Car Accident FAQs
Our lawyers have put together a list of the most commonly asked questions about car accident injuries. If you were injured in a car accident in Orange County and have a question, browse through our site to find the answer, or simply contact us and we will provide you with a comprehensive answer.
3 Common Auto Accident Injuries from the Desk of Newport Beach Car Accident Lawyer – Chris Russell
- I was hit by an uninsured driver in Newport Beach. What happens next?
If you were hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver in Newport Beach, the first two things you should do are to seek medical attention for any injuries you sustained and call the police to report the accident. When you’re able, you will also want to contact your own insurance company to report the accident and check the details of your uninsured motorist coverage if applicable.
How to Pursue Compensation
Unfortunately, victims who are injured in accidents with uninsured, underinsured, or hit-and-run drivers often face difficult choices about how to pursue compensation. In some cases, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company. And, depending on your coverage, you may be eligible for compensation for your immediate medical care, future medical care, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, it may be possible to pursue compensation from the driver who hit you. However, this process is often complicated because:
- The driver left the scene and was not identified. If the driver of the vehicle that hit you cannot be identified, has left the scene, or was driving a stolen car, it would be nearly impossible to pursue damages from the driver.
- The driver is unable to actually pay the amount you are awarded for your injuries. Often, if a driver is unable to afford appropriate insurance coverage, he or she would not have enough money to pay for your injuries, even if you do pursue legal action.
- I was injured in a hit-and-run accident in Orange County. How can I get compensation for my medical bills?
If you have been injured in a hit-and-run accident in the OC, you probably already know that it can be complicated to pursue compensation for your medical bills and other expenses. Unfortunately, hit-and-run victims are faced with a number of complications that can make filing an insurance claim difficult—or even impossible.
Depending on the specific circumstances of your OC hit-and-run accident, you may be able to recover compensation by:
- Identifying the driver who left the scene. Depending on the evidence available, you may be able to identify the driver who hit you, and file a claim with his or her insurance company—even if he or she has not been found by the police.
- Filing a claim with your own insurance company. In some cases, you may be able to file an uninsured/underinsured motorist claim with your own insurance company to pay for the injuries you sustained in the accident.
- The California Victim Compensation Program. In certain limited cases, victims of California hit-and-run accidents may be able to recover compensation through state programs if they have suffered significant physical or emotional injury as a result of the crime.
- What is the real benefit of hiring an Orange County auto accident lawyer?
If you have recently been injured in an auto wreck in Orange County, you are probably wondering how necessary it really is to hire an attorney to help you. While some accident claims can be navigated alone with a satisfactory result, there are many benefits to seeking experienced legal guidance. This is particularly true if you have suffered a disabling injury or an injury that would require long-term care.
What can an attorney really do for you after an injury?
Here are two of the biggest benefits of hiring an attorney to help you with a California personal injury case:
- Hiring an Orange County auto accident lawyer saves you the hassle. Personal injury claims generally require a lot of paperwork—and a lot of legwork. If you decide to hire an attorney, you can focus on healing while we investigate the wreck, gather evidence, talk to witnesses, keep track of deadlines, and handle all the paperwork and phone calls.
- Hiring an Orange County accident attorney often means a better outcome. Although you may be able to negotiate a fair settlement on your own, you have a much better chance at receiving what your injuries are really worth if you work with an experienced attorney. Because we handle these types of cases every day and are deeply familiar with the laws and courts in Orange County, we know what to expect and how to most effectively pursue your claim.
- Should I get California Uninsured/Under-Insured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage?
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage is so important that it is the only coverage that the insurance company requires you to sign a waiver for, in order to delete that coverage from your policy. In fact, the law says that if you sign a waiver deleting that coverage and are involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, and your insurance company cannot produce the written waiver, your insurance company must provide you coverage even though you sign the document that said that you did not want that coverage.
What does UUBI cover?
In addition, this coverage is inexpensive to purchase. The insurance industry does a horrible job in explaining this to their customers. 60% of the public drives with either no coverage or minimal coverage, so your odds are greater than 1 out of 2 being seriously injured in an automobile collision by someone who either has no coverage or insufficient coverage to compensate you for the injuries that you or anyone else in your vehicle, have sustained. UUBI coverage protects anybody in your vehicle who is injured by an uninsured or under-insured driver, and protects anyone who lives in your household regardless of whose car they were in at the time that they were injured by an uninsured or underinsured driver. Moreover, the coverage also applies if an uninsured or under-insured driver injures you or a family member living in your household while you are a pedestrian or riding a bicycle.
- What should I do if I witness an Orange County truck accident?
If you witness an Orange County truck accident, you could be a great help to the people who were injured in the accident.
