view of downtown los angeles from freewayRecovering After a Los Angeles County Auto Accident

Collisions in Los Angeles County often cause serious physical, mental, and emotional injuries that can leave them unable to work or enjoy the same quality of life they did before the crash.

Our Los Angeles car accident attorney explains what makes our streets and highways so dangerous and what actions to take if you're involved in a collision.

LA County Sees Hundreds of Car Accidents Per Year

Los Angeles County's combination of high population and high speeds makes it a high-ranking location for crashes year after year. The Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS) has collected data from collision scenes, revealing LA County as the deadliest for California road users.

The 2019 Annual Report of Fatal and Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic Collisions revealed the following data about accidents in LA County:

  • There were 60,183 crashes recorded that involved at least one injury and 683 crash incidents that involved at least one fatality.
  • Road accidents killed 4,736 drivers and injured 881,424 more.
  • Road accidents killed 1,495 passengers and injured 360,772 more.
  • There were an average of 50 fatal crashes in LA County each month in 2019, with accidents spiking in April, July, and November.
  • Although the total number of injuries in LA County declined slightly to 88,090 in 2019, the number has risen steadily since a low of 71,866 in 2010.

California Car Crash Injuries Can Be Deadly

Severe car accident injuries require extensive medical treatment and physical therapy to heal properly. The costs associated with such treatments can quickly become financially burdensome for victims and their families. In such cases, our Orange County personal injury lawyer adds, victims may be entitled to compensation from those responsible for their losses.

Common injuries in Los Angeles County collisions include:

  • Whiplash. Whiplash occurs when the head is suddenly jerked forward or backward. This can happen in a car accident when the vehicle is hit from behind or on the side. Symptoms of whiplash include neck pain, stiffness, headache, and dizziness.
  • Traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI) occurs when the head is hit with enough force to cause the brain to bounce around inside the skull or to be pushed against the skull. This can lead to bruising, bleeding, or swelling of the brain. Symptoms of a TBI include headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty thinking clearly.
  • Broken bones. The most common bone fractures are in the arms and legs, but ribs and facial bones can also be broken. Broken bones can cause extreme pain, require surgery and rehabilitation, and may result in permanent mobility problems or disfigurement.
  • Back injuries. Back injuries range from minor injuries such as strains and sprains to more severe injuries such as herniated discs and spinal cord damage. Victims may suffer lifelong back pain, stiffness, difficulty moving, or even permanent paralysis.
  • Internal bleeding. Internal bleeding can occur when trauma or burrowing bone fragments damage blood vessels without breaking the skin. This type of injury can cause organ damage and be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Symptoms of internal bleeding include abdominal pain, shortness of breath, and dizziness.

What to Do After a Car Accident in LA County

Adrenaline is coursing through your veins after a crash, making it difficult to take the necessary steps to protect your health and your compensation claim. Victims have a better chance of being made whole again after an accident by:

  • Calling 911. The first thing you should do after a car accident is to check for injuries. If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately—even if the injuries don't seem serious. You should always call the police to an accident scene, even if there don't appear to be any injuries and vehicle damage is minor. The police will create an accident report that may be helpful later on if you need to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
  • Moving to a safe location. If possible, move your car to a safe place off the road to prevent further accidents. Once you've moved your vehicle, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers of the accident.
  • Exchanging driver information. You should exchange information with the other driver, including your name, contact information, insurance company, and policy number. It's also a good idea to get the other driver's license plate number and the make and model of their vehicle.
  • Getting witnesses' contact information. If there are any eyewitnesses to the accident, be sure to get their contact information so they can be called upon later to give a statement or testimony, if necessary. Eyewitnesses can be extremely helpful in proving how an accident happened and who was at fault.
  • Recording the accident scene. Take photos or a short video of the accident scene with your smartphone before anything is moved. Be sure to capture any damage to both vehicles and any skid marks or debris on the road. These photos can help demonstrate how the accident happened and who was at fault.
  • Seeing a doctor. It's essential to seek professional medical help immediately after a crash, even if you feel fine immediately following an accident. Injuries from car accidents often don't present themselves immediately because the body is in shock, only showing physical symptoms days or weeks later. By getting checked out by a doctor right away, you can ensure that any injuries are correctly diagnosed and treated.
  • Making an insurance claim. You should call your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident to report the incident and begin the claims process. Be sure to have your information handy when you make the call, including your policy number and details about what happened.

How to Tell If Your Case Needs an LA County Car Accident Attorney

Car accidents can devastate victims and families, many unaware of their right to compensation for their injuries. California is a "fault" state for car accident claims, meaning you will file an insurance claim under the policy of the person who caused the accident. These claims often take longer than filing under your own auto policy, and insurers often use unsavory tactics to reduce the amount you are owed.

Firstly, you're likely to be contacted in the weeks following the incident by insurers pushing you to accept a fast settlement, denying you the payment you need to move on with your life. Second, they may attempt to pin some or all of the blame on you to avoid paying damages. Finally, they may delay payment so long that victims become desperate and willing to accept anything to pay their bills.

Fortunately, California law recognizes pure comparative negligence in personal injury lawsuits. In other words, when you take an insurer to court, you can still recover payment if you were partially to blame, although your percentage of fault may reduce damages.

Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law