Motor Vehicle Crashes
When a driver fails to exercise caution on the roadways, it puts others at grave risk of injury or even death. If you or a loved one were injured or killed in a car, truck, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident in Los Angeles County due to another driver’s negligence,
we can help you file a car accident claim with your insurance carrier as well as with the insurance company of the at-fault driver.
Dangerous Interstates, Highways, and Roads in Los Angeles County
Each year in the U.S., motor vehicle crashes take the lives of more than 32,000 people and cause injury to more than two million others. According to the Center for Disease Control (DCD), motor-vehicle related injuries are the leading cause of death for individuals ages 5 to 34. California accounts for nearly 12% of the nation’s auto deaths.
Los Angeles is notorious for having some of the worst traffic (and drivers) in the country.
Anyone who has traversed Southern California’s freeways and roads knows how congested and dangerous it can be. Aside from the heavy traffic flow, Angelenos have to contend with poor road conditions, sharp curves, fatigued truck drivers, and reckless and distracted drivers who don’t follow the rules of the road. All of these factors are reasons why motor vehicle crashes are an everyday occurrence in the area.
Year after year, statistics show that Los Angeles County has a disproportionately higher rate of traffic collisions and fatalities than other areas in the state. The most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that 3,623 people were killed in auto accidents in 2016 — with more than 790 taking place in Los Angeles County.
Deadliest and Most Dangerous Roads and Highways in Southern California
110 Freeway/Arroyo Seco Parkway – The Arroyo Seco Parkway was the first freeway built in L.A. This old 8 mile stretch of road from downtown L.A. to Pasadena hasn’t caught up with the times and is fraught with narrow lanes, sharp turns, and no shoulders. The Avenue 43 exits and entrances north and southbound are extremely dangerous. Drivers encounter an 80 degree turn that leaves no room to decelerate.
Interstate 5/Golden State Freeway – The “five” is an 800 mile long freeway that cuts through the San Joaquin Valley and offers the quickest route for commuters traveling between LA and SF. There’s no scenery on the drive just dry barren wasteland. Drivers often get aggravated and bored by the monotony and end up driving above the speed limit to get to their destination quicker. Many big rigs also travel on the 5 which adds to the danger.
Interstate 10/Santa Monica Freeway -I-10 is a major east-west interstate highway which runs east from Santa Monica through LA and San Bernardino to the border of Arizona. The 10 consistently ranks as one of the most dangerous interstates in the U.S. The dangers one may encounter on this road include congestion, drunk drivers, poor road conditions, etc.
Interstate 15 from Los Angeles to Las Vegas was previously recognized in 2010 as being the deadliest stretch of road in the country. Drivers on this road are known to speed and change lanes quickly, drink and drive, and drive distracted. In 2016, collisions along the California section of I-15 resulted in over 3,400 injuries and 28 fatalities.
Interstate 405 – San Diego Freeway: As the busiest highway on the West Coast, the 405 has the highest rate of fatalities and injuries per freeway mile.
Interstate Route 101/U.S. Highway 101 – Locals know the 101 as “El Camino Real” — a heavily traveled north to south commuter route connecting LA and Ventura counties with San Francisco and beyond. The most dangerous section of the 101 is where it begins at the East Los Angeles Complex where the I-5 meets 101, I-10 and California 60. Over 430,000 vehicles vehicles pass through this junction everyday. In 2016, collisions along US 101 included 40 fatalities and over 7,800 injuries.
California State Route 138 – Runs from Interstate 15 to Palmdale; known as “Death Trap Highway” or “Highway of Death”. Over the past 20 years, there have been 875 injuries and 60 deaths recorded. Steep mountainous terrain, narrow lanes, sharp turns, and sheer drop-offs make this a highly dangerous road.
State Route 1/PCH – SR1 is the longest state route in California and runs along the Pacific coastline. The
State Route 126 is a scenic yet dangerous road that follows the Santa Clara River through Ventura and L.A. counties. It has earned the nickname “Bloody Alley” for its long history of deadly accidents. The 7-mile stretch from Hallock Drive in Santa Paula to E Street in Fillmore is a hot spot for accidents.
The five most dangerous intersections in Los Angeles, ranked:
- Devonshire St. and Reseda Blvd
- Imperial Highway and Vista Del Mar – Playa Del Rey
- Balboa Blvd. and Nordhoff St. – Northridge
- Firestone Blvd. and Lakewood Blvd. – Downey
- Lindley Ave. and Roscoe Blvd. – Los Angeles
Common Types of Traffic Collisions in Pasadena and Los Angeles County Rear-end collision: A rear-end collision occurs when one vehicle crashes into the vehicle in front of it. In most rear-end cases, liability is clear-cut due to one car following too closely or not paying attention. Occupants in the impacted car may suffer whiplash or other neck and back injuries.
