Driving gives us freedom and mobility, but it comes with many risks—including the possibility of a life-altering car accident.
Reports suggest that traffic and congestion increase the risk of auto accidents. San Francisco’sFrancisco’s streets have a high congestion level of 26%. At the same time, more cars on the roads mean slower traffic, tending to reduce traffic accidents.
However, the San Francisco Bay Area also has some of the worst-maintained roads in the country. The Bay Area Metro Center says they show “serious wear and likely will require rehabilitation soon.” Drivers in the area are particularly susceptible to car accidents.
The Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) shows an average of 30 fatalities in San Francisco from car accidents annually. An average of 3,572.8 total injuries (273 serious) occur directly from traffic accidents.
Protect yourself and your loved ones from legal trouble following an auto accident. If you got hurt, contact a personal injury lawyer in San Francisco to handle your personal injury claims. The Personal Injury Center offers free case evaluations. Explore our comprehensive database for legal advice. We can refer you to an experienced attorney to take care of your auto accident case.
Understanding How California Accident Car Accident Law Works
Laws and limitations for drivers exist to keep everyone safe on the road and provide legal protection should something wrong happen. Several essential California laws applicable in case of an auto accident can impact the result of your personal injury claim.
As a driver in a car accident, you should know you have certain obligations and requirements. Failure to obey the traffic laws of San Francisco can result in fines, loss of driving privileges, or criminal charges.
Accident reporting requirements
Drivers in a car accident in San Fransisco must abide by California state laws regarding accident reporting. Some of the rules include the following:
- Stopping or remaining at the scene of the accident
- Checking if anyone has sustained injuries
- Rendering aid to anyone who was injured
- Exchanging personal, vehicle, and insurance information with the other driver
California Vehicle Code § 20008 requires drivers whose cars were in an accident to make a written report within 24 hours. The crash must be reported to the California Highway Patrol or the local police department if the accident caused injury or death.
The accident report should contain the following:
- The full names and mailing addresses of each driver involved in the accident, and anyone else injured by the accident
- The precise details of the time, date, and location of the accident
- All motorists’ birthdates and driver’s license information
- The insurance information of all drivers
- A complete and detailed explanation of property damage and injuries
Failing to properly and promptly file a report on the car accident may result in fines or criminal charges. Failure to report a car accident within ten days may result in the revocation of driving privileges.
Minimum insurance requirements
California requires car owners to have evidence of financial responsibility whenever they drive by obtaining liability insurance. Car liability insurance compensates other drivers, passengers, or pedestrians for injury or property damage in an accident.
According to California law, your auto insurance must meet the minimum requirements of 15/30/5 insurance, which means that your insurance provides coverage for the following in an accident you cause:
- $15,000 for the injury or death of a single person
- $30,000 for injury or death to two or more persons
- $5,000 for property damage
Remember, this is only the minimum coverage. Consider carrying more coverage to protect yourself in the case of a serious car accident. You’d need it mainly if it results in severe injuries or serious vehicle damage.
Motorists who do not have proof of insurance readily available when involved in a car crash can result in fines or even the loss of driving privileges.
As a responsible driver in the San Francisco Bay Area, always have proof of insurance wherever you go. It helps to be ready when renewing, obtaining vehicle registration, or getting involved in an auto accident.
California has a pure comparative negligence system to determine liability in a personal injury claim.
Under this system, each person or party at fault for an accident must cover their portion of the responsibility.
Sometimes, multiple parties may be at fault for the same car accident. For these situations, California laws allow more than one party to be held financially responsible for the total cost of all damages in proportion to the degree of their fault.
This system ensures that accident victims can cover at least part of the damages they sustain. It also prevents injured parties from receiving full compensation for an accident for which they may have been partially responsible.
The “pure” aspect of California’s comparative negligence system means an accident victim can recover damages, regardless of their fault. For example, if a victim is 80% at-fault for an accident, they can still receive 20% of the damages awarded.
Statute of limitations
The statute of limitations means a person’s time limit to file specific legal actions. One of these is filing a personal injury lawsuit following a traumatic car crash. In California, you can file bodily or personal lawsuits up to two years after the event. You can file property damage claims within three years.
The judge will likely dismiss the case if a victim files a complaint after these deadlines. Because of this, it is vital to know the deadlines for each legal action you should take.
Consult with a personal injury lawyer to ensure you do everything right and on time. Having experienced legal representation on your side in a case can make a massive difference in the final court verdict.
Sometimes, situations may arise where the time limit for claims can be extended, called “tolling,” the statute of limitations. Talk with your San Francisco personal injury lawyer to see if these rare exceptions apply to your situation.
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Why Should You Hire a San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer?
Suppose you were in a car accident in San Francisco. Like most people, you’re probably hesitant about hiring a lawyer, especially if it wasn’t your fault.
However, the aftermath of a car accident can be messy. The insurance company might drag out your claim, or the other driver might take you to court.
San Francisco car accident lawyers can keep you safe from a traffic accident’s legal and financial consequences. Here are some things an attorney can do for you.
Negligence is a significant factor in determining liability in a car crash in San Francisco. California Civil Code (CIV) §1714 allows victims to hold the other driver liable for injuries due to negligence.
