In a traffic-congested city like Los Angeles, there are several reports of traffic accidents every day. The most common place where these accidents occur is at busy intersections. If motorists fail to take reasonable care, for instance, by distracted driving or failing to observe traffic laws, an accident could occur. Such accidents could result in serious physical injuries, death, and even property damage. When an accident happens, a driver is likely to be held responsible for the resulting injuries and damages.
If you or your loved one has suffered injuries in an intersection accident, the law allows you to pursue compensation. The proof needed in such a case is that the driver or any other responsible party acted negligently and that their negligence caused you damages. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we may be able to help you piece together a compelling liability case that will enable you to get the full compensation you deserve.
California Intersection Accidents
Roadways in the state of California, especially in busy cities have intersections, where two or more roads meet or cross. There are several types of intersections in the state, including T-junctions/Y-junctions or three-way intersections, four-way intersections or crossroads, and five or more ways. Stop signs control these intersections, yield signs, stop lights, and roundabouts. Drivers are expected by law to be very careful at intersections to avoid causing accidents.
Intersections are significant spots for auto accidents in the state. This is because, at intersections, vehicles usually conflict with each other as some are crossing while others are turning. For that reason, some drivers do not get a clear view of oncoming traffic, leading to an accident such as a crossing collision. It is an accident that can quickly happen when a vehicle is trying to get through an intersection or to turn into a lane. When crossing, for instance, the driver may not be sure whether or not it is safe to do so if their view is obstructed. Again, if the driver gets distracted, they could easily crash into an oncoming car.
In most car accidents, establishing fault may seem like a straightforward matter; the driver who is believed not to have been carefully driving is the one held responsible for the resulting damages. However, a civil court needs more proof than just a single statement to help the driver responsible. Again, things could be different when it comes to intersection accidents. If a city was aware or should have been informed that an intersection was dangerous for motorists, maybe because of a distracted view, the court may shift their blame from the driver who caused the crash to the city. For that to happen, the actual cause of the accident will have to be determined.
Establishing the cause of an intersection accident could be a hard task for an injured person. That is why we recommend the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Getting in touch with your attorney immediately after the accident happens will give him/her enough time to investigate the accident and determine its actual cause. This way, you will file a compensation claim from the responsible party. An experienced attorney will also help you file the necessary documents in a civil court on time and within the given statute of limitations. Lastly, you need an attorney that will protect your interests and rights throughout the legal process.
Who Is At Fault in a California Intersection Accident?
Personal accident lawsuits in California are usually based on negligence. Negligence, in this case, is defined as a failure by the responsible party to use reasonable care. For the guilty party to be found, your personal injury attorney, with the help of other experts, will try to establish the cause of the accident, then determine what was not done, which should have been done to prevent the accident.
If, for instance, the driver was in a hurry to cross the intersection, it could mean that he/she did not take enough time to determine whether or not it was safe to do so at that instant. In that case, the driver will be responsible for the resulting accident. If, on the other hand, the intersection was not safe, the city where the accident occurred will be held accountable for any resulting accident.
To understand fault in intersection accidents in California, let us look at the most common cause of intersection accidents in the state:
When vehicles are stopped at an intersection, there are those drivers who will impatiently try to run the light. This is what is referred to as aggressive driving and is the leading cause of most traffic accidents in the state of California and the US as a whole. Aggressive drivers will manifest itself in several ways, including:
- A driver who follows too closely. This driver is likely to crash on the car at its front if the driver doesn't move at speed expected by the impatient driver. In this case, the aggressive driver will be held responsible for the resulting damages
- A driver who erratically or improperly changes lanes in an intersection
- A driver who makes a dangerous or prohibited merging or passing
- A driver who causes an erratic or sudden change of speed
- A driver who fails to give right of way to other drivers at the intersection
- A driver who fails to obey the traffic signs or traffic control devices
- A driver who continues to drive fast or race at an intersection
- A driver who makes improper turns at an intersection
In most cases, aggressive driving goes hand-in-hand with speeding. When an aggressive driver is moving at a higher speed, the resulting impact on the other vehicle will be more significant. That is why intersection accidents are said to be more dangerous because of the substantial impact at which a car can crash on another.
Aggressive driving has been attributed to most intersection accidents in the state of California. However, this is not the only cause of severe accidents in California's intersections. As mentioned above, a dangerous intersection could also result in an accident. If a driver’s view is obstructed in an intersection, he/she will not be able to make a sound judgment when crossing at an intersection, turning or changing lanes. In this case, the driver will not be held responsible for the accident but the government agency in charge of ensuring the safety of intersections.
