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What To Do If You Lose Control of Your Car

Slippery road sign The number one cause of drivers losing control of their vehicles is poor weather conditions. Rain, especially after a long dry spell, can make roads dangerous. But weather isn’t the only reason drivers lose control of their cars. Brake failure, faulty steering rods and other mechanical problems can also cause loss of control.

It’s frightening and dangerous to lose control of your car. What should you do? Here’s some tips for the road.

Tips for Regaining Control of the Car

Tip Number 1: Don’t Panic

It’s easier said than done, but if you lose control of your car for any reason, don’t panic. You have options to regain control. Think about those options, not about your fear.

Tip Number 2: Don’t Brake Hard to Regain Control

Roads can be dangerous in rain, especially if it’s just started to rain or is raining heavily. Hydroplaning refers to a car’s tires losing traction due to wetness on the road. Cars can also skid or become out of control even if they’re not hydroplaning. The natural human reaction if your car is skidding or hydroplaning is to slam on the brakes to slow down or stop the car. Don’t do this! It can cause your car to skid even more dangerously or hydroplane more.

Instead, apply gentle brake pressure for just a second or two, then take your foot off the brake. Then do it again. You want to stop very slowly, and you don’t want steady pressure on the brake.

Tip Number 3: Don’t Accelerate

Strange as it may so

und, some drivers panic and hit the gas pedal when they skid or hydroplane. It’s accidental, but some part of their brain is aiming for the same area as the brake. Don’t accelerate an already out-of-control car, ever.

Tip Number 4: Steer in the Opposite Direction Slowly

If you’re skidding, you want to steer out of it slowly. Move the steering wheel in the direction you need to go, but don’t do it hard. Turning your wheel hard intensifies the correction and can cause you to skid in the opposite direction.

Tip No. 5: Use the Emergency Brake

The other reason a car might be out of control is brake failure. You tape the brakes and there’s no response. Generally, this will only happen if the car has run out of brake fluid or the brake pads are worn.

The answer is to use the emergency brake. This is clearly not ideal, but it’s better than running into another car, a person, or running through an intersection.

Do You Need a Car Accident Attorney in Los Angeles?

If you or a loved one has been involved in a car crash in southern California, we can help. Ellis Injury Law has more than two decades of experience in car accident law. Contact an experienced Los Angeles auto accident attorney today at 1-800-INJURED for a consultation at no cost to you.

More information on what to do if you lose control of your car:

  1. Allstate Insurance. You Lost Control of Your Car in Bad Weather. Now What? March 15, 2012. https://blog.allstate.com/you-lost-control-of-your-car-in-bad-weather-now-what/
  2. Lampton, Christopher. How Do You Stop an Out-of-Control Car? How Stuff Works. https://auto.howstuffworks.com/car-driving-safety/accidents-hazardous-conditions/stop-out-of-control-car.htm

Common Delayed Car Accident Injury Symptoms and How They Can Affect You

injured woman after car crash, concussionIf you have been in a car accident in southern California, you may not have felt any symptoms of an injury at the time of a crash or shortly after it. Adrenaline and other stress responses can kick in to mask symptoms.

In addition, a number of injuries, including those to soft tissue, may not manifest for several days or even weeks after an accident. They can affect your functioning and quality of life. Some can even be life-threatening.

As a result, it’s good to know what the most common delayed car accident injury symptoms are and how they can affect you.


It’s a good idea to see a doctor after a car crash. Why? Because they can check for signs of a concussion and other potential head injuries. Concussions can occur by the head being jostled, or your upper body and head being moved sharply back and forth.

If you begin having headaches several days after the accident, it may be a sign of several common post-accident injuries, including injury to the neck, the head, a concussion, or a blood clot or bleeding in the brain.

Pain or Stiffness in the Neck or Shoulder

Experiencing pain or stiffness in the neck or shoulder after an accident is one of the most common delayed symptoms after a car accident.

Many cases are associated with whiplash, which acquired its name from the movement of a body back and forth if a car is hit from the rear. The movement can cause soft tissue damage, which will not show up on an x-ray, but may result in pain and stiffness that can be long-lasting.

Pain in the Back

Back pain can stem from injured muscles, nerves, vertebrae, or ligaments. It is especially common in rear-end crashes and crashes in which people were hit from the side.

Pain or Swelling in the Stomach

If you have pain or swelling in the stomach after an accident, see a physician immediately. Pain and swelling could mean you have internal bleeding. Other potential symptoms of internal bleeding include bruising, especially dark bruises, faintness, and dizziness.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) manifests through nightmares and flashbacks of traumatic events. PTSD is a common psychological symptom after a crash.

