San Diego Car Accident Lawyer

Every year, thousands of people in San Diego County are seriously hurt or even killed in car accidents. Most car accidents are caused by human error and negligence. When you are left injured due to someone else’s negligence, you should not be left with the financial burden of your injuries. A San Diego car accident lawyer can help you seek compensation and hold the at-fault party accountable.

The San Diego car accident attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP aggressively represent clients who have suffered serious injuries. Over $100M recovered, no fees unless we recover for you!

At Berman & Riedel, LLP, we aggressively fight for car accident victims to seek maximum compensation for their injuries. Our experienced attorneys have decades of experience with a track record of achieving significant settlements and jury awards on behalf of our clients. We have recovered more than $100 million for our clients, and we will give you the same tireless representation. Contact our law office today for a free case evaluation to explore your legal options.

Types of Car Accident Cases We Handle

Traffic accidents can occur in a hundred different ways, whether it’s on downtown streets, San Diego highways, or on private roads and parking lots. There is something that most types of auto accidents in San Diego have in common: they’re usually caused by negligence or human error. The following are the most common types of car accidents our San Diego car accident law firm sees on a regular basis.

Rear-End Collisions

A rear-end crash happens when a following car hits the back end of a leading car. Rear-end collisions can include minor fender-benders, but these accidents can also result in serious injuries. Rear-end crashes are the most common type of auto accident in the United States, accounting for 29% of all accidents according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The NHTSA found that 87% of rear-end crashes happen because of distracted drivers. Drivers who follow too closely and drivers who stop very suddenly can also cause a rear-end collision. In the vast majority of cases, the driver in the following car is found at-fault for a rear-end crash, although sometimes the lead driver can be to blame.

Sideswipe Accidents

A sideswipe happens when two vehicles driving in separate lanes clip each other. Sideswipe accidents can happen when one driver leaves their lane and hits the side of a vehicle in an adjacent lane. These accidents also commonly happen when one vehicle is merging without enough space.

Head-on Collisions

Head-on crashes are the most uncommon type of car accident. These types of crashes account for just 2% of traffic accidents across the United States, but they are the most dangerous type of collision. Head-on collisions are almost always very serious and they are responsible for 10% of traffic fatalities.

A head-on collision can occur due to a wrong-way driver, a driver trying to avoid an accident in an intersection, or a driver trying to pass someone on a rural road and hitting an oncoming vehicle. Aggressive driving, distracted driving, drowsy driving, and drunk driving are all risky behaviors that can cause a head-on crash.

Rollover Accidents

A rollover accident happens when a vehicle flips onto its roof or side. While any vehicle can roll over in an accident, SUVs are at the highest risk of rollovers because they are taller with a higher center of gravity. Rollover accidents often happen when a driver loses control of their vehicle and strikes an obstruction at high speeds.

Side-Impact Collisions

A broadside or T-bone collision happens when a vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle. Side-impact collisions are more likely to cause injuries than rear-end accidents, although this depends on the speed, vehicle safety features and crumple zones, and the design and weight of the vehicle. These accidents often occur at intersections.

Multi-Vehicle Accidents

Multi-vehicle pile-ups are accidents involving three or more cars. These accidents usually happen on highways and they are among the most deadly car accidents. A massive pile-up can leave victims trapped in their vehicles and hamper rescue efforts. Cars may be hit multiple times from multiple angles which increases the risk of serious injury.

Single-Car Accidents

A single-car accident can be just as serious as a collision with another vehicle. Single-car accidents can happen due to dangerous road conditions, drunk driving, drowsy driving, inattentive driving, or speeding. Sometimes single-vehicle accidents involve pedestrians as well.

What Causes Motor Vehicle Accidents?

While certain factors are more likely to contribute to some types of accidents over others, the following are the most common causes of most motor vehicle collisions.

  • Distracted driving. The NHTSA estimates that distracted driving injures 390,000 and kills 3,400 people every year.
  • Drowsy driving. Driving while you are too tired can be as deadly as drunk driving. Every year, drowsy driving hurts at least 71,000 people and kills 1,500.
  • Driving under the influence. Drunk or drugged driving is a serious crime in San Diego. Driving under the influence is responsible for 1 death every 50 minutes and kills 10,000 people every year. Many more people are left seriously injured by drunk drivers.
  • Speeding. Driving too fast is one of the leading factors in traffic accidents. In 2018, speeding was a factor in 26% of traffic fatalities. About one-third of all accidents are attributed to speeding. Males between 15 and 24 are most likely to be speeding at the time of a fatal crash.
  • Aggressive or reckless driving. Aggressive driving refers to traffic offenses that endanger property or the lives of others. Reckless driving is a step above. Under California law, reckless driving is behavior that involves wanton or willful disregard for the safety of others.

