Orange County Car Accident Lawyer

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Orange County Car Accident Lawyer

Experienced Car Accident Attorney in Orange County

Anyone can be involved in a car accident, even if they are the safest driver on the road. Excessive rain could make the road slick, causing you to hydroplane and run into a guardrail. A drunk driver may not be paying attention to what they are doing, T-bone you, and total your car. Whatever the circumstances, if you are injured in an Orange County car accident caused by someone else, you deserve to work with a strong advocate.

While accidents can happen to anyone, in some cases, one person is clearly at fault. A teen driver may cause an accident because they were distracted by their phone. If a driver knows that their brakes are not working properly and does not take the necessary steps to get them repaired, then they are at fault for any accidents that may happen. If you have a concussion and broken ribs following a car accident, a skilled personal injury attorney from Corrales Law Group can work with you to ensure that the correct party is held responsible and that you receive the compensation you deserve. These injuries are serious, especially concussions which may be aspects of more serious traumatic brain injuries. It is not only crucial to seek medical care immediately after any head injury, but vital to find an attorney who can help you ensure accountability for any severe injuries you suffered in your accident.

California Traffic Laws

Driving is inherently risky, no matter how careful you are as a driver, because of the sheer size and weight of a vehicle. California has very strenuous laws in place to ensure that drivers, passengers, and pedestrians are protected when they are on the road. When you reach an intersection that does not have any yield or stop signs, for example, the first car to arrive has the right of way. Also, if you encounter a police officer or fire truck that is responding to a call, you are required to pull over and let them pass, or you may get ticketed.

These laws and regulations are in place as a way to protect drivers from causing or being injured in a car accident. Some of the most prevalent driving laws in California have to do with distracted driving, like eating while you drive or not paying attention to the road because you are thinking about a problem at work. If someone is driving while distracted, with their phone in their hand, or trying to grab something from the backseat, they could not see your tail lights and rear end you.

Laws have been established to reduce the risk of distracted driving on California roads, like California Vehicle Code 23123, which bans any use of a handheld phone while you are driving. That means that no drivers should be texting, looking at funny pictures, or taking videos while they are driving. As of 2021, when Assembly Bill 47 was passed, if you are caught with your phone in your hand while driving, you could be fined $162. That cost only goes up when you fail to pay. When you are on the road, you may encounter drivers who are watching YouTube videos, arguing with a passenger in the car, or trying to finish their makeup before they reach work. Their distracted driving could result in an accident that injures you, leaving you with minor cuts and bruises or more severe injuries, like broken bones.

Accident Reporting Requirements

Immediately after a car accident, you are likely in shock because of what you just experienced. You are likely not thinking straight and may not know how to move forward correctly. Calling 911 about the accident seems like the right course of action, but that is not always possible. It can also be confusing when you are trying to understand what the next steps are, especially if you have never been involved in a car accident. Having a thorough understanding of your responsibilities after an accident as a driver can help ease some of your stress in the aftermath of the incident.

There are four laws in the California Vehicle Code that dictate:

  • The person who is responsible for reporting the accident
  • When the accident needs to be reported to law enforcement
  • The circumstances that make it necessary to report it to the California Department of Motor Vehicles

California Vehicle Code 20008

California Vehicle Code 20008 mandates that a written report of the accident must be submitted to the law enforcement office that is closest within twenty-four hours of the accident if anyone was killed or injured. The report may be submitted to your local sheriff’s office or the California Highway Patrol (CHP), depending on who is closest or responds directly to the accident. If there are law enforcement officers present at the accident, whether they are helping rescue someone trapped in a vehicle or simply managing traffic, they will be responsible for filing the report.

California Vehicle Code 20010

California Vehicle Code 20010 designates someone to make a report in the event that the driver cannot. If you are driving and get struck by a tractor-trailer, you may be unconscious following the initial accident, so you will not be able to make the necessary report. Another passenger who was in the car with you will be required to complete the report. In many cases, this is not necessary because law enforcement will be on the scene and make the report.

California Vehicle Code 16000

California Vehicle Code 16000 gives further instructions for how to file a report if:

  • Someone is killed in the accident.
  • There are any injuries.
  • Property valued at over $1,000 was damaged.

If the person who crashes into you is killed on impact, you will also have to report the accident to the DMV because it involves a death. The accident report for the DMV must be submitted within ten days of the accident, or you could face up to a year in jail and a fine of $10,000.

