When Is a Car Accident a Crime?

Many people may not know the direction to take when a car accident happens, mainly because most traffic violations are not criminal cases. In most situations, law enforcement officers may respond to the scene to establish if anyone committed a crime leading to the accident.

The police may also want to enforce traffic rules and improve road safety to prevent future accidents. After investigation, they may arrest someone and press car accident criminal charges.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident in California, an experienced personal injury lawyer can evaluate your risks and options in the charges involved in a car crash. Depending on the situation, they’ll advise whether yours is a civil or criminal case against the other driver. Here’s what you need to know.

Differences Between a Criminal and Civil Case

A criminal case entails a violation of state criminal law. Concerning car accidents and personal injury, this includes drunk driving, reckless driving, and leaving the accident scene. The state brings the charges involved in a car crash through a country district attorney of a city attorney, a smaller government unit.

When the charges point to a criminal case, the district attorney is responsible for deciding whether to press charges for the car accident. A car accident criminal charge aims to punish the offender, rehabilitate them, and protect society.

A car accident involving injury is a state civil law, and the outcome depends on written rules or the common law. The motive of a civil case is to compensate the accident victim for the damage and losses. It’s the victim’s responsibility to bring the charges and build a claim against the driver at fault.

Situations That Make a Car Accident Criminal

The most common accident scenarios that lead to criminal car accident charges include the following:


Hit-and-run car accident cases are numerous in California. In successful cases, the perpetrators face a jail sentence of 15 years and steep fines. The victims are often left to meet the costs of their medical treatment and determine how to recover the damages. The process can be complex and frustrating without assistance from an experienced car accident lawyer.

Driving Under the Influence

The police arrest approximately one million drivers annually for driving under the influence of intoxicating substances. Penalties for DUI charges include probation, license suspension, jail time, and fines. DUI accidents lead to property damage in the millions and result in severe injuries or death.

Reckless Driving

Driving without regard for traffic rules or the safety of other road users is reckless driving and includes:

  • Carelessly weaving in and out of traffic
  • Exorbitant speeding
  • Not obeying traffic signals

The court may assess the driver’s mental state and driving behaviors to determine whether they’ll face criminal charges. Reckless driving results in car accidents, property damage, or personal injury can be a criminal case.

Fleeing the Police

It’s never a good idea to flee the police, even when you know they’ll press charges for a car accident. Running away from the police may lead to criminal charges, and causing an accident while doing so may result in more severe consequences.

Vehicular Manslaughter

This crime happens when a driver is irresponsible when operating a car and results in the loss of another person’s life. The driver may face misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the circumstances, and evidence presented.

If it’s a case of ordinary negligence, it qualifies as a misdemeanor. Gross negligence on the part of the driver attracts felony charges.

The Burden of Proof in Criminal vs. Civil Car Accident Cases

Whether a car accident case is criminal or civil, there’s an amount of proof a plaintiff has to present to win the case.

In a criminal case, the burden of proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt. That’s to say that the evidence presented and the theory around the claim must be factual beyond a certain level of suspicion, known as reasonable doubt.

It’s upon the plaintiff in a civil personal injury case to show that the defendant is responsible for their injuries and substantiate their claims. They must show that their other party is more likely than not to have caused the injuries. That is a preponderance of the evidence, which is a much lower burden of proof than required in a criminal car accident case.

It’s easier to win a civil case than a criminal one, given that the burden of proof in the former isn’t too complex. A criminal trial may find the defendant not guilty, but the outcome may differ from a civil case. If the state decides not to press charges for a car accident, the plaintiff may still have a good chance of winning a civil case against the defendant.

A California Personal Injury Attorney Can Fight for Your Rights

You may not know the next step to take when you sustain injuries in a car accident. An experienced personal injury lawyer can guide you on whether to press criminal or civil charges. They’ll work with you to file a claim to get the compensation you deserve to take care of your medical bills.

At LA Century Law, we understand that car accident injuries can change your life forever, but we want to take the burden off you back. Our commitment to you is more than financial, as we are committed to your recovery and fighting for justice. Contact us today to schedule a consultation for a free case evaluation.

Civil and Criminal Car Accident Case FAQs

Can I bring a civil case if there’s an ongoing criminal case?

An ongoing criminal case doesn’t prevent you from filing a personal injury case. The criminal and civil proceedings can co-exist independently.

How do you know who was at fault in a car accident?

Determining who was at fault is usually a complex process that requires detailed investigation by the police. Ensure you cooperate with the officers as they look into any traffic violations.

Why Is Your Car Accident Settlement Taking So Long?

As a victim of an automobile accident, you want the settlement process to be quick and efficient. This money will help you cater to your living expenses, especially if you’re not working due to injuries. You may also want to pay for car repair services.

However, it doesn’t always work like that. You might struggle to get the necessary compensation even if the court has declared that you should be compensated.

So, how long should car accident settlements take? Unfortunately, no legal provision dictates the period it should take for you to get the necessary compensation. Minor auto accidents can be settled in days or weeks.

Depending on the severity of the accident and the amounts involved, it could take months, sometimes years, to receive your compensation.

Why Can a Car Accident Settlement Take Longer?

From the discussion above, you cannot estimate the time it will take for your accident settlement to be completed. Nevertheless, every case is unique, and you want yours to be settled quickly to continue with other aspects of your life.

However, you could be in for a shock where your settlement is delayed for a lengthy period. Here’s why an injury settlement payment may take longer than you anticipated.