Side-impact: Side-impact crashes, also known as T-bone or broadside accidents take place when the side of one vehicle is hit by the front or rear end of another vehicle. These collisions typically take place at intersections when a driver runs through a red light or stop sign, fails to yield right of way, or turns left in front of oncoming traffic. When a victim is hit from the side, they soften slam into the door or window of the car which offers little protection.
Head-on collision: Head-on collisions occur when the front ends of two vehicles heading in opposite directions hit one another. Often one vehicle will stray into the path of an oncoming vehicle. This is most likely due to the driver not paying attention, falling asleep at the wheel, or driving while intoxicated. Head-on collisions are very violent because of the speeds at which vehicles collide. Multiple vehicle collisions – Multiple vehicle collisions are commonplace on LA’s major freeways due to the sheer number of vehicles spread across 6-8 lanes. When vehicles follow too closely, stop too suddenly,or change lanes without signaling it can cause crashes between three or more vehicles. When large commercial trucks are involved, the scene can be gruesome.
What to Do After a Car Accident: A Step by Step Checklist
You’ve been in a car crash. Now what do you do? As difficult as it is, try to remain calm. There are a series of steps you can take to protect your rights. If you adhere to the guidelines below, you’ll put yourself in the best position to receive a potential settlement or favorable jury verdict.
Check for Injuries: If you or anyone else is injured, immediately call 911 and ask for an ambulance. Provide the operator with detailed information of your whereabouts. Even if you believe your injuries are minor, it’s important to be evaluated by a medical professional. Certain conditions such as whiplash, internal organ damage, and head injuries don’t always produce symptoms right away. For your own health and well-being, as well as for the strength of your case, it’s critical to get your injury diagnosed, documented, and treated.
Move Vehicle off Road: If you are in the way of oncoming traffic and it is safe to move your vehicle, move to the side of the road. Otherwise, turn on your hazard lights and/or setup flares if you have them.
Call the Police: It’s important to notify the local authorities so that they can come to the accident scene and create a traffic collision report. This serves as proof that the accident happened. If the accident occurred on a freeway, the California Highway Patrol will most likely be dispatched to the scene. If the accident occured on a surface street with Los Angeles county limits, then the Los Angeles Police Department would show up. When law enforcement arrives, make sure to get their names and badge numbers so you can request a copy of the accident report.
Exchange Information: Obtain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the driver’s and passenger/s involved. Write down or better yet take a picture with your phone of their driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, and proof of insurance cards. If there were witnesses who saw the accident, get their names and contact information as well.
Document Evidence: If you have a cell phone or camera, take pictures and/or video of the accident scene, including damage to vehicles, tire tracks, skid marks, broken glass, traffic signs, etc. Also, take pics and/or video of your injuries such a:s bruises, cuts, bleeding, etc.
Notify your insurance agent and/or insurance company: call the number listed on your insurance card to open a claim or visit the insurer’s website or mobile app. Simply present the facts, no more no less.
Notify DMV: If the accident caused more than $1,000 in property damage or resulted in someone’s death, California law requires you to report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days of the accident.
Repair Vehicle: You are free to have your repairs done by a body shop of your choice however many insurers have an in-house network that will bill the insurer directly at discounted rates. We can assist you in this process.
Consult with a Car Accident Attorney: Call us 626.792.5888 as soon as possible after the accident preferably before you being interacting with the insurance company.
Common Mistakes to Avoid After a Car Accident
There are certain actions that can severely jeopardize the outcome of your case. Do NOT do the following:
- Leave the scene of the accident
- Refuse to see a doctor after the accident
- Skip medical appointments
- Sign a medical authorization release form
- Admit fault to the police, the other driver, passengers or witnesses
- Give a recorded statement to the at-fault party’s insurance company
- Accept the first settlement offer
- Post pictures or updates about your accident or condition on social media
Factors that Impact the Strength of Your Auto Claim
The strength of your personal injury claim is contingent on several key factors: the nature and extent of your injury, whether a causal link exists between your injury and accident; the quality of evidence; ability to prove liability, whether there are quantifiable damages, and the availability of insurance coverage.
While every case is different, there are certain general variables that will increase or decrease the amount of compensation one may receive in an insurance settlement or court based lawsuit.
