Month: May 2023

The Impact of Comparative Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

When an individual is harmed or injured due to another party’s negligence, personal injury cases may be brought forth. Failing to use reasonable care that results in another person being injured as a result is negligence. In personal injury cases, understanding comparative negligence is essential because it affects how fault is assigned and the amount of damages that can be recovered.

The concept of comparative negligence acknowledges the possibility of varying degrees of responsibility being shared among the various parties involved in an auto accident. With a firm understanding of comparative negligence, individuals can better navigate the legal system, determine their percentage of blame, and determine how it may affect their compensation.

Understanding Negligence in Personal Injury Cases

Since it serves as the foundation for proving liability and seeking compensation, understanding negligence is crucial in personal injury cases. A failure to use reasonable care that causes harm or injury to another person is negligence. Several essential components must be demonstrated to successfully prove negligence.

According to, first, the defendant must have had a legal obligation to act reasonably and safely toward the plaintiff, known as a duty of care.

Second, the defendant’s actions or inactions must have fallen short of the expected standard of care for there to have been a breach of that duty.

Third, you must be able to prove that the breach of duty specifically led to the plaintiff’s damages or injuries.

Finally, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant’s negligence caused them to suffer provable harm and damages.

Proving negligence in personal injury lawsuits.

In personal injury cases, it is the plaintiff’s responsibility to prove their case to the satisfaction of the court or jury that the defendant was negligent and caused the damages and injuries. This evidence may consist of witness statements, police reports, medical records, and other relevant documentation. To successfully pursue a personal injury claim and receive fair compensation for the harm you have suffered, the burden of proof must be met.

Comparative Negligence Explained

According to Cornell Law School, comparative negligence is a legal principle that recognizes the idea that more than one party can be at fault in an accident. It’s all about fairness and ensuring that everyone takes responsibility for their actions.

Comparative vs contributory negligence.

Comparative negligence differs from contributory negligence, which is an older approach that completely barred someone from receiving compensation if they were found even slightly at fault for the accident. Fortunately, California follows the more modern approach of comparative negligence, which is more forgiving and allows injured individuals to still seek compensation, even if they were partially responsible for the incident.

Comparative negligence vs. modified comparative negligence.

In California, there are two types of comparative negligence systems: pure comparative negligence and modified comparative negligence. Let’s break them down.


First, we have pure comparative negligence. This system says that even if you were mostly at fault for the accident, you can still recover damages. The amount you receive is simply reduced based on your degree of fault. So, if you were found 30% at fault and your damages amounted to $10,000, you would still be entitled to receive $7,000 (70% of the total damages).

Modified comparative.

The second type is modified comparative negligence. This system has a threshold, typically set at 50% or 51%. If you are found to be 50% or more responsible for the accident, you won’t be able to recover any damages. However, if your level of fault falls below this threshold, you can still seek compensation. The amount awarded will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault.

The purpose of comparative negligence.

The purpose of comparative negligence is to ensure fairness and recognize that accidents are rarely black and white. It acknowledges that multiple parties can contribute to an accident, and everyone should bear their fair share of responsibility. By understanding comparative negligence, we can have a better grasp of how our actions may impact our ability to seek compensation in a personal injury case. Remember, the goal is to promote fairness and ensure that injured individuals have a chance to recover and move forward after an unfortunate incident.

How Comparative Negligence Affects Personal Injury Cases

Comparative negligence standards can impact personal injury cases under California law. It’s important to understand how this legal concept affects fault determination, the division of damages, and the calculation of compensation.

Figuring out who’s at fault.

When it comes to figuring out who’s at fault, comparative negligence acknowledges that accidents can involve multiple parties who share varying degrees of responsibility. It recognizes that life isn’t always black and white, and sometimes both sides have contributed to the incident. So, even if you bear some fault for the accident, it doesn’t automatically mean you won’t be able to seek compensation for your injuries.

Dividing up the damages.

Now, when it comes to dividing up the damages, comparative negligence looks at the proportion of fault assigned to each party involved. If you’ve been found to bear, for instance, 20% of the responsibility for the accident, the amount of compensation you receive will be adjusted accordingly. The other party involved will be responsible for their share of the damages based on their degree of fault. This approach ensures that everyone involved takes responsibility and shares the financial consequences of the accident fairly.

Calculating compensation.

When it comes to calculating compensation, California follows the rule of “pure comparative negligence.” That means you can still seek compensation even if you bear a significant portion of the blame. However, the amount you receive will be adjusted based on your level of fault. For example, if your total damages amount to $100,000 but you were found 50% at fault, your compensation would be reduced to $50,000. This system ensures that the compensation you receive reflects your level of contribution to the accident.

Understanding how comparative negligence works in personal injury cases.

Understanding how comparative negligence works in personal injury cases is essential if you’re seeking justice and fair compensation. It emphasizes the importance of gathering evidence, presenting your side of the story, and demonstrating the extent of the other party’s responsibility. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can provide valuable guidance throughout the legal process. Remember, the goal is to ensure that injured individuals receive the compensation they rightfully deserve, taking into account the shared responsibility in the accident.

The Impact of Comparative Negligence on Settlements and Trials

Taking a human approach to understanding comparative negligence can have a significant impact on settlements and trials in personal injury cases under California law. It’s important to grasp how this legal concept affects the negotiation process, trial considerations, and the factors that influence compensation.

The settlement negotiation process in comparative negligence cases

When it comes to settlements, comparative negligence adds a layer of complexity. Both parties involved must navigate the negotiation process with a keen awareness of their respective levels of fault. Insurance companies and attorneys will carefully assess the evidence and arguments to determine a fair settlement amount.

The degree of comparative negligence assigned to each party can heavily influence the final settlement offer. It’s crucial to have a skilled negotiator on your side who understands how to advocate for your rights and maximize your compensation while considering the impact of shared fault.

Trial considerations and strategies.

Moving on to trials, comparative negligence cases can present unique challenges and considerations. During a trial, the evidence is presented, witnesses testify, and legal arguments are made to convince the judge or jury of each party’s level of responsibility.

Attorneys will strategize based on the specific circumstances of the case, carefully presenting evidence to establish the degree of fault assigned to each party.

The goal is to construct a compelling narrative that supports your position and highlights the other party’s negligence. It’s essential to have a knowledgeable attorney who can effectively present your case and navigate the complexities of comparative negligence in the courtroom.

The factors that affect compensation in comparative negligence cases

Finally, the factors that affect compensation in comparative negligence cases take into account the proportion of fault assigned to each party. The higher the degree of comparative negligence assigned to you, the more your compensation may be reduced.

Factors such as the severity of injuries, the impact on your daily life, and the extent of the other party’s negligence also come into play when determining the final compensation amount. Understanding these factors and how they influence the outcome of your case is crucial for seeking fair compensation.

When navigating the impact of comparative negligence on settlements and trials, it’s important to have a compassionate and experienced legal team by your side. They can guide you through the negotiation process, develop effective trial strategies, and advocate for your rights.

Remember, the goal is to reach a fair settlement or, if necessary, present a strong court case that takes into account the shared responsibility in the accident and ensures you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses.


In conclusion, understanding the impact of comparative negligence in personal injury cases is crucial for anyone who has been involved in an auto accident. California’s approach to comparative negligence provides a fair framework for determining fault and allocating compensation. By grasping the concepts of fault determination, the division of damages, and the calculation of compensation, individuals can navigate the legal process with confidence and seek the justice they deserve.

