Irvine Car Accident Attorney
California is notorious for its high-volume traffic, aggressive drivers, and congested roadways. Even the rural roads of Orange County can pose dangers from speeding drivers, potholes, and animals crossing. The odds of getting into a car accident are relatively high in these conditions. At Bentley & More, LLP, our accident lawyers are here for car accident victims in Santa Ana, Irvine, Anaheim and all other cities in Southern California. We’ve handled dozens of car accident cases that span from hit-and-runs to commercial trucking collisions. After any type of crash, contact our firm for a free consultation.
Car Accident Statistics: California and Orange County
The car accident attorneys at Bentley & More, LLP, get very close to those who come to us for legal help. We see them as friends and family members, not just clients. We don’t like to turn car accident victims into statistics. We also appreciate the value of showing others just how big of a problem car accidents are in California and locally. Looking at the numbers is important to gauge the impact crashes have on California’s families and economy. Here are a few facts about car accidents in the state and county:
- The State of California recorded 3,176 traffic fatalities in 2015. The majority of deaths occurred in urban rather than rural settings. There were 914 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities and 955 speeding-related fatalities.
- In 2014, there were 19,873 killed and injured car accident victims in Orange County. The County saw 1,998 victims from alcohol-involved accidents, 1,040 victims from motorcycle accidents, 853 in pedestrian collisions, and 1,200 bicyclists.
- In Orange County, speeding was the greatest primary factor contributing to car accidents in 2014, with 4,874 fatal and injury collisions. Nighttime conditions were the second-greatest factor with 1,671 collisions, followed by hit and runs (1,086 collisions).
- Victims killed and injured in car accidents (2014) are as follows per city: Santa Ana, 2,397; Irvine, 1,306; Anaheim, 3,182. Alcohol involvement and speeding remained common factors involved in fatal and injury accidents in all three cities.
- According to the California Office of Traffic Safety’s “California’s Annual Performance Report 2015,” areas of concentration for safety improvement include alcohol-impaired driving, distracted driving, drug-impaired driving, motorcycle safety, occupant protection, pedestrian/bicycle safety, and roadway safety.
These numbers feel much more personal when you or a loved one gets involved in a tragic car accident in Orange County. We know that just one car-accident death is too many. We strive to help car accident survivors or family members of the deceased hold those responsible for the crash accountable in a court of law. We know a settlement or trial won’t reverse your damages, but it can go a long way toward securing your financial future.
California Car Accident Laws
Learning the laws regarding car accidents in California can help you protect your rights as a victim. The more you know about what you can and cannot do as a California driver, the better able you will be to avoid car accidents and liability. Know that you can always come to Bentley & More, LLP, for legal counsel after a car crash. We can walk you through the applicable laws in your case, and help you understand your legal opportunities. Below is a summary of a few of the most important CA car accident laws:
- Time limit for filing your claim. If you want to file a personal injury claim for your car accident, you have two years from the date of the accident to bring your lawsuit. For claims only involving property damage, you have three years from the date. Keep in mind that these time limits are for PI claims, not insurance claims. Make either type of claim as soon as possible after an accident.
- Comparative fault laws. California abides by pure comparative negligence laws. This means that an injured party (plaintiff) may still be eligible for financial compensation even if the courts find him/her partially at fault for the accident. A plaintiff can be 99% responsible for causing the crash in California and still recover. Don’t assume you aren’t eligible for recovery just because you contributed to the accident. Speak to an attorney.
- Elements for bringing a claim. You must prove four elements to have the grounds for a personal injury claim: 1) that the offending party (hereafter known as the defendant) owed you a duty of care; 2) the defendant breached this duty of care; 3) that the breach caused the car accident; and 4) that you suffered real damages as a result. A good attorney can help you establish these elements in front of a judge or jury.
There are dozens of federal, state, and local laws that could come into play in any given car accident case. Your claim may involve DUI laws, distracted driving laws, commercial trucking laws, and many others. The best way to navigate the law in your favor is to partner with an experienced car accident law firm. The car accident lawyers at Bentley & More, LLP, have knowledge of all relevant laws that could play a role in your particular claim.