A lawyer can help prove that the other driver was at fault by gathering and presenting evidence of negligence. Evidence may include medical documents, photographs of the car crash scene, vehicle damage, and eyewitness statements.
Determine the cost of damages
The total sum of the compensation you can receive after a car accident depends on the severity of injuries and losses sustained. However, it takes work to determine the exact monetary value of your damages.
In this situation, a personal injury attorney can help injured victims get the maximum compensation following a car accident. The lawyer determines the economic and non-economic damages appropriate for the physical injuries and emotional trauma resulting from the accident.
Negotiate a fair settlement
Typically, insurance companies offer injured victims the lowest settlement. This is rarely fair to the victim of a car accident. It would be best if you did not accept the first offer unless you ran out of time. It’s wise to seek legal advice and representation before deciding.
A lawyer is adept at dealing with insurance companies. Based on the circumstances, they can negotiate a fair settlement for car accident victims. An experienced car accident lawyer in California can help get you the compensation you deserve by gathering the necessary evidence.
Common Types of Car Accident Cases San Francisco Accident Lawyers Handle
Every collision is unique. Many factors contribute to auto accidents, whether a head-on collision with two cars or multi-vehicle rear-end collisions. The key is determining liability for each of these situations.
San Francisco accident lawyers handle various types of car accident cases. Below are some of the more common traffic accidents in the Bay Area.
Head-on collisions are when the fronts of two cars crash into each other. This situation often results when a driver travels straight into oncoming traffic, such as when overtaking.
Other situations include coming down the wrong direction on a one-way street or exit ramp or crossing the median on a highway. This type of collision is relatively rare, but it can be devastating and fatal when they happen.
Rollover accidents occur when a car flips due to a vehicle defect, poor road conditions, or a collision. The leading cause of a rollover is the motorist turning the car too sharply and quickly. These accidents may involve injury and damage to other vehicles.
Rear-end collisions are more common but typically less catastrophic compared to head-on collisions. These incidents often occur because the at-fault driver follows the vehicle in front too closely for the conditions.
Responsible drivers must always travel at an adequate stopping or following distance behind another vehicle. Failure to do so may make the rear car unable to brake fast enough to avoid a crash.
Drunk driving may also cause motorists to tailgate vehicles at a dangerously close distance, increasing the risk of rear-end collisions. The rear driver is usually at fault in this type of collision, but that is not always the case.
A collision with the vehicle’s side may occur when a vehicle fails to yield to another car at an intersection. It may be due to failure to check blind spots, follow traffic signs, or account for traffic conditions.
Because the sides of cars have less structural protection, passengers can suffer severe injuries from side-impact collisions. Side-impact collisions are categorized by the damage done to the car. They accounted for 35.4 percent of all vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2020.
Protect Your Legal Rights With Help from The Personal Injury Center
Many laws and regulations govern the way drivers should act on the road. But sometimes, bad things happen. Car accidents are part of the risk of driving in San Francisco, California.
Get legal advice immediately if you or a loved one has been in a car accident in the Bay Area. You must proactively protect yourself and your property from unfair legal action and get the compensation you deserve.
The Personal Injury Center has the resources to find San Francisco car accident attorneys. They can help you achieve the best potential outcome in a car accident case. Get a free consultation and discover your advocate today!
FAQs on Car Accident Lawyers in San Francisco
What are the typical injuries in San Francisco Bay Area accidents?
Car accidents may cause different injuries, some of which may not be easy to diagnose after the incident. You may feel the discomfort of an injury a few days or even weeks after the car crash. Common types of injuries resulting from auto accidents in the Bay Area include the following:
- Whiplash or soft tissue injuries to the neck
- Back injuries, such as a spinal injury
- Head trauma, which affects the face, skull, and brain and can lead to traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, and more
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries
How much is San Francisco, California's average car accident settlement?
The laws in California allow car accident victims to seek compensation for sustained losses and other damages. Most California car accident settlements vary between $5,000 and $40,000, with $21,00 being the average amount of compensation.
A rule of thumb is that an auto accident case can be worth two to three times your past medical expenses. However, auto insurance companies may try to argue that your medical bills are unreasonable.
The value of your car accident settlement may only cover your medical expenses. However, it is possible to claim for emotional distress, classified as “general damages.” Speak with an auto accident lawyer in San Francisco to determine the best approach to seeking compensation for your case.
What should you do after an auto accident in San Francisco?
The first thing to do after a car accident is to refrain from taking the blame for the accident. Even making a verbal apology may be taken against you, a mistake easily made by potential litigants. Anything that might suggest you are at fault for the accident can come back to bite you.
Secondly, be sure to note any statements the other driver makes. Use your phone to document details about the accident, including names, addresses, license plate numbers, and insurance information. If you can take pictures or a video of the road and weather conditions, do so.
It is also a good idea to gather the names and badge numbers of the police officers at the scene. This would make it easier for you to get copies of the car crash report later.
Seek medical attention immediately. Some of the injuries sustained by car accident victims may not be obvious or felt at the scene. However, suppose you did not seek treatment as soon as possible after the accident. In that case, the opposing attorney might use the delayed request for assistance to minimize the severity of your injuries.
Lastly, protect your right to compensation by contacting a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.