Common Injuries In San Diego Car Accidents

Many car wrecks are, fortunately, minor, but even a minor car accident can cause lasting personal injuries. In fact, fairly low speed crashes that cause very little property damage are very likely to cause injury. This is because when the vehicle doesn't crumple, the force of the crash instead transfers tothe occupants.

Car accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injuries and death in the U.S. About 20-50 million people are non-fatally injured in crashes across the country every year with $75 billion in medical costs and lost productivity.

At Berman & Riedel, LLP, our experienced car accident lawyers frequently represent clients who have suffered serious harm due to careless drivers. Common injuries we see include:

The degree of injuries from a car accident depends on many factors including the speed, type of impact, type of vehicle, whether occupants were wearing seat belts, and more. Seat belts alone reduce the risk of death by 45% and the risk of serious injury by 50%. They also prevent occupants from being injected from the car which kills 3 out of 4 people in fatal accidents.

Image of a woman injured in a vehicle accident San Diego, California needing a lawyer - Berman Lawyers

After an accident, your injuries may leave you out of work with mounting medical expenses. You may need invasive surgical treatment, ongoing medical care, and a painful recovery and rehabilitation process. Many accident victims suffer catastrophic injuries and are left with permanent disabilities and psychological harm.

At Berman & Riedel, LLP, we are here to help you. We will investigate your accident to determine how it occurred and who is responsible. We will also help you gather evidence to prove the extent of your injuries to fight for the maximum compensation you deserve under California law.

Compensation Available in a Car Accident Case

When an accident has been caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver. This financial compensation is designed to make you as whole as you were before the accident, although that is, unfortunately, never possible. After a car crash, you may be left with injuries that affect your ability to work and enjoy your hobbies. You may have life-long injuries, both visible and invisible, that impact your quality of life.

The compensation you can recover in a car accident claim is divided into three broad categories:

  • Economic damages
  • Non-economic damages
  • Punitive damages

What Are Economic Damages?

Economic damages are those with a clear financial value. These damages are usually easy to calculate, but they can be difficult to calculate in claims involving permanent or long-term disability when it comes to lost earning capacity and benefits of employment. Economic damages include:

  • Medical bills associated with your injuries, both current and future. This includes surgery, emergency treatment, hospitalization, follow-up care, prescriptions, therapy, and medical devices.
  • Lost wages for the time you had to take off work while recovering.
  • Lost or reduced earning capacity if you are left disabled by your injuries.
  • Lost employment benefits such as pension contributions and paid vacation.

What Are Non-Economic Damages?

Non-economic or general damages are those that do not have an intrinsic financial value. These damages can include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental anguish
  • Emotional distress
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

There is no specific way to calculate non-economic damages like pain and suffering. An insurance company usually uses one of the two following methods which can, at least, serve as a starting point for negotiations.

  • The multiplier method uses your total economic damages as a base figure. A multiplier is chosen based on the severity of the injuries and long-term disability.
  • The per diem method assigns a dollar amount for every day until you have fully recovered from your accident.

Under California Civil Code Section 3333.4, some drivers are barred from recovering non-economic damages. This includes:

  • Drivers who were uninsured at the time of the crash.
  • Drivers who violated Section 23152 or 23153 of the California Vehicle Code (drunk driving) and were convicted.

What Are Punitive Damages?

While rare, you may be entitled to punitive damages as well. These damages are meant to punish someone for egregious behavior such as disregard for human life or drunk while intoxicated.

Punitive damages aren't just uncommon; they can only be recovered through a car accident lawsuit as a jury award.

Factors That Affect the Value of Your Personal Injury Case

Determining the value of your car accident injury case is complex. For very minor crashes, you may have only a few thousand dollars in damages for personal injury on top of damages to your property. If you suffered serious or catastrophic injuries, it's important to seek legal representation because your damages may be worth $100,000 or more than $1 million.

Our car accident lawyers will help you understand how much your case may be worth. Here are some important factors that affect the value of a motor vehicle accident claim.