Experienced Car Accident Lawyers

If you or a loved one has been in a car crash causing injury or psychological stress in southern California, we can help. We have been litigating and investigating accidents in the Los Angeles area for more than 20 years. We fight aggressively for your rights.

Please call today at 1-800-INJURED for a free consultation with an experienced Los Angeles car crash lawyer.

More information on common delayed injury symptoms after a car crash:

  1. Konet, Kyle. Arrowhead Clinic. “Delayed Car Accident Injury Symptoms To Pay Attention To.” https://www.arrowheadclinic.com/category/blog/delayed-car-accident-injury-symptoms
  2. Bigham, Alex. “7 Delayed Injury Symptoms After a Car Crash.” KTAR News, August 31, 2015. http://ktar.com/story/605000/7-delayed-injury-symptoms-after-a-car-crash/

How Is Fault Determined in a Car Accident?

Two Drivers Arguing After Traffic Accident If you’ve been in a car accident, the determination of who or what caused the accident can have a major bearing on your future. If a person other than yourself caused it, whether through direct action or through failure to obey proper driving procedures, they can be determined to be at fault, or negligent, in a court of law. If you caused it, you may be determined to be at fault, or negligent.

Why Fault Matters in a Car Accident

A negligent driver can be sued under California law by an injured party. While some states are “no fault,” in which car repairs and medical treatment are always handled by individual insurance companies, California is not one of them.

Being at fault can also affect your insurance rates and points on your driver’s license in California.

Accidents can be caused by a direct action, such as failure to stop at a stop sign. This is always against the law.

Failure to obey proper driving procedures means that an accident could have been avoided had proper procedures been followed. Suppose a driver behind you, for example, is traveling too fast to stop if you make a sudden stop. The driver may try to argue that you stopped too suddenly, but in fact all drivers are expected to leave appropriate space between them and the car in front of them. Defensive driving practices could potentially have prevented such an accident.

How Is Auto Accident Fault Determined?

Many factors have to be considered to determine fault in a car crash. Laws, speed, condition of the car and driver, and weather are just some common factors in accidents.

If a police officer comes to the scene after an accident in the Los Angeles area, they will file a police report. This will have a detailed description of the accident scene from the drivers involved, the physical evidence, and the officer’s observations. It may have a sketch.

This can help to determine fault. If a driver turned left at an intersection without signaling, for example, it will be that driver’s fault if you hit him going straight.

Statements of witnesses can also be used to determine fault. If there are witnesses that saw the failure to deploy a turn signal, for example, such as the driver behind that car, their testimony can be used.

If the police do not take witness statements, you may ask the witnesses if they are willing to make statements, and take notes.

Forensic evidence is also used to assess degree of fault. The degree of a car’s trajectory may indicate excessive speed or another issue in the driving.

Images such as pictures and videos are also used. Skid marks, for example, may indicate that a driver was going too fast or stopped very quickly – perhaps not in time. It is always a good idea to take multiple pictures after the scene of an accident, from various perspectives and from nearby and far away.

It is also possible to call investigators to the scene to carefully review evidence.

Involved in a car crash? Learn your legal rights

Ellis Injury Law Firm attorneys have 20 years of experience litigating and investigating car accidents in the Los Angeles area. Accidents can be complex, and determining fault and degree of fault requires experience and knowhow.

We fight for your rights. Please call today for a complimentary appointment to receive advice about car accidents, negligence, and California law. An experienced Los Angeles car crash lawyer at our award-winning firm can be reached at 1-800-INJURED.

Further reading on how liability in car crashes is determined in California:

  1. Esurance. The Blame Game: How Fault Is Determined After a Car Accident. https://www.esurance.com/info/car/how-fault-is-determined-after-a-car-accident
  2. Department of Motor Vehicles. State of California. Traffic Accident Report SR 1. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/forms/sr/sr1

California Child Car Seat Safety Law Updates 2017

Infant fastened with seat belt for safety purpose in car seatMotor vehicle accident injuries are among the top five causes of hospitalization and death for children aged 16 and younger, reports the California Department of Public Health. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that proper car seat use can reduce the chance of serious injury or death in children by up to 71 percent. Recent studies have also demonstrated that rear-facing car seats are five times safer than forward-facing seats.

California car seat laws are designed to protect infants and toddlers from devastating injury in the event of an accident. In an effort to enhance child passenger safety (CPS) on California’s roads and highways, the state’s car seat laws were amended with an important change.

