Steven M Sweat, APC
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Top 5 Causes of Auto Accidents in Southern California

Speed-Related Collisions: Although the California Vehicle Code mandates that all drivers travel at a safe speed in light of roadway conditions, traffic, weather and other factors, far too many people are still simply going too fast down the freeways and streets in "SoCal." Speed is probably the number one cause of traffic collisions.

Following Too Closely: Following too close to a vehicle in front of you is a major cause of rear end collisions, which are probably one of the most common types of auto accidents. In the "stop and go" traffic of our Southland freeways, we all know that you can be going along at 50 or 60 m.p.h. and then come to a grinding halt. Without the proper distance, this can result in a crash.

Failing to Stop At Intersections: Blowing through red lights or stop signs can lead to "t-bone" accidents that can be very high impact. Often times, vehicles are trying to "beat the light", which leads to high rates of speed and significant velocities capable of causing major injuries or even death.

Failing to Yield the Right of Way to Oncoming Traffic, Cyclists or Pedestrians: Under the CA Vehicle Code, the right of way must be yielded in many circumstances and should always be yielded unless and until it is safe to proceed. Despite this rule, many drivers become impatient and attempt to cut in front of traffic even when this creates a collision hazard. One prime example would be vehicles attempting to make a left-hand-turn prior to all traffic in the opposite direction of travel passing safely. Other examples including pulling out from a driveway, parking lot or side street into traffic and misjudging the distance of oncoming cars or failing to stop at a cross walk or to notice the cyclist travelling alongside.

Making Unsafe Movements Between Lanes: Let's face it, in Southern California, we have some of the largest and busiest freeways and roadways in America. Many of these thoroughfares have upwards of 4-6 lanes of travel in either direction. It only takes one misjudgment or failure to signal for a truck, automobile, or SUV to cause other vehicles to swerve out of control and then you have a major multi-vehicle pile up. This is a major cause of auto v. motorcycle collisions as motorcycles and bicycles are harder to spot due to their smaller size.

Car Accident Damages

What Should You Do If You Are Involved in A Traffic Collision:

California law requires that you stop after any traffic accident. If the incident is minor, you should pull to the side of the road. In major impact collisions causing serious bodily injury, you should call 911 remain in your vehicle until emergency medical help arrives. California requires that any motor vehicle accident involving personal injury and/or causing $750 or more in property damage (either to a vehicle or stationary objects like sign posts, traffic signals, parked cars, or residential or commercial property) must be reported to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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It is also best to "document the scene of the accident". A smartphone is a great way to do this. If possible, take photographs of the position of vehicles when they came to rest after impact, property damage to the cars involved, and other physical evidence such as skid marks or debris on the roadway. If the police are called to the scene, get the name of the law enforcement agency (e.g. LAPD, Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, San Bernardino or Riverside County Sheriff), the badge number and name of any investigating officer and request the "NCIC#" (or traffic collision identification number) This will make is easier to request a police report later. Also see if you can obtain the name, phone number, address, and record a statement, if possible from any witnesses to the accident. All auto insurance policies also require prompt reporting of any accident to them as a condition for coverage.

Benefits of Hiring A Quality Auto Accident Law Firm
Willing to Fight for Your Rights:

The Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat, APC have been fighting for the rights of car accident victims for over two decades. While no attorney can guarantee a result in a personal injury claim, we have a track record of obtaining settlements and verdicts in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Our team of trial lawyers includes the cream of the crop of injury attorneys. We have received numerous awards for excellence in representation of plaintiffs involved in motor vehicle collisions throughout the State of California including San Diego, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside and Ventura Counties. We also have a team of medical professionals to which we can recommend in all specialties including Orthopedics, Neurology, Physical Therapy, Pain Management, and Psychiatric treatment.

Our lawyers all work on a "contingency fee" basis in auto accident claims, which means we charge no fees unless and until we recover money for you. Having a zealous legal advocate in your corner allows you to concentrate on treatment and healing and puts a needed "buffer" between the injured victim and insurance representatives whose sole job it is to deny or delay payment of claims.