  • The severity and type of car accident injuries you suffered
  • Your total economic or financial losses
  • What your life was like before the accident
  • The effect of your injuries on your daily life
  • Whether you suffered long-lasting or permanent disability or impairment
  • How the accident occurred, such as whether the other driver was particularly reckless

There are two crucial factors can limit the damages you can recover:

  • Being found at least partially at fault for the accident. If you are found partially responsible for the accident, your damages will be reduced by your share of fault. In California, you can still recover damages even if you are up to 99% to blame for the accident.
  • Insurance coverage of the at-fault driver. While the at-fault party can be held liable for damages beyond their insurance coverage, they may not have assets that you can pursue.

Car Accident Claims & Options for Recovering Compensation

After an accident, the primary means of recovering financial compensation is through an insurance claim. California is an at-fault insurance state, which means you file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company if you believe they were partially or fully responsible.

Unfortunately, this experience can be stressful and time-consuming. The at-fault driver’s insurance company is not on your side. The claims adjuster assigned to your case will work to shift liability away from their customer and onto you. They may minimize the injuries you have suffered, blame you for the accident, and make a lowball offer that fails to fully compensate you for the harm you have suffered. The adjuster’s job is to make you go away for as little as possible.

Except sometimes in the case of very minor accidents that mostly cause property damage, it’s always a good idea to retain an experienced San Diego car accident attorney before speaking with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. An experienced will protect your interests and negotiate on your behalf. Your attorney will understand the tactics and tricks insurance adjusters use to minimize claims.

Understanding the Insurance Claims Process

It may help to understand the general steps of your claim process. After you file a claim with the insurance company, the following will happen:

  • The claim will be assigned an adjuster. The adjuster will contact you for a statement within 15 days. You can decline to have this statement recorded. Simply present the facts of your accident and avoid statements that give any impression you are in a hurry to settle or contributed to the accident.
  • The adjuster will investigate your accident. They can use your statement, claim form, statements from other parties, an inspection of your vehicle, photos of the accident, damage reports, medical reports and bills, and other evidence. This can even include your social media posts.
  • Your claim must be accepted or denied within 40 days of being proved.
  • You will receive a settlement offer. In most cases, you will receive an initial settlement offer once your claim is investigated. This offer usually does not fully compensate you, especially if you are still receiving medical treatment, you have been left disabled, your injuries are serious, or another insurance company is disputing the determination of fault.
  • Negotiation. After receiving this settlement offer, your San Diego car accident lawyer will present evidence and argue your case. Your attorney will seek a settlement that fully compensates you for all the damages you have suffered. This process may take time, but it is the best way to obtain the best results.

If you and the insurance adjuster agree, you will need to sign a settlement agreement in which you give up the right to sue in exchange for payment. Otherwise, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the compensation you deserve.

What if the Driver Was Uninsured or Does Not Have Enough Coverage?

California law requires motorists carry liability insurance with the following minimum coverage:

  • Bodily injury coverage of $15,000/person and $30,000/accident
  • Property damage coverage of $5,000

Even a minor crash can easily exceed these limits.

If they do not have enough coverage to pay for your damages, you can make a claim with your own insurance company. However, you must have one of two optional forms of coverage:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. This pays for your own property damage and medical expenses if the at-fault driver does not have any or enough coverage.
  • Medical payments or MedPay coverage. This pays for necessary, reasonable medical bills for you and your passengers regardless of fault. Coverage is usually available in $1,000 increments.

Our accident lawyers always encourage drivers to carry UM/UIM insurance coverage.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit

If the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer for your damages, your legal team will likely proceed to filing a lawsuit. This means your case will be presented before a jury, if it proceeds that far.

After filing a lawsuit, negotiations with the insurance company will continue. Most cases settle and do not make it all the way to trial.

California Accident Laws & How to Prove Liability

Like most states, California uses a fault-based car insurance system which means the person who is found at fault for an accident is legally responsible for the damages. To recover compensation after a car accident in San Diego, your case will depend on showing the other driver was negligent or reckless.

Immediately after an accident, your first priority should be checking on other people involved in the accident and calling police and emergency responders. Remain at the scene to speak with police, but do not make any admissions of guilt. Take photos and videos of the scene, if possible, and get contact information from witnesses, the other driver, and anyone else involved in the accident. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible, even if you feel fine, as injuries from a car accident may not be immediately apparent.

It’s important to understand that California uses a comparative negligence system when determining liability in an accident. Under this system, multiple parties who are found at fault will share liability for the damages. If you are found 20% at fault for the accident but the other driver was 80% at fault, your damages will be reduced by 20%. Because any share of blame that is shifted to you will directly reduce the compensation you can recover, it’s crucial to work with an experienced car accident injury lawyer in San Diego to help you build your claim.