The law was modified on January 1, 2017. Under the amended legislation, California now mandates that children younger than two years old ride in rear-facing car seats, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is taller than 40 inches. Previously, the law required that rear-facing car seats were mandatory for toddlers up to one-year old or those who weighed 20 pounds or less.

Rear-facing car seats safer, research shows

The car seat law update was based on crash test research, which highlighted the safety benefits of rear-facing car seats. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics and Consumer Reports, rear-facing car seats limit the concussive motion of the head during an impact, thereby reducing the likelihood of neck and head injury. Rear-facing seats also spread the crash impact more evenly across the toddler’s body, helping to keep the child better constrained.

California imposes penalties for violating car seat and passenger restraint laws. Parents or drivers can be fined over $500 and get a point on their driving record for each child under the age of 16 who is not properly restrained.

California car seat and passenger restraint laws for children

Here are some of the key highlights of the current California laws on child car seat use and passenger restraint for older children:

  • Until the age of two, children must be properly buckled up and riding in a rear-facing car seat
  • Children under the age of 8 must be secured in a car seat or booster in the back seat.
  • Children who are 8 or older OR at least 4’9″ in height may use a regular car seat belt if the lap belt sits low on the hips, touches the upper thighs, and the shoulder belt rests on the collarbone while the child’s back is firmly touching the the seat. If the seat belt will not fit properly due to a child’s size, they must ride in a car seat or booster seat.
  • All vehicle passengers 16 and older must abide by California’s seat belt law.

Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of – or simply ignore — safety guidelines regarding seat belts and car seats. Research from the CDC found that over the course of one year, some 618,000 children under the age of 1 rode in passenger vehicles without the use of a child car seat, booster seat or seat belt at least some of the time.

Committed to protecting the injured

Here at Ellis Law, we provide effective representation to victims of car accidents throughout California. In the wake of a serious collision, our legal team will work diligently to help you secure fair compensation for your injuries, medical bills and other damages. Schedule a free case review with a Los Angeles car accident lawyer at our firm by calling 1-800-INJURED. 

Additional Resources on California Child Car Seat Safety Laws:

  1. California Highway Patrol, Child Safety Seats https://www.chp.ca.gov/programs-services/programs/child-safety-seats
  2. CA Department of Public Health, California Car Seat Law Changes https://archive.cdph.ca.gov/HealthInfo/injviosaf/Documents/Carseat%20Awareness%20Poster_English%20for%20web%20and%20email%20FINAL.pdf
  3. CA Department of Public Health, Child Passenger Safety (CPS) In California https://archive.cdph.ca.gov/programs/Pages/CPSinCalifornia-VOSP.aspx

7 New High-Tech Features that Enhance Car Safety

Remember when anti-lock brakes, dual airbags and automated seat belts were considered cutting-edge safety features? Vehicle safety technology has come a long way over the years, and increasing numbers of auto makers – from Toyota and Volvo to Ford — are offering advanced features as “standard” equipment on high-volume passenger vehicle lines.

In the past, groundbreaking technological advancements were confined to mostly high-end luxury cars. These days, you can shop around for vehicle safety features that fit your lifestyle and budget, whether you’re looking for better traction control, need help monitoring blind spots or want an alarm that automatically sounds if you nod off at the wheel.

Here’s a round-up of some of the most exciting high-tech features that can help improve safety and reduce your chances of being involved in a traffic accident.

7 car safety features that can save lives 

  1. Stability Control sensors – Automatic sensors will slow down individual tires when turning to help the vehicle stay on course and avoid losing traction
  2. Blind spot monitor – Blind spot detectors alert drivers with a blinking light or audible alarm if a vehicle, pedestrian or bicyclist is in their blind spot
  3. Driver Assist/Collision Warning System– Internal vehicle cameras monitor the surroundings during travels, providing visual or audible warnings if a potentially hazardous situation is detected. The system can even initiate automatic brakes when necessary.
  4. Rear-view back up camera – Shows live footage of the area directly behind your vehicle, allowing you to back up without risk of hitting a person or object
  5. Adaptive headlights – Automatically adjusts and enhances illumination depending on road conditions, helping you see better and drive more safely at night
  6. Driver Alert Control –  Detects erratic driving behaviors such as lane drifting or abrupt deceleration, making an audible sound. By monitoring driver alertness, this safety feature can help prevent accidents caused by drowsiness or other impairment.
  7. Lane-Keep Assist –  This camera-based feature is designed to keep you in the center of the lane. If the system detects that you’re drifting off course or into a lane without a turn signal, it will alert you with a flashing light, vibration or alarm. Some systems will also automatically steer you back in the proper lane, or apply brakes if needed. 

