Victims of negligent drivers can face various physical, emotional and financial consequences and often need a professional to help them navigate the legal system designed to restore what they lost. A car crash attorney in California understands the unique laws that govern these cases and can help victims get the justice and compensation they deserve. If you are unsure about hiring a legal representative, consider what they do for injured victims.
What Types of Cases Does a Car Crash Attorney Handle?
A car accident case is the most common form of a personal injury claim, but each case guarantees unique circumstances. Therefore, car accident attorneys handle an array of auto accident cases daily. The collision's severity can often depend on the type of vehicle and the parties' vulnerability. Consider some common types of accidents with high potential for serious injury that car accident lawyers see regularly:
- Multi-vehicle accidents can include the standard two-car crash or a multi-car pileup.
- Commercial truck accidents are commonly severe or even deadly, given the size of a commercial vehicle compared to the average passenger car on the road.
- Accidents involving motorcyclists are also typically severe because of the vulnerability and often low visibility of motorcyclists.
- Accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists also involve vulnerable parties who can suffer severe injuries from even a low-impact collision.
When someone succumbs to their injuries in an auto accident, a car crash attorney can represent the family in a wrongful death case. In California, the surviving spouse, domestic partner, children and grandchildren have the right to claim damages from the person responsible for the loss of their loved one.
Accidents Based on the Point of Impact
Collisions involving two vehicles often fall under categories based on where the impact occurred. The reason is that the position of both cars can usually indicate who is at fault and, therefore, liable for damages. For example, car accident lawyers handle rear-end crashes, where the person in the rear is nearly always at fault. Other common cases they see include the following:
- Head-on collisions are often severe and have substantial damage.
- Sideswipe cases are often the result of improper merging or lane changing.
- T-bone accidents are typically the result of careless drivers running red lights or stop signs.
- Rollover accidents can happen under various circumstances but are common in truck accidents involving improperly loaded cargo.
Any number of factors can complicate a car accident case. Sometimes at-fault drivers are underinsured or uninsured. Sometimes liability is unclear or shared by both parties involved. Knowing how to navigate the nuances of these cases is what a car crash attorney does.
What Does a Car Crash Lawyer Do for Your Case?
When you hire legal representation for a personal injury case, the specifics of what they do can vary significantly based on the details of your accident. However, the most invaluable aspects of the job include proving the other party's negligence, identifying all your recoverable losses and protecting your right to compensation.
California is an at-fault state, meaning the person liable for the accident is responsible for the losses of all victims. Therefore, you must file a claim with the negligent driver's insurer to recover your damages. The caveat is that you are also responsible for providing evidence to support your negligence claim and the losses you sustained.
When you hire a car accident attorney to handle your case, they investigate the accident to gather the necessary evidence to prove the three components of a negligence claim:
- The defendant's responsibility to ensure their actions are reasonably safe for everyone on the road
- The defendant's failure to uphold that responsibility, usually characterized by violating a traffic law
- The direct correlation between the defendant's traffic violation and your accident and injuries
Fault determination is the foundation of a car accident claim. In some auto accidents, liability is straightforward. In others, it can be more complex. For example, most truck accident victims need legal assistance because the truck driver, trucking company, cargo loader and other third parties could be liable for damages. If you have questions about who is responsible for your losses, a car crash attorney can help.
Identifying and Valuing Damages
Damages refer to the financial, physical and emotional losses you sustained. Identifying and adequately valuing each loss is critical to receive sufficient compensation. An experienced attorney knows where to look for damages and how to prove them. For example, some common economic and non-economic losses from an auto accident include:
- The cost of medical expenses for current and future care
- The loss of income caused by missed work and earning opportunity
- The cost of damaged property and replacement services, such as childcare and household help
- The physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by your injuries and treatment
Proving these claims can be complex. The economic damages, such as medical expenses and lost income, generally require easily accessible documentation. However, the non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are more challenging to prove because they have no absolute monetary value.
Valuing Non-Economic Damages
Another valuable contribution a car crash attorney will make to your case is adequately valuing your non-economic losses. For example, they may use the multiplier method, which entails choosing a number between 1.5 and 5 and multiplying it by the total value of your medical expenses. A four or five multiplier would indicate more severe injuries, while a lower number suggests you should reach full recovery relatively quickly.
An experienced attorney will likely use precedence to help determine the appropriate multiplier for your claim. This is important because the court will probably reject unreasonable claims for non-economic damages. Legal representation makes you better equipped to receive a fast and fair settlement.
Protecting Your Right to Compensation
Finally, another critical contribution a car crash lawyer will make to your case is to act in your place and protect your rights, which is particularly beneficial during negotiations with the insurance company. Insurers task their adjusters with protecting the company's best interests above all else. Unfortunately, they sometimes lean on bad-faith tactics to avoid paying valid claims. For example, they may ignore your attempts to communicate, undervalue or deny your claim without reason, use accusatory language, misrepresent the policy to suit their agenda or delay the investigation into your claim.
Insurers typically avoid these unsavory tactics when working with an experienced car accident lawyer. Additionally, negotiations begin as soon as the day you file your claim and can continue or conclude at any point. The stronger your case is, the more likely you are to reach a fair settlement faster.
When Do You Need a Car Crash Attorney?
Like most personal injury attorneys, car accident lawyers typically offer free case reviews, allowing you to contact them with questions about the case at any point. However, some scenarios where you likely need legal presentation include the following:
- You receive pushback from the insurance company.
- There is a question surrounding liability in your case.
- You suffered severe injuries or property damage, resulting in substantial losses.
More complex cases can take longer to settle. In the meantime, you continue to suffer the consequences of someone else's carelessness. To avoid delays, you would likely benefit from speaking with a car accident lawyer to learn more about your options.
What California Laws Can Impact a Car Crash Claim?
A California car crash attorney will understand the laws that govern auto accidents in the state. However, two essential laws can impact your claim: the statute of limitations and the pure comparative negligence rule.
The statute of limitations refers to the time you have to file a lawsuit. In most cases, if you attempt to file after the deadline passes, the court will likely dismiss your claim without review. For example, you have two years in California to file a lawsuit with a local civil court. If your claim is for injuries you sustained, the clock starts on the day of the accident. However, if you file a wrongful death claim for the death of a loved one, the clock starts on the date of their death.
The pure comparative negligence rule applies to cases of shared fault. For example, if the court determines both parties are liable, they will assign percentages of fault to both. Then, you are responsible for a share of damages equal to your portion of the liability. For example, if you are 30% at fault for damages totaling $100,000, you will only receive $70,000 for your losses. Again, your attorney can help you understand how your role may affect your claim.
When Should You Contact a Car Crash Attorney?
Car accidents can have devastating consequences, often leaving victims with severe injuries and stressful financial burdens. If you suffered losses because of another driver's negligence, you do not need to face these struggles alone. At Johnson Attorneys Group, our team of experienced lawyers offers a personalized approach to every case, ensuring you have 24/7 access to someone on your team. Contact us today at (800) 208-3538 to schedule your free case review and speak with a car crash attorney.