| Read Time: 4 minutes | Auto Accidents

How Much to Expect from a Car Accident Settlement in California

If someone else causes an auto accident and you suffer damage, they are responsible for compensating you for that damage.  Auto accidents can happen in any manner of different ways. As a result, the extent and type of damage that they cause varies from case to case. Suppose you were in a California auto accident and are considering filing a legal claim to recover your losses. In that case, you will probably want to know how much you can expect to receive in any sort of settlement. After all, you will want to know whether starting a legal claim is worth your time and effort. If the amount of damages you will receive in a settlement is too small to justify initiating legal action, you might decide not to do it. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to tell how much you should expect in a California auto accident settlement. This is because there is no average auto accident or settlement to compare your case to. Still, you can come up with a rough estimate to help you decide on how you will proceed. The best way to estimate how much a settlement is worth is to add up the total damages you suffered. After you add up all your damages, you can apply the degree of fault to the total amount, and you will have your estimate. Damages The first thing you need to do to estimate your final settlement’s value is add up all the damages you suffered as a result of the accident. It is important to take your time and make a thorough inventory of all of the damages you suffered. If you miss something, it will throw off your estimate and make it less accurate. There are two categories of damages to account for in California: economic damages and noneconomic damages. Economic Damages Economic damages are the damages you suffer that have a tangible monetary value. Adding them all up is as simple as finding the bills you paid or checking your bank statement to account for any payments you made related to your accident and the subsequent damages you suffered. Economic damages come in many different forms. Use this list to help you start brainstorming about what economic damages you suffered: Emergency room visits, Prescription drugs, Emergency medical transportation, Property damage, Wages lost due to injury, Lost business opportunities, Vocational rehabilitation, Lost earning capacity, Household help, and Future medical expenses. Our list is not a complete one by any means. These are just a few types of economic damages that you might suffer from. The two key criteria in identifying economic damages are whether (1) the accident caused the damage and (2) the damage had an identifiable monetary value. Any sort of good or service that you had to pay for or income you lost as a result of the accident is a form of economic damage. Noneconomic Damages Unlike economic damages, noneconomic damages lack an identifiable, objective monetary value. For this reason, noneconomic damages are sometimes hard to identify. On top of that, it is often difficult to place a monetary value on them. After all, how can you put a price on something like the lost companionship of a loved one? Still, noneconomic damages are just as real as economic damages. If you suffer from them, you deserve compensation. Some types of noneconomic damages you might consider include: Loss of enjoyment of activities, Loss of companionship, Physical pain, Mental anguish, Loss of a bodily function, and Loss of reputation. Like economic damages, there are quite a few different types of noneconomic damages. Every person is unique, so the type of noneconomic damage that people suffer from is also unique. Despite the difficulty of estimating the value of noneconomic damages, experienced auto accident attorneys can make an educated prediction of what a given type of noneconomic damage is worth. With their prediction in mind, you can add the value of those noneconomic damages to your running damage total. Using Fault to Adjust Your Estimate Now that you have taken an inventory of all of your damages, you can add them up. With that sum, you are one step closer to having an estimate of your settlement’s value, but there is still one more step: apply your degree of fault to the sum of all damages. In California, the person who causes an accident is the one liable for damages. But accidents aren’t always caused by one person alone; other drivers may share the fault.  California accounts for drivers’ share of fault in the auto accident claims process by reducing the total compensation that a driver receives by their share of fault. For example, if you suffer $10,000 worth of damages in an accident and are 25% at fault for it, your settlement will see a 25% reduction to $7,500. Once you apply your degree of fault to your damages sum, you have an estimate of your settlement’s value. Considering Filing a California Auto Accident Claim? The best thing you can do to ensure that you have an accurate estimate of your settlement’s worth is to consult with an experienced auto accident attorney. Particularly concerning non-economic damages, auto accident lawyers know how much given types of damage are worth, so you can take the guesswork out of your estimate with their help. The auto accident lawyers here at Silva Injury Law, Inc. have considerable experience helping clients estimate the worth of their claim and recover the full amount. Our mission is to approach the legal process with the utmost care, compassion, and professionalism. If you were in an auto accident, get the compensation you deserve. Contact us at Silva Injury Law, Inc. today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Auto Accidents