California Vehicle Code 16002

California Vehicle Code 16002 deals with accidents that happen when you are driving a company vehicle. Working in industries like roofing or information technology may require you to drive a vehicle with your company’s logo on it. If you are involved in a car accident while driving a company car, it must be reported within five days of the accident happening. In many cases, the leadership or human resources departments at your organization can help you understand where to make the report and what information has to be included.

Auto Accident Case Overview

In the aftermath of a car accident, you will likely feel overwhelmed because things happen so quickly. You were hit unexpectedly, slammed into the dash or steering wheel, and then sat dazed from the impact. Once the initial shock of the accident has worn off, you may realize that your injuries may be more severe because your head is bleeding and your leg is in a great deal of pain. Depending on the details of your accident, there are several ways that you may react.

If the accident is minor, and no one was hurt or killed, you are required to move your car out of the road because it helps avoid further accidents or unnecessary delays in traffic. If you have the ability to move your vehicle after a fender-bender and choose not to, it could be seized by police and put into an impound lot.

When you are driving at night or in a wooded area, an animal may run or jump in front of your car, and it is impossible to miss them. If you think that the dog you ran over is a family pet, it is your responsibility to seek out the owner to let them know what happened. Calling the police or a local humane society is the next step if you cannot find an owner or the animal you hit is wild. It is important that you do not touch or move the animal to avoid injuring it further and also to protect yourself from disease or attack.

Driving on a small, crowded road can be difficult, and you could hit a parked car or someone’s mailbox. When this happens, you should try to find the owner of whatever you damaged to inform them. If they cannot be located for any reason, you will have to call the police or California Highway Patrol to let them know about the accident, then leave a detailed note inside or attached to the damaged property. This note will include your name and address and, if you do not own the car that you were driving, also include the name and address of the owner of the car.

Some auto accidents are more severe, and the individuals involved break a bone on impact, get burned if there is a problem with the engine that causes a fire, or are even killed when they are thrown from the car. These cases have to be reported to law enforcement immediately so that a proper report can be filed.

When Do I Need to File an Accident Report?

If you only had a small fender bender and did not notice any major injuries, you may think that calling the police is an overreaction. This is not true, as law enforcement should respond to every accident scene.

A police report must be filed if:

  • Someone died as a result of the accident.
  • There were no injuries reported.
  • The property was damaged during the accident.

For example, if you get a laceration during an automobile accident that broke down a fence on the side of the road, you will have 24 hours to file a police report about the accident.

The same stipulations are in place for accident reports that must be filed with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV. If you are driving, lose control of your car, and total a car parked on the side of the road, you likely cause property damage over $1,000 and have to report the accident. Any injuries caused by a car accident, even as minor as a sprained ankle or laceration on your face, must also be reported to the DMV as well as any deaths connected with the accident.

You will have ten days to file the accident report with the DMV, and you must submit an SR-1 form, specifically the Report of a Traffic Accident Occurring in California. You may be too injured to make the report yourself if the auto accident was severe and left you in a temporary coma. When this happens, the form can be submitted on your behalf by a legal representative. The SR-1 form must include:

  • When and where the accident happened, including the specific time
  • How many cars were involved, even if it was only you
  • All information from anyone involved, including how to contact them, what car they were driving, and any information from their insurance
  • Information such as the name and address of anyone whose property was damaged, who got hurt during the accident, or was killed
  • The insurance information for your vehicle, like your insurance company and the number for your policy.

Including your insurance information with your DMV accident report is essential because you could lose your license if it is left out. Drivers who do not have insurance when an accident happens, even if they were the one who were rear-ended or hit by a drunk driver, may have their license suspended for up to four years. Your license will only be reinstated if you can show the DMV your California Insurance Proof Certificate.

When a report is filed, your insurance and personal injury attorney can assess more clearly who is at fault because it outlines the necessary details of the scene. If you are hit head-on by a distracted driver, the accident report will show that you were in the correct lane and that the other driver crossed the yellow lines to hit you. It will also indicate whether excessive speed was a factor in the accident.

Medical Care After a Car Accident

You will also need medical care if you break your arm, get whiplash from the impact, or have any cuts from the window glass. There may also be symptoms of an injury, like a major headache, that will not present themselves immediately because your body is in shock from the trauma of the crash. It is important that you receive medical care as quickly as possible, even if you do not believe that you are seriously injured, so you will have a professional opinion about the severity of your injuries and what care you will need.

