If you've been injured in a car accident, speaking with an experienced Orange County personal injury attorney is in your best interest. Insurance companies do not like to pay injury victims; they are a business, and they are relentless at increasing their profits. To get full compensation for your injuries and suffering arising from your collision, you'll need to be able to hold the responsible insurance company accountable.
How much you receive for your Orange County car accident claim depends upon who is at fault and the extent of your injuries. If your collision was due to the other driver's negligence, their insurance company will likely be at fault. If your car had a defective product that resulted in mechanical failure, the manufacturer could be at fault. If you experienced severe injuries, your compensation, if obtained, would be higher than one in which minor injuries were suffered.
Car Accidents That Can Result in Compensation
There are a number of reasons why there is such a proliferation of car accidents, and by extension, the need for a knowledgeable and effective car accident lawyer in Orange County, California after a collision. An experienced lawyer will investigate the cause of your collision to help make sure that all parties responsible are pursued for compensation.
Cars, like any other machine or piece of equipment we use day in and day out, are subject to heavy wear and tear. Proper car maintenance, timely repairs, adherence to the rules of the road, and operation of your car that is in line with the manufacturer's intended vehicular use, are all ideal ways to keep your car working optimally.
Texting While Driving
We all know that texting while driving is dangerous, yet the allure of our phones draws many of us in, despite our better judgment, at red lights, stop signs, and even when we are driving. The way we rationalize texting and driving is by oversimplifying how dangerous the behavior is, while simultaneously exaggerating our driving skills.
Most states have laws on the books that prohibit distracted driving, with specific bans implemented against the use of handheld, as well as hands- free, phones. Penalties for texting while driving in California start at $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent ones. Clearly, these penalties, including the very real risk of hurting or killing someone, appeal to us far less than the accessibility of content on our phones.
Driving Under the Influence
It should go without saying that driving while high or drunk is foolishly dangerous. Unfortunately, there are still people who push this illegal boundary and cause utter mayhem on the roads. It is of import to note that driving on too little sleep can cause the same brain fog and dangerous road conditions as driving while drunk. Additionally, operating a vehicle after taking prescription medication, that has a side effect of drowsiness, even if taken as directed, is also considered driving under the influence. When in doubt, or groggy, do not drive.
Hazardous weather features heavily in the number of car accidents that are regularly reported. Between rain-soaked roads, earthquakes, bright sunlight that can inhibit visibility, and even the occasional Southern California snowstorm, the weather in Orange County is definitely something with which to contend.
The Orange County Public Works department informs the public of forthcoming construction, the progress of ongoing repairs, and tries to keep the county abreast of rerouted traffic, road closures, and other construction projects.
Despite these updates, available online and through a number of social media apps, we are creatures of habit and often drive as if on autopilot. This form of distracted driving can lead to accidents, rollovers, construction worker deaths, and in the case of an active earthquake, horrific devastation.
Common Collision Types
There are many different types of accidents that someone can be involved in, and the specifics of each accident varies depending on a variety of factors such as the speed of the collision, the types of vehicles, the direction that each vehicle was moving in (and whether or not both were moving), and more. However, some types of accidents are much more common than others, and we have listed some common accident types that we would be able to help with.
Getting rear-ended at a stop sign or a red light can be extremely frustrating, and can cause serious injuries such as whiplash, airbag injuries, and more. These types of accidents happen for many different reasons, but one situation where you should be entitled to compensation is if the rear driver was texting while driving. This is, unfortunately, a common cause of these types of accidents, as the driver is distracted and doesn't realize that traffic has stopped in front of them.
Even at low speeds, these crashes can cause some serious long-term injuries to the people in the lead car. Whiplash is so common in these accidents because the injury is a result of a rapid “S” motion that the head makes when it is thrown forward, down, and then back quickly. This causes serious damage to the soft tissues of the neck and spine.
T-bone accidents can also be the result of distracted driving, but alcohol is another common factor in this type of accident. These accidents are known as t-bone because when the vehicles collide, they make a “T” as one vehicle drives directly into the side of the other. Typically, these happen when one driver ignores or fails to notice a stop sign, yield, or red light and drives through an intersection while another vehicle is legally passing through.
Fortunately, airbag and car technology has advanced in many ways, adding significant airbag cushioning and other safety measures for a side impact. The front or rear of a vehicle is designed to crumple and absorb a significant amount of the crash from those directions, but since there is so much less structure on the sides of vehicles these accidents can be extremely dangerous regardless of modern collision-safety technology.
