Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

What Is the Statute of Limitations in a California Car Accident?

| Read Time: 4 minutes

Recovering after a car accident can take a long time. Hospital stays can take weeks, while physical therapy can take months or years. Processing and overcoming the trauma and pain of a car accident can take even longer.  However, if you plan to file a lawsuit because of the accident, you can’t wait forever. California has a strict deadline for filing claims called a “statute of limitations.” In most cases, the statute of limitations in a California car accident case is only two years.  Therefore, if you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident, you need to act quickly. Don’t let the statute of limitations in California make your claim untimely. Contact a knowledgeable Long Beach car accident attorney today.  What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in California? Section 340.8 of the California Code of Civil Procedure contains the statute of limitations for car accidents. For most civil lawsuits for losses caused in a car accident, the statute of limitations in California is two years from the date of the accident. If you do not file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations, the court will most likely throw out your case.  That said, this two year statute of limitations does not apply in every situation. One exception applies to car accidents involving government entities. For example, if you were rear-ended by a police vehicle and suffered injuries as a result. Since this is a claim not against a private citizen but a government entity (i.e., the police), a different statute of limitations would apply. Instead of two years, you would have only six months after the accident to file your claim.  Other circumstances can extend the statute of limitations. If a minor child is injured in a car accident, the statute of limitations clock doesn’t start ticking until they are 18 years old.  Two years may sound like a long time, but claims take time. Injuries may need time for treatment plans and diagnoses, and determining fault may need the consultation of experts to parse through the data and witness statements. Your attorney has a lot of work to do gathering evidence and building your case. So it’s never a good idea to wait. Instead, you should reach out to a qualified car accident attorney right away. Why Is the Statute of Limitations Only Two Years? There are several good reasons why the state limits the statute of limitations to two years. For one, limiting the time period to two years helps ensure that sufficient evidence is available. As any attorney or police officer can tell you, evidence degrades over time.  Witnesses move, pass away, or simply forget key facts because memories fade over time. Physical evidence, like documents and photographs, can be lost or destroyed. As the amount of evidence decreases, it becomes harder and harder to get a fair outcome in a case. Capping the statute of limitations to only two years also gives people a sense of finality. If there were no statute of limitations, people could bring lawsuits over events that occurred 5, 10, 20, or even 30 years ago.  What If I Didn’t Know I Was Injured Until a Long Time After the Car Accident? Sometimes, people feel perfectly fine after a car accident. Because they don’t see or feel any effects after the crash, they assume that they’re healthy and don’t go to a doctor. However, car accidents cause all kinds of hidden traumas, like spinal trauma and closed head injuries. Some of the injuries take months or even years to develop.  If you were injured in an accident and waited too long to bring your claim, you may be ultimately barred from receiving recovery from the negligent party.    Consequently, if your injury appeared months or years after the accident, you will need to consult with a qualified legal professional who will help determine whether your claim is still viable and able to file a lawsuit. I’m Short of Cash Right Now. How Can I Afford an Attorney? Many people wrongly assume that they have to pay attorneys an hourly fee. Although attorneys are sometimes paid by the hour, you can sometimes hire them on a contingency fee basis. In a contingency fee arrangement, you pay only when the attorney resolves your case in a favorable monetary outcome. Your attorney will receive a certain agreeable percentage of the payout.   This method allows you to get legal representation even if you don’t have a lot of extra money available to pay upfront fees. It also means that the attorney gets paid only if they win money for you. After damages award money comes in, the attorney takes the agreed-upon percentage as their fee and the rest after disbursement of costs and medical bills will be given to you.   Don’t Wait Another Day to Get Justice. Contact Us Today.  Surviving a car accident is incredibly stressful. It can also be devastating to your finances and physical and mental well-being. However, do not miss your opportunity to recover compensation for your losses. You deserve to be compensated for your pain, suffering, and lost wages. So act quickly and call an attorney today.  Michael A Beliz, Esq. is a dedicated and experienced personal injury attorney who can help you obtain justice. Over the course of almost two decades, Mr. Beliz has represented clients in countless car accident cases. Thanks to his stellar representation, his clients have received some amazing results over the years. If you want a qualified and compassionate attorney to represent you, look no further. Give us a call or contact us online to set up an appointment.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

