California’s Car Accident lawyer
As we travel the roads and freeways in California each day, we usually trust that we will arrive at our destination without incident. Yet every day, careless drivers cause hundreds of accidents on California roads which lead to countless injuries and fatalities.
Fortunately, accident victims are able to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance in order to cover the cost of medical bills, lost wages, and other financial damages caused by the accident.
Maison Law was founded by Martin Gasparian
to protect innocent drivers in the aftermath of these difficult
situations. Mr. Gasparian worked for large, nationwide corporations for a
decade and got a first-hand lesson in how insurance companies maneuver
for their own benefit and never for the benefit of the accident victim
who has suffered and sometimes continues to suffer. Mr. Gasparian then
started his own law firm to give accident victims in California a voice
and to make sure they are informed of their rights and given the power
to demand what’s fair. These are things an insurance agent definitely
won’t tell victims about.
California Personal Injury Claims Process
Do You Really Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
After you’ve been in a traffic accident on a California freeway, city street, or back road, it’s fair to ask if you need a personal injury lawyer? The answer depends on the consequences of your collision.
You may have been shaken up, but if your accident involved mainly property damage, getting fair treatment while your car damage is evaluated shouldn’t prove too difficult. Insurance companies have largely standardized the process to get cars repaired or replaced.
It’s an entirely different case when you or a loved one are seriously hurt in an accident. A personal injury lawyer can prove crucial in getting the compensation needed to pay for recovery. When another driver is at fault his or her insurance company should be responsible for every medical cost and lost paycheck you endure.
You should call a personal injury attorney when:
- You have been badly injured in an accident.
- Adjusters want to blame you for part of an accident when you weren’t at fault.
- Your accident involves multiple parties or is complex.
- Your accident was caused by a professional driver like a big rig truck drive or a rideshare driver.
It’s also important to seek the counsel of a skilled personal injury lawyer if you’ve been in an accident involving a government employee or a public transportation vehicle. Accidents involving city, state, or federal agencies can be especially complicated and often provide much tighter deadlines for victims to file an injury claim.
Can I file a personal injury lawsuit on my own?
Injured victims in California are legally allowed to file a lawsuit and represent themselves in court if they choose to do so. However, individuals may not file a lawsuit themselves if they are representing a corporation, filing a class-action lawsuit, or suing on behalf of a child.
It is not recommended that you file your lawsuit unless you have some knowledge of California state law and courtroom proceedings. You’ll have to know how to collect and present evidence that proves your case. You’ll have to know what to ask witnesses and how to submit their testimony.
Even if you are somewhat familiar with the legal system, it’s still a difficult challenge to represent yourself. A vast majority of lawsuits never reach a courtroom and end up settled outside of court. This can also leave people representing themselves at a disadvantage.
Skilled lawyers have a much better idea of how much medical and financial recovery costs. They’ll hold out until insurance adjusters make a fair offer for the victim that covers all expenses. When insurance companies know they aren’t dealing with a legal professional they commonly offer much less money in the hopes you won’t know it’s a low-ball offer. You can lose out on thousands of dollars by using your own judgment when assessing a settlement offer.
You must also be careful to meet certain deadlines insurance companies won’t warn you about. One such deadline is the two years from the time of your accident you have to file a personal injury lawsuit. Wait too long and your chance to earn the compensation you need is lost.
Even if you decide to move forward with your lawsuit on your own, you can still benefit from talking with a California lawyer. Personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to anyone injured in a car accident and they can help you determine if your lawsuit will earn you considerably more than a standard insurance injury claim.
You may try to avoid using an attorney because you’re worried about being able to afford legal counsel. Keep in mind that reputable personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis and don’t get paid unless they win your case. Their fee would come out of the compensation they earn for you.
How long does it take to settle a personal injury claim?
Each accident that leads to a personal injury claim is different. That’s why it’s hard to estimate the length of time you’ll be made to wait before you get compensation. You could have to sit with unpaid medical bills for months or even a year or more before you receive support.