1. Gathering and Ascertaining Evidence

Evidence must be gathered and presented before a jury to prove that you deserve the compensation. The entire process of identifying and collecting evidence could take weeks or months.

Even if you have video evidence, it may not be straightforward. The other driver’s insurance company will want to hire an accident reconstruction expert to make sense of the video footage and ascertain who was actually at fault. This could also take a significant amount of time.

2. Medical Treatment and Documentation

If you were seriously injured in the accident, it might take some time before you’re discharged from the hospital. Attending physicians will have to run several tests and carry out different procedures to ensure that you’re in a stable condition before allowing you to leave.

The reports generated will be usable when negotiating a higher compensation amount with the other driver’s insurance company. This will also give them enough time to document the extent of your injuries and how they will affect you in the future. Without a comprehensive medical report, it will be challenging to get fair compensation.

3. The Insurance Company May Delay the Settlement Process

After an accident, you’ll want to notify your insurance company as soon as possible. The organization will then investigate and start working on your case. Sometimes, insurance companies are overwhelmed with a lot of claims. They will, therefore, take their time to assess your case before making a decision.

Insurance companies will also carry out their own investigations. The adjuster will have to review the police report, photos, and witness statements to ascertain who was at fault. All this takes time, which could further delay your settlement.

4. You May Have a Complex Case

Getting compensated could take longer since several issues need to be sorted out. For example, if you were involved in a hit-and-run accident or the other driver was underinsured, your car accident case could be more complicated. To get compensation from an uninsured driver, you may have to sue them in court. Filing a lawsuit and waiting for a jury’s decision could take months or years.

5. Negotiations Could Be Lengthy

After evidence has been gathered, it will be used to support your demand for a specific compensation amount. The other driver’s insurance company will also come up with their figure, usually much lower than what you’re asking for.

You will then have to participate in the negotiation process, which could take weeks or months before both parties agree on an amount. The negotiation process could be further lengthened if you deal with an uncooperative insurance company.

6. Post-Settlement Payouts Take Time

Post-settlement payouts usually take time because the insurance company has to process the checks. The organization will also want to ensure you’re satisfied with the agreement before releasing the funds. In some cases, the payouts may be delayed if there are errors in the paperwork.

Your lawyer must process the payment and pay all the bills related to your accident before receiving the final settlement amount. This could take a few weeks or months, depending on the complexity of your case. Some bills to be paid include medical expenses, car repairs, legal fees, and contingency fees.

Consult An Experienced Auto Accident Attorney If Your Car Accident Settlement Is Taking Too Long

While car accidents can lead to permanent disability, inability to work, mental anguish — even pain and suffering — you need your settlement done quickly to cover your medical bills and living expenses.

Experienced auto accident attorneys at LA Century Law can help you to push for your settlement to be completed within the shortest timeframe possible. We aim to present all the necessary evidence and medical records while engaging with the at-fault party and the insurance company for immediate settlement.

Contact us today for a free evaluation of your case.

Car Accident FAQs

What types of damages may I qualify for in a car accident case?

The type of damages you may be able to recover in a car accident case will vary depending on the specifics of your case. In general, however, you may be able to recover economic and noneconomic damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain, and suffering.

How much time do I have to file an auto accident claim?

The statute of limitations for an auto accident claim in California is two years from the date of the accident.

Whiplash From Car Accidents: Treatment and Compensation in California

Whiplash is a painful and often debilitating injury that can occur when the head is suddenly whipped backward and then forward, often in auto accidents. The intensity of the force can cause the neck muscles and ligaments to stretch beyond their normal range of motion, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility.

Whiplash is a common injury in California, with hundreds of people suffering these injuries every year. While whiplash is not typically life-threatening, it can be life-changing, sometimes requiring extensive physical therapy and thousands of dollars in medical bills.

Fortunately, whiplash victims can seek compensation from the at-fault driver. However, in most cases, they’ll need an experienced injury lawyer on their side. A skilled attorney will help victims navigate the complicated legal process and fight for the maximum possible compensation.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact our car accident injury lawyers today.

What Causes Whiplash?

Whiplash is a type of neck injury that is caused by sudden, forceful movement of the head. The sudden movement can damage the muscles, ligaments, and discs in the neck. Whiplash is most commonly seen in car or truck accidents, but it can also occur in other types of trauma, such as slips and falls, sports injuries, and physical abuse.

Signs of Whiplash From a Crash

The signs and symptoms of whiplash can take days or even weeks to appear. It’s important to see a doctor immediately after an accident to be evaluated for whiplash, even if you feel okay. In the short-term, whiplash may cause signs like:

  • Neck pain
  • Stiffness
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue

In more severe cases, there may also be bruising, numbness, and difficulty swallowing. If left untreated, whiplash can lead to long-term problems. Examples of whiplash long-term effects include:

  • Chronic pain
  • Reduced range of motion
  • Depression
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis

It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect you have whiplash. Early diagnosis and treatment can help to minimize the risk of long-term complications.

Whiplash Treatment

Whiplash is typically treated with one or a mix of rest, ice, heat, and pain medication. But physical therapy may also be recommended.