You do not have to visit the emergency room if the only clear symptoms you have are some bruises and soreness after your car accident. There will be an option to have an ambulance take you to the hospital immediately after the crash, and you should accept it if you have obvious injuries like a compound fracture. To avoid the hassle of an emergency room or hospital, you could inform the law enforcement on the scene that you may be injured and need to see your primary care physician.

You are well within your rights to visit any doctor you like, but you still need to see a doctor as soon as possible. Ideally, you will get medical attention on the day of the accident because, otherwise, your insurance provider may not pay your full claim. When you delay seeing a doctor, they may claim that any injuries that show up later, like bruising and muscle strains, were caused by something other than the car accident because they do not want to pay.

When you get stitches or have your shoulder put back into its socket after a car accident, it verifies the time, location, and severity of your injuries, so you can share that information with your insurance. Having a clear record of your medical information after an auto accident can also be invaluable if you choose to pursue a personal injury claim, as it provides a clear guide for the overall cost of the damages that you may be owed for medical expenses. If your injuries are severe, like nerve damage in your hands, they may require extensive physical therapy to heal and regain your strength. However, it is essential to not let too much time pass before you file a personal injury claim.

What Do I Do If the Accident Was Partially My Fault?

If you file a personal injury claim against the person who T-boned you while you were pulling out from a stop sign, they may try to argue that you were also at fault for the accident. They could claim that you did not look before you pulled out, so they did not have enough time to stop correctly. Their argument could impact your settlement, if there is any evidence to support it, due to California’s pure comparative negligence rule.

When the liable party in your accident argues that you also share some responsibility, it can be frustrating because you are healing from the injuries that their negligence caused. Getting blamed for an accident that caused you significantly more harm than it caused them seems unfair, so you will likely want to fight their claim. It is possible that they have evidence to support their claims. If so, while you will still receive a settlement, it may be reduced slightly if it is decided that you are also at fault.

For example, if you were rear-ended by the other driver and got an eye infection from glass that shattered and got into your eye, they will be liable for your medical costs and other losses. However, if one of your taillights was burned out, and they claimed that they did not see the other one, you may share some responsibility in the eyes of the law. The judge may decide that you share 15% of the fault for the accident and reduce your settlement from $20,000 to $17,000 to account for your fault.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in California?

When you are seriously injured in a car accident, the last thing on your mind in the immediate aftermath is when you can file a claim. Your attention should be focused on getting a prognosis for your injuries and creating a treatment plan to begin your healing process. Major surgery due to an accident, like an amputation, may take months or even years to fully recover from because you have to relearn how to use a part of your body. An experienced automobile accident attorney can be an invaluable asset during this time. They are familiar with the timelines and restrictions for filing a personal injury claim, and they can keep you on task so you can get your settlement.

Each state places a time limit on when someone who has been injured by another person can file a claim against them, called the statute of limitations. According to California Code of Civil Procedure 335.1, if you are injured in a car accident that someone else caused, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. You run the risk of your claim no longer being legally valid if you wait beyond the two-year threshold.

What Is the California Tort Claims Act?

If you are driving to the grocery store and a city bus hits your car, it can seriously harm you and potentially total your car. Getting hit by a police officer who is not paying attention while responding to a call could give you whiplash or herniated discs in your spine. These can be classified as personal injury claims because someone else was neglectful and harmed you. The process of filing a personal injury claim like this will be very different, though, because a government employee or entity was responsible for the accident.

In most states, including California, people who work for the government and government organizations like the DMV are protected by the idea of sovereign immunity, which essentially means that a public entity cannot be held liable for any injuries that they cause. California Government Codes 810-996.6 classifies this rule as the California Tort Claims Act, and it outlines that a government body can be held liable for an injury if their representative was doing something within the scope of their job, like an officer chasing a suspect and knocking you over, or if they were performing a government function, like firefighting. In recent years, certain changes and caveats have been made to that statute to allow for certain exceptions to the CTCA.

You cannot bring a personal injury claim against an employee directly, but you can do so against their parent organization. If you encounter a park ranger while hiking in a national forest and, in an attempt to protect wildlife close by, they injure you or someone with you, the government organization that they work for can be held responsible for damages. Similarly, if you are a bystander in a police chase and an officer T-bones your car, any personal injury claim would be directed at the police department rather than the officer who hit you. Regardless of the circumstances, there is a very strict procedure that you must follow for a CTCA claim.

