If you suffered injuries in a car accident that resulted from another driver’s negligent behavior, you should retain experienced legal counsel to guide you through the claims filing and litigation processes.
Some car accident victims worry about the potential cost of an excellent personal injury attorney. However, most personal injury lawyers in Bakersfield operate on a contingency basis. This means the attorney does not receive a fee until they recover monetary compensation for their client through a settlement offer, binding arbitration award, or verdict at a civil jury trial.
If the attorney does not recover monetary compensation for their client, then they will not ordinarily be entitled to receive a fee, under the terms of the lawyer’s contingency fee agreement.
Under a contingency fee agreement, an attorney will collect a percentage of the accident victim’s gross settlement award or litigation result. Generally, the more complex a case and the longer a case is pending, the higher the attorney’s contingency fee percentage.
In other words, according to the terms of an agreement, a lawyer will typically be entitled to recover a higher fee if a case goes to trial or binding arbitration instead of settling out of court.
Before you sign a lawyer’s contingency fee agreement, you should ask questions and get the necessary clarification. Upon signing the contract, your attorney will assume you fully understood it. Once you sign the contingency fee agreement, your attorney can start working on your case.
While your case is pending, your attorney can file a personal injury claim with the insurance company on your behalf, negotiate with insurance company representatives, and litigate your case in court.
Your attorney can also help you make intelligent and informed decisions throughout your case, including whether you should accept or reject a particular settlement offer from the insurance company.
In short, your lawyer will do everything possible to help you maximize your total monetary recovery via settlement or litigation.
Car Accident Types and Causes
Car crashes typically happen when other drivers violate traffic laws and execute reckless and careless maneuvers. When drivers behave negligently while behind the wheel, they may cause several different types of accidents.
One common type of accident is a head-on collision, where the front of one vehicle strikes the front of an oncoming car, usually because the negligent driver is not observing the road or is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When these accidents happen at a high rate of speed, they are especially likely to bring about permanent injuries and fatalities.
Another common type of car accident is a sideswipe accident. In this accident scenario, the sides of two vehicles strike one another while traveling forward in the same direction. When a driver negligently causes their car to drift into another travel lane, they may push the vehicle on the receiving end out of their lane or off the road entirely, resulting in serious injuries.
On the other hand, a tailgate or rear-end accident happens when one vehicle hits the back of another car. These accidents are common when drivers tailgate, speed, and fail to observe the road.
Finally, broadside, or T-bone collisions, happen when one vehicle hits the side of a car traveling on an intersecting road. These accidents typically occur when drivers do not yield the right of way to another car at the appropriate time.
These types of accidents may result from various kinds of driver negligence.
In most scenarios, drivers are negligent when they violate one or more traffic laws, such as by:
- Failing to use their mirrors
- Failing to use technological devices on their vehicles like backup cameras and lane change warnings
- Aggressively weaving in and out of traffic
- Failing to use their turn signals
When drivers commit one or more of these traffic law violations, they are more likely to cause a traffic accident that injures other drivers and their passengers.
Traffic accidents may also occur when drivers exhibit road rage by aggressively tailgating other drivers, operating their vehicles in an overzealous manner, or cutting off other cars in traffic.
Drivers frequently show road rage when they hurry and try to move ahead of other vehicles. However, when they resort to reckless driving maneuvers, they may inadvertently bring about a single collision or a series of crashes with multiple vehicles.
Next, some motor vehicle crashes result from distracted and inattentive driving. Some drivers become preoccupied with the electronic devices in their cars, for instance, GPS navigation systems, smartphones, and in-car entertainment systems. They may also become distracted when they engage in non-electronic activities that take their eyes or mind away from the road.
Finally, some motor vehicle crashes result from intoxicated driving. Despite the many warnings about drinking and driving, many drivers still choose to get behind the wheel of their vehicle after having too much to drink or using drugs. With alcohol, for example, a passenger vehicle driver is intoxicated when they have a blood alcohol concentration that meets or exceeds 0.08 percent.
Alcohol and drugs can seriously affect a driver’s ability to operate a vehicle safely and carefully. First, an intoxicated driver may experience delayed reflexes and reaction time, preventing them from stopping their car in time to avoid a collision.
A drunk driver may also experience various physical symptoms, including dizziness and blurred vision, causing them to swerve while driving. Finally, drugs and alcohol can limit a driver’s concentration, preventing them from focusing all their attention on the road.
If you recently sustained injuries in a car crash resulting from one of these types of driver negligence, you should get the legal help you need immediately.
A knowledgeable and experienced car accident attorney in your area can investigate the circumstances surrounding your accident and, if necessary, retain an accident reconstructionist to testify as a witness. Your lawyer can also assemble a settlement demand package and assist you during the negotiation process in your case.
Proving a Car Accident Claim
To recover monetary compensation for car accident injuries, the accident victim must first satisfy their legal burden of proof. Everyone has a duty to drive in a safe, careful, and responsible manner. However, if they breach that legal duty of care, they and their insurance company may be liable for any injuries that result.
To recover damages in their case, the accident victim must demonstrate that the other driver breached their legal duty of care. For example, the other driver might have violated one or more traffic laws, operated their vehicle distractedly, or engaged in road rage.
In addition, the accident victim must establish that as a direct result of the other driver’s negligence, the car accident occurred. Finally, the accident victim must demonstrate, through medical testimony, that they suffered at least one physical injury due to their car crash.
To prove medical causation in a car accident claim or lawsuit, a medical expert can physically examine the accident victim and testify, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that the injury or injuries directly resulted from the accident. The healthcare provider can also establish that the accident victim suffered a permanent injury in their car crash.
Recoverable Monetary Damages for Your Injuries
If you recently sustained injuries in a car accident, you may recover monetary damages, depending on your accident and injury circumstances.
Factors that may affect the types and amounts of monetary damages an accident victim recovers include:
- The severity of their injuries
- The total cost of their medical treatment
- The circumstances surrounding their accident
- Whether they missed time from work to treat their injuries
- Whether or not they suffered a permanent or disabling injury in their accident
In general, the more serious a car accident victim’s injuries and medical treatment, the more likely they will receive favorable monetary damages for their injuries.
Compensable monetary damages in a car accident claim or lawsuit may include compensation for past and anticipated medical costs, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, loss of use of a body part, lost quality of life, loss of spousal consortium, inconvenience, mental distress, pain and suffering, and inconvenience.
Your Bakersfield car accident attorney can help you determine which damages you may recover as part of your claim or lawsuit. If your attorney succeeds in securing monetary compensation on your behalf via settlement or litigation, they will be entitled to recover a fee. Your lawyer can deduct the amount of their payment and let you know the total amount of your net monetary recovery in the case.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Near You Today
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you should retain a qualified attorney to represent you as quickly as possible. If you wait too long to seek legal representation after your car accident, you may run afoul of the statute of limitations.
Victims of car accidents have only two years from their accident date to file a lawsuit for monetary damages. Unless an exceptional circumstance applies, accident victims who file a lawsuit after the deadline will not be eligible to recover monetary damages for their injuries. Therefore, you should immediately secure legal counsel to represent you in your case.
Your car accident attorney will be your advocate at every stage of the legal proceedings, from investigation through litigation. Your attorney can handle all negotiations with insurance company adjusters on your behalf and represent you at all legal proceedings in your case, including discovery depositions, mediation hearings, binding arbitration proceedings, and civil jury trials.
Your attorney can also introduce evidence on your behalf in court, make convincing arguments, and pursue the highest monetary award available to you for your car accident injuries.