Automobile Accident Lawyers in Orange County California
Auto Accidents, Injuries and Damages in Orange County
What is an Orange County Automobile Accident Case? What Are Your Rights? What are Your Remedies?
In our capacity as Orange County automobile accident lawyers and attorneys, we’ve been helping automobile accident victims for 25+ years. Here’s what an Orange County automobile accident victim needs to know to protect his or her rights…
An auto accident case occurs when a resident of Orange County, California, suffers a physical or emotional injury as a result of another auto or truck driver’s negligent or intentional wrongful conduct. The car crash victim that has rights can be the driver or any passenger in the car.
Tip! Before you read any further, we strongly suggest that you download and read our new ebook BEFORE talking to a lawyer and BEFORE talking to an insurance company representative. It’s free and entitled, “The Truth About Your California Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Case“.
If the other vehicle operator causes death, then surviving family members may have a legal right to bring an automobile related wrongful death case against the unsafe driver, owner of the vehicle, or employer if the driver was negligently operating a car or vehicle while in the scope and course of employment.
Auto accidents can and do take place in Mission Viejo, Irvine, Laguna Hills, Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, Santa Ana, and Newport Beach every day. Conduct of the responsible driver in these cities in many instances is negligent and intentional. In some cases, it’s even willful, wanton or reckless allowing for punitive damages.
Strict liability may even apply allowing an Orange County car crash victim to hold the other driver responsible for all injury and damages without having to show fault or wrongdoing. Each case is different but it’s important to grasp these concepts to protect your legal rights after an automobile accident.
Orange County automobile accident cases that we’ve been able to help Orange County families with over the past 25 years are just part of six million motor vehicle accidents that happen nation wide each year. Several each year also are part of the approximate 11,000 people will die in automobile accident related drunk-driving crashes (we’re talking about 1 every 50 minutes).
What Damages are Available in an Orange County Automobile Accident Case?
In most serious Orange County auto accident crashes, accident victims may be entitled to monetary compensation for bodily injury and pain and suffering from the unsafe person or his employer company whose wrongful conduct and unsafe driving caused the automobile accident and injury.
Punitive damages may also be available to drivers harmed in Orange County and residents of Anaheim, Tustin, Villa Park, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, and Brea, when the other driver acted in an intentional, willful, wanton or reckless manner. These damages are designed to punish and make an example to society of the unsafe driver.
Orange County auto accident collision victims are usually entitled to compensatory or actual damages. The purpose of these automobile accident related damages are to reimbursement you for your past and future “out of pocket” expenses or losses. Exactly what compensatory damages and monetary amount you are entitled to under California law depends on the unique facts and issues in each case. Although many car crash cases can appear similar, the fact of the matter is that no two cases are alike.
For those Orange County residents who are automobile accident victims, it’s important to know that the most common compensatory damages you may be entitled to for your auto injuries and auto damages include…
Medical Expenses– Past and future bills and expenses for health care services from automobile accident related ambulance or emergency providers, hospitals, doctors, medication, and related services from nurses or other health care providers related to your injury, care and treatment.
Lost Earnings– If you are an Orange County auto accident victim and are unable to work for a period of time after the automobile accident, you may be entitled to recover reimbursement of all lost wages.
Impaired Earning Capacity– Any reduction of your ability to earn a living after a serious automobile accident is also normally recoverable. In many instances, an expert economist is retained to help determine what the actual loss of income is as a direct result of the car crash.
Future Medical Expenses– After an accident, all reasonably necessary future medical care and treatment is recoverable. Experts are used for this too.
Pain and Suffering– These damages are awarded to compensate an automobile accident victim for all past and future pain and suffering related to the auto accident and injury.
Mental Anguish– Car crash victims who have sustained extreme mental or emotional suffering or distress relating to the crash or accident are entitled to compensation. In some cases, this may also include someone who, because of the automobile accident, has witnessed the severe injury or death of a loved one.
Loss of Consortium– If, because of an automobile accident, the victim’s spouse is unable to enjoy the things normally related to a marriage such as sexual relations, affection, comfort, and companionship, a claim for money damages may be brought.
Loss of Society and Companionship– In Orange County automobile accidents cases resulting in death, these damages may be awarded to a heir for the loss of companionship, comfort and love.
Property Damage– Any property damage resulting from the impace or auto collision may be recovered by the victim in a car crash case.
What is the Standard of Proof in an Orange County California Automobile Accident Case?
In the United States and Orange County, California, the standard or burden of proof is usually by a “preponderance of the evidence” as opposed to “beyond a reasonable doubt” or “clear and convincing”. Most automobile accident cases are handled in the civil court system and it’s important to know that proving a case beyond a preponderance of the evidence (slight tipping of scales) is usually easier than a criminal prosecution (beyond a reasonable doubt). Sometimes when a automobile driver who was acting in a criminally unsafe fashion causes an serious accident, that Orange County driver is charged by the Orange County District Attorneys Office with a crime. In these cases, we work with the District Attorneys Office but do file a separate civil case against the responsible driver.
What Are The Special Time Limits to Bringing an Orange County Automobile Accident Case?
What many accident victims are not aware of is the fact that time is of the essence in many automobile accident cases. In car crash cases, most states have a strict statute of limitations or time periods which which a court proceedings must be properly commenced. Failing to act in a timely fashion may result in the victim forever loosing his or her right to bring a claim.
Although not falling under the statute of limitations laws, other important time sensitive issues include issues surrounding preserving evidence and identifying defendants, insurance coverage and assets. The earlier you do this after an automobile accident the better. Lawyers, investigators and experts are usually hired to help get this done. You might be interested in looking at our checklist of 100+ things that we normally do after being contacted and retained by and Orange County automobile accident victim.