How to Get Your Turlock Police Accident Report

A police report can serve as crucial evidence in an auto accident claim and under many other scenarios. Fortunately, you can usually obtain a Turlock police report without a lot of difficulties. You will need to prove some involvement in the accident or incident, however. Obtaining a police report is more difficult if a minor was involved in the incident. The Usual Procedure You should complete a Request for Release of a Police Report to initiate the process. This form is available through the foregoing link, or at the Turlock Police Records Unit (209-668-5550 ext. 6600).  You can submit your request form online, by fax, by surface mail, or in person at the Police Records Unit. You will receive a paper copy of your report in person, by fax, or by surface mail at the address included in your request.  Involved Parties You must include a copy of your driver’s license to prove that you are an “involved party”—a victim, a driver, a passenger, a property owner, or the registered owner of an involved vehicle. Parents of involved minors may also obtain a police report by submitting a request together with a driver license copy. Special Case: Minors (Under 18) Applicable law restricts the public release of a minor’s name in a police report. For this reason, access to a police report is restricted if the report contains information about a minor.  If you seek to obtain a police report regarding an accident or incident involving a minor, you must appear in person at the police department and fill out a form asking a superior court judge to issue an order to release the police report.  Either a notary public or a police department employee must witness you signing this document. The entire process takes about two weeks, and your request could be denied. Insurance Company Requests for Accident Reports An insurance company may request a report about your accident to determine whether to pay a claim (yours or a third party’s). An insurance company seeking a copy of a report of an accident in Turlock must obtain it from Buy Crash (www.buycrash.com), which partners with the Turlock Police Department. Redactions The police department may redact (black out) certain sections of your copy of the police report to comply with applicable laws. In particular, the police department will redact any investigative report. Fee A copy of a police report is free of charge unless it exceeds 15 pages. If it does, you must pay a fee of 15 cents per additional page. Let’s Make It Happen Together If you have been injured through the negligence or wrongdoing of someone else, there is no reason why you should bear all the consequences on your own. At Silva Injury Law, Inc. we believe in compassionate advocacy and in negotiation where possible. Nevertheless, we are ready to fight to the finish if necessary to make sure our clients are treated fairly. Call us at 831-201-5036 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Auto Accidents

How to Get Your Monterey Police Accident Report

Driver’s school teaches us how to drive safely and avoid accidents. However, driver’s school doesn’t always prepare us for what happens after an auto crash accident. After an auto crash accident, California law requires drivers, in most instances, to report the accident to local law enforcement. The report that the responding law enforcement officer fills out becomes public record and acts as supporting evidence in all legal claims or charges related to the accident. Thus, if you need to file a claim after a crash, having a copy of the auto crash accident report, with all its details of the crash, is crucially important. Not everyone has had to request an accident report before, so read on for more information on how to get your Monterey police accident report. Reporting an Accident in California In California, the only accidents that do not require reporting to local law enforcement are ones where no one suffers injury or where no more than $1,000 of property damage occurs. Drivers who fail to report an accident to the relevant law enforcement agency can face up to one year of imprisonment, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. To protect yourself from such a punishment, always notify law enforcement when you are in an auto crash accident. In addition to reporting accidents to law enforcement agencies, California law requires drivers to report all accidents to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Failure to report a traffic accident to the DMV within ten days of its occurrence can lead to up to one year of driver license suspension. It is important to note that drivers are responsible for making this report themselves. Law enforcement agencies do not forward their own accident reports to the California DMV. Where Do I Get My Accident Report? There are two places you can go to obtain a copy of your Monterey accident report. Depending on where your accident occurs and who responds to it, either the Monterey Police Department or the California Highway Patrol will have your accident report on file. Getting Your Accident Report from the Monterey Police Department If your auto crash accident happens within Monterey city limits, the Monterey Police Department is the law enforcement agency that will respond. If that happens, you can get a copy of your accident report directly from the department for a nominal fee of $.10 per page. The City of Monterey’s website has a portal for submitting records requests that includes a link directly to the police record request form. You can submit the form online, by mail, or in person. To submit the request, email the completed form to mpdrecords@monterey.org, mail it to the Monterey Police Department headquarters at 351 Madison Street, Monterey, CA 93940, or submit it in person to the same address during business hours. To prove your identity, you must bring your government-issued identification with you in person or attach a copy to your email or letter. Getting Your Accident Report from California Highway Patrol If your accident occurs on a highway near Monterey, California Highway Patrol (CHP) will likely respond to the accident and submit the related report. If you need to get a copy of your auto crash accident from CHP, they will handle your request directly. Auto crash accident reports from CHP cost $10.00 for every 25 pages. You can find the CHP form online on their website or in person at your nearest CHP office. You can submit your request form to CHP either in person or by mail. You can find the CHP office closest to Monterey at 960 East Blanco Road, Salinas, CA 93901. This CHP office is open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Hiring a Lawyer After a Monterey Auto Accident Speaking with a legal practitioner after an auto crash accident is always a good idea. Even if the damages in your accident appear to be relatively minor, an auto crash attorney can help you avoid any unsavory surprises during the claims process. The Monterey auto crash lawyers here at Silva Injury Law, Inc. have helped countless clients get their life back on track after Monterey auto crash accidents and are eager to help you in any way that you need. At Silva Injury Law, Inc., we don’t take a cookie-cutter approach in serving our clients. Instead, we work with you directly to craft a legal strategy that fits your needs. Don’t settle for a generic law firm that is eager to start fights and create problems. Instead, go with the Monterey auto crash accident attorneys who pride themselves on being problem solvers. Contact Silva Injury Law, Inc. today for a free consultation!

