Auto and Car Accidents

Automobiles are an integral element of our nation’s transportation network, with the United States home to the largest passenger vehicle market in the world. Overall, there are estimated to be more than 254 million registered passenger vehicles in this country. The automobile is part of the American cultural fabric, and the nation’s so-called Big Three auto manufacturers of General Motors, Ford Motor Company and Chrysler are a vital component of the U.S. economy. However, the omnipresence of cars in the United States is also a key factor behind so many personal injury cases in this country, and driving an automobile carries risks and responsibilities for motorists and potential hazards for the occupants of these vehicles as well as pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists.

Car accident injuries can range in severity from minor scratches and bruises to whiplash and more serious injuries, such as skin lacerations, torn muscles and broken limbs. However, more catastrophic injuries can occur such as spinal cord injury or brain injury and even injuries that result in wrongful death. The toll from auto accidents in the form of injuries, deaths and property damage in the United States is staggering, and has been succinctly quantified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration with the following sobering statistics:

  • Death and injuries resulting from motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people at every age from 2 to 34 (based on 2004 data). In 2012, 1,875 drivers age 15 to 20 died and another 184,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes.
  • Traffic fatalities accounted for more than 90 percent of transportation-related fatalities.
  • In 2010, 32,999 people died, 3.9 million were injured and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The total economic cost of these crashes was $277 billion. The NHTSA estimated that 32,850 died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2013.
  • Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors behind traffic crashes, and in 2012 it represented a contributory element in 30 percent of all fatal crashes with 10,219 lives lost.
  • Alcohol is another major factor in motor vehicle crashes, and in 2012 more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes – one every 51 minutes – in the United States. Alcohol-linked crashes cost more than $37 billion in losses every year.
  • Distracted driving has become an increasingly relevant factor in automobile crashes, with 3,328 lives having been lost due to a driver of a motor vehicle texting, talking on their cellphone or being distracted in some other way while operating their vehicle in 2012 in the United States.

Determining who is at fault in a traffic accident is not always a simple and straightforward matter, and negligence, a legal principle, is not something that is determined by the police who are investigating a traffic accident. While some automobile accidents are caused by the fault of a sole driver, other accidents may be the result of some degree of fault on behalf of more than one driver. Other car accidents may be caused in part by a manufacturing or design defect (products liability). Auto accidents may also be the result of a poorly designed or improperly maintained roadway.

Whatever the cause of an automobile accident, barring those exceptions as spelled out in California Civil Code Section 3333.4, an injured party may recover economic losses from the party found to be liable for the accident to compensate for his or her pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement and other nonmonetary damages. In addition, if the liable party is found to be violation of section 23152 (driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs) or section 23153 (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, committing any act forbidden by law or neglecting any duty imposed by law, which by act or neglect causes injury to another person) of the California Vehicle Code, and was convicted of either of those offenses, the injured party may be entitled to recover for non-economic losses to compensate for pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement and other nonmonetary damages.

Damages for a personal injury case due to the negligence of a motorist can add up substantially should the case go to trial. To cumulatively make the point, examples of damages that are potentially recoverable include the following under the California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI): CACI 3903A, a plaintiff may recover damages for past medical expenses as well as future medical expenses; under CACI 3903C, a plaintiff may recover damages for past and future lost earnings; under CACI 3903D, a plaintiff may recover for loss of the ability to earn money had the injury not occurred; under CACI 3903E, a plaintiff may recover for the loss of the ability to provide household services; under CACI 3903J, a plaintiff may recover damages for harm to personal property; under CACI 3903K, a plaintiff may recover damages for the loss or destruction of personal property; under CACI 3903M, a plaintiff may recover for damages due to the loss of use of their property; under CACI 3905, a plaintiff may recover damages for physical pain, mental suffering and emotional distress; under CACI 3920, a plaintiff may recover damages for loss of consortium; under CACI 3921, a plaintiff may recover damages for the wrongful death of an adult; under CACI 3922, a plaintiff who is a parent may recover damages for the wrongful death of a minor child; and under CACI 3927, a plaintiff may recover damages if a physical or emotional condition was made worse by the defendant’s wrongful conduct.

If you or someone you love has been injured or died in auto accident, find out how to protect your legal rights and contact the Brod Law Firm. Whether your injuries are attributable to driver error, products liability, a defective roadway or a combination of different causes, the car accident attorneys at the Brod Law Firm will fully investigate who or what was at fault in your case and determine the best way to recover the most compensation for your losses.

To find out what rights you have regarding your auto accident case, please contact us and schedule a free consultation at (800) 427-7020. If you prefer to send us an e-mail with an inquiry, please email us.

 

San Francisco Injury Lawyer Blog - Car and Auto Accidents