Car accidents happen throughout the Irvine area every day for a number of reasons. Sometimes these incidents occur due to unpredictable hazards, while others are the results of various forms of negligence or misconduct behind the wheel. California upholds the fault rule when it comes to car accidents, meaning when drivers collide in an accident, whoever caused the accident is responsible for the resulting damages.
Experienced Legal Representation for Car Accident Victims in Irvine
If you or a member of your family recently sustained injuries in a car accident that someone else caused, it is natural to have many legal questions about how you can recover your losses. Ensuring accountability for the accident not only helps you hold the at-fault driver responsible for their actions but also prevents you from facing the economic impact of those actions. You have the right to recover compensation for any and all damages inflicted upon you by another driver’s negligence or misconduct behind the wheel.
Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates has a seasoned team of attorneys ready to provide the legal counsel you need after any serious accident in the Irvine area. Throughout the years of our firm’s operation, we have assisted many car accident victims in their recovery efforts, and we can put this experience to work for you. Unlike most other car accident attorneys in Irvine Attorney Kenneth M. Sigelman holds both an MD and a JD, meaning you will have access to the professional insights of both a medical doctor and an attorney when you choose our firm to represent your case.
Proving Liability for a Car Accident in Irvine
The first legal challenge you face in recovering from any vehicle accident in Irvine is proving exactly how the accident occurred. Under the fault rule, the party responsible for a car accident absorbs liability for the resulting damages. Whether your accident happened because of negligence or misconduct, an Irvine car accident attorney can be an invaluable asset for proving the exact cause of your damages.
A few of the most common causes of car accidents that can lead to complex legal disputes in Irvine include:
Distracted driving, the most commonly cited cause of car accidents in the United States. Whenever a driver is not paying full attention behind the wheel, they significantly increase their risk of causing an accident. Cell phone use while driving consistently ranks as the most dangerous type of distracted driving, despite the state’s ban on the use of cell phones behind the wheel.
Speeding, which can increase not only the chance of an accident happening but also the severity of any resulting damages. Speeding reduces the time a driver has to react and adjust to changes in traffic around them or hazards on the road. Catastrophic or fatal injuries are most likely to occur when accidents happen at higher speeds.
Traffic violations, such as failure to stop for a red light or stop sign, performing an illegal turn, or failure to yield the right-of-way where required. Any moving violation has the potential to cause a serious accident, and traffic camera footage can be pivotal evidence in proving fault for this type of collision.
Drunk or drugged driving. It is illegal for any driver to operate their vehicle while intoxicated. The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) generally include driver’s license suspension, fines, and jail time, and these penalties increase when a DUI driver hurts or kills someone.
Reckless driving. Unfortunately, some drivers are willfully reckless behind the wheel and demonstrate a clear disregard for the safety of others. Tailgating, illegal passing, and excessive speeding are just a few examples of reckless driving that can potentially cause a devastating crash. Similar to DUI, criminal penalties for reckless driving increase when this behavior results in injury or death.
Poor visibility. Drivers should always use extra caution when driving at night, during inclement weather, and in heavy traffic congestion. Any conditions that limit a driver’s vision are inherently dangerous, and all drivers are expected to use extra caution in such conditions.
Vehicle maintenance issues and defective parts. If faulty car maintenance causes a crash, the driver or their mechanic may bear fault for the resulting damages. If a defective vehicle or part is the root cause of the accident, the manufacturer could face a product liability claim from the injured victim.
These are just a few examples of how car accidents may happen in Irvine, CA. No matter how your accident occurred, it is vital to seek medical care as soon as possible, even if you think you only sustained minor injuries. It’s possible that the accident inflicted internal injuries that are not immediately apparent, or the injuries you know you suffered may worsen without immediate treatment. Once you have addressed the immediate aftermath of your accident, you must reach out to legal counsel you can trust to begin your recovery efforts.
Understanding Auto Insurance Claims
Your first option for recovering from a car accident is filing a claim against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy. California law requires every driver to have auto insurance that includes the following:
At least $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for a single person.
At least $30,000 in liability coverage for bodily injuries to more than one person.
At least $5,000 in property damage liability coverage.
An injured driver has the right to file a claim against the insurance policy of the driver who caused the accident, but they must prove fault before they can do so. Additionally, they must notify an insurance carrier of their intent to file a claim as soon as possible after the accident. There is a strict time limit for auto insurance claims, sometimes as little as a few days, and failure to report the accident could jeopardize their ability to claim compensation through the at-fault driver’s insurance.
It is very important to remember that insurance companies are not your allies when you need to file a claim for coverage. An insurance company has no incentive to pay out your settlement, and in fact, most will do everything they can to avoid this. Unfortunately, this means that some insurance company representatives willfully engage in bad faith tactics to avoid liability for these claims. However, if you have an experienced Irvine car accident attorney representing you and they help you draft your demand letter to the insurance company, you are far less likely to encounter any unethical handling of your claim.
The state has a very high rate of uninsured drivers, so there is no promise that you will be able to rely on an insurance claim at all, depending on who caused your accident. Additionally, even if you succeed with your claim, the compensation you receive through insurance may not cover all your damages. Whether insurance alone cannot compensate your losses, or the at-fault driver does not have insurance at all, you should prepare to file a personal injury claim to recover your outstanding damages in this situation.
Building a Personal Injury Case for a Car Accident in Irvine
The purpose of a personal injury claim is for the victim to secure compensation for their losses in an effort to make them whole again. Under the state’s personal injury statutes, the plaintiff has the right to seek compensation for any and all economic damages the defendant’s insurance cannot repay, and they may claim compensation for their pain and suffering.
