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What Kind of Lawyers are Needed for Auto Accidents?

Auto accidents can be devastating. Even minor accidents can cause injuries, but in the most severe collisions, the injuries can be life-changing.

Regardless of the severity of the injury, it’s important to consult with a lawyer to determine the best course of action to take.

What type of lawyer should you hire? The answer may seem obvious, but many people simply work with the first lawyer recommended to them regardless of their specialization.

Before we discuss what type of lawyer you should hire, let’s determine whether you need an attorney.

Do You Need to Hire a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Case?

Whether or not you hire a lawyer is a personal decision, but if there are no injuries sustained, a lawyer usually isn’t needed. Your insurance company should walk you through the process of filing a claim.

If the accident caused an injury, you may want to consider at least consulting with an attorney. Most attorneys offer a free consultation, so there is no harm in finding out whether you have a case and what options you have.

Injuries that result in less than $1,000 in medical bills can often be negotiated with a claims adjuster – provided you have educated yourself on the process. Hiring a lawyer may wind up costing you more than the claim is worth.

For more serious injuries that result in thousands of dollars in medical bills, an attorney is likely your best option. An attorney will help ensure that you walk away with a fair amount of money from your insurance company. If the insurance company doesn’t want to budge, an attorney’s threat to file a lawsuit may change their minds.

It may also be beneficial to hire a lawyer if your accident involved any of the following:

When to Hire an Injury Lawyer

If you feel that you can benefit from hiring a lawyer, you may be wondering when to hire one. The answer is simple: right away.

In cases of serious injury or catastrophic accidents, you don’t want to wait to hire an attorney, and you don’t want to negotiate with your insurance company. Having a dialogue with the insurance company and giving them access to your medical records will only help them build a case against you.

Consult with an attorney as soon as you can. Otherwise, you may be unknowingly waiving your rights or limiting your options in recouping damages.

Lawyers for Auto Accidents – What You Need to Know

If you’ve been in a car crash and sustained an injury, it’s important to work with a lawyer who has experience with cases similar to yours. This means hiring a personal injury lawyer who specializes in car accident cases.

Hiring a general lawyer – or jack of all trades – is generally not a good idea. You need someone with experience and extensive knowledge of laws related to personal injury and traffic laws.

An auto accident attorney will know exactly what to do to either defend your case or get you the compensation you deserve.

Choosing a lawyer who specializes in car accidents is a step in the right direction, but you may also want to consider taking this theory further and choosing someone who also has experience with your injury or accident type.

Further Specialization

If you know the extent of your injuries and you’ve yet to hire a lawyer, you can take things a step further by choosing a lawyer who not only specializes in auto accidents, but also specializes in the type of injury you’ve sustained.

Some lawyers also specialize in:

If you’ve incurred a catastrophic injury, consider working with an attorney who specializes in your injury. A lawyer who has handled spinal injuries in the past will understand the nuances and caveats of your case and how to argue your case.

If you were going in for brain surgery, would you want a brain surgeon, or a heart surgeon? Both are trained surgeons, but one focuses specifically on the brain and understands exactly how to perform the procedure with precision.

The same theory applies to choosing a lawyer. You want someone who has dealt with cases involving your type of injury so that the same precision and experience can be applied to give you the outcome you want.

What to Look for When Hiring a Car Accident Attorney

Making the decision to hire an attorney is the first step. The second step is choosing an attorney. Finding the right attorney can be a challenge, and this is not a decision you want to take lightly.

Take advantage of free consultations and meet with attorneys in your area to find out which one is the right choice for you.

Friend and Family Recommendations

When choosing an attorney, you might consider asking friends and family for recommendations. If someone you know and trust has been in an accident and had a favorable outcome with their attorney, you may want to consider meeting with that attorney.

Consider the Attorney’s Experience

You already know that you should hire an attorney who specializes in car accidents, but you also need to consider experience and the results of past cases.

An attorney with the right level of experience will know how to build your case, how to calculate damages properly, and how to fight to get you the highest payout possible.

Ideally, you want a lawyer with years of experience. Attorneys who are highly experienced and have a track record of success will often post the results of their cases on their website.

Research the Attorney Online

Do your research online to learn more about the attorney and the attorney’s practice. Those who had a negative experience will likely share the details of what happened and why they were displeased with the service or the outcome.