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, don’t face the challenges alone. Pyramid Legal is here to help. Our experienced team of personal injury attorneys understands the intricacies of comparative negligence cases and will tirelessly advocate for your rights. We will assess the unique circumstances of your case, gather evidence, and build a strong legal strategy tailored to your needs. Contact us today for a free consultation.

How to Prove Negligence in a Bicycle Accident Case: Evidence and Experts

Imagine yourself traversing the beautiful California landscape, whether it’s the serene mountains, breathtaking beaches, or the many awe-inspiring bike trails, feeling the wind through your hair and the freedom that only cycling brings. But what if the unthinkable happens and an accident turns your world upside down? According to People Powered Movement, “In an average year, about 11,000 bicyclists get injured and about 160 bicyclists die across California. About one-quarter of these injuries and deaths happen in Los Angeles County. For example, in 2019, 36 bicyclists were killed in LA.

In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one is injured in a bicycling accident, you need to know what steps you need to take to preserve your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve. This article provides actionable steps so you know exactly what to do in the event of a bike accident in California.

Seek Medical Attention Right Away

The first thing you should do in the event you or a loved one was struck by a vehicle while bike riding, is to seek medical attention right away. This is one of the most important steps you can take for several reasons.

Early diagnosis: One is that injuries can sometimes manifest symptoms slowly. In some cases, it could take days before you start to notice symptoms from certain injuries such as whiplash or hairline fractures. Adrenaline can delay the feeling of pain and so can shock. Getting an early diagnosis means treatment for your injuries can begin sooner, and this means that your recovery journey can start sooner rather than later.

Prevention: Two is that seeking medical attention right away can sometimes help to prevent injuries from worsening or even becoming permanent. Waiting to get treatment for pain is a mistake. Pain is a sign that something is wrong in our bodies. It can come from breaks, soft tissue damage, nerve damage, and even brain damage. Waiting can make it harder to recover, take longer to recover, or make a total recovery impossible. And in rare cases, an undiagnosed injury could lead to death.

Creating a record: Three is that seeking medical attention quickly after a bicycle accident creates a medical record of the event. This record is time sensitive and help you during settlement negotiations or litigation if your case goes to trial. It proves that you suffered the injuries you claim and creates a causal link between the accident and your injuries.

Get a Lawyer

It is critical that you get yourself legal representation right away. An experienced bike accident lawyer in California is critical in these situations because they already have experience in these matters. They understand the processes involved and understand how to navigate the legalities involved. From filing a claim and representing you during negotiations to filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial, a qualified personal injury specialist knows exactly what it takes to get you the biggest settlement the law will allow.

Collect Evidence

When it comes to any personal injury claim, gathering as much evidence as possible is paramount to building a strong case and getting the most compensation possible. Gathering evidence began with seeking medical attention and creating a medical report. But it doesn’t end there. The strength of your case depends on having as much evidence in your favor as possible.

This includes police reports, eyewitness statements, expert testimony, pictures or video of the damages and injuries, rehabilitation records, documentation of missed work and lost wages, loss of opportunities, and proof of a decrease in quality of life. Loss of quality of life can result from ongoing treatment, disabilities resulting from the accident, and loss or impairment of limbs.

Proving Negligence in Bicycle Accident Claims

Under California law, there are four parts to establishing negligence. The general standards are:

  1. The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  2. The defendant breached this duty
  3. The defendant’s breach caused the plaintiff’s injuries
  4. The plaintiff suffered damages

Duty of care

A duty of care is the legal obligation one has to protect the health and safety of others. Any time you are behind the wheel of an automobile, you have a duty of care toward everyone else you share the road with. You must be aware of those around you. You must take care not to endanger others. There is a level of reasonable expectancy here. For example, you are expected to not drive impaired; you are expected to drive slowly and carefully through neighborhoods; you are expected to watch for bicyclists – especially during times of low visibility.

Breach of duty of care

A breach of this duty is when an individual does not take reasonable precautions or acts in a way that could put others in danger. For example, driving fast through a neighborhood with kids; driving under the influence of a controlled substance; or speeding around corners with low visibility – these are examples of activities and behaviors that could lead to an accident, and it is because of a breach of care of duty.

The breach resulted in injuries

A causal link must be established between the accident caused by a breach of duty of care and the injuries you suffered as a result of the breach.

Damages were sustained

Last, damages have to be proven. This can be established via medical records and police reports – evidence in your favor.

Bicyclists are Motorists, Too

The fact that bicyclists in California are considered motorists under the law does not take away from the fact that drivers owe you the same duty of care they owe pedestrians as well as fellow motorists. If you were following all applicable laws and a driver struck you out of pure negligence, your case may be handled quickly. But even if you weren’t aware of certain requirements you still may be entitled to compensation under California law.

Comparative Negligence Laws

This is because the state of California abides by comparative negligence standards. This means that even if you were partly at fault, the amount of compensation you are entitled to is compared to the percentage of fault that was yours. In other words, if the awarded settlement is $100,000 and you were found to be 30% liable for the accident, your share of the award would be $70,000.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, seeking medical attention should be the first thing you do after a bicycle accident in California in order to treat injuries and create medical records of the incident. Get a good personal injury lawyer that specializes in bicycle accidents and knows what to do. Gather as much evidence as you can to build a strong case in your favor, establishing you as the victim of someone else’s negligence. Establish that the defendant owed you a duty of care, that the defendant breached this duty, that the defendant’s breach caused your injuries, and that you suffered damages.

Taking reasonable steps and following the advice of your attorney can result in accountability for the negligent driver, a substantial settlement award, and the justice you deserve. If you or a loved one were involved in a bicycling accident in California, contact Pyramid Legal today for a free consultation. We will discuss your legal options and provide you with a clear path forward. You deserve to be compensated for your damages and we’re ready to fight to preserve your rights and get you the biggest settlement allowed under the law.

The Role of Medical Evidence in Personal Injury Cases

Suppose you have been injured in an auto accident, by a defective product, dangerous workplace settings, or any circumstance that was the negligence of another. In that case, you have a right to fair compensation. In the event you have suffered an injury, documenting your medical journey is paramount. Medical evidence plays a critical role in proving your injuries were the result of the accident, the extent of said injuries, and whether or not your injuries are lifelong.

Without proper medical evidence provided by a doctor, nurse, rehabilitation specialist, or another type of lawfully recognized medical professional, it may be impossible to prove your case. This is why it is always recommended that you seek medical attention right away and follow the advice given to you by a medical professional if you have been injured by someone else’s dereliction of duty. Failure to follow sound medical advice may also hinder your ability to collect compensation for your injuries.

The Different Types of Medical Evidence

There are several different types of medical records. Each plays a role in proving your case, and together, they can create an “ironclad” lawsuit.

Medical records – According to the National Institutes of Heath, “Medical records are the document that explains all detail about the patient’s history, clinical findings, diagnostic test results, pre and postoperative care, patient’s progress and medication. If written correctly, notes will support the doctor about the correctness of treatment.

Imaging tests – Imaging tests are used to help diagnose injuries or diseases, plan the direction for treatment, and help discover whether or not a current treatment is the right one. They use energy and radioactive substances or a combination of the two, such as x-rays – which rely on high-energy radiation, and ultrasound imaging – which is energy-based sound waves. It also encapsulates radio waves and even some radioactive substances.

Testimony from medical experts – Testimony from an expert witness must be reliable, sound, reasonable, and able to be substantiated or demonstrated. The testimony of a medical expert plays a substantial role in negotiating with insurance companies or during civil and criminal trials. This is yet another reason why you should not only seek medical treatment right away after an accident, but you should also follow all advice given to you by your primary care physician, and take the time that is recommended for proper rehabilitation.

