What to Do When Your Auto Accident Results in a Personal Property Damage Lawsuit

Finding yourself at the receiving end of a personal property damage claim can be frustrating and time-consuming. If you don’t have the money to pay for an accident that may or may not have been caused by your negligence, you may need to turn to an experienced auto accidents lawyer to make sure that you aren’t ordered to pay a huge sum of money for something that wasn’t your fault – or worse, end up with a conviction on your record. Your auto accidents attorney will help you minimize the damage, and may even be able to help you win the case altogether.

Negligence Claims

In most cases, someone who files a personal property damage lawsuit in small claims court will file a negligence claim. Negligence claims operate on the theory that you knew there was a problem with your vehicle and did nothing about it. For example, if you smashed into your neighbor’s fence while driving because your brakes suddenly stopped working and you knew they needed repair, it would be a case of negligence. You will need to prove that you didn’t know there was a problem with your brakes, or that there shouldn’t have been a problem with your brakes (if you just had the brake pads changed, for example), in order to win the case.

Intentional Damage Claims

Intentional damage cases are rarer than negligence claims, and are fortunately easier to defend in many circumstances. Using the earlier example, your neighbor could claim that you destroyed his fence on purpose because of a long-standing rivalry between your families. In this case, you will simply need to prove an extenuating circumstance that caused you to run into his fence – for example, the road was slick from the rain that day and you slid out in the middle of a turn. Even if he could prove negligence at this point, perhaps by saying that you knew you needed new tires or you were driving too fast, he would have to file a separate negligence claim instead to benefit from the accident.

What You Can Do

Immediately after an accident that involves personal property damage, the best way to start building a strong defense is to stay on the scene until the police arrive so you can give a statement. This will show the courts that you were willing to cooperate from the beginning in case a claim is ever filed. Take pictures of anything and everything that might help your case, and keep every piece of insurance paperwork you file and repair estimates you collect.

Hiring an Auto Accidents Lawyer

As soon as you find out that you are begin sued for property damage, consult an accidents attorney to find out what steps you need to take next. You should have a little time to prepare, but having an attorney on your side can help you take the most advantage of that time. With a good accidents lawyer on your side, you will be able to build the strongest defense possible and hopefully avoid paying anything out-of-pocket to the plaintiff.

Who is at Fault? Advice from an Accidents Lawyer

If you are involved in an accident, dealing with the insurance company and any other involved parties can be difficult. In some instances, determining who is at fault can be even more difficult when it is a “he said, she said” situation. A San Diego accidents lawyer can be instrumental in helping you understand what the law says on the matter, and how much you can expect to recover.

What does California law say?

There are several different ways of determining fault throughout the country, but the state of California uses pure comparative fault as the method to determine how to award damages in the event of an accident. The insurance company or companies will determine what percentage of an accident is your fault and what percentage is due to the other party, and you will pay or collect accordingly. If an accident is deemed to be 30% your fault, for example, 30% will be deducted from the damages you can collect.

What if each party blames the other?

Your insurance company and the company of the other party will negotiate fault. Hiring an accidents attorney will increase your chances of the best outcome. While the insurance company is often looking for ways to make more money for itself, your attorney will be dedicated to ensuring that you are awarded the damages you deserve if you were the injured party, or that you will have to pay as little as possible if you were more at fault.

What if one party is uninsured?

Make sure that your current insurance policy includes uninsured motorist coverage, which will at least partially cover your damages if you are injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, or if the other driver leaves the accident before you can get his information. If you are the uninsured party, an accidents lawyer can help you minimize the damages you may have to pay out-of-pocket if you were partly at fault.

How soon should I hire a lawyer?

The sooner you act after being involved in an accident, the better. In California, you have two years after an accident to file a claim for personal injury and three years to file a property damage claim. So filing a claim with your insurance company and hiring a lawyer long before these deadlines increases your chances of the best outcome – when a court case is looming before the insurance companies, you and your lawyer have more leverage to negotiate a positive outcome for you.

Understanding how the state of California determines fault in an accident, and what you can do to protect your rights, can mean the difference between a denied claim and fair compensation from your insurance company. Every individual case is different, so the best way to figure out how much compensation you are entitled to is to consult an auto accidents attorney. This will keep you from encountering any surprises when you file an insurance claim.

Accident Attorney’s Tips on Speeding Tickets: What You Should Know to Stay Away from Trouble

So, like most of us, you were driving in a hurry, and as a result, you got ticketed for speeding. What do you do first? Any specialized accidents attorney will tell you that your defense should depend on the nature of the speed limit. Below are a few things to keep in mind, when deciding to fight a speeding ticket in court.

As a legal constant, all US states currently use three basic speed limit types. These are known as basic, presumed and absolute.

–          The most straightforward of these is the absolute speed limit. If a road sign says 50 mph is the limit and you are caught driving 51mph, this means you have broken the law. It is generally tough, sometimes impossible to fight these absolute speed limit violations. A reputable attorney might find a few ways to help you in this respect, though. A line of defense may include claiming you were forced by an emergency situation to exceed the given speed limit. Another one may include attacking the way in which the police have determined your speed.  A very good lawyer may even attack such a violation claiming that police officers have mistakenly identified your car.

–          The presumed speed limit involves the idea that you may have driven at an unsafe speed. This is theoretically easier to beat and includes certain specialized lines of defense. You should know that, overall, you might have a good chance of winning, if your attorney can prove you were only slightly over the limit and weather and traffic conditions were allowing it. You or a specialized attorney’s aid will have to go back to the scene and take photos at the same time and day of the week you were cited. Also, take a photo from the driver’s viewpoint. It’s obviously to your benefit if you can establish the road was straight, with good visibility.

–          Basic speed law prohibits driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed is below limit. In all US states, tickets for driving under the speed limit, but too fast to be safe, are often referred to as “driving too fast for conditions.” For example, driving exactly at the 65 mph posted limit on the freeway would not be smart amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard. The basic difference between fighting a normal  absolute speed limit ticket and a basic one is that the prosecution will have the burden to prove that you were driving in an unsafe manner. This can be difficult to prove, in normal circumstances and if your car was not involved in a traffic incident at that time.

No matter what law of defense you may choose after you decide to fight a speeding ticket, you should know that your chances of winning increase, if you use specialized help. A seasoned accidents attorney with relevant experience in the field will work wonders on your case.