Many of these new auto safety features are ideal for less experienced motorists and those who drive frequently at night, in addition to senior drivers whose reflexes and reaction times are notably slower.

Besides crash avoidance and mitigation, another bonus of these safety systems are lower car insurance rates.

Los Angeles car accident attorneys

Technological advancements have the potential to reduce collisions and save lives. When accidents do happen and serious harm results, it’s crucial to work with a personal injury lawyer who gets results.  Ellis Injury Law specializes in car accident and personal injury litigation throughout California, and leverages the experience, resources and skill to win fair compensation for victims.

Call 1-800-INJURED to arrange a free case review with a Los Angeles car crash attorney today!

Additional Resources on New Car Safety Features:

  1. Business Insider, Don’t buy a new car unless it has these 4 safety features http://www.businessinsider.com/best-new-safety-features-in-cars-2016-8/#blind-spot-detection-1
  2. Consumer Reports, Cars With Advanced Safety Systems https://www.consumerreports.org/car-safety/cars-with-advanced-safety-systems/
  3. USAA, Tech Features That Improve Car Safety https://www.usaa.com/inet/wc/advice-auto-safetyfeatures?akredirect=true
  4. Bank Rate, Car safety technology of the future http://www.bankrate.com/auto/car-safety-technology-of-the-future/

Top Three Reasons You Need an Attorney After a Car Accident

driver calling attorney after car accidentPeople involved in a car accident may be injured, shaken, or unsure of their rights. Car accidents can be complicated, in terms of knowing what happened initially, establishing fault for the accident, and even knowing when to file a claim.

For all these reasons, it’s often a good idea to talk to an attorney after a car accident. Here are the top 3 reasons it’s a good idea to consult a car accident attorney in southern California for a free case review.

1. Expertise and Advice

Attorneys have knowledge of the law in California. Many of your questions after an accident center around the law. Different states have different laws regarding liability and payment issues after an accident. Who pays for your medical bills, for example? Many states are “no-fault,” which means the insurance company will reimburse for an accident regardless of who is at fault. But California is not a no-fault state, so consulting an experienced auto accident attorney is especially crucial for determining who is liable for your monetary damages.

Questions can be abundant after an accident. If a driver sideswiped you and sent you into the oncoming lane, but you were going over the speed limit at the time, who is at fault? Your attorney has seen it all before and will be able to tell you if you have a strong case. How long do you have to file a claim? Your attorney will explain how the statute of limitations — which concerns the time after which a court will not hear your claim — in California affects your case.

2. Investigate the Crash

The “cause and effect” story of many car accidents is not straightforward. Was the accident caused by driver fault, the weather, the condition of the roads, or even malfunctions in a car’s computer systems? The causes could be different than those that are initially assumed, or there could be multiple causes. Various witnesses could have seen different things. An investigation can turn up causes that were not apparent to either driver or to passengers.

Because of this, it’s often necessary to thoroughly investigate a car accident. Attorneys work with long-established investigative teams experienced in forensics and in interviewing police, witnesses, and passers-by.

3. Make Sure You Get the Settlement You Deserve

The majority of car accident claims are resolved with an out of court settlement. A seasoned attorney knows what to expect from the settlement negotiation process, and can ensure that you get the money you deserve. The defendant’s attorneys or lawyers representing the insurance company will likely start off by making you a low-ball offer. You need an experienced attorney on your side who knows when to play hard ball in the back-and-forth settlement negotiation process and who believes in your case to the point that he or she is willing to go to trial if need be. Remember that once you accept a settlement offer, you forego all rights to suing at a later date. An attorney who is well-versed in insurance company negotiation tactics can tell you when an offer is fair and when it isn’t.

When You Need a Car Accident Attorney in Los Angeles

If you or someone close to you has been in a car accident, attorneys at The Ellis Law Firm can assist you. Ellis Injury Law has decades of experience successfully representing clients in motor vehicle accident cases.

Contact us today for a free case review with a seasoned Southern California attorney at 1-800-INJURED.

