Experienced Attorneys Fighting to Maximize Compensation for Injured Californians
Thousands of car accidents 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 on 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. We’d 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 up front 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.
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Common Causes of Car Accidents
According to the NHTSA:
- 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 kills. 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 the drunk driver (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 a lethal car accident 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 pursue damages 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 cellphone 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
- Applying makeup
- Eating or drinking
- Turing to talk to passengers
- Reading billboards or looking at 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 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 their 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 likely as a 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 severe physical 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 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 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 car 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 accidents. Depending on the severity of the crash, victims may sever their spinal cord, crush vertebra, or rupture discs. Some spinal injuries leave victims paralyzed. Others may require major surgery, physical therapy, or lifelong pain management and mobility regiments.
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:
- Anxiety / confusion
- 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 report the accident; 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:
- Property damage / diminution of value
- Medical bills
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- 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 claim against one or more of the following parties:
- The at-fault driver(s)
- The at-fault driver’s insurance company
- The government
- 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 at 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.
We understand what it takes to represent accident victims against insurance companies and their armies of lawyers.
If you have been injured, or if a loved one has been killed, because of a car accident in California, please call our experienced Bakersfield car accident lawyers at (661) 333-3333 and schedule a free consultation right away.
We are proud to serve accident victims in every city and county in California. If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you.