Medical bills – Keeping all medical bills and documentation or medical notes can also go a long way in proving the extent of injuries. They are also important documents that help to calculate fair and just compensation after an injury. Without proper documentation such as medical bills to prove the extent of your injuries, calculating a fair dollar amount for your injuries will be hard to do.

How Medical Evidence Can Help Your Case

Medical evidence can help you by establishing cause. Establishing the cause of the injury, as mentioned previously, is paramount in connecting the injury to the accident. Medical evidence is the single most important piece of evidence you can produce during a lawsuit. Without it, there is essentially no case. Or at least not much of one. Medical evidence can also help to establish liability by connecting an injury to an accident.

Medical evidence continues by proving the severity of the injuries suffered. Without authentic medical evidence, such as a record of tests and diagnoses, severity and treatments, and a doctor’s record of patient progress and recovery, negotiating a settlement with an insurance company, or, taking the case to trial will be much harder to prove.

Likewise, a doctor’s professional medical opinion may also state that a full recovery may not be possible and that medical treatments should be ongoing. Without medical evidence of this, there would be no way to prove it. Medical evidence such as proof of medical testing, a diagnosis, a record of treatment, participation in the course of treatments, and a record of the patient’s recovery progress.

Determining the value of damages also depends on the evidence presented. Calculating fair compensation for injuries cannot be done with a high amount of accuracy without it. And without the medical evidence establishing accuracy by way of medical expenses for treatments, prescriptions, rehabilitation, and possibly ongoing therapies, insurance companies – and courts – may not be able to justify your proposed dollar amount.

Obtaining Medical Evidence

Ensure that you have sufficient medical evidence when you need it. First, you should always get the proper medical attention after you have suffered an injury. Before negotiations or a trial, be sure to request all medical records. However, you should be as far along in your recovery as possible before submitting your claim to begin negotiations. You should be fully recovered if possible or your injuries should be declared lifelong or non-recoverable.

You can also give your attorney permission to collect all medical documentation on your behalf. Your attorney may also request written testimony from your doctor to accompany your medical records. This testimony may greatly help your case when it comes to proving your condition before, during, and after treatment.

The Admissibility of Medical Evidence

When it comes to the admissibility of medical evidence in the state of California, a healthcare provider’s records regarding a patient’s symptoms and medical diagnosis are admissible in court in order to prove the nature and extent of the injuries, as long as the records are directly based on the doctor’s firsthand observations.

If the case goes to trial, the court will ensure that all medical evidence is properly authenticated. The court will attempt to determine if the medical evidence you have submitted appears to be genuine so that its admission may help the fact-finder(s) which is typically the jury. Second, the fact-finder(s) will decide whether or not they believe the evidence to be genuine.

You must also outweigh other considerations to ensure admissibility.

First, the evidence must be relevant to the case. The evidence must not be prejudicial or confusing. The admitted evidence must also be impacting and not found to be a waste of time or based on hearsay.


In conclusion, medical evidence is critical in receiving fair compensation for injuries sustained due to the negligence of another.

First, always be sure to seek medical attention right away after suffering an injury. Waiting too long before getting proper medical attention, diagnosis, and treatment can make injuries worse. It can also hinder your lawsuit, making it more difficult for your attorney to get you the most fair settlement possible.

Second, be sure to always follow the advice of your physician when it comes to testing, diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and possible ongoing therapies. Do not miss any scheduled appointments and be sure to follow up with your doctor regularly, keeping them abreast of any changes in your recovery, side effects of prescriptions, etc.

Third, always be sure to document your recovery personally and obtain all medical records that will act as evidence during negotiations or a trial. Your attorney can collect this information for you at your request.

If you’ve been injured, contact us today at Pyramid Legal. We will explain to you your rights, options, and a clear path forward. You deserve fair compensation and we’re here to ensure you receive the best settlement possible.

Traumatic Brain Injury: Symptoms, Treatments, & Legal Options

Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury: Symptoms, Treatments, and Legal Options

Traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI, is an injury that happens suddenly and causes damage to the brain. This can include blunt-force trauma or a violent jolt. This can also account for objects that penetrate the skull. It is important to understand what traumatic brain injuries are, the symptoms, and the available treatments because traumatic brain injuries are permanent.

In fact, according to the CDC, “Moderate and severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can lead to a lifetime of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. These changes may affect a person’s ability to function in their everyday life.”

Traumatic Brain Injury: Types and Causes

Traumatic brain injuries can be serious and even fatal. Its effects can be crippling. The most common TBI cases result from falls. In fact, research shows that falls lead to almost 50% of all TBI-related hospitalizations. In the US, TBI-related deaths are most commonly the result of suicide by firearm. Other common TBI cases stem from car crashes and assaults.

According to John Hopkins, there are 2 primary classifications for TBI. “Closed brain injury. Closed brain injuries happen when there is a nonpenetrating injury to the brain with no break in the skull. A closed brain injury is caused by a rapid forward or backward movement and shaking of the brain inside the bony skull that results in bruising and tearing of brain tissue and blood vessels. Closed brain injuries are usually caused by car accidents, falls, and increasingly, in sports. Shaking a baby can also result in this type of injury (called shaken baby syndrome).

Penetrating brain injury. Penetrating, or open head injuries happen when there is a break in the skull, such as when a bullet pierces the brain.”

There are 8 main types of TBI as well. The main types are:

  1. Penetrating brain injury
  2. Concussions
  3. Brain hemorrhages
  4. Coup-contrecoup brain injury
  5. Second impact syndrome
  6. Contusions
  7. Diffuse axonal injury
  8. Intracranial hematomas

The severity of traumatic brain injuries can range from mild concussions to fatalities. The severity depends largely on the factors of the injury, including the amount of force used to inflict the damage, the object involved be it ground, blunt object, or forced sudden movement, etc., and any preexisting conditions.

The Symptoms of Traumatic Brain Injury

According to the National Institutes of Health, mild to severe traumatic brain injuries can present physical symptoms. Some symptoms include:

  • Headache that gets worse or will not go away.
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes.
  • Repeated vomiting or continued nausea.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Convulsions or seizures.
  • An inability to wake up from sleep.
  • Enlargement of the pupil (dark center) of one or both eyes.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there may be cognitive symptoms resulting from TBIs. These include:

  • Loss of consciousness for a few seconds to a few minutes.
  • No loss of consciousness, but a state of being dazed, confused, or disoriented.
  • Memory or concentration problems.
  • Mood changes or mood swings.
  • Feeling depressed or anxious.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Sleeping more than usual.

And finally, according to Brainline, TBIs can also be accompanied by emotional and behavioral symptoms. These symptoms can include:

  • Verbal outbursts
  • Physical outbursts
  • Poor judgment and disinhibition
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Negativity
  • Intolerance
  • Apathy
  • Egocentricity
  • Rigidity and inflexibility
  • Risky behavior
  • Lack of empathy
  • Lack of motivation or initiative
  • Depression or anxiety

Diagnosing a Traumatic Brain Injury

Medical evaluation

A medical evaluation and tests are necessary to help determine traumatic brain injuries. And while MRIs and CT scans cannot always detect a TBI, oftentimes a neurological exam is warranted. These exams include testing the patient’s mental and physical status. This may include testing the patient’s critical thinking skills, gross and fine motor function, hand-eye coordination, sensory capabilities, and muscle reflexes.

The role of a neurologist

The role of a qualified neurologist in TBI cases is paramount in diagnosing the extent of the brain injury and understanding whether or not it is mild, such as a concussion, or severe, such as requiring lifelong inpatient care.

