Orange County Roadway Safety

Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in the United States and an everyday occurrence in California. Reckless driving and distracted driving are among the top causes of auto accidents in the country and the state. Other accidents can happen because of road hazards, or dangerous road conditions. Like in other personal injury claims, car accident injury claims involving road hazards are often due to negligence.

Orange County Roadway Safety

Roadway safety must be the priority of all motor vehicle drivers and pedestrians. However, auto accidents still happen despite defensive driving and pedestrian precautions. This blog post by our car accident attorney in Orange County is a guide to car accident injury claims involving road hazards.

Common Road Hazards That Cause Auto Accidents

Many environmental factors or the presence of objects, other vehicles, animals, and people can trigger a car wreck and even cause devastating injuries. Here are several examples:

  • Hydroplaning
  • Tire blowout
  • Inclement weather
  • Fog
  • Baby distractions
  • Glare
  • Bicyclists and motorcyclists
  • Pedestrians
  • Children playing nearby or walking home
  • Animals
  • Construction zones
  • Large trucks

About a third of fatal car crashes every year are speed-related, which means that the top car accident injuries are caused by whiplash. Fortunately, many of the above types of road hazards can be avoided by slowing down and driving carefully, while others require specific precautions and car maintenance.

Other Road Hazards

There are also road hazards that are not short-lived, but are issues with the roadway or freeway itself:

  • Cracks or potholes in the pavement
  • Defective or dangerous guardrails
  • Damage to an overpass or a bridge
  • Inadequate or improper highway safety signals
  • Lack of proper highway lighting
  • Unsafe road design
  • Improper maintenance by a road construction company

If you notice a road hazard that has to do with the construction of the road, report it to the California Highway Patrol. Doing so will help to make the Orange County community safer for you and others.

Dangerous Roadways and Freeways in Orange County

Orange County car accidents, like anywhere else, over time will make specific roadways and freeways stand out for being dangerous.

Many intersections in California are dangerous because of their multiple lanes for traffic going straight and turning left or right, crosswalks, and parallel parking spaces. The top dangerous intersections for Orange County car accidents are:

  • Alicia Pkwy and Jeronimo Rd in Mission Viejo
  • Euclid St and Orangethorpe Ave in Fullerton
  • Chapman Ave and Harbor Blvd in Fullerton
  • Ellis and Newland in Huntington Beach
  • Commonwealth Blvd and Harbor Ave in Fullerton
  • Harbor Blvd and Orangethorpe Ave in Fullerton
  • Chapman Ave and Commonwealth Ave in Fullerton
  • Gothard and Heil in Huntington Beach
  • Magnolia and Yorktown in Huntington Beach
  • Acacia Ave and Kimberly Ave in Fullerton

Two of the most dangerous roads and freeways for Orange County car accidents are Ortega Highway (State Route 74) and Laguna Canyon Road. The most dangerous highway is Santiago Canyon Road, especially at certain points, such as where it intersects with Jamboree Road. The “Road of Death” is where it changes to Chapman Avenue.

Ortega Highway is even rated as one of the United States’ deadliest roads. That’s because it’s easy to drift into oncoming traffic with no divider or run off the side of the mountain, especially with high traffic and unsafe speeds. Driving on it has a higher risk of an accident and serious injuries than six other, similar rural highways in California. A typical Orange County car accident on Ortega Highway often involves a motorcyclist.

Stay Safe on Orange County Roads

These five tips will help increase your safety on Orange County freeways and roadways:

  • Scan the road ahead
  • Don’t follow too closely
  • Eliminate distractions
  • Leave side room away from other cars
  • When in doubt, yield

The best way to avoid getting into Orange County car accidents is by driving defensively. Such a practice is not necessarily about improving your own driving, but accepting that other drivers are dangerous.

California Accident Reporting Laws

The reporting of car collisions is not only about insurance claims for property damage and bodily injuries. According to the California Vehicle Code, drivers or their representative must make a written report with the California Highway Patrol or file a police report within 24 hours of the car crash if someone is injured, someone dies, or there is any property damage exceeding $1,000.

An Orange County car accident is no different, even if it was due to a road hazard. Not only is it helpful for accident statistics, but there could be unforeseen circumstances and personal injuries that appear later. Keep in mind that your road hazard accident scene could create its own additional road hazard and threaten the lives of other people with damage and debris such as glass, plastic, a tire, or a tire rim.

