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Santa Rosa Car Accident Lawyer

Getting into a car accident can lead to serious injuries for victims. This can cause temporary or permanent disabilities as well as major medical bills. At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, we are ready to help if you need a Santa Rosa car accident attorney. Contact our team to investigate your case and work to secure maximum compensation on your behalf.

Choose Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger for your case

In the aftermath of sustaining a car accident injury, you need an attorney with extensive experience standing up to aggressive insurance carriers. Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger is ready to help.

Because we understand that victims in these incidents are often in a precarious financial situation, we take Santa Rosa car accident cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that we do not charge any legal fees until after we secured the compensation you deserve.

santa rosa car accident attorney

Santa Rose Car Accident Resources & FAQs

Why is a Santa Rosa car accident attorney necessary?

In the aftermath of a Santa Rosa car accident, some people do not think about the fact that they are at a significant disadvantage. Insurance carriers have no interest in being fair. Their goal is to ensure a low payout. Unfortunately, most car accident victims will not have the resources necessary to thoroughly investigate the incident and prove liability. However, a Santa Rosa car accident lawyer will have the legal experience and resources necessary to:

  • Recover all evidence related to the car accident, including any photographs taken at the scene, available video surveillance, statements from eyewitnesses, accident reports, and more.
  • Ensure their client is evaluated by a trusted medical professional who will care for their injuries and help calculate total expected losses.
  • Handle all communications with other parties involved in an effort to negotiate a fair settlement.
  • Prepare the case for trial if that is what it takes to obtain maximum compensation.

Common causes of car accidents in California

Vehicle accidents occur for a variety of reasons throughout the Santa Rosa area. In general, vehicle accidents are usually caused by the careless or negligent actions of one or more drivers on the roadway. Some of the most common causes of accidents in this area include the following:

  • Distracted driving. Anytime a driver focuses their attention off the roadway, this constitutes distracted driving. Often, this comes in the form of talking or texting on the phone, browsing the Internet on a device, or watching videos.
  • Impaired driving. Drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs are much more likely to cause a serious accident on the roadway.
  • Disregarding traffic signals. Disregarding traffic signals is one of the most common causes of vehicle accidents in Santa Rosa.
  • Speeding. Not only does speeding increase the chances that an accident will occur, but it also increases the devastation of the accidents.
  • Tailgating. When one driver follows another vehicle too closely, this significantly increases the chance that an accident will occur.
  • Improper turns. This often includes left-hand turns that occur into oncoming traffic.
  • Improper lane changes. Drivers must use their turn signal and check their blind spots before changing lanes.
  • Fatigued driving. Operating maybe a cold while drowsy is a recipe for disaster, particularly if a person falls asleep at the wheel.

We also want to point out that vehicle accidents have causes other than driver negligence. Our attorneys regularly investigate accidents and discover that the following contributed to a crash:

  • Negligent construction companies
  • Failure to warn about detours
  • Inadequate road maintenance
  • Debris on the roadway
  • Living or deceased animals on the roadway

In these cases, it is crucial for your Santa Rosa car accident attorney to investigate all possible liable parties, including road construction companies, third-party contractors, or even government entities responsible for the roadway operation.

How do Santa Rosa car accident cases arise?

Car accidents happen in many different ways but are regularly caused by the negligence of other drivers on the roadway. Our attorneys regularly help clients who have been harmed because another driver:

  • Operated while distracted by their cell phone or by somebody else in the vehicle
  • Operated while impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Failed to follow traffic laws (failure to yield, failure to stop, speeding, etc.)
  • Otherwise operated their vehicle recklessly

Santa Rosa car accident injuries

When we look at the latest year of data available from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), we can see that there were more than 272,000 total traffic crash injuries across the state. That is an astounding number, and many of those injuries happen right here in Santa Rosa. At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, our car accident lawyers regularly help clients who have sustained severe injuries, including:

  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Internal organ damage or bleeding
  • Paralysis due to spinal cord trauma
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Concussions
  • Amputations and severe lacerations
  • Emotional and psychological trauma

what to do after a santa rosa car accident

What to do after a car accident in Santa Rosa

The aftermath of a vehicle accident in Santa Rosa can be an incredibly confusing time. This is particularly true in the minutes that follow a crash. If you or a loved one are ever involved in a vehicle accident, your absolute number one priority should be to seek medical care for any injuries that have occurred. Someone needs to call 911 so police, fire, and EMS professionals can get to the scene quickly.

We do want you to know that vehicle collisions often send a rush of adrenaline through our bodies that can mask the signs and symptoms of car accident injuries. Because of this, victims often feel no pain after a crash occurs, even if they have sustained unseen injuries. We strongly recommend that every vehicle accident victim seek medical assistance as soon as possible. This could include taking an ambulance to the hospital for serious injuries or going to an emergency room or doctor on your own after you leave the scene of the crash.

Seeking immediate medical care not only ensures the victim’s well-being, but also establishes a solid link between the crash and the injuries. This will help when it comes to securing compensation from insurance carriers or when presenting the case to a jury.

There are various things that a victim can do at the scene of a crash if the area is safe and if the injuries are not severe. All of the following could help increase the chances that a person will receive compensation for their injuries and property damage:

  • Get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses.
  • Use a phone or another type of camera to take photographs of everything at the scene, including vehicle damage, injuries, debris, skid marks, causes of the crash, traffic and weather conditions, and more.
  • Get the names, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information of any other drivers involved.

