I have a question about a car accident injury in San Diego, California.

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I have a question about a car accident injury in San Diego, California.

My roommate got in a car accident in San Diego, California and was VERY badly injured and hospitalized for months. The vehicle was his but the driver was a friend who died from the accident. They both have liability and the parents of the driver says the insurance paid out for the auto accident but yet my roommate has not heard anything, how long does a settlement normally take? Also, my roommate doesn’t seem to be taking the matter seriously and seems like he’s letting the situation go. Where would that money go?

Asked on May 7, 2009 under Accident Law, California

Answers:

R.S.T., Member, NY Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Somethings you need to clear up.  Did your roommate sue anyone? What settlement? What did the insurance "pay out for the accident"? Whom did they pay? Who was liable? Where would what money go?

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

In any accident there are issues of fault.

The general rule is if a party is solely at fault, he/she is responsible for damages that result.

In most car accidents there is one driver who is at fault. The driver may have been drunk, driving too fast or recklessly, failing to stop at a traffic light or railway crossing, fallen asleep, or driven off the road or a cliff, etc.

If some cases there are several people who may be at fault In that case, in most states, a party less than 50% at fault recovers, although the recovery is reduced somewhat based on his or her degree of fault. Usually passengers are not regarded as at fault at all, although in some states if they know the driver is drunk or reckless, and ride with him anyway, they can be said to have assumed the risk. In some instances the car's owner may also face liability, or the driver's employer.

In many cases the accident itself is the fault of neither driver -- but of defects in the car itself (such as if the car's transmission suddenly and improperly accelerates) or the fault of a mechanic (such as if a replaced tire falls off) or a defect in the roadway (as if a bridge collapses), or the bartender who served one drink too many to your friend.  In those cases the manufacturer, mechanic, state or bartender may be at fault.

You did not seem to indicate who you believe was at fault in the case of this tragic accident. It could have been the deceased driver (the driver of your roommate's car), another driver or some other  party. But your roommate was a passenger and should not be sitting back waiting for an adjuster.

Your roommate should long ago have consulted with a qualified personal injury, car accident or insurance lawyer. The lawyer would evaluate the case, free, and if there is fault on the part of someone else, and your roommate would be entitled to recover, the lawyer would handle the case on a contingency basis and charge nothing except from the recovery the lawyer would generate. Here the damages could be huge. (Of course, there has to be someone who could pay the damages -- such as the insurance companies the driver and the owner had.)  The insurance companies have been preparing to defend a case, and your roommate should not speak to them or their adjusters without his lawyer -- as the insurance companies' objective is to get him to destroy his case or so damage claim that they could settle for chump change.

AttorneyPages.com lists MANY top California lawyers with extensive experience. Your roommate should also know time is not on his side. Not only is there a statute of limitations in all states plus notice requirements if a state or municipal government may have some liability, but memories dim, the insurance companies have likely done extensive investigation and perhaps poisoned some witnesses minds, and while he sits and waits his case is becoming less valuable

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I think your roommate needs a lawyer.  He can find one at our website, http://attorneypages.com

There really isn't any "normal" length of time for a settlement. More complicated cases take longer to settle, especially with serious injuries like your roommate had, since the amount of permanent injury isn't know right away.  The driver's family's claim is simpler, in some ways, because of this.  Some insurance companies work faster than others, and most insurance companies will work faster when you have a lawyer on your side.

Your roommate needs to remember that if he has to sue, because the insurance company isn't being reasonable, he has to do that within a limited time.  In California, that time limit is two years from the date of the accident.


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