car accident attorney san francisco

Being involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience. Even if the accident was relatively minor, the claims process could be stressful. 

If you or someone you love was injured in a car accident in Northern California, you need to contact an experienced San Francisco car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

The other party’s insurance company will do whatever it takes to place additional blame on you.

You need a legal advocate on your side to protect your rights and handle the stressful aspects of the claims process, so you can concentrate on healing.

Vehicle Accident in San Francisco Statistics

San Francisco is the largest financial, cultural, and transportation center of the bay area and the north state.

There are many benefits of living in the city by the bay. But traffic congestion, distracted driving, curved, hilly landscapes, and other factors can play into auto accidents in San Francisco. 

  • San Francisco had 29 traffic fatalities in 2019 according to the City Scorecard. This statistic is reported as 39 by City Data;
  • According to Drive Safely Drivers’ Education, California has the second-highest accident death rate in the nation with 3,259 deaths in 2020;
  • Per mile driven, San Francisco ranked near the top of the 2016 list for having the most dangerous roads in the region; and
  • According to Vision Zero SF, in San Francisco, more than 70 percent of severe and fatal traffic injuries occur on just 12 percent of city streets.

Major roadways such as U.S. 101, Interstates 80, 880, and 280, along with Highways 1 and 5, make San Francisco roadways some of the most frequently traversed routes across the state. 

Choosing San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer

At the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart, Chuck Geerhart has over three decades of experience helping injured clients just like you.

We understand what a frustrating time this can be for you. Dealing with the other driver’s insurance company only adds to the stress.

We are well-versed in the tricks and tactics insurance companies use to reduce your claim’s value and place more fault on your shoulders.

When you retain Chuck, he will fight tirelessly for you and ensure your rights are protected. You shouldn’t settle for less than you deserve.

Pure Comparative Negligence in California

California is a pure comparative negligence state.

What that means is that you could collect a portion of your damages from the other driver, even if you were partially at fault.

With pure comparative negligence, you could be the majority at fault and still receive compensation.

However, any money you recover will be subject to liability apportionment under California Civil Code Section 1431.2.

For example, if a jury finds you 40% at fault, then you have the right to collect 60% of your damages. If a jury finds you 80% at fault in California, you can still collect 20%.

Pure comparative negligence is one reason why it’s crucial to have a skilled lawyer on your side.

The insurance company wants to place the most blame on you, as it reduces the insurer’s potential payout.

We will make sure they do not try to put unnecessary fault on you in an attempt to save money.

Why Should You Hire a San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer?

Hiring a San Francisco car accident lawyer is beneficial for numerous reasons. Most people have a lot of questions following an accident.

Your attorney will be able to answer them all, including questions such as who is at fault and how will you pay your medical bills.

In accidents that result in serious life-changing injuries, your attorney will be able to help you through the process of seeking damages for your future medical treatment and expenses.

These tend to be very complicated cases and may wind up in litigation before they resolve. At the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart, we have ample experience with these types of cases.

It may be necessary to hire industry experts who can provide an opinion on various aspects of your case, from an accident reconstructionist who can show how the accident occurred to life care experts who can talk about the costs of treatment you need in the future.

The sooner you retain an attorney, the better it is for your case. Your attorney will immediately start gathering evidence and requesting documents to ensure everything is preserved in the event of litigation.

Our primary focus is to fight for the compensation you deserve after a San Francisco car accident.

San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer
The sooner you retain an attorney, the better it is for your case.

Examples of Case Results

If you are considering hiring an attorney, they should be willing to provide examples of prior case results.

If they are unwilling to share previous settlements and trial verdicts, it could be a red flag that they aren’t as experienced as they want you to believe.

Chuck Geerhart has successfully negotiated and tried multi-million-dollar cases on behalf of our clients. Examples of case results include:

  • $9,000,000 settlement against a tow truck company that lost control of the car that rolled down a hill and killed the driver of another vehicle. We filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the victim’s minor daughter and parents.
  • $5,000,000 settlement against a commercial vehicle company after our client suffered severe leg injuries in an accident.
  • $633,000 settlement against a ridesharing vehicle that struck our client who was a pedestrian and suffered a broken hip that required surgery.
  • $175,000 settlement for a 19-year-old student whose mother was killed by a drunk driver. Lack of insurance meant there was only $100,000 available, and we negotiated to get an additional $75,000 in funds directly from the drunk driver.

To see more cases we’ve successfully resolved, visit our Case Results page.

Common Causes of Car Accidents in Northern California

Accidents occur every day in and around San Francisco. They happen in a split second, making it hard to react.

Knowing some of the most common causes of accidents ahead of time can help you become a better defensive driver. We talk about car accidents, but rarely is there ever such a thing as an accident.

Someone’s negligence or recklessness is almost always the cause of car accidents in California.