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Auto Accidents

How to Get Your Modesto Police Accident Report

Getting a copy of your accident report from law enforcement is not something we do every day. However, obtaining the report is an important step to take after you are in an auto vehicle accident. The accident report provides important details—like who is at fault for how much of the accident—that will dictate which driver is responsible for compensating the other. So if you need to get a copy of your accident report in Modesto, CA, but don’t know where to start, read our guide below. Why Filing an Accident Report Is Important Filing an accident report isn’t just important for recovering damages after the accident. On top of its crucial role in the claims process, the California Vehicle Code requires drivers to report accidents to local law enforcement agencies in most circumstances. Drivers must report auto vehicle accidents to law enforcement if someone is injured, someone dies, or property damage of more than $1,000 occurs. The law enforcement officer who responds to the accident then files the report. Drivers who fail to notify law enforcement of an accident may face jail time of up to one year, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. On top of reporting to law enforcement, drivers must also file an accident report with the California Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days of an accident. A driver who fails to do so can face up to one year of license suspension. Reporting to the DMV is entirely separate from the police report but equally important. Getting Your Accident Report from the Right Agency Where you get your accident report depends on the law enforcement agency that responds to your accident. If your accident is within Modesto city limits, the Modesto Police Department will respond, and you will request your accident report from them. If the accident occurs on a highway, the California Highway Patrol will respond, and they will have your accident report on file. Getting Your Accident Report from the Modesto Police Department Getting your accident report from the Modesto Police Department is as simple as filling out their police report request form. The form will ask for details about your accident, like date, time, and location. You can file your completed police report request form in person or by mail with the Modesto Police headquarters. The headquarters is at 600 10th Street, Modesto, CA 95354. You can submit report request forms in person on Mondays and Tuesdays between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM, or Wednesday and Thursday between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Reports cost $.10 per page, and you must bring a valid photo ID.  Getting Your Accident Report from California Highway Patrol If your accident occurs on an interstate highway outside of Modesto, California Highway Patrol (CHP) will likely respond to the accident and file the subsequent report. If CHP responds to your crash, you can request a copy of your accident report through them directly. You can find the form here or in person at your local CHP office. The reports cost $10.00 for every 25 pages, and you can submit your request by mail or in person. You will find the Modesto CHP office at 4030 Kiernan Avenue, Modesto, CA 95356. They are open to the public from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Contact Silva Injury Law for Help Today If you need help with any aspect of the claims process after your Modesto auto vehicle accident, the auto collision attorneys at Silva Injury Law, Inc. are here for you. The operating principles of our law firm are twofold. First, we strive to be decent human beings in every aspect of our legal practice, no matter who we are interacting with. Second, and equally important, our job isn’t to start fights. It’s to solve problems. That’s what we are here for, and that’s what our auto collision lawyers are committed to doing. Contact us today for help with your Modesto auto vehicle accident claim!