Sideswipe accidents are very common on multi-lane roads, typically when one vehicle is changing lanes and either doesn't notice that there is another vehicle where they are moving to. Between two vehicles of the same size, these accidents can be minor, but they may also be catastrophic if one or both vehicles are pushed or swerve, further losing control. Additionally, motorcycles are at a high risk of lane-change accidents, and regardless of the speed, the outcome can be serious, and even fatal.
The injuries that a victim may suffer after these accidents depend on a lot of things that happen during the crash, such as whether or not the vehicle loses control, there was a motorcycle involved, or if there was a major size difference between the vehicles that collided.
The Physical, Emotional, and Financial Consequences
Our Orange County car accident attorneys are aware of the physical, emotional, financial, and legal concerns these events bring with them. There is trauma, fear, anxiety, and physical pain and injury that you are likely to face after experiencing such a harrowing accident. That is why it is so very important that you secure the services of a qualified car accident lawyer that is familiar with the unique nature of OC and can help you get the best settlement and support possible.
Now that we have discussed some of the common types of accidents and causes of these crashes, we will go over a few common injuries that victims in these crashes suffer. Again, the injuries can range depending on innumerable factors of the accident, much like the type of crash and the cause of the accident is different in every single situation. We understand that even if your injuries resemble the following examples, that your experience will be markedly different and needs to be treated as unique.
Whiplash is one of the most common injuries in an accident, and for good reason: this injury is specific to the soft tissue of the neck and upper back, and is caused when the head is jerked forward, down, and then back in a quick motion after an impact. If a car is rear-ended, the passengers in the lead vehicle are thrown forward, and if they are wearing a seatbelt (it's the law), they will be kept from hitting the dashboard but will definitely have their head jerked in a violent motion.
Whiplash doesn't usually show itself immediately, so be sure to not make any statements about whether or not you are injured at the scene of the accident. Typically these injuries can take a day or two, or even more, before they truly show their extent.
Often, people may think that a broken bone and a fracture are different, and a fracture is a “hairline fracture” while a break is a full break in the bone; however, they are the same thing. Fractures happen when a bone is bent beyond its capacity, and the bone breaks apart with varying degrees of severity. They can be the result of an impact, a limb being crushed, and many other causes.
Fractured bones must be treated by a medical professional immediately so that they can be set and supported in order to properly heal. Fractures are generally more obvious than other injuries, such as minor traumatic brain injuries or the early stages of whiplash, but it is important that you get an x-ray if you suspect that there is anything wrong at all.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, are sometimes known as a “silent epidemic,” because they have historically been downplayed during sporting events and even car accidents. TBIs can range from minor concussions that result in some headaches and vision and can be as serious as permanent brain death and even be fatal in many cases.
If you think that you are experiencing ANY symptoms of a possible TBI, no matter how minor, you must see a medical professional as soon as possible to ensure that you get the necessary care for a full recovery. What used to be referred to as “getting your bell rung” is now recognized to be a serious issue that can lead to long-term problems for victims.
When You Need to Contact a Car Accident Lawyer
Your safety, no matter who or what caused your car accident or where it occurred, is the number one priority. Your recuperation and subsequent post-accident care will be a lot to handle, independent of the legal and financial issues that are sure to abound.
Car accident victims usually have two years to file a claim after their accident. Contact our attorneys for a free consultation to find out when your deadline is.
That is why it is crucial that you communicate with a car accident lawyer in Orange County as soon as possible after your accident has occurred. You deserve the best legal support and advocacy at all times, but that much more after experiencing a trauma of this magnitude.
Some Alarming Statistics about Orange County Car Accidents
California's Orange County is home to over 3.1 million residents and over 2.8 million registered vehicles. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles report, there were 230,853 collisions in the OC. A further breakdown shows:
- 3,121 fatalities
- 2,878 fatal collisions
- 162,711 collisions resulting in injuries
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are an average of 32,500 traffic accidents in the OC every year. A further breakdown of the statistics show:
- 845 involved pedestrians
- 1,007 were motorcycle-related
- 1,267 involved large trucks
- 3,542 were alcohol or drug-related
Car accident rates for Orange County by city
Some OC cities have higher incidences of auto collisions than others. In general, the higher population in the northern part of the OC means that there is a higher incidence of accidents in that area than in the southern portion. According to the State-wide Integrated Traffic Records System, here is the breakdown.