Extent of your injuries
The worse the injury, the higher the settlement. Factors that would drive up the value of your claim may include:
- A catastrophic injury such as broken bone/s, head or brain trauma, nerve damage, spinal cord damage
- A permanent injury such as paralysis, loss of a limb, scarring, disfigurement;
- A long-term or indefinite recovery period
- Reliance on medication/s
- Reliance on medical devices or aids
- Physical or emotional stress stemming from the injury
- Diminished quality of life
Other injuries, such as soft tissue injuries often result in lower settlement amounts. These include sprains, strains, or bruises. An insurance adjuster will likely devalue a claim if any of the following factors are present:
- A significant portion of your medical expenses were for diagnosis not treatment
- No medication was prescribed in connection with your injury
- Brief medical treatment
- No permanent injury
- No physical or emotional problems or disruption of life
- You had a pre-existing condition
Quality of Evidence
Evidence is crucial in a personal injury case. Without it, you have no case. Evidence is needed to prove that a.) you were injured, b.) someone else’s negligence caused your injury, c.) you suffered losses as a result. At Chang Injury Lawyers, we know how to gather, preserve, and present evidence. Here are some of the methods we may employ:
- Conduct interviews and gather testimony from first-hand witnesses (those who were present at time of the accident) and expert witnesses (experts in the field that can support your argument)
- Gather documentary evidence
- law enforcement’s accident report
- medical records
- diagnostic test results: X-rays, MRIs, scans, radiology, bloodwork/pathology
- photos of accident scene
- photos of injury
- photos of property damage
- dates/times of doctor’s visits and hospital visits as well as treatment prescribed
- surveillance footage
- comprehensive itemized list of damages including medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, lost
Research state traffic laws and cite any vehicle codes or “rules of the road” that may apply to your case
Proving that someone else was at fault for your injury is at the core of a personal injury claim or lawsuit. In a car accident claim, you must be able to show that
- The other driver had a duty to operate his or her vehicle in a safe manner
- The other driver breached this duty
- The actions of the other driver caused the accident
- The accident directly caused injuries or monetary damages
- Distracted driving: talking/texting on cellphone; eating; drinking; putting on makeup/grooming, wearing earbuds
- Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol
- Reckless driving
- Disobeying traffic signals, signs, laws
- Improper turns
- Unsafe lane changes
- Failure to signal turn
- Wrong-way driving
- Failure to stop or yield right of way at intersections
Government Entity Negligence
- Poor road maintenance
- Missing or insufficient road and intersection signage
- Defective road design
- Poorly marked construction zones
Availability of Insurance
California requires all motorists to carry the following minimum liability insurance coverage in the event of an accident including:
$15,000 for injury/death to one person
$30,000 for injury/death to more than one person
$5,000 for damage to property
What if I Was Hit By Uninsured Driver?
If you were involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, you may wonder how it’s possible to obtain compensation. Fortunately, there are options available to you if you have the proper coverage in place under your own auto insurance policy.
- Uninsured motorist coverage – pays for medical expenses, lost earnings, and other damages. Acts as substitute for liability coverage the uninsured was supposed to have.
- Collision coverage – covers the costs of your repairs; paying a deductible depends on your plan
- Medical Payment (MedPay) coverage – medical expenses paid up to the limits of your policy
You may also be able to request reimbursement from your health insurance provider.
Were You Partially Responsible for the Car Crash?
When liability isn’t clear-cut, California relies on a system of pure comparative negligence to assign fault. This means if you were partially responsible for causing the accident, you can still recover but your recovery would be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you are trying to recover $100,000 in damages but were 40% responsible for the accident, your recovery would be $60,000. Some types of insurance policies such as MedPay Insurance and California collision insurance pay without regard to fault
Car Accident Claims Process
Open a Claim with Insurance Company The personal injury claims process officially begins when you report your injury to your auto insurance carrier. The car accident attorneys at Change Injury Lawyers can reach out to the at-fault party’s insurance company and inform them that we are filing a claim on your behalf. If the at-fault party is uninsured or has inadequate insurance to cover your losses, we will pursue a claim with your own insurance company.
Receive Reservation Letter From Insurance Company The at-fault party’s insurer will respond to your claim by sending a reservation letter indicating that they are investigating your claim but not admitting liability on behalf of their insured.
Investigatory Phase While you continue to heal and complete your medical treatment, our firm enters an investigatory phase dedicated to exploring the underlying facts of your case and gathering evidence to support your claim. We may engage in such activities as:
Submit Demand Package to Insurance Company As soon as you have recovered from your injury and have reached maximum medical improvement — the point at which you have “stabilized”, we will submit a demand package to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This will be a comprehensive file that presents in persuasive detail how the accident happened, how badly your were injured, and how the injury has affected your life.