The same can be said for those who had a good experience with the attorney.

If a lawyer has consistently poor reviews online, remove that firm from your list.

Schedule an Appointment

After you’ve done your research and narrowed your list down to a few attorneys, you can start scheduling meetings with them. Most attorneys will meet with new clients for free to discuss their cases.

A one-on-one meeting will give you a chance to see whether you get along with the attorney, and you can ask more questions about services, your case and any other concerns you might have. You may want to find out if you even have a case or what the potential outcome might be if you pursued a claim.

Many people will argue that experience trumps personality when choosing a lawyer, but this may not necessarily be true. If you don’t like your attorney or you don’t get along well, it may be difficult to work closely together.

When it comes to car accidents, a lawyer may or may not be necessary. But if you do need one, make sure that you choose the right professional for the job. That means hiring a car accident attorney who has experience with your type of case and injury.

When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident

Car accidents kill 32,000 people per year in the United States. Over 2 million people suffer injuries in collisions annually Personal injuries, depending who is at fault for the accident, may require a car accident lawyer.

Even when you’re not suing another person, you may need a lawyer to help you receive money from your insurance company.

We’re going to discuss when to get an attorney for a car accident so that you know when an accident warrants the help of an attorney.

When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident

If you’re involved in an insignificant auto accident, chances are you won’t need a lawyer. An example of an accident that’s insignificant is when two vehicles back into each other, at very low speeds, in a parking lot.

The damage is very minimal in these cases. No one is injured. Sometimes, there’s no damage at all.

In this case, you can go through your insurance company and opt not to get a lawyer. But there are times when a motor vehicle accident warrants the help of a lawyer:

  • Serious Injuries. If a serious injury occurred, you’ll want to retain the services of an attorney. These car crashes include hospitalization, broken bones or injuries that are likely to be permanent in nature.
  • Death. Car accidents that result in death should be handled by an attorney. Whether you’re a surviving loved one or the opposing driver in the accident, seek an attorney’s advice immediately.
  • Fault. Accidents can and do occur, but when fault becomes a clear issue, it’s time for legal guidance.
  • Construction Zone. Accidents that occur in a construction zone can be deadly. These accidents may even involve hitting a worker or violations on part of the driver. Heavy fines and penalties are assessed for accidents in construction zones.
  • Police Report. A police report that’s not accurate can have a lasting impact on your claim. If the report puts the blame on you and is not accurate, you’ll need an attorney to help and fight your case.
  • Additional Parties. When additional parties are involved, you’ll need to contact an attorney. These parties can include other automobiles and even pedestrians.
  • Attorneys are Involved. If anyone, including your insurer, hires an attorney, you’ll want to pick up the phone immediately and secure your own attorney.
  • Insurance Issues. If any auto involved in the accident doesn’t have insurance, the insurer suggests you didn’t pay your premium or your insurance limits are too low, a law firm can help.

Other times when a lawyer should be considered

You can also seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer if you’re:

  • Accident’s fault may be an issue
  • Not sure of your rights
  • Confused about your policy
  • Stuck in negotiations with your insurer
  • Not sure if your insurer is acting in good faith

A car accident claim must be filed, whether or not you choose to work with an injury lawyer. A car accident case involves several moving parts, including: lawyers, police reports, insurance companies and witnesses, to name a few.

If your circumstances are complex, such as trying to prove lost wages, you’ll want legal advice. It can be difficult to prove lost wages as a sales person, consultant or business owner who doesn’t have a normal 9-to-5 job.

Of course, if you’ve sustained serious injuries, hiring a lawyer is advised. The lawyer will ensure that you’ve properly accounted for lost wages, both current and future, and that your settlement is fair.

If another party involved in the accident hires a lawyer, it’s time to consult with your own attorney.  An attorney, in most circumstances, should be consulted with prior to talking to an insurance adjuster.

Attorneys can help protect your rights following an accident.

What You Should Do When Making Car Insurance Claims

Pain and suffering, loss of work, medical bills and further damages can occur from a single automobile accident. Property damage can occur, death or life-long injuries. If you take the wrong approach following an accident, you can have a lasting impact on your claim.