Can a Pedestrian Ever Be at Fault for a Car Accident in California?

| Read Time: 4 minutes

Many people think that accidents involving pedestrians mean that the driver is always at fault. However, that is not always the case. Understandably, prospective clients want to know, Can a pedestrian be at fault? Liability differs in every case, and yes, a pedestrian can be at fault in a car accident. You often hear the saying that “pedestrians have the right of way,” but that isn’t necessarily always the case. Drivers and pedestrians have a duty to act as a prudent person with reasonable care. Failure to do so could result in potential negligence against a pedestrian in an accident claim. If you sustained injuries in an accident caused by a negligent party, speak with an experienced California pedestrian injury lawyer at the Beliz Law Firm. Pedestrian Accidents in California Pedestrians have the right-of-way at marked and unmarked crosswalks in California. When a pedestrian fails to comply with the crosswalk or pedestrian laws, the driver may have the right-of-way. The law doesn’t protect pedestrians when they violate the law, such as jaywalking between vehicles. That means pedestrians can be legally at fault for causing a crash.  An example would be a pedestrian who darts out between two parked cars in front of a vehicle, causing the driver to crash into the parked cars. In this case, the pedestrian might be liable for the damage to those parked vehicles. Other examples of situations where pedestrians might be liable in an accident include: Crossing at a crosswalk, but violating a traffic law such as crossing on a red light when it says don’t walk; Walking on a bridge or highway where pedestrian traffic is prohibited; or Acting recklessly, negligently, or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While pedestrian traffic is prohibited in places such as a highway or freeway, it doesn’t mean a driver can hit someone and have no fault. A motorist may break down and walk to a call box or get off the highway to get assistance. Drivers still have a duty to be cautious and avoid striking them. Shared Fault for Pedestrian Accidents Pedestrian accident liability is sometimes split between the driver and pedestrian, where both parties are deemed to be partially responsible for the accident. California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means you can collect a portion of your damages in an accident, even if you are primarily at fault for the collision. Even in cases where it might appear a pedestrian is clearly at fault, it’s possible the driver will still have some liability. For example, maybe a pedestrian jaywalked, but the driver was distracted and speeding or under the influence of alcohol. The defendant’s insurance company will do their best to put some if not all the liability on you, whether you’re the driver or pedestrian. Even if they can prove only 10% or 20% liability, it means they can reduce their exposure and potential payout. For example, if a jury finds you 15% at fault, you would collect 85% of your damages. It also means the other party would be able to pursue 15% of their damages from your insurance. How a California Pedestrian Injury Attorney Can Assist You If you sustained injuries in a pedestrian accident, retaining a skilled California pedestrian injury lawyer is essential. You need a legal advocate on your side who can protect your rights and help you fight for the maximum compensation in your case. When you retain the Beliz Law Firm to represent you, we will immediately open an independent investigation. Our team will order your medical records and police report, speak with witnesses, and do a scene investigation. In some cases, we may need to hire an expert, such as an accident reconstructionist. This expert will review the facts of the accident. They will prepare a report deciding whom they believe to be at fault for the collision. They can also testify on your behalf should your case eventually go to trial. An accident reconstructionist’s report can be a crucial part of your case. We will also handle all communication and settlement talks with the other party’s insurance or legal practitioners. Insurance companies rely on the fact that you don’t do this for a living. Adjusters will rarely ever offer you the total value of your claim. Instead, they will do their best to minimize your payout and put the majority of the blame on you when investigating pedestrian accident liability. Should the other party’s insurance fail to negotiate or refuse to accept any liability, we will file a lawsuit on your behalf. Contact a California Pedestrian Attorney Today If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a California auto accident with a pedestrian, contact The Beliz Law Firm. We have nearly two decades of experience assisting injured victims just like you. We understand the applicable laws and tactics insurance companies use to avoid paying damages. Our firm has the skills and resources available should you choose to proceed with preparing a case for trial. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. We will review your case, help you identify the liable party, and assess what your case is worth. Let us determine the best course of legal action and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

What are the Laws in California Regarding a Pedestrian Hit by a Car?