It’s also the law to report an auto accident: Failure to do so can cost you up to one year in jail, a fine of anywhere between $1,000 and $10,000, or both. If the auto accident results in death or serious injury, failure to report can cost you two to four years in prison or 90 days to a year in jail, a fine of $1,000 to $10,000, or both.

California Car Accident Laws

California is not a “no-fault” state when it comes to any type of motor vehicle accident, so any at-fault driver involved is liable for the damages they cause, even if they are an injured party. The mandatory minimum vehicle insurance coverage, according to California Insurance Code §11580.1b, is $15,000 for each person injured or killed in an auto accident, $30,000 for injury/death of two or more persons in one auto accident, and $5,000 for property damage in any single accident.

Liability in Orange County Car Accidents

Liability can fall on another driver, even if the auto accident was caused by them avoiding a road hazard. However, you might alternatively be able to recover compensation from the local government, the trucking company, the construction company responsible for the road hazard, or both.

A car parts manufacturer or mechanic can also be held liable if they were responsible for a malfunctioning car part. For example, defective tires that hydroplane would be the fault of the negligent party that caused the tires to be defective.

You could be liable as a negligent driver if it can be proven that you did not take proper precautions while driving. You could also be a negligent driver if you did not maintain your vehicle and the lack of maintenance caused the car accident, for example, a tire blowout due to old tires.

Establishing liability for a negligent driver or another party depends on the circumstances of your case. For this, an experienced auto accident lawyer is an excellent counsel and legal representative.

California Auto Insurance Requirements

California makes auto liability insurance mandatory, which covers property damage. But if you have a road hazard accident, one of two possible scenarios can happen. One is that you can sue the other driver’s insurance company for car accident compensation, assuming that another driver was at fault. The other is that your own insurance company will recover compensation for you.

However, collision and comprehensive insurance are optional in California, and you cannot add it and retroactively apply it to your case. The exception where it is mandatory is when some lenders require it for financing your lease or purchase of a new vehicle.

Compensation for a Road Hazard Accident

Car accident compensation includes the following for all accident victims, much like in personal injury cases:

  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Medical expenses and ongoing medical treatment
  • Wrongful death

People who have been injured in a car accident or who have significant damages besides property damage due to a road hazard find that car accident lawyers are their best advocates for handling paperwork, following procedures for bodily injury claims and insurance claims, and recovering fair compensation. An experienced car accident attorney is a specialized personal injury attorney who can do the work of proving negligence and seeking fair compensation for medical bills incurred, traumatic injuries, lost income, and more. They serve to represent you during negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company and in court, should a personal injury lawsuit be necessary.

Large Truck Accident Cases

Car accident cases involving large trucks are extremely difficult to handle. The other driver's insurance company has a legal team of car accident lawyers and other personal injury attorneys. They will put up a huge fight to convince you to sign a release of liability or to settle on anything but the fair compensation you deserve, so it’s a good idea for you to counter with your own car accident lawyer.

Time Limit for Filing Orange County Car Accident Claims

Reporting a car accident right away is extremely important for any bodily injury claim you want to file. A car accident claim follows personal injury law. Much like wrongful death or other personal injury claims, it allows you to file up to two years from the injury. If you did not discover the injury right away, then you have one year from the date of discovery of the injury. Seeking medical attention will determine that your injuries were indeed caused by the car accident.

Filing a Car Accident Injury Claim with Your Insurance Company

Most insurance companies require you to report an auto accident within 24 hours to your own insurance company. The other driver’s insurance company also has a timeframe that allows you to file your injury claim. Failure to report an auto accident with your own insurance company could result in you being dropped from coverage.

Filing a Car Accident Injury Claim in California

The state of California has its own timeframe for filing personal injury claims. It is generally six months from the date of the accident. That’s why it’s in your best interest to start a car accident case with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Orange County Today

If you have suffered injuries from an automobile accident due to a road hazard and need to recover compensation, we have a legal team ready to advise you. Even if you’re unsure of the liable parties, we can review the details of your case and formulate a strategy for your car accident claim.

Beckerman Anderson has a proven track record for obtaining fair compensation for accident victims with personal injury claims. Call our law firm for a free consultation from an auto accident attorney at (949) 409-4299.