There were 5,578 people injured or killed in car accidents in San Diego in 2019. If you live or work in this, the second-largest city in California, you know you have to deal with all sorts of traffic. San Diego drivers share their streets with everything from big rigs to tourists in rental cars. Inevitably, there are going to be car accidents, some of them serious.
Below you’ll find more information on San Diego car accidents, what to do if you’re injured in one, your rights, and common questions The Dominguez Firm receives regarding car accident claims in San Diego. Call us today for a free consultation at 800-818-1818.
What Should I Do If I Get Into a Car Accident in San Diego?
The actions you take right after your San Diego car accident can greatly influence the strength of your personal injury case. Before we get into our recommendations we need to stress that your number one priority should always be your health and wellbeing.
The Dominguez Firm recommends following these steps right after your San Diego car accident:
- Seek immediate medical attention if you or anyone else is injured. If you can’t dial 911, have someone do it for you. Should the ambulance arrives before the police, which is what generally happens, don’t wait. Do try and leave your contact information, but again, only if you can.
- If possible, move to a safe area. Only do this if it doesn’t put you or anyone else in danger.
- Take photos of:
- Your injuries
- Damage to all vehicles involved
- The other driver’s license, insurance and registration information
- The area where the crash occurred, including street signs, lights, and anything else you think is relevant.
- The license plate number, year, make, and model of the other vehicle(s) involved
- Get the contact information of any witnesses to your car accident. At a minimum ask for their name, email, and phone numbers.
- Don’t discuss how the accident happened or accept any responsibility for it, even if you think you share some of the blame. You’re probably shaken up and disoriented. You’re in no position to go over those facts at this point.
- Don’t apologize. Apologizing can be seen as an admission of fault for the accident. If you do apologize, the other driver’s insurance company will use it against you.
- Call the San Diego car accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm as soon as possible. The sooner we can start collecting vital evidence and get to work on your case, the better.
One final very important note for this section; don’t refuse medical attention because you aren’t bleeding or obviously injured. You may think you’re just shaken up. This would be a big mistake. First, you could have dangerous internal injuries and not know it. It’s best to be safe and get checked out.
Secondly, some injuries, like whiplash, take hours or days to make themselves apparent. While many of us think of whiplash as a minor injury, it can be quite serious if you were involved in a car accident at a high speed. Whiplash victims in major crashes can have migraines, dizziness, blurred vision, and other symptoms that make everyday activities difficult for weeks and even months after their accident. An early diagnosis can help alleviate these symptoms greatly.
What Are the Most Common Reasons for Car Accidents in San Diego?
Drivers in San Diego may not have to worry about snow and ice, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other dangers they need to watch out for. What follows are some of the most common reasons for car accidents in San Diego.
Driving under the influence – One very alarming statistic for 2021 was the sharp increase in DUI deaths in San Diego County compared to previous years. By the last week of the year, 39 people were killed in drunk and drugged driver related accidents. That’s a sharp increase from 2019 when there were 16 deaths and 2020 when the county registered 33 victims of drivers under the influence. In response to this disturbing trend, county officials have begun an outreach and education program aimed at the general public as well as alcohol and cannabis servers, retailers, and promoters.
Speeding – As with other cities in California, San Diego has its fair share of heavy traffic. Impatient drivers ignoring the speed limit or taking advantage of open roads often go well over surface street and freeway speed limits. In 2019 alone there were 830 speed-related fatalities and injuries in the county according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
Distracted driving – The advent of smart phones and elaborate vehicle control and entertainment systems means drivers are more distracted than ever. Many states, including California have taken steps to try and curb distracted driving. One measure made texting and driving illegal.
In spite of these new regulations, distracted driving accidents continue to be a problem. Cellphones aren’t the only culprits. Other technologies that take driver eyes off the road are elaborate vehicle entertainment systems, eating, or simply playing with the radio, all while driving. A well-known fact put forth by the NHTSA stated that texting while driving at 55 mph was the equivalent of driving across a football field with your eyes closed.
Aggressive driving – San Diego is no stranger to road rage and other forms of aggressive driving. One of the most dangerous is illegal street racing, which has seen a distressing increase in the last year. The San Diego police department has joined with other county law enforcement agencies in an attempt to curb street racing.
What Are Some of the Most Dangerous Roads and Intersections in San Diego?
Several intersections and one major freeway accounted for some of the most dangerous roads and intersections in San Diego in 2018 and 2019. First, Interstate 15 claimed 29 injuries and 11 deaths. This was the most of any freeway or surface street in the county in those two years.
University Ave and 52nd St – Named the most dangerous intersection by Circulate San Diego in 2018. The crosswalk here tends to be busy with pedestrians and bike riders, not to mention drivers. This mix has sadly led to several fatalities.