| Read Time: 3 minutes

It’s dangerous out there being a pedestrian. Not only do you have to worry about California’s crumbling sidewalks, but distracted and aggressive motorists show very little respect for pedestrians. According to one source, pedestrian deaths account for 22% of all traffic fatalities, so it important that pedestrians protect themselves. At the Beliz Law Firm, we receive a common question: “I got hit by a car while crossing the street. What are my rights?” In this post, we will explain how the law protects pedestrians in California and what to do after a collision. Hitting a Pedestrian in a Crosswalk All motorists must operate their vehicles with sufficient care. This does not mean that they must be perfect, but they must use due care so as not to injure anyone—including pedestrians. When drivers fail to be sufficiently careful, they are negligent and legally responsible for the injuries they cause. Examples of negligence include: Failing to stop Running a red light Trying to scoot around a pedestrian Distracted driving, such as texting or talking on the phone while driving Backing up without checking in the rearview mirror California Vehicle Code § 21950 confirms that both pedestrians and motorists owe each other a duty of care. The code specifically states that motorists who are approaching a pedestrian in any marked or unmarked crosswalk must slow down their vehicle and take any other action necessary to avoid hitting a pedestrian. However, the Code also says that pedestrians must not rush in front of a vehicle so that they create a hazard. Pedestrians also cannot delay traffic while in the crosswalk. If a driver fails to operate their vehicle carefully, and they injure a pedestrian, then the pedestrian can sue the driver for compensation. However, if the pedestrian did not exercise care, they might not have a lawsuit. Use Common Sense Pedestrians and motorists can protect everyone’s safety by using common sense and not being in a rush to get somewhere. Simply wait for vehicles or pedestrians to get through the crosswalk before heading across. The California Driver Handbook implores pedestrians and motorists to exhibit courtesy to each other, which will reduce the chances of an accident. Of course, some accidents are unavoidable, and pedestrians should do everything possible to protect their right to compensation. For example, you should do the following after getting struck: Contact emergency services to have an ambulance come out. Take pictures of anything, such as damage to the car that hit you, or the area where you landed. If you are in extreme pain, ask someone else to take these pictures with their camera. Contact the police to come out to the accident and write up a police report. These reports will contain important information. Identify any witnesses to the collision. Get their names and contact information. Promptly seek medical attention. The more information you find, the greater your case for compensation. If you are too injured to collect anything, then ask for help or have your lawyer look for this information as soon as possible. Contact Us Today If you are a pedestrian hit by a car, laws in California protect you. These laws allow injured pedestrians to hold negligent drivers accountable when they negligently injure other people. At the Beliz Law Firm, we meet with many people who have suffered devastating injuries in pedestrian crashes, such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and permanent nerve damage. We know how stressful it is to be in pain and possibly unable to work. To speak with an attorney, please reach out to us today. One of our pedestrian accident lawyers can meet with you to discuss your case. Avoid delay. California law gives injured pedestrians a short amount of time to request compensation after a crash.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