Treating Traumatic Brain Injury

When it comes to an auto accident or another kind of injury that results in the sudden onset of possibly severe TBI, acute treatment may be needed. Acute treatment is the pressing need for immediate medical intervention.

Acute treatment

Acute treatment options include the surgical removal of blood clots or pools from hematomas. Bleeding in the brain can reduce oxygen delivery or create dangerous pressure in the brain. These cases can be life-threatening. In the event of brain swelling or bleeding causing intracranial pressure (ICP), a doctor must alleviate the pressure immediately. Treating skull fractures or removing foreign objects from the brain is also a form of acute treatment.

Whether or not a victim of TBI needs intensive, specialized, or comprehensive treatment depends entirely on the severity of the damage and the culmination of the symptoms. In any case, there are multiple avenues for rehabilitation and ongoing care.


For more severe injuries, options include inpatient and nursing home care. Severe injuries may need lifelong treatment. Mild to moderate injuries can include outpatient rehabilitation. In many cases, periodic care, such as frequent or infrequent follow-ups can help patients to live normal lives by preventing sudden onset decline.

Receiving early treatment and care

Regardless of severity or treatment options, it is critical to get a diagnosis and early treatment to help prevent the onset of possible severe complications. Early rehabilitation is critical when it comes to improving and maintaining brain function. It can also vastly help to improve the quality of life and speed up the return to the patient’s normal daily routines, or at least get them as close as possible.

The Legal Options for Suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury

If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury, the financial and life challenges can be catastrophic. Even “mild” brain injuries can present recurring challenges that could last for years. Severe TBIs can present challenges and recurring costs that could last a lifetime.

You deserve relief. Relief from the constant stress of mounting medical costs, bills, and daily needs. Relief from the fear of getting to your next appointment. Relief from the growing fear that your livelihood might be permanently destroyed.

In California, you are entitled to compensation from a negligent party. A personal injury lawsuit can bring you financial relief through a civil claim. A qualified attorney will guide you through the process, explain to your all of your legal options, and work to get you and your family the biggest settlement possible. Potential compensation can range anywhere from $100,000 to millions of dollars. The award will help to cover medical bills, lost wages, pain & suffering, and more.


A traumatic brain injury can affect your life and the lives of those around you. When you suffer, your loved ones also suffer. A traumatic brain injury can range from mild to severe, however, in both cases, the symptoms could last years if not for the rest of your life. When someone has suffered a TBI, they must receive medical attention right away. The earlier you receive a diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, the better the chances of improving brain function and one day possibly resuming normal daily activities.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, you must seek legal assistance right away. An experienced personal injury lawyer, like Pyramid Legal, will help you every step of the way with compassion and dedication. We will discuss all of the legal options available to you under the law and provide you with our vision for the best way forward. Remember, suffering due to someone else’s negligence is unacceptable.

You deserve relief from the cost of rising medical bills and debt. Missed work, doctor’s appointments, rehabilitation – everything can pile on quickly and that’s why we’re here to help.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

Understanding the Role of Insurance Companies in Auto Accident Cases

The role of an insurance company in an auto accident case is simple. However, depending on the complexity and legal issues involved in the specific circumstance, an insurance company’s role may become expanded or at the least, more involved.

In simple terms, an insurance company’s role is to protect its insured motorist against any claims involving an auto accident. Their role is also to pay up to the limits of their policy for all damages caused to another party by their insured motorist.

This role means that they will also investigate and defend their driver’s liability if there is a lack of evidence demonstrating that their driver was at fault. An insurance adjuster’s job is not to simply pay out what is asked by an attorney during negotiations. In fact, their job is quite the opposite. They aim to pay out the lowest possible amount – even if their driver is proven to be at fault.

The Different Types of Insurance Coverage

There are numerous types of coverage one can purchase in California.

The type of coverage you buy should largely abide by the minimums set forth by the state, as well as any additional coverage that you feel may best suit your needs. Regarding the state mandatory minimums, according to Geico Insurance, in the state of California, motorists are required to carry:

  • California requires drivers to carry at least the following auto insurance coverages:
  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum
  • Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage¹: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Uninsured motorist property damage coverage¹: $3,500 minimum

As far as the differing types of auto insurance, there are six primary coverage types. These types range from personal liability coverage, comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to medical payments coverage (also known as med pay), and gap coverage. There are also umbrella policies. While they are not a type of car insurance coverage, they can still help if your liability exceeds your coverage, in which case, your umbrella policy can cover any remaining amount up to the umbrella policy amount.

How Insurance Companies Investigate Auto Accidents

Insurance companies are compelled to investigate any claims petitioned to recover damages. They do this for two main reasons. One, they investigate all claims to protect themselves from fraudulent claims. And two, they need to gather as much information as possible to perform their own calculations of the damages in order to counter any amounts claimed by the attorney. This is where negotiations come into play.

In any case, adjusters are sent by the insurance company to perform their own investigations to find culpability and calculate damages.

In order to do this, the adjusters will first interview the driver in an attempt to validate liability. They will also interview any passengers and eyewitnesses to the accident. Next, they will inspect both vehicles, assessing damage to not only calculate the cost of the damages but also to determine who was at fault in the accident. Last, they will request all medical records and, if necessary, investigate the claimant to ensure the claims made in the suit are accurate and valid.

Insurance Company Tactics to Reduce or Deny Claims

Insurance companies often deploy defense tactics to avoid paying a fair settlement. Remember, an adjuster’s job is to protect the company, not you. They will sometimes go pretty far to avoid paying a fair amount, so much so, that they may be willing to take it to trial to prolong payment or to try to avoid it altogether.

Some of these tactics are:

  1. They may contact you right after the accident. They do this before you’ve had a chance to assess the extent of your injuries and damages and before you have had a chance to hire an attorney. Adjusters may make you an offer in the hopes you will accept it to avoid paying a large settlement down the road.
  2. They may ask you for a statement on the record. They do this to use against your claim, to prepare for any claims down the road, and to find anything that may be contradictory to devalue your claim.
  3. They may attempt to fight against all or a portion of your medical claims. Never forget, insurance companies are not your friend. They will do anything they can to get out of paying.
  4. They may attempt to delay the process. Insurance companies routinely act as if they don’t care, forgot, or simply haven’t gotten to you yet. They do this to cause frustration because they know you are financially vulnerable. They want to be sure you are in need so they can get you to agree to a lower figure or to give up entirely.
  5. They may attempt to misrepresent the law or try to tell you that hiring an attorney is pointless. They do this to prey on your worries and fears so they may take advantage and get you to either forget about filing a claim or get you to accept a ridiculously low offer.

Remember to never give any statements to insurance adjusters. In fact, it’s better to not speak to the other driver’s insurance company at all. Always seek medical attention right away and contact an attorney. A skilled personal injury lawyer will always protect you and your interests. They will speak on your behalf.

The Role of an Attorney in Dealing with Insurance Companies

An experienced attorney will represent you to the fullest extent of the law. They will explain to you the law as it pertains to your specific case, helping you to understand where you stand and providing you with a rundown of your legal options. They will give you legal advice, letting you know the direction they feel is best for your case, how to get there, and the steps you need to take. 

A qualified personal injury attorney will also file your claim on your behalf and handle all the paperwork involved. This includes collecting evidence, and medical records, and calculating a fair settlement offer. If, however, the insurance company does not act in good faith, your lawyer will be prepared to litigate your case in court. This happens when an insurance company refuses to negotiate a fair settlement offer. When this happens, your attorney will sue the insurance company. You will then have legal representation in front of a judge.


