Car accidents occur in Orange County every day and often cause traumatic, severe and permanent catastrophic injuries. California is pure comparative fault state, meaning that injured drivers can file claims to recover damages with the insurance provider of the at-fault driver, even if that driver is only partially at-fault or if there are multiple responsible parties. An Orange County car accident lawyer can provide guidance and support when filing insurance and personal injury claims as result of a car accident.
Determining who is at fault in car accidents
Determining the party or parties who are at fault for your car accident is essential to filing a car insurance claim and a personal injury claim. A party may be at fault due to negligence, recklessness, or even intentional conduct such as malice, fraud or oppression. The majority of car accidents are caused by the negligence of drivers, others on the road, car manufacturers, or those responsible for inspecting and maintaining roadways.
Driver negligence can take the form of distracted driving, driving fatigued, ignoring traffic lights, or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Regardless of the cause, drivers musts exercise reasonable care at all times and under all circumstances. The failure to exercise reasonable care is negligence. In California, the Rules of the Road are established in the Vehicle Code, Division 11, Sections 21000-23336. Ten of the most common violations of the Vehicle Code which cause car accidents include:
- Vehicle Code 21658 – Failure to maintain vehicle within lane of travel
- Vehicle Code 21800 – Failure to yield the right-of-way
- Vehicle Code 21801(a) – Unsafe left turn or U-turn
- Vehicle Code 21453(a) – Failure to stop at a red light
- Vehicle Code 22107 – Unsafe lane change
- Vehicle Code 22108 – Failure to signal before changing lanes
- Vehicle Code 22109 – Unsafe braking/driving dangerously slow
- Vehicle Code 22350 – Unsafe speed for driving conditions
- Vehicle Code 22450 – Failure to stop at stop sign or crosswalk
- Vehicle Code 23152 – Driving under the influence (DUI/DWI)
In order for a driver to be held liable, they must have acted negligently in some way, and this negligent act must have directly caused the accident and injury. Many times, the driver’s actions violate the Vehicle Code, creating a presumption of negligence.
Can I make a personal injury claim if I am at fault for causing a car accident?
Possibly. It depends on the specific circumstances of the car accident. Frequently, multiple drivers or parties are found to be partially at fault for an accident. California operates under pure comparative negligence laws, which require all parties to bear responsibility for their portion of fault for an accident. Therefore, even if you may be partially at fault for causing an accident, you may still have a claim for your injuries against other parties who also contributed to the accident.
However, the compensation you are entitled to recover for your losses will be reduced by the percentage of fault you were responsible for the accident. An experienced attorney can advocate to reduce the percentage you are found at fault, increasing the final compensation amount you are entitled to receive.
What damages am I entitled to recover as a result of a car accident?
In California, a responsible party is required to provide compensation to an injured person for all harm that was caused by their negligence or wrongdoing. This includes medical bills, loss of earnings and earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, disfigurement, grief, anxiety, and humiliation. It also includes property damage, loss of use (rental car expenses) and diminution in value (loss of value of your vehicle as a result of an accident). Under limited circumstances, it may also include punitive damages to punish the defendant for their negligence or wrongdoing, if the evidence establishes that the defendant acted intentionally, recklessly or with malice, fraud or oppression. See Civil Code §3294. In order to recover damages, you will need to make a claim or file a lawsuit against the responsible party. An experienced attorney at The Bertch Firm possesses the knowledge, training, skill and experience to pursue justice for you and secure maximum compensation for the damages you have suffered.
How much is my car accident case worth?
Every case is unique and must be evaluated in light of the specific circumstances giving rise to your injury. The value of your case depends on many factors including the liability of the defendant, any comparative fault of your own in causing your injuries, and the nature and extent of all of the harm suffered by you as a result of the incident, including damages for bodily injury, loss of earnings and earning capacity, property damage, general damages (e.g. pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, physical impairment, anxiety, inconvenience, grief, humiliation, and disfigurement) and punitive damages.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit for a car accident?
In California, the statute of limitations for all personal injury claims, including car accidents, is two years from the date the incident occurred. This is known as the statute of limitations. (See Code of Civil Procedure §§335-349.4) Code of Civil Procedure §§335-335.1 states that “the periods prescribed for the commencement of actions other than for the recovery of real property, are…[w]ithin two years: an action for assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another.”
However, there may be exceptions to this rule which shorten or extend the time for you to file a lawsuit. In most cases, a lawsuit cannot be brought if more than two years has passed since the date of the incident. In limited situations, the time to file a lawsuit may be longer than two years. For example, if the claimant is a minor, they must file a lawsuit within two years of their eighteenth birthday. In other situations, the time to file a lawsuit may be shorter than two years. For example, if your injury occurs as a result of wrongdoing or negligence of a public or government entity, you must submit a claim to the appropriate government entity within six months, even if the claimant is a minor. We strongly encourage you to speak to an attorney at your earliest opportunity to ensure your rights to bring a lawsuit to recover damages for the harm you have suffered are protected.
The Bertch Firm Difference
Personalized attention for your car accident claim
At The Bertch Firm, each case is overseen and prosecuted by a licensed attorney, not a paralegal or case manager. The Bertch Firm has experience with many different types of vehicle accidents, including car accidents. An experienced attorney can help you gather and preserve crucial evidence for your car accident claim. Contact The Bertch Firm today and experience The Bertch Firm difference when you hire us to represent you for your injury claim.
Contact The Bertch Firm today
For further information about your car accident claim
The Bertch Firm has represented many people who have been injured as a result of car accidents. For further information about your potential case as a result of a car accident, contact an attorney at The Bertch Firm today for a free consultation.