Experienced Car Accident Attorneys Serving South Orange County and California
Car accidents occur with shocking frequency in the U.S. and California in particular. Around six million car accidents take place nationwide each year, resulting in tens of thousands of fatalities. Californians were involved in 485,866 car crashes in 2017, resulting in close to 4,000 traffic fatalities (representing close to 11% of the entire nation’s total) and nearly 300,000 injuries. Southern California contains all of the state’s most dangerous counties for drivers–Los Angeles by far the most dangerous, followed by Orange County, San Diego, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties, in that order.
Suffering a serious injury in a car accident can be physically and financially disastrous for you and your family. The consequences can follow you for months and even years after the accident. If you were injured by another person’s negligent or reckless driving, retaining a qualified personal injury attorney can help you recover money damages to help pay for your medical treatment, rehabilitation, and to make up for money lost due to days or weeks you had to take off of work as a result of the injury—in addition to damages for your pain and suffering—as discussed further below.
What to Do If You Have Been Injured in a Car Accident in California
If you are involved in a car accident, the first thing you should do is make sure everyone involved is safe, seek emergency assistance if it is required, get out of dangerous traffic lanes if possible, and otherwise safeguard you and your loved ones against further harm. Once everyone is out of danger, and if you are able, you may wish to photograph the scene of the accident (thankfully almost everyone has access to a cell phone camera these days). You can also photograph the damage to the vehicles involved. You can then request the other involved driver’s insurance information.
You may wish to start making notes (a cell phone note-taking application is a helpful tool) about the location of the collision, which party was driving in which direction (referencing a direction of travel like “northbound” or “eastbound” can be helpful as you try to remember what happened later), and what you suspect was the cause of the accident. If the person who crashed into you makes any statements, for example, (e.g. “I’m so sorry, I was texting,” etc.) you can jot those statements down. You may then wish to call your insurance company to report the accident, or, if you are filing a third-party insurance claim through the other driver’s insurance, you may wish to make a report to their company using the policy information they shared with you.
Regardless of the severity of the accident, you should contact law enforcement to file a police report. This report can be a tremendous help as you work with your attorney. Furthermore, under California law, if someone was injured or killed in the car accident, you are required to prepare a written report regarding the accident and send it to the California DMV. This same requirement applies to the other driver involved. Finally, you may wish to consider consulting with an attorney as soon as possible, as discussed further below.
The Statute of Limitations in California
Odd as it may sound, a clock starts running as soon as you are involved in a car accident. Ordinarily, you only have two years from the date of your accident to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the other party involved (assuming that someone was injured or killed in the car accident). California law imposes this time limit on filing a personal injury lawsuit to assist the court system in determining the truth of what happened—if a lawsuit is filed years after the fact, witnesses’ memories can fade, evidence can be lost or destroyed, and locating the parties can be much more difficult than if the lawsuit was filed more quickly.
Given this running clock, it can be important to gather as much evidence at the scene of the accident as possible (as described above), and it can also be important to find and consult with an experienced personal injury attorney at the earliest possible date. Your attorney may wish to conduct their own investigation and prepare a legal strategy prior to filing your lawsuit, and if you wait for a year before retaining an attorney, for example, you will have deprived your legal counsel of almost half the time period the law gives them to work up your case.
Proving a Car Accident Case in California
If you are injured by a negligent driver and hire an attorney to file a lawsuit against the driver who hurt you, your attorney will likely bring a “negligence” claim against that other driver. This is one of the most common legal claims associated with car accidents. To prove a negligence claim in court, your attorney will have to establish that the other driver owed you what is called a “duty of care,” in this case a duty to drive in a reasonably safe manner, that the other driver failed to honor that duty by driving dangerously (whether that driver was under the influence, texting, or just failing to watch the road), and that you were injured as a result of that other driver’s negligent driving.
Your attorney may rely on evidence you gathered at the scene, ask you to testify in court about what happened, and/or call witnesses who saw the accident to explain the relevant events to the court or jury. Your attorney may also present medical evidence to establish that you were injured and to prove the costs associated with your treatment. If you manage to prove that the other driver was negligent and injured you as a result, your attorney may be able to recover money damages to help you get through the aftermath of your car accident, as discussed further below.