If your claim is against the state government, maybe following an altercation with the California Highway Patrol, then you will file a claim with the Office of Risk and Insurance Management for the California Department of General Services. For claims against smaller agencies, like Orange County, you must contact the government office directly and get information about filing an injury claim. There may be a specific form that must be completed, or you may have to write a notice of claim letter yourself.

When you have been harmed in a car accident caused by a government entity and have to write your own notice of claim, there are several things that you need to incorporate into the letter.

  • Information to contact you, including your name and address
  • Where any paperwork or information about your claim needs to be mailed
  • A detailed account of the accident and the specific injuries that you suffered
  • A list of your damages, like how much you lost in missed wages, a valuation of your car to show the cost of property damage, and your medical bills
  • The name of the specific employee who caused you harm, if you know it
  • An explanation of how much your claim is worth, how you calculate your total, and whether you will be pursuing a limited civil case if you are seeking less than $25,000

All of this is essential to help the police department or California Highway Patrol determine whether your claim is valid and should be paid. If your accident happened in January, you will have until July to file your claim, as the statute of limitations for a CTCA is only six months. The police department or CHP will most often respond within forty-five days, either accepting the claim and giving you a right-to-sue letter, or rejecting your claim.

In some circumstances, the organization in question will not respond to your claim at all, even after the forty-five-day mark. When that happens, you are able to file a claim against the government within two years of the date of the accident. Rather than sending a right-to-sue letter, they may choose to try to negotiate a settlement with you out of court so you do not file a claim. This can be a daunting process because going up against the government is not easy. A skilled automobile accident attorney from Corrales Law Group can walk with you through every step of the process and fight to ensure that you get the settlement you deserve.

The Benefits of Working With a Car Accident Attorney in Orange County

You may feel out of your depth when navigating the aftermath of your accident because there are so many things that have to get done. A police report may need to be filed if you were injured. Your insurance company will have to be informed of the accident so you can get your car repaired. Surgery and physical therapy may be required for your injuries. All these things can be stressful and potentially costly as you wrack up medical bills and have to be out of work.

If you want to move forward with a personal injury claim so the correct party can be held responsible, working with an accomplished car accident lawyer can be invaluable. They understand every step of filing a police report and getting your insurance claim finalized. Corrales Law Group’s personal injury attorneys can help you gather the police reports and insurance claims, file your claim with the courts, and fight to get you the compensation that you are owed. Our office has helped recover millions of dollars for victims of careless drivers.

Call us right away and we will:

  • Help you get your car repaired or replaced quickly
  • Get your car or truck out of the tow yard
  • Help coordinate a rental car
  • File claims for any out-of-pocket expenses
  • Coordinate excellent medical care if needed
  • Work to get your outstanding medical or ambulance bills negotiated and paid
  • File claims for any lost income and wages
  • Fight to get YOU the maximum monetary recovery
  • Free Case Evaluation with an experienced trial attorney.

What If I Am From an Immigrant Family?

You get a phone call saying that your parents have been in a car accident and your mother is going to the hospital because she sprained her knee in the crash. This situation is especially scary because you come from an immigrant family and your parents do not speak strong English. If they cannot communicate to the officers on the scene that the other driver hit them, it could lead to their parents being blamed for the accident and not getting the help they need.

When these scary situations arise, it is especially important that immigrant families and those who do not speak English have dedicated advocates to help them. The attorneys of Corrales Law Group also come from an immigrant family and understand their unique struggles. We are eager to assist you and can ensure that you are paid the damages owed after an injury in an Orange County car accident. Every attorney at our firm is bilingual and speaks fluent Spanish, so there is no need to worry about language barriers preventing you from securing the legal counsel you need in this difficult time.

Hablamos Espanol. Call or text Corrales Law Group today.

What should I do if I have been involved in an automobile accident?

Car accidents are scary, even if they are minor because you are unexpectedly faced with a traumatic situation. The window of your car door could shatter, leaving glass shards all around you. If you have children in the car with you, the moments after the initial impact can be terrifying because you do not know what is happening to them. Knowing how to respond during a crisis situation like a car accident is crucial.