Seat Belt Laws in California

| Read Time: 3 minutes

Seat belts save lives. This simple fact is the reason that every passenger in a car in California must wear a seat belt, even when riding in the back seat. The California seat belt law is found in the Motor Vehicle Code § 27315 and is strictly enforced. Seat Belts are Required Under the California seatbelt law, no person can operate a vehicle on a highway unless the driver and all passengers aged 16 or older are wearing a safety belt. This law applies to passengers riding in the front seat as well as in the back. At a minimum, the seat belt should be a lap belt that crosses at the hips and upper thighs. If there is an upper portion to the belt, then it should cross the chest. The motor vehicle owner also must make sure to maintain that there are seat belts in the vehicle that works. This law also applies to anyone operating or owning a taxi. Penalties The seat belt law in California identifies the penalty that you will have to pay if the police pull you over and you are not wearing a belt: $20 fine for a first offense $50 fine for each subsequent offense Instead of paying the fine, you might be able to attend traffic school, where you will learn about traffic safety. Child Safety Seats Children have different safety needs, and for that reason, California has created separate seat belt requirements for children. Because restraints save lives, the state will require that you put your child in an appropriate car or booster seat. The type of seat you need will depend on several factors. Here are the details of the law: If your child is younger than 2, you should put them in a rear-facing seat unless the child is large for their age, e.g., 40+ pounds or 40+ inches tall. After age 2, they should be in a forward-facing safety seat. If your child is under age 8, then they must be secured in a booster or car seat located in the back seat. Children 8 or older, or any child that is 4’9” tall, can also be secured in a booster seat. If you choose not to use a booster seat, then but at a minimum,q the child must wear a safety belt. Children 16 or older must follow the seat belt law in California as described above. Some questions arise about when a child can move on from a car seat that has a five-point harness to a booster seat. California law does not lay out precisely when you should make this move. Instead, the state recommends that you take things slow. Graduating your child to a booster seat actually decreases the amount of restraint and safety they have, so California recommends that you keep your child in their current seat for as long as possible. California also provides some basic guidance: Your child is ready for a booster seat when they have surpassed the limits for a forward-facing harness, typically between 40 and 65 pounds. Children should stay in their booster seat until they are at least 4’9” tall and 8-12 years old. Remember that safety belts were designed for men around 165 pounds, so the belts are an awkward fit for smaller children. Seat Belts and Car Accidents California is a pure comparative negligence state. This means that the law recognizes that a car accident victim could have contributed to their accident or injuries. The victim can still sue, but their own negligence will reduce the amount of compensation they can receive. Under the state’s seat belt law, failure to wear a seat belt is not per se proof of negligence. This means the driver cannot point to your failure to wear a seat belt as automatically proving you were negligent. However, a jury can still use the fact that you were not wearing a seatbelt to find that you contributed to your injuries. For this reason, wearing a seatbelt not only protects you but protects your right to compensation in the event of a collision. Speak to a Long Beach Car Accident Lawyer At the Beliz Law Firm, we have helped countless accident victims get the compensation they deserve. Please reach out to us today for a free consultation. One of our Long Beach car accident lawyers will be happy to meet with you to discuss your case as well as your options for compensation. Call 562-452-3772.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

What Time of Day do Most Car Accidents Happen?

| Read Time: 4 minutes

Car accidents can strike at any time. However, your chances of suffering an accident increase when there are more people on the road. For that reason, drivers should expect the most accidents to occur during rush hour traffic. And statistics bear this assumption out. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most dangerous time to drive on the road is during afternoon rush hour traffic. Read on for more information about when your risk of getting into an accident is elevated. A Closer Look at the Most Dangerous Time to Drive Avvo looked at Fatality Analysis Reporting System data, provided by the federal government and broke down the number of fatalities according to the time of day in 3-hour increments: 1:00 am to 3:59 am: 4,019 fatalities 4:00 am to 6:59 am: 3,520 fatalities 7:00 am to 9:59 am: 3,345 fatalities 10:00 am to 12:59 pm: 3,864 fatalities 1:00 pm to 3:59 pm: 5,273 fatalities 4:00 pm to 6:59 pm: 6,201 fatalities 7:00 pm to 9:59 pm: 6,067 fatalities 10:00 pm to 12:59 am: 4,829 fatalities One thing that jumps out is how safe the morning rush hour period is compared to driving home from work.  For example, traffic fatalities early in the morning are very low. In fact, it seems that drivers are much more careful early in the morning. Indeed, fatalities are much lower in the 7:00 am to 9:59 am window than even in the 1:00 am to 3:59 am a window when fewer people should be on the road.  This could mean driving skills decrease as the day goes on.  Being drained from work may increase the chance of a serious accident while driving home.  Finally, darkness and visibility may increase fatal vehicle collisions. The Most Dangerous Day to Drive According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the most dangerous day to drive is the Fourth of July, based on a 2016 analysis. This should not be entirely surprising. As part of the festivities, many people enjoy far too much alcohol to drink, which impairs their driving ability. Also, because the weather on the Fourth is often hot, a driver will be even more impaired. With so many vehicles on the road, even sober drivers can become frustrated and engage in dangerous driving. Based on the same 2016 analysis, the other most dangerous days to drive include: January 1 September 18 August 2 August 27 July 5 October 2 Of the seven days of the week, Saturday is the most dangerous according to NHTSA. Actually, the weekend is when the most fatal accidents occur.  Less traffic with higher speeds may be the reason for the higher numbers.  Conversely, the safest day to be on the road is Tuesday. (Interactive Map) In 2016, the number of car crash-related fatalities were as follows: Sunday: 5,809 Monday: 4,883 Tuesday: 4,444 Wednesday: 4,695 Thursday: 5,002 Friday: 5,826 Saturday: 6,802 If you need to go on a long trip, then Tuesday or Wednesday would seem to be ideal days. Protecting Yourself The reason so many accidents happen on certain days and at certain times is that roads are congested. But you probably need to be on the road at the same time, along with everyone else. What can you do? Clearly, drivers should exercise extreme caution when driving during rush hour. Remember to leave enough room between you and other vehicles, preferably four seconds of time. Also be reasonable when someone is trying to merge into traffic. If possible, you can scoot into the other lane, leaving the room. You should also avoid drinking on holidays, since alcohol will dramatically slow down your reflexes and impair your judgment, thus increasing the likelihood of a crash. If you see someone driving erratically, report them to the authorities. If you are feeling fatigued, remember to pull over to the side of the road. Speak to a Long Beach Car Accident Lawyer Rush hour might be the most dangerous time to drive, but motorists and pedestrians can suffer a serious injury at any time. If you have been injured in an accident, you need compensation to help you cover medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Your pain and suffering also warrant compensation. Contact the Beliz Law Firm today. Our car accident lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve and are prepared to negotiate aggressively on your behalf. Call 562-452-3772 for a free consultation or send us an online contact form.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