Damages in California Car Accident Cases
There are several different types of money damages that your attorney may be able to recover for you in a California personal injury lawsuit related to your car accident. These money damages are meant to—at least by some measure—make you whole for the losses you have incurred due to another driver’s negligence.
First, your attorney will attempt to recover what are called “economic damages,” sometimes also referred to as compensatory damages. These damages typically include money to cover your lost wages if you had to take time off of work to recover from your injuries and/or lost your job, they may also include reimbursement for the cost of your medical treatment, and they will typically include money to cover the damage to your car or other involved property, among other things.
Second, your attorney may request “non-economic damages.” These damages are meant to compensate you for the pain and suffering you endured as a result of your car accident. Non-economic damages may take into account the following factors:
- • Emotional distress
- • Inconvenience
- • Grief and mental suffering
- • Loss of enjoyment of life
- • Disfigurement or physical impairment
- • Anxiety
- • Humiliation
- • Loss of a spouse or family member
There are also other, less common types of damages that your attorney may be able to recover for you. For example, if the other driver’s behavior was particularly reckless, intentionally harmful, or otherwise egregious or aggravated. you may also be able to recover what are called “punitive damages,” or damages meant to punish the other person. These damages are fairly rare in California car accident cases, but they are sometimes awarded in drunk driving situations and in exceptional cases. You can consult a qualified personal injury attorney to learn more about the types of damages that might be available to you and your chances of recovering damages based on the specific facts of your case.
Proven Results – Dedicated Advocacy
At Jolly Berry Law, we have helped hundreds of clients recover compensation for their injuries. When you choose to work with us to represent you in your car accident claim, we will devote our knowledge, expertise, and passion for justice to help you get back on your feet and be made whole again.
A consultation with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at Jolly Berry Law is complimentary and risk-free. We handle our client’s cases on a contingency fee basis, which means that we only get paid if you get paid. This makes the decision to hire an expert in personal injury law, who will zealously pursue your best interests, an easy one. Contact us today at (949) 515-9000 for an initial consultation.
“We were in a bad situation and things seemed as if there was no hope. If you’ve ever had that feeling of hopelessness you know what I’m taking about. We spoke to Leah about our case while she took copious notes and asked us a lot of questions – uncomfortable ones. All the while she kept her professional composure and gave us the honest to God truth…..truth about our options and how things were going to go down depending on what happens. It was a tough day. As we progressed into the process we were introduced to Kevin who supported Leah’s strategy and provided more insight. Together they showed compassion and empathy for our situation. Right from the get go we knew Leah and Kevin’s professionalism and extensive knowledge in trial was going to benefit us. They knew people, best strategy and possible outlook. Things were looking much better. We decided our best option was to go to trial and it was a good decision. Watching Leah and Kevin in action picking out the jury, lining up the witness stand and re-strategizing after objections was an amazing experience. We won 12-0 in our favor. If you are ever in a situation that you need an attorney you need to call Leah and Kevin – you won’t regret it. “
“We have had the pleasure of working with Leah Berry with the Jolly Berry Law Firm this year. She has a thorough knowledge of the law and a deep understanding of our legal system. Above all, Leah’s exceptional communication skills are what set her apart from other attorneys we have known. She is very proactive and kept us informed every step of the way through our legal proceeding. Best of all, she won our case!
Leah has an amazing talent and personality for bringing calm to the most stressful situations. We highly recommend Leah Berry and her law firm if you are looking for the highest level of professional legal care.“
“Leah Berry and Kevin Jolly are the ultimate advocates. Their experience, their attention to detail, their research, and their preparedness are second to none. They are not afraid to try cases and can connect with a jury to produce favorable results. More importantly, they care about their clients and their cause. They bring a passion to their litigation and advocacy skills that directly translate to favorable settlements and verdicts.“
“We wanted to thank you for representing us in the lawsuit. Our case was settled out of court because of your time, dedication, and effort. We can now sleep and have piece of mind. You and your wife are always in my prayers to continue your good work.”
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