Thousands of car crashes in California result in serious, life-altering injuries every year. Tragically, many also result in death. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 3,000 people die in motor vehicle accidents in California every year.
According to national crash data, three of the United States’ most dangerous roadways, I-101, I-15, and I-10, are located in Southern California. I-101, better known as “the Hollywood Freeway,” currently ranks as the single most dangerous road in America.
If you are injured or if a loved one has been killed because of a car accident in California, you deserve an experienced attorney to stand by your side and look out for your best interests at every turn.
The Bakersfield car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine have decades of experience in helping traffic accident victims get every penny they deserve. Our Bakersfield personal injury lawyers like to fight for that in your case too. Please contact us online or call our office at (661) 333-3333 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and learn more about your rights.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
A car accident lawyer is someone who represents your best interests, protects you against insurance company tactics, and looks out for your legal interests.
Too many people make the mistake of facing an insurance company on their own. Insurance providers are major corporations with extensive resources and a great deal of legal sophistication. By hiring a car accident lawyer, you are able to approach the insurance companies on a level playing field.
As Bakersfield car accident lawyers, we handle every aspect of our clients’ claims for them, from investigation and negotiation to settlement or trial.
How Much Does a Car Accident Lawyer Cost?
The right car accident lawyer will represent you on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t pay anything upfront or out of pocket.
The Bakersfield car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine never charge clients a fee unless and until we successfully get them a financial recovery. Nor will we ever ask you to pay out of pocket for the costs required to prepare and pursue your claim.
If we don’t succeed with your claim, you don’t have to pay us anything. If we do win, our attorney’s fee is only a percentage of your total recovery.
10,265 people died in alcohol-involved traffic accidents nationwide during 2015 alone.
Of those 10,265 deaths, 1,132 were children aged 14 years old or younger.
California had one of the highest drunk driving fatality rates at 914 deaths, second only to Texas, which reportedly documented 1,323 deaths.
Everyone knows that drunk driving accidents kill. Yet, every day, in cities across California, intoxicated drivers get behind the wheel and place everyone on the road at risk. If you’ve been injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, the Bakersfield car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine can help you hold negligent drivers (and their insurance company) accountable for your damages.
The numbers also tell us that in a typical year, around 800 drivers die while driving on California roads. That works out to just over two deaths per 100,000 residents. While that number may not seem that high, more than 70% of those fatalities involve drunk drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.15 or higher — more than twice the legal limit.
What’s especially disheartening is that nearly 4 out of 5 of these high-BAC drunk drivers are repeat offenders. This means that 80% of drunk drivers who were involved in lethal auto accident cases in California blew a 0.15 or higher and had already been in the system for previous incidents of drunk driving.
Unlike some states that follow a no-fault insurance rule, California is a traditional “fault state” or “tort state.” In other words, there is virtually no limit on your ability to recover compensation from a drunk driver in California. The only significant barrier to getting everything you deserve is Proposition 213, which limits how much you can recover if you, yourself, are uninsured (in certain situations). If you are driving an uninsured vehicle when a drunk driver causes you harm, the courts will try to limit your damages to such quantifiable losses as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages. Even in Prop 213 cases, however, the Bakersfield car accident lawyers at Mickey Fine will explore every possible avenue for maximizing your compensation, pursuing any and all damages that might be available in your situation.
Distracted driving has quickly outpaced other forms of driver negligence to become the leading threat of fatality on California roadways. That, of course, is thanks in large part to people texting or talking on a cell phone while operating a vehicle. The State of California has taken measures to decrease cell phone-related car accidents by banning the use of handheld devices behind the wheel, but these laws, unfortunately, do not address all other forms of distraction with specificity.
Distracted driving is not limited to smartphone use. Anything that takes someone’s attention off the road increases the potential for a car accident. Examples of dangerous driver distractions include:
Adjusting the radio
Programming or reading GPS
Eating or drinking
Turning to talk to passengers
Reading billboards or looking at the scenery
Additional data from the NHTSA tells us that distracted driving is a factor in nearly 80% of all motor vehicle accidents.
This effectively means that 8 out of every 10 accidents could be avoided if drivers would just put down their phones, refuse distractions, and pay attention to the task at hand.
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in California. According to California Law, someone who is driving recklessly is “a person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” A criminal conviction for reckless driving could result in jail time of up to 90 days and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
But reckless driving isn’t just a criminal matter. As Bakersfield car accident lawyers, we can help injured people recover financial damages from reckless drivers in a civil action as well.
Examples of reckless driving can include (but are not limited to):
Driving at high speeds – Driving above the speed limit increases the chances of an accident. Driving above the speed limit will decrease the time you have to react to a sudden change in the speed of the vehicles around you. Following posted speed limits will allow you to avoid being one of the 2 million people who are killed or injured in a car accident each year.
