Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer
Serious car accidents can cause devastating injuries, damage, and possibly even be life-threatening. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car crash, contact a Sacramento car accident attorney at the law offices of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for a free case evaluation. Call to schedule an initial consultation today and discuss your legal options for recovering damages.
Reasons Why You May Need a Car Accident Attorney
When you are injured in an auto accident, the insurance companies are going to get involved, and they are not going to have your best interests in mind. Their goal is to lower the amount of money they pay you in a settlement.
With the help of an attorney, you will have an advocate by your side to help you throughout this process. You should consider calling a personal injury lawyer if any of the following apply to your situation:
- The crash caused serious injuries or a fatality.
- It is not clear who was at fault for the crash.
- The collision happened in a school zone, a construction zone, or other protected speed zone.
- The police report is unclear or missing information pertinent to the case.
- The crash involved pedestrians, a bicyclist, or a motorcycle.
- Your insurance company or the company of the at-fault driver is sending mixed signals or uses an attorney to communicate with you.
Your auto accident attorney will handle communication with the insurance company. Insurance adjusters will work quickly to get your case settled and will often look for ways to blame you for the accident. Our law office will not let this happen and will gather all of the evidence necessary to secure the compensation you deserve. From medical expenses to pain and suffering — we will fight for every cent you deserve.
Why Choose Our Law Firm
- Our Sacramento personal injury lawyers have been successfully obtaining compensation on behalf of injured clients in Northern California since 1959.
- Having recovered over $1 billion in results for our clients, we are considered one of the most successful personal injury law firms in the nation.
- We are not afraid to take your case to trial if necessary, and we have a full-time physician on staff to aid in proving your injuries in court. We keep your best interests in mind.
- We will take care of all upfront costs and handle your case on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t have to pay a single legal fee unless we recover compensation for you.
Who is Liable in a Car Accident?
California is a fault state, so the insurance carriers will be looking to determine which party was at fault. In most cases, the police report will state who the officer has cited for being at fault. If a person breaks a traffic law or there is a defect with their vehicle that causes the crash, they will likely be cited in the incident. In all car accident cases, it is up to each driver to demonstrate reasonable care for the safety of other drivers.
California is a comparative negligence state. This means that both parties can contribute to the accident. This can lower the amount of compensation a person is able to obtain in a settlement. For example, if a person sustains $10,000 in damages but was found to be 20% at fault, they will only receive $8,000 in a settlement ($10,000 minus the 20% of $2,000).
California Motor Vehicle Accident Laws
Under California law, the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident must make a written report with the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours of the incident. If the accident involves an injury or death, it must be reported immediately to the agency of the city or county where the incident occurred.
A car accident must be reported to the California DMV within 10 days if:
- Anyone was injured or killed in the incident, and/or
- The crash resulted in property damage of more than $750.
While state law does not have a requirement to report the incident to insurance companies, all carriers have varying reporting requirements. You should always report a crash to your insurance carrier after consulting with an attorney.
How to File a Car Accident Claim in California
Every insurance company has different reporting requirements. When you call to make a claim, your insurance company will call you back for detailed information regarding your injuries and damages, and they may take a written and/or recorded statement. It is recommended that you secure help from a Sacramento personal injury lawyer before making a recorded statement, particularly if you were partially or completely at fault in the crash.
You will be assigned an adjuster within 15 days of the carrier receiving your claim. We recommend that you present the fact of the case without embellishing. Avoid saying that you feel fine or trying to hurry them along for a settlement. Anything you say can be used against you and cause the claim to be delayed or denied.
The adjuster will need the following:
- Your claim form
- A recorded statement (or they will speak with your attorney)
- Statements from the other party and any witnesses
- An inspection of your vehicle, which they will arrange
- Any photos from the scene
- Damage reports from repair shops
- Your current medical bills and future medical bills
- Evidence of lost wages or lost earning capacity
- Any other information relevant to the case
What is the Statute of Limitations on Car Accidents in California?
A car accident lawsuit is a personal injury claim. In California, personal injury cases have a two year statute of limitations. This means that crash victims have two years from the date the accident happened to file a claim for damages. If you are involved in a car accident with a government vehicle (state, local, federal), the statute of limitations is six months from the time the incident occurs.