Who is Responsible for Uber or Lyft Accidents in California?

| Read Time: 3 minutes

For immediate help from an experienced car accident lawyer, reach out to Michael Beliz today. California is a “fault” state, meaning that drivers who cause accidents are financially responsible for them. Injured victims can make a claim for compensation with the at-fault driver’s insurer for things like medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. These same rules apply if you are struck by an Uber or a Lyft driver, or if you are a passenger in an Uber or Lyft. Sometimes the driver responsible does not have any insurance, or they do not have enough to cover the full cost of your injuries. In these situations, you will need to check whether uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage is available. Below, let’s look at some common scenarios. You are Injured as an Uber Car Accident Passenger Here, the driver responsible for the crash is responsible for compensating you. This might be your Uber/Lyft driver or it might be another motorist who struck you. Either way, you will make a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company. Currently, the amount of Lyft or Uber passenger insurance is $1 million, which should certainly cover your injuries. Things can get tricky, however, if another motorist struck you but is uninsured. Helpfully, your ridesharing company should have underinsured motorist insurance for $1 million, which will kick in to cover you. You are Struck by an Uber or Lyft Driver In this situation, the Uber or Lyft driver is responsible for your injuries. It doesn’t matter whether you are another motorist or a pedestrian. In an Uber or Lyft driver car accident, you make a claim with the driver’s insurance. However, the amount of insurance available will depend on whether the driver was logged in the ridesharing app and whether they were actually transporting a ride: If the driver was not logged into the app, then the only insurance available is the personal insurance they carry on their vehicle. This is really no different than being struck by a person who doesn’t drive for Uber. Hopefully, the driver should have the minimum liability insurance required by California, which is $15,000 per person in bodily injury liability. If not, you might be able to use your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, if you have it. If the driver was logged into the ridesharing app and looking for rides when they struck you, then the Uber driver should have at least $50,000 in liability insurance up to $100,000 per accident and another $30,000 in property damage. Uber also carries $200,000 in excess liability coverage. If the driver had accepted a ride when he or she hit you, or if they actually had passengers with them, then the maximum amount of insurance applies. Uber drivers should have $1 million in liability insurance and another $1 million in uninsured/underinsured motorist injury coverage. You are an Uber/Lyft Driver Struck by Another Motorist In this case, you need to make a claim for compensation with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. You should get this information soon after the crash and report the accident to the Department of Motor Vehicles, as is required by state law. Confused after an Uber or Lyft Accident? Reach Out to Us Today Injured motorists and pedestrians need compensation to help them piece together their lives after an accident. At the Beliz Law Firm, we are well-versed in the complexity of Uber and Lyft car accidents and understand who you need to file a claim with. In this difficult time, you should focus on getting well and being with your family. Let us do the heavy lifting of obtaining the compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, please call us as at 562-452-3772 or send us a private message. Please avoid delay. Injured victims have a limited amount of time to make a claim after an accident.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