Here are a few steps you can take as a witness to an accident in Orange County:
- Check for injuries and call 911. As a witness, calling 911 with details is one of the most helpful things you can do. The sooner you call 911, the faster emergency responders can get to the scene.
- Move people and vehicles off the roadway. If possible, assist the victims in getting themselves and their vehicles safely out of the way. However, don’t drive another person’s car unless a police officer or an emergency responder asks you to do so, and avoid moving an injured person.
- Take pictures. If you have a camera or camera phone, you can be of great assistance to the victims in the accident by snapping a few pictures of the roadway, vehicle damage, and so on. Let a police officer or the victim know that the pictures are available.
- Offer your name and contact information as a witness. Even if you yourself weren’t involved in the accident, the information you have about what happened can be extremely valuable. If possible, share your name and contact information with the accident victims.
- What should I do if I have been injured as a pedestrian in an Orange County car accident?
There are a few steps you should take immediately after the accident. Although it may be difficult to stay calm and collected after becoming injured in a car-pedestrian accident, you should do a few things to ensure your health and legal rights.
Take the following steps can help protect yourself:
- If there are serious injuries, call for an ambulance immediately.
- Call the police to report the accident.
- Exchange insurance and contact information with the driver.
- Gather the contact information of any witnesses.
- Stay at the scene of the accident until authorities or medical personnel arrive.
- Seek medical attention for your injuries; even if you don’t have obvious injuries, you should receive a medical exam to check for any non-obvious injuries.
- If possible, take pictures of the accident scene and write down as many details as you can remember.
- Don’t admit fault or answer insurance agents’ questions until you’ve spoken with an Orange County injury attorney.
Unfortunately, car-pedestrian accidents are not uncommon in California. These types of accidents can cause serious injuries for the unprotected pedestrian who was involved, leaving the injured victim with mounting medical bills and other expenses.
What if you were hit by a car but you were not in a crosswalk?
- Who is at fault in a California rear-end accident?
In almost all cases, the person who struck the rear of the car in a rear-end car accident is at fault for the crash. Very simply, traffic laws state all drivers should stop safely when the car in front of them slows down or comes to a stop, regardless of the situation.
However, there are some limited situations in which the striking driver is not at fault. For example, if you are in a vehicle which was struck from behind and that collision caused your vehicle to strike the car in front of you, you may not be at fault for that accident. As Orange County auto accident lawyers, we understand that all cases are different.
California Law on rear-end accidents
It is important to understand that California uses the comparative negligence system. This means the court understands that a driver can be partially at fault for an accident, and an injured victim may claim a percentage of damages based on what their exact involvement was in the crash. For example, if you rear-ended a car, but the other driver was drunk or suddenly swerved into your lane in front of you, you could still attempt to file an injury claim.
- If I was struck by an emergency vehicle in California, who is at fault for the accident?
With all California motor vehicle accidents, who is at fault for your car accident and injury depends on the details of your case and the evidence available. However, we can let you know a few helpful pieces of information about traffic accidents involving emergency vehicles:
- If an emergency vehicle has on its lights and sirens, it does not have to follow traditional traffic laws. It can swerve out of lanes, go through red lights, and drive the wrong way down the street.
- You are expected by law to pull to the right side of the road when an emergency vehicle—such as an ambulance, fire truck, or police cruiser—approaches with its lights flashing.
- It is also illegal to follow within 500 feet of a moving emergency vehicle with its lights flashing.
Emergency lights don’t necessarily mean they are in the right
However, simply because an emergency vehicle’s lights were flashing does not automatically mean it is in the right. In the past, drivers of emergency vehicles have been cited for driving recklessly and for negligence; it simply depends on the facts of each case. Talk to a Newport Beach Personal Injury Attorney about the specifics of your accident.
Also, if an emergency vehicle did not have its warning lights or sirens on at the time of the accident, you may also have a case. In some situations, the town, city, or hospital in charge of hiring and training emergency drivers may be responsible for a crash.
- Could cell phone use or text messaging have caused my California car accident?
Even though using a mobile device without a headset and text messaging while driving are illegal in California, many drivers still engage in these distracted driving activities. It comes as no surprise that when a driver takes his hands off the wheel, his eyes off of the road, and his mind off of the task at hand, traffic accidents can happen.
California Cell Phone and Texting Laws
California was one of the first states to enact cell phone and texting laws. Anyone driving in California—from new drivers to commercial drivers to visitors—must not use a mobile device or engage in text messaging while behind the wheel. The only exceptions to this rule are drivers who are making an emergency call, drivers of emergency vehicles, and drivers operating vehicles on private property.
If you have been involved in an Orange County car accident in which the other driver was using a mobile device while driving, he or she is likely at least partially responsible for the crash and any subsequent injuries. However, proving that the other driver was on the phone or text messaging can be challenging.
