Car Accident Attorney Bakersfield California
Auto accidents are the number one cause of trauma related injuries in the United States. Following a crash, victims may have many questions they need answered by an attorney. The attorneys at the Normandie Law Firm understand your needs and have the patience, experience and knowledge required in getting you the compensation you deserve. We are able to provide representation on behalf of victims involved in auto accidents, truck crashes, Uber and Lyft passenger injuries, Uber and Lyft driver injuries, motorcycle and bicycle collisions, and pedestrian injuries.
Common Causes of Auto Accidents
According to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Commission there were more than 11 million accidents in 2016. Some of the most common causes of auto accidents are provided for below.
- Distracted driving: The use of cell phones and smart phones has resulted in a significant increase in accidents caused by distracted drivers.
- Driving at a high rate of speed.
- Drunk driving.
- Failure to yield to oncoming traffic.
- Unsafe merging into a lane.
- Failure to stop at a red light or stop sign.
- Failure to drive properly on wet or icy roadway conditions.
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or other controlling substances.
- Driving while drowsy.
Common Injuries Resulting from Auto Accidents
There are numerous injuries which can result from an auto accident. Below we have compiled a list of the most common injuries from the past cases we have resolved. In order to increase the potential value of a case it is important to seek medical attention from experts who will be able to properly diagnose your injuries.
- Back and neck pain: Back and neck pain is the most common complaint following an auto accident. Victims should seek medical attention from a physical therapist or a chiropractor. If the pain does not subside after a few weeks victims should be evaluated by either a pain management expert or an orthopedists specializing in spinal cord damage. MRI tests are often conducted, the reports will show whether a patient has suffered damage to the spinal column. Further treatment following physical therapy may be required if the patient’s pain persists.
- Head Injuries: Many victims bump their head on a steering wheel or on the side of the vehicle. This can result in a brain injury. Brain injuries can range from a minor concussion to a major traumatic brain injury with severe hemorrhaging of the brain. There are many signs of a brain injury including loss of consciousness following the initial impact, nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light, severe headaches, loss of cognitive abilities, and short term memory loss. Victims who are exhibiting these symptoms should be evaluated by a neurologist with an expertise in the field of brain injuries.
- Facial injuries: Including broken nose, facial fractures, and lacerations resulting in scarring, dental damage including broken teeth, and jaw damage including TMJ injuries. In some cases victims of auto accidents suffer from chronic ringing in the ear, otherwise known as tinnitus.
- Damage to the shoulder: Common shoulder injuries following an auto accident include separated shoulder and torn rotator cuff. Victims should be evaluated by an orthopedic surgeon with a specialty in shoulder damage.
- Knee damage: In many cases victims slam their kees on the dashboard of their vehicle following an accident. Common knee injuries include tears in the ligament, ACL, MCL, meniscus tears and shattered knee caps.
- Nerve damage: Common signs of nerve damage following an accident include intense pain, burning sensation, loss of sensation, alteration to the skin color, inflammation the skin, tingling sensation, loss of bladder control, sexual dysfunction, loss of taste, constipation, and lightheadedness.
- Broken bones: Hand and wrist fractures, fractures to the ribs, broken femur in the leg, and broken ankles.
- Damage to the internal organs: Including bowel obstruction, collapsed lung, decompression of the spinal cord, heart failure, damage to the liver functions, spleen ruptures, and kidney failure.
- Mental health injuries: Perhaps the most common and at the same the most overlooked injuries are the damage caused to the psyche following a traumatic event. Victims may feel extreme levels of anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder. Victims may seek help by self medicating resulting in substance abuse and addiction. Victims are able to receive recovery for any damages related to the accident including their substance abuse.
Pre-existing Injuries: One of the most common excuses insurance companies use in order to diminish or extinguish your right to recovery is by arguing that you had a pre-existing medical condition. For example if you had a back injury in the past requiring surgery, the insurance company might say that your injuries already existed and they were not caused by this current accident. Insurance companies are wrong. The Common Law system of jurisprudence provide for the eggshell plaintiff doctrine. Under this doctrine plaintiffs (victims) with pre-existing conditions are able to receive recovery for the exacerbation of their medical conditions. Fragile and vulnerable victims should not be penalized because of their ailments.
Steps Following an Auto Accident – How to Protect Your Rights After an Auto Accident:
After a car accident victims are often confused as to what they need to do. Some of the most important steps that should be followed after an auto accident include the following.
- Seek medical attention: Contact the local paramedics and have them transport you to the nearest emergency room or medical center. Documentation of your injuries can play an important role in maximizing the value of your settlement.
- Contact the police department: Have the local law enforcement conduct an investigation and complete a Traffic Accident Report.
- If possible take down the information of the at fault party, including name, phone number, insurance information and driver’s license info.
- Gather evidence: If there were any witnesses ask for their contact information as well. Also, take pictures of the accident scene and location including the street, any traffic signs or lights, and pictures of the damage to the vehicles.
- Do not speak with any insurance adjusters regarding your accident. The goal of insurance adjusters is to find out a way to eliminate or reduce any chances you may have of recovery. Any words or statements you make to them can be used against you in any future settlement negotiations.
- Seek legal assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney.
Winning Your Case in the Court of Law
The vast majority of personal injury cases including auto accidents are predicated on a negligence cause of action. There are four basic elements required to prove the existence of negligence in the state of California.
- Duty: Did the defendant owe a duty of good faith to the victim. Drivers on the road owe a duty to act in a reasonable manner to reduce the incidence of accidents and injuries to other drivers.