Distracted driving, which is more than just texting and driving, is one of the most common causes of accidents. Distractions can include looking at the vehicle’s GPS, changing a radio station, eating while driving, and more.

Talking to other passengers can also be distracting. Anything that takes your full attention from the road is a distraction. 

Some of the most common causes of car accidents include:

  • Speeding or driving recklessly.
  • Fatigued driving.
  • Drinking and driving (DUI),
  • Driving while fatigued or exhausted, and
  • Disobeying other traffic rules, such as failing to stop at a stop sign, etc.

Any one or more of these factors can contribute to a car accident in California. Practicing defensive driving skills and wearing a seatbelt can help reduce injury severity in some accidents.

Types of Car Accidents in San Francisco

We represent clients for all types of car accidents. Examples of accident types we handle include:

  • Rear-end collisions between two passenger cars;
  • Head-on collisions;
  • Drunk driving accidents;
  • Accidents involving uninsured and underinsured drivers;
  • Passenger car versus a motorcycle;
  • Rideshare vehicle and taxi accidents;
  • Accidents involving commercial vehicles;
  • Accidents involving large 18-wheeler trucks;
  • Vehicle accidents involving a pedestrian or bicyclist; and
  • Accidents involving defective auto parts.

Accidents involving pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycles typically involve more severe injuries. These parties all have one thing in common—lack of protection.

In many cases, these individuals make direct contact with the vehicle or truck in a collision. They don’t have airbags and other vehicle safety features to keep them from being crushed.

Even a seemingly minor accident involving one of these parties could be enough to knock them to the ground, resulting in serious injuries. 

Why It’s Important to Seek Medical Treatment Following a Car Accident

An accident victim’s injuries will vary based on the circumstances of the accident and any other pre-existing conditions they have.

A car accident can result in injuries to nearly every part of your body. Although an accident occurs in a split second, your body undergoes a lot. You may have injuries and not even realize it right away.

Sometimes, it can take several days before some soft tissue injuries like whiplash become apparent.

That is one reason why it’s crucial to seek medical treatment following an accident. You could also have internal injuries that aren’t visible to the naked eye.

Delaying treatment will only help the other driver’s insurance company argue that your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim, or they may say that you had another event or accident after the initial car accident that caused your injuries.

Common Types of Injuries in San Francisco Car Accidents

More than three million people are injured in vehicle accidents each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The type of injuries sustained vary greatly depending on a number of factors such as:

  • Speed of the vehicles involved;
  • If the victim was wearing a seatbelt;
  • Angle of the impact; and
  • If the airbags deployed.

Despite the uniqueness of car accidents in San Francisco, there are some types of injuries that are more common than others. 

Head Injuries

Head and brain injuries can range from a mild concussion to a traumatic brain injury resulting in permanent damage. You are also at risk for skull fractures, penetration injuries, and hematomas.

If you sustained any head injuries in a vehicle collision, it’s imperative you seek medical treatment right away and contact a skilled San Francisco car accident lawyer.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Any damage to the body’s connective tissue is considered a soft tissue injury. This includes muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Whiplash is a soft tissue injury that occurs when the muscles and ligaments in the upper back are stretched due to sudden movement of the head in a whipping motion.

This often happens during the jolt of impact. Car accidents in San Francisco can result in low and mid-back muscle sprains. 

Neck Injuries

Neck injuries, such as whiplash, are prevalent in car accidents. Whiplash is especially common in rear-end collisions because your neck is suddenly thrust forward and backward.

Neck injuries are very problematic as severe fractures can cause paralysis and even death. If you fracture a vertebra in the top of your neck, you could sever your spinal cord, leaving you paralyzed.

Back Injuries

Back injuries can also be severe, especially if the spinal cord is involved. Herniated discs and fractured vertebrae are standard in car accidents.

Spinal disk injuries can also result in nerve impingement, limiting your ability to walk. Some victims need surgery and have pain for the rest of their lives.

Chest Injuries

There’s also a risk of chest injury in an accident. You could have broken ribs, suffer a collapsed lung, or even go into cardiac arrest.

Do not delay treatment if you have any chest pain. It’s crucial to have a doctor confirm there are no severe internal injuries.

Recoverable Damages in a San Francisco Car Accident Case

Recoverable damages in a car accident will vary based on the circumstances of the accident and the severity of your injuries.

In general, some of the most common types of damages car accident victims are awarded include:

  • Medical treatment to date,
  • Future expected medical treatment,
  • Lost wages to date,
  • Future loss of earning capacity,
  • Physical pain and suffering,
  • Mental anguish, and
  • Loss of quality of life.

In special car accident cases, you might be eligible to receive punitive damages as well. These damages are reserved for cases involving recklessness or gross negligence.

Someone intentionally hitting your vehicle or driving under the influence of alcohol could justify punitive damages.