There are many factors that can be used to prove fault in a car accident. At Berman & Riedel, LLP, our San Diego car accident attorneys have decades of experience investigating car accident cases and fighting for maximum compensation for our clients. We will help you gather evidence and build the strongest case possible. The following are some types of evidence that may be used to prove fault in your case.

Police Reports

Police usually do not respond to San Diego minor accidents without injuries, but local police or the California Highway Patrol do generally respond to accidents that involve injuries. Law enforcement will create an official accident report which can serve as valuable evidence in your case. This report will contain a summary of the officer’s observations of the scene such as vehicle positions, vehicle debris, skid marks, damage to the vehicles, and road and weather conditions. The responding officers may even issue a citation and directly assign fault in the accident.

Physical Evidence at the Accident Scene

There are many forms of evidence that may be useful in proving the other party was at-fault for your crash. This can include:

  • Damage to both vehicles which can show how the accident occurred
  • Skid marks
  • Road and weather conditions
  • Vehicle on-board technology which can reveal the speeds the vehicles were traveling and when the brakes were applied

Witness Statements

Always get contact information from any witnesses to your accident. Witness statements from you, passengers, other people involved in the accident, and third parties can be used as testimony to strengthen your claim.

Photos & Videos

If possible, document the accident as much as you can with videos and photos. This evidence can be used to recreate the accident and potentially show what happened, including where the vehicles were just before they were hit, skid marks, and damage to each vehicle.

Statements by the Other Motorist

The other motorist may make statements to you or responding police officers that may be used to show they were at fault. Sometimes, reckless or negligent drivers admit they made a mistake or caused an accident at the scene.

California Vehicle Code

One of the most important ways to prove fault in a San Diego car accident is showing the other driver violated California traffic laws. The California Vehicle Code can be used to show that the other driver violated a traffic law and this was a major factor in causing the accident. The police report may be useful in showing the other driver violated the law, and they may even be issued a citation at the scene. The California Driver Handbook from the DMV can be a useful resource for showing another driver violated traffic rules.

The California Vehicle Code requires all motorists to obey traffic laws and exercise caution on the road. Examples of ways a driver may violate the law and be found negligent include:

If the negligent driver caused your accident by violating a safety law, the negligence per se doctrine in California reduces the burden of proof. This legal doctrine means the defendant's behavior is presumed unreasonable, and it becomes easier to prove fault in your case.

Experienced San Diego Car Accident Lawyers Ready to Fight the Insurance Company

Don’t underestimate the fight ahead of you. The for-profit insurance company isn’t on your side and doesn’t care that you are facing mounting medical bills, a painful recovery, and financial uncertainty. Their priority is getting you to go away and paying as little as possible, no matter how negligent their policyholder was.

At Berman & Riedel, LLP, we fight for you and serve as your legal advocate every step of the way. Our compassionate and aggressive San Diego car accident injury lawyers will help you hold the accountable party responsible by:

  • Conducting a thorough investigation of your accident
  • Building your claim with evidence to show how the other party caused your accident and the severity of your injuries
  • Handling all communication with the insurance company
  • Negotiating on your behalf to seek a fair settlement offer that fully compensates you
  • Taking your case before a jury if a fair settlement can’t be reached

Our personal injury law firm in San Diego has recovered over $100 million for our clients, including multi-million dollar settlements for victims injured in auto accidents. Contact Berman & Riedel, LLP to schedule a free consultation with a San Diego auto accident lawyer to begin working on your case. You never pay anything out of pocket. If we don’t recover compensation for you, you pay no attorney’s fees!

San Diego Auto Accident Attorney – Client Testimonial

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

Motor vehicle accidents are always traumatizing, but dealing with the aftermath can be overwhelming. The right car accident lawyer can make a difference in helping you recover the full compensation you deserve while holding the responsible driver accountable.

Our San Diego car accident lawyers have years of experience handling car accident cases and fighting back against insurance company tactics. We will put our experience and legal team to work for you.

Contact our law firm today to schedule a free case review with an experienced attorney to discuss your case and how we can help.

San Diego Auto Accident FAQs

Can I afford a car accident attorney?

A San Diego personal injury lawyer works on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing unless they recover compensation for you. There are no out-of-pocket costs to hire an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer.

How much is my San Diego car accident injury worth?