If the vehicle crash was caused by the careless or negligent actions of somebody else, you should consider speaking to an attorney as soon as possible. If an attorney gets involved early in the process, they will be able to obtain and preserve any additional evidence that could be used to determine liability. This can include video surveillance from nearby homes or businesses, the police or accident reports, and more.

When is filing a car accident lawsuit necessary?

The vast majority of vehicle accident claims in and around the Santa Rosa area will be resolved through insurance carrier settlements. However, there are times when insurance carriers refuse to offer a fair settlement or even deny a claim altogether. When aggressive insurance carriers get involved, it may be necessary for the injury victim to file a personal injury lawsuit against the alleged negligent driver.

Is there a time limit to filing a claim?

There are various time limits that car accident victims in Santa Rosa need to be aware of. First, California has an overall statute of limitations pertaining to personal injury cases. This statute of limitations is two years from the date an injury occurs. If a Santa Rosa car accident injury victim fails to file a claim within two years from the date of the incident, they will lose the ability to recover the compensation they are entitled to.

However, the statute of limitations has nothing to do with the deadlines put in place by the insurance carriers. In general, all auto insurance carriers require that an accident be reported to them within a very short amount of time after the incident occurs. This is often within a day or two. If an accident victim fails to file a claim promptly with the insurance carrier, this could significantly delay the insurance carrier’s response or lead to the carrier denying the claim altogether.

Regardless of how long you have to file a car accident claim, we strongly encourage you to speak with a Santa Rosa vehicle accident attorney as soon as possible. An attorney will make sure that your claim is filed on time and properly so that you can recover the compensation you are entitled to.

Am I required to go to court after filing a claim?

At Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger, our clients ask us this question a lot. The reality is that most people do not have to go to court after filing a car accident claim. However, do you remember when we mentioned that it may be necessary to file a personal injury lawsuit against the alleged negligent driver?

As soon as you file a personal injury lawsuit, the case officially enters the civil court system in California. Even after a lawsuit has been filed, we typically find that the case will be settled before the parties have to actually go to court. This is usually accomplished by attorneys from both sides negotiating back and forth until they reach a fair agreement. Only if the two sides cannot come to an agreement throughout the discovery process will the case need to be scheduled for trial. If an agreement cannot be reached, then both the injury victim and the alleged negligent party will have to go to court.

Can you file a lawsuit in this case?

While most car accident cases will be handled in a settlement with an insurance carrier, there are times when filing a lawsuit may be necessary. Under the California Code of Civil Procedure section 335.1, we can see that there is a two-year statute of limitations in place for these cases. This means that injury victims have a two-year window with which to file lawsuits against an alleged negligent driver.

In a Santa Rosa car accident case, filing a car insurance claim is not the same thing as filing a personal injury lawsuit. In general, the car accident victim will only file a lawsuit if the insurance carrier of the at-fault party denies a claim or if they do not offer enough compensation to cover the victim’s losses. In California, the car insurance minimum requirements are:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident minimum
  • Property damage liability coverage: $5,000 minimum

How much compensation is available?

If you or a loved one have been injured due to the negligent actions of another driver, you may be entitled to various types of compensation. While the total amount awarded in these cases varies, the team at Walkup, Melodia, Kelly & Schoenberger has a history of success in these situations. In one instance, we recovered a $4.5 million settlement for a child who sustained a brain injury and an $8.8 million jury verdict for a child who suffered a severe head injury, both in car accidents.

How is evidence gathered in my Santa Rosa car accident claim?

The evidence collection process after a car accident begins almost immediately. As we mentioned above, we always recommend that those involved in a crash gather as much evidence as possible if it is safe to do so at the scene. This includes taking photographs of everything present, getting the names and contact information of eyewitnesses, and getting the information of the other driver(s) involved.

However, this is not where the evidence gathering ends. The police officers who respond to the scene will conduct a preliminary investigation and put their findings into the police report. This report will be an invaluable piece of evidence used in the case, but it is not the end-all, be-all of the case.

Insurance carriers will conduct their own investigations into the incident. Additionally, you should work with a skilled Santa Rosa car accident lawyer who can also use their resources to conduct an independent investigation. An attorney can first send a letter of spoliation to all parties involved to make sure that nobody destroys, alters, repairs, or otherwise hide evidence that could be used in a legal claim. An attorney and then work through the court system to get subpoenas for any evidence that is not voluntarily handed over by any party involved, including video surveillance from nearby homes or businesses.

Can you be held partially at fault for a Santa Rosa car accident?

Car accident liability is rarely cut and dry. In some cases, multiple parties involved can share liability. However, under California’s “pure comparative negligence” system, a car accident injury victim can recover compensation even if they are partially at fault for the incident (up to 99% at fault). Under the system, Santa Rosa car accident victims will receive the compensation awarded by a jury minus an amount commensurate with their responsibility for the incident.

For example, suppose a car accident victim was injured when an intoxicated driver ran a four-way stop sign while traveling 60 mph. While the impaired driver will potentially be liable for the incident, what if the car accident victim also ran a stop sign because they were distracted by their cell phone?

A jury will look at all the facts of this situation to determine liability and compensation. In this incident, a jury may determine that the impaired driver was 60% at fault for the incident because of their intoxication, for speeding, and for running the stop sign. The jury may find the other party 40% at fault for being distracted by their phone and running the stop sign. In this case, if a jury awards $100,000 and damages to the non-impaired driver, that person will only receive $60,000 in total compensation.

Contact our Santa Rosa car accident lawyers today

Our Sacramento car accident team is going to investigate your claim so we can obtain compensation for your medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering damages, property damage, and more. If you need a Santa Rosa car accident attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation of your case by clicking here or calling (415) 981-7210.