The role of insurance companies in auto accident cases is to protect their insured motorist and company. They will try to find ways to delay case proceedings if possible to get you to accept low offers. They investigate claims to find fault and to calculate monetary damages. They will also find any reason to avoid paying you a fair settlement award. Finally, they will make every attempt to get you to provide a statement to them on the record to use against you and not hire a lawyer.

Always be sure to seek medical attention and speak to an attorney right away. Never give statements to the opposing insurance company or give any statements at all. A qualified attorney, such as Pyramid Legal, will protect your rights and get you the biggest settlement award under the law. They will collect evidence, make statements, file your claim, and handle all paperwork on your behalf.

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, slip and fall, or due to the negligence of another, contact Pyramid Legal today.

How Long Does It Take to Settle an Auto Accident Claim?

Being hurt in an auto accident can negatively affect numerous areas of your life. It can result in missed work, lost wages, and damage to your vehicle that makes it difficult to get to work, the store, and medical appointments. But it can also result in injuries that can last a lifetime. Probably one of the first questions after you file a lawsuit is, “How long does it take to settle a car accident claim?” The short answer is, it depends. It could take months to years depending on the specifics of your case. 

There are many factors that can ultimately affect the time it takes to settle your lawsuit. In some situations, the claim is very routine, allowing for a quick settlement in only a few months. These cases are typically basic with very minor injuries and only some vehicle damage. Others, however, are more complex. It can be situational that causes the complexity or it can be more direct with serious injuries and widespread damages. These cases can also include pain and suffering.

This article will cover many of the factors that affect the timeline of your personal injury lawsuit and what you can do to help speed things along.

Factors That Affect the Time to Settle Car Accident Claims

It is normal to want a fast settlement after a car accident. Especially when medical bills meet lost wages. Rent, utilities, and food costs can start adding up. And they can add up to a lot very quickly. Fortunately, your lawyer can help you to alleviate some of these costs, including medical bills. In some cases, your attorney can speak to the hospital or rehabilitation center and request deferred payments until your settlement comes in. In many cases, they will agree.

The reality is, however, that several factors can affect the overall timeline of receiving your settlement award. It’s important that you understand these factors in order to set realistic expectations and avoid surprises.

  1. Complexity – The complexity of your case will play a major role in how long your case will take to settle. If there are several parties involved, disputes over who is at fault, or other issues working against you, it can take much longer than simple cases that are not dealing with these complexities. The longer it takes to gather sufficient evidence or negotiate with insurance companies, the longer it can take to settle your case.
  2. Injuries – Injuries play a major role in the time it takes to settle a personal injury claim. This is because the extent of your injuries will dictate the time it takes for you to recover. If your injuries are minor, it will take less time to settle your claim. This is because it takes less time to make a full recovery. If your injuries are more severe, it will take longer. Waiting for a full recovery before you settle your claim is wise because it avoids having to cover continued medical expenses out of pocket.
  3. Damages – Damages can play a role in how long it takes to settle your claim because insurance companies must first investigate your claims in order to ensure your claim is true and reasonable. The more damages they must investigate means the longer it takes to come to a final decision.
  4. Insurance Companies – The insurance company, its internal processes, the adjuster’s workload, and the complexity of your claim will undoubtedly affect the timeline of your settlement. In some cases, the insurance company moves swiftly to perform an investigation and is willing to negotiate a fair settlement award. However, in rare cases, it could take legal action in order to compel the insurance company to come to the table.
  5. Legal Representation – The law firm you hire to handle your personal injury claim also plays a hefty role in how fast you receive your settlement. This usually comes down to the firm’s experience in handling auto accident cases. An experienced law firm already has a firm grasp on the legalities surrounding car accident claims, understands the claims process, and knows how to get things done efficiently.

Necessary Steps in the Settlement Process

It is one thing to want your settlement faster. It’s another when you understand the steps that need to be taken in order to set expectations. While these steps do not necessarily account for every aspect, complexity, or unforeseen issue, they do give you a general understanding so you know what to expect. 

No one likes a surprise when it comes to a lawsuit. Understanding the basic process can make a big difference in your ability to calmly take the time needed to receive the fairest compensation package available to you.

  1. Investigation – A full investigation into the accident and claims will be conducted in order to establish the validity of the claims in regard to injuries, damages, losses, and pain and suffering. You can help expedite this process by gathering evidence at the scene if you are able to. This entails taking pictures of the entire scene, documenting damages, collecting witness statements, and making a police report.
  2. Claim – Next is filing the claim. This is best handled by a qualified personal injury lawyer because of their in-depth understanding of the law as it pertains specifically to your case. Your claim must include all documentation such as medical bills, the extent of the damages and your injuries, witness statements, police reports, etc.
  3. Investigation – Once your claim has been submitted, the insurance company will then commence its investigation into your claims. They want to know definitively if your claims are justified and if the award you are seeking is reasonable. This investigation may take some time depending on the extent of your claim.
  4. Negotiation – Once the investigation is complete, negotiations begin. Remember, the goal of the insurance company is to pay as little as possible while the goal of your attorney is to get you the biggest settlement award possible. For your lawyer to accomplish this, negotiations may take several rounds to come to an agreement. Depending on how reasonable the claims adjuster is, and depending on how iron-clad your case is, negotiations can take some time.
  5. Acceptance – Once your attorney and the insurance company have come to an agreement on a settlement, it is up to you to review and accept the agreement and sign some paperwork before you can collect your settlement. Your attorney will keep you abreast of all offers and will advise you whether or not to accept the offer.
  6. Trial – If your attorney and the insurance company are unable to reach an agreement, taking your case to trial may be necessary. While going before a judge can add more time to your case, it is sometimes the only way to compel an insurance company to provide fair compensation. If this happens, your attorney will help you to prepare for your time in front of a judge so you are completely ready to plead your case.


While not every factor can be covered in a single article, these are the general aspects of a personal injury lawsuit after an auto accident. It is important that you know and understand these common factors so you can set realistic expectations regarding timelines, and things you can do to help the process instead of accidentally hindering it.

It is also very important to consult with a personal injury attorney with sufficient experience dealing with personal injury cases, particularly in auto accident claims. This is because a qualified attorney has a complete grasp of the legalities, processes, and steps that need to be taken in order to get you the most fair and just compensation allowed under the law.

If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, seek medical attention right away. Then contact Pyramid Legal. We’ll give you a free consultation, explain to you your options, and help you get the biggest settlement award owed to you.

Wrongful Death Claims: Pursuing Justice for a Loved One

Losing a loved one can be utterly devastating. It can turn your whole world upside down. While death itself can be heart-wrenching, what can make it much worse is when it happens because of someone else’s negligence or misconduct. Knowing someone you cared for died because of the fault of another person or entity can add levels more to your pain.

Filing a wrongful death claim in California can give you the constructive feeling that you are pursuing justice. It can also help offer a sense of closure for surviving family members. Pursuing justice for a loved one can give you a feeling of fulfillment, knowing that the guilty party is not walking away Scott-free. While nothing can bring your loved one back, you can begin to rest easy once again knowing that those responsible will be held to account for their negligence. 

What is a Wrongful Death Claim?

Under California law, wrongful death is the loss of life due to the fault of another person or establishment. According to Nolo

“In California, a wrongful death occurs when one person (in legal terms, the “decedent”) dies because of the misconduct of another person or entity. A wrongful death claim often results from things like: negligence-based incidents (for example, car accidents, dangerous premises, and defective products). medical malpractice, and intentional acts (even crimes).”

Examples of wrongful death scenarios

There are several common scenarios that have led to wrongful death lawsuits. While the following list contains some of the most common types, it is not limited to this list alone.