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Auto Accidents

How to Get Your Merced Police Accident Report

When you begin the auto collision accident claims process, it is important to obtain a copy of your accident report from your local police. An accident report contains important crash details that will affect your accident claim. Most notably, your California crash report will include evidence about your degree of fault in the accident. Not everyone has requested an auto collision accident report from the police, however, and it is not always clear how to do so. If you are in Merced, California, and you need a copy of your accident report, read on for instructions. Always Be Sure to Report Your Accident The claims process is not the only reason you should file a report after an auto collision accident. Division 10 of the California Vehicle Code requires drivers to report all auto collision accidents to local law enforcement agencies. Failure to notify law enforcement is a misdemeanor. If someone is injured in the accident, failure to report is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine between $1,000 and $10,000, or both. If only property damage occurs, the fine is no more than $1,000, and the potential jail time is no more than six months.  Drivers must also report accidents to the California Department of Motor Vehicles if injury, death, or property damage of over $1,000 occurs. It is important to note that a police report does not fulfill this requirement. Drivers who fail to report an accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within ten days of the accident may face driver license suspension for up to one year. Getting Your Accident Report in Merced If your accident was in Merced, California, there are two primary ways to obtain your auto collision accident’s police report. Where you obtain your accident report depends on what law enforcement agency responds to your accident. Requests for the Merced Police Department If the Merced Police Department responds to your accident, you can obtain a copy of your accident report from them. The City of Merced website has an online portal with information on requesting official documents. There, you will find a link to the records request form. If you need help with parts of the form, like the incident number, you can call the Merced Police Department for help at 209-385-6912. You can submit your request in person at the Merced Police Station Records Department located at 611 W. 22nd Street, Merced, CA 95340. Their hours of operation are 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Thursday, and Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The report costs $7.50. Requests for California Highway Patrol If your accident occurs on an interstate highway, California Highway Patrol (CHP) will likely respond to the accident and file the report. If that happens, you can request a copy of your accident report through CHP directly. The reports cost $10.00 for every 25 pages. You can find the form here or in person at your local CHP office, where you can submit the form in person or by mail. The Merced County CHP office is at 1500 Bell Drive, Merced, CA 95301. They are open to the public from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. Should I Hire an Attorney After a Merced Auto Collision Accident? Whatever happens in an auto collision accident, it is always helpful to consult with an auto collision attorney afterward. Your lawyer will advise you on your best course of action to recover all the damages you suffer and alleviate the stress of the claims process. The auto collision lawyers at Silva Injury Law, Inc. have considerable experience helping victims of auto collision accidents solve the problems they face during the claims process and always strive to do so in the most efficient and respectful manner. Let us help you. Contact us today.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Auto Accidents