  • Pain management of whiplash involves rest, over-the-counter and prescription medication, muscle relaxants, heat or cold, and rest.
  • The doctor can also prescribe a series of movement and stretching exercises to help restore the range of motion in the neck after whiplash. These exercises may include neck rolls, shoulder shrugs, head turns, chin tucks, etc.
  • The doctor may use foam collars or other devices to minimize neck movements and allow it to heal. These devices may be worn for a few days or weeks, depending on the severity of the injury.
  • Physical therapy can teach you exercises to help stretch and strengthen the muscles in the neck and shoulders. They may also use massage, ultrasound, and electrical stimulation to help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • In severe cases of whiplash, surgery may be necessary. Surgery is typically only recommended if the pain does not improve after several months of conservative treatment. The most common type of surgery for whiplash is a cervical fusion, which involves fusing the vertebrae in the neck.

How Long Might An Accident Victim Be Dealing with Whiplash or Any Complications?

While most whiplash injuries heal within a few weeks, some patients may experience ongoing symptoms for months or even years.

In rare cases, whiplash can cause permanent nerve damage or other serious complications.

Can whiplash symptoms show up months later?

In some cases, the symptoms of whiplash may not appear until months or even years after the initial injury. This delayed onset of symptoms is known as delayed-onset whiplash syndrome. Although the exact cause of delayed-onset whiplash syndrome is unknown, it is thought to be due to damage to the nerves and muscles in the neck. This is why it’s important to seek immediate medical care and legal counsel.

Getting Financial Compensation for Whiplash After a Car Accident

Whiplash is a debilitating condition that can significantly impact a victim’s quality of life. If you have been in a car accident and suffered from whiplash, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

First, you’ll need to seek medical attention and get an accurate diagnosis. Once you have documentation of your injuries, you can begin filing a claim. If you were not at fault for the accident, you might be able to file an insurance claim with the other driver’s insurer.

However, it is important to remember that insurance companies are businesses whose goal is to pay out as little as possible. For this reason, hiring a whiplash lawyer who can negotiate on your behalf and help you get the full compensation you deserve is often beneficial.

Victims of whiplash often need extensive medical treatment and can miss prolonged periods of work, leading to significant financial strain. A lawyer will fight for your rights and help ensure that you are fairly compensated for your damages.

Contact A Car Accident Attorney In California Today

If you have been in a car accident, don’t wait to get help. Contact a car accident injury lawyer today to discuss your case and learn more about your legal options following a whiplash diagnosis. At LA Century Law, we will fight for your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve.

Frequently Asked Questions About Whiplash in California

What is the average payout for whiplash in California?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the amount of compensation you may be entitled to will depend on your case’s specific facts and circumstances. But on average, whiplash victims in California get between $2,500 and $10,000 for mild to moderate whiplash.

How many people get whiplash per year in the US?

There are no exact figures, but it is estimated that about 2 million people in the US suffer from whiplash each year.

Who is Liable for a Passenger’s Car Accident Injuries in CA?

When a passenger is injured in a car crash, the first thing that often comes to mind whenever an accident occurs is which driver is at fault. But what if the accident happened while you were a passenger? Who is responsible for your injuries as a passenger in a car accident?

It’s important to understand that, in California, the law requires all drivers to carry liability insurance. This means that if they cause an accident, their insurance company will be responsible for compensating the victims for their injuries.

It is important to understand your legal rights if you get injured as a passenger in a car accident. You need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to help you understand your options. This article discusses what you need to know about car accident passenger claims.

What Are Your Rights As a Passenger in a Car Accident?

When you’re injured as a passenger in a car accident, you might be confused about who has fault for your injuries. Sometimes the insurance companies of both drivers may disagree on who should take responsibility for the injured passenger.

It’s important to understand that no matter who is at fault for your accident, you need to file a personal injury claim to recover damages. These damages include medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

The at-fault party can be your driver, the driver in the other car, or a third party.

You can also file car accident passenger claims against the driver of the car you were riding in if they were negligent in causing the accident. For example, if the driver was speeding or texting while driving, they may be liable for your injuries.

In rare cases, if you’re injured in a car accident caused by a defective car part, you may have a claim against the manufacturer of the defective part. For example, if a defective tire caused your accident, you may be able to file a claim against the tire manufacturer.

In some car accident cases, multiple parties may be at fault. This can happen in multi-car accidents. If you’re injured in an accident like this, you may be able to file a claim against two or more drivers that collided with the one you were riding in.

Exceptions to Liability

As far as you have the right to file for personal injury compensation against the at-fault party, including the driver of the car you were riding in, there are some exceptions to consider.

The driver is your relative

If the driver of the car you were riding in is your relative, for instance, your spouse, parent, or sibling, you likely won’t be able to sue them. In this case, you’re considered insured under their policy.

The driver is uninsured

In some cases, the person who was at fault for the accident may have had no insurance at the time. In this case, you can file a claim with your insurance company through uninsured motorist coverage. You would then be compensated through your own policy, up to the limits of your coverage.

You’re also at fault

In other cases, you may also take the blame as a passenger for the accident, either partially or fully. The instances where a passenger in a car accident may take the blame in an accident include:

  • Not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident
  • Knowingly entering a vehicle when the driver was intoxicated
  • Knowing that the road conditions weren’t safe for driving

If you take any blame for an accident, it will likely result in a lower insurance payout.

If you are partly to blame, it may lower the compensation you receive, but you would still be able to file car accident passenger claims. If you are found to be fully at fault for the accident, then you likely won’t be able to receive any compensation from the other party.

What Compensation Can You Get If Injured as a Passenger In a Car Accident?

