In the state of California, there are more than 32.8 million people with a driver's license and a total of 34,346,325 registered vehicles, according to the latest records published by the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles. With so many people and vehicles on the roads, it's little wonder why car accidents are commonplace in the Golden State. In the latest figures available, the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System or SWITRS, reports 3,104 fatalities, 223,128 injuries, 156,909 injury car accidents, and 2,853 fatal traffic collisions. Such numbers are shocking and simply cannot be ignored. If you are involved in a vehicle collision, you'll certainly want to know who you can bring action against in California.
Who Can I Bring Action Against in Car Accidents in California?
When an auto collision occurs with another private passenger vehicle, commercial vehicle, government vehicle, or even a motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian, it's very possible to sustain an injury. A collision can also result in property damage to vehicles; and, in the most tragic instances, auto accidents result in fatalities. So, it's important to know the basics about California personal injury law.
In California, you have 2 years to sue one or more defendants as the result of a vehicle collision. This means you must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of accident or your claims related to this accident may be forever barred to be heard in court. When you file a claim or sue one or more defendants in a court of law, you are doing so to receive monetary reimbursement and/or compensation for past and future medical treatment, loss of income, loss of potential future earnings, property damage, pain and suffering, other expenses incurred, and more. So who do you sue? There are several possible parties which can be sued in a personal injury case. They are:
- The at-fault driver. The most obvious defendant to bring legal action against is the person who drove the other vehicle which hit you. Because California is a "fault" state or what's also known in the legal world as a "tort" state, personal injuries resulting from an auto accident must be proven to be caused by the driver.
- The owner of the vehicle. It's entirely possible the driver is not the owner of the vehicle and this creates a different situation. In most cases, the driver of the other car is also the registered owner of the vehicle but, that's not always the case. You might be able to name the registered owner of the automobile as a defendant in a civil action.
- The parents or legal guardians of a minor. Of course, if the other driver is a minor, the minor's parents or legal guardians can be sued for car accident personal injury cases.
- The at-fault driver's employer. Another scenario where it is possible to bring action against a defendant other than the at-fault driver is when the motorist was operating a company car. Companies can be sued and held responsible for car accidents in the state of California.
- An insurance company. You might also sue an insurance company as part of your personal injury claim resulting from a car accident. Depending on the circumstances, it might be necessary to name an insurance carrier as a defendant in your lawsuit. This is especially true if you were struck by a motorist with insufficient insurance to cover your damages and ou would have to make a claim against your own uninsured motorist policy.
- A government agency. There are several scenarios which might result in your bringing action against a government agency for a vehicle collision. It could be from failure to maintain the infrastructure or if a government-owned automobile was involved in the accident.
Additionally, it is possible you might also bring action against rental agencies, automobile mechanics, service companies and garages, car manufacturers, private property owners, and/or car dealers. The bottom line is each incident is unique and depending on the circumstances, you may bring action against anyone who may be held responsible for the accident. Vititoe Law Group helps victims of motor vehicle accidents throughout California. To learn more about your legal rights and what compensation you might be entitled to from your or a loved one's car accident, it's important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. Don't wait, because time is not on your side and you must act quickly.