Highest rates of auto collisions in per 1,000 people:
- Seal Beach: 169
- Laguna Beach: 121
- Brea: 120
- Fountain Valley: 98
- Los Alamitos: 97
Fewest accidents per 1,000 people:
- Rancho Santa Margarita: 24
- Cypress: 22
- Aliso Viejo: 19
- Laguna Woods: 18
- Villa Park: 15
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
The trauma of a car accident can leave you feeling lost and afraid. But you shouldn't let your emotions take over. If you can keep a level head and follow these steps after your car accident, you may be able to handle the situation in the best way possible. In addition to improving your chance at a full recovery, you also improve your chance of receiving compensation for your accident.
1. Get to Safety
You can't control where an accident will happen. More often than not, accidents occur in dangerous places. It could be the middle of a busy highway, on a small bridge, or in the midst of a busy intersection. Before you do anything, you should get to safety.
If your car is driveable, you can move it somewhere slightly safer. While you shouldn't drive away from the scene, you may be able to get it safely to the side of the road. You should also check your passengers for injuries and check on the people in the other vehicle. If necessary, get them out of the car and somewhere safe.
Avoid staying near traffic. You don't want to become a victim of another accident. While you wait for the police, keep your own safety in mind.
2. Call the Police
The biggest mistake you can make is to leave the police out of your accident. Unfortunately, many people are guilty of this. They think the damage is minor, or give into the other driver's insistence on resolving the situation quickly.
No matter what, you should get the police on the scene. If there are no injuries, you don't need to call 911. However, you should call your local sheriff's department.
When the police arrive, they will make a report of the incident. This report includes many accident-related details. When you file an insurance claim, the adjuster will look at the report. If you file a lawsuit against the other driver, the report could be used as evidence.
3. Take Care of Any Medical Needs
If you or your passengers are injured, you should call emergency services. The most minor of injuries could have a serious impact on your life. For that reason, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If you don't have urgent medical needs, you should still see a doctor. But you might be able to wait until you handle the next few steps.
4. Document the Details
You should also do some of your own investigating and documentation. For instance, you should take pictures of the vehicles involved in the collision. You should also take pictures of the accident site.
Most importantly, take down the contact information for the other driver. This includes their license plate number, driver's license number, and insurance details. Although the police will collect this information, it doesn't hurt to take your own notes.
5. Call an Attorney
Another crucial step is to contact an Orange County car accident attorney. After your accident, you'll have a lot on your plate. You might be confused or unable to handle the insurance company. Additionally, you could feel the extreme financial pressure that comes with a car collision.
By working with an attorney, you can simplify your life. They can handle the insurance company or file a personal injury claim on your behalf. Instead of struggling, you can get some relief.
Your attorney can also prevent you from making a mistake. There are several things you can do to destroy your chance at compensation. For one, you could admit fault. You could also fail to follow through with your doctor's appointments. When you speak with a lawyer, they can explain more about what you should and shouldn't do.
Commonly Asked Questions About Orange County Accidents
Many people have questions about their accident and how they should handle it. By learning the answers to these questions, you can prepare yourself for a collision.
What are the Chances of Being in a Car Accident?
Even if you are a safe driver, you have a high chance of being involved in a car accident in Orange County. In 2016, there were 1,300 people injured or killed in Orange County car crashes.
There are several reasons for the prevalence of accidents in this part of the country. For one, there's a high volume of traffic on the roads. Secondly, there's the rapid growth of the area. As the county expands, more construction takes place. This could leave debris in the road and cause confusion among drivers.
What Can an Attorney Do?
Most people only think they need an attorney for a crime. However, this is not the case. If you're involved in a car accident, an attorney can help you in several ways.
They can handle your insurance claim. Although some people try to take this on alone, the process is difficult. You may need to negotiate to get a fair deal. Your attorney can fight for the money to which you're entitled. If that doesn't work, they can file a personal injury claim. This could get you money for your injuries and more.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Claim?
When it comes to insurance claims, you have a tight deadline. Each insurance company sets its own deadline. However, you usually only have days or weeks to file your claim. If you wait too long, they will deny it.
There's also a deadline for filing a personal injury claim. But this is a little more lengthy. In California, most personal injury claims have a two-year statute of limitations. Although you have more time to file, you should still act as quickly as possible.
What Damages Can You Receive?
Whether you file an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit, you can receive money for damages. You can receive money for all of your medical expenses, including past and future costs. Additionally, you can obtain money for your missed wages or lost earning potential.
You may also be compensated for your pain and suffering. This type of damage is more difficult to calculate because it has no obvious numerical value. When you contact an attorney, they can analyze your case and let you know what to expect for compensation.
Timothy J. Ryan has helped countless car accident victims recover damages. If you're ready to get help emotionally and financially, give Huntington Beach personal injury attorney Timothy J. Ryan a call and get help today.