There are a lot of things that you can do to protect yourself following an accident:

  1. Call your insurance agent as soon as possible.
  2. Review your current policy and understand what your coverages are.
  3. Consider other policies that may offer coverage, such as homeowner policies.
  4. Take pictures of the accident scene, damage and injuries.
  5. Remain honest the entire time. Your insurer needs to know all the facts pertaining to an accident.
  6. Document everything from your medical bills to expenses incurred as a result of your accident.

If you follow these six tips above, you’ll better prepare your auto accident lawyer to handle your case.

What You Should Not Do When Making a Claim

A car accident injury often leads people to make rash decisions, and this can lead to making big mistakes that have a major impact on any potential settlement. Here are some things not to do when filing an accident claim or discussing the incident afterwards include:

  1. Don’t provide a written or recorded statement to your insurer until you fully understand your policy.
  2. Don’t accept an estimate or appraisal that isn’t fair. Take your time to analyze the estimate and appraisal before moving forward.
  3. Don’t accept a payment marked as “final payment.” If you accept a “final payment” check, you may be agreeing to not pursue further action.
  4. Don’t sign a waiver or release. Legal advice should be sought if you’re an accident victim and have someone asking you to sign a waiver or release.
  5. Don’t accept anything you deem unfair. An insurance adjuster works for the insurance company, so they have the best interest of the insurer in mind – not your interests.

If you make the mistakes above, you can still contact an auto accident attorney and discuss your options. There are a lot of attorneys that will provide a free consultation for your case. The consultation is used to determine if you have a case.

And since these consultations are free, you have nothing to lose.

An attorney can help increase the value of any claim substantially. Insurance companies know that they will face much higher charges the moment one of their clients hire a lawyer, so they will remain persistent and try to secure a settlement.

Can You Sue Uber Because of an Accident Caused by a Drunk Uber Driver?

If you have had a ride in a car driven by an Uber driver and suspect he or she was drunk, it could be a worrying trip. If you have an accident and survive but are injured there is always the possibility of suing the driver because his intoxication quite possible caused the accident, but can you sue Uber, the company?

The law is not very clear on this, mainly because Uber can claim that their relationship with their drivers is not a conventional employer / employee one. However, if you are involved in an accident in a vehicle driven by an Uber driver, it is definitely worthwhile seeing a personal injury attorney to determine what can be done about it. It is possible that Uber can be sued separately from the driver

Uber’s responsibilities with respect to hiring drivers

Uber is supposed to do several things to ensure that its drivers are safe. It is supposed to carry out a background check before they are hired and ensure that they do not have previous DUI offences. It is also supposed to suspend drivers it suspects of being intoxicated while driving.

Uber says that it already has a strict policy on drunk drivers. It says that it relies on passengers sending in videos showing the behavior of the driver, drivers admitting that they were driving drunk, arrests or results of breathalyzer or sobriety tests. Its own policy is that it will automatically suspend any of its drivers if it receives at least three reports from passengers or members of the public that a driver was drunk, even if the reports are not confirmed.

The Public Utilities Commission (PUC) says that relying on passengers’ videos and self-admission from drivers is unrealistic.  The Commission doesn’t think Uber is doing enough to check on its drivers and is allowing drunk drivers to continue to drive without taking firm enough action. The Commission, which regulates ride-share companies like Uber, makes it a requirement for Uber to continue to operate as long as they have a zero-tolerance policy towards drunk driving. It looks like Uber is not adhering to either its own policy or that of the PUC.

An investigation into Uber’s response to complaints about drunk drivers revealed that in 151 cases out of 154, the company failed to suspend or investigate drivers. The PUC is now seeking to fine Uber 1.3 million dollars for not adhering to the regulations.

Can Uber be sued if someone was injured as a result of an accident caused by a drunk Uber driver?

The two legal avenues that an injured Uber victim has is to sue the company (separately from the driver) are based on the theory of vicarious liability and negligent hiring and retention.

California’s vicarious liability laws allow someone to sue a company for the actions of any of its employees if the employees are found to be carrying out their job ‘within the scope and course of their employment at the time’. Uber has tried to dismiss any suggestion that they are vicariously liable, claiming that all Uber drivers are independent contractors and not normal employees. However, in a previous lawsuit in Northern California, a judge found Uber vicariously liable for a driver who had been accused of sexual misconduct. This ruling may also apply to drunk drivers.

