The California Civil Code (CIV) §1714 outlines who can be sued after a car accident in California and establishes your right to sue the driver who failed to exercise ordinary care on the road and caused you to suffer injuries, injury-related expenses, and property damage in a car accident. There are several reasons you might consider suing another driver after a car crash, including negligence, recklessness, intentional misconduct, wrongful death, pain and suffering, if the driver was uninsured or underinsured, or if the damages exceed insurance policy limits.
1. Negligence That Led To The Car Crash
If the other driver was negligent, meaning they failed to exercise reasonable care while driving, and their negligence led to the accident, you may have grounds to sue.
Some common reasons to sue for negligence in a car accident include:
- Violation of traffic laws: If the other driver violated traffic laws, such as speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield, their actions may be considered negligent.
- Distracted driving: If the other driver was texting, talking on the phone, eating, or engaging in any activity that took their attention away from the road, they may be held liable for negligence.
- Driving under the influence: If the at-fault driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, their impaired driving may be considered negligent.
- Fatigued driving: If a driver’s fatigue contributed to the accident, they may be found negligent, especially if they were aware of their fatigue and chose to drive anyway.
- Inadequate vehicle maintenance: A driver who fails to maintain their vehicle properly, leading to an accident (e.g., bald tires, faulty brakes, or broken taillights), may be considered negligent.
- Aggressive driving: If the other driver engaged in aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, or excessive speeding, they may be liable for negligence.
- Failure to adapt to road or weather conditions: A driver who does not adjust their driving behavior to accommodate poor weather or road conditions, such as heavy rain, fog, or icy roads, may be found negligent.
To successfully sue someone for negligence after a car accident, you’ll need to prove four elements: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. It’s important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney to assess your case and guide you through the legal process.
2. Recklessness That Led To The Car Crash
Reckless driving is a more serious form of negligence where the driver demonstrates a willful disregard for the safety of others. You may sue someone for recklessness after a car crash if their actions directly led to the crash and your resulting injuries or damages.
Some common reasons to sue for recklessness include:
- Excessive speeding: Driving at dangerously high speeds, far above the posted speed limit, can be considered reckless behavior.
- Street racing: Engaging in illegal street racing or other forms of competitive driving on public roads is considered reckless.
- Driving under the influence: Operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs, especially at high levels of intoxication, can be seen as reckless behavior.
- Aggressive driving: Aggressive driving behaviors, such as tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, or making dangerous maneuvers, can be considered reckless.
- Ignoring traffic signals and signs: Deliberately disregarding traffic signals, stop signs, or other traffic control devices is a form of reckless driving.
- Driving at excessive speeds in poor weather or road conditions: Failing to adapt to hazardous weather or road conditions, such as heavy rain, fog, or icy roads, and driving at dangerously high speeds can be considered reckless behavior.
- Road rage: Engaging in acts of road rage, such as intentionally cutting off other vehicles, brake checking, or using a vehicle as a weapon, demonstrates a willful disregard for the safety of others.
To sue someone for recklessness after a car accident, you will need to prove that their actions were willfully negligent and directly led to the accident and your injuries or damages. It is vital that you consult with an experienced car accident attorney to evaluate your case and guide you through the legal process before filing any legal paperwork.
3. Intentional Misconduct To Cause The Car Crash
If the other driver intentionally caused the car crash, you may have a case for intentional misconduct. Suing someone for intentional misconduct after a car accident can be based on several reasons, including:
- Road rage: If the other driver intentionally caused a collision or engaged in dangerous actions due to anger or frustration, this could be considered intentional misconduct.
- Purposeful collision: If the driver intentionally caused a crash to harm you or others, commit insurance fraud, or for any other malicious reason, you may have grounds to sue for intentional misconduct.
- Using a vehicle as a weapon: If the driver deliberately used their vehicle to harm or threaten others on the road, such as attempting to run someone off the road, this could be considered intentional misconduct.
