Orange County Car Accident Lawyer
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- What To Do If I Am In A Car Accident
Motor vehicle litigation applies to all types of accidents such as automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles that operate on our streets and highways. Motor vehicle litigation can extend further than the basic car accident. This type of litigation may involve liability on the part of vehicle manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and other suppliers for defects in the vehicle itself. Motor vehicle litigation may also involve an action against governmental entities for the design, maintenance, and unsafe condition of our roadways.
Because of the many potential causes of car accidents and the possible parties involved, these cases can often be significantly more complicated than you may imagine. Many cases involve more than simply filing an insurance claim and receiving a check. Instead, injured car accident victims may encounter many roadblocks and challenges to recovering compensation for their losses, which only compounds the stress of dealing with a serious injury.
If you or a family member sustained injuries in any type of motor vehicle accident, allow the experienced car accident lawyers of Aitken Aitken Cohn to help you. We do not shy away from complex claims and help clients recover just compensation for losses and injuries incurred in car accidents. Please contact our office to learn more today.What to do if you are in an auto accident.
California Car Accident Information
Car accidents are all too common in California. Statistics reported by the California Highway Patrol regarding reported crashes in 2015 include:
- 3,435 people died in 3,168 fatal accidents
- 254,561 people sustained injuries in 178,669 injury accidents
- 1,813 people killed were driving cars
- 613 passengers were killed
- 494 fatalities were motorcyclists
- 154 fatalities were bicyclists
- 855 fatalities were pedestrians
As these numbers show, motor vehicle accidents tragically affect over a quarter million Californians annually on the roads. Whether you are driving, riding in a car, riding a motorcycle or bicycle, or simply crossing the street, you face the risk of being involved in a car accident with life-threatening injuries.
Crash victims can sustain devastating injuries. This is especially true if a smaller car collides with a large commercial truck, or if a motor vehicle hits a pedestrian or cyclist who has no protection from the impact. Serious motor vehicle accident injuries that can disrupt a victim’s life include:
Spinal cord injury - When there is any direct trauma to the spine, or if the spine is twisted or wrenched in an unusual way, the delicate spinal cord can be damaged. This can cut off communication between the spinal cord nerves and parts of the body below the point of the injury. In some cases, spinal cord injury victims can suffer paralysis, causing them to lose all movement and sensation in any affected limbs. Spinal cord injuries can also cause problems with bladder, bowel, sexual, and respiratory functioning. Needles to say, spinal cord injury victims require extensive medical treatment and can be left with permanent disabilities.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) - A TBI is another common injury in car accidents because victims often hit their heads or suffer a violent jolt of their head. This can cause the brain to rattle in the skull, causing damage to brain tissue. TBI victims can experience widely varying symptoms depending on what part of their brain was injured. Brain injuries can disrupt your cognitive functioning, making it difficult to process information or communicate your thoughts. It can also cause physical impairments involving balance, coordination, and speech. Finally, some brain injury victims experience personality changes and emotional and behavioral issues. While some TBI victims recover with time, it can take months or years. Others may have permanent impairments as a result of their injury.
Broken bones - Many people have broken a bone at some point in their lives. All broken bones require medical attention, otherwise permanent complications may occur, including disfigurement of the bone and nerve damage. Broken bones usually require a victim to refrain from using that part of the body for weeks or months until it heals. More serious broken bones may involve compound fractures that require surgical intervention. Doctors may need to insert hardware to hold the bone in place while it heals, and the recovery time can be much longer. Sometimes, a second surgery may be needed to remove the hardware, while others live the rest of their lives with screws, pins, or rods in place. Serious breaks may permanently impact the use of that body part.
Soft tissue injuries - Soft tissue injuries affect the muscles, ligaments, and tendons and are common in the neck, back, knees, shoulders, and other joints. Car accident impacts can cause people to twist in unordinary ways, which can cause a sprain or strain to the soft tissue. Some accidents can cause the soft tissue to tear partially or completely, which usually requires surgical repair. Recovery from these injuries can be long and requires significant rehabilitative therapy, though victims still may not ever return to their previous abilities and activities.
