, and guidance.
Wrongful death claims mirror personal injury claims in many ways. The surviving family of a driver wrongfully killed in a nighttime crash can secure several types of compensation. Additionally, if the victim survived for any measure of time after the accident, it is possible for their loved ones to file a survival action on their behalf. This is to recover compensation for medical expenses for treating their final injuries in addition to the other damages available through a wrongful death action. It is common for families filing wrongful death actions to also have the legal right to pursue survival actions in tandem with their wrongful death claims.
Depending on the nature of the accident, it is possible for the state to bring criminal charges against the at-fault driver as well. This is why it is so crucial to work with an experienced and reliable Folsom night driving accident attorney if you intend to pursue legal action for your own nighttime accident or the fatal accident of a loved one.
Punitive Damages and Restitution
Typically, you cannot recover punitive damages after a car accident. Most crashes are caused by negligent rather than intentional conduct. Unlike compensatory damages, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant and deter future similar conduct. However, at nighttime, drunk drivers are more likely to be on the road. In California, you may be able to recover punitive damages from a drunk driver whose drunk driving caused an accident.
In the event an at-fault driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs, or if they were engaged in any type of criminal behavior when they caused the accident in question, the at-fault driver will likely face criminal prosecution in addition to civil liability for victims’ damages. Restitution may form part of their punishment. This term describes monetary compensation paid to the victim of a crime by the perpetrator. When the at-fault driver’s criminal actions were not directly focused on the victim, punitive damages are more likely. The amount a victim receives in punitive damages hinges on the overall financial status of the defendant.
What to Expect From Your Folsom Night Driving Accident Attorney
Facing a legal case like a night driving accident claim is much easier when you have reliable legal counsel on your side. If you or a loved one have suffered injuries and economic losses due to the negligence or criminal behavior of another driver in California, it is vital to seek legal representation. Contacting a Folsom night driving accident attorney as soon as possible offers the best chance of securing compensation for your losses.
Your attorney will begin handling your case by helping you gather evidence to prove the fault of the other driver. Nighttime accidents can make evidence more difficult to procure, but an experienced attorney will know where to look for the evidence you need to establish liability for your damages. It is also common for attorneys to consult expert witnesses to help them clarify highly technical details of a case. For example, your Folsom night driving accident attorney may work with an engineering professional to clarify the exact details of how a nighttime crash occurred. Medical professionals may also weigh in to assist in proving the full extent of their client’s injuries and the likelihood of permanent medical complications or disabilities resulting from the accident.
The next phase of representation will focus on your damages. It is essential to work with an experienced Folsom night driving accident attorney if you want to maximize the compensation you receive from your lawsuit. It is not uncommon for injured drivers to accept lowball insurance claim payouts out of desperation. They may also accept personal injury settlements without claiming all damages available to them. For example, when it comes to medical expenses in a personal injury claim, the victim has the right to not only claim their immediate medical expenses like ambulance fees and hospital bills. They may also claim long-term medical expenses for necessary rehabilitation, future surgeries, and the cost of required in-home medical care.
An experienced attorney will help you explore the full scope of damages available in your case. Ultimately, hiring a reliable attorney can result in much more compensation than you initially expected, even when you account for the cost of legal fees.
The first phase of recovery after a car accident is typically an insurance claim. However, insurance companies are rarely agreeable when it comes to claims from injured drivers. California upholds a fault rule for car accidents, meaning any driver found responsible for causing an accident should expect a driver injured by their actions to file a claim against their auto insurance policy.
It is best to work with an experienced Folsom night driving accident attorney if you must file an insurance claim against an at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. Having an attorney draft your claim letter will significantly reduce the chance of the insurance company mishandling or unnecessarily delaying your claim. Some insurance companies attempt to settle claims with lowball offers, relying on claimants’ desperation, to avoid full payout. Your attorney can help you prevent this. They can secure maximum compensation from an insurance claim before proceeding to further legal action if the total amount of your damages eclipses the total amount of available insurance coverage. In the event you encounter any unethical actions from an insurance company, your attorney can help you address insurance bad faith as well.
Settlement vs Trial in a Car Accident Claim
Car accident lawsuits fall under personal injury law, and the vast majority of personal injury claims settle outside of court. Going to trial typically does not suit the best interests of either party. Litigation will mean more legal fees and a longer wait for resolution for both the plaintiff and the defendant. Settlement offers the plaintiff the ability to secure compensation for their losses more quickly. Likewise, the defendant is able to settle the matter and avoid liability for future claims related to the incident in question.
Settlement, however, requires the participation of both parties. If the defendant outright denies liability and demands a trial, litigation may be unavoidable. It is also possible for settlement negotiations to prove unfruitful if the defendant contests the amount of damages the plaintiff claims. They may acknowledge liability for the incident in question but disagree with the amount of damages the plaintiff claims. They may begin settlement negotiations but ultimately move to litigation if they cannot reach a mutually agreeable resolution.