California and San Francisco Bay Area Car Accident Attorney
Automobile accidents are an everyday occurrence in California. Our major cities such as San Francisco and Los Angeles are designed with numerous highways and heavily congested city streets. According to the California Highway Patrol, there are an estimated 3,500 deaths per year in vehicle crashes. On top of that there are hundreds of thousands of injuries every year in motor vehicle crashes.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident you have the right to seek compensation for the injuries and damages suffered.
Can You Sue for Your Injuries in A Vehicle Crash Caused by Another?
Every day, cars, SUVs trucks and buses crash on the streets and highways in the San Francisco Bay Area. All too often, motor vehicle accidents are the result of recklessness or negligence on the part of one driver who is guilty of:
- Speeding and running red lights
- Distracted driving including texting or using a smartphone app while driving
- Sudden lane changes without looking (a common cause of motorcycle accidents)
- Illegal U turns or un-signaled turns at intersections in front of oncoming traffic
- Looking left while turning right (a common cause of cars hitting persons walking in a cross walk and other pedestrian accidents)
- Sudden stops and failure to yield right-of-way (a frequent cause of cars hitting bicyclists and other types of bike accidents)
- Unsecured loads on pickup trucks, semi-trucks, and other commercial trucks
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Fatigued driving from long work hours or persons suffering from sleep apnea.
The most critical step in any personal injury case is proving fault of the liable parties. This is accomplished by proving each of the four elements of negligence to obtain a settlement or jury verdict on your behalf.
- Duty of Care: The person at fault for your injuries must have owed a duty to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances.
- Breach of Duty of Care: The liable party must have carelessly or intentionally breached the duty of care by failing to act as a reasonably prudent person would under the same or similar circumstances.
- Establish Causation: Proof that the liable party’s breach of duty CAUSED your injuries and other damages.
- Prove the Amount of Damages: Proof of the extent of your damages to establish the maximum amount of compensation possible.
What Are the Types of Damages Allowed for Injuries in A Crash Due to the Fault of Another Person?
Under California law, persons who have been injured in accident or crash due to the fault of another person, public agency, or corporation can recover damages for:
- Past and Future Medical Bills and Expenses such as Surgery and Medication;
- Vehicle Repair or Replacement;
- Physical Therapy;
- Past and Future Pain and Suffering;
- Mental Anguish;
- Physical Impairment;
- Past and Future Loss of Earnings / Wages;
- Loss of Earning Capacity;
- Property Damages;
- Punitive Damages in Cases of Egregious Wrongdoing; and
- Wrongful death damages when the Victim was Killed, such as Loss of Support, Companionship and Funeral / Burial Expenses.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
Experience matters when it comes to obtaining compensation for injuries following an auto accident. An experienced car accident lawyer can do the following:
- Determine what Parties are at Fault: Several parties can be at fault for an auto accident including: the driver; an employer of the driver; the vehicle manufacturer; government entity; or others depending on the circumstances. A reputable auto injury law firm has the experience and resources to engage in thorough investigation to uncover as much information as possible about your case and who is at fault.
- Support your Recovery: Obtaining medical treatment can be difficult and with complex injuries you deserve to be connected with the highest-level professionals to assist you with your recovery. Auto accident law firms with resources and professional networks can support you in getting the treatment you need. Attorneys can give you advice on how to deal with creditors and can suggest avenues of financial support to help you get through this difficult time.
- Negotiate with Insurance Companies: Your attorney will present your claim and supporting evidence to the opposing party’s insurance company and will advocate for you to get the maximum compensation for your injuries. Experienced auto accident attorneys often reach a settlement without going to court. They know what tricks and strategies insurance companies engage in and how to combat them with effective legal strategy and zealous advocating.
- Prove Liability: Skilled auto accident attorneys work with you to gather evidence to prove every element of negligence. The opposing side will do all they can to counter any and all arguments you make. It is your attorney’s job to challenge the opposing side and protect your right to compensation by establishing liability by a preponderance of the evidence.
- File a Lawsuit: When settlement is fruitless your attorney will prepare all the legal paperwork necessary to file a civil lawsuit. Your attorney will assist you in navigating the legal system from filing the initial complaint; working through discovery; gathering more evidence; and representing you at a jury trial.
- Make Difficult Decisions: The civil legal process can be complex and often results in a case settling before jury trial. Your attorney will advise you on what decisions should be made and when it is appropriate to accept a settlement or move forward to trial. Your attorney will answer your questions and can advise you on legal matters as they become apparent in your case.
What Should You Do Following a Car Crash that Caused Personal Injury?
Prioritize Your Health
Your primary focus following an injury is to get out of the way of any further harm. If you can do it safely, move out of traffic and get to the shoulder.
Call 911 as soon as you are safe. If others are nearby, ask them to help and request they call 911. If there are life threatening injuries alert 911 of this and ask those nearby to provide assistance.
If there are any other parties involved be sure to get the name, address, phone number, insurance company, and insurance policy of any other party. The more information you are able to gather the better off you will be moving forward in obtaining compensation for any injuries. If they were driving a vehicle obtain the VIN, license plate number, and auto insurance.
