Understanding Your Legal Rights After a Car Crash in San Francisco

Ordinary daily driving can be dangerous despite being a mundane event. As of 2021, more than 200 million licensed drivers are in the US. California alone accounts for over 27 million drivers. That shows Californians’ reliance on motor vehicles to get where they need to go. 

Despite travel restrictions during the pandemic, there were still 3,786 traffic-related deaths in the Golden State in 2021. Twenty-seven fatalities were in San Francisco alone.

Because of the upward trend of car crash incidents in the locality, the San Francisco government implemented the Vision Zero policy. It aims to prevent traffic deaths and reduce serious injuries by 2024. 

The city also added new laws to regulate motor vehicle safety and avoid serious injury from car crashes. The Vision Zero policy includes plans for road improvements in areas such as Bay Bridge, Bay Area, East Bay, and Santa Rosa.

Many factors cause car crashes in San Francisco. You’ll never know when you’ll get in a car crash as a passenger or driver. 

Being in a car crash in the Bay Area, Oakland, or San Jose can be nerve-wracking. The Personal Injury Center has a compilation of essential information to get you sorted if you become a party in a car accident in San Francisco. They can help you make the right choices after an accident, including seeking professional legal help after a car crash. 

We can also help connect you with a lawyer specializing in car accidents. You are not alone in dealing with your accident.

Key Takeaways
  • Car crashes in California have been trending upward for the past 12 years.
  • San Francisco aims to eliminate all traffic deaths in their jurisdiction by 2024 and has implemented multiple laws concerning road safety.
  • A personal injury lawyer can help you cope with the consequences of a car crash in SF.

Common Causes of Car Accidents in San Francisco

If you are a driver, you would be familiar with the daily challenges on the road. Poor road design, lousy weather, and defective car parts are some of the things plaguing diligent drivers.

Statistics show that human errors and negligence cause more vehicular accidents than other factors. According to the California Highway Patrol or CHP, unsafe speeds, improper turns, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs cause more damage than others.

In 2022, California had 55,000 car crashes and pileups recorded by the authorities. Car accidents and hit-and-run crashes increased significantly after travel restrictions eased.

After experiencing a car crash in San Francisco, the victims are commonly left confused and anxious. They usually don’t know what hit them. Find out the common causes of car crashes to avoid being part of one. 

Excessive speeding

In 2020, 11 thousand died due to unsafe driving speeds. This number accounts for 29 percent of all traffic-related deaths that year.

A speeding-related accident is a crash where the driver was racing, driving too fast for the conditions, or exceeding the speed limit. Excessive speeding puts the speeder’s life at risk and endangers the lives of others on the road.

Excessive speeding leaves little to no time for any driver to react and avoid a car crash. Even excellent drivers increase their chances of losing control of their vehicle when they go over the speed limit.

Speeding also increases the stopping needed threshold for your vehicle to make a complete stop. Even if you see danger a long way offf, traveling too fast gives you less time to react appropriately. 

Even with modern technology, the protective structures of most vehicles cannot withstand high-speed traffic collisions. Excessive speeding reduces the ability of the car to protect you and other people from serious injury and death.

Have you recently been injured in an accident?

Driving under the influence

Driving a vehicle after consuming drugs or alcohol, even if recreational or prescribed, is driving under the influence (DUI). DUI diminishes the driver’s control over operating the vehicle.

Drugs and alcohol have a deleterious effect on the ability of drivers to react and avoid a crash. It is similar to speeding, as drugs and narcotics make it harder for drivers to judge distances and act safely.

Even if almost all drivers know the dangers of drunk driving, around 10 thousand people still die because of it. All states have outlawed drunk driving because of the alarming number of casualties attributed to it in the past.

Distracted driving

According to the NHTSA, distracted driving is engaging in activities that divert your attention from the road. While it may seem harmless compared to speeding and impaired driving, the actions and consequences are similar.

Distractions take many forms. Sending text messages, talking on the phone, using the navigational system, and eating and drinking are typical examples of distracted driving. Distracting activities make it harder for them to react and respond to potential dangers on the road.

Around nine people are killed daily because of distracted driving. Lives are potentially in danger when people take their eyes off the highway, their hands off the wheel, and their mind off driving.

Road design

Road design plays a significant role in keeping roads safe for pedestrians and drivers. A well-designed route helps drivers keep the risk of accidents low.

Road infrastructure designed with safety in mind complements other road safety measures by encouraging appropriate and responsible road user behavior. It keeps cars from exceeding reasonable speeds and guides them in the correct lanes. Tesla’s autopilot mode relies heavily on proper road infrastructure for safe driving.

A well-designed road can help reduce the consequences of mistakes and accidents. It allows extra space for bad drivers and keeps others safe.

A badly-designed one can make the road unusable and inaccessible to ordinary pedestrians. Researchers and designers have been trying to improve San Francisco Bay’s road layout since 1995.The hope is that the redesign can make the roads safer for people again.

Who is liable for car crashes in SF?

The negligent party in San Francisco, California, is liable for car crashes. A negligent party fails to apply the same ordinary care a prudent person would use under normal circumstances.

Negligence is a legal principle where individuals are held accountable for their actions or inactions. California uses an at-fault system for victims to claim insurance. In at-fault states, you must demonstrate that the other driver is responsible for the accident. 