If you or your loved one was injured as a passenger in an accident,  you might wonder what kind of compensation you can obtain. The amount of compensation will depend on a few factors, such as the severity of your injuries, whether or not you were at fault for the accident, and your state law.

Get Help From Our Car Accident Lawyers

You deserve to get compensation for your injuries if you get injured as a passenger in a car accident. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can get the money you need to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Attorneys at LA Century Law will help you get the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

FAQs About Passenger Compensation in an Accident

How much can a passenger get in a car accident?

It depends on the circumstances of each case, but a passenger in a car accident may get more compensation than the driver in a car accident if they’ve been injured more severely.

How long does it take to get compensated after a car accident?

Depending on the severity of the injuries and the insurance company’s response, it can take months or even years to get compensated after a car accident. Settlements outside of court are quicker than lawsuits that go to trial.

What If I Missed Work Due to a Car Accident?

Being involved in a car accident is a stressful and jarring experience. But it can be even more frustrating if you miss work because of your injuries. Not only do you have to worry about the cost of repairs and medical bills, but there is also the risk of losing your job if you’re out of work for an extended period of time.

However, if you’re out of work due to a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages. In some cases, your employer may also be required to hold your job while you recover from your injuries.

If you have been involved in a car accident, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you understand your rights and ensure that you are fairly compensated for your losses.

Employee’s Rights When The Job is At Risk of Termination After an Accident

California is an at-will state, which means that employees can be fired at any time and for any reason that is not illegal. There are a few exceptions to this rule, such as if the employee has an employment contract that states otherwise or if the firing is due to discrimination.

However, an employer can generally fire an employee for being involved in a car accident. This is especially true if the employee’s negligence caused the accident.

For example, if an employee was speeding and caused a multi-car pileup, the employer would likely be within their rights to fire the employee. In contrast, if the employee was involved in a minor fender bender that was not their fault, it is less likely that the employer would take disciplinary action.

Ultimately, whether or not an employee can be fired for being involved in a car accident will depend on the circumstances of the accident and the employer’s policies. A personal injury lawyer in California can assess your case and advise you accordingly.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) is a federal law that provides employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave per year for specific family and medical reasons. The FMLA applies to all public and private sector employers with 50 or more employees. In California, the FMLA applies to all employers with 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year.

If you work under a covered employer, the law protects you when you need to take leave for a qualifying reason. This includes your serious personal injury. If you’re terminated while on FMLA leave, you may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer. However, you must:

  • Have worked for the company for a year or more
  • Have worked for 1,250 hours or more during the previous year
  • Be working at a location with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius

Can Accident Victims Recover Lost Wages From At-Fault Drivers and Parties?

In California, accident victims who have been injured due to the negligence of another party may be able to recover damages for their losses. This includes lost wages for time missed from work due to the accident.

To recover lost wages, victims must be able to show that they would have been able to earn the wages had the accident not occurred. For example, if a victim was in the process of training for a new job at the time of the accident, they may not be able to recover lost wages for the time missed from work during their training.

However, if the victim was employed at the time of the accident and missed work due to their injuries, they may be eligible to recover lost wages. In some cases, victims may also be able to recover future lost earnings if their injuries have caused them to miss out on job opportunities or promotions.

To learn more about recovering lost wages after an accident, victims should speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Trying to Get Back to Work After A Car Accident

After a car accident, it is important to take the time you need to recover both physically and mentally. Returning to work too soon can exacerbate your injuries and make them more difficult to heal.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you navigate your way back to the workplace:

  1. Follow up with your doctor’s appointments and get an accurate doctor’s note outlining any limitations for your return. Insurance companies often try to find loopholes and argue that you weren’t injured if you miss appointments. Going for appointments shows them that you are committed to your recovery.
  2. Don’t go back before you’re truly ready. Your health should always be your top priority. If your doctor allows you to return to work, try not to push yourself too hard. Communicate your limits with your supervisor or boss so you don’t end up straining.
  3. If you experience any symptoms upon returning to work, document them, as this could be used as evidence if you need to file a claim later on. Symptoms can include both physical and psychological complications. This information will help your doctors in treatment and also help build up your personal injury case.
  4. And lastly, it is always a good idea to contact a personal injury attorney after an accident, even if you’re not planning on pursuing legal action. They can offer guidance and support as you navigate this difficult time.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Los Angeles

If you have been injured in an accident, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and options and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact LA Century Law today for a free consultation.

What happens if I lose my job due to a car accident in California?

You’ll need to contact a lawyer if you believe the termination was unfair. A lawyer may help you bring a wrongful termination case. They may also help you file a claim with an insurance company for compensation, among other benefits.

What is the average payout for a car accident in California?

The average payout is $21,000. However, compensation will vary depending on the severity of the accident and injuries and other factors such as lost wages and property damage.

The Most Common Car Accident Injuries

Car accident victims may suffer severe injuries, trauma, and emotional and psychological pain from a life-changing collision. These injuries can affect any body part, leaving them with lifetime scars, pain, and suffering. A lot of money may be spent in the hospital treating these injuries, leaving victims drained financially.

When you suffer injuries in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, you can file a claim seeking compensation for the damages and injuries incurred. However, the compensation process is complicated.

Handling the matter alone can be challenging if you lack legal expertise. It is best to involve an experienced car accident attorney such as LA Century Law to guide and advise you on the way forward.

