California is one of the biggest states in the country with a large vehicle population out on the streets. It is therefore no surprise that traffic fatalities are among the highest with more than three thousand dying every year. Orange County sees its share of accidents which can have far reaching consequences. If it happens to you, then your car will likely sustain some form of damage. It will require repair or replacement. Passengers might get injured and treatment will not be cheap. Victims are entitled to compensation under the law. A top new Orange County car accident lawyer can help you fight for your rights.
Statute of Limitation in Orange County
Time is of the essence. Right after the collision, the clock will start ticking on the filing of the case. The statute of limitations prescribes a limit as to when victims can sue for compensation. This is true for all states including California. When it comes to accidents, people are given a maximum of two years to file their personal injury lawsuit in court. The duration for property damage lawsuits is a bit longer with a grace period of three years. Other states may have slightly different specifications according to their laws. These are true for court cases. Insurance claims are a different matter.
Each company will have its own rules regarding this. Be sure that you are aware about the time limits and the procedures. Your Orange County, CA car accident lawyer can also help you with this. Tap into years of experience to ensure that you say the right things in front of the company representative. Remember that they still have the power to deny the claim or reduce the amount depending on the merits of the case. You have to be extremely careful in the words you use to describe what happened. Do not let them find holes that they can exploit.
It is advisable to claim insurance benefits at the soonest possible time. Do not wait until the statute of limitations has already lapsed. This is a great bargaining chip for compensation. In most cases, negotiation is the first option because it can be concluded much faster than a court trial. Victims can get the funds they need to get better and have their vehicle fixed. They don’t have to attend hearings which can drag on for months or more. The threat of a lawsuit keeps the other party honest. Knowing that the court may award a much higher amount forces them into negotiation.
Rules on Comparative Fault
One of the biggest questions that will arise in court cases and insurance filings will center on fault. Who caused the accident? It may seem simple but it rarely is. Often, both parties will claim to be the victim and blame the other for what transpired. California laws do not treat these incidents as black and white. There is openness regarding the possibility that both may be at fault to different degrees. People who were affected can still get compensation from the others despite being partially responsible. Of course, the amount that they can get will be affected by their actions.
The degree of fault does not matter when it comes to entitlement. Everyone who suffered because of the crash will be entitled to get compensation from the at-fault parties. However, the percentage of fault of the claimant will be evaluated. This will be used to lower the value of the amount awarded. The term for this is pure comparative negligence. This rule is applicable both in court and in the insurance domain. Those who are tasked with figuring out the exact amount that is fair to all will base their computations on this rule if applicable.
Determining the exact percentage will be a difficult endeavor. Your lawyer will try to minimize it as much as possible to lessen the reductions. The other party, on the other hand, will attempt to make it seem that your actions did a lot of harm. Therefore, you must hire an experienced lawyer who knows how to handle these types of cases. He or she must be persuasive in arguments and able to present a coherent case that is beyond reproach. Do not take chances as a great deal of money is involved that could affect your future as well as your health.
What to Do When Involved in a Car Accident
We ride in cars several times a day as we go to work, attend school, meet with friends, and so on. It is a normal activity and so we rarely ever think of what could happen if we were to be involved in an accident. What we must realize is that it could happen to anyone including us. Indeed, thousands of collisions happen every day throughout the country. Being mentally prepared will allow you to react quickly and act appropriately to the situation. There are simple things that you should keep in mind such as those detailed below.
First of all, breathe deeply and try to remain calm. You will have a much better chance of coming out of the incident well if you can control your emotions. You need to observe everything that is happening so that you can testify about them in court. Have the presence of mind to assess the situation including the damage to both parties and the extent of injuries sustained by the victims. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other party. This will be crucial in the months ahead. Take pictures of the scene if you can to establish the positions of the vehicles.
As long as the cars can still be driven, they should be taken to the side of the street as soon as possible. They cannot be allowed to stay in the middle of the road as they will cause heavy traffic to build up. If this is not done, then the city could have the cars towed away or even impounded. Call the police and report the incident. They need to document everything about what happened. They will ask those involved to present their drivers licenses, certificate of registration or equivalent, insurance papers, and so on.
Look around for any witnesses. If you see anyone, then try to get their contact information so that you can ask them to testify in court later or at least make a statement that supports your claim. It is vital to get their statements in black and white right away while the details are still fresh on their minds. Time will inevitably erode their memory of the incident. The lawyer for the other side will no doubt use any gaps to convince the judge that the witness is unreliable. Work with your lawyer to obtain all the evidence and testimonies required to strengthen the case.
Remember that there is a 10-day limit for accident reports to the DMV if the collision results in serious damage. This is defined as property damage amounting to $750 or more, serious physical injuries, or death. Fill up the SR-1 form and send it to the authorities. Neglecting these duties may result in license suspension. Follow the law and comply to the best of your abilities. Get help from an Orange County, CA car accident lawyer for guidance.