These damages are designed to punish the defendant and deter them from engaging in similar behavior in the future.

Statute of Limitations on San Francisco Car Accident Claims

The statute of limitations is the legal deadline California sets for how long you have to file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties.

Once the deadline passes, the court could refuse to hear your case and dismiss it entirely. You mustn’t miss the deadline, or you may lose out on all compensation you would’ve been entitled to receive.

According to California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, if you have an injury claim, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the accident date.

If you have a property damage claim, the deadline is three years under California Code of Civil Procedure section 338.

If your accident involves a government entity or a minor, the deadline could be different. For example, claims against government agencies must be filed within six months.

When you retain an attorney, they will be the ones responsible for ensuring a timely lawsuit is filed with the proper court.

Contact a San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer

Before you can successfully collect any damages, you must prove the defendant was responsible for your injuries.

Proving liability can be a complicated process in some cases, which is why we highly recommend retaining a San Francisco car accident lawyer.

We know you have numerous law firms to choose from, and we appreciate that you are considering the Law Office of Chuck Geerhart.

Please contact us today to schedule an initial consultation. Meet with us and learn how we can help.

With over 30 years of experience with California car accident cases, we’ve seen every type of accident scenario possible.

Let us protect your rights and fight for the compensation you deserve.

Q&A

Should I Hire a San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer?

Hiring an experienced San Francisco car accident lawyer is your best bet to receive the compensation you deserve.

An attorney can help determine the value of your claim, negotiate with insurance companies, or pursue litigation on your behalf.

Where Can I Find a Car Accident Lawyer Free Consultation Near Me?

The Law Office of Chuck Geerhart offers free car accident case consultations to help you determine your case value and the best way to proceed in order to get fair recovery for your injuries.

How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim in San Francisco?

The California Statute of Limitations on personal injury such as car accidents extends two years after the accident occurred.

If you are only suing for property damages, the limit is three years from the date of the damages. Claims against the government must be filed within six months of the accident. 

Can I Still Sue If I Was Partially Responsible for the Accident?

California is a pure comparative negligence state.

What that means is that you could collect a portion of your damages from the other driver, even if you were partially at fault.

Your compensation will be reduced by the percentage a court finds you to be at fault. 

What Amount of Damages Can I Receive for My Car Accident in San Francisco?

Compensation in a car accident will vary based on the circumstances of the accident and the severity of your injuries.

You may be entitled to economic damages to cover expenses. You may also be entitled to non-economic damages for pain, suffering, and the like. In some cases, the court may award punitive damages. 

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  • A friend recommended Chuck Geerhart. It was an excellent recommendation.

    As a British journalist, recently based in San Francisco and without medical insurance, things seemed pretty messy after I found myself in an airport shuttle, driven by a lunatic, who struck a parked cab. I had to go to hospital, who diagnosed a head injury – as, later, did a neurologist – but the shuttle company’s insurance company continually balked at paying the bills.

    A friend recommended Chuck Geerhart. It was an excellent recommendation. He was a great lawyer to have on my side, persistent in his battles with the insurance company, supportive of his client and a pleasure to work with, resolving the claim with the minimum of fuss.

    Susan
  • Chuck made sure I was fairly compensated for this life altering injury.

    I was working as an air traffic controller at SFO when a notoriously faulty elevator slammed to a stop between floors, throwing me against the wall and rupturing discs in my neck. I had to have major surgery on my neck. The City and the elevator maintenance company denied liability, until Chuck Geerhart obtained copies of all prior repair records which showed the elevator was continually resetting due to a power supply issue.

    During the discovery phase of the case, to protect my privacy rights, he filed a motion with court to block a subpoena issued by the defense that sought to obtain my complete confidential employment file and complete health history in violation of the law. We ultimately settled the case for $1,000,000 after mediation.

    I feel that Chuck did a great job making sure I was fairly compensated for this life-altering injury.

    Denise
  • Chuck Geerhart dealt with my case in the most humane way I could imagine.

    I was fortunate to have been referred to Chuck Geerhart when I was dealing with a very painful and tragic case of abuse by religious leadership, which was stretched over five years.
    Chuck Geerhart dealt with my case in the most humane way I could imagine. He was intelligent and strategic in his approach, always very communicative; an attentive ear, fearless and confident support for someone who was very confused and seeking answers where there were only walls. He always involved me in the process, sharing crucial information with me and allowing me the time and space to decide and move forward. He treated me like a partner, which helped me recover the power that was taken away from me.
    At the same time he provided the professional expertise which I needed in order to win the case. The process of winning this case was as empowering as the actual outcome. It was a healing experience in itself. I am very happy with the support and guidance I got from Chuck as well as with the monetary result from such a serious injury. It has truly helped me move on in a good way.

    Frank