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California Car Accident Attorney
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The network of highways, city streets, and country roads stretching throughout the United States is four million miles long, and an estimated 250 million vehicles travel trillions of miles on these highways, streets, and roads every year.
This staggering amount of travel leads to an equally staggering number of car accidents – over six million annually. People who are injured or killed in auto accidents similarly number in the millions. Given these statistics, chances are you will be involved in at least one auto accident during your lifetime, an accident that may be a highly traumatic, and even life-altering, experience.
If an auto accident causes severe injuries to you or to a loved one, you should contact a well-established and reputable law firm immediately. Time is of the essence in these cases for the reasons explained below, particularly for individuals unable to care for themselves. Even if the injuries are not severe, you should consult a capable car crash accident attorney soon after you:
Usually, auto accidents occur because a driver has been negligent, meaning that he or she has operated a vehicle in a careless and unsafe manner. A driver must exercise “reasonable care” while behind the wheel and may be deemed negligent for violating speed limits, ignoring traffic signals, or being preoccupied by distracting activities like eating or talking on a cell phone while driving.
Proving Liability in Car Accident Cases
Car accident attorneys who represent auto accident victims use many sources of evidence to prove their cases in court. The testimony of those directly involved and of witnesses who observed the auto accident is crucial. Written reports of police, public-safety, rescue and medical personnel are also important to car accident lawyers. Among the many types of evidence a car accident attorney may use are:
Car accident and car accident injury reports prepared by paramedics and emergency medical technicians often are written in technical jargon. The testimony of those who prepared them or of experts in the field can help judges and juries better understand them.
Car Accident Expert Witnesses
Car accidents sometimes call for the services of an expert in car accident reconstruction in order to determine who or what was at fault. The expert will thoroughly investigate the causes of the auto accident to determine whether a vehicle defect, another driver or another entity was at fault.
The car accident reconstruction expert will gather data about road conditions, weather, human actions and vehicle condition. He will then analyze the data to determine the sequence of events that led up to the car accident.
In cases involving defects in design or construction, the auto accident attorney may retain the services of an expert in engineering and design. The engineering expert will study the facts of the case and prepare an expert opinion on the cause of the auto accident. Often, expert testimony is key to helping your lawyer prove that your car accident was caused by another party or entity, and that you are entitled to compensation.
Because every case is unique, the evidence required in each case is also unique. An experience car accident attorney may have to provide evidence from several sources to prove that a driver wrongfully caused your car accident injuries. An attorney who is knowledgeable about car accident cases can review the facts and determine the most appropriate way to prove your car accident injury case.
In preparing to meet with a car accident injury lawyer regarding an auto accident, think carefully about the sources of evidence you know of. If you took notes and collected information at the scene, bring them with you. Speak with others who were involved in or who witnessed the car accident to obtain additional facts that might help support your car accident injury case. The best way to assess the strength of your evidence is to contact a car accident injury attorney and arrange a car accident injury consultation.
It is in your best interests to hire a law firm that will do more than just file a claim with an insurance company on your behalf, especially because the available insurance policy may turn out to have insufficient limits to fully cover your damages. A resourceful accident lawyer will investigate all sources of compensation and pursue all avenues of recovery for injured claimants. You and the passengers in your vehicle may have claims against additional parties who bear responsibility for the car accident. For example:
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Act quickly. Anyone who has been injured in an auto accident should get in touch with a reputable accident attorney without delay. Why? Because a skilled and experienced lawyer will:
As the victim of a car accident, you should not rely on any insurance company – even your own – to protect your interests. Every insurance company has adjusters, investigators, and attorneys assigned to auto accident claims. Their primary goal is to limit the amount of compensation the insurance company pays to auto accident victims like you.
Damages in Auto Accident Cases
While an insurance company is interested in paying you the least amount of money to settle your claim, a competent and reputable accident attorney will pursue all types of compensation for an auto injury client.
Although punitive damages, which are awarded to punish a wrongdoer are not ordinarily allowed in auto accident cases, an attorney who is well versed in personal injury law will recognize those exceptional situations (as when an accident is caused by a drunk driver) that allow for the recovery of such damages.
Car Accidents Caused by Drunk Driving
Alcohol and automobiles make a dangerous combination. In 2007, nearly 13,000 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes. Three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related auto accident during their lifetimes.
Drunk Driving Car Accident Laws
Drunk driving is a crime. Conviction can result in fines, imprisonment and loss of one's driver's license. Each state has its own "driving under the influence" (DUI) law, but all make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle while drunk or under the influence of intoxicating drugs. Repeat offenders are subject to even steeper penalties.