- Vehicular assault or homicide: If the driver intentionally caused an accident that resulted in injuries or fatalities, you may have grounds to sue for intentional misconduct.
- Staged accidents: If a driver deliberately causes an accident to defraud insurance companies or to claim compensation, this could be considered intentional misconduct.
To successfully sue someone for intentional misconduct after a car accident, you will need to prove that their actions were deliberate, that they intended to cause harm, and that their actions directly led to the accident and your injuries or damages. Given the complexity of these cases, it’s important to consult with an experienced car accident attorney to assess your case and guide you through the legal process.
4. Wrongful Death
A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed when a person’s death is caused by the negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct of another party. If a loved one was killed in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence or misconduct, you may have grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.
Some common reasons to file a wrongful death lawsuit after a car accident include:
- Negligence: The at-fault driver’s failure to exercise reasonable care while driving, such as violating traffic laws, distracted driving, or fatigued driving, led to the accident and the victim’s death.
- Recklessness: The other driver’s reckless behavior, such as excessive speeding, street racing, or driving under the influence, resulted in the fatal accident.
- Intentional misconduct: The at-fault driver intentionally caused the accident, such as in cases of road rage or using their vehicle as a weapon, leading to the victim’s death.
- Defective vehicles or parts: If the accident was caused by a defect in the vehicle or one of its components, the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer may be held liable for wrongful death.
- Dangerous road conditions: If poor road design, inadequate maintenance, or unsafe construction contributed to the accident, the responsible government agency or contractor may be held liable for wrongful death.
To file a wrongful death lawsuit, the deceased person’s surviving family members, such as a spouse, children, or parents, typically have the legal standing to bring the claim. Damages in a wrongful death lawsuit may include medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, loss of financial support, and loss of companionship. It is essential to consult with an experienced car accident attorney or wrongful death lawyer to assess your case and guide you through the legal process.
5. Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering refer to the physical and emotional distress caused by an injury due to a car accident. It encompasses both the physical pain and the emotional or mental anguish a victim experiences as a result of the accident. You may sue someone for pain and suffering after a car accident if their negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct led to your injuries.
Some reasons to pursue a claim for pain and suffering include:
- Serious bodily injury: If you suffered severe or long-lasting injuries as a result of the accident, you might be entitled to compensation for the physical pain and discomfort you endured.
- Emotional distress: If the accident caused significant emotional or psychological distress, such as anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), you may be able to seek compensation for your suffering.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: If your injuries have adversely affected your ability to enjoy your usual activities, hobbies, or social interactions, you might be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering.
- Disfigurement or scarring: If the accident resulted in permanent disfigurement or scarring, you may be able to seek compensation for the mental and emotional anguish associated with these changes to your appearance.
- Impact on relationships: If your injuries have negatively affected your relationships with family, friends, or romantic partners, you may be entitled to compensation for the emotional pain and suffering caused by these changes.
To successfully sue someone for pain and suffering after a car accident, you must establish that their actions directly led to your injuries and the associated physical and emotional distress. Proving pain and suffering can be complex, as it involves demonstrating the extent of your suffering and its impact on your life. It is crucial to consult with an experienced car accident attorney who can assess your case and guide you through the legal process.
6. Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist
If the at-fault driver does not have adequate insurance coverage to compensate you for your damages or does not have any motor vehicle insurance at all, you might consider suing to recover the difference. Despite the fact that the other driver did not have adequate insurance coverage, you may still be able to recover damages with the assistance of a knowledgeable California personal injury attorney.
7. Damages Exceeding Policy Limits
If the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits are insufficient to cover your losses, you may need to sue the driver to recover the remaining amount.
Before taking any legal action, it’s essential to consult with an experienced California car accident attorney to discuss your specific situation and determine the best course of action. J&Y Law can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process to get the compensation you deserve after a car crash. Contact us today for a free consultation about your situation.