Amputations - Some crashes may completely crush a victim’s limb to an unrepairable degree or even sever the limb so it cannot be reattached. This can be common in motorcycle, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents, as limbs can be pinned under vehicles and crushed to the degree that they require an amputation. Having any part of the body amputated will completely change a person’s life. They will need to relearn how to engage in daily activities without a limb or with a costly prosthesis. Amputations can be painful for months and can also be extremely emotionally traumatic.
Internal injuries - Not all traumatic injuries are visible from the outside. Car accidents can result in serious internal trauma, which can often be life-threatening. Punctured lungs, broken ribs, internal hemorrhaging, and organ damage all require emergency trauma care to stabilize a victim. Victims with internal injuries often need emergency surgery and an extended hospital stay. The recovery period can be long for this type of injury.
These types of injuries are considered “catastrophic” because they result in lasting impairments or disabilities. Injuries that affect the brain or spine can have a particularly severe effect on a victim’s life, as these injuries can affect many different systems of the body and abilities. The costs of living with a permanent disability can be astronomical.
Whether you break your wrist or sustain a life-changing injury, you will incur medical expenses and other losses. If someone else caused your accident, you may have the right to seek damages and have the liable party compensate you for all that you have lost. You should discuss your situation with our experienced car accident attorneys as soon as possible.
Damages from Car Accidents
When someone suffers serious injuries in a motor vehicle accident, they can incur a significant amount of losses - both financial and noneconomic. Some examples of recoverable damages in a car accident case include:
- Medical expenses - Your medical cost will, of course, vary depending on the severity of your injury and the treatment needed. Some common expenses include ambulance transport, emergency care, hospitalization or time in the ICU, surgical procedures, physical therapy, medication, medical equipment, and more. If you will need medical care far into the future, those costs should also be recoverable as future damages.
- Lost income - When you are seriously injured, you often cannot work. You may need to be hospitalized or may need to rest on doctor’s orders. In addition, your injury may keep you from performing your job, such as a back injury preventing you from walking or doing any heavy lifting. You can lose income for every hour of work missed. Accident victims with disabilities may have to find a lower-paying job due to their impairments or may not be able to return to work at all. As a result, future lost earning power is also compensable.
- Noneconomic damages - Some damages are not tied to bills or financial losses. Instead, these damages are for intangible losses that can be difficult to measure. These include physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, loss of enjoyment of life, and the trauma of permanent disfigurement or disabilities.
Seeking Compensation for Car Accident Victims
In order to know whether you can seek damages following a crash, you must determine whether someone else was at fault in the accident. In legal terms, you must prove that someone else acted negligently and, therefore, caused your injuries.
A person who negligently operates a vehicle is liable for any damages caused by that carelessness, either to other persons or for their property. Operators of vehicles must operate “reasonable care under the circumstances.” Generally speaking, reasonable care on the road means following all traffic and safety laws, staying alert, and driving in a manner that will keep others reasonable safe. This standard of care can change based on the conditions at hand. For example, a person traveling the speed limit of 55 miles per hour may be within the confines of the law, but it may not be a reasonable speed in pouring rain, dense fog, or heavy traffic. Therefore, whether a person exercised reasonable care is closely examined on a case-by-case basis under the particular circumstances of each case.
If someone else’s failure to use reasonable care causes an accident, anyone injured as a result may bring an action for damages. A lawsuit may be brought by:
- A driver who was injured by another driver
- A pedestrian on the sidewalk
- A passenger in an automobile
- A bicyclist or motorcyclist
If you suspect someone acted negligently, you must identify and prove what actions or inactions caused of the crash. Often, this requires extensive investigation, which may include interviewing witnesses, examining police reports, and even enlisting the help of an accident reconstruction specialist. You should seek help from a law firm that has the knowledge and resources to sufficiently investigate the cause of your crash to identify any liable parties.
Often, a driver will be liable due to negligence or carelessness behind the wheel. The following are only some causes of car accidents that can lead to a legal claim:
- Distracted driving
- Fatigued driving
- Aggressive driving
- Drunk or drugged driving
- Following too closely
- Dangerous lane changes
- Failing to yield when necessary
- Violating other traffic laws
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Driving with a serious health issue
Any of these risky driving behaviors can lead to devastating accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Car accidents often are caused by factors in addition to the carelessness or recklessness of drivers. Automobile accidents may also result from:
- A defect in the automobile. In these cases, the automobile manufacturer or supplier may be responsible for the injuries caused under the law of product liability.