- If I was struck by an emergency vehicle in California, who is at fault for the accident?
- Who is at fault for a California wrong-way car accident?
As with all California personal injury cases, understanding who is at fault for an accident depends on the details of the individual case. Having said that, it is reasonably safe to say that, in the case of a wrong-way traffic accident, the driver who traveled on the wrong side of the road is at least partially at fault for the accident, and could be responsible for compensating your family.
However, other parties could also be responsible for the injuries you sustained in a wrong-way car accident. For example, if the wrong-way driver was confused by poor road design, a bad intersection, or a lack of warning signs, whoever designed or was responsible for the road could be partially at fault. As Newport beach car accident attorneys, we understand that every case is unique.
Possibility of partial responsibility
While the wrong-way driver probably is partially responsible for the crash, it is possible there were other factors which caused the driver to enter the highway or interstate in the wrong direction. Some of these factors may not be readily apparent, especially soon after the car accident. An Newport beach car accident attorney can examine the evidence of your case and help you understand who may be responsible for damages.
- How long do I have to file a personal injury claim after a California car accident?
Even if it is clear you are owed compensation for your Orange County car accident injury, you have only a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim. Under California law, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the day of the accident. As Newport beach car accident lawyers, we know that your case is different; talk to us about your accident.
The law is explained in California’s Code of Civil Procedure, Section 335.1:
“The periods prescribed for the commencement of actions other than for the recovery of real property, are as follows: Within two years: An action for assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.”
Although you have a full two years to file your personal injury claim, it is not recommended you wait that long to do so. In many cases, the sooner you act, the more likely you are to collect evidence and witness reports to support your claim. In addition, seeking damages sooner also means securing compensation and moving on from the accident sooner.
- Can I sue after a California car accident that involved running a red light?
Yes, you can seek compensation for damages if you were injured in a car accident that occurred after a vehicle ran a red light.
Partial Responsibility for the accident
If you were struck by another motor vehicle that ran a red light—and you can prove they were, indeed, at fault for the accident—you may have a strong personal injury case. Even if you ran the red light and broke a traffic law, you still may be able to recover some damages. California is a comparative negligence state, meaning, we understand that more than one party can be at fault for an accident. As long as you weren’t 100 percent responsible for the accident, you may have a case.
For example, if you ran a red light and struck a vehicle, you should investigate whether the other vehicle was following all traffic laws or whether the driver was speeding, driving under the influence, or driving recklessly. If you were 25 percent at fault and the other driver was 75 percent at fault, you could recover 75 percent of your losses.
Many people wrongly assume they caused an accident, or believe they know who was at fault for an accident without looking at all of the evidence. Keep in mind that many traffic accident causes are not readily apparent even to those who were involved in the crash.
- Should I speak with insurance companies after a California car accident?
After a car accident and injury, you are contractually obligated to report the accident to your own insurance company as soon as possible. However, speaking to the insurance company of the other driver or giving a recorded statement without consulting a legal representative is another matter altogether.
While you may eventually speak with the insurance adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company or send a written statement, you should speak with a California personal injury attorney before agreeing to any kind of statement. A California car accident lawyer can help you understand your case and the crash—as well as common mistakes drivers make in the wake of the accident when speaking with insurance companies.
Insurance companies unfair settlement
Unfortunately, some insurance companies attempt to settle car accident and injury cases as quickly and cheaply as possible, even if the outcome is not fair. Some do so by using tactics like requesting recorded statements immediately after a crash when they know car accident victims are confused, overwhelmed, and uninformed. A CA car crash lawyer can help you avoid making mistakes during this difficult time.
- How long after a car accident can I wait before filing a personal injury claim in California?
Although there are some exceptions, the general statute of limitations—or, time limit—for personal injury cases in California is two years. That is, you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a claim in court and seek compensation.
Why You Should Act as Soon as Possible
However, simply because you have two years to file your claim does not mean you should wait that long. There are advantages to acting quickly after your accident, including:
- Victims can recall what happened in better detail.
- It is easier to collect accurate witness statements.
- Filing an early claim means securing compensation sooner.
Most people need this compensation to pay their bills, receive ongoing medical attention, and support their families. Keep in mind that filing a lawsuit can take weeks or months as your attorney collects information and prepares your case. It is worth repeating that starting your claim sooner would mean you could receive compensation for your medical bills and expenses sooner.
- Are car air bags safe for expectant mothers?