Weaving in and out of traffic – When a driver doesn’t use their turn signal or cuts another car off while attempting to switch lanes, accidents can occur. Make sure to always signal a turn and use your mirrors to avoid cutting another vehicle off.
Tailgating – Some drivers become impatient with the flow of traffic and end up driving too closely to the cars in front of them. When this happens, they cannot react in time if the car in front of them suddenly stops or hits its brakes. To avoid these types of accidents, always leave ample traveling distance between your car and the next vehicle.
Running Stop Signs and Red Lights
Stop signs and red lights should never be ignored. According to the NHTSA, 40% of accidents nationwide occur at intersections. In other words, thousands of car accidents each year happen because a driver runs a stop sign or a red light. T-bone collisions are a likely result and are associated with severe injury.
Always look both ways before crossing through an intersection and wait a few seconds after the light turns green.
According to the NHTSA, in 2015, over 5,000 U.S. traffic accidents involved drowsy drivers. Forty-Five people died in those same accidents. Driving while drowsy can be very dangerous. If you’re on a long road trip or driving late at night, make sure that you are properly rested to avoid falling asleep at the wheel.
Our Bakersfield car accident lawyers can help you get to the bottom of your accident and determine whether driver fatigue might have played a role.
Other common causes of car accidents in California include:
Many car accidents are a result of a combination of factors, and multiple parties may share liability. The Bakersfield car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine are prepared to assist with even the most complex claims.
Common Injuries from Car Accidents
Car accidents can cause a wide range of injuries. Some injuries aren’t obvious right away. After an accident, your adrenaline is pumping, and in some cases, you are in shock (or, even worse, in the hospital). More serious injuries or complications may surface in the weeks and months ahead, which is why it is always important to get a comprehensive diagnostic exam within one week of any California car accident — even if you think you are okay.
Physical Injuries from Car Accidents
The extreme forces exerted in car accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries such as:
Whiplash – The most common car accident injury we see as lawyers happens to be whiplash. Whiplash occurs when a person’s head and neck are violently thrown forward due to sudden impact. Whiplash often occurs in rear-end collisions but can also happen during head-on or T-bone collisions. Whiplash accidents can leave a car wreck victim in terrible pain for weeks, months, and sometimes years.
Broken Bones – After whiplash injuries, broken bones are the second most common car accident injury. The force of the crash can simply be too much for your musculoskeletal structure to withstand. Victims of car accidents will often suffer broken hands, arms, or legs.
Cuts / Abrasions / Gashes – When accidents happen, metal and glass are thrown around in what seems to be a million directions. Occupants are at the mercy of free-flying shrapnel. Broken glass and metal can easily cause severe cuts and abrasions to human skin.
Severe Bruises – The blunt force of a car accident can often toss occupants in the vehicle around, no matter how restrained they are. Hitting any part of your body with great force can cause severe bruising to your soft muscle tissue and bones.
Burns – Whether it’s from heat and fire or from seatbelts, severe burns are often acquired during a car accident. Burns can leave victims with permanent scars and blisters.
Organ Damage/Internal Bleeding – Internal organs are often ruptured or punctured in car accidents. Blunt force trauma can often shake a person to their core. Literally. The force of a car accident can jostle and severely damage a person’s internal organs and cause internal bleeding. Breaking bones, such as your ribs, can also leave your lungs punctured.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – Brain injuries are all too common in auto accidents. Occupants may hit their heads on the windows, windshield dashboard, steering wheel, or steering column. Traumatic brain injuries may be temporary or permanent, but they are always serious and require urgent treatment — including concussions, which are considered a TBI in every instance. Brain injuries can lead to memory loss, lack of consciousness, excruciating headaches, and other problems.
Spinal Cord Injuries – Spinal injuries are very common in car accident cases. Depending on the severity of the crash, victims may sever their spinal cord, crush vertebrae, or rupture discs. Some spinal injuries leave victims paralyzed. Others may require major surgery, physical therapy, or lifelong pain management and mobility regimens.
Psychological Problems After Car Accidents
As Bakersfield car accident lawyers, we have seen first-hand how profoundly an auto accident can affect your mental and emotional health.
California personal injury law allows for financial compensation for physical pain, mental anguish, and other emotional or non-economic damages. Examples include:
Hesitancy to get behind the wheel
Loss of affection or sexual intimacy
Loss of enjoyment of life
All of these symptoms can impact your life significantly. You may find it difficult to be around people, go to work or school, or even get out of bed.
