Three things San Diego accident victims should consider when filing a legal action.

California – July 29, 2022

After a motor vehicle accident in San Diego, victims may utilize their insurance and find that they do not have enough coverage to pay for the damages that occurred due to another person’s behavior.  When this happens, they can consult with a California accident attorney who will build a case for damage recovery using pertinent federal and state doctrine, depending on who was the negligent party. For example, if the accident was with a commercial carrier, federal regulations will build the framework for a case. Once all details of the accident are reviewed a court award or insurance settlement may cure the economic and non-economic losses suffered by an accident victim.  In some cases, California allows a jury to award punitive damages if it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the negligent accident party’s conduct was intentionally harmful.

Victims should consider:

  1. If injury is catastrophic or if a criminal component led to the accident.
  2. How the insurance will pay the comprehensive expenses of the accident losses.
  3. If someone suffered fatal injury, who benefits?

Catastrophic or criminal.

San Diego auto accident lawyers are beneficial if a victim has suffered severe injury, is struggling to recover payment from an insurance company, is being blamed for an accident where they had no fault, or there was a criminal component that led to the injury such as speeding, reckless driving, or DUI.


California is considered a “fault” state with regard to accidents, meaning that a victim can bring a claim against a responsible party before filing a claim against their own no-fault insurance.  Comparative fault rules allow accident victims  to receive compensation from the negligent party’s insurance, proportionate to their percentage of fault, even when the victim is partly responsible for the injury.  If insurance claim limits still do not cover the extent of a victim’s loss, accident victims may need to file a lawsuit within California’s two-year timeline.

Wrongful death.

When a car accident goes beyond the loss of property, and injuries that can be healed and someone suffers fatal injury, a wrongful death legal action can be filed in court. California’s wrongful death statute specifically allows the following parties to bring a wrongful death claim:

  • the deceased person’s surviving spouse,
  • the deceased person’s domestic partner,
  • the deceased person’ s surviving children,
  • if there is no surviving person in the deceased person’s line of descent, then a wrongful death lawsuit may be brought by anyone “who would be entitled to the property of the decedent by intestate succession”; that can include the deceased person’s parents, or the deceased person’s siblings, depending on who is living at the time of the deceased person’s death.

Hire an attorney for loss recovery.

Experienced San Diego accident lawyers will work with insurance companies after an accident, and are aware that insurance adjusters may often use formulas that result in lower insurance settlement offers for the purpose of closing out a claim quickly.  Legal counsel will then review industry-standard processes utilized for damage valuations of property, residual bodily harm, and wrongful death, and make certain the insurance company’s offer represents resultant compensatory and punitive damages to cover a victim’s losses.

 Compensatory damages. Fiscal recovery meant to address economic and non-economic losses of a victim caused by an accident.  Total awards can include:

  • Economic damages for present and future loss of earnings, medical bills, current and future medical care, household expenses, and
  • Non-economic damages for pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of consortium or companionship.

Punitive damages. Under California law, it is rare that punitive damages are considered and will be based on occasions where an individual’s actions were found to be reckless, intentional, egregious, and harmful, resulting in the injury.


Jeffrey E. Estes & Associates, a Professional Law Corporation

501 West Broadway, Suite 1650

San Diego, CA 92101

Phone: 619-233-8021

Fax: 619-233-3730


  1. https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/vehicle-registration/insurance-requirements/
  2. Section 377.32 – Affidavit or declaration by successor in interest, Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 377.32 | Casetext Search + Citator