  • Car accidents. Distracted and drunk drivers make up the biggest majority of wrongful death claims. Road deaths, including vehicular collisions and collisions with pedestrians or cyclists, unfortunately, make up a very large portion of wrongful death suits. 
  • Medical malpractice. When medical professionals fail to meet medical norms, either by act or omission, it may result in an injury to the patient. When a wrongful death occurs, it is a betrayal of the Hippocratic oath. 
  • Crime. During the commission of a crime, if someone is killed, the perpetrator may be liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.
  • Work-related accidents. Wrongful death in the workplace may stem from workplace negligence, faulty machinery, or a failure to provide adequate safety precautions.
  • Defective products. When it comes to wrongful death concerning a product, it may have happened due to faulty manufacturing, negligence regarding warnings, or misrepresentation when it comes to how the product was advertised to perform.
  • Bike accidents. Bike riding accidents are especially tragic because everyone rides bicycles in public, from the elderly to young kids.


Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in California?

When it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit, certain family members are able to file it in the state of California. Some examples are parents, children, or siblings. An expanded look at the people who are able to file a wrongful death claim are:

  • A spouse – a surviving wife or husband may file a wrongful death claim in the event their significant other was killed due to someone else’s negligence.
  • Parents – One or both parents of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit if their child was killed because of the negligence of someone else.
  • Heirs – A single individual or several individuals considered to be heirs may file a wrongful death claim.
  • Next of kin – any family member, if they are the next of kin, may file a wrongful death suit in the event the death was due to negligence or misconduct.
  • The children – a biological child or children may file a suit in the event a parent was killed due to the misconduct of another.
  • Dependent minors – any minors that were living under the roof and dependent on the decedent may file a claim.
  • A representative of the estate – a formal representative, when next of kin, heirs, dependents, or parents are not present or not living to file a claim, may file a wrongful death suit.

However, there are exceptions that further limit or expand who is able to file a lawsuit. The reasons can be very complex and nuanced. This is why it is critical to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer that specializes in wrongful death lawsuits. This person will provide you with legal advice, guide you through the claims process, and provide you with invaluable expertise in order to build the most viable case and offer you the biggest settlement possible. 

And while you can never put a price on the loss and love for the one that lost their life, in many cases, financial hardship is soon to follow. Starting with funeral costs, investigations to prove negligence and lost income, your loved one would never wish for you to suffer through the grief while feeling scared about finances. No one should ever feel this way. 

A good attorney understands your pain and will alleviate as much of the stress and burden you are feeling as possible. You need time to grieve your loss. You need someone who is a legal expert to navigate the legalities involved so you can focus on yourself and your loved ones. You want justice, and that is exactly what your attorney wants for you.

Recoverable Damages in a California Wrongful Death Claim

In California, some of the economic and non-economic recoverable damages can range from funeral and burial expenses, financial support, and lost income the deceased would have provided during their life to the loss of benefits, and even the loss of any presents the decedent may have gifted family and loved ones during their lifetime. Also included may be services, household maintenance, or pain and anguish.

The importance of evidence and documentation

It is very important to provide irrefutable evidence to support any claims regarding the above-mentioned areas of loss. A lack of sufficient evidence may result in a forfeiture of some or all of your claims, depending on the demands of the judge presiding over the case. Your attorney will help you to understand what evidence is needed, as well as how to gather the needed evidence. 

They will also help you understand how to begin documenting your daily routine to better show how the lack of the decedent’s presence is impacting your life.  And not only your life, but the lives of any surviving family members, dependents, or heirs. This is a critical aspect of any wrongful death lawsuit because you need to demonstrate how their loss is negatively affecting the lives of surviving loved ones.

The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit

In all lower 48 states in the United States of America, there are statutes of limitations imposed on those looking to take legal action. In the state of California, the statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit is 2 years. There are exceptions, however, for minors and those who have not been in the state, jailed, or imprisoned.

Minors generally have until they turn 18 years old to file a claim. For those imprisoned or not in the state, the statute of limitations may be “tolled” or paused. This means that starting from the time you left or are jailed, the statute of limitations was paused, resuming only once you are back in the state or released from incarceration.


The death of someone you care for can bring about unimaginable pain. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can provide financial relief, as well as give you the justice you deserve. A death caused by someone else’s negligence should not go without full accountability. Gathering evidence and documenting the negative impact left by the loss will help you show the extent of your pain and suffering.

Consulting with a qualified wrongful death attorney will help in many ways. From alleviating the stress of legalities to helping you to better understand your options and how to move forward with a lawsuit, a good lawyer will be there for you so you can take the time you need to grieve. Not worrying about legal action or recourse.

If you have a loved one that was killed due to someone else’s misconduct or negligence, contact Pyramid Legal today. We have the experience and compassion you need to lift the weight from your shoulders, giving you the time you need to take in everything that is happening, and letting you just breathe.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations in Auto Accident Cases

The Statute of Limitations in Auto Accident Cases: What You Should Know

If you’ve been in an auto accident, recovering your losses becomes a priority. One of the first questions you may have after a car accident is, “How long do I have to file a lawsuit and seek compensation?” And the answer to that question is simple; If you delay taking legal action, it may result in you forfeiting your right to recover your losses. This is because taking any legal action comes with a statute of limitations. This article will cover what statutes of limitations are and what you need to do to avoid forfeiting your right to fair compensation.

What is the Statute of Limitations?

The statute of limitations is the prescribed time limit to bring certain kinds of legal action in order to seek remedy for financial losses, damages, injuries, and pain and suffering. Statutes of limitations are important because they provide an avenue to seek legal remedies in a timely manner and to ensure the preservation and viability of evidence. Failing to adhere to the statute of limitations regarding your specific case may result in the forfeiture of your right to seek corrective legal action, such as filing a lawsuit or seeking a monetary settlement.

Personal injury lawsuits and the statute of limitations

In the case of personal injury lawsuits after an auto accident, the statute of limitations is very important to both the injured party and the alleged at-fault driver.

For the alleged at-fault motorist, it protects them from unjust prosecution years after an accident when the evidence is no longer viable and injuries are near impossible to prove that they were a direct consequence of an auto accident.

When it comes to the injured party, the statute of limitations helps them to prove that any injuries or losses resulted from the car accident by ensuring the evidence has not become unviable, witnesses can be located, and damages can be linked to the accident. It also helps them to quickly start a case to recover any financial losses.

Time Limits for Filing an Auto Accident Claim for an Adult

In the State of California, the statute of limitations in car accidents for adults is 2 years. Adults are barred from filing a lawsuit after the 2 years have expired. 

This is because of several factors, including the inability to accurately link injuries to the auto accident. It also takes into question why the alleged victim waited so long to file a claim, especially since two years is already considered more than sufficient time needed to decide whether or not a claim is warranted.

Time Limits for Filing an Auto Accident Claim for a Minor

The statute of limitations for a minor involved in an auto accident is different than for adults. Minors have until the day they turn 18 to take legal action.

Minors have until they turn 18 to ensure they have enough time to understand the extent of their losses and injuries and to ensure they have time enough to contact a qualified auto injury attorney to receive adequate legal action. The reason for this extended period falls under the legal requirements for age-related mental competence. At the time of an accident, minors may not fully understand the impact the accident is going to have on the rest of their lives.

What Happens When the Statute of Limitations Expires?

Simply put, once the statute of limitations has expired, the victim of an auto accident may no longer file a lawsuit or seek any legal action.

Essentially, the statute of limitations is considered to be a deadline for filing a civil claim or criminal lawsuit after a car accident. If your claim is not filed within the stated lawful limitations, you have forfeited your rights to file a claim for just compensation.

