What You Need to Know After an Irvine Car Accident
With more vehicles on the road comes the unfortunate—and increased—possibility of severe traffic accidents. Many roads in the Irvine area see extremely high vehicle traffic daily, including on California State Route 55 and State Route 1, otherwise known as Coastal Highway. Additionally, the downtown sees heavy traffic, especially during morning and evening commute hours.
Car accidents in Irvine and surrounding areas leave many drivers and passengers with severe injuries. These injuries may prevent accident victims from working, and they may see their medical expenses pile up very quickly. Moreover, accident victims—especially those who suffer permanent injuries—may experience ongoing inconvenience, suffering, and pain for a significant amount of time.
If you or a person you love suffered injuries in a car accident, you should take legal action as quickly as possible in your case. An experienced Irvine car accident attorney can meet with you to discuss your car accident circumstances and help you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Your legal team will then engage the insurance company in meaningful settlement negotiations or, if necessary, file a lawsuit and pursue litigation in your case. Reach out to a Irvine car accident lawyer.
Before you meet with your attorney, however, it helps to understand car accidents and California law. Having a basic understanding of your case will help you as you navigate through the legal process.
How Do Car Accidents Happen?
Car accidents typically happen when people drive carelessly, negligently, and recklessly. A driver is negligent when they drive unreasonably, given the circumstances at that time.
First, many Irvine car accidents result from speeding and other traffic law violations. When drivers exceed the speed limit, they are less likely to maintain control over their vehicle, negligently causing it to swerve out of control and strike another vehicle or pedestrian. Moreover, when drivers tailgate—or follow other vehicles too closely—they may be unable to stop their car in time to avoid a crash.
Moreover, some car accidents happen when people drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When individuals drink and drive, they may experience a lack of concentration, nausea, dizziness, and delayed reaction time. Consequently, they may be unable to stop their vehicle in time to avoid striking another vehicle or pedestrian—even if they see the car or pedestrian in advance.
When passenger vehicle drivers exceed a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent, the law presumes them intoxicated. Commercial truck drivers and minors who are under 21 years old must follow more stringent legal standards. In addition to incurring criminal penalties for a DUI conviction, a guilty driver or their insurance company may also have to pay civil damages if they cause a traffic accident that injures someone else.
In addition to drunk driving, many Irvine car wrecks result from distracted vehicle operations. Another term for distracted driving is inattentive driving. Drivers might ignore the road when they fiddle with an electronic device in their vehicle, listen to loud music, or talk on a cellular device that lacks Bluetooth capabilities. Focusing on something else while driving may prevent a driver from seeing a nearby pedestrian or other vehicles, bringing about a severe accident.
Next, some car accidents result from fatigued driving. When commercial truck drivers and others get behind the wheel without sufficient sleep, they may experience symptoms similar to intoxicated drivers. For example, they may experience impaired vision, delayed concentration, limited reflexes, and delayed reaction time. These deficiencies significantly increase a fatigued driver’s chances of causing a severe motor vehicle accident.
If you sustained injuries in a car crash that resulted from some other driver’s negligence, the time to take legal action in your case is now. Your legal team can help you take appropriate legal action against the responsible driver and pursue the monetary damages you need in your personal injury case.
Can I File a Claim With the Responsible Driver’s Insurance Company?
California is a fault-based state when it comes to motor vehicle crashes. Therefore, if a negligent driver caused your car accident, you may file a personal injury claim with that driver’s insurance company. You must forward documentation about the accident and your injuries to an insurance company representative to file a claim.
Essential documents in your car crash case may include copies of your:
- Lost income documents from your employer
- Medical treatment records
- Medical bills
- Photographs of your injuries
- Pictures of the car accident scene
- Statements from eyewitnesses to the occurrence
When you hire a car accident lawyer, they will begin gathering those documents on your behalf, even while you complete your medical treatment.
After your medical treatment, your attorney can submit the claim documents to the insurance company and send a settlement demand letter for the compensation you deserve. They can then begin negotiating with the insurance company representative handling your claim.
What if the Other Driver Did Not Have Insurance Coverage?