Many people are reluctant or embarrassed to talk about their emotional problems after a car accident. But these damages may represent a substantial part of your financial recovery, depending on the circumstances. It is important to get help for these problems and talk to a specialist.
The Bakersfield car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine can help you understand your emotional damages in terms of your rights under the law.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
The steps you take after a California car accident — both on the scene and in the days thereafter — can have a tremendous impact on the trajectory of your claim.
At the Scene of a Car Accident
If your injuries do not prohibit it, call 911. You will want to have a police report and be checked by EMTs before you leave the scene of the accident. You should also call your own insurance company to create an official accident report; they may wish to send an adjustor to the scene to assess damages.
Make sure you do not suggest you are at fault for the accident when talking to police, EMTs, your insurance company, or anyone else on the scene.
When possible, you will also want to:
Exchange contact and insurance information, along with drivers’ license numbers and vehicle license plate numbers, with everyone involved in the accident.
Obtain the names and contact information of any witnesses.
Take multiple pictures of the accident from various angles with your camera or cell phone.
Complete a police report, making sure to get the badge number and business card of the officers you speak to.
Cooperate with all emergency personnel and do not leave the scene until advised to do so.
Following Your Car Accident
Following your car accident, you will need to see your doctor. Even if EMTs clear you to leave the scene, you should not assume that means you are okay. EMTs only look for clear and immediate indications of life-threatening emergencies. You may still have serious injuries, some of which do not produce immediate symptoms. Only a physician can properly assess your health. Tell your doctor you were in a car accident; he or she will know what to look for.
As soon as you are able, contact the Bakersfield car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine to schedule a free consultation. Be sure to bring all of your documentation to this first meeting. If an insurance company has contacted you regarding a settlement, bring this information as well. You should never accept an insurance settlement until you have discussed your case with an experienced attorney.
When you meet with Mickey Fine and our team of Bakersfield car accident lawyers during an initial consultation, we will endeavor to answer your questions, review your documentation, consider your personal account of the accident, and help you determine the best course of action.
Compensation After a Car Accident Case in California
Our Bakersfield car accident lawyers are prepared to conduct a thorough investigation into your accident, identifying liable parties and pursuing strategies for maximizing your financial recovery.
What Compensation Is Available for a Car Accident Claim?
Except for cases subject to California Proposition 213, accident victims in California are generally able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. These may include compensation for:
Incidental / out-of-pocket losses caused by the accident
Who Is at Fault in a Car Accident?
Based on the circumstances of your accident, one or more drivers may be at fault. Depending on the facts and circumstances, victims may have the right to bring a personal injury claim against one or more of the following parties:
The at-fault driver(s)
The at-fault driver’s insurance company
A car’s manufacturer
Our Bakersfield car accident lawyers can help you determine each potentially liable party in your situation.
What Is Comparative Fault in a Car Accident Claim?
As we mentioned earlier, it is sometimes the case that multiple people are at fault for an accident. In some cases, you may be one of the at-fault parties.
Under California’s comparative fault rule, each driver will be apportioned a percentage of fault. If you are partially at fault, you will still be able to recover, but your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault.
The rules of comparative fault in California are complex. While we have described the general principle here, you should discuss the matter thoroughly with our Bakersfield car accident lawyers to be sure you fully understand your rights and any obligations you may have.
Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?
No matter what type of car accident you have been involved in, you deserve to have an aggressive personal injury lawyer on your side.
Insurance companies will work hard to deny you the justice you deserve. They use aggressive tactics to protect their profits and self-interest.
As Bakersfield car accident lawyers, our dedication (and our duty) is to our clients, not to corporate profits or insurance company shareholders.
Our personal injury law firm understands what it takes to represent accident victims against insurance companies and their armies of lawyers. We’re not afraid to provide you with fierce representation if your Bakersfield car accident lawsuit goes to trial.
If you have been injured, or if a loved one has been killed, because of a serious car accident in California, please call an experienced Bakersfield car accident attorney at (661) 333-3333 and schedule a free consultation right away.
We are proud to serve car accident victims in every city and county in California. If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you.
Law Offices of Mickey Fine – Bakersfield Office 930 Truxtun Ave, Suite 110 Bakersfield, CA 93301 (661) 333-3333
Commonly Asked Questions About Car Accidents in Bakersfield California
Can I get compensation even if an accident was partly my fault?
Yes! California uses a system of compensation known as comparative negligence, which allows you to receive compensation for an accident that was even 99% your fault. However, your compensation will be reduced by the degree of your fault. So if you were 99% responsible for your accident, you would only be able to receive compensation for 1% of your damages.
Do I still have a case if the damages I suffered were minor?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. We would encourage you to contact our Bakersfield car accident lawyers to discuss your situation in detail. We can help you determine whether you have a valid personal injury case.