When it’s all said and done, Orange County automobile accident victims should get an experienced lawyer involved sooner rather than later.
Can a Person Who Causes Harm in an Orange County Automobile Accident be Prosecuted for Both the Criminal Wrong and the Civil Automobile Accident Personal Injury Case?
Of course! We see this happen almost on a monthly basis.
In some instances, the civil automobile accident case and the Orange County criminal case are filed at or about the same ime.
When this happens, it’s important to “work with” the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to coordinate the investigation, witnesses, criminal plea bargaining and other important issues.
From a Lawyers Perspective, What Does it Take to Be a Good Automobile Accident Lawyer in Orange County?
Becoming a good an effective automobile accident lawyer takes practice and time. It can take years, and even decades for a lawyer to perfect his or her craft.
Different lawyers use different techniques to help maximize the total monetary payout of their clients’ cases. We believe convincing arbitrators, mediators, juries, and even opposing counsel is as much an art as anything else. It’s about using the law, facts, and people skills to make a point and to justify the damages sought.
Persuading insurance companies and claims adjusters is challenging and the final amount obtained for clients is usually related to “how” a lawyer argues the facts and presents the evidence. We believe that reputation and skill play big factors in the final settlement or verdict numbers.
What Happens Next and What Are The Steps in an Orange County Automobile Accident Case?
Orange County automobile accident victims must act quickly and make smart decisions to protect their legal rights after a car crash.
Serious injuries need to be diagnosed and treated by experienced health care providers. Doing so immediately after an auto accident is important. Here’s why…
- First, making sure you get proper medical treatment is important to your short and long-term recovery. You have a legal obligation to “mitigate your damages” and so if an injury needs treatment, you must act as a reasonable person and seek care.
- Second, the outcome of your automobile accident case can be directly related to how well your doctor documents your injuries. Thus, it’s absolutely necessary in an automobile accident case to have health care professionals properly diagnose and document all of your care and treatment in all medical records, reports, photographs, x-rays, and CT/MRI scans. People you have never met such as claims adjusters, mediators, arbitrators, a judge and at trial, a jury, will all put a great deal of weight on what is or isn’t contained in the medical records and medical findings. A good rule is to make sure everything is document!
Investigation and Protecting Evidence in an Orange County Automobile Collision Case
When it comes to investigating an automobile accident and collision case, it’s important to keep in mind that evidence can be lost or become more difficult to locate the longer you wait. Items are moved or even completely removed from the car crash scene. The vehicle skid marks wash away with rain and other items like broken asphalt, walls, and buildings get replaced or repaired. Automobiles are repaired before pictures are taken. Witness memories fad. Witnesses disappear.
Carry a camera or video recorder with you in your car. After an Orange County accident happens, take pictures and videos of the vehicles, people, and injuries. After being retained, we also use investigators to follow-up with measurements, pictures and interviews.
Automobile accident reconstruction or bio-mechanical engineering experts are retained in some cases to help with the investigation and analysis of the accident. Things like liability and force of impact can be determined for the claim or trial.
Claim and Lawsuit Filing Deadlines in Auto Accident Cases
In almost every Orange County automobile accident case, you only have a certain period of time to file a claim or lawsuit relating to your car crash injuries and damages. If you fail to properly file or serve the required legal documents, you may very well forever lose your legal right to pursue a claim or case against the responsible party who caused your automobile accident.
The time requirements you have to file an automobile accident claim against a governmental entity such as a city, county or state is different than when you are dealing with a private automobile owner or a company that owns a vehicle. In all cases, prompt action needs to be taken after an automobile accident happens. There is absolutely no upside to delaying your actions.
Legal Documents in Automobile Accident Cases
Legal documents used in Orange County, California, accident claims and collisions are usually referred to as pleadings, claim forms, and motions. They are normally prepared and filed with the court to protect the rights of an accident victim and to help maximize your chances of obtaining a full and fair settlement or judgment. Automobile accident settlement demand packages are also sometimes necessary to attempt settlement of an auto case before the need for a lawsuit becomes necessary. In may car crash cases, mediation, arbitration and trials are used to help obtain a settlement or final outcome. Again, each case is different and an experienced lawyer can help you decide which option is best!
Who Pays in an Orange County Automobile Accident Case?
When resolving an Orange County automobile accident case, most experienced Orange County automobile accident lawyers focus on the other driver’s automobile liability insurance or homeowners insurance. If the negligent driver who caused your injuries was employed with a company at the time she caused the auto accident and, was in the scope and course of employment, we may also pursue a claim against the employer. This legal theory in auto cases is known as respondent superior (the employer is liable for the wrongful conduct of its employees while on the job).
Other theories of liability in automobile accident cases may also be reviewed and pursued and might consist of a claim against the manufacturer or a maker of one of the vehicles parts or components (defective brakes, tires, unsafe/exploding gas tank design…).
If the responsible driver has insufficient insurance or no insurance at all, an Orange County automobile accident victim may be entitled to bring an uninsured motorist or under-insured motorist claim available against his or her own insurance company. And that’s OK. That’s why you have UM or UIM coverage. Pursuing such a claim will not raise your rates or risk coverage under your policy.
UM or UIM coverage may be all you need to obtain full and just monetary recover in your auto case. However, in come cases, we also use experts to conduct an asset background check to see whether or not the defendant driver has any real property, bank accounts, home equity, or other significant assets to cover your losses. In several cases, we’ve been able to use this approach to get the defendant driver to write a personal check to our client above and beyond the payment of his or her insurance policy limits.
When it comes to Orange County automobile accident victims protecting their rights, the bottom line is that no settlement should take place and no settlement releases should be signed until you have full and complete understanding and complete answers to all of the above questions and issues.