 What’s the Average Settlement for a Pedestrian Hit by a Car?

| Read Time: 3 minutes

Car accidents can cause devastating injuries, especially to pedestrians. Unlike motorists, pedestrians have no protective barrier between them and the car that strikes them. As a result, pedestrians often need tens of thousands of dollars in medical care, and they are at higher risk of suffering permanent injuries. Injured pedestrians also can miss months of work, which makes obtaining compensation that much more critical. After your accident, you might wonder about the average settlement for a pedestrian hit by a car. In reality, there is no “average” settlement amount. Because settlements are usually confidential, no one has collected this information to come up with a believable number. The better course is to focus on the factors that go into calculating your settlement amount. Calculate How Much Your Medical Care Costs The purpose of a settlement is to make you “whole.” Basically, this means the settlement should put you in the position you would be in had you never been involved in an accident. One factor we look at it is how much money your medical care has cost. With minor injuries, like sprains or strains, you might only need a couple thousand dollars in medical care, possibly less. For serious injuries, like traumatic brain injuries or bad burns, you could need much more. It is very easy to calculate the cost of medical care. Find all bills and receipts and add up the amounts. Remember you can receive compensation for things like rehabilitation, prescription drugs, and supportive devices such as crutches or wheelchairs. You might also receive compensation for transportation to the hospital or doctors visits. Add Up Your Lost Wages Another economic loss associated with car accidents are lost wages. If your broken leg or concussion causes you to miss work, then you can receive the wages you would have earned had you not been injured. Look at your pay stubs and calculate the amount. You can even receive lost wages if you are self-employed—provided you can establish what you would have earned with reasonable certainty. For example, if you had to cancel some contracts while you recovered, then you can probably receive their value in compensation. Estimate Your Pain and Suffering If you are a pedestrian hit by a car, settlement negotiations should include discussion of your intangible losses, like pain or emotional distress. The simple fact is that accidents cause some losses that are hard to calculate in dollars and cents. Nevertheless, these losses are very real. Many of our clients report a serious reduction in the quality of life after getting struck by a car. The amount you can receive usually depends on the seriousness of your physical injuries. A sprain that causes a couple of weeks of discomfort probably will not earn you much in pain and suffering. But an injury that prevents you from enjoying your favorite hobbies or playing with your children may be worth much more. When clients suffer permanent, life-changing injuries like paralysis, they can receive a considerable amount for pain and suffering. Analyze the Driver’s Insurance Policy The driver’s insurance policy will usually act as a ceiling to the amount you can receive. Regardless of how much money the accident has cost you—and regardless of the severity of your injuries—the fact is it is very rare for you to get more in a settlement than the driver has in insurance. California only requires that drivers carry $15,000 in injury liability insurance per person, and many drivers only carry the minimum. If your injuries are worth $50,000, you still might need to settle for $15,000. Of course, you can file a lawsuit as a pedestrian hit by a car but, again, you will probably not get more than the policy limit in compensation. Call an Experienced Pedestrian Accident Attorney in Long Beach Negotiating a settlement is complicated, and you need someone experienced to represent you. At the Beliz Law Firm, we have gone up against many of the state’s largest insurers, and we know how to get a favorable settlement for our clients. By hiring us, you will get an advocate who knows how to build these cases the right way and who is not intimidated by insurer dirty tricks. To find out more about whether we can help you, please contact us right away. We offer clients a free consultation, which they can schedule by calling 562-452-3772.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

