Whether you’re on the 405 or in your own neighborhood, a Los Angeles car accident can occur anywhere and at any time. If you find yourself unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, you may face unexpected repair costs and medical bills.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might encounter additional challenges like not being able to work or having a permanent injury that results in a disability. Thankfully, the law offers car crash victims the opportunity to recover damages as a form of compensation for the accident.
In this article, we’ll take a look at common types of car accident injuries, the compensation process and what to expect following a car accident in Los Angeles.
Common car accident injuries
Los Angeles is one of the largest cities in the United States. This means it has its fair share of injuries and deaths from car accidents. Traffic fatalities are especially troubling and occur roughly once every 36 hours. Even more disturbing is the fact that traffic collisions are the leading cause of death in children in Los Angeles.
Luckily, most car accidents in Los Angeles, California do not lead to someone’s death. However, below are some of the more common types of injuries that result from motor vehicle accidents.
- Whiplash: A type of injury to the head and neck. Whiplash injuries are common in rear-end collisions where the head and neck are violently slammed against the seat
- Back injuries: These refer to injuries to the spine, back muscles, herniated discs and fractured vertebrae. Back injuries typically occur in either head-on or rear-end collisions. Back injuries can also occur if the occupant is thrown from the vehicle or in a side-impact accident.
- Broken bones: Car accidents that result in broken bones are usually quite severe. Head-on collisions, rollovers and side-impact accidents are all commonly associated with broken bones. The most commonly broken bones are located in the chest, arms and legs.
- Traumatic brain injuries: A traumatic brain injury is one of the worst types of injuries from car accidents. They can often leave a car accident survivor unable to care for themselves. A traumatic brain injury is more likely in older vehicles that lack extensive airbag curtain systems or when an occupant is not wearing a seatbelt.
- Soft tissue injuries: Describes trauma to muscles, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. While many soft tissue injuries are relatively minor, they can still be quite painful. Soft tissue injuries can occur in any type of accident.
- Lacerations: Whether it’s from flying debris or broken glass, deep cuts are among the most common types of injuries from car crashes. Almost any type of car accident can result in lacerations.
- Injuries to internal organs: Among the most dangerous injuries from car accidents, these can sometimes lead to death due to undetected internal bleeding. It normally takes a high-speed crash to result in injuries to internal organs.
Car accident hot spots in Los Angeles
Using data from the Los Angeles Police Department, Crosstown identified the most dangerous intersections in Los Angeles in terms of the number of collisions in 2019. The top five intersections included:
- Sherman Way and Sepulveda Boulevard
- Manchester Avenue and Figueroa Street
- Burbank Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard
- Van Nuys Boulevard and Roscoe Boulevard
- Western Avenue and Slauson Avenue
But it’s not just intersections that have a lot of accidents. Several roadways have their fair share of vehicle collisions too:
- Interstate 405 (also known as The 405)
- California State Route 22 (also known as SR-22)
- Hollywood Freeway (also known as The 101)
- Interstate 5
What to do after a car accident injury
You’ll want to do the following if you are in an accident while driving in LA.
First, check to see if there are any injuries. If so, dial 9-1-1.
Second, obtain the names, contact information and insurance information of anyone involved in the car accident. If there are any witnesses to the accident, get their names and contact information.
Third, gather as much evidence about the accident as possible. This includes taking pictures of any damages or road conditions that may have played a role in causing the accident.
Fourth, write out everything you can remember about the accident the moment you get a chance to do so. These notes will be useful if you decide to file a car accident claim with your car insurance company or get involved in any litigation.
Fifth, report the LA car accident to your car insurance company.
Sixth, consult with an attorney about your accident. This especially important if you or someone in your vehicle got seriously hurt due to the fault of the other driver.
Los Angeles car accident statistics
As California’s largest city, Los Angeles has a lot of car accidents that result in injuries. Therefore, the types of accidents that occur throughout the state of California are also occurring in Los Angeles.
Given the complexity of injuries stemming from a car accident, statistics about car accident injuries are sparse. But the California Highway Patrol has general data about broad categories of car accident injuries.