There is no easy way to answer this question. The value of your claim depends on the extent of your injuries, your non-economic damages like pain and suffering, and other factors.

How long will it take to resolve my car accident case?

A personal injury claim can take weeks, months, or even years to resolve depending on the details and complexity of the case. The clearer liability is, the faster your claim can be resolved. If your injuries are very significant or long-lasting, or the insurance company cannot reach a fair settlement, your claim may take longer and need to go to court.

Should I accept the insurance company’s settlement offer after a car accident?

Never accept a settlement from the insurance company without speaking with a car accident lawyer in San Diego. The initial settlement offer is usually very low and does not fully compensate you. If you accept this offer, you may not have all of your expenses covered.

Do I need a personal injury lawyer after a car accident in San Diego?

You can file an accident claim without an attorney, especially if the accident and your injuries were minor. However, an attorney can ensure your claim is filed correctly, build evidence to support your claim, and negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company to potentially secure a larger settlement offer or jury award.

San Diego Car Accident Statistics

Car accidents are the leading cause of accidental death in San Diego CA and across the country. They are also one of the leading causes of ER visits and serious injuries in the United States.

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), San Diego County ranked as the 28th safest county in California out of 58 for crash fatalities and injuries in 2017. There were 20,648 people injured or killed in car accidents in San Diego County in 2017.

  • Alcohol was a factor in 2,408 injuries and fatalities. This ranked 11th out of 58 counties which makes San Diego one of the worst California counties for drunk driving.
  • Over 5,000 of these injuries and fatalities involved speeding.
  • 1,351 people in San Diego County were hurt or killed in a hit and run accident in 2017.

In 2018, there were 7.63 crash fatalities per 100,000 people in San Diego County. More than half of these fatalities (4.52/100,000 people) were in single-vehicle accidents. More than one-quarter (2.03/100,000 people) involved drunk driving.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions people have about personal injury cases and working with a lawyer. During your initial consultation, we will be happy to answer questions that are particular to your case.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

The attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP, accept cases on a contingency-fee basis. This type of agreement means you do not pay any attorneys’ fees out-of-pocket for legal representation. Attorneys’ fees are also contingent on the outcome of your case.

You benefit from legal representation in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of a settlement or jury award. We will only recover a fee if you recover compensation.

Can You Tell Me How Much My Case Is Worth?

There is no way to determine the exact value of a personal injury case, especially early in your case. However, an experienced attorney can give you an estimated range based on their experience with similar cases.

There are many factors that may influence the value of your case, such as:

  • Your total financial or economic damages
  • The severity of your injuries
  • The impact of your injuries on your daily life
  • The strength of your case
  • Whether you share fault for your accident
  • Insurance policy limits 

Some damages are easy to calculate, such as lost wages and medical bills. Calculating the value of diminished earnings for the rest of your life or future medical needs; however, may require the help of experts. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering have no intrinsic financial value. These damages are challenging to calculate. 

If your case goes before a jury, you may potentially be able to recover more than you could through a settlement. However, this introduces a new element of risk: the jury. The circumstances of your accident and even how sympathetic you or the defendant are can influence the outcome.

During your consultation, and throughout your case, we will help you understand how these factors influence your case. We will also work tirelessly to document the value of all your damages and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

Will My Case Go to Trial?

The vast majority of cases are resolved by reaching a settlement agreement outside of court. Very few personal injury cases actually go to trial, but it is more likely if the facts in your case are in dispute, a legal issue is being contested, or you have a high-value case.

An experienced lawyer will build your case as if it will go to trial from the beginning. The stronger your case and evidence, the more likely a fair settlement will be reached.

How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If your case involves mostly property damage or minor injuries, you likely do not need a lawyer to handle a claim with the insurance company. The more serious your injuries, or the more complex your case, the more important it becomes to seek experienced legal counsel.

Remember that the insurance company is not on your side, even if the insurance adjuster seems sympathetic and you receive a settlement offer. If you are being blamed for your accident or sustained serious injury, a lawyer will help you protect your rights and build the strongest case possible. This includes calculating the full value of your current and future losses.

Legal representation is also vital if your case involves a complex area of law such as elder abuse or neglect, premises liability, commercial vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, or serious work-related accidents. Determining liability, navigating decades of legal precedence, and interpreting specific statutes in these cases is best done with years of relevant legal experience.

Do You Accept Cases Outside of San Diego?

While our law office is located in San Diego, Berman & Riedel, LLP, accepts cases throughout the state of California.


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