More Resources on Hiring a Car Accident Attorney:

  1. Hurst, Jane. “10 Reasons to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney.” Lifehack. http://www.lifehack.org/528768/10-reasons-hire-personal-injury-attorney
  2. “When to Hire a Personal Attorney.” DMV.org. http://www.dmv.org/insurance/when-to-hire-a-personal-injury-attorney.php

10 Scary Texting and Driving Statistics

The widespread use of cell phones while driving is an increasing threat to the safety of motorists and their passengers in Los Angeles and throughout the country. Sending or receiving a message may only take a few seconds, but drivers are distracted manually, visually, and cognitively during that time, which increases the risk of an accident significantly. Even hands-free systems or having the phone buzzing on the passenger seat next to you is enough to cause “inattention blindness,” where the brain fails to see what’s directly in front of you and does not realize the impairment – until it’s too late.

10 scary statistics about texting while driving

The following super scary statistics collected by the Ellis Personal Injury Law Firm show what a menace texting while driving in America really is:

1. FIVE seconds is the average amount of time it takes for a driver to text.

If a person is traveling at 55 mph, texting-while-driving is akin to driving the length of a football field without looking at the road. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in May 2014 found that 2 seconds is the maximum amount of time a driver can safely glance away from the road while operating a motor vehicle.

2. In 2013, there were 341,000 motor vehicle crashes that involved texting.

Even though 46 states and the District of Columbia have banned texting while driving, these crashes cause nearly 330,000 injuries and 3,400 deaths per year.

3. Cell phones are a factor for 1 in 4 motor vehicle crashes.

Texting-related crashes rose from 5% in 2012 to 6% in 2013. Crashes involving talking on cell phones remained steady at 21%. The National Safety Council says the percentage of car crashes involving phone use has increased year after year.

4. Every day, 11 teenagers die because they were texting while driving.

Texting while driving is now the leading cause of death among teen drivers. AT&T’s Teen Driver Survey found 97% of teens believe texting while driving is dangerous, yet 43% do it anyway. Of course, teenagers aren’t the only ones who can’t keep their paws off mobile devices on the road. A California analysis found that two-thirds of drivers ages 30-64 texted while driving — with children in the car. Even though teen drivers have a 400% higher chance of being in a car crash when texting while driving than adults, adults must act as role models to demonstrate how important it is for their children to turn their phones off when they are behind the wheel.

5. Texting increases the overall risk of a car accident by 23%.

Even if the other driver is at fault in a crash, experts say victims who are texting could have likely avoided the crash had they been paying attention to the road at the time.

6. Distracted drivers killed 520 pedestrians during 2014.

Motorists and vehicle occupants aren’t the only ones at risk for injuries or deaths related to texting and driving.

7. One in 10 California drivers had their attention diverted by texting, calling or fumbling phones.

The Office of Traffic Safety’s observational study found that 40% more drivers were distracted while driving from 2014 to 2015. The California Department of Motor Vehicles reported over 426,000 cellphone and texting convictions in 2013. Officers write more than 57,000 tickets for distracted driving in California each month!

8. In 2015, 59.6% of Californians said they’ve been hit, or nearly hit, by a cell-using driver.

Talking and texting while driving continues to be the #1 safety hazard cited by California motorists.

9. At any given moment across America, 660,000 drivers are using cell phones while driving.

This number has held steady since 2010. “There’s a certain amount of tech addiction,” explained Chris Cochran from the Office of Traffic Safety, adding: “People are addicted to the ping of a text coming in.”

10. So far, dozens of lawsuits have been won against company employees texting and driving.

Here are some of the huge settlements and verdicts in these high-profile cases of talking or texting and driving:

  • $21 million verdict against Coca-Cola
  • $21 million verdict against Dyke Industries, which later settled for $16.1 million
  • $18 million, $6 million, and $700,000 verdicts against Holmes Transport for three plaintiffs
  • $5.2 million settlement offered by International Paper
  • $500,000 settlement offered by Salomon Smith Barney
  • $7.5 million verdict against the State of Hawaii, later reduced to $1.5 million upon appeal
  • $1.5 million settlement offered by the City of Palo Alto, CA
  • $4 million verdict against Prince George’s County, Maryland
  • $4.75 million settlement offered by Beers Skanska four days into trial
  • $2.5 million and $4.9 million settlements offered by the employer of Sharon King for two plaintiffs

Contact a Los Angeles car accident lawyer to investigate all options

If you or a loved one has been involved in a serious car accident, where you believe texting played a part, do not hesitate to contact a California car accident attorney from the Ellis Personal Injury Firm to investigate your case. We have a team of expert accident reconstructionists, medical professionals, insurance analysts, police department contacts, telecommunications specialists, and others who can testify on your behalf. We’ll track down records, reports, and eyewitnesses who can help us substantiate your claims. Lawyer fees come out of settlements or verdict wins, with no upfront fees required, so you have nothing to lose by calling 1-800-INJURED. Keep in mind the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in the State of California is 2 years or less for most circumstances, so do not delay.