To prove liability in a case where the government agency is responsible for the intersection accident, the injured party must prove the following:
- The agency was responsible for ensuring motorists' safety in the intersection
- The intersection had a dangerous condition at the time of that accident
- The dangerous situation was the direct cause of the accident
- As a result of that accident, the plaintiff suffered harm
- The agency was aware or should have been aware of the dangerous condition at the intersection, but they did not do anything to fix it
Types of Injuries Suffered in an Intersection Accident
Intersections are some of the most dangerous places when it comes to serious auto accidents. Most accidents that happen in intersections occur when a driver is not focusing on the road ahead of them. Some of these accidents might result in severe injuries and other damages, though their seriousness mainly depends on the circumstances surrounding the crash. The type of injuries a person may suffer in an intersection accident depends on the kind of crash in which they have been involved. Some common types of accidents that can occur in an intersection include:
These are the most experienced types of intersection accidents in California. These types of accidents happen when a driver is distracted or in case of dangerous driving. Distracted driving could occur when a driver is doing any of the following when behind the wheels:
- Texting on the phone
- Making phone calls
- Enjoying loud music when driving
- Roughhousing with other motorists in the car
- Turning one’s attention or head from the roadway, even though it only happens for one second or a few seconds
When a driver is distracted, he/she is likely to cause a rear-end crash with a vehicle that is waiting at a red light or stop sign in an intersection. When that happens, occupants of the other vehicle are possibly going to sustain severe injuries and other damages. Some of the common types of damages and injuries that a person could incur in such an accident include:
- Whiplash injuries: These could occur as a result of being thrown forward and then backward in the vehicle
- Back and soft tissue neck injuries
- Shoulder and chest injuries
- Seat Belt rash
- Head injuries: These could occur if the driver of the other vehicle strikes the steering wheel or the passenger strikes the headrest at the time of impact
- Knee injuries: They could be a result of hitting a hard surface such as the dashboard at the time of impact
Sometimes rear-end accidents at intersections could cause a domino effect, whereby a chain reaction of crashes occurs involving several other vehicles. When this happens, several people could be injured and more property damaged in a single accident. This means that the responsible driver will have to take responsibility for all the resulting damages.
These are also the types of accidents that could occur in an intersection. In California, both pedestrians and motorists have a duty of care when crossing an intersection. Pedestrians are, for instance, expected to remain at crosswalks while crossing at intersections, and this should only be when the walk signal starts flashing. Motorists, on the other hand, are expected to drive with reasonable care and prudence at all times, watching out for pedestrians who may be lawfully crossing at intersections. If either of the parties ignores their duty of care and acts negligently, the resulting accident could be grave.
If a driver is distracted, for instance, he/she may knock a pedestrian who is lawfully using a crosswalk in an intersection down. If, on the other hand, the pedestrians start crossing before the walk sign starts flashing, the driver may not have enough time to react, resulting in an accident. Some of the common types of damages that could result from such an accident include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Fractures and broken bones
- Injuries to the spinal cord
Available Damages in a California Intersection Accident
Damages are usually the losses that are incurred in an accident. In any type of car accident, costs could include both physical injuries and property damages. The good thing is that California personal injury laws allow people who have been injured in an intersection accident to file a lawsuit against the responsible party for compensation. Compensatory damages in such a trial will be categorized into monetary and non-monetary damages. Economic losses are those that have a clear monetary value, for instance, car repair and medical expenses. Non-economic costs, on the other hand, are those that are a little difficult to assess. They are, for instance, suffering and pain.
Some of the compensatory damages you can include in your claim include:
- Medical bills: According to California personal injury laws, anyone that wrongfully causes an accident in which another person suffers physical injuries should be held responsible for that person’s medical bills. These bills could be paid directly by the responsible person, the responsible company, or the at-fault party's insurance provider.
- Vehicle repairs: If the intersection accident involved two vehicles, the plaintiff would also seek compensation to be able to repair their vehicle. Again, this compensation could come directly from the responsible person, the responsible company, or the responsible party's insurance provider.
- Lost wages: This is the amount of money the plaintiff would have made by the time they are seeking compensation had the accident not occurred. After most car accidents, the injured take time off their jobs or businesses to recover. Any financial loss incurred during that period should be paid to them in the form of lost wages.