In 2017, there were a total of 281,064 total injuries and deaths from California car crashes. Much of that total consisted of:
- 3,904 fatalities
- 11,713 severe injuries
- 174,210 complaints of pain
- 9,746 suspected minor injuries
- 18,623 possible injuries
Given these numbers, it’s no wonder that car accidents in Los Angeles sometimes require the services of an attorney.
Should I get a lawyer for a car accident?
As a general rule of thumb, the more serious the accident in terms of property damage or personal injuries, the more you want to find an attorney. This is especially true if there are serious injuries.
The presence of injuries is important because they can lead to very high bills from extensive medical care. Also, some injuries take a while to discover after the accident or can be difficult to prove.
Accidents that only result in property damage are often easier to handle and don’t normally require a lawyer. One is because it’s easier to calculate the damage to a vehicle than injuries to a person. Also, there’s usually less money at stake.
If you were involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, but you don’t have car insurance, your options for recovery are limited and will depend on what state you’re in. Some states, like California, have special laws that restrict the kind of damages you can recover if injured in a car accident that someone else caused.
Another consideration is that if you try to ask the at-fault driver to pay for your injuries or vehicle damage, you might get what you ask for. But you will also potentially face criminal and civil penalties for violating California law requiring valid car insurance while operating a motor vehicle.
How to find a lawyer for a car accident?
Finding legal representation to help you following an accident isn’t that hard. However, not all car accident lawyers are the same. When deciding which Los Angeles personal injury attorney to hire, be sure to do your research. Things to consider include:
- Experience. Many attorneys will have more experience handling certain types of accidents, like tractor-trailer truck accidents.
- Attorney’s Fees. The vast majority of car accident lawyers get paid on a contingency fee basis. In other words, they only get paid if they can recover something on your behalf. The contingency fee is typically taken as a percentage of what they can recover for you.
- Litigation expenses. Some attorneys will first deduct the expenses from the total recovery then take their contingency fee percentage out of the remainder. Others may first take their contingency fee from the total recovery, then deduct the expenses from whatever is left. This difference might seem subtle, but can cost you thousands of dollars in the end.
A good place to look for a personal injury attorney is with the California Lawyers Association or the Los Angeles County Bar Association. They can help you find one or more law firms or Los Angeles car accident attorneys that can handle your type of case.
When should you contact a lawyer after a car accident?
You should reach out to an attorney the moment you realize you or someone in your vehicle suffered a severe injury from the accident. You should also consider contacting a lawyer if a car insurance company appears to be dragging its feet in what seems like a routine insurance claim.
How long after a car accident can you claim injury compensation?
In California, you will generally have two years to sue someone for injuries from a car accident thanks to something called a statute of limitation.
This is a law that places a deadline when you can sue someone else in civil court. If you want to sue someone for injuries sustained in a Southern California car accident, you must bring your lawsuit within two years of the date of the accident. If your claim includes property damage, you have three years.
There are special situations that can extend these deadlines, but they require court approval. Also, you always want to file suit as soon as possible. The longer you wait to sue, the harder it will be to obtain evidence to win your case. Documents get destroyed, people move away and memories fade.
How long do car accident injury claims normally take?
It depends. Several factors affect how long it takes to settle your injury claim, such as:
- How much you’re asking for.
- If it’s clear who is responsible for the accident.
- Whether there’s any dispute as to the amount of damages claimed.
- How cooperative the car insurance company is.
- If you have an attorney
Will I have to go to court?
It’s unlikely. Even if you sue the at-fault driver, the vast majority of lawsuits get settled before trial.
And most insurance claims never even get to litigation. Litigation is expensive and trial can be very unpredictable, no matter how strong (or weak) your case may seem. It’s usually in everyone’s best interest to settle the matter as quickly as possible.
Does health insurance cover car accident injuries?
Yes, it does. Following an accident, you might go to the hospital and receive medical treatment. At this time, it might be your health insurance policy that pays for your medical costs.
But if the other driver is responsible for your injuries, your health insurance company will most likely get reimbursed from the car insurance company of the at-fault driver.
Do you pay tax on personal injury settlements?
Personal injury settlements are not usually considered taxable income by the IRS or the state of California. Yet portions of a settlement could be subject to tax if it includes compensation for certain emotional injuries, lost wages or punitive damages.