Additional Texting and Driving Statistics:

  1. Association for Safe International Road Travel – Road Crash Statistics, http://asirt.org/initiatives/informing-road-users/road-safety-facts/road-crash-statistics
  2. DO Something – 11 Facts About Texting & Driving, https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-fact-about-texting-and-driving
  3. Huffington Post – 10 Statistics That Capture The Dangers of Texting and Driving, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/08/dangers-of-texting-and-driving-statistics_n_7537710.html
  4. California Office of Transportation Safety – Distracted Driving, http://test-www.ots.ca.gov/Media_and_Research/Campaigns/Distracted_Driving.asp
  5. Journal of Adolescent Health – Keep Your Eyes on the Road: Young Driver Crash Risk Increases According to Duration of Distraction, http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(13)00779-9/fulltext
  6. National Safety Council – Annual Estimate of Cell Phone Crashes 2013, http://www.nsc.org/DistractedDrivingDocuments/Attributable-Risk-Estimate.pdf
  7. Newsday – Texting While Driving Now The Leading Cause of Death for Teen Drivers, http://www.newsday.com/news/nation/study-texting-while-driving-now-leading-cause-of-death-for-teen-drivers-1.5226036
  8. NHTSA – Distracted Driving, https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/distracted-driving
  9. ICEBIKE – The 25 Scariest Texting and Driving Accident Statistics, http://www.icebike.org/texting-and-driving/
  10. Safety News Alert – More than 1 in 4 car crashes due to cell phone use, http://www.safetynewsalert.com/more-than-1-in-4-car-crashes-due-to-cell-phone-use/
  11. NY Times – Can a Law Stop Distracted Driving? California Hopes to Find Out, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/05/us/cell-phone-while-driving-laws.html?_r=0 
  12. LA Times – More California motorists using phones while driving, study finds, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-0716-texting-driving-20150716-story.html
  13. SlideShare – 11 Major Lawsuits Involving Employee Distracted Driving, https://www.slideshare.net/ZoomSafer/11-major-lawsuits-involving-employee-distracted-driving-13196338
  14. 50 Dangerous Texting and Driving Accident Statistics, https://mightygoods.com/texting-driving-accident-statistics/

A Checklist: What to Do If You Have A Car Accident

accidentAfter any type of auto accident – with another vehicle, a pedestrian or a stationary object — California law mandates that you must stop and exchange information with the involved parties. Never leave the accident scene until after authorities have been alerted and the injured attended to. If you drive away, you may face criminal hit and run penalties, which include monetary fines and jail time.

Given the amount of bodily harm and property damage that can arise from fender benders, it’s no surprise that car crashes are the number one cause of personal injury claims. If you or someone you love is involved in a vehicle accident, it’s important to protect your legal rights by taking appropriate steps at the accident scene and communicating with your insurance carrier.

Auto accident checklist

Ellis Law car accident lawyers have years of experience assisting victims throughout Southern California, and offer the following checklist of what to do (and avoid doing) after a crash. As difficult as it may be, it’s vital to stay calm and composed and prepare yourself for the possibility of filing a claim.

At the accident scene

  1. Call 911 immediately. Describe your location and if ambulance assistance is required.
  2. Contact the police and report the accident.
  3. If you are able to, move your vehicle out of oncoming traffic but stay at the scene.
  4. Get the name and badge number of the police officer or California Highway Patrol who attends the accident scene. Ask when you are able to get a copy of the accident report.
  5. Exchange information with all parties involved – this includes all drivers and passengers. Be sure to get: names, addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers and telephone numbers as well as insurance company and policy information of the other vehicle’s registered owners.
  6. Be cooperative and cordial to other drivers but never apologize or admit fault, even if you believe you are partly to blame for the accident.
  7. Speak to any witnesses on the scene. Get their contact information.
  8. Take pictures and/or video of your vehicle, the accident scene and any damage done.
  9. Report the accident to your insurance provider, giving an honest detailed description of what transpired.
  10. Make detailed notes about the accident while it is still fresh in your mind. This includes: location, weather and road conditions, direction of travel, injuries to yourself or any passengers. Also include a list of property damage to your vehicle.