If you have been involved in a car accident you should:

Call the police- It is always better to have a police report on file in order to obtain all important information. If the police cannot arrive on the scene, make sure to take pictures and exchange all important information with all drivers. If possible, find a witness and write down their phone number.

Get medical attention- make sure to receive treatment for injuries as soon as possible. Many collisions involve serious head or spinal injuries that require immediate attention. If emergency care is not needed or required, make sure to consult with an attorney to help with medical care coordination.

Call an experienced car accident attorney– An attorney could help you investigate all responsible parties, have your property replaced or repaired promptly, and obtain compensation for any past and future medical care. Several other claims could be explored by a competent personal injury attorney. Make sure to contact an attorney before speaking to any other driver’s insurance company.

When to Pursue a Claim after being involved in a Car Accident?

In California, most claims must be filed within two years after the car collision. In almost every case, it is much better to speak with an attorney as soon as possible so that all evidence may be preserved and all responsible parties can be investigated.

Even if time has passed since your auto collision, you can still contact us for a free case review.

What sort of compensation is available under California Law?

An experienced attorney could help maximize your recovery for several types of claims available under California law. Types of compensation for the victim of a negligent driver who was injured during a car collision can include:

  • Medical bills (past and future)
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property loss- including replacement value for things like car seats, broken cell phones, property lost to water damage, etc.
  • Lost wages for time away from work due to the collision
  • Loss of use claims or rental fees for any time without your vehicle
  • Punitive damages to punish a driver in limited cases, such as when the other driver was under the influence

How much will it cost to hire a car accident attorney and file a claim or lawsuit?

Our firm works on a contingency basis for car accident cases, meaning you will not pay anything until there is a monetary recovery. This means Corrales Law Group will pay all upfront costs of investigations, hiring of experts, retaining all medical records, etc. Contacting our firm is risk-free.

One major benefit of hiring our firm on a contingency basis is our incentive is to obtain the maximum recovery for our clients.

What if I did not have auto insurance coverage when I was involved in the collision?

If you did not have insurance coverage at the time of the auto collision, you may be barred from certain claims in California. For example, in most situations in California, if an uninsured driver is involved in a collision, they may not be entitled to make claims for pain and suffering under a regulation commonly known as Proposition 213.

Even if you did not have valid coverage at the time of the collision, if the other driver was at fault, you may still have several other claims and it may be even more important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

Can my immigration status bar me from making an insurance claim?

Immigration status will not bar a person from filing most claims against a negligent driver. Your immigration status is private and you may want to consult a personal injury attorney to make sure your privacy is protected.

What if I was driving for Uber or Lyft when I was involved in an auto collision?

Our firm has handled several claims and cases that deal with ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber. If you were involved in a car accident while driving for Lyft or Uber, it is important to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. There are many insurance coverage issues that come up depending on what stage in the ride the collision occurred in. There are various phases of coverage for ridesharing services and it is important to understand each and what they mean for each person involved, that includes drivers and passengers.

Ridesharing services provide different coverages depending on what phase the accident occurred during. There are also issues with navigating with the driver’s own insurance since many policies now deny coverage if the driver was ‘on the clock’ or driving for a ride-sharing app.

Call us for a free consultation if you were involved in an auto collision while driving for Uber or Lyft.

What if I was a passenger in an Uber or Lyft during a car accident?

If you were a passenger in a Lyft or Uber during a car accident, you have several possible claims against each driver. As a passenger, you have a right to recovery for any injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other possible claims.

Our firm has helped numerous Lyft and Uber riders with claims for injuries sustained during rides and we know how to navigate the confusing claims process for each ride-sharing service.

Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced injury attorney.

Speak to Our Experienced Car Accident Attorneys Today!

When you are dealing with a separated tendon from a car accident, the recovery process can be tedious. Your attention should be focused on healing and getting back to your normal life, but that can be nearly impossible with the financial strain of medical bills, especially if you have had to miss work. After an injury that someone else caused, you are entitled to compensation for the emotional distress of the accident, the cost of your emergency room visit, and more. You also deserve a strong advocate who can fight for you to get what you deserve.

Our firm has handled many auto collision claims and has recovered millions for victims of careless drivers. Our goal is to make your extremely difficult situation as easy as possible. Our firm will work to ease your mind and to make sure any person or company that is responsible is held financially accountable. Contact us today to speak directly with an experienced attorney about your case!


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