- Breach of the Duty of Care: Did the defendant breach the duty of care. Example of a breach of a duty to act in a reasonable manner towards others on the road include driving too close to the vehicle in-front, failure to stop at a stop sign or red light, failure to yield to oncoming traffic while navigating a left turn, failure to pay attention to the road and driving at an excessive rate of speed.
- Causation: Did the breach of the duty of care owed to the plaintiff result in the accident.
- Damages: Did the victim suffer real injuries or damages as a result of the accident.
Statute of Limitations – Time limit for Filing a Lawsuit in the Court of Law
Under California law victims who seek a civil remedy in court must file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the initial accident. Failure to file within that time will result in an elimination of your right to recovery in the court of law. Claims against government institutions are different. An administrative claim must first be filed within 6 months from the date of the accident. Once the government claim is denied a victim will have 6 months from the date of the denial (rejection) to file a civil lawsuit. Minors, individuals under the age of 18 have two years from the date of their 18th birthday to file a civil lawsuit for damages. In some instances courts may allow for a tolling of the statute of limitations, for example if the victim was physically or mentally incapacitated due to the accident.
What is the Value of My Case – Average Case Settlement for Personal Injury Claims
Victims of harm due to the negligent or intentional conduct of others are entitled to financial recovery for all damages suffered. The potential value of a case is predicated on several important factors unique to every case. A list of those factors in presented below. If you have any questions regarding the potential value of your case feel free to contact our law offices for a free no cost case evaluation.
- The injuries suffered by the victim; it is vital to have your injuries evaluated and diagnosed by a medical professional.
- Current and future medical costs associates with your injuries.
- Loss of income and future loss of earnings power.
- The degree of mental anguish suffered by the victim.
- The percentage of fault attributed to the at fault party. In the state of California a victim can receive recovery for an injury even if she is partially at fault. For example if it is determined that you are 30% at fault and the defendant in 70% at fault and you have a total of $100,000.00 in damages you are able to recovery $70,000.00 from the at fault party.
- The availability of insurance coverage: The state of California requires all drivers to carry a minimum insurance coverage of 15 thousand dollars per injured victim and 30 thousand dollars overall. However, there are insurance policies that may be higher. For example commercial vehicles including trucks carry insurance coverage in excess of one million dollars.
- Whether Punitive Damages are Available: Victims of harm due to the intentional or reckless conduct of other motorists may be awarded punitive damages on top of their general damage recovery. Examples where punitive damages can include incident of road rage, drunk driving, hit and run accidents, driving at an excessive rate of speed, and road racing.
- The attorney that is representing you in the case. The right legal representation can substantially alter the potential value of your case.
Wrongful Death Claim – Recovery for the Death of a Loved One
The loss of a family member is a tragedy. In many cases the deceased individual is the principle bread winner in the family resulting in substantial loss of familial income. Historically under our legal system there was no cause of action available for family members of those who perished due to the actions of others. However in the seminal case, Hunt v. Authier (1949), the California Supreme Court allowed for recovery in wrongful death matters. These decisions along with numerous others lead to the passing of California Probate Code Section 574 and the later Civil Code Section 956. Today, under California statute, certain family members of loved ones are entitled to financial recovery from all at fault parties. Family members who may be entitled to recovery include:
- Spouses of the deceased
- Surviving children of the deceased
- Parent of the deceased – only if there are no surviving spouses or children and the parents financially depended on their child.
- Domestic partners.
Recovery Available in Wrongful Death Claim: Claimants in wrongful death claims are entitled to compensation for the following:
- The financial support of the deceased individual.
- Restitution for hospital costs, costs of any property damage, and funeral costs.
- Loss of the enjoyment of the deceased family member: Including the love, companionship, friendship, support, and care they provided before their death.
- Loss of consortium: Loss of a spouse’s sexual relations and intimacy.
How Can We Help – Legal Experts At Your Side
Unlike most other personal injury firms our law firm provides comprehensive legal representation including.
- Finding you the doctors you need. No matter where you live. We work with a team of medical doctors and health care facilities across Bakersfield with expertise on the field of trauma care and injuries related to auto accidents. You will never have to pay out of pocket for any medical attention you seek from out medical professionals.
- Investigate the facts of the case: We leave no stone unturned in establishing liability against the at fault party. We have a team of investigators who will go to the location of the accident and conduct a thorough interviews with all witnesses.
- Help with property damage free of charge: We will make sure your vehicle is fixed properly, rental car provided and if your vehicle is totaled we will get you your check as soon as possible. We NEVER CHARGE for any work we do with respect to your property damage.
- Concierge service: We will provide you with transportation for any medical treatments you need. And transport you to and from our offices. More so, we are always available to answer your phone calls. We will get back to any questions you may have within 24 hours.
- Maximizing your recovery: We will work diligently to maximize the value of your case and make sure you get paid for the losses incurred.
Cost of Hiring an Attorney: Many victims are hesitant to contact an attorney because of the mistaken belief that legal representation will cost too much money, or that the fees owed to the attorney will eat into the compensation they will receive, or that their accident is too small to require legal representation. In order to alleviate such fears our law firm provides legal representation on behalf of our clients strictly on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not have to pay a single penny out of pocket for any of our legal fees or costs until your case is settled. If for any reason there is no compensation you will not have to pay us a single penny. More so once we commence representation you will not have to pay upfront or out of pocket for any medical costs associated with your care.
Free Legal Consultation Available
Our attorneys are able to assist you in your auto accident case and maximize the recovery you are entitled to. If you have any further legal questions please do not hesitate to contact our offices. Our offices are available for a free no cost and 100% confidential legal consultations 24 hours per day and seven days out of the week.