Car AccidentIt was a Saturday evening. After venturing out to the north side of Mulholland Drive to explore Fryman Canyon with your children, it was time to come home. You knew that the 405 would be packed with tourists at this time, exploring the area or heading back to their hotels after spending a day at Universal Studios, but it was a necessary path to take in order to get home. After all, the kids were cranky from hiking all day. You all knew that it was past their bedtime. While living in the San Fernando Valley Region, this traffic had become a necessary evil.

You knew these roads back and forth, so when you approached the exit for Ventura Boulevard, you had already anticipated the backup. The driver of the car behind you, however, was not a local and did not have the same anticipation.

Car packed full of kids, theme park prizes, and a snoring wife, the driver behind you was just as ready to get to his hotel as you were to get home. But it was the moment that the grease from his Fatburger dripped onto his lap that he lost concentration on the road. It was in this same moment that the brake lights ahead of you came on and the stop-and-go traffic had begun.

The vehicle made contact and you immediately checked to make sure that your children were okay before even questioning if you were personally injured. Upon seeing the outcome of the collision, questions began to fly through your head. Was this somehow your fault? What is the first thing that you should do? What if you or your children are injured?

After being in an accident, it is normal to have these types of questions. Whether this is your first accident or an unfortunately regular occurrence for you, searching out legal advice is always a good option. While no one purposely gets into a collision, it is important to understand the claims you can file if someone else is at fault for personal injury or damage. It is important that you seek out the help of a local California attorney to answer your questions and help you figure out the next steps to take.

At Drake Law Firm, I will not only be your legal counsel, but I will also be your friend. I pride myself in being a “family lawyer,” meaning that I care about the families involved, not just the case at hand. With vast experience as a car accident attorney, I can offer assistance and aid in any type of vehicle collision.

If you have been in a car accident, we can help answer some of your questions.

In a rear-end collision, is the car behind automatically at fault?

It is a common misconception that the following car that collided with the leading car in a rear-end collision is always at fault. When accidents are being examined for fault, a term that arises is negligence. A person can be considered negligent if their actions are below the standard and safety of operation. These standards are defined as duties that come with being a responsible driver. A few examples of a driver breaching his or her duties and become negligent include driving at an unreasonable speed or failing to yield to the right of way. However, it must be proven that this negligence was the cause of the accident before the driver can be held at fault.

Although it is true that in most rear-end cases, the following car is at fault, there are a few cases in which the front car could have been negligent, thus causing the accident. For example, if the front car suddenly reverses, the accident would be a result of their negligence. Some other examples often come from improper vehicle maintenance, such as having brake lights or a turn signal out.

Keeping these scenarios in mind, it is very rare that the rear vehicle will not be considered partially negligent. This comes from the duty of a driver to follow the leading vehicle at a safe distance. This is a mandatory distance in order to have reaction time in the case of negligence by the leading vehicle. In most rear-end collisions, it is assumed that the following car did not leave enough distance behind the leading car, leaving the driver at least partially at fault.

After a collision, what is the first thing that I should do?

Take a deep breath. If anyone involved in the accident is seriously injured, call 911. If the situation is safe, begin to take notes about the accident. Write down things such as time of day, traffic flow, weather conditions, how many vehicles were involved, and if there was anything you were doing differently during the time of the accident. It is also a very good idea to write down the other drivers’ personal and vehicle information as soon as possible. All of these things are important to have written down for the future, especially if a personal injury claim will be filed.

When having conversations with the other drivers and passengers involved, take thorough notes. It is a very common occurrence that people will change their stories, especially if legal counsel gets involved. By having these notes, you can refer back to information that was said at the time of the accident.  Make sure to obtain their insurance information, if any, and ask to see their drivers license to get all important information such as name, address, date of birth and the drivers license number.

Preserve any evidence, even if you think it may not be needed in the future. This could include broken headlights or a box in the road. Anything that could have influenced the scenario could end up being important at a later date.

When you return home after leaving the collision site, notify those who are at fault that you may file a claim against them. Talk about your options. Are you planning on filing a personal injury claim? Do you have to talk about insurance? It is important to notify those at fault so that there can be as few surprises in the future as possible.

How long do I have to file a personal injury claim?

There are many deadlines that govern a personal injury claim. These deadlines are often called “Statute of Limitations.” Often, failure to meet these deadlines or Statute of Limitations could result in dismissal of your claim.  Some Statute of Limitations are as short as 30 days after your accident and some as late as 18 years (if the injured party is a minor up to certain time after his/her 18th birthday).

Filing a claim as well as a possible lawsuit before the Statute of Limitation date is the most important part of your case.  You must speak to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately following your accident so that all applicable Statute of Limitations or deadlines are preserved.

These are probably only a few of the questions that you have after getting in a collision; feel free to contact me with any more. As an experienced car accident attorney, I can help answer any questions you have about car accidents or other personal injury claims. If you have been in an accident in the San Fernando Valley Region, do not hesitate to call.

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