What to Do After a Hit and Run Accident

| Read Time: 2 minutes

California has strict laws against fleeing the scene of an accident without providing contact information. Unfortunately, too many drivers flee, breaking the law in the process and leaving you with property damage or, worse, physical injuries. If you have suffered damage in a hit and run car accident, you should follow these tips before reaching out to a hit and run lawyer. Get Medical Treatment If you were in the car when it was struck, you should check to make sure everyone is okay. If someone needs help, contact 911 and ask for an ambulance. If injuries are less serious, you might drive to the hospital yourself later, but it is important to get prompt medical treatment because not all serious injuries are apparent or visible after a car accident. Note Details about the Car that Struck You You might have been in a store when someone struck your car, in which case you might not know anything about the offending motorist. However, if you were in the car when it was hit, you should collect as much information as possible: The car’s make and model; The car color; The license plate number; What the driver looked like; and Anything else that stands out, like a bumper sticker or a burnt-out taillight. Check with nearby witnesses who might have seen more than you did. Get their names and contact information as well as what they saw. If you were struck in a parking lot, then surveillance videos might have captured the motorist before they fled. You can stop into a store and ask if they have video of the parking lot. Give them the date and time of the accident. Report the Accident California law requires that you report car accidents to the DMV within 10 days if the accident caused $1,000 or more of damage or if anyone was physically injured or killed. If you do not file this report, your license can be suspended. Check if Insurance Applies California is a “fault” state, meaning the driver at fault for an accident pays for your injuries and damage to the vehicle. Unfortunately, if a driver flees, you won’t be able to make a claim with their insurer unless you find the driver. Nevertheless, you might carry insurance that will cover you, such as: Collision insurance, which can pay to repair your car. Medical payments, which can pay for medical care. Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) bodily injury coverage, which can pay for medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, these forms of insurance are voluntary in California, meaning you might not have them. If not, your only chance of receiving compensation is to find out the driver who hit you so you can make a claim. Confused about What to Do in a Hit and Run? Contact Us Today At the Beliz Law Firm, our hit and run lawyers have helped countless clients get the compensation they need. If you identify the driver, we can help make a claim with his or her insurance company. If you have UM coverage, we can work with your insurer to get you full and fair compensation for your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, please call us today, 562-452-3772.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

Who’s At Fault in a Car Accident?

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Nobody leaves their house or workplace and expects to get hurt in a car accident. However, traffic collisions happen very frequently in Southern California, especially since most residents rely on motor vehicles to get from one place to another. With more cars on the road, there is a greater risk of a collision. Who is at fault in a car accident? Many drivers who have been injured in motor vehicle crashes want to know how to tell who is at fault in a car accident. Fault in a California car accident depends on different factors. Determining Fault Initially in a Car Crash in California California is what is known as a “fault” state when it comes to auto accidents and claims. Some states are “no-fault” states, while other states are “fault” states. In a “fault” state, the police will typically assign fault to one (or more) of the drivers in a motor vehicle collision, and an injury victim can be eligible to file a claim against the responsible driver. When the police are called to the scene of an accident and write out a police report that identifies one of the drivers as the driver at fault, the police report becomes an important document in proving fault. When a driver files an auto insurance claim in a fault-based car insurance state, the driver typically has two options for property damages: File a 1st-party claim: this is a claim through the driver’s own auto insurance company; or File a 3rd-party claim: this is a claim through the auto insurance company of the driver who is at fault. There are benefits and limitations to each type of claim. When a driver files a 1st-party claim, she or he is responsible for paying the deductible even if she is not at fault. Then, that driver’s own insurance company attempts to recoup the deductible from the liable driver’s insurance company. A 1st-party claim can sometimes be quicker than a 3rd-party claim. When a driver files a 3rd-party claim, she does not have to pay a deductible, but the process can take longer. In addition, if the driver at fault has limits on the policy, the injury victim may be unable to obtain full compensation for her losses. In such a scenario, the injury victim may be able to file a lawsuit to seek damages for additional losses. For bodily injuries, the driver has to go through a 3rd-party claim first before doing a 1st-party claim. How to Prove Fault Based On Evidence at the Scene of the Crash After a crash, you probably want to know how to determine fault in a car accident. In addition to a police report, injury victims should gather the following evidence at the scene of a crash: Witness statements; Witness contact information; Photographs of the scene taken from multiple vantage points; and Photographs of injuries. In addition, the injury victim should seek medical attention. Medical records can also be used as evidence to prove that the other driver was at fault. Even if you believe you may have been partially to blame, never admit fault after a car accident. Comparative Fault and California Auto Crash Claims What happens if both drivers—the plaintiff and the defendant—are responsible in some capacity for the car accident? This is known as comparative fault, or contributory negligence. Under California law, a plaintiff’s comparative fault reduces her damages award by the portion of her fault, but it does not prevent her from recovering damages. For example, if a plaintiff (the personal injury victim who filed a claim) is found to be 10 percent at fault, her damages award will be reduced by 10 percent. Even if a plaintiff is found to be 90 percent at fault, she can still recover, but her damages award will be reduced by 90 percent. If the payout in a given case is $100,000, a plaintiff who is 10 percent at fault will have her award reduced by $10,000 and she will receive $90,000. If the plaintiff is 90 percent at fault, her award will be reduced by $90,000 and she will receive $10,000. Some states bar a plaintiff from recovery if they are 50 percent or more at fault, while others bar plaintiffs who are 51 percent or more at fault. There is no bar to recovery like this under California law. Contact a California Car Accident Attorney About Filing a Claim Were you injured in a serious car crash in California? You should speak with a Long Beach car accident attorney about filing a claim for compensation. Even if you think you may bear some responsibility for the collision, you may still be able to recover damages. Contact The Beliz Law Firm to learn more about how we assist clients in California with auto accident claims.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