Accident settlements can happen quickly when insurance companies know their policyholder was fully to blame. But if there’s even a little bit of doubt, insurance adjusters will drag their feet and look for any chance to question your innocence.
These are a few factors that can extend personal injury case resolution beyond a few months:
- There are questions over fault.
- Multiple parties are involved.
- Serious injuries and/or permanent disabilities are involved. Disputes over how badly you are hurt.
- Your injuries haven’t fully healed.
- Cases involving potentially enormous settlement amounts.
When insurance companies stall and delay and won’t make a fair settlement offer, it can sometimes be necessary to file a lawsuit and take them to court.
When cases must be proven in court, it can take up to a year simply to get a court date. This will extend the length you may be waiting to earn justice. Luckily the overwhelming majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court.
How much does it cost to hire a personal injury lawyer?
Most personal injury lawyers don’t ask for any money upfront. They don’t get paid unless they win your injury case for you. In fact, if your case is lost, you’ll generally pay nothing at all.
In a standard personal injury case, attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means their earnings are “contingent” on you winning an insurance settlement or court judgment. When you earn compensation upon case resolution, your lawyer will then deduct his or her share from your award, including those expenses incurred while building your case.
Your attorney’s fee is set before you sign a “contingency agreement” to let that attorney represent you. You should discuss this fee with your potential attorney and also ask how you’ll get paid and how your attorney gets paid when your case is won.
On average, attorneys earn around 33% of the settlement or judgment your case earns. The percentage will run higher when cases are extremely complex or carry more risk of failure.
Attorneys must ask for this percentage because of the risks they accept by taking on your case. They’ll cover investigative costs, court fees, expert witness fees, and other expenses themselves. If a case isn’t successful or takes abnormally long to litigate, attorneys can go a long time without earning a paycheck.
Attorneys need money to help pay their employees and to keep the lights on in their office building just like many other professionals. The potential earnings must be worth the risk.
How much is my case worth?
Many factors play a role in how much compensation you’ll receive after a car accident. It’s impossible to predict an exact amount because every accident case is so different. Injuries, even the same types of injuries, can all heal very differently and require more or less in medical care and medical expense.
One of the key factors in determining the value of your claim is how much your injury changes your lifestyle and for how long. Here are a few of the factors that can affect the support you receive:
- Severity of your Injury. A broken bone can lead to surgery, an amputation, and even a permanent disability. Permanent brain damage, organ damage, paralysis are other serious injuries possible after a crash. A permanent disability can diminish your freedom and your ability to support your family over a lifetime. Compensation can reach into the millions of dollars when it must cover care over decades.
- Lost Wages. The longer your recovery takes the more time you could spend away from your office or job site. That means more paychecks missed and more reimbursement you’d require.
- Driver’s Insurance Limits. The negligent driver’s chosen insurance provider and level of coverage can also affect your final award. Basic insurance coverage has cap limits that may run out before all of your hospital bills are paid.
- Physical and Emotional Trauma. Non-economic damages are awarded for the pain you endure with your injury and the emotional turmoil you’ve suffered. Victims may experience debilitating anxiety and depression. They may also be unable to enjoy life when they’ve had to give up the activities they love such as family outings, travel, hobbies, and exercise.
Furthermore, the skill and experience of the personal injury lawyer you chose to represent your case can make a substantial difference in the compensation you receive. A lawyer with an extensive background in injury settlement negotiation will more accurately estimate the costs of recovery you face and make sure you have what you need to pay those bills.
A lawyer will also know how to exert pressure on a car insurance company to offer a fair settlement offer. Insurance adjusters will know they risk a lawsuit and being dragged into court if they don’t come up with a satisfactory offer.
How to Determine Who Is at Fault in an Accident
Proving you weren’t to blame for your accident and your injuries is vital in making sure you don’t end up paying for your own recovery. But how do you figure out who was at fault and prove it?
One of the most important steps you can take right after a traffic collision is to call 911. No matter how minor you may feel the damage and your injuries are, having an officer respond to the scene can provide valuable evidence to prove you weren’t at fault.
