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San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer

We handle a lot of auto accident injury cases.  It is the most common type of case in our office.  We have helped victims of all types of traffic collisions earn the support they need to rebuild their lives.

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The Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan represent the victims of serious traffic accidents in San Francisco and across the Bay Area. Our skilled San Francisco car accident lawyers take action immediately to secure the financial compensation victims need to make a full recovery. We also help families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident seek wrongful death support to protect their futures.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation traffic accident case consultation. This is a no-risk way to find out what your case may be worth. It’s vital information that you’ll need as car insurance companies work to downplay your injuries and rob you of the support you require to recover.

Exactly what we do for our car accident clients in a short, animated video:

San Francisco Car Accident Dangers

San Francisco and Bay Area traffic is often one big, tangled mess from morning to night. From the many lanes of Interstate 80 and Highway 101 to the tight lanes of Geary Boulevard, careless drivers are a frequent site. Speeding motorists or drivers looking at cellphones instead of the road cause dangerous impacts on a daily basis.

California’s Transportation Injury Mapping System (TIMS) reports that at least 32 people lost their lives in San Francisco traffic accidents across 2021. Those sad deaths were part of 3,226 total car accidents involving injury recorded in the city for the year.

These mistakes cause severe injuries like broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and internal organ damage. The results were sometimes life-threatening for victims. Victims should be able to focus on healing and completing physical therapy, but the cost of medical care is understandably a huge concern for many patients.

When a careless or reckless driver causes an accident, the driver’s car insurance provider must be held accountable for every hardship that victims suffer. That includes paying for every hospital bill a victim receives. A skilled San Francisco car accident lawyer makes sure these damages and others earn full compensation for victims.

What to Do After a San Francisco Car Accident

San Francisco’s busiest intersections are some of the most common accident scenes in the city. Jam-packed intersections like the one at Divisadero Street and Oak Street see around a dozen serious accidents a year. The fast-moving traffic crossing the intersection of Market Street and Octavia Street also commonly results in scary collisions.

Victims in these crashes may be left in shock and in serious pain immediately after an impact. Yet, if you are in a collision on any Bay Area roadway, and you feel strong enough, it’s a great time to secure some valuable evidence right there on the scene.

Once the scene is secure, try to collect these details to give your car accident injury claim the best chance of earning the compensation you’ll need to recover:

  • Dial 911 – Grab your cellphone and contact the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) or the California Highway Patrol (CHP). Officers will prepare a collision report that will serve as strong evidence as you try to secure car accident injury compensation. Get checked out by ambulance personnel no matter how minor you think your injuries are.
  • Take Photos – Put your phone to work getting pictures and video of the scene. Show the damage to cars. Show traffic signs and lane markings. Get images of your visible injuries and damaged clothes. If you must rush off to the emergency room, ask someone with you to assist in getting photos.
  • Talk to Witnesses – Find out if witnesses saw the at-fault driver acting distracted or reckless. Find out how to contact them. Turn this information over to your San Francisco personal injury lawyer.
  • Check for Surveillance Cameras – Scan area homes and businesses to see if security cameras or doorbell cameras may have recorded the crash. Jot down the addresses for your car accident attorney.
  • Visit Your Doctor – The shock and adrenaline of what’s happened may mask the pain of a serious internal injury. You should visit your doctor in the days following a crash. An X-ray may reveal a hairline fracture or another serious injury. Follow the doctor’s advice and save all receipts for care.

For more help after an accident, check out our page on what not to do when preparing for your car accident injury claim.

How Much is My San Francisco Car Accident Case Worth?

This is understandably the single most asked question we get when meeting people who have been injured in a car accident. Victims may be facing a financial disaster as medical bills pile up in the mailbox. They often need financial rescue as soon as possible.

The factors of each case are different and it’s hard to put a value on your case before sitting down with you to discuss what happened. It is possible to get an idea of what you’d earn by going over the details that most affect your car accident injury settlement amount.

Generally speaking, here are the types of things that would determine the amount of compensation a car accident victim in the Bay Area would receive:

  • Past “Paid” Medical Bills
  • Cost of Future Medical Treatment.
  • Lifelong medical costs for victims who suffer physical disabilities.
  • Travel costs for medical appointments.
  • Past Lost Wages.
  • Future Lost Wages.
  • Loss of Earning Capacity.
  • The physical pain you experience.
  • The emotional trauma you suffer.
  • Cost to Repair/Replace Car.

What car accident injuries are most commonly treated in San Francisco Emergency Rooms?

Advances in technology and heightened safety standards have made car occupants of cars in accidents less vulnerable than in the past, but serious injuries are still common when cars collide.  Typically, the higher the collision (speed) the more severe the injuries that result.  In low impact collisions (less than 15mph) the most common type of injury that occurs is a soft tissue, strain/sprain injury – when it involves the neck it is commonly referred to as “whiplash”.  These “soft-tissue” injuries typically result from rear-end, low impact collisions.