El Cajon Blvd and Kansas St – This busy intersection has seen at least seven serious injuries in the last 10 years. Poor lighting and six lanes of traffic are major contributors to this terrible statistic. The city of San Diego has added a high-visibility crosswalk and pedestrian timers over the last couple of years to try and help stem the tide.
Route 163 and Quince Drive – This heavily-trafficked exit near the San Diego Zoo has seen several accidents, including one with a fatality in 2019. On that occasion a rideshare vehicle and car collided, ejecting the passenger from the rideshare vehicle.
San Diego car accident victims can suffer serious injuries even when traveling at low speeds. For example, what seems like a simple bump to the head can cause the victim to develop health complications or even die. This is especially true if they’re elderly or a child.
Among the most common car accident injuries are:
Some of these injuries can lead to permanent injuries such as paralysis that may require lifelong care. Many victims will also need intensive mental health counseling. One thing all of these injuries have in common is that they are very expensive to treat. By filing a personal injury lawsuit against those responsible, you can recover much-needed compensation for your injury expenses.
Should I Try to Work Through My Insurance Company First?
Not unless you are a skilled negotiator who has a good idea of what your case is worth. If you were seriously injured in a San Diego car accident, you should hire a personal injury attorney right away. Insurance companies are looking to make a profit, not pay out large settlement amounts. Even if you suffered permanent injuries, adjusters are trained to try and reduce your accident injury claim.
One of the most common tactics is telling you they need a recorded statement from you. Here in California, you are under no legal obligation to provide them with that. They do this to see if they can get you to say anything that weakens your case on the recording.
Insurance companies also hope you’re not aware just how high medical care for a serious or catastrophic car accident injury really is. These types of injuries can end up costing the victim hundreds of thousands and even a million dollars or more. That original $80,000 settlement offer can be woefully inadequate after just three months.
Even if you get a sympathetic adjuster, realize that insurance companies are very bureaucratic. There are several layers of employees. The one handling your claim may not have the authority to okay a large settlement. At the very least, they’d likely have to justify offering it which most aren’t eager to do.
Once you hire a personal injury attorney, you won’t have to deal with any of these issues. Just as importantly, you and your family can focus solely on your recovery.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My San Diego Car Accident?
As mentioned directly above, unless you have experience negotiating with insurance adjusters, you could end up agreeing to an offer that falls way short of what you need to make a full recovery from your injuries. And once you sign off on it, there’s no going back and asking for more.
Instead, let the San Diego car accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm handle your case for you. We have over thirty years of experience helping accident victims get the compensation they need to put their lives back together. In that time we have recovered over $1 billion* for deserving clients throughout Southern California. Let us put our winning record to work for you too.
How Do I Pay You?
At The Dominguez Firm we know this is a difficult time for you and your family financially and emotionally. The last thing you want to deal with are legal bills and out-of-pocket expenses. That’s why we work on a contingency basis. That means we receive a percentage of your final San Diego car crash settlement or verdict amount. That percentage will be clearly stated in the client representation agreement you sign with us. And it won’t change depending on how much we obtain for you.
You don’t have to worry about any hidden fees or other charges from us. And in the unlikely event we don’t secure any compensation for you, you owe us nothing. In other words, if there is no recovery, there is no fee. You truly have nothing to lose and everything to gain by hiring the San Diego auto accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm to represent you.
What Compensation Could I Be Entitled to for My San Diego Car Accident Case?
The compensation you could be entitled to is legally known as damages. There are two types of damages, economic and non-economic. The extent of your injuries plays a big part in determining your damages. The other major factor is when and if you’ll be able to return to work.
Sometimes punitive damages are also awarded. This only happens when the defendant’s actions are particularly malicious. Punitive damages are awarded more to punish the defendant and make an example of them.
Economic damages are easy to calculate. They are all of your expenses directly resulting from your San Diego car accident. The largest chunk of these damages are your car accident-related medical bills, including:
- Ambulance fees
- Emergency room fees
- Medical treatment
- Visits with medical specialists
- All surgeries related to your San Diego car crash
- Physical therapy
- Home modifications
- In-home care
- Mental health counseling
They also include:
- Lost past and future income
- The cost to repair or replace your vehicle
Non-economic damages are meant to compensate you for your emotional losses. While there is no formula to calculate this amount, there is also no limit for the amount that can awarded in non-economic damages. Because of this, non-economic damages tend to make up the largest part of a person’s final settlement or verdict amount.
Examples of non-economic damages:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
How Long Will My Case Take?