Parking Lot Accident Injury Claims In California

Automobile accidents can happen anywhere, and parking lots are no exception. Many parking lot accidents occur due to one or both drivers failing to pay attention to their surroundings. As parking lots can become crowded and busy, it can be easy for drivers to miss something and cause an accident. Whether it be adjusting the radio or air conditioning, or being preoccupied looking for a parking spot, distractions are frequent in parking lots. If you are involved in an accident in a parking lot in California, be sure to document the accident. Document the scene, report the accident to insurance companies, and if you sustain an injury as a result of the accident, contact a personal injury attorney who can assist you in pursuing compensation for your injuries. COMMON ACCIDENTS IN PARKING LOTS Given the busy nature of parking lots, accidents are common. The following are types of accidents which occur frequently in parking lots: Rear-end collisions due to a car stopping short Turning unexpectedly and rapidly in front of oncoming traffic Backing out of a spot without looking properly behind Driving the wrong way Driving through a crosswalk or a stop sign within the parking lot Driving at an unsafe speed Thankfully, the majority of parking lot accidents are minor in nature as they tend to occur at low speeds. However, if a pedestrian or high speed are involved in the accident, the injuries may be substantially more severe. Pedestrians who are knocked to the ground may suffer from a variety of minor to serous injuries, such as back or head injuries POTENTIAL LIABILITY FOR DRIVERS Drivers of vehicles who cause damage due to their negligence or wrongdoing can be held liable for injuries others obtain. In California, all drivers are required to use reasonable care to operate their vehicle, SUV, or truck safely so as to avoid causing harm to others. When a driver fails to look in the rear and side mirrors before baking out, drives too fast, ignores lights, signs and markings in a parking lot they may have breached a legal duty. POTENTIAL LIABILITY FOR PROPERTY OWNERS Property owners in California can be liable for injuries which result from dangerous conditions on their property which they either knew about or should have known about. Therefore, the owner of a parking structure or lot may be liable if they fail to maintain the property in a safe manner. This may involve an owner failing to make repairs, to provide proper staffing and training for staff, having inadequate lighting, failing to mark the proper directions of travel in narrow lanes, failing to mark crosswalks for pedestrians, or having improper designs for parking areas which can create an unreasonable risk of harm to parties near or in the area. Additionally, pedestrians may slip and fall on unmarked curbs or slimy concrete. Parking lot owners may be liable for injuries that are a result of these conditions. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY If you have been injured in a parking lot due to the negligence of another driver or the owner of the parking lot, reach out to an attorney. A skilled attorney at Silva Injury Law will assess your case for free and help you pursue compensation for your injuries.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Auto Accidents

Personal Injury Claims Against CALTRANS

The state of California has both its own pathway and repair construction agency, commonly known as “Caltrans.” Caltrans falls underneath the California Department of Transportation (“DOT”) and manages California’s highway system, including both the Expressway System and California Freeway. Caltrans is also involved in the state’s public transportation systems.   Of the many automobile accidents that occur throughout California, some are caused by conditions of the roads, and in many instances, due to falling objections or debris from Caltrans workers.   If you have been involved in an automobile accident which was triggered by the negligence of contractors or state Caltrans employees, speak to an attorney who can help you receive any compensation you may be entitled to.   DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION’S RESPONSIBILITES   Caltrans is responsible for making repairs on the roadways. It is also responsible for warning drivers of dangers or treats on the roadway. When Caltrans is aware of a danger and fails to disclose and warn, this is considered reckless and negligent.   In addition, the organization is required to fix the freeway when necessary, to repair and provide highway guardrails, and repair any missing or damaged medians. When construction zones are set up, the organization is required to warn drivers of the dangers. This means that drivers must be advised when hazards such as sinkholes or open trenches are present.   Additionally, Caltrans is required to give appropriate training to all their employees and personnel. The failure of Caltrans to satisfy their duties can lead to serious injury and even death.   POTENTIAL DANGERS CAUSED BY CALTRANS NEGLIGENCE   Caltrans may be held liable when an accident and subsequent injury is caused by the state’s construction, repairs, failure to meet warning requirements, metro department, etc.   Examples of dangers which may commonly be caused by Caltrans negligence include the following:   Potholes: When a pothole goes unrepaired it can lead to lasting and significant damage. Objects Falling: Falling concrete, dust from cement or construction, or other materials can fall and create an accident. Repair Vehicles: Caltrans has a significant amount of repair vehicles on and around roads throughout California. When these repair vehicles do not have their supplies, equipment, cargo or chemicals controlled and secured properly, they present a risk for accidents. Manhole Covers: When Caltrans fails to install a proper covering for a manhole or trench, it can create a hazard to drivers and pedestrians. An uncovered manhole can cause significant damage to a vehicle and injuries to passengers, or even cause a pedestrian to fall leading to injury or death.   COMMON INJUIRES RELATED TO CALTRANS NEGLIGENCE   Caltrans negligence can lead to a variety of injuries. These injures can range from minor to severe. Common examples include the following:   Damage to car frame Blown tires and bent wheels Broken windows and windshields Scratches and dents Head wounds Abrasions and Lacerations Damage to eyesight Hearing loss Disfigurement and amputation Lasting psychological trauma Death   SEEK HELP IF YOU HAVE SUFFERED DUE TO CALTRANS NEGLIGENCE   If you been involved in an accident caused by Caltrans negligence, you may be able to receive compensation for your damages. Reach out to a qualified attorney at Silva Injury Law who can represent you and your rights and ensure the responsible parties pay for your damages.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Auto Accidents