Most personal injury cases are filed in response to acts of negligence, or failure to exercise appropriate caution and consideration for others in certain situations. To succeed with this type of personal injury claim, the plaintiff must prove the defendant held a duty of care they breached in some manner and consequently caused their claimed damages. If your accident was the result of illegal misconduct, a criminal case is likely to unfold alongside your civil suit, and your Irvine car accident attorney can advise you how these criminal court proceedings could impact your final case award.
Claiming Compensation for Your Car Accident in Irvine
Once you have proven fault for your accident, the next step in recovering from it is proving the full extent of the losses the defendant inflicted with their actions. Under state law, the defendant is responsible for any economic damages they caused that their insurance cannot cover, such as:
The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle and any other property lost in the accident. If the at-fault driver has a minimum coverage insurance policy, it may only provide $5,000 worth of vehicle repairs. If your car was a total loss and its actual cash value exceeds this amount, you can include the remainder in your personal injury suit as economic damages.
Any and all medical care you require for your injuries. When you suffer a personal injury due to another party’s actions, they are liable for the full scope of the medical treatment you need to reach maximum medical recovery. Your Irvine car accident attorney can help you prove the extent of immediate and future medical care you are likely to require.
Lost income. Many people injured in serious car accidents cannot work during recovery, or they may only be able to handle light duty and lower-paying work. You can claim compensation for any lost wages resulting from your accident. This includes lost future earnings if you have been permanently disabled from your injuries and you cannot return to work in the future.
You might be surprised to learn you can claim more economic damages than you initially expected, but your recovery does not end here. You also have the right to seek compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced, and there are no caps or limits on this aspect of recovery in most California personal injury cases. Your Irvine car accident attorney can help you determine the optimal method of calculating a reasonable amount of pain and suffering compensation to include with your claim.
When a plaintiff has suffered permanent harm from a defendant’s actions, their attorney will be more likely to seek a large lump sum of pain and suffering compensation to reflect the severity of the plaintiff’s condition. They will multiply the plaintiff’s total economic losses by a factor, usually between one and five, based on the severity of their experience. Alternatively, if a plaintiff is expected to make a full recovery in the near future, their attorney may instead seek a per diem settlement that awards compensation based on the number of days they need to recover from their injuries. Depending on the scope and severity of the injuries you suffered, your pain and suffering compensation may eclipse all the other damages you obtain from the defendant.
Other variables could also influence the final outcome of any personal injury case filed in Irvine. For example, if the defendant’s behavior exceeds the definition of simple negligence, but they do not necessarily qualify for criminal prosecution, the judge handling your case may award you punitive damages to further punish the defendant for their behavior. Alternatively, if they are charged in criminal court, the judge who sentences them may add restitution to you as part of their penalty. It is also possible for your recovery to diminish if you share fault for the accident.
Every car accident victim in Irvine will face unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to the legal aftermath of an accident. One constant for all car accident victims in the area, however, is the value of reliable legal counsel during the recovery efforts that follow. Whether you anticipate recovering acceptable compensation through insurance alone or you expect to file a personal injury claim against the driver who caused your accident, legal counsel you can trust is an invaluable asset for improving the overall quality of your recovery. If you are ready to learn how an experienced Irvine car accident attorney can help you recover from your recent accident, it is vital to reach out to experienced legal representation as soon as possible.
Car Accident Lawyer FAQs
Q: Do I Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
A: Technically, no, you are not obligated to hire an attorney for your car accident claim in Irvine. There is no law requiring you to hire legal counsel for any civil claim for damages. However, you will not only have an easier time managing your case with an attorney’s assistance, but you will also be more likely to succeed in maximizing your compensation. Ultimately, hiring an attorney you can trust can significantly improve every aspect of your experience with your car accident recovery efforts.
Q: What Happens if I Partially Caused My Recent Car Accident in Irvine?
A: California enforces the pure comparative negligence rule, which comes into play whenever a plaintiff shares fault with a defendant for causing damages. Under this rule, each liable party is assigned a fault percentage to reflect their level of fault for causing the accident in question. The plaintiff’s fault percentage is then subtracted from their final case award. For example, if a plaintiff bears 10% fault in a $1 million claim, they will lose $100,000 or 10% of the case award under the pure comparative fault rule.
Q: Will the At-Fault Driver Go to Jail for Causing the Crash?
A: It is possible for a driver to face jail time and other penalties depending on how they caused a car accident. When your accident resulted from illegal misconduct such as drunk driving, reckless driving, or fleeing the scene of another crime, the at-fault driver’s penalties are likely to increase if they caused bodily injury or death with their actions. Your attorney can advise you as to how the nature of the defendant’s actions may influence your case award.
Q: How Long Does It Take to Recover a Car Insurance Settlement in Irvine?
A: As long as you file your claim within the applicable time limit and have an experienced attorney assisting you with the claim, it may not take very long to complete your insurance claim filing process and secure a settlement. On average, car accident claimants receive their settlement checks within a few weeks of filing as long as no disputes arise over their claims.
Q: How Much Do Car Accident Attorneys Charge?
A: Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates can provide the legal counsel you need after a car accident with a contingency fee billing arrangement. This will ensure you do not face expensive legal fees upfront at the outset of your case when you are already struggling with the economic effects of an accident you did not cause. With the contingency fee policy, the client only pays a legal fee after we have won their case, and their fee is a percentage of the total amount recovered.
The right attorney can have a tremendously positive influence over the outcome of your impending birth injury case in Irvine. The sooner you connect with legal counsel you can trust, the easier it will be for you to meet the procedural requirements of your case and successfully obtain the compensation you and your family rightfully deserve. If you want to learn what an Irvine birth injury attorney can do for you in this challenging situation, contact Kenneth M. Sigelman & Associates today to schedule a free consultation with our team.
KEN SIGELMAN J.D., M.D.
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