- A repair person. As such, the person who improperly repaired the automobile, resulting in an injury, may also be liable.
- An intoxicated driver. In such instances, a bar or social host may be liable for serving an obviously intoxicated guest who then drives and causes injury.
When a case involves a party other than a driver, proving negligence can become more complicated. For example, if a part of a car malfunctioned due to defect, you will need an automotive expert to identify the issue and give their opinion that the part was inherently defective. Then, your claim will likely be against a large corporate manufacturer, which will have a legal team and insurance providers ready to defend against the claim. In such cases, you should be represented by a law firm that is not hesitant to take on large companies in insurance claims or in court.
What Happens After a Crash?
Many people have never been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident before, so it is only natural that they may be unsure of what to do. The following are some important steps following a car accident:
- Getting medical help - After a collision, it is essential that you get the medical attention you need, whether this means taking an ambulance ride or taking yourself to the emergency room. A medical professional can diagnose the injuries you suffered, creating a record that can help prove the extent of your injuries. In addition, a timely diagnosis can ensure you get the treatment you need to make as quick a recovery as possible.
- Contacting an attorney - Once your injuries are stabilized, you should contact a skilled car accident law firm as soon as you are able. Our attorneys can listen to what happened, conduct an investigation when needed, and help you determine what your rights and options may be. If you have a claim, an attorney can then handle all aspects of the case so you do not have to worry about it.
- Filing an insurance claim - Often, the first step for your attorney is to file a claim against the insurance company of the negligent driver or company. Insurance companies can be notoriously difficult when it comes to handling injury claims. They can fight against liability, challenge your injuries and losses, delay any payouts, and try to offer amounts that are grossly inadequate to cover your losses. We know how to handle insurance companies to recover the compensation justice requires for our clients.
- Filing a personal injury claim in court - If an insurance claim is not sufficient to cover your losses, an attorney can file a personal injury lawsuit in California civil court. The litigation process involves many phases, including pleadings, discovery, settlement negotiations, and even a jury trial in some cases. You always want a highly experienced litigator on your side in case your claim needs to be taken to court.
California Car Accident Lawyer
In one recent example, for instance, a 20-year old college student was rendered a quadriplegic in a car accident in Orange County. For six years, it was believed that the college student was the driver of the vehicle which caused the car accident. This was alleged both by the insurance carrier and the Defendant, who was also in the vehicle. Through skillful investigation and expert testimony, Aitken Aitken Cohn was able to prove that the passenger was actually the driver at the time of the accident. After three weeks of trial, the jury awarded the plaintiff $6,868,494 in damages.
Aitken Aitken Cohn Law Offices, located in Orange County, California, has obtained exceptional results through its professional and aggressive representation of clients who have suffered injuries in auto accidents over the last 30 years. For more information regarding some recent results in the area of motor vehicle litigation, click on any of the following links:
Three Million Dollar Settlement Above Policy Limits in Bicycle vs. Auto Accident A thirteen year-old boy was riding his bicycle down a street when the defendant’s vehicle entered the bike lane striking plaintiff. As a result of plaintiff’s severe injuries he brought suit against the defendant. The defendant’s insurance refused to pay out policy limits on the claim resulting in a suit for Insurance Bad Faith.
Result: $10,546,000.00 Gross Settlement
Plaintiffs Collect Policy Limits in Automobile Incident in Fashion Island (2004): This litigation arose from an automobile v. automobile incident occurring in the City of Newport Beach. Plaintiff, negotiating a left hand turn, was struck on the driver’s side by Defendant who ran a red light at an excessive speed.
Result: $565,000.00 settlement (policy limits)
Auto accidents can be minimized. For information relating to car safety, check these tips on road safety or click on any of the other public resources below.
Disclaimer: The information provided herein does not constitute an attorney client relationship. The Orange County automobile accident lawyer information, personal injury, Orange County car accident lawyer and other legal information is provided for informational purposes alone. Aitken Aitken Cohn, based in Orange County, practices car accident litigation throughout Southern California and Northern California including, but not limited to, Orange County, San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Francisco. For more information, please contact a leading Orange County car accident lawyer using the form provided or at 1-866-434-1424.
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