- Lost earning ability: These are financial losses the plaintiff incurs in the future because of their inability to work as effectively as they could before the accident. Some accident injuries could affect a person to the extent of not being able to go back to gainful employment. in that case, the person responsible for the accident will be required to compensate the injured the amount they are bound to lose in the future
- Suffering and pain: These are some of the non-economic damages that are allowed by California's personal injury laws. Even though it is not easy to put a monetary amount to some of these damages, they cannot be easily ignored. Other subjective losses that could fall under non-economic damages include shock, insomnia, anxiety, grief, humiliation, and loss of enjoyment in life.
- Loss of consortium: These types of non-economic damages are awarded to the partner or spouse of the injured person. They are meant to compensate for the loss of companionship, intimacy, and/or moral support that the spouse or partner could have suffered after the wrongful accident.
- Wrongful death: These damages only exist if a person lost their life to the intersection accident. If these damages are recovered, the family of the bereaved will be able to cater to his/her burial and funeral expenses. They will also retrieve the amount of money the deceased would have earned if the accident had not occurred. Lastly, wrongful death damages offer compensation to the deceased's spouse or partner for the loss of support and companionship.
Other damages that you might recover, which are dependent on the nature of the accident include:
- Physical therapy
- Future treatment and care
- Medical supplies and medication
- Emergency medical care
What To Do After An Intersection Accident
Car accidents are usually unexpected, and because of that, the affected people could be left feeling stressed and confused. Out of that confusion, the injured person may do or say things that could compromise their effort to recover compensation from the responsible persons. For that reason, it is advisable to try and remain calm so you can consciously take necessary steps in recovering from your injuries. When a person is relaxed, they can access their situation better, ensure that everyone else is safe, and even start documenting the accident to gather enough evidence to support their claims. Here are some of the necessary steps you should take after an intersection accident in California:
Ensure that Everyone is Safe
In all situations, personal safety should take precedence. More people could have suffered injuries in the accident, and the best thing to do at that instant is to ensure that everyone else is safe. Start by examining yourself and the people in your car for physical injuries. Check out if anyone else has suffered injuries in the accident. If there are injuries, call an ambulance, or ask someone to make the call. When medical care is provided, ensure that you are thoroughly examined even for damages, you may not be aware of. If advised to go to the hospital, do so even though you are feeling okay. You should have a detailed report of your injuries and medical treatment needed to support your claims.
Call the Law Enforcement Officers
The police will help determine the actual cause of the accident, which is why it is essential to make that call immediately after the accident. The at-fault party may be quick to try and settle the matter without involving the police. If you give in to them and fail to involve the police, you can quickly lose your chance to file for the compensation you deserve. The police report, prepared from the evidence obtained from the accident scene and witness accounts, could help support your claims in the civil court. Your attorney will also need that report to prepare your application.
Don’t Admit Fault
There are times when accident victims are overwhelmed by the feeling of guilt to the point of admitting fault to an accident. Sometimes this feeling of guilt could cause the person to apologize to the other driver or motorists who may have been affected by accident. It is a wrong move that could threaten your chances to get the compensation you deserve. You should remain quiet, even if you feel that you are partly responsible for what happened. If the other motorist confronts you, ask them to get in touch with your attorney other than trying to defend yourself.
This should be done immediately after the accident to ensure that you have proof of the nature of the accident and the responsible party. There are several ways through which you can gather evidence at the accident scene to help strengthen your case. Start by gathering the contact information of everyone that was involved in the accident. This information could include the names, addresses, and license numbers. You could also take pictures of your injuries and the accident scene. If you are not able to do all that, ask someone else to do it for you.
If there are witnesses, get their contact information as well as their written statements. Take videos as well, and anything else you feel might help the case. If there are broken vehicle parts, keep them with you as they could help determine the actual cause of the accident.
Get in Touch with a Personal Injury Attorney
You need legal representation if you are going to pursue compensation in a civil court. An experienced personal injury attorney will offer legal advice and guidance throughout the legal process. He/she will also help you gather evidence as well as prepare a compelling case against the at-fault party.
Find a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Personal injury attorneys have great expertise in handling personal injury claims. They are the right people to contact if you have suffered injuries in an intersection accident. At The LA Personal Injury Law Firm, we have a dedicated team in place that is ready to help you pursue the compensation you deserve. Call us at 310-935-0089 if you are in Los Angeles, and let us help you prove your claim.