Intersection and Left Turn Car Accidents Injury Claims in California

If you have been involved in a left turn or intersection automobile accident, reach out to the attorneys at Silva Injury Law who can assess your case and help you obtain any compensation you deserve.   PREVALENCE OF LEFT-HAND TURN ACCIDENTS   A significant number of motorist accidents occur when a driver is making a left-hand turn across oncoming traffic. This is especially common at intersections. These types of turns require that a driver not only be fully aware of the vehicles driving in the opposite direction, but also pedestrians and bicyclists who are crossing the street. On busy roadways with significant activity, if a driver misjudges the turn, is not paying attention, or is distracted, the turn can result in a number of damages to other vehicles, drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists.   The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that accidents due to left-hand turns account for the largest number of crashes, making up approximately 22%. Within these accidents, the vast majority are regarded as due to driver error.   The errors made by drivers typically include “inadequate surveillance” and “decision errors.”  This essentially means that the driver turning left did not ensure that it was safe to turn. This often means they did not adequately check for pedestrians, bicycles or other vehicles. Decision errors occur when a driver misjudges another driver or person’s actions, makes a turn without having a full view, or performs a maneuver that is illegal.   When an automobile makes a left turn and collides with another car, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian, there is a substantial likelihood of injury that can be both serious and fatal. These injuries can lead to claims for significant damages and possibly wrongful death claims.   LIABILITY IN LEFT-HAND TURN ACCIDENTS   Under California law, a driver who is turning left must yield the right of way to the oncoming vehicles and must make sure they have the adequate space to make a complete turn without interrupting the oncoming traffic. This is why that in the majority of cases involving a left-hand turn accident, the driver who attempted to make the left turn is found to be liable for the accident. This is not always the case, however, and there are a number of exceptions, such as:   The car going straight through the intersection ran a red light. The car going through the intersection was speeding. The other driver was operating their vehicle either illegally or distracted. Unforeseen circumstances, such as an animal or obstacle wanders to the roadway.   REACH OUT TO AN ATTORNEY IF YOU HAVE BEEN INJURED IN A CAR ACCIDENT   Insurance companies and their claim adjusters may seek to limit or deny claims related to left-turn injuries. Having an experienced attorney on your case can ensure you receive the appropriate financial compensation for your injuries and damages. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a left-hand turn accident, you should reach out to an attorney at Silva Injury Law today.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Auto Accidents