The short answer is, as long as it takes to obtain the maximum legal compensation you’re entitled to for your San Diego car accident injuries. We know this is a vague answer, but it’s true. The Dominguez Firm will do everything we can to make sure you receive every cent of the money you’re entitled to. If that means going to trial, it will take longer than if we can come to an agreement with the insurance company regarding a settlement amount beforehand. Although most cases do settle before going to trial, it can happen.
There are several factors that help determine the length of your case. Among the most important are:
- The extent of your injuries – The more serious your injuries, the longer it will take you to recover or reach a point of Maximum Medical Improvement or MMI. That is, the point at which your condition has improved as much as medically possible. This can take weeks or even months to arrive at.
- The number of defendants involved – If your accident involved just one other driver, it’s much easier to handle than if it involves a commercial truck, multiple drivers, a motorcycle, etc. An accident with various cars or a commercial vehicle means more defense attorneys and will take longer.
- The scope of the accident investigation – An accident with a large truck is much more complex and will be more time-consuming to investigate compared to one with a passenger vehicle. These types of accidents usually cause major damage and catastrophic injuries.
- The response from the defendant’s insurance company – If the insurance company agrees to do the right thing and makes a fair settlement offer, your case could be over quickly. However, if they refuse to budge, The Dominguez Firm isn’t afraid to go to trial. This will add time to your case and will likely cause it to last over a year.
The car accident attorneys at The Dominguez Firm can compare your case to similar cases we’ve handled in the past to get a general idea of how long your case may take. Keep in mind, this time period is not set in stone.
One crucial factor regarding cases that go to trial, criminal cases take precedence over civil cases in San Diego. That means it could take months just to get a court date. Of course, we’ll keep you updated on the status of your case at all times. Also, our attorneys will advise you on your options and only act with your approval.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Strengthen My San Diego Car Accident Claim?
There are several things you can do to strengthen your case and help your lawyer present it in the best way possible.
Hire an attorney right away – You may have two years from the date of your accident to file a claim, but don’t wait. Hire The Dominguez Firm for your San Diego car accident claim immediately. If your accident was with a government vehicle, like a postal truck, you only have six months, but again, don’t wait. Waiting greatly weakens your case. Defense attorneys will question why you waited and vital evidence will be lost.
Avoid social media – Your social media accounts may have the strongest privacy settings, but that doesn’t mean insurance company investigators can’t access them. They will go to extreme lengths to diminish your claim including finding evidence from your social media accounts. So don’t post any pictures of your injuries, posts insulting the driver who hit you, or the time your family took you to the beach to cheer you up.
Keep all medical appointments – Make sure you keep all of your medical appointments and let your lawyer know right away if you can’t. This will help you with your recovery and help move your case along. Gaps in medical care will hurt your case, especially if you keep missing appointments. Defense attorneys will jump on that to question how serious your injuries really are.
I’m an Undocumented Immigrant Who Was Seriously Injured in a Car Accident in San Diego. Can The Dominguez Firm Help Me?
Yes, because your immigration status has nothing to do with your car accident injuries. Before 2016, undocumented immigrants risked deportation if they filed any sort of personal injury or wrongful death claim. Even if they did move forward, they could only be awarded compensation in accordance with what their medical expenses and wages were in their home countries. This resulted in greatly reduced their settlements and verdicts. Because of all of this, most undocumented immigrants didn’t file claims
In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown put a stop to these discriminatory practices by signing Assembly Bill 2159 into law. A person’s immigration status is no longer admissible nor permitted in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Also, all compensation must be awarded in accordance with the cost of medical care and wages in the United States, not the person’s home country.
This welcomed change stops the exploitation of undocumented immigrants and protects their rights if they are injured in a car accident or any other sort of accident in California. The accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm are well aware of AB 2159 and will make sure defense attorneys proceed in the correct manner at all times.
I’m Partially to Blame for My San Diego Car Accident. Can The Dominguez Firm Still Represent Me?
Yes, our attorneys can still assist you with your case. California is a comparative negligence state. That simply means you can share part of the responsibility for your San Diego car accident case yet still sue for damages for your injuries.
A jury will decide by what percentage you contributed to your accident and reduce your final compensation accordingly. For example, if you are awarded $2 million for your accident injuries and are judged to be 25% at fault for your accident, you would receive $1.5 million. That is: $2 million – $500,000 (25%) = $1.5 million.
One sidenote on determining fault in an auto accident. Accidents happen quickly. Your recollection of events may not be as clear as you think, especially if you were seriously injured. Don’t let your doubts stop you from contacting us. Our team of in-house investigators can piece together the facts of your accident to see if you actually share any responsibility for it. Even if you do, you can still file a lawsuit in California for your injuries. Call us for a free consultation right away.
