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?

    Newport Beach Car Accident LawyerIf 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
    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
      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

    Orange County Accident AttorneyIf 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.

    Recovering Compensation

    Depending on the specific circumstances of your OC
    hit-and-run accident, you may be able to recover compensation

    • Identifying the driver who left the
      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
      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
      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?

    Orange County auto accident lawyerIf 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

    Orange Motorcycle Accident AttorneyUninsured 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

    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?

    Newport Beach CA Accident Attorney

    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
      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
      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

  • What should I do if I have been injured as
    a pedestrian in an Orange County car accident?

    Orange County Injury Attorneys - pedestrian injuryThere 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
    • Call the police to report the accident.
    • Exchange insurance and contact information with the
    • 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

  • Who is at fault in a California rear-end

    Orange County Auto Accident Lawyers - rear-end accident attorneyIn 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?

    Newport Beach Personal Injury AttorneyWith 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

    • 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
    • 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 Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney - Texting and driving

    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.

  • Who is at fault for a California wrong-way
    car accident?

    Newport Beach Car Accident AttorneyAs 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

    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

  • 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
    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?

    Orange County car accident attorneyYes, 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?

    California Personal Injury Attorney - rear-end accidentsAfter 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

  • 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

    California Car Accident Lawyer - Act immediately

    Auto accident

    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

    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

    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.Costa mesa Car Accident Attorney - Car accidentWhen 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 orange county car accident attorney - Recovering from injuries

    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?

    Orange county truck accident - Truck flipped overMost 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
    • 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
    • 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?

    Orange County motor vehicle attorneys - Injuries from accident

    Motor accident injuries

    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

    Newport Beach Injury Attorney - insurance claim formIT 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?

    Orange-County-Car-AccidentsFirst 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 (800) 268-9228