Weather-Related Car Accident Injury in California

An average of 5,000 people are killed and another 418,000 people injured in weather-related crashes according to the Federal Highway Administration. Heavy rain, ice, snow, fog and other poor weather conditions contribute to car crashes. Despite driving safely, bad weather causes a significant increase in the likelihood of being in a car accident. Poor weather conditions not only cause more difficult driving conditions, they also make it more difficult to prove negligence in an accident. It is therefore extremely helpful to have proper legal representation if you were injured in a weather-related collision, as an attorney can help you seek compensation for the damages you sustained.   The attorneys at Silva Injury Law know how to handle cases that involve questions of liability. If you have been involved in a weather-related car accident, contact our team today to learn about your possible legal options.   THE DANGERS OF DRIVING IN INCLEMENT WEATHER   The Department of Transportation identifies a number of hazardous conditions which contribute to weather-related crashes. These hazards include rain, snow, sleet, fog, and ice. These various conditions impact driving ability as roads become wet and slick, visibility is decreased, and it becomes more difficult to control a vehicle.   Wet roads following a rainstorm are a specifically dangerous threat to safe driving, being the largest contributor at 73 percent of all weather-related crashes. Rain often causes vehicles to lose traction, which can result in a vehicle completely losing contact with the asphalt. Another 46 percent of weather-related accidents occur during rainfall. Fog and other winter hazards are also large contributors of weather-related car accidents.   Visibility is a significant factor in the majority of weather-related accidents. When there is blinding rain, snow, or dense fog, the visibility can decrease to a point that it may not even be safe to drive. Additionally, the existence of hazardous conditions may require speed reductions on freeways, a disruption in timing of traffic signals and potential road closures and rerouted traffic patterns.   DETERMINING FAULT IN A WEATHER-RELATED CAR ACCIDENT   Drivers always have a legal duty to drive in a responsible manner, regardless of the weather conditions. This means following the speed limit, obeying rules of the road, and taking all steps to prevent possible collisions. When poor weather conditions are involved, drivers are responsible for adjusting their speed and driving with more caution.   When it comes to car accidents, liability is based on negligence. Inclement weather alone is not generally a proximate cause of a car accident but is regarded as an additional factor to be considered when determining fault, and in determining whether the driver was negligent.   Even when weather-related factors contribute to a crash, a driver may still be at fault for not using extra care to avoid the collusion.     TIPS FOR DRIVING SAFELY IN IMPAIRED WEATHER CONDITIONS   When driving in impaired conditions, it is important that you practice driving defensively in order to prevent collisions. Before you begin driving it is crucial to determine that brakes, brake lights, tires and windshield wipers are in optimal condition. Remember that speed limits are based on optimal driving conditions, so when conditions are poor, reduce speed. As always, it is important to stay focused on the road, increase the distance between the nearest vehicle, and adapt to the changing conditions. Remember that poor weather does not absolve a driver of possible responsibility in a car accident, and they can still be liable for any damages incurred.     If you have been injured in a weather-related car accident, speak to an attorney at Silva Injury Law to determine if you have the right to compensation for your damages.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Auto Accidents

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Arbitration

When a person is injured in a car accident caused by the negligence of another driver, the injured party may make a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance for their damages. What often occurs, however, is that the negligent driver’s insurance policy limit is insufficient to cover the damages, or the negligent driver has no insurance at all. In this instance, the injured party may be able to make a claim to their own insurer to cover all or the remaining damages. The feasibility of this depends on individual policies and will not be triggered unless the negligent driver’s insurance policy limits have been collected.   THE ROLE OF ARBITRATION   Regardless of whether the claim is due to an uninsured or underinsured motorist, when the insured injured party and their insurance company are unable to agree on the amount of the claim, California Vehicle Code §11580.2(f) requires that it must be set for arbitration.  This is considered to be a condition precedent to the payment of policy benefits, therefore unless there are unusual circumstances, arbitration must occur before the insured-injured party brings suit against the insurer.   Arbitration is required before an injured party can file suit against their own insurance whether it be due to the insurance company’s unwillingness to pay or bad faith offers and negotiations. California law requires that insurance companies act in good faith to come to an agreement with the insured party before the parties go to arbitration. However, if an insurance company fails to act in good faith, following arbitration the injured-insured party can file suit. POTENTIAL BAD FAITH CLAIMS   The outcome of arbitration often makes it clear whether or not there is a potential bad faith case against the insurance company. When the outcome of arbitration is an award significantly greater than the offers from the insurance company before arbitration, this is very strong evidence that the insurance company made the offer in bad faith. On the other side, however, when the arbitration award is either the same or similar to the amount initially offered by the insurer during pre-arbitration, it makes it significantly more difficult to have a viable bad faith case against the insurance company.   When the bad faith actions of the insurance company require the parties to go to arbitration, and the injured-insured party subsequently sues the insurance company, the insured can seek damages costs associated with their expenses related to the arbitration. This includes any attorney’s fees or costs. The costs of an attorney to represent the insured in arbitration are often one of the main elements of economic damages sought in bad faith actions.   SEEK LEGAL REPRESENTATION Ultimately, when an insured party is injured by either an underinsured or uninsured motorist, they can seek a claim from their insurance. If they are unable to agree on the amount of loss with the insurance company, it is most likely they will have to go to arbitration in order to pursue compensation. Given the stakes of arbitration, the insured party should always seek legal representation. An attorney will be best able to handle the claim and represent the insured-injured party in arbitration, as well as any subsequent bad faith actions against the insurer.   Contact the attorneys at Silva Injury Law if you were injured in an automobile accident and have not been fairly compensated for your damages.  

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