What to Do After an Accident in Santa Ana, Irvine or Anaheim
The things you do right after a car accident can affect the success of a subsequent insurance or personal injury claim. It’s important to remain calm, and not panic or become angry with the other driver. Do not apologize or admit fault on the scene. Check yourself for injuries, and then see if anyone else has any. If you notice injuries or property damage in excess of $1,000, you legally have to report the accident to police. It’s always a good idea to involve the police. Otherwise, you will not have an official record that the crash ever happened.
Move disabled vehicles to the side of the road if possible, and wait in a safe location for authorities to arrive. Give police your side of the story in detail. Gather information such as the officer’s name, the other driver’s name, his/her insurance information, where you are, and what happened. Take photographs of the accident and any injuries. As soon as police give you permission to leave, seek medical attention for injuries (unless, of course, you had to leave in an ambulance earlier). Even if you don’t feel injured, go to the hospital. You could have hidden injuries with delayed symptoms.
Call your insurance company and report the incident as soon as you can. If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, do not record a statement or accept any settlement offers before talking to an experienced Orange County car accident attorney. Keep documentation of your car-accident related harms – this includes your medical records and information about property damage. Keep track of medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses related to the crash. Once you’re on the mend, contact our attorneys. We’ll meet with you in Orange County for a free consultation, and help you take the next steps.
Distracted driving is a major problem throughout California. The California Office of Traffic Safety’s 2015 report recorded at least 3,154 fatalities and 424,000 injuries related to distracted driving. A statewide ban on handheld cell phone use for talk and text has been in place since 2008, yet thousands of drivers still illegally participate in this activity every day. The number of drivers observed using handheld devices while driving increased from 6.6% in 2014 to 9.2% in 2015. California police conducted 37,879 distracted-driver related traffic stops in 2015, issuing 20,307 citations for using handheld cell phones and 4,589 texting citations.
Retain an attorney if you’ve been in a car accident with a distracted driver. You likely have grounds for a personal injury claim instead of a simple insurance claim. A personal injury claim in Orange County will typically result in a higher compensation award than an insurance settlement. Distracted driving is a form of negligence, especially if it involved a broken California law such as texting and driving. Speak with an attorney right away if you suspect a cell phone, a GPS, passengers, food, or other factors distracted the other driver.
Drinking and Driving
There will always be reckless drivers who believe they can safely drink and drive. One person’s bad decision can end another person’s life. There were 160,388 DUI arrests in the state of California in 2013. Of these arrests, there were 32,408 second-time offenders, 7,665 third-offenders, and 2,363 fourth-or-more-time offenders. Intoxicated drivers contributed to thousands of car accidents in California every year. Many drivers involved in crashes are repeat DUI offenders.
Drunk driving is negligence by any legal standards. The courts rule drunk driving to be “gross negligence” in many cases, with the potential for punitive damage awards for victims. Punitive damages are additional compensation awards given to punish the offender. There is no punitive damage cap in California. If a drunk driver killed your loved one, consider pursuing a wrongful death claim in Orange County. Wrongful death lawsuits can result in many of the same award types as a personal injury claim, as well as special types for surviving family members, such as loss of consortium. Our wrongful death attorneys are always available to help after fatal car accidents in Santa Ana, Irvine, or Anaheim.
Why Call Our Orange County Car Accident Attorneys?
Car accidents are some of the most common reasons to file personal injury claims. They almost always involve someone else’s negligence – another driver, a trucking company, a roadway maintenance crew, or a product manufacturer, for example. Almost every car accident is preventable. For this reason, it is wise to contact an accident lawyer for at least a free consultation after an crash involving personal injuries or expensive property damage. Unless you were 100% at fault for the collision, you could be eligible for compensation, including coverage for:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Property damage
- Physical pain
- Emotional suffering and distress
- Lost wages or capacity to earn
- Lost quality/enjoyment of life
- Home or vehicle modifications for disability
- Permanent injuries or disabilities
Many prominent publications have featured Bentley & More, LLP, for our exceptional case results and litigation capabilities. We’ve garnered several seven-figure settlements and judgments for our clients over the years. We are proud to hold a leadership personal injury firm position in Irvine, Santa Ana, Anaheim and the rest of Orange County. We want to help you and your family get past a bad car accident with impressive legal representation. Let us take the weight of your claim off your shoulders. We can take over communication with insurance companies, and help you file a car accident personal injury claim, if appropriate. Speak to one of our caring car accident attorneys today – call (949) 870-3800 or get in touch online.