After the car accident

  1. Always seek medical attention and follow doctor’s orders and treatment protocols.
  2. Keep a record of all medical exams and treatments, hospital costs and out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of your car accident.
  3. In California, you must report the accident to the DMV within 10 days if any injuries or deaths occurred or property damage totals more than $750 in either vehicle.
  4. Get a property damage valuation from your insurance company. You do not have to accept their first offer. Compare and contrast repair estimates/quotes from several body shops.
  5. Review your insurance policy coverage thoroughly. Do not provide a written statement to your insurer without understanding policy limits and clauses.
  6. Be careful discussing the car accident or your injuries in person or on social media until the claim is resolved.
  7. Never sign any waivers or releases provided by your insurer without the benefit of a legal evaluation. By doing so, you may inadvertently harm your chances of a recovering a fair settlement.
  8. Be cautious of low-ball settlement offers. Insurance companies are always looking to improve their bottom line, and may attempt to settle your claim quickly, before your injuries have been properly assessed and treated. Don’t settle a claim without first talking with a qualified car accident attorney, who can ensure the settlement is a true reflection of all financial losses and medical expenses.

Contact a car accident attorney in Los Angeles

For more than two decades, Ellis Law Corporation has devoted their practice to helping injury victims get the settlement they deserve. Our team of talented, hard-working attorneys has the resources and skill to protect your rights and maximize the value of your claim. For a free, no-obligation case review with car accident lawyers Los Angeles has come to trust and rely on, please call our offices toll-free at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Auto Accident Checklist Resources:

  1. State Bar of California, What Should I do if I have an Auto Accident? http://www.calbar.ca.gov/Public/Pamphlets/AutoAccident.aspx
  2. Insureuonline,org, Auto Accident Checklist http://www.insureuonline.org/auto_accident_checklist.pdf
  3. Geico, Learn What To Do If You Get Into A Car Accident https://www.geico.com/claims/after-an-accident/
  4. Insure.com, What to Do After a Car Accident that’s Not Your Fault http://www.insure.com/car-insurance/third-party-accident.html


How to Prove Negligence in a Car Accident Case

Shards of car glass on the streetCalifornia is among the majority of states when it comes to car accidents – the party at fault is liable (legally responsible) for the damages. Unlike in states that have adopted a no-fault system of compensation for auto accident injuries, injured parties in California must offer proof that the defendant was negligent and that negligence caused his or her injuries.

In some cases, it will be clear which party’s negligence caused an auto accident; the driver in the wrong may even admit it. In other cases, a clearly wrong driver may deny fault or determining liability may require a close examination of facts and laws. An experienced California personal injury attorney understands the issues involved such as how to interpret physical evidence and work with valuable expert witnesses to help a jury understand how that physical evidence indicates fault.

What is negligence?

In legal terms, the definition of negligence has several parts:

  1. The defendant was under a duty to do or to not do something
  2. The defendant breached that duty
  3. The breach caused the plaintiff’s injury in a logical and direct way; and
  4. The plaintiff suffered damages as a result

In plain language, negligence usually means acting carelessly, like just not paying close enough attention. It also includes acting recklessly, or doing something even though the person doing it knows or should know that it will reasonably likely lead to harm.

Negligence per se – negligent in violating a law

Besides carelessness, there are also special cases of liability called negligence per se, which is created when one party violates a statute that is designed to protect the safety of others and in so doing, harms someone in the way the law was intended to prevent.

Many traffic laws were adopted to prevent certain kinds of harm and violating them can lead to negligence per se. If you are the injured party, your burden to prove the first two prongs under a negligence claim – duty and breach – are already satisfied and you must then only prove that the violation caused your injury and damages.

Some examples of negligence per se in California personal injury cases include:

  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence
  • Running a red light
  • Reckless driving

Even in cases of negligence per se, the plaintiff has elements to establish. The defendant may also offer evidence to try to prove that he or she was not actually negligent. These are all issues that a personal injury lawyer is skilled at addressing.

Speak with a car accident lawyer in Los Angeles

Whether your car accident case seems like a slam dunk or there is a battle of evidence, a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer can help you better understand the issues and how to prove your case.

To learn more about how to present your strongest case, call a Los Angeles car accident attorney at Ellis Law for a free case review. Call us day or night at 1-800-INJURED.

Additional Car Accident Negligence Resources

  1. California Department of Insurance, So You’ve Had an Accident, What’s Next?, http://www.insurance.ca.gov/01-consumers/105-type/95-guides/01-auto/hadaccident.cfm
  2. California Legislature, Driving Offenses, http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=VEH&sectionNum=23103.&highlight=true&keyword=driving+reckless
  3. NHTSA, Traffic Safety Performance (Core Outcome) Measures for California, https://cdan.nhtsa.gov/SASStoredProcess/guest

A Guide To Animal Related Car Accidents in California

animal crossingWildlife-vehicle collisions cause over 200 human fatalities and 29,000 human injuries, and cause over a billion dollars in property damage, in America each year. This is just one type of animal related car accident motorists have to worry about in California. You must also be on the lookout for runaway pets and roaming livestock in certain areas. Important legal questions arise in relation to animal-vehicle crashes, including who is liable, who pays, and what should be done in accordance with the law. The Ellis Injury Law Firm can help clear up the confusion if you were injured or lost property in a recent animal related car accident.