Documentation provided may include all your treatment records, medical bills, photos from accident, police report, witness and expert testimony, etc. Taking into account all of your losses – past, present, and future, we will demand a certain dollar amount. This is usually above what you are willing to settle for.
After we submit the demand package, the claims adjuster will most likely respond with a counteroffer that is lower that was requested. This kicks off the negotiation stage in which we will continue to defend your position and reiterate the severity of your injury and subsequent losses as well as point to reliable evidence that supports your demand..
If, after vigorous discussions, a fair settlement cannot be reached, we will not hesitate to file a civil lawsuit against the at-fault driver where we will litigate your case in court.
DRUNK DRIVING ACCIDENTS
Los Angeles Truck Accident Lawyer
Any type of motor vehicle accident is frightening but truck accidents are particularly horrific. Commercial trucks, also called tractor-trailers, big-rigs, semis, or 18-wheelers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds and be as much as 75 ft long. Their sheer size and weight present a significant danger to smaller passenger vehicles, especially when traveling at high speeds. If these trucks are carrying hazardous materials such as flammable liquids, radioactive materials or gases, or poisonous chemicals, the consequences can be even more dire.
Southern California is a hotspot for truck collisions. This is due in large part to the truck traffic generated by commerce in the area. The streets and freeways around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are especially congested. The four stretches of highways with the most truck accidents per year include the 710 at the 60 in the East L.A. Interchange; the 710 between the 105 and the 91 freeways; the area where the 60 and the 57 freeways converge; and between the 710 and the 10 freeways, also in the East L.A.
Complexity of Truck Accident Claims
Truck accident claims differentiate from car accident claims in key ways:
- State and federal laws apply
- Multiple liable parties may be involved (truck driver, trucking company, truck manufacturer, cargo company, etc)
- Insurance coverage is much higher
- Multiple insurance policies at play
Federal and State Trucking Laws
The commercial trucking industry is governed by a series of state and federal laws that stipulates certain standards that truck companies and truck drivers must abide by. In particular,
the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets forth regulations centered around:
- Insurance: Trucking companies must carry at minimum $750,000 worth of insurance per truck. If a trailer is carrying hazardous materials, the minimum insurance coverage is $5,000,000.
- Hours-of-service: limits the number of daily and weekly hours spent driving and working, and regulates the minimum amount of time drivers must spend resting between driving shifts
- Truck size, weight, and route designations
- Record Keeping: drivers must keep a detailed log of drive times, inspections performed, etc.
- Hiring and Training: Truck companies must conduct a thorough screening and application process of its drivers; administer drug tests, etc.
How Our Pasadena Truck Accident Lawyers Can Help You
Truck companies are large corporations with unlimited resources and power. As a victim, it’s in your best interests to seek the assistance of an experienced truck accident attorney at Chang Injury Lawyers. We have a firm grasp of the nuances of the trucking industry and keep up do date on all state and federal laws and regulations. Once you retain us, we will immediately begin the process of building your claim, by doing the following:
- Conduct an independent investigation – examine police report, medical records, and other documents related to your accident.
- Identify all parties who may be potentially liable for your injury
- Determine if trucking company and driver were operating in compliance with regulations
- Examine driver logs, maintenance and inspection records, data from black box
- Negotiate settlement that covers your losses
- Pursue litigation if negotiations break down or if offer wasn’t sufficient
Who is Liable?
Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to seek damages from more than one party. The following is a list of potential liable parties and corresponding negligent actions.
Truck Driver Negligence
- Driving while distracted
- Reckless and aggressive driving (following too closely, cutting off other drivers)
- Driving while fatigued (30-40% of truck accidents)
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failure to adequately maintain equipment and perform routine inspections
- Violating traffic laws: speeding, failing to yield, running red light, etc.
- Improperly securing or loading cargo
Trucking Company Negligence
- Failing to conduct thorough background check to ensure driver is qualified for job
- Failing to provide adequate training
- Allowing or encouraging driver to violate federal hours-of-service laws
- Falsifying records
- Overloading trailers/ allowing drivers to take unbalanced cargo
- Improper inspection and maintenance
- Making defective truck or trailer parts: Faulty tires, brakes, lights or reflectors on trailer, jump or pull start, air line or hose, alternator, wiring, transmission, steering wheel, improper trailer attachment
Cargo Supplier/Cargo Holders
- Improper packaging or loading of cargo at point of origin
VEHICLE ROLLOVER ACCIDENTS