As a general matter, if your injury was caused by the negligent actions of another, you may be entitled to recover compensation even when the damages suffered were very minor.
However, if the total damages associated with your injury are less than $7,500, you may be better off filing your claim in a small claims court. This would potentially speed up the process and could ultimately save you money because you wouldn’t have an attorney sharing a percentage of your already-relatively-small recovery. However, we offer this as a general comment only — every case is unique.
Mickey Fine is committed to the belief that everyone deserves justice. No case is too big or too small. Rather, the question is whether we believe our Bakersfield car accident lawyers can add value to your claim. We will give you an honest answer to that question during a consultation.
What is Prop 213?
In 1996, insurance companies lobbied aggressively for a new law called “Prop 213,” which significantly limits the damages available to car accident victims who did not have auto insurance at the time of the crash.
Under Prop 213, drivers who do not have insurance are ineligible to collect non-economic damages (e.g. pain and suffering, emotional distress) after a California car crash. Accordingly, if you have been involved in an accident while driving a vehicle that was not covered by your insurance, Prop 213 could limit your damages to direct economic losses (e.g. medical expenses, property damages, lost wages, etc.).
The Bakersfield car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Mickey Fine are familiar with the tricks insurance companies use to minimize settlements. Mr. Fine and his team are not afraid to stand up to these companies, no matter how large or powerful they may be. We are prepared to take your case as far as necessary to get you the full compensation you deserve — and that means fighting for the best possible outcome, even in cases that might be subject to Prop 213.
What if the police report says my car accident was my fault?
You should not admit fault to anyone at the scene of your car accident. You should also not become discouraged by the official police report or its findings. The question of liability is rarely “black and white.” In fact, in the state of California, you may be entitled to damages even if you are partly at fault for your accident.
Determining liability requires an extensive investigation from an experienced car accident attorney. Mickey Fine has over two decades of experience investigating car accidents, establishing liability, and securing large settlements for our clients.
Can I file a car accident injury claim in Bakersfield, CA?
Anyone injured in an auto accident caused (even in part) by another party’s negligence is entitled to file a car accident injury claim in California.
How do I file a car accident injury claim in Bakersfield, CA?
First and foremost, if you are injured, seek medical attention right away. In an emergency, call 911.
The next step is to contact an experienced Bakersfield car accident lawyer like Mickey Fine. Our office can help you understand your options, and then you can decide whether you want to pursue a claim. The initial consultation is free; there is no pressure and no obligation to take action or to hire our law firm.
Who will pay for my compensation in a car accident injury claim?
In most cases, it is ultimately an insurance company that will have the responsibility for covering an accident victim’s damages.
In some cases, it may be that the at-fault party is your family member or friend. Most people feel bad about filing a claim against someone they love, but it’s important to realize that, in practical terms, the claim is ultimately against the insurance company. Our Bakersfield car accident lawyers can help you navigate these sensitive situations.
How much compensation am I entitled to in a car accident?
The amount of compensation available to you will depend on the nature of your accident, the severity of the injuries, the extent of the legal damages, and the relevant insurance policy limits, among other factors.
As Bakersfield car accident lawyers, we are not able to predict an outcome or promise specific results. However, after an initial consultation, we will be able to help you get a better understanding of your potential recovery. We can also tell you approximately how much money people have recovered in similar cases.
How long will my car accident claim take to resolve?
The duration of any claim depends on a number of factors, including (but not limited to): the nature of the injuries, how much time has already passed since the accident, and the number of parties involved. After an initial consultation, we may be able to get a better sense of the potential timeframe for your claim.
Should I accept an insurance settlement for my car accident claim?
Insurance companies are beholden to shareholders. Shareholders demand profit. For insurers, profit means maximizing premiums and minimizing settlements / payouts.
Offers from insurance companies are rarely sufficient to cover all of a victim’s damages. Lowball offers are common. In fact, insurance adjustors are trained to work against an accident victim’s financial interests.
Once you accept a settlement offer, there is no going back. For that reason, you should never accept an insurance settlement offer without first consulting experienced Bakersfield car accident lawyers. You may be entitled to more than you realize.
What if I was injured on I-5?
Interstate 5 in California is one of the most dangerous highways in the state, if not the entire country. Nearly 200 people died in accidents on I-5 from 2015 to 2017, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As a California native, attorney Mickey Fine knows the dangers drivers face on I-5, including areas such as Tejon Pass, The Grapevine, and the Central Valley. It is in your best interest to speak to a lawyer who knows the local roads and is committed to pursuing maximum compensation on behalf of clients who have been injured or lost loved ones due to the negligence of drivers on interstates and other highways.