If you choose to argue statutory negligence, your best chance is to prove that the driver violated Section 17150 of the California Vehicle Code. You can also prove negligence by proving the following elements of common law negligence:

  • Duty of care

The driver is responsible for operating the vehicle with a reasonable degree of care. Some examples are maintaining a vehicle, complying with traffic regulations, operating the vehicle responsibly, and practicing defensive driving.

  • Breach of duty

The driver did not exercise the required care while operating the vehicle. Even if you are driving Elon Musk’s full self-driving Tesla Model S, its day-to-day upkeep and roadworthiness is your responsibility.

  • Causation

The breach is the direct cause of the car crash in SF.

  • Damage

The car crash caused property damage, injury, or death.

If a driver’s negligence caused a car crash in San Francisco, they should be accountable for compensating the injured party. After the insurance company pays the accident victim, it may subrogate their right to sue the at-fault driver.

Common Car Accident Injuries

Car crashes can cause their victims a lot of physical and mental anguish. Recovery can be just as stressful as their time in the hospital and often take longer.

Head and back injuries

Head and back injuries are commonplace in car crashes. The human head is sensitive and prone to disfigurement and fractures. While a concussion is the most common head injury in car crashes, traumatic brain, and spinal cord injuries also occur.

Neck and chest injuries

In a car crash, ribs commonly sustain bruises and fractures due to the seatbelt. While life-saving, the seat belt also causes the head to snap back and forth or whiplash. The muscles in the neck experience strain while the brain gets shaken about to a concussion during an accident. Heart attacks are also surprisingly common in car crashes.

Soft tissue injuries

Although sprains, bruising, and strains are typically less severe than other injuries, they can last for a while after a car accident. In an accident, they can occur on different body parts and may signal various internal problems.

Arm and leg injuries

Dislocation of joints is a possibility if the impact of the car accident is severe. Broken bones are also common in collisions.

Some people say they are lucky to escape car crashes with only physical injuries. Unfortunately, even recovering from the most common car crash injuries can be challenging and long-term.

Getting Compensation for a Car Crash in SF

Getting compensation in car crashes is a complicated process. Fortunately, California follows a pure comparative negligence system to award damages to auto accident victims and other torts cases. 

In a comparative negligence state, insurance companies and the courts balance the damages available to accident victims relative to one another. Each defendant is liable for their percentage of fault. For example, a person who is three percent at fault in a car accident in San Francisco can claim 97 percent of the compensation.

Financial recovery is always complicated post-car crash. However, an experienced professional guide can help you achieve your goal of getting compensation.

Why should you hire a lawyer after a car crash?

Lawyers can protect your legal rights in a personal injury claim. It can hurt your chances of getting fair compensation if you don’t hire one.

An experienced car accident lawyer has the knowledge to determine the value of your physical and emotional injuries. Attempting to estimate injury values yourself might undervalue them and force you to accept an offer below what you should get. The lawyer will work tirelessly to secure what you deserve. 

Determining the at-fault driver

Determining the at-fault driver is crucial because the driver is financially responsible for the damages. With the proper legal know-how, assessing a driver’s degree of fault can be easier.

Determining liability requires a particular set of skills. Aside from legal knowledge, they practice due diligence as a matter of course and sift through every detail of the car crash. Your car accident lawyer can assess if you have a valid case to sue for compensation. 

Complying with the statute of limitations

The statute of limitations is the allowable time wherein a party can file a case against another. A statutory deadline typically runs from the time of the accident.

The period varies depending on the legal claim or legal dispute involved. The California Code of Civil Procedure under Section 335.1 mandates the limit as two years from the incident.

The statute of limitations highlights the need for a lawyer at the soonest possible time after an accident. Calculating the expiration date of your particular case and claim can be a complex legal task.

Lawyers can provide accurate information about your case, including the applicable statute of limitations. They will ensure that you file your claim before it becomes legally impossible. 

Representation in a potential lawsuit

Lawsuits can happen after an accident. When claiming insurance or getting a fair settlement offer fails, a car crash victim can file a court case for compensation.

Navigating the court system can be more manageable with a lawyer. Lawyers can guide you through the legal ins and outs. They can also draft the necessary paperwork required in court.

Lawyers can also get you the maximum amount of compensation you deserve. By representing you diligently in court, they can present evidence to support your claim and convince the jury to take your side.

Did you know?

According to the 2021 Vision Zero report, pedestrians accounted for 48 percent of all fatalities in car crashes in San Francisco.

The Personal Injury Center Can Help You Get Compensation

You don’t have to deal with the stresses of the car crash alone. A personal injury lawyer will protect your rights and interests, especially after a car crash in San Francisco, California.

Visit The Personal Injury Center today to know your options. It offers a free case evaluation so you know when you should commit to hiring a lawyer.

The Personal Injury Center can help you understand your legal rights. Visit our website today to find the help you need for compensation after a car crash in SF.

FAQs on Car Crash in SF

The amount lawyers charge for handling a car crash case varies. Certain factors can influence the fee that they can charge. In a contingency fee arrangement, lawyers get a percentage of the settlement offer or award granted by a civil court.

You can, but you shouldn't. Approaching the driver responsible for the car crash can turn volatile. Communicate your claims through a lawyer to facilitate the settlement appropriately.

Timelines for car accident cases can vary significantly due to several factors. However, small car accident claims with no injuries typically take two to three months to settle.