Uber may also be sued on the basis of negligent hiring and retention if it can be shown that they failed to carry out background checks on a driver, or ignored the fact that the driver had a previous record for DUI, or ignored or failed to suspend or investigate a previous complaint about a driver’s behavior.

Contact a personal injury attorney if unsure what your legal options are after a crash in an Uber vehicle.

It’s bad enough having an accident while having a ride in a ride-share car. It’s worse realizing that the driver was intoxicated and that the company that hired him or her had allowed the driver to continue to drive after previous complaints. If this has happened to you and you have been seriously injured and not sure how to proceed, you should contact our firm for a free case review.

 

Car Seat Laws California 101: A Resource Every Parent Needs to Read

If you’re a parent, the single most important thing you can do is buckle up. Parents need to buckle themselves and their children up. A proper safety seat is required for children under 8 years old under car seat law in California.

The requirements differ as a child ages, and this means that you’ll need a rear-facing car seat, child safety seat and booster seat before your child can graduate to a standard seat belt.

But before we dive into the legal aspect of car seat laws, let’s discuss the importance of car seats and child restraint.

Why Child Passenger Safety is a Must

The CDC provides statistics in child passenger safety that should alarm any parent. Children, in this case 12 or under, are included in the statistics. The CDC found that in 2015:

  • 663 children died in motor vehicle crashes
  • 121,350 children were injured in car accidents in 2015
  • 618,000 children aged 0 – 12 rode without car seats or seat belts
  • 35% of deaths were a result of no seat belts or car seats used

When you use a car sear or booster seat, you’re reducing the risk of death in infants, or children under the age of 1, by 71%. Toddlers, considered age 1 – 4, will have their risk of death reduced by 54% when using a car seat.

This is a staggering risk reduction that any parent can appreciate.

Booster seats, used for children between 4 and 8 years old, reduce the risk of serious injury in a car accident by 45%. And for you, the parent, using a proper seat belt reduces the risk of serious injury and death by 50%.

This is a matter of safety and prevention.

Car seat law in California, and the rest of the country, is in place to reduce the risk of injury and death of infants and toddlers. As a parent, it’s up to you to ensure that you’re doing everything in your power to follow the law.

It’s a matter of keeping your child safe.

Even a short trip down the road requires your child to be in a child seat. Statistically, most collisions occur when you’re a mile or less away from home. You can’t put your child’s safety at risk even for a short trip.

Dissecting California’s Car Seat Laws

Seat belt laws vary, depending on age, weight and height. There is a lot to know, so make sure you keep up to date on the most recent laws to ensure your child is as safe as possible when driving.

Children Under the Age of 2

Children who are under the age of 2 are required, by law, to be in a rear-facing car seat. You’ll need to open up the car seat’s owner manual to check for a few important things:

  • Height limit
  • Weight limit

Different car seats will have different limits. You’ll need to replace your car seat if your child outgrows the model you own.

But there are limits, set by the law, which still hold true for children under 2. Your child must remain in a rear-facing car seat unless they’re:

  • 40 pounds or heavier
  • 40 inches tall or taller

This doesn’t mean that your child doesn’t need to remain in a car seat. The law, which went into effect on January 1, 2017, simply adds the rear-facing model into the law. If your child exceeds the limits above, then he or she will fall under the same rules as the children under the age of 8 category.

Children Under the Age of 8

Children under the age of 8 still need to remain in a car seat or booster seat. You will need to use a forward-facing car seat at this point. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child remain in a rear-facing car seat up until the limits set by the manufacturer.

Why?

Rear-facing child car seats are 5 times safer than front facing models. But when the limits are exceeded, they pose a safety risk to your child.

Children 8 Years Old or 4’9″ Tall

If your child is 8 years old or 4’9″ tall or taller, they can now graduate to a normal seat belt if:

  • The belt fits properly
  • The lap belt goes low on the hips
  • The shoulder belt crosses the middle of the chest

What if your child has different proportions and they don’t meet the criteria above? In this case, you’ll need to make your child remain in a booster or car seat.

Safety belts have been designed to fit the average passenger. And by the average passenger, manufacturers have dictated that a safety belt must fit a:

  • Male who is 165 pounds

So, if your child, which doesn’t meet this criterion, doesn’t seem to fit properly in the seat belt, err on the side of caution.