Look around and ask for any witnesses. If there are witnesses then ask them for their contact information and request they give a statement to the police who arrive on scene.
Use your phone or other camera to get photographs of any damage to you and any vehicles involved. Take photos of the scene of the accident, any skid marks, scrapes or damage to other property. Take pictures of the other party’s vehicle and any other damage you see.
Obtain a Police or Incident Report
Speak to police on the scene or at the hospital as soon as you are capable. Tell the police what happened and ask them for a copy of the incident report. If they cannot give you a copy at the time then ask them for a receipt of the report you have made and the report number. Get any and all information from the responding officers such as their name, badge number, and agency or office they work for.
Seek Medical Attention
It is essential that you seek medical treatment for any injuries you have suffered, even if you do not feel injured immediately after an accident. The symptoms of injuries can take days to appear and failing to seek medical treatment can adversely affect your health and impair your ability to obtain full compensation for any damages caused to you.
When seeking compensation following an accident, the primary source of evidence of injuries are the medical records kept by treating medical professionals. Be sure to report any and all pain, discomfort, stress, anxiety and other damages to a doctor.
Notify the DMV
When you are in an accident in California and someone is injured, killed or property damage exceeds $1000, you must notify the DMV of the accident.
You should document everything you can at the scene of the accident and your recovery that follows. Seek out an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you identify evidence and assist you in preserving it.
The Dolan Law Firm Fights for Those Injured in Car, Motorcycle, Commercial Truck & Bicycle Crashes
Recognized as the one of the premier personal injury law firms in California, the Dolan Law Firm has successfully represented thousands of injured persons and the families of loved ones who died in car, bike, motorcycle, truck, and other vehicle accidents, as well as pedestrians hit by a car, since the firm was founded in 1995.
We personally know how devastating physically, emotionally, and financially a serious car accident can be. We will treat you with compassion and respect. We will be with you every step of the legal process.
Repeated, outstanding success settlement negotiations and in court — that’s the Number One reason why clients select our law firm and after the lawsuit concludes refer their family and friends if they have been in car crash. We are known for taking challenging and complicated cases to trial and prevailing. As a result, we often obtain recoveries far above industry averages. We specifically provide our clients:
- Individual, attentive legal representation by highly experienced crash and accident attorneys with an outstanding record of success;
- Substantial investigative, financial and technological resources that no individual attorney or small law firm can provide;
- Access to accident reconstruction experts to identify the cause of the accident and who — or what — was at fault, including driver negligence, defective auto parts and dangerous roadway conditions; and
- Access to biomechanics and economic experts to determine the full extent of your injuries and calculate the cost of your future medical needs, along with any lost of wages or diminished earning capacity due to the crash.
How Much Will it Cost Me to Hire an Auto Accident Attorney?
Dealing with personal injury following an injury can be stressful and time consuming. Hiring an attorney typically comes with concern of how much it will cost and when will you have to pay them?
Our car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee meaning there is no costs upfront. If you do not recovery any compensation you do not pay anything. When you get compensated is when you pay your attorney, and the amount you owe is based on a fraction of how much you receive. Our contingency fee total is dependent on what stage the case is in, the closer to trial the larger the contingency due to the costs associated with a trial. To get a better understanding of the costs associated with a personal injury claim, contact our firm to receive a case consultation.
How Long do I Have to File a Lawsuit for my Personal Injuries?
Personal injury claims are bound to a few California laws, like the two-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit. Please be advised that your potential case is governed by a statute of limitations (a limited time period in which you must begin a lawsuit). Statutes of limitations differ depending on the type of case involved. Some of these time periods may be as short as six months, while others can be as long as two years. We do not have enough information to identify which statute of limitations applies in your case. You should consult with a lawyer, the California Code of Civil Procedure, internet resources, and/or visit your law library to identify the applicable statute of limitations for your matter.
The Other Driver’s Insurance Company is Demanding a Statement from Me; Do I Have to Speak with Them?
No, you do not have to speak with the other party’s insurance company at all. We recommend you leave any communication with an opposing party’s insurance company to your accident attorney.
Insurance companies know how to minimize the amount they have to pay for car accident injuries caused by their insured. Insurance companies employ many skilled defense attorneys and claims adjusters who try to get away with the lowest possible settlement they can by putting pressure on you and extracting information from you.
One of the most common tactics they use is to get a statement of what happened from the injured party so they can try and shift the blame off of their insured. You have the right to decline to speak to the other party’s insurance company and we recommend you do not tell them anything, they will try and use it against you.
The insurance company has legal duties to the other party and you must remember this following an auto accident. The insurance adjusters may be nice and well-spoken but that does not negate the fact they are trying all they can to minimize the amount of money you are owed. If you have concerns or questions about insurance, you should reach out to a personal injury attorney who has years of experience handling insurance adjuster and know the games they play. A plaintiff’s personal injury attorney is legally obligated to fight for your rights the same way the insurance company is obligated to fight for their insured. Be sure to get someone on your side, you do not have to fight the insurance company alone.