How to Determine Pain and Suffering in a Car Accident Case

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Car accidents can leave victims with mounting medical bills and other financial losses, like lost wages. But not all injuries are easy to value in monetary terms. For example, if a car accident leaves you paralyzed in your legs, you might still be able to work. Nevertheless, you have suffered a terrible loss to your ordinary way of life. In California, “pain and suffering” is the catchall term to describe certain non-economic losses you can be compensated for. However, it is not always easy to calculate how much these losses are worth. If you have been in an auto accident, pain and suffering damages might be substantial. What Does Pain and Suffering Cover in California? Each state defines pain and suffering differently. According to California Civil Jury Instruction 3905A, pain and suffering includes: Physical pain; Mental suffering; Physical impairment; Disfigurement; Loss of enjoyment of life; Inconvenience; and Emotional distress, including embarrassment or anxiety. After a minor accident, this pain and suffering might be temporary, clearing up after a couple of months. With particularly serious accidents, however, our clients can be permanently disfigured or disabled. How Do We Calculate Pain and Suffering? In one sense, no amount of money can ever make up for certain injuries. For example, if your brain injury permanently impairs your memory and ability to speak, then no money can ever make you whole. Nevertheless, you can’t get your old body back in a car accident settlement, so money is the best substitute. At the Beliz Law Firm, we use two different methods to estimate pain and suffering: the multiplier method and the per diem method. Multiplier Method This method is easy to understand. You take your actual economic losses—the cost of medical care, lost wages, and property damage. Then you multiply these amounts by a number usually between 1 and 5, with 1 being used for less serious injuries and 5 used for the most serious, like paralysis. To take an example, Karen might have suffered the following economic losses when she suffered an arm fracture in a T-bone collision: Medical care: $5,000 Lost wages: $3,000 Car damage: $2,000 Total economic losses: $10,000 Since her injury is moderate, you would probably multiply this amount by 2 and arrive at $20,000, which is a rough estimate of her pain and suffering damages. Add the $20,000 to her $10,000 in economic losses, and Karen could get around $30,000 in her settlement. Per Diem Method Per diem means “by the day.” This method assigns a daily value for pain and suffering, such as $200. If Karen’s broken arm caused her pain for three months, during which she was regularly seeing the doctor, then you might multiply $200 by 90 days to reach $18,000 for total pain and suffering. How do you arrive at the per diem amount? Actually, it might seem rather arbitrary. An insurance company might look at how much you earn a day and use that as the number. Your attorney could use some other number so long as there is a legitimate reason for doing so. Speak with Us Now After an auto accident, you need steady legal guidance to help you get the money you deserve. At the Beliz Law Firm, we have extensive experience with car accident settlement pain and suffering claims, and we want to use our knowledge for you. To schedule your free consultation, please reach out to us today.

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