Because a DUI case is a crime, it is investigated by police and prosecuted by attorneys for the state or local government. But when a drunk driver causes a car accident, the victim is entitled to bring his own legal action against the driver to recover damages for his injuries and losses.
Drunk Driving Accident Report
After an auto accident, depending on where it happened, local or state police conduct an investigation and prepare a car accident report. The car accident victim or the car accident attorney can obtain a copy of the car accident report by contacting the investigating officer. The victim and the auto accident lawyer should review the auto accident report for any errors. If any are found, notify the officer named in the car accident injury report.
When an investigating officer suspects drunk driving, he may administer any of several tests at the accident scene to assess the suspect's sobriety. The officer will also ask the driver's permission to test his blood alcohol content (BAC). In the United States, it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08% or greater. If the officer administers field sobriety or BAC tests, their results will be included in the officer's car accident report.
Once the investigation is complete, the law enforcement agency sends the car accident investigation report to the prosecuting attorney, who decides whether to pursue criminal action against the drunk driver. In any legal action your car accident attorney brings against the drunk driver, the investigating officer may be called as a witness and his report admitted into evidence.
Victim Assistance Programs
The law enforcement agency may have a victim assistance program for victims of crimes. These programs help victims of drunk driving car accidents track their car accident injury cases, get car accident injury victim counseling, and apply for car accident injury compensation from state car accident injury victim compensation programs.
Evidence Provided by the Victim
A car accident injury victim may ask a friend or family member to photograph any injuries suffered in the car accident. The photographs should be taken in the presence of a witness. The photographer and witness should sign and date the back of the photographs. The prosecutor and the car accident injury victim's car accident attorney can use the photographs as evidence to show the car accident victim's injuries and recovery process.
A car accident injury victim can also provide his attorney with a recent photograph predating the car accident injury. This would show the victim's physical condition before the accident and provide a basis of comparison for evaluating the post-accident photographs. The victim should keep a log of all expenses and losses caused by the auto accident along with car accident injury bills and receipts.
Victim Impact Report
In many drunk driving criminal cases, the defendant avoids going to trial by agreeing to plead guilty to the charges or to lesser charges. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the case goes to trial and the defendant may or may not be convicted for drunk driving. If the defendant is convicted, before sentencing, the car accident injury victim may provide the court with a car accident injury victim impact statement, a written statement describing the effect that the car accident injury has had on his or her life.
Protect Your Friends from Driving Drunk
The best protection against a drunk-driving accident is never to drive drunk in the first place. If you have been drinking alcohol or taking drugs, do not drive. If you are with someone who has been drinking or taking drugs, do not let them drive either. Stopping a friend from driving drunk can be difficult, but here are some tips that can help:
Auto accidents may be of different types and may result from different causes. For more information on our website, simply click on the topics below:
Pursuing a claim for personal injuries caused by a car accident may be both complicated and costly. Some lawyers, due to their lack of skill or resources, may not pursue all claims and compensation available to you. The law firm you select should have ample experience and expertise, and a proven track record of successes. These successes should be not only in the simpler car accident cases, but also in the more challenging ones, such as those involving products liability and government claims for faulty road designs and dangerous conditions.
Immediate Steps to Take If You Are In a Car Accident
If you are involved in a car accident, do not leave the scene, even if you are uninjured. If you do, you could be charged with a crime for hit and run, whether or not the car accident was your fault. Instead, your first priority should be to attend to yourself and others.
Seek medical treatment promptly for your injuries from the auto accident. If you are in immediate medical distress, call 911 and request an ambulance. Give the exact location of the car accident. Say whether you need a fire truck. Stay on the telephone until the operator tells you to hang up. If you do not have a cell phone, flag down a passing car and ask the driver to help.
Seek medical treatment for the auto accident injuries of others. Your duty to help other car accident injury victims varies by state. In California, you must give reasonable assistance to any injured person on the scene. You should give first aid, if you know how, or take an injured person to a hospital. Do not try to move a car accident injury victim who is badly hurt, as you may cause further injury. Do try to move someone who remains in harm's way.
Warn other drivers. Place flares on the road (if there are no flammable materials nearby), turn on the car's hazard lights and lift the engine hood.
Information to Collect After an Accident
After attending to the immediate needs of yourself and others but while still at the scene, take down notes about the car accident. These will prove useful to your car accident lawyer and your insurance company later on. Begin by exchanging license and vehicle registration information with all other drivers. Write down as much other information as you can, including:
The other driver's name, address, date of birth, telephone number, driver's license number, license expiration date and insurer.