Even though California requires motor vehicle owners and operators to carry insurance coverage, many do not.
If the at-fault driver who hit you did not have motor vehicle insurance coverage or fled the accident scene, you can file an uninsured motorist claim with your own insurance company.
If the responsible driver does not have enough insurance coverage to compensate you for all your losses, you can file an underinsured motorist claim with your insurance company.
An experienced auto accident attorney can help you determine all potentially applicable insurance coverage in your case and file the necessary claims with the appropriate insurers.
What Do I Need to Prove to Recover Money Damages in a Car Accident Case?
To recover monetary compensation as part of a California car accident claim or lawsuit, you must satisfy your legal burden of proof.
As the victim in a car accident case, you must establish:
- Breach of duty
First, you must demonstrate that the responsible driver owed you a legal duty of care. This element is relatively easy to establish in car accident cases because all drivers must follow California traffic laws and drive with a reasonable amount of care.
Next, you must show that the responsible driver violated their duty of care to you and that your accident occurred as a result. Finally, you must demonstrate that you suffered at least one physical injury as a direct result of your car accident.
In some car accident scenarios, mainly where the fault is obvious (such as with DUI), the at-fault driver’s insurer might admit fault for the accident. In that situation, you will only need to prove your car accident claim’s causation and damage elements.
An experienced lawyer can help you establish the legal elements of your claim or lawsuit by retaining experts, such as accident reconstructionists or medical experts, who can testify in your case.
The best car accident attorney for your case will already have strong working relationships with local medical providers who can causally relate your injuries to your car crash. A medical provider can also establish that you suffered a permanent, lifetime injury in your accident.
What Money Damages May I Recover for my Car Accident Injuries?
Car accidents can lead to severe injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, soft tissue contusions, bone fractures, spinal cord damage, and paralysis. Car crash victims in Irvine who can prove the legal elements of their claim can recover various monetary damages.
Every car crash scenario is different, and accident victims may suffer very different injuries in their crashes. Therefore, the types and amounts of financial compensation that victims recover will vary from case to case, depending upon the circumstances.
Factors that influence these damages include:
- The accident location
- The type of accident that occurs
- The injuries the accident victim suffers
- The cost of the accident victim’s medical treatment
- Whether the accident victim suffered permanent losses in their accident
- Whether the accident victim missed time from work
- The extent of the accident victim’s pain and suffering
- Whether the accident victim suffered from pre-existing injuries or medical conditions at the time of their accident
Insurance companies do everything they can to try and undermine an accident victim’s claim or lawsuit. Therefore, you should have skilled lawyer on your side negotiating and advocating for you every step of the way.
Via settlement or litigation, car accident victims can recover monetary compensation for their:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Emotional anguish and mental distress
- Permanent disability or disfigurement
- Loss of earning capacity
- Lost income
- Loss of the ability to use a body part
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Permanent disfigurement or disability
- Lifetime care costs
- Loss of spousal companionship
Your legal team will work hard to assist you during settlement negotiations and any necessary litigation to maximize your monetary recovery. We can also help you develop realistic expectations for your case and let you know its approximate value.
Contact An Experienced Car Accident Lawyer in Irvine Today
If you sustained injuries in a recent Irvine car crash that resulted from someone else’s carelessness, you should take legal action as quickly as possible. California car accident victims have limited time to file a claim for monetary damages.
The time clock begins to run on the accident date and ends two years later—sooner in some cases. If a car crash victim fails to file their lawsuit in two years, absent extremely limited circumstances, they may no longer recover monetary damages for their injuries.
Look for an experienced legal team with the resources and skills necessary to effectively negotiate favorable settlement compensation on your behalf.
If the insurance company refuses to offer you the monetary damages you deserve, you need a car accident lawyer who welcomes the opportunity to file a lawsuit and take your case to a jury trial.
Not only that, look for a strong record of success in litigating cases through the California Court System and obtaining favorable jury verdicts and binding arbitration awards. Then let that attorney help you pursue and recover the compensation you need today.
For a free case evaluation and legal consultation, call a knowledgeable Irvine personal injury attorney today!