Most Common Injuries From Car Accidents

Some car accident injuries happen instantaneously, while other injuries take time to show up. Below are the common car crash injuries.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissue injuries, also known as whiplash, are the most common injuries from car accidents that cause muscles, tendons, and ligaments to overstretch. The injuries strain the muscles, ligaments, tendinitis, and other soft tissues.

Whiplash affects the upper back and the neck. Depending on the severity, soft tissue injuries can be painful and may take time to heal.

Back and Spine Injuries

Most car accident victims suffer back and spine injuries. The injuries affect the upper back, lower back, lumbar spine, and cervical spine. These injuries can be painful and severe. They can limit mobility and may cause permanent disability with long-lasting effects on the body.

Back injuries may delay showing up, so it is best to seek medical care immediately. While some injuries are not always permanent, they take time to heal. You may require physical therapy and other recommended medical care from your doctor.

Head Injuries

Head and brain injuries are serious car accident injuries that affect many accident victims. The injury occurs when you hit your head within the vehicle or outside when thrown out through the windshield.

Head injury symptoms may include bleeding from the ears or nose, bruises on the head, and skull fractures. They may cause bleeding in the brain, long-term injuries with headaches, and difficulties sleeping. You should seek immediate treatment because these injuries can be fatal if left untreated.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding can happen due to head trauma and damaged blood vessels. The common signs of internal bleeding include fainting, fatigue, abdominal pain, feeling cold, low blood pressure, blood in the urine, or when you vomit.

Your doctor will examine your body and rule out the possibility of internal bleeding. This emergency requires immediate medical attention because it can be fatal.

Arm and Leg Injuries

Accident victims may suffer arm and leg injuries due to side or front-end impacts in a car crash. This can happen if the passenger’s legs or arms make contact with the dashboard, causing bruises, sprains, broken bones, and scrapes on the leg and arms.


Some car accidents can cause fires and lead to burns. Also, you can receive burns if your skin comes in contact with hot surfaces and fluids, like your coffee cup flying from the crash. Depending on the severity of the injuries sustained, burns can be painful and may take several days to heal. Your doctor may recommend skin grafting and surgery depending on the burns you suffered.

Damages You Can Recover Following the Injuries You Sustained in a Car Accident

When you suffer injuries in a car accident, you will likely spend a lot of money on treatment. You may need to make multiple trips to the hospital until you recover from your injuries.

The expenses can impact you financially and emotionally if you do not seek compensation. Depending on your injuries, there are several damages you can recover:

  • Medical expenses you spent on treatment
  • Lost wages due to bed rest and inability to report to work
  • Loss of earning capacity or loss of future earnings
  • Pain and suffering you may have experienced from the accident
  • Loss of employment benefits such as holidays
  • Future medical expenses until you recover from your injuries
  • Transportation to and from the doctor appointments

Working with an experienced car accident attorney such as LA Century Law can increase your chances of higher compensation. We will analyze your case and advise you about the possibility of getting compensated for the damages you incurred. Our lawyers can also advise you about the type of damages you may recover, depending on the circumstances of your case.

Contact LA Century Law Car Accident Lawyers Today

Have you or your loved one recently sustained an injury in a car accident? Handling the matter alone can be challenging if you lack legal expertise. LA Century Law car accident lawyers are ready to listen to you, guide you, and fight for your rights.

We understand the pain, trauma, and confusion you might be experiencing during this difficult time. It is why we are here to help you. We encourage you to reach out and let us guide you accordingly. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Car Accident Injury FAQs

What should I do if I do not experience any physical injuries after a car accident?

Since some injuries take time to show up, you should not assume that you did not suffer any injury. Seek medical attention immediately.

How much money can I recover for my injuries from a car accident?

The amount you can recover depends on the severity of your injuries and the medical treatment you received from your doctor.

How can I recover maximum compensation for the injuries sustained in a car accident?

Working with an experienced car accident attorney can be ideal for recovering maximum compensation because the lawyer can fight and protect your rights.

What Happens If You Leave the Scene of a Car Accident?

Often following a car crash, it is common for drivers and victims of such accidents to be confused. When confusion sets in, they make the wrong decisions that may have serious legal implications. One of the common decisions made following an accident is the decision to leave the scene of the accident.

The decision to leave the accident scene constitutes a criminal offense commonly known as hit and run. It is a criminal offense that is prosecuted aggressively in California and may have severe implications for your record.

That said, most drivers don’t realize what they are getting into when they fail to stop after an accident. The law is stringent on such offenders, and they may end up serving jail time for this offense.

Here is what you need to know about California’s hit and run charges, how they are prosecuted, the potential penalties, and how a car accident lawyer from LA Century Law can help you avoid conviction.

Duty to Stop

Rights are always accompanied by a subsequent obligation. In this case, a driver on the road has an obligation or a duty to take care not to harm or put other road users in harm’s way. What’s more, in the event of an accident, the law requires the driver to stop immediately at the scene of the accident regardless of the magnitude of the accident.

The law requires drivers to do the following after an accident:

  • Locate the owner of the other vehicle and exchange pertinent information and any documentation
  • Report the accident to the police immediately
  • In case of injury, you must provide reasonable assistance, including locating emergency officials

That said, if you fail to follow the steps outlined above, you may end up being charged with the offense of hit and run.

Hit and Run Involving Property Damage

Under California’s law, hit and run can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The offense will be classified as a misdemeanor if it involves property damage, and it may be classified as a felony if it involves injury or death.