This is because of the fact that the law understands that evidence becomes null and void after a certain amount of time. Why? Because witnesses may not be able to be located, links to the accident become difficult to make, and memories of the incident may fade away.

Are there exceptions to the statute of limitations?

There are some exceptions to the statute of limitations other than being a minor. One such exception may be granted if the alleged victim of the accident was in jail or prison on unrelated charges during the 2-year period to file a lawsuit. While this isn’t always the case, it has been granted under some circumstances.

Another exception is being out of state. In rare circumstances, being out of state causes the statute of limitations to be “tolled” or, paused, until the individual has been released or returns to the state.

What are the consequences of filing a claim after the statute of limitations has expired?

Typically, if a claim is filed after the statute of limitations has expired, it is dismissed by the judge. This means that regardless of the extent of the injuries, may they be severe or lifelong, a delay in filing a claim can result in total forfeiture of any monetary compensation. It is for this reason above all else that it is crucial that you speak with an experienced personal injury attorney right away. 

While it is unethical, depending on the seriousness of the injuries and the significance of the losses and damages, an insurance company may attempt to delay the claims process in the hopes of the statute of limitations expiring in order to get out of paying a settlement or going to trial. While these situations may be rare, they can occur, giving you yet another reason to rely on the skills and expertise of an experienced car accident lawyer to help ensure you do not become a victim a second time.

How to Protect Your Rights

Taking prompt action as soon as you are able to after an auto accident is paramount to protecting your rights. Seek medical attention, report the accident, and consult with an attorney right away. These three things should be the first and most important things you do.

Aside from these three initial steps, there are several more things you can do to help ensure that your rights are protected. One of which is to preserve any evidence that may help your case.

Tips for preserving evidence and information

First, you should always try to gather contact information from the other driver, as well as collect contact information and statements from witnesses to the accident.

Second, document all of your medical treatments, visits, and bills. This includes documenting your rehabilitation, from physical therapy appointments and fees to personal strides you are making at home.

Third, keep all records pertaining to your financial losses. This includes any losses that relate to the accident, no matter how big or small.

The role of your attorney in protecting your rights

Your attorney will play one of the biggest roles when it comes to protecting your rights. He or she will advise you on the best course of action, help document your medical and recovery journey, handle the other driver’s insurance company, and explain to you all of your legal options.

Hiring a lawyer is the best way to protect your rights and ensure you will get the most compensation that is fair and equal to your injuries, financial losses, damages, and pain and suffering.


The statute of limitations is the period you have to file a claim or take any legal action after a car accident. In California, the period is two years. There are exceptions for minors and those who are incarcerated or out of state. Failure to file a claim within two years, barring any exceptions, will forfeit your right to compensation.

If you’ve been in an auto accident in California, contact Pyramid Legal today. We will schedule a free consultation and explain your legal options to you.

What Happens if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Car Insurance?

In the state of California, it is illegal to drive on public roadways and highways without car insurance. In fact, there are minimum mandatory requirements levied upon Californians. Some, carry harsh penalties and fines. Regardless of its illegality, many drivers do not meet the minimum coverage mandated by the state. It is estimated at 16.6 percent of all drivers in California continue to travel daily with no insurance at all, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

This is very distressing news for California’s insured motorists. An accident with an uninsured can result in financial losses, and in some cases, unrecoverable damages. However, there are steps you can take that can help protect you from having to cover the costs of the accident out of pocket.

This article will cover many issues surrounding uninsured motorists and what you can do to protect yourself if you have an accident with one of these drivers. It will also address the legal ramifications if you are the driver without insurance.

California’s Insurance Requirements

California is what is known as a “tort-law” state. Tort law is considered to be a restorative form of justice. This is because the laws of that state, such as California, seek to remedy losses in regard to monetary loss or injury with financial compensation. This is an important distinction because it helps to provide context and understanding when looking at insurance laws.

While California actually has some of the most lenient penalties for driving without insurance, costs can add up quickly. But the biggest gamble comes in the form of an auto accident. Without the required minimum coverage, uninsured drivers are held personally responsible for all costs they are found to be at fault for.

The minimum coverage required by the state of California is:

  • $15,000/per person
  • $30,000/per accident
  • $5,000/property damage

This is where tort law comes in. Since California applies tort law to auto accidents, Californians have the right to sue the other driver for losses and damages.

And this is where carrying the required minimum coverage comes in. Liability insurance protects you in the event you are found to be at fault and have to pay for damages and injuries.

However, in the event the other driver is at fault and does not carry the required minimum coverage, they are still liable for the amount owed – with or without auto insurance. This is why carrying car insurance is so important; you are still responsible for the costs either way.

Penalties and Fines for Driving Without Insurance in California

The first conviction of driving without auto insurance can result in a $100-$200 fine. However, your vehicle can be impounded – even with the first offense.

The court can also decide to levy additional penalty assessments, which can result in doubling, or tripling your fines, or more. Penalty assessments can really make a “driving with no insurance” fine much more costly.

The second offense and any subsequent offenses may result in fines between $200-$500 along with any additional assessments.

While some have viewed this as “cheaper” than paying for car insurance, the truth is, if you end up in an auto accident without insurance, it can ruin your life for quite some time.

According to Bank Rate, Penalty Assessments are:

  • Penal Code 1464: $10 for every $10 or part of $10 of your fine (so if your fine was $25, you could be hit with a $30 penalty assessment here)
  • Government Code 7600: $7 for every $10 of part of $10
  • Government Code 70372: $5 for every $10 or part of $10
  • Government Code 76104.6: $1 for every $10 or part of $10
  • Government Code 76104.7: $4 for every $10 or part of $10
  • Government Code 76000.5: $2 for every $10 or part of $10

What these penal codes mean is, if all of these penalty assessments is issued against you, every $10 of your fine gets an additional $29 added on. Therefore, a simple $100 fine turns into a $390 fine. And if you are charged with a $500 fine along with all of the penalty assessments, you will be paying $1,950 out of your own pocket.

What Do I Do If the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?

  1. Get Uninsured Motorist Coverage – This is the number 1 step insured drivers can take to protect themselves from the uninsured. Without it, you could end up footing the bill for an accident that someone else caused. Uninsured Motorist Coverage is an optional piece of coverage you can add to your policy that essentially covers you in the event you are in an accident with an uninsured driver. It allows you to make a claim against your own insurance company to cover losses and medical expenses up to your cap if you are in an accident with someone that does not carry insurance. If they are insured, but do not carry the minimum required coverage, it can make up the difference.
  2. Seek Medical Attention – Even if you do not feel as though you were injured, seek medical attention right away after an accident. This is an extremely important step because an accident can cause your adrenaline to spike. Adrenaline can mask the pain and symptoms of even serious injuries. Injuries can not only worsen the longer they are left undiagnosed and untreated but failing to get a proper diagnosis can result in forfeiting fair compensation for your injuries.
  3. Never Admit Fault – An accident can stir a range of emotions, from anger and confusion to guilt and remorse – even if it was not your fault. With these emotions may come the urge to say how sorry you are this happened. Do not. Even if it’s clear the accident was the fault of the other driver, your apology may constitute another aspect of the accident that could result in you being denied compensation or the right to sue.
  4. Call the Police – It’s important to document the accident. You want all the evidence and records possible to either fight a court case or file a lawsuit. In either case, evidence is crucial. The police play an important role in auto accidents as they file police reports. These reports are accessible to you and they contain important information, such as documenting the accident as a whole, the location where it occurred, injuries, and both parties’ statements.
  5. Call a Lawyer Immediately – The longer you wait to contact an experienced car accident lawyer, such as Pyramid Legal, the harder it is to file an effective lawsuit. A qualified personal injury attorney will collect all of the evidence, have you begin medical treatment right away if needed, and begins filing the proper paperwork, and more. They will ensure your best interests come first and they typically only get paid after a settlement has been accepted – no upfront costs.