The other car's vehicle identification number, make, year, model, license plate number and expiration date.
If the other driver is not the car's owner, the name, address, telephone number and insurer of the registered owner (such as a rental car agency).
For any passengers in the other car, their names, addresses, dates of birth, drivers' license numbers and telephone numbers.
For any witnesses to the car accident, their names, addresses and telephone numbers. Ask car accident witnesses to stay to talk to the police. If the car accident witnesses must leave, ask them what they saw and write it down.
Identity of car accident witnesses who left the auto accident scene before you could speak with them. If they drive off, take down their license plate numbers.
The name and badge number of the police officer who reports to the car accident scene. Ask the officer where and when you can get a copy of the car accident report.
Without placing yourself in danger, a quick diagram of the auto accident, showing the positions of all cars before, during and after the car accident. Pace off skid marks, noting their distance. Mark crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights and street lights. If you have a camera, take photos. Note weather and road conditions. Estimate each car's speed. Note whether streetlights were on. Write down the time, date and place of the car accident.
Cooperate with law officers investigating the scene. But do not admit to any liability or blame. Anything you say to the police may be used against you later.
It is important to contact an experienced lawyer as soon as possible after the car accident injury. The attorney can review your car accident injury case with you and explain your rights and options. An experienced auto accident lawyer can help you obtain full compensation for all damages you are entitled to recover.
Recovering Damages for a Car Accident
If you have suffered an injury or loss in a car accident, you may be able to obtain compensation. Contact an accident injury attorney promptly to discuss your legal rights.
Liability for Damages
All drivers are required by law to exercise reasonable care while driving. A driver wrongfully causes a car accident when he carelessly operates his car in an unsafe manner. Speeding, running traffic lights, ignoring road signs, and using a cell phone are examples of wrongful or negligent acts by a driver.
When a driver's negligence causes an auto accident, the driver may be liable to pay compensation to anyone he injures or for any property he damages. In a lawsuit, the person seeking compensation bears the burden of proving to the court that the driver wrongfully or negligently caused the car accident.
No Fault Insurance
Some states have no-fault insurance systems that allow a car accident injury victim to collect compensation from an insurer regardless of who was at fault. Since no-fault insurance systems vary by state, it is important to find out if your state has one and what it requires.
When Other Parties Are at Fault
Not every auto accident is the fault of those directly involved. A car accident may be caused by a defective vehicle or part, poorly maintained roads or faulty repairs. In such cases, the responsible company or person may be liable to pay the car accident victim's damages. Potential third-parties who may be liable in car accident injury cases include:
- Automobile manufacturers and designers.
- Manufacturers and designers of car parts (for example, tires and airbags).
- Bars and restaurants that sell alcohol to a person who was visibly intoxicated.
- State and local governments that design and maintain freeways, roads and bridges.
Liability for Defective Motor Vehicles
Products liability laws hold the manufacturers of defective cars and car parts liable for car accident injuries they cause. This is called "strict liability" because the manufacturer is liable even if it exercised all possible care. It does not matter whether the car accident victim owned the car or just used it.
In order to receive compensation from a car or car part manufacturer, a car accident victim must show that the car or car part lacked an element needed to make it safe for use. Since car accident products liability laws vary by state, it is important to speak with a car accident lawyer to learn about your state's car accident products liability laws.
Damages You can Recover for a Car Accident
If you are involved in a car accident, you may be entitled to recover damages for your injuries and losses. Typically, these may include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering from car accident injuries.
- Emotional distress from car accident injuries.
- Medical expenses, both current and future, resulting from the car accident injuries.
- Property repairs and losses from the car accident.
- Lost wages while you are recovering and unable to work. Lost or impaired earning capacity if you are unable to return to your job.
Disability and/or disfigurement resulting from the auto accident injury.
In cases in which the auto accident injury resulted in death, the victim's estate and relatives may be entitled to recover damages for:
Wrongful death in the car accident.
- Loss of consortium.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of services of a family member.
- Emotional distress.
The damages that can be recovered vary with each case. Applicable law and the facts of your case will determine the appropriate damages. For specific information on the car accident injury damages that may be available to you for your auto accident injury, contact an experienced car accident injury lawyer in your area.
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Additional Car Accident Attorney Offices
1. The Reeves Law Group - 4900 Tower Way, Bakersfield, CA 93301 (661) 202-3056 : San Bernardino Car Accident Lawyer