That said, California’s Vehicle Code Section 20002 provides the following steps after an accident involving property damage:

  • Stop immediately at the scene of the accident
  • Exchange information with the person in control of the damaged property or the owner of the damaged property

If you fail to follow these steps, you will be regarded as having committed a hit and run misdemeanor. Noteworthy is that if the property is damaged and the owner of the property is nowhere in sight, you are required to leave a note highlighting the circumstances of the accident and, at the same time, report the accident to the local police or California Highway Patrol.

Hit and Run Leading Involving Injury or Death

You will be charged with a felony if you fail to stop after a car accident that leads to an injury or death. Section 20001 of the California Vehicle Code requires drivers to do the following after an accident:

  • Stop immediately at the scene of the accident
  • Exchange information with the other party or any other party at the scene of the accident.
  • Provide reasonable assistance to the injured person
  • Report the accident to the local police or California Highway Patrol

What Are the Potential Penalties for a Hit and Run Charge in California?

If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony hit and run in California and successfully convicted, you may face stringent penalties provided under California’s law.

A hit and run charge involving property damage is typically classified as a misdemeanor. Being a misdemeanor, the penalties are slightly less stringent when compared to a felony. In this regard, you are likely to be subjected to 180 days in county jail, three years of informal probation, and court fines of up to $1000. Furthermore, the court may place an order of restitution to the victim.

A hit and run involving injury or death is deemed a “wobbler.” This means that it may be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the offense. For instance, if the accident resulted in death or if you have a previous criminal record, the prosecution may decide to charge the offense as a felony.

In case of a felony, upon conviction, you are likely to face up to three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. You risk having your license suspended if you have other vehicle code violations.

That said, a hit and run accident involving death may lead to what is commonly known as a wrongful death claim against the tortfeasor. This makes the situation even more complex. If you are involved in a hit and run incident, you need to hire an attorney immediately. This should be one of the key steps you should undertake following an accident. An attorney at LA Century Law will weigh the options available and help you make an informed choice.

Should You Hire an Attorney for a Hit and Run Charge in California?

If you’ve been charged with a hit and run, you need to seek help from an attorney immediately. You may, for example, end up facing a felony charge, which may be able to be classified as just a misdemeanor if you had an attorney.

A competent and qualified attorney at the LA Century Law will build a robust defense that ensures the charges are dropped or dismissed.

Contact LA Century Law Today

If you find yourself in a car accident, you need to contact a reputable attorney immediately. With LA Century Law, you can trust our experienced and skilled attorneys to help steer your case in the right direction. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.


Car Accident Settlement Payouts in California

Most car accident claims resolve with a settlement. That makes it essential for car accident victims to understand what a settlement is and how settlement payouts work in California.

LA Century Law has recovered millions of dollars for our clients in verdicts and settlements. It’s easy to work with us. We explain car accident settlement payouts in California.

What Is a Settlement in a Car Accident Case?

A settlement in a car accident case is an agreement to resolve the case. The parties reach a mutual agreement on how to resolve the case, usually with the defendant paying an amount to the plaintiff.

The defendant or their insurance carrier will pay a settlement amount in exchange for a release against the party responsible for the crash or incident.

What’s included in a car accident settlement?

A car accident settlement may include all the losses and damages you have due to an accident. Physical injury, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and property damage may all be included in a car accident settlement. Each car accident settlement should specify what is included and whether it is a complete resolution of the claim.

Is a settlement the same thing as a judgment at trial?

A settlement is an enforceable judgment, just like a trial verdict. It is harder for either party to appeal than a trial verdict because the parties enter into it voluntarily. Once it’s entered, a settlement is binding on both parties, and the defendant or their insurance carrier must pay the agreed-upon amount.

What Damages Can Be Part of a California Car Accident Settlement?

Damages that can be a part of a California car accident settlement may include:

  • Emergency medical bills
  • Medical bills for treatment, including in the future
  • Physical therapy
  • Prescriptions, mobility support
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Incidental financial expenses
  • Replacement household services
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental health injuries and treatment
  • Emotional anguish
  • Disfigurement and lifestyle limitations
  • Wrongful death damages

Does the other side have to make a settlement offer?

Neither side has to make a settlement offer. When the victim prepares a strong case, the other side is more likely to approach settlement negotiations seriously as an effective way to resolve the case.

Do you have to accept a settlement offer?

Just like neither side has to extend a settlement offer, accepting a settlement offer is not mandatory. You may reject the offer and proceed with the case. If the parties are unable to resolve the case through a settlement, the case is resolved at trial.

Are settlement negotiations a part of every car accident case?

Usually, the courts facilitate the parties to participate in settlement negotiations. Rest assured, you’ll have opportunities to discuss settlement. In addition to formal proceedings like mediation, you may also approach settlement negotiations directly with the other party as you choose.

How long does it take to get paid once you have a settlement in a car accident case?

A settlement offer should contain a timeline for finalizing payment. Typically, you should expect to receive compensation within 30 days of finalizing the settlement.

How do you create a settlement for a car accident case?

To create a car accident case settlement, the parties must reduce the agreement to writing. They should state all the relevant terms in the document. Both parties should sign the agreement and date it. If the case is active in the courts, the settlement should be entered as a court judgment for a signature from the presiding judge.

What Should You Do If the Insurance Company Offers a Low Settlement?