Failing to follow these steps can result in financial losses, undetected injuries worsening or possibly becoming permanent, being erroneously found at fault for the accident, or failing to file a lawsuit that yields fair and just compensation.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, an auto accident can be a traumatic event for anybody who experiences one. No one wants to find themselves in an accident, whether it is considered to be a simple “fender bender” or a serious car crash. Driving carries with it inherent risks; you should always be prepared. Being prepared means taking reasonable steps to protect yourself and your interests.

This includes having the proper amount of insurance coverage such as Uninsured Motorist coverage, collecting evidence, seeking medical care, making a police report, and contacting a personal injury lawyer right away. Contacting a personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal aspects, give you legal advice, file paperwork on your behalf, and ensure you get the best settlement award available to you.

If you have been in an auto accident, contact Pyramid Legal today.

How Do You Determine Liability After a Car Accident in California?

A car accident can be a traumatic experience for everyone involved. Even for people who simply witness the accident. It can leave scars, both emotional and physical. In light of the range of emotions, fear, confusion, anger, and guilt – questions remain. The first typically is, “What happened?” While the second usually is, “Who was at fault?”

What is liability?

Liability in the lawful sense means being legally responsible for something. In regards to a vehicle collision, liability belongs to the driver that was at fault for the accident. So, how do you determine liability after a car accident in California?

This article will cover California laws pertaining to car accidents, what to do after a car accident, and how to determine liability. It will also discuss the importance of retaining the services of a qualified personal injury lawyer and why you should never wait to contact one after an accident.

Accidents on California Roadways

In a single year on California roadways, the Highway Patrol documented more than 220,000 auto accident-related injuries. In that same year, they also documented 3,100 fatalities from traffic accidents.

Some things are constant

While the extent of injuries varies from incident to incident, some things remain very constant: The loss of income from missed work, medical bills piling up, and trauma. People who have suffered through an accident want to know how they are going to continue with financial loss, how they’re going to pay their bills, and whether they will ever recover physically and financially.

Presumptive determinations of liability

And while police make presumptive determinations when it comes to who was at fault, they can be incorrect. This is why you should gather evidence yourself at the scene if you can. If not, the police report will contain the driver and witness statements, traffic and weather conditions, and the events of the accident as he or she understood them. This information will help your attorney build a case in your favor, regardless of the officer’s original assessment of fault.

When Are the Police Wrong?

The police try their best at the scene of an accident to determine which driver was at fault. However, police are only human and can make mistakes just like anyone else can. And while the Highway Patrol has a grasp of the law, they are not lawyers. They are also not judges. Their word is not final nor are their determinations. But a police report can be helpful.

Unable to speak

Police at the scene of a car accident can be wrong most commonly when one party is unable to speak. This can be due to injuries or fatalities. When one party cannot speak to defend themselves because they were unconscious or taken away by an ambulance before an interview could happen, only one side gets to make a statement. An officer has no alternative story to compare, and will likely take the word of the only driver able to speak.

Other reasons

While this isn’t always the case, it is the most common when it comes to making an incorrect determination at the scene. Other times, one individual may be too shaken up to explain their side of the story rationally. They may also be irate and unable to calmly give their side. Another situation may simply be that there was a momentary obstruction that the officer cannot verify.

Mistakes sometimes happen

There are many reasons why an officer could be wrong in their initial determination of the accident. It doesn’t make them a bad person. It just means they made a mistake. It is up to your attorney to make your case for you that shows why you were not the one at fault. It is up to the other driver’s insurance company to accept liability, or it is up to the judge to determine if all else fails.

When Can I Make a Claim Against Another Driver?

According to Forbes, California is a “fault” state that uses tort law and comparative negligence rules.

What is a “fault” state?

A “fault” state is very different from a “no-fault” state. A “no-fault” state means drivers must have a PIP (personal injury protection insurance. This means that the drivers must go through their own insurance companies to make a claim to receive compensation for damages and medical bills.

What is a “no-fault” state?

California is a “no-fault” state, meaning they do not have to purchase PIP to make a claim. They can go directly after the other driver and their insurance company.

What are “pure comparative negligence” rules?

However, California is also considered to be a “pure comparative negligence” state. This means that fault can go both ways and determining fault can be percentage-based.

For example, if you are found to be 20% at fault for an auto accident and the other driver is found to be 80% at fault for the accident, you can only collect up to 80% of your claim.

For another example, if the total damages between both parties add up to $150,000, and you are 70% at fault, you can still file a lawsuit against the other driver for the remaining $45,000.

What is the Statute of Limitations to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

In the State of California, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against another driver for injuries or damages related to a car accident is typically two years from the date of the accident. After two years have passed, adults are not legally able to file a lawsuit against another driver they feel is responsible for the auto accident.

However, there are some exceptions.

For example, one exception is minor involvement in an accident. When it comes to injuries or damages as they relate to minors, they have until they reach 18 years old to file a lawsuit against the other driver and their insurance company.

How Do You Determine Liability in a Car Crash in California?

In short, there are two ways to prove fault regarding a car accident in California. The first way to prove that the fault of the incident was the other driver, is to show that they were guilty of being negligent under what is known as “common law.” The second way to prove that fault belongs to the other driver is to prove “Statutory Negligence.” Statutory Negligence means that the other driver violated California Vehicle Code or some other related law.

Common-Law Negligence

When it comes to establishing common law  negligence, you must prove:

  • Duty of care: Every driver has an obvious responsibility to operate a vehicle on the road or highway with reasonable care. This means they have the clarity of mind to drive a vehicle while taking reasonable care not to injure anyone else and obey all traffic laws.
  • Breach of duty: The other driver failed to drive using reasonable care. That they neglected to act in a manner in which presumably any reasonable person would under those same circumstances.
  • Cause: The other driver failed to abide by the “duty of care” doctrine and their actions directly resulted in the auto accident.
  • Damages: The crash caused you financial loss and hardship, and/or you sustained either emotional or physical injuries or both.

To prove that the other driver was guilty of Common-Law Negligence, you need to show sufficient evidence like a police report, statements from witnesses, etc. This is why it is always important to collect evidence on your own, as well, if possible. Information such as weather or traffic conditions, the location of the accident, and photos of damages and the accident scene can be very valuable when determining fault.

Statutory Negligence

Statutory Negligence is often times easier to prove than Common-Law Negligence. You only need to prove that the other driver violated a law or vehicle code. Statutory Negligence can be established relatively easily and quickly if the police report establishes that the other driver did in fact violate a law or vehicle code.

If you can present a police report that has made this presumption without any contradicting evidence, it will be taken at face value without the need to submit any further evidence. If you provide evidence of Statutory Negligence, the onus falls on the other driver to refute the claim by proving they were not negligent. A police report can make this nearly impossible. While police can be wrong in their initial determinations of fault, their report can often hold citations that can prove fault according to the rules of Statutory Negligence.

In Conclusion

The determination of liability in a car accident relies on proving Common-Law Negligence and Statutory Negligence. There is a 2-year statute of limitations for adults and minors have until their 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. While the police can be wrong in their determination of fault, a police report can often cite violations of traffic codes or laws that can prove the other driver was at fault. Always contact an experienced personal injury lawyer right away to avoid common mistakes and to give yourself the best chance possible of winning a fair settlement.

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