Officers will be preparing an accident report that will lay out who they feel was to blame. Insurance companies can dispute this report, but it is still solid evidence to prove your innocence.
Witnesses can also offer powerful testimony to shed light on who should be to blame. On the scene, after an accident, you should speak with all witnesses to find out what they saw. You should also get their contact information so your personal injury lawyer can contact them later.
Video evidence can be the most powerful indicator of liability. Scanning around the scene of your accident to note if nearby businesses or homes have security cameras installed is a good idea. Also, ask witnesses in other vehicles if they happened to have dash cams rolling at the time of the accident. You should also take your own photos and video of damaged vehicles and your injuries.
What happens if multiple cars are involved in an accident?
If you’ve been in a frightening accident involving several vehicles, at some point you’ll likely wonder who will get the blame for everyone’s damages.
In California, if several drivers bear fault in a collision, they can share in the blame and be assigned percentages of responsibility. You could have been partially to blame for your own accident, but if you were injured, you can still receive partial compensation from the other motorists involved to help in your recovery.
California is a pure comparative negligence state meaning that any driver can be assigned anywhere from 1% to 100% of the liability in a car crash.
For example, a judge could assign you 20% of the blame for the accident that left you injured. Another driver may have to shoulder 40% of the responsibility. A third driver could be tagged with the other 40% of the responsibility.
When it came time to pay out injury compensation, the insurance for both drivers would be asked to pay their share of your damages. However, when you received your compensation, your own 20% of the blame would be deducted.
What if I Was Partially at Fault for my Accident?
In California, multiple drivers can share liability in an accident. So if you suffer an injury in a crash and are forced to accept some blame, you can still expect injury support from the other drivers also found at fault in the crash.
The legal concept of comparative negligence allows blame to be assigned to several drivers in the same accident. In comparative negligence cases in California, you can be assigned a third of the responsibility, half of the responsibility, or even 98% of the responsibility.
For example, a crash on a freeway may have been caused by a distracted driver who came over into your lane. You may also have been found to be speeding. A judge may assign the other motorist 70% of the blame for your accident. The other 30% of the blame may fall to you.
If you are hurt in this accident, the cost of your damages would be totaled and the other driver’s car insurance provider would have to pay you 70% of your damages. Your 30% of liability would get deducted.
Of course, a skilled personal injury lawyer will be presenting evidence to keep the percentage of fault as low as possible. Your attorney may even be able to erase all of your blame in an accident and earn you full compensation for your physical and financial damages.
Will my personal injury case end up in court?
Very few personal injury cases are decided in a courtroom. Somewhere around 90% of all accident claims are settled outside of court.
Insurance companies avoid lawsuits as much as possible because going to court costs them a lot of money. A trial can also expose their “bad faith” practices publicly and damage their company’s image. They will do everything they can to make you an offer for your injuries that is satisfactory so you sign off on a settlement instead of dragging them into court.
In fact, having a personal injury lawyer representing your case can use an insurance company’s reluctance to face a judge and jury to your advantage. When they offer you a “low-ball” settlement offer that doesn’t fully cover the physical, emotional, and financial damages you’ve endured since the accident, you can reject it and demand a better offer.
Insurance companies will respect the real threat of a lawsuit and courtroom visit your attorney represents and often up a settlement offer by thousands of dollars. If they refuse to treat you fairly, you may be forced to take them to court, but don’t worry, you won’t do this alone. A good attorney will have already prepared a strong case backed up by powerful evidence in case your claim ends up before a jury.
What Our Clients Say
What to Do After an Accident
Your personal injury lawyer will work diligently to collect every piece of evidence that proves your innocence after a car accident. Unfortunately, some of the strongest evidence will only be found on the scene in the moments after your crash.
That’s why it is important, if you are physically able, to collect some vital details right after your collision. Try to complete these important steps on the scene:
- Call 911. Even if you feel your injuries are minor you’ll still want a police collision report filed. Tell officers everything you observed leading up to the crash. Allow paramedics to check you out. If you end up getting taken to the hospital, ask someone with you or a helpful witness to gather a few details for you.