If the insurance company doesn’t offer you a fair settlement, you should continue to build your claim and pursue it in the legal system. Review any reasons the insurance company gives to see if you should respond with more information or a counteroffer. Continue to build your case to put you in a strong position to take the case to trial, if necessary.

Does a settlement offer extend the statute of limitations?

No. A settlement offer does not extend the statute of limitations. Beware of the timelines that exist in the case, especially if you are approaching the deadline. The defense may try to stall the case, hoping you’ll miss the deadline. The statute of limitations is the same even if a party extends a settlement in the case.

Can you get a car accident settlement without filing a legal claim?

It is possible to get a car accident settlement without filing a legal claim. It may or may not be possible to receive a fair settlement without filing formally. Sometimes, formal legal proceedings are necessary.

Does a car accident settlement resolve the case faster?

Settling usually resolves the case faster than having a trial. You don’t have to wait for a trial date and take the time to present the case at trial. You may resolve the case by settlement at any time in the process.

If there are multiple defendants, can you reach a settlement with just one or some of them?

If a case has multiple defendants, you may reach a settlement with just one of them or some of them. The case proceeds with any parties who have not settled their legal claims.

Who decides the appropriate settlement amount?

No judge or third party decides the amount where the parties should settle the case. The parties each approach settlement negotiations with their impression of the value of the case. They discuss the appropriate settlement among themselves, although a neutral third party may facilitate negotiations.

How Can a California Lawyer Help With Car Accident Settlements?

As you pursue a car accident settlement in California, it’s important to know the approximate value of the case. It’s critical to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the case. In addition, it’s important to present the information strategically in negotiations. An experienced lawyer can help you approach your settlement effectively to maximize results.

Lawyers for Car Accident Settlement Payouts

At LA Century Law, we are experienced in negotiating car accident settlement payouts. See if you may qualify for a settlement and how we can help you receive a fair amount for your damages and suffering. Contact us today for a consultation.

What to Do After a Minor Car Accident in California

It’s common for drivers to assume most accidents are minor. However, you shouldn’t follow the same script when involved in an accident. 

Medical literature has found that there is no nexus between the severity of a car crash’s impact and the extent of an individual’s injuries. Even a relatively minor crash can have a significant impact on an individual’s body. Some of these injuries do not surface right away.

Every car accident should be taken seriously. Below are some steps to consider if you have been involved in a low impact matter in the event injuries surface at a later time.

1. Check for Injuries

Damage to a car is readily apparent. The human body is different. Injuries are not so apparent. Therefore, if you have been involved in a car accident it is worth reporting to a medical professional or specialist to assure there are no underlying injuries.

Some injuries such as internal bleeding manifest later, and can be devastating. After a crash, you could be numb, or your adrenaline could be heightened. That’s why you need to be assessed for any internal organ injuries. Besides having tests, listen to your body and note any health changes over time. 

2. Contact the Police

You’re not legally obligated to contact authorities, but it’s a prudent decision. Contacting the police establishes a record that can be used later in a personal injury claim. The police report is a priority evidence document, and you should get hold of it immediately. 

When speaking with authorities, give accurate information and describe the nature of the minor accident in detail.

3. Gather Information at the Scene

In any accident, you must gather all the necessary information from all drivers involved. You also need to capture all the details of the witnesses as they might provide valuable information that can support your injury claim in days to come. 

Remember, you want to recover financial compensation for the physical destruction of your car, medical expenses, and lost wages, among others. That’s why you should capture all fundamental details such as:

  • Names of drivers and witnesses
  • Drivers’ licenses
  • Addresses and phone numbers
  • Any other helpful personal information

4. Gather Video and Photographic Evidence of the Accident Scene

You need to capture clear images of the crash before the vehicles can be moved. You can also capture real-time videos of the scene to support your photos. Ensure the extent of the vehicle’s damages at different angles and capture lanes, streets, and the surrounding location. This information is a critical piece of evidence and will be used to determine fault. 

5. Don’t Admit Fault for the Crash

Accidents, even when minor, have the potential to turn into a battle of words and can even get physical. The other driver is trying to intimidate and force you into accepting blame. That’s why you should not engage until authorities have arrived. 

Importantly, you shouldn’t apologize for the accident, as this implies you’re at fault. You should never admit fault, even when you feel partially responsible for the accident. Don’t get emotional, as this could easily get out of control. Instead, allow police to conclude their investigations and answer all questions honestly. 

6. Contact Your Car Accident Lawyer

At this stage, you no longer need to handle matters independently. Instead, you need an experienced car accident lawyer who can guide you on the next steps to take to get the compensation you deserve. 

Contacting a lawyer means taking the matter to the next level. It’s not just a police case but also an official insurance claim that might involve some complex legal issues. So, you should reach out to a California accident lawyer who knows how to go about it. 

Your car accident lawyer will assist in filing forms, liaising with insurance companies, calculating compensation, and representing you in court if the matter proceeds to a judge for determination. 

7. Contact the Insurance Company

With the help of a car accident attorney, you should notify the insurance company and file your claims with the evidence you’ve gathered. 

Unfortunately, insurance companies use various underhand tactics to delay your claim process or to push you into accepting a lower offer than you deserve. Others might try to bully you into accepting fault for the accident.

Don’t let insurance companies brush you away. With a personal injury lawyer beside you, the field will be leveled. 

8. Report to California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)

You might feel you don’t need to report a minor accident to a government body. However, if the accident damages exceed $750, you must record it with the California DMV. Failure to report within ten days can lead to license suspension. 