Who pays for damage from animal related car accidents?

  • Collisions with wildlife: Comprehensive car insurance coverage typically applies to animal-vehicle collisions. By law, you must purchase the minimum requirements for bodily injury liability ($15,000/person, $30,000/accident) and property damage liability ($5,000). Your bodily injury coverage will pay for any physical injuries sustained by you or your passenger. Comprehensive coverage is an additional purchase that includes property damage caused by animals. In the state of California, the cost to add comprehensive and collision coverages to your policy will be about $981 a year, according to 2017 statistics. With the average repair costs of animal-related accidents easily reaching $3,000 – $10,000, it’s a price worth paying for many California vehicle owners. If you do not have comprehensive coverage, you have to pay for the damage yourself. To file a claim with your insurer, the cost of the damage must exceed your deductible (which can be as low as $500 or as high as several thousand).
  • Collisions with pets or livestock: In accidents involving pet or livestock owners, the state usually finds the owners liable for failing to adequately leash, enclose, or otherwise restrain their animals. The pet or livestock owner is either personally liable to pay for your injuries and damages or, in some cases, you may access their homeowner’s insurance coverage. If the owner cannot be located, your personal injury and comprehensive car insurance coverage should pay for the damage caused.

What should you do after an animal related car accident?

  1. Get help. You must call the police to file a report. If you hit a domestic animal and fail to call the police, you could be charged with “failing to render aid” and “leaving the scene of an accident.” A police report will also come in handy when dealing with insurance companies. Be sure you get the contact information for eyewitnesses and animal owners involved in the accident. Take photos of the scene, any injuries, and the damage to your vehicle.
  2. Stay safe. It is common sense to get yourself and your vehicle onto the shoulder of the road to avoid being struck by oncoming traffic. Do not try to move the animal until help arrives. Hurt animals may lash out in attack mode. If you must move the animal because it is still laying in the path of cars, it’s best to avoid direct contact by wrapping the animal in a jacket or blanket and using gloves if possible. Keep in mind there may be legal ramifications for moving an animal. Once you “take possession” of the animal, you can become financially responsible for ensuring it receives appropriate medical care.
  3. File a report. If the animal died, file a roadkill report with the California Roadkill Observation System, which will help the state track animal-vehicle collisions and make necessary traffic flow improvements.
  4. Know your rights when dealing with insurers. Do not give any recorded or written statements to your insurer until you understand your coverage. Seek legal advice before signing a release or waivers offered by your insurer. You do not have to automatically accept the estimate or appraisal of your losses offered by the insurance company, nor do you have to get the repairs done where they prefer. Most policies put you on a time constraint to provide proof of loss and settle the claim (typically within a year).

When might you need a California personal injury lawyer?

A Los Angeles car accident attorney from the Ellis Law Firm would be an asset to your situation if there is any question regarding your legal rights and who pays. Serious animal related car accidents involving injuries, death, or extensive damage are best handled by an experienced personal injury attorney. Southern California residents are invited to contact us to have their claims reviewed free of charge.

Additional “animal-related car crash” resources:

  1. Defenders of Wildlife – Fact Sheet, http://www.defenders.org/publications/collision_facts_and_figures.pdf
  2. The Balance – Minimum Car Insurance in California, https://www.thebalance.com/the-minimum-insurance-coverage-needed-in-california-527406
  3. Nerd Wallet – Understanding Comprehensive Auto Insurance, https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/comprehensive-auto-insurance/
  4. 4 Auto Insurance Quote – I Hit An Animal With My Car… Will My Insurance Cover These Damages? http://www.4autoinsurancequote.com/uncategorized/hit-an-animal-with-my-car-will-my-insurance-cover-these-damages/
  5. The Balance – Accidents Caused By Animals, https://www.thebalance.com/car-accidents-caused-by-animals-527081
  6. Axle Addict – I Hit A Dog With My Car: What Am I Legally Required To Do? https://axleaddict.com/safety/I-Hit-a-Dog-with-My-Car-What-Am-I-Legally-Required-to-Do