If a car crash leads to the death of a family member, you have the right to pursue a wrongful death case against a negligent party. In these cases, the statute of limitations is two years from the date the accident occurs.
It is important to get your case started as soon as possible. Your attorney will ensure that all deadlines are met and that your total losses, including future projected losses, are calculated in the compensation amount. Since time is limited, hiring a Sacramento car accident attorney immediately following a collision can be critical to your case. Crucial evidence can fade, be lost, or easily destroyed. A lawyer will have the necessary resources to preserve the evidence and the skills to effectively present it to the negligent party’s insurance company.
What to Do After a Car Accident
If you are in an accident, there are several steps you need to take that will help you increase your chances of receiving a fair settlement.
- Stop and call 911 immediately – Get police and EMS to the scene if there are any injuries.
- Seek medical treatment – If you are injured, the number one priority is to seek medical care. The rest of this checklist includes things you should do if you are not seriously injured.
- Obtain names, address, and phone numbers of every driver involved in the accident.
- Obtain names, address, and phone numbers of any other passengers involved and any eyewitnesses to the collision.
- If you have a camera or a smartphone, take pictures of everything related to the crash. This includes any damages, injuries, possible causes of the crash, weather conditions, etc.
- Ask the police how to obtain an official copy of the accident report.
- Notify your insurance carrier that an accident has occurred, but do not make any statements to them at that time.
- Contact an experienced Sacramento car accident lawyer to get legal advice and to help you get through this process.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Sacramento
According to the Sacramento Police Department, the top five causes of car accidents are due to driver error. They include:
- Following cars too closely
- Running red lights
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Turning left
After being injured in a car wreck, immediately notify the Sacramento Police Department by calling 911. Even if wounds seem minor, over time they may become worse or new injuries may arise. Having a police report filed can be critical to obtaining compensation in a car accident claim.
Common Injuries in Car Crashes
Auto accidents can cause a variety of bodily injuries. Aside from minor injuries, such as scrapes and bruises, injury victims may experience the following:
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Puncture wounds
- Severe lacerations
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Whiplash injuries
California Car Accident Statistics
Turning to statistics from the Office of Traffic Safety, we can see that there were hundreds of thousands of vehicle accidents across the state during the latest reporting year. Out of those accidents, there were:
- 273,069 total injuries
- 3,602 total fatalities
Motor vehicle collisions are the number one cause of unintentional death in California.
While many of the car crashes in the state resulted in only property damage or minor injuries, those instances can still lead to major medical and repair bills. The OTS also reported that more than 14,000 of the accident injuries in the latest reported year were considered “serious” injuries that significantly altered a person’s way of life.
Almost all motor vehicle accidents are preventable when drivers practice safe operating habits. However, there are several leading factors concerning car wreck injuries and fatalities.
- Alcohol-related incidents average over 900 fatalities a year in California. During the latest reporting year, they injured more than 26,000 people.
- In an OTS survey, drivers in California said that they thought speeding and aggressive driving was the top safety concern for California motorists.
- Distracted driving continues to be a major concern, despite major public service announcement campaigns to cut down on texting/talking and driving.
Sacramento Accident Statistics
TYPE OF COLLISION
TOTAL INJURED OR KILLED
|Alcohol Related (Under 21)||20|
|Alcohol Related (21-34)||152|
|Pedestrians (Under 15)||40|
|Pedestrians (Over 65)||24|
|Bicyclists (Under 15)||29|
|Nighttime (9:00pm – 2:59am)||435|
|Hit and Run||427|
Contact Us Today
Just like any other business, insurance companies are out to make a profit. They will attempt to settle your claim for a lower amount than what it is worth and may make you believe their offer is fair. An auto accident lawyer will gather all of the necessary documentation in order to calculate the amount of financial compensation you are entitled to and protect you from settling for too low of an offer.
If a settlement cannot be reached, a Sacramento County injury attorney is the best option for representation in court. Their knowledge of the law and successful experience litigating claims will be vital to obtaining a favorable outcome to your case.
If you or someone you love have been injured in a car crash, contact the law offices of Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger. Our Sacramento car accident lawyers will fight for you and will not charge you any legal fees unless we recover compensation on your behalf. Call (415) 889-2919 or send us a message to schedule a free consultation and receive legal help today. We serve auto accident victims in Sacramento, Marin County, and the San Francisco Bay Area.