Many people injured in low impact collisions that suffer from only strain/sprain injuries can handle their insurance claims without a lawyer – especially if liability is clear and uncontested.  If this sounds like your situation, you should reference our page on handling your own personal injury claim.  Of course, we are also happy to speak to you on the phone about your situation to help you determine your best path to securing financial help.

When car crashes involve speeds greater than 15mph, injured victims are very likely to need a San Francisco car accident lawyer to help them with their claim and case.

Injuries that result from these higher impact collisions are typically more severe and include:

  1. Torn Ligaments and Tendons
  2. Broken Bones
  3. Back/Spinal Injury
  4. Head Injury/Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
  5. Internal Injuries
  6. Disfigurement
  7. Paralysis
  8. Death

You should know that injuries resulting from a car accident might not always be apparent immediately.  After being in a car accident, your body is in a state of shock and produces endorphins to reduce pain.  It is not uncommon after the shock wears off to develop symptoms or for your pain to get worse several hours after the car accident.  It is important to get medical treatment if your pain increases or fails to get better as this is usually a sign of something more serious.

Dealing with Health Insurance Subrogation Claims

I was injured in a San Francisco car accident. Do I need a car accident lawyer?

We’re sorry to learn that you were injured in a auto accident, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the you need to hire a San Francisco auto accident lawyer. For example, if you suffered only minor injuries (soft tissue) and it is clear that the other person was at fault, you may be able to handle your claim with the other person’s insurance company yourself.

There’s no need to wonder if you’re eligible to file a claim, though. Reach out to The Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan for a free consultation to discuss whether you have a case.  If you do, we will happily help you determine the best way to handle your claim.  We never take on cases that we can’t add value to.  In other words, if you can’t likely earn more by hiring us, it doesn’t make sense for you to hire a personal injury lawyer.  That said, if you suffered more serious injuries or an insurance company is unfairly blaming you for what happened, you will need to hire an injury lawyer or else you will likely be costing yourself a lot of money.

Were you in a car accident involving a Waymo vehicle? Learn more here.

Maximizing Your Car Accident Settlement Amount or Court Award

  • Use our leverage of being able to file a lawsuit to put pressure on adjusters.
  • Use our experience in handling 100s of cases like yours to ensure you are paid top dollar.
  • Negotiate and reduce your health insurance claims, which nets you more.

Occasionally, the at-fault party’s insurance refuses to accept responsibility, wants to place an unfair amount of blame on you, or doesn’t respect the extent of your injuries and damages.  When that happens, we file a lawsuit on your behalf and utilize the court system to create pressure on them.  You see, the insurance company knows that if they don’t treat you fairly, a jury of 12 of your peers will ultimately decide what you are entitled to.  This pressure causes them to reassess their position on your case and almost always causes them to offer you a good settlement before trial.

Bay Area Car Accident Settlement Victories for Our Clients

MJQ Law handles a lot of auto accident, injury cases.  It is the most common type of case in our office.  We have seen it all, but here are three cases we recently resolved for our clients.

$100,000 settlement  Our Client, K.W. was driving home from work in the East Bay when a car travelling the opposite direction attempted to turn left in front of her and into a bank parking lot.  Our client t-boned the car, and her car, which was a souped-up Mustang with loud exhaust, and totaled it. Our client suffered a torn labrum in her shoulder that wasn’t diagnosed until 1 year later.  The police report found our client to be at fault for speeding and driving recklessly because two independent witnesses said she was speeding and “revving her engine.”  After filing a lawsuit and taking several depositions, we received the 15k policy limits from the other driver and received an additional 85k from her UIM (under-insured motorist) policy.

$52,500 settlement  Our client, J.B., a passenger in her ex-boyfriend’s car, injured her neck after he pulled out into San Francisco traffic attempting to park and was hit.  Client received conservative and alternative medical treatment, but suffered from lingering pain for many months.  As a result of her injuries, the client, a business owner, also suffered financial losses to her business due to her inability to work, travel, etc.  Making the claim difficult, her business showed increased revenues following her injuries.  Prior to retaining our firm, the client attempted to represent herself in her insurance claim and was offered a take-it-or-leave offer of only $5,000.

$535,000 settlement  Our client, R.M. was injured when the vehicle she was traveling in blew a tire (delamination) and rolled-over on a highway in Mexico on a hot summer day.  She suffered severe injuries to one of her arms that was partially outside the window as the car rolled over.  We sued the tire manufacture and a Bay Area vehicle-service company, who had given the vehicle its stamp of approval for the trip just days before they left for their road trip.  After lengthy litigation, both defendants combined to offer a fair settlement.

What Type of Car Insurance Is Required in California?

All California drivers are required to carry 15/30 liability insurance.  15/30 refers to the amount of coverage a driver must have for people they injure; 15k per person and 30k per accident.  (Note: if 3 people are injured by a driver in a single accident, they must divide 30k).  Many people, including us, feel that these minimum insurance limits are too low, however this is the current state of California law.  (Note: many people aren’t aware of how much coverage they have. An easy way to find out is to look at your “declarations” page of your auto policy or ask your insurance agent for a copy it.  It will simply lay out your coverage limits.)  We recommend having at least 100k/300k in both liability coverage and UIM coverage.  You’d be surprised how little extra it will cost you to have good insurance that protects you and your passengers from an unexpected accident.