Most Common Injuries Caused by Car Accidents:

Two vehicles striking each other at any significant rate of speed causes a major jolt to the human body. Glass is usually shattered, air bags often deploy, and car parts made of metal, plastic and other hard materials can be shattered. This causes the following most common car & auto accident injuries:

  • Sprains and Strains of the Shoulders, Neck and Back: The jarring motion of the head and neck moving either suddenly forward then back or from one side to the other is the most common cause of injury. This strains the ligaments and joints in the back, neck and shoulders and can lead to neck and back stiffness, soreness and, sometimes, more serious spinal or joint damage. Being stressed against a seat belt restraint or striking an interior portion of the vehicle can also cause tearing of ligaments or tendons.

  • Head and Facial Trauma: Taking a blow to the head is often a consequence of a vehicular crash. This can cause concussions or more serious traumatic brain injuries that can affect thinking and cognitive functions like speech or movement. Headaches, and memory loss are also common with severe head trauma. Facial lacerations, contusions and burns can also occur due to being impacted by air bags or flying debris.

  • Bone Fractures: Any portion of the body can sustain a fracture as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Most commonly, the bones of the arms or legs such as the tibia, fibula, hands, wrists and feet can be broken or crushed.

  • Serious Spinal Injury: Injuries to the spine can range from neck strains most commonly called "whiplash" to herniated or protruding spinal discs between vertebrae that can sometimes cause nerve impingement, resulting in radiating pain, numbness and other symptoms. Usually, x-rays will not show this type of injury or the full extent of the damage but, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can show the level of abnormality caused from the spine being slammed back and forth.

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Car Accident Types of Injury

Attorney Steven M. Sweat on CA Car Accidents

If you have been involved in an accident, you will have questions - Steven Sweat talks about these issues and questions you may have.

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California Tort Law

What Does California Tort Law Allow By Way of Monetary Compensation for An Auto Accident Claim?

Under the laws of the State of California, any person who is injured as a result of negligence or gross misconduct behind the wheel is entitled to seek compensation from the wrongdoer. The law defines "negligence" in this context as follows:

  • "A person must use reasonable care in driving a vehicle. Drivers must keep a lookout for pedestrians, obstacles, and other vehicles. They must also control the speed and movement of their vehicles. The failure to use reasonable care in driving a vehicle is negligence."
  • "Gross negligence" in the context of motor vehicle incidents can include driving drunk or high, and can lead to imposition of additional damages meant to punish the wrongful conduct.

In addition, if an individual driver of a private automobile or a commercial vehicle such as a bus, delivery truck, limo or cab is found to be negligent, liability would be imposed on their employer if they were acting within the "course and scope" of their employment at the time of the incident.

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Liability would extend to any and all damages that were caused either directly or indirectly from the negligence or wrongdoing including the following:

  • Medical Expenses: Including the cost of initial trauma care, emergency transport by way of ambulance or helicopter, the cost of surgery and post-surgical therapy, physical therapy, and even psychological therapy as well as any necessary medical devices such as crutches, walkers, canes and other apparatus. This would include both expenses incurred up to the point of settlement or judgment and the cost of future medical care, if necessary, such as home health care.
  • Lost Wages or Income: If the injured party is a "bread winner", they would be entitled to compensation for any lost time from work at their regular rate of pay. The fact that the injured person had to use "sick" or "vacation" is irrelevant to their entitlement to compensation. In addition, if a person suffers some type of permanent impairment that would restrict their ability to do their job, they may receive future damages for the loss of earning capacity.
  • Property Damage and Loss of Use: This would include the cost of repair of a vehicle or the fair market value of the car in the event of a "total loss" (defined as a cost of repair which exceeds the fair market value). In addition, a person who sustains the loss of a vehicle used for transportation, is entitled to the "loss of use" or the reasonable value of a rental car while their vehicle is being repaired or prior to issuance of the funds to buy a new vehicle.
  • Compensation for Physical Pain and Mental Suffering: In addition to the "out of pocket" costs, an auto accident victim is entitled to be compensated for the present and future physical discomfort and emotional toll that such an event can cause. This includes compensation for the disruption to their work and home life.

Our attorneys welcome the opportunity to help you in any matter where you or a loved one has been injured, or suffered damages due to being involved in or affected by a car accident. Call us today for a free consultation or case evaluation at (888) 509-8963

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