Your auto accident attorney will ensure all the necessary reports will be made within the stipulated period. A California accident lawyer ensures you’ll be in compliance with state regulations.

Lawyers for Minor Car Accidents in California

At LA Century Law, we are experienced accident attorneys in California who are focused on representing our clients. As a result, we’ve handled many auto accidents with a positive outcome for our clients. 

We’re proud of our reputation with personal injury cases, and we’ve guided accident victims through the claims process for maximum compensation. 

Our customized approaches to personal injury cases and auto accidents enable us to develop a plan that meets the needs of your unique case. If you’ve been involved in a minor car accident, message us today for a consultation

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Settle the Case with the Other Driver’s Car Insurance Company?

You should not settle the matter with the other driver’s insurance company without the assistance of your personal injury lawyer. You might receive much lower than your full value. 

What If The Other Driver Does Not Have a Car Insurance Policy?

If you’re in an accident with an uninsured driver, you can get the necessary compensation from your insurance company if you have an uninsured motorist policy. 

Can I Recover Accident Damages if I Wasn’t Wearing a Seatbelt During Accident?

In California, drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt when the car is moving. However, if you were not wearing a seatbelt during the accident, you might still qualify for damages from the at-fault party.

Should I Handle My Car Accident Without Notifying Insurance?

As the name suggests, a minor accident doesn’t cause any significant harm or injury. As such, most people tend to take it lightly. The thought of not involving an insurance company is always on their mind, and most people will always go ahead with this idea. As a result, they end up settling the claim on their own.

But is it worth it? Should you handle the car accident without notifying your insurance company? Here’s what you need to know.

When Should You Consider Settling Without an Insurance Claim?

Most jurisdictions don’t have a law that mandates policyholders who get into a car accident to report the accident to their automobile insurer. California is no exception.

As such, reporting an accident to an insurance company isn’t an absolute requirement. Therefore, you can choose to consider settling without the insurance company. 

Most people engage in private settlement when and only when the accident is minor. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always help since something that appears to be a minor accident may actually be more serious.

That said, if you consider settling without insurance following an accident, you need to ensure that both of you are in agreement. The other driver ought to be comfortable with the mode of settlement. 

For instance, if the other driver finds it imperative to make a claim with their insurance, then you should also report the accident to your insurance company. However, if they are comfortable with direct payments, you can agree to this method as well.

Essentially, an agreement is crucial when determining whether to settle without insurance.

How Should You Settle in a Car Accident Without Insurance in California?

If you are satisfied that settling without involving an insurance company is the right way to go, you need to take steps that will ensure that you don’t compromise your rights or any of your interests in the future.

The following are some of the key steps:

Exchange contact information with the other driver

This is a crucial step after an accident. Typically, you need to exchange vital information such as the name, address, phone number and license number. Just in case, you might want to get their driver’s insurance information.

Take a picture of the damage

Taking pictures of the damage to both cars helps provide cogent evidence and may be used as proof of an accident when disputes arise in future. Furthermore, it can be used when computing the amount of compensation required.

Obtain a police report

Even when the accident is minor, it is imperative to have a copy of the police report containing all the accident details.

Get a quote from a mechanic

A mechanic’s quote will help determine the extent of the damage and the amount to pair it. You can also get multiple quotes from two to three reputable mechanics. This will help you weigh your options, and it will inform your decision about whether you want to proceed without the insurance company.

Maintain a record of all correspondence

It is important to keep a paper trail after making any payments. Documentation provides you with valid evidence as proof of the transactions that took place.

Draft a legal agreement

As this is a commercial transaction, you need to have a legally binding agreement. Essentially, such an agreement should be governed by the law of contract, which necessitates that there should be a valid offer, acceptance and consideration. What’s more, the parties involved should have the legal capacity to enter into such an agreement.

For the avoidance of doubt or error, you should contact a personal injury attorney who can help you draft such an agreement and ensure that it is legally binding.

Is Handling a Car Accident in California Without Insurance a Good Idea?

As noted earlier, you can sometimes handle a minor car accident without insurance.

However, there are benefits and risks to doing so. When in doubt, consult with an attorney immediately before making any decision that affects your rights and interests in the future.

Essentially, a competent and qualified personal injury attorney will help you weigh your options and advise you on the best option to take.

California’s Car Accident Statute of Limitations

California’s accident claims are governed by the statute of limitations. This statute provides the time limit for filing a personal injury claim within this jurisdiction. The law provides that a claimant who wishes to file a claim for compensation should do so within two years after the accident.

This means that a claim filed after two years may end up being thrown out for being time-barred. It’s best to file a personal injury suit or claim as soon as the accident occurs to avoid any legal hurdles that may arise in the claim process.

Need Help Handling a Car Accident Claim in California? Call LA Century Law!

If you or your loved one was involved in an accident, consult a competent and qualified attorney immediately. An attorney will help safeguard your rights and ensure that you make the right choice. They’ll provide you with a breakdown of the law that applies in your case and assist you in arriving at a more informed decision.

At LA Century Law, we have established experience handling car accident claims. We can help you make the right decision relating to your car accident. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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1880 Century Park East, Suite 1101 Los Angeles, CA 90067

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473 E. Carnegie Drive, Suite 200, San Bernardino, CA 92408

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111 Congress Ave., Suite 500 Austin, TX 78704

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1700 Post Oak Boulevard Houston, TX, 77056

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