Types of Auto Insurance Coverage

  • Liability: this type of insurance covers ONLY injuries and property damage you cause to others up to the limits of the policy.  It does not cover your own injuries and property damage when you are at-fault for the car accident.  (Note: if the other car is at fault for the accident you can recover on their auto insurance policy.)
  • Collision: this type of insurance covers injuries and property damage to both you and others up to the limits of the policy when you are at fault for the car accident.
  • Comprehensive:  this type of insurance is the same as Collision Insurance (above), but also covers you in the event of weather damage, theft, an animal collision, vandalism, etc.
  • Uninsured/Under-insured (UIM):  this type of insurance is an add on to the types above and ensures that you have a certain amount of money available to you in the event you’re in an accident caused by someone else with policy limits that aren’t large enough to cover your damages (personal injuries, damage to your car, etc.).  For example, what happens when your 50k car is totaled and the guy that hit you only has 15k in coverage (CA minimum)?  Without UIM coverage you are effectively out of luck and will have to pay for the difference in the value of replacing your car and 15k.  Same applies to a personal injury claim.  What if you are hit by a driver with 15k in coverage and suffer serious or permanent injuries?  15k won’t fairly compensate you, so you turn to your UIM and it takes the place of the underinsured driver, thus providing you with access to additional insurance money.  We highly recommend that all of our clients have at least 100k/300k in UIM coverage.

Common causes of San Francisco Car Accidents

Car accidents can happen in a variety of ways – we have seen it all, but the most common type we encounter are rear-enders. Far too often, drivers who are distracted take their eyes off of the road and look up only when it’s too late.  These types of accidents usually start off with an “I didn’t see you.”  From a legal standpoint, these are the most straight-forward types of accidents to be involved in as liability is almost always clear.

Other types of car accidents we see include: sideswipe, “T-bone” and head-on collisions.  The one thing that all these accidents have in common is that the driver breached their duty to exercise care when operating their vehicle.  In other words, they were negligent and that negligence caused you to be injured.  Negligent driving can occur in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Failing to yield the right of way
  • Failing to drive at a reasonable speed (not only based on speed limit, but road conditions)
  • Improper/unsafe turn
  • Driving while under the influence (drugs/alcohol)

Establishing this breach of care (negligence) is essential in a personal injury car accident claim.  Often times this breach is clear and is included in a police report (the at-fault party will usually be cited). Other times, it’s not and we have to bring in our own accident reconstruction experts to determine the cause of the accident. More times than not, the insurance company of the car that hit you will dispute liability, regardless of what the police report finds.  At a minimum, they will assert that you contributed to the accident by also driving negligently.  Don’t worry, we are well-versed at handling this insurance company nonsense and will fight for you so that the picture is clear and you don’t bear any undeserved fault.

Do I need to report my car accident to the California DMV?

— Was there property damage of more than $750?

— Was anyone injured? (major or minor)

If you answered “YES” to either of these questions, then you (or your insurance company) MUST make a report (Form SR 1) to the California DMV within 10 days of the accident.  This applies even if you did not cause the car accident.  Failing to report your accident to the DMV may result in your license being suspended.

Frequently Asked Questions After a San Francisco Car Accident

How long do I have to file a San Francisco car accident claim?

Two years. Victims in Bay Area traffic accidents can wait up to two years from the date of the incident to file an injury claim. The sooner you act, the sooner a car accident lawyer begins securing the financial support you need.

Can my family earn support if a loved one is killed in a San Francisco car accident?

Yes. California empowers families to file wrongful death claims. These civil claims seek help with funeral expenses and in paying leftover hospital bills. Relatives also receive support for the income the deceased can no longer provide.

What if I can’t afford to pay a San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer?

You still deserve the best legal representation. In fact, you won’t need any money now to hire our car accident lawyers. MJQ Law doesn’t get paid unless we win your case. Then, our fee comes out of the compensation you are awarded.

Contact a San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car crash caused by a negligent driver, don’t trust your recovery to an insurance company. Allow The Law Offices of Matthew J. Quinlan to deal with the most frustrating parts of injury claims and insurance hassles so you can focus on getting better.

Contact our offices for a free case consultation that comes with no obligation to you or your family. Let us work to get the most out of your San Francisco car accident settlement. You should never have to pay for medical bills out of your own pocket due to a reckless driver’s mistake.


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    Did You Know?

    The last day there WAS NOT a fatal car accident in California was August 19, 2013. (source: SWITRS)
    Every two minutes and 21 seconds a person is injured in a car accident in California. (source: SWITRS)
    For every 72 people injured in a car accident in California, one dies.  (source: SWITRS)
    Speeding is the primary cause of 30.3% of all car accidents in California.  (source: SWITRS)
    On average, 200,000-300,000 Californians are injured every year on California's streets and highways. (source: CHP)
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