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.
- The driver left the scene and was not
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
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
- Identifying the driver who left the
What is the real benefit of hiring an
Orange County auto accident lawyer?If you have recently been injured
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.
- Hiring an Orange County auto accident lawyer
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
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
- Check for injuries and call 911. As a
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
- 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
What if you were hit by a car but you were not in a
- If there are serious injuries, call for an ambulance
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
- 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.
- If an emergency vehicle has on its lights and sirens,
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.
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
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?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
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
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
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
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.
- Drowsy driving. Long hauls and tight
Do I need an attorney if I am involved in
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
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