- Take Photos. The most important evidence will quickly be cleaned up and cleared, so photographic evidence is extremely valuable. Take photos of car damage, license plates, and any identifying signage on cars that might indicate the drivers are working for a rideshare or delivery company. Take photos of street signs, skid marks on the pavement, traffic lights, and lane markings. Tell the story of what happened with your photos.
- Exchange information with other drivers, but do not discuss how badly you are hurt or who was at fault in the accident. Making statements at such an early stage of the investigation can only hurt your case later.
- Talk to witnesses. Find out what they observed and ask if they spotted the other driver behaving in a reckless or careless manner. Get their contact information.
- Make an appointment with your physician. Get all injuries, including any pain that arose a day after your accident, checked out and documented. Save every medical invoice you receive.
- Don’t make statements to insurance representatives. The at-fault driver’s insurance adjuster will be calling you and asking for a recorded statement. They are hoping you say something they can twist later to discredit you. Decline their request and let your personal injury lawyer handle all insurance calls.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. If a serious injury results from your crash, insurance companies immediately begin to attack your account of what happened, minimize the seriousness of your injury, and question your driving record. You will be under a microscope as they look for any way to limit the amount of support they have to provide to you. A skilled attorney will deflect all of these baseless attacks and make sure you end up compensated for every cost and hardship you’ve faced.
Common Types of Car Accidents in California
While accidents can happen at any time under any circumstances, there are some common types of accidents that we see regularly at Maison Law. If you have been injured in one of these common accident types, click on the name for additional resources to answer your specific questions.
- Accidents Involving Cows
- Accidents Involving Pigs
- Accidents Involving Horses
- Accidents at Intersections
- Accidents at Night
- Delivery Drivers
- DUI Accidents
- Farm Vehicle Accidents
- Hit and Run Accidents
- Failure to Yield or Stop
- Head-On Accidents
- Hit and Run Accidents
- Rear-End Accidents
- Rideshare Accidents
- TBone Accidents
- Texting and Driving Accidents
- Uber Accidents
California Driving Dangers Each Year
When you’re behind the wheel in California, your trip can be threatened by extreme weather, natural disasters, and even the bad condition of road surfaces that may have gone unrepaired for decades. You can also face drivers who are distracted by their phones or recklessly speeding and changing lanes. And, way too often, you can face motorists who are traveling under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
You can confront these hazards on any given day on California freeways and streets. The Insurance Institute Of Highway Safety (IIHS) found that California’s number of fatal accidents in 2019 led the entire nation in this unfortunate statistic. Our state recorded 3,316 deadly accidents in total resulting in the tragic loss of 3,606 lives. Texas was second on the list with 3,294 recorded fatal collisions. Florida was third with 2,950 fatal crashes over 2019.
California is notorious for its traffic congestion and reckless drivers, but it doesn’t matter if you’re on a packed freeway when your collision occurs, a narrow city street, or on a long stretch of farmland highway. The number one concern will be your physical recovery from that accident. Once that is addressed, your financial recovery will also become key to rebuilding your life. Unfortunately, insurance companies won’t be working quickly to make up for the mistake of their policyholder.
Common Injuries In California Traffic Collisions
You’ll be fighting insurance companies for fair compensation for your accident. It’s an important step in your recovery because it doesn’t just affect your immediate health and economic stability.
You could have serious injuries that require surgery a year down the road and further physical therapy. You might have a disability that forces you to seek a new career. The costs of job training and medical equipment for travel and home life can add up. All of these costs should be factored into any settlement from an insurance company. They will be factored in if you have an attorney making sure every detail is included.
These settlements are vital for victims and their families because the injuries in car accidents can be so severe and affect everyone’s life down the road. Here are a few of the most common injuries seen by emergency room doctors every year:
- Brain and head injuries: Severe concussions, skull fractures, brain bleeding, and scalp wounds can all result after taking an impact on the head. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can leave the brain bruised in a collision with the inside of the skull. The symptoms can be memory loss, light sensitivity, and seizures along with other complications.