I Don’t Have Medical Insurance. Can The Dominguez Firm Help Me Anyway?
Yes, don’t let your lack of medical insurance stop you from exercising your rights. The Dominguez Firm works with a host of leading medical providers in the San Diego area on a lien basis. That means they receive payment from your final settlement or verdict upon the completion of your San Diego auto accident case.
By negotiating a medical lien on your behalf, our firm ensures you receive crucial, uninterrupted medical care until your case is resolved.
I Lost a Family Member in a Car Crash in San Diego. Legally, is There Anything I Can Do?
Yes, you can file a wrongful death lawsuit if you are their legal next of kin. Here in San Diego and throughout California, the following family members, in order can file a wrongful death lawsuit for the untimely loss of their loved one:
- The spouse of the deceased
- Any children the deceased had
- The registered domestic partner of the deceased
- The grandchildren of the deceased
If the deceased had none of the above, the state’s probate code breaks down the continued line of succession.
Just as with auto accident lawsuits, family members are entitled to economic and non-economic damages for their loss. These are meant to compensate them for the emotional and financial support the deceased provided and would have provided had they not passed away. Other factors that determine the surviving family member’s compensation include the deceased’s age, the age of the surviving family member, specifically if there are surviving children, and the deceased’s line of work.
The most commonly awarded economic damages are:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial expenses
- The financial support the deceased was expected to contribute throughout their life
- The gifts the deceased was expected to give throughout their life
Common non-economic damages:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of guidance
- Loss of affection
- Loss of moral support
- Loss of Sexual relations
At The Dominguez Firm we understand that no amount of money can make up for the sudden loss of your family member. However, obtaining justice against those responsible can help provide some much-needed emotional closure. It can also provide financial peace of mind at such a difficult time, especially if the deceased left behind any children.
What is the Process for a San Diego Car Accident Lawsuit?
Most personal injury lawsuits in San Diego progress along the same lines once you’ve hired a lawyer. If you’ve hired us right away, the insurance company for the other driver involved will send a settlement offer to us acting as your attorney. This first offer is usually low. We will likely advise you not to take it.
You should continue receiving medical treatment while we investigate and gather evidence to strengthen your claim. This can involve everything from speaking with witnesses to going over your medical records and more.
Only once you’ve recovered or are at Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), will we send a demand letter to the insurance company of the other driver (the defendant). The demand letter outlines your injury losses, the facts of the car crash, and notifies the defendant that a lawsuit will be filed if a mutually agreeable compensation amount isn’t paid by a certain date.
If the insurance company of the defendant makes an offer, your attorney will go over the details with you and advise you on how to proceed. If you accept the offer, your case is settled. If you don’t, we will file a complaint and your lawsuit against the defendant formally begins.
From there, the process is as follows:
- The complaint letter details the facts of the accident, your damages, and why the defendant should pay them. Unlike the demand letter however, it’s filed with the court.
- Once the defendant is served your complaint letter, their attorney must respond with either an admission or denial of your allegations. If they are denying them, they must also outline their defense as to why. Usually, insurance companies don’t agree to settle for the amount put forth in the complaint.
- Now the Discovery phase begins. Both parties will request an exchange of information. You may be asked to take part in a deposition before defense counsel with one of our attorneys present.
- Negotiations begin between your Dominguez Firm San Diego car crash attorney and the defendant’s attorney. Your attorney will inform you of all settlement offers and again advise you whether to accept it or not. If you do accept an offer, your case settles.
It’s rare, but sometimes both sides can’t come to an agreement on a fair settlement amount. The next section discusses how having The Dominguez Firm represent you puts you at an advantage if your case does end up going to trial.
What Happens if the Other Driver’s Insurance Company Refuses to Make a Fair Offer for my Auto Accident Injuries?
If the defendant’s insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement offer for your San Diego car accident injuries, the award-winning trial attorneys at The Dominguez Firm will take your case to trial.
While most cases settle before needing to go to court, rest assured we have the knowledge and resources to move forward if needed. Nonetheless, we won’t do anything without discussing it with you first and receiving your approval. If you’re hesitant to go to trial, we’ll go over your options and explain the possible outcomes for each. Again, you have the final say.
Call the San Diego Car Accident Lawyers at The Dominguez Firm
If you or a loved one were seriously injured in an auto accident in San Diego County, you need a skilled San Diego auto accident lawyer by your side. The Dominguez Firm has been helping clients throughout Southern California for over 30 years, let us do the same for you.
Call us at 800-818-1818 for a free consultation today. And remember, if there is no recovery, there is no fee! You truly have nothing to lose and so much to gain, so contact us today!