An air bag is a flexible envelope that inflates to protect car occupants from injuring themselves on interior car objects such as the steering wheel, dashboard, or windows during a crash.When a car accident occurs, air bags deploy quickly and with great force. In the past, experts were concerned that air bags might not be safe for expectant mothers because they could injure the unborn child when they inflate. However, a recent study at the University of Washington compared car accidents involving pregnant women—in vehicles with and without air bags—and concluded that airbags do not appear to elevate the risk of pregnancy complications.
Seat Belts and Air Bags
In addition, the current position of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is that the combination of a properly worn seat belt and an airbag provides the best level of protection from injury in the event of a car accident. This applies to all adults—including pregnant women.
Experts advise expectant mothers to wear a seat belt correctly and use the airbags installed in their vehicle. The attorneys at Russell & Lazarus are committed to promoting automobile safety and urge expectant mothers to heed this advice every time they get into a car.
- What should I do immediately after a California traffic accident?
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you know how traumatic, confusing, and overwhelming it can be in the moments, days, and weeks after a crash. However, there are a few important steps that you should take to ensure that your health and your rights are protected:
1. Get medical treatment
Many accident victims have the impulse to refuse treatment or minimize their injuries – just so that they can escape the reality of the crash. The number one most important thing you can do after an accident is to go to the hospital or your doctor and get evaluated and treatment. It will help your health and your injury case.
2. Collect information about the accident
Understand exactly what happened and who was at fault is at the heart of any California personal injury case. Talk to witnesses, talk to police, and make sure that you are getting the whole story.
- What are the main causes of fatal truck accidents in Orange County?
Most of the time serious California truck accident injuries are caused when the truck driver is unable to stop his rig in time. This results in either the trucker rear-ending a smaller, more vulnerable car in front of him, or the trucker side-swiping a more vulnerable car when he swerves out of his lane to avoid a read-end collision. Therefore, a very important question is, “What exactly causes the driver’s inability to stop?”
Why Does it Happen?
Discovering the root of the problem can help truck drivers prevent accidents from happening and can also help other drivers on the road recognize a problem and avoid being near the dangerous truck altogether. After handling Orange County truck accidents for more nearly 30 years, the lawyers at Russell & Lazarus have come to find out that these are the most common reasons for truck driver’s loss of control:
- Drowsy driving. Long hauls and tight deadlines often take precedent over sleep, causing truck drivers to be extremely tired or lethargic behind the wheel.
- Distracted driving. Talking on a cell phone while driving, texting behind the wheel, or simply using their CB radio can cause a truck driver to take his or her eyes of the road. It is also not uncommon for truck drivers to eat while they are driving, which also can be a distraction.
- Faulty brakes. It is the responsibility of every truck driver to inspect his truck before heading out on the road. Long-haul trucks accumulate many miles, and if they are not properly maintained, they could easily lead to the inability to stop, causing a fatal crash.
- Overweight loads. The sheer weight of a normal semi-truck compared to a typical car or SUV can be daunting. Add that to a load that is over the maximum weight allowance, and it can be nearly impossible for a truck driver to stop in the amount of time needed to avoid a collision.
- Do I need an attorney if I am involved in an accident?
POSSIBLY – If you sustain injuries that cause you pain for more then a week, it is best to consult with one of our Orange County motor vehicle attorneys.
- How long will it take to resolve my claim?
IT DEPENDS – If you have a good, aggressive attorney, the majority of claims can be resolved within 60 days from the last date of medical treatment. However in order to obtain fair value for substantial injury claims, a lawsuit usually must be filed, which can extend the time-frame of the claim to be resolved.
- What should I do if I am involved in a car accident?
First and foremost, the first thing you should do is secure medical treatment for all those who are injured. Next, exchange insurance information with the other driver. Take detailed notes, including pictures, if possible, for yourself while everything is fresh in your memory. This is an important step in establishing the facts of what actually occurred.
- Should I say anything to the other driver?
It is best to say as little as possible. Checking for injuries and getting the needed information is sufficient. You do not want to make the mistake of saying something that could be construed as an admission of liability.
- I feel all right. Why should I visit a doctor?
Injuries sustained in car accidents may not develop immediately. Experienced doctors know what to look for and what tests to administer. It is important to receive all the necessary treatment to regain your full health.
- What if the other driver does not have enough insurance or no insurance at all?
Your policy may include underinsured or noninsured motorist coverage, in which case you may be compensated up to the policy amount. To fully regain all that you have lost, you may need to consider filing a lawsuit against the driver who was at fault.
- Can I settle this by working directly with the insurance companies?
You could, but it is not recommended. Claim adjusters do this as a business every day and have the incentive to keep settlements low in dollar value. Injured claimants almost always receive higher rewards when represented by an Orange County car accident lawyer.
Seek the Counsel of an Orange County Car Accident Attorney
Get experience, knowledge and compassion on your side. Call Russell & Lazarus at (855) 851-2400