- Spine, neck, and back injuries: Whiplash (a violent tossing of the head back and forth) can leave victims unable to turn their heads. Spinal vertebrae can be fractured in the impact with an airbag or the tug of a seatbelt. Back and spine injures can leave victims facing a permanent disability.
- Broken Bones: Fractures can occur in just about any part of the body. The clavicle is one of the most commonly broken bones in an impact. It’s the most fragile bone in the body and runs across the top of the ribcage. The fibula (lower leg) and femur (upper leg) are often broken when a car ends up partially crushed.
- Soft tissue injuries: Muscles, tendons, and ligaments can all tear or bruise. This tissue connects and holds different organs and other body parts in place.
Insurance Pitfalls for California Accident Victims
If you are hit by another driver, you will be stuck dealing with the insurance provider the driver has chosen to carry if they carry any insurance at all. If they don’t have insurance you may be left to deal with your own insurance company trying to get help through your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
There are dozens of national and local insurers available like Geico, Progressive, and Mercury Insurance and they all operate under the same strategies. Keep a victim confused and ignorant of their true rights.
There are several ways that insurance firms weaken a victim’s claim and their resolve. These are a few of their tactics.
- Stall Tactics: Insurance companies can say that they are experiencing a high volume of accidents and ask you to wait patiently for them to respond to your claim for damages or to make you a settlement offer. This dragging of the feet is often just a trick to let your hospital invoices and monthly bills, like car payments and rent, build up. The longer you have to face those bills and calls from debtors, the more doomed you may feel. Insurance companies want to get you desperate.
- Low Settlement Offer: They stall so that you’ll be desperate enough to take any amount they offer in settlement. When you’re facing thousands of dollars in bills each month and not able to work, any “lowball” offer may look good to you. An experienced lawyer will spot these stall tactics and lowball offers and challenge the insurance firm on their bad faith practices. Insurance companies can start to move much faster when an attorney threatens to take them to court.
- Shedding Blame: Insurance adjusters may look for ways to pin the blame in an accident onto you. They do this to either get you scared enough to dismiss your claim or to accept some of the blame in an accident. Don’t fall for it. They could check your driving record to try to make you seem like an unsafe driver. They might get their hands on medical information to show that you’ve had a similar injury in the past. These are all weak arguments that a legal expert on your side will disprove immediately.
- Use Your Statements Against You: Another tactic is to call you shortly after an accident under the guise of checking on your recovery. An insurance representative actually wants you to give a recorded statement. Don’t give anyone a statement. Politely decline. Insurance agents are looking for you to say something they can use later to discredit your account of what happened. Let your attorney handle all communication for you. It saves you stress and it protects your case.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one are seriously injured in an accident caused by a careless driver, you might wonder if you’ll have to cover the cost of recovery alone. According to California Law that should never be the case. If you didn’t cause your accident, the person who did and their insurance provider should be front and center to lift those financial burdens off your back.
Unfortunately, insurance companies will make the journey to return to your normal life harder than it has to be. They will have experienced adjusters and agents attempting to weaken your case every step of the way. Make sure you have an attorney from Maison Law watching over every document exchange and communication you have with them.
After an accident involving a serious injury or the tragic loss of life in California, contact attorney Martin Gasparian for a free, no-obligation case consultation for your family. Mr. Gasparian takes a hands-on approach to every case and only gives victims advice that’s in their best interest.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if an at-fault driver lies and says I was to blame for an accident?
Your attorney will make sure you have a strong case that proves your innocence. The sooner you talk to a lawyer the sooner your lawyer can start gathering evidence, police and medical documents, and witness testimony to leave no doubt of who was to blame.
How long can I wait to file an accident injury claim in California?
You should file as soon as possible. California allows victims to delay up to two years from the date of the accident before they file. Waiting months or years to file can be a mistake because evidence and witnesses can become harder to find the longer you wait.
What kind of damages can an accident claim cover?
Hospital bills and lost wages at work. Accident claims can also ask for reimbursement of travel costs for numerous doctor and surgeon visits. Your emotional trauma and your family’s hardships can also factor into a settlement.