Booster seats are often recommended when a child has outgrown a forward-facing harness, which has a 40 – 65-pound (on average) limit.

Fines and Penalties for Breaking Car Seat Law in California

Safety law is important. The State of California has imposed heavy fines and penalties for anyone who breaks car seat laws. If you fail to adhere to the law, you face the following:

  • A point added to your license
  • $500+ fine

The fines and penalties are imposed for each child under 16. If there are 2 children in the car, the fines can be $1,000+ plus two points on your license.

Everyone in your vehicle needs to be buckled up when the vehicle is in motion.

Kaitlyn’s Law

Car seat laws aren’t the only laws that you, as a parent, need to follow. A key law in the State of California that many parents don’t know is Kaitlyn’s Law. This law makes it illegal, in the State of California, to leave a child 6 or younger in a car alone unless someone 12 or older is there to supervise them.

Supervision is required if:

  • The keys are in the ignition
  • The car is running
  • There is a risk to the child

California’s new car seat laws must be adhered to at all times. There’s no excuse for breaking the law – even if you didn’t realize that the rear-facing provision has been added into law.

Motor Vehicle Accidents the Main Cause of Traumatic Brain Injuries

There are some alarming statistics in the U.S. in relation to brain injuries. Every 12 seconds someone somewhere in the country has been unfortunate enough to suffer a brain injury. Minor brain injuries could result from a blow to the head and may not necessarily be permanent, while traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are far more serious and debilitating. Fifty percent of these injuries occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents. Of those that are hospitalized, at least half have been involved in a car accident. The other causes are from actions that have taken place while playing contact sports like football or baseball and in unexpected slips and falls when a victim hits his or head on a hard object.

If you are suffering from TBI you are most likely facing high medical bills and your condition will probably not allow you to return to work until you have fully recovered. Even after a long period of rest you may still be affected by TBI as the damage done affects moods, cognitive ability, motor skills and behavior. You may not be able to concentrate sufficiently to drive your car or ever return to work because you need round the clock care, even to perform the simplest of tasks.

Rehabilitation for a TBI

The sort of treatment given for a TBI will depend on its severity but it normally takes place in a hospital in its outpatient department, or at a specialized rehabilitation that treats TBI victims. The sorts of therapies include:

  • Speech and language therapy when a victim has damaged the part in the brain responsible for speech and language and needs help restoring their ability to write and speak properly again.
  • Cognitive therapy is used to improve the brain’s functioning and independence after a TBI.
  • Vocational and occupational therapy offer assistance so that TBI victims can relearn their occupations enabling them to return to work.
You May be Entitled to File a Personal Injury Claim

Rehabilitation is one method used to help victims of TBI but all this costs money. If you are a victim of a car accident and the accident was not your fault and you have suffered a TBI you will have already been presented with medical bills and will have been unable to return to work as a result of your injury. You may even have been depending on family to care for you.

If you are able to prove that the car accident was not your fault, you may be entitled to file a personal injury compensation claim to recover damages for the financial hardship you have suffered. In most states you are legally entitled to file such a claim as long as you can prove that you had no part to play in the accident and the TBI you have received.

Process for Filing a Personal Injury Claim for TBI

You will need to gather any evidence such as eye witness reports and police reports of the car accident. You will also need to provide a medical report which covers the amount of treatment you have received and how long you will need to be treated. The next step is to find a personal injury attorney to file the claim on your behalf. An experienced attorney will be able to confirm your eligibility to file a claim and will not take up your case if there is no chance of you receiving a settlement.

One of the most difficult parts of filing a personal injury claim is the attitude of the insurer of the person found to be responsible for your injuries. Insurers never want to hand over money, even if you are entitled to it. It needs a persistent personal injury attorney to undertake negotiations so that you get the right amount to cover your financial hardship now and if necessary into the future until full recovery has been completed.

The Way a Personal Injury attorney Works

Most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis and offer free consultations. If this is the case, you don’t pay anything until you have received your payment. This means all accident victims have the chance to file a claim. Each will include money to cover all medical expenses and loss of income as well as an amount for pain and suffering.  In cases where the defendant has been reckless or negligent, punitive damages can also be included in the claim.