How To Choose The Best Accident Lawyers In Orange County
Choosing the best accident lawyers can mean the difference between living with debilitating injuries and receiving fair compensation for them. Vehicle crash victims may suffer from a temporary or permanent physical and emotional disability. Broken bones, whiplash, concussions, and internal injuries can limit income and cause financial hardship for victims and their families.
When you are the victim in a vehicle crash where another driver is at fault, it may be appropriate to file a lawsuit to recover damages. Known as tort or personal injury cases, car accident lawsuits are the best way for victims to recover compensation owed for injuries and lost wages. Accident lawyers who are well-versed in personal injury law are an asset for victims who decide to pursue legal action.
What Is A Personal Injury Lawyer?
Personal injury lawyers specialize in providing legal services to individuals who are physically or psychologically injured due to a third party’s negligence. The at-fault party could be another individual, a business, or a government entity. Personal injury lawyers are trained in all aspects of the law but specialize in tort law. Hiring an attorney who does not have a firm grasp of tort law can lead to less than optimal results.
Contacting a personal injury lawyer as soon as you are involved in a vehicle accident is a smart move. Once insurance companies get involved, the risk of getting pressured to accept less than you deserve increases. The best accident lawyers in Orange County can file a claim on your behalf to ensure coverage is not denied. They will review your case and offer recommendations on the best way to proceed.
Most personal injury cases settle out of court. If yours advances to a court hearing stage, your attorney can prepare you for testimony and other aspects.
5 Qualities of the Best Accident Lawyers
Finding the best accident lawyers is not a difficult process when you know what skills and qualities to look for. Taking into consideration these five characteristics of the best accident lawyers when making your selection will help.
1. A solid reputation
Ensure the law firm you are considering hiring has a solid reputation in Orange County. Prowess in court is important, but finding an attorney who is well-liked and respected in the legal community goes a long way toward achieving favorable results.
2. A proven track record
Reputation matters when it comes to choosing an attorney. A proven track record for settling accident cases out of court or successfully prosecuting them in a court of law is also important. Our team has won hundreds of cases for clients and is highly recommended. Negligent parties should be held accountable, and our team is committed to ensuring your rights are protected.
3. An approachable personality
You will be working closely with your accident attorney to compile a case and present it in court if a settlement is not reached. The lawyer you select, therefore, must be approachable. Your legal team should never make you feel like a burden or like you are just another case to them. You should be treated with compassion and respect throughout the entire process.
4. Excellent communication skills
Negotiating with insurance adjusters, medical practitioners, and legal representatives for the defendant requires first-rate communication skills. Knowing the law is not enough in a motor vehicle accident. Your attorney must be able to effectively connect with all parties involved in your case for the best outcome.
5. An aggressive approach
Personal injury attorneys should not be afraid to get tough when the situation calls for it. Insurance adjusters and corporate attorneys are not afraid to pull out all the stops to protect their clients. They are notorious for pressuring victims into accepting the smallest settlements possible. Victims need personal injury attorneys who are not afraid to push back and demand the highest award possible for your case.
Determining Liability in Automobile Accidents
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes human error to 94 percent of all car crashes in the U.S. Innocent victims can end up with disabilities when another individual makes a mistake behind the wheel. Time off work leads to lost wages, and significant injuries can rack up the medical bills. All of this can be financially devastating for victims, especially in one-income families.
While determining liability in automobile accidents in California is a straightforward process, it does not mean insurance adjusters for at-fault parties will not go above and beyond to limit the number of damages awarded to victims.
Insurance companies rely heavily on police reports as part of the investigative process for claims. That’s why, when given a choice, always report an accident to the local authorities and request an investigator on the scene. If the other driver refuses and leaves the scene, make sure you have recorded their license plate number and any other helpful identifying information to help the police track them down. Reporting accidents to the police is imperative if you hope to protect your legal rights.
When crashes result in serious injuries or disruption to the normal flow of traffic on a major roadway, individuals involved in the accident do not have a say in whether police are called in to investigate. Police will conduct a thorough examination, which can include speaking to witnesses to the accident and the drivers of all vehicles involved. Police reports are especially important if you file a claim because they identify whom police believe to be the at-fault party.
In cases of what is known as admitted liability, fault is automatically assigned.
- Rear-end collisions typically assume the driver who collides with the vehicle in front of theirs is at fault. California driving laws state drivers are to maintain an appropriate distance from other vehicles and remain aware of slowing or stopping of the normal flow of traffic.
- Failure to yield to oncoming traffic is another scenario where the fault is automatically assigned. This can include drivers attempting to make left turns across the normal flow of traffic, or those merging into moving traffic from exit ramps or other lanes.
Police departments provide a report of their findings from accident scenes after conducting a thorough investigation. These reports are public information, so it should not be difficult for your attorney to obtain an accident report for your case. It contains a complete summary of the events leading up to the accident. Any witnesses interviewed for the report are also identified should your attorney require their testimony. In cases where police have issued a citation or traffic ticket to the at-fault party, that information is also noted on the report.
When At-Fault Parties Deny Liability
California statutes require at-fault parties to pay damages to victims. Some go to great lengths to avoid these consequences and will try to deny liability. There are several reasons at-fault parties might pull this tactic. Their insurance companies could be pressuring them to avoid taking responsibility in the hopes of avoiding a hefty payout to victims. Or they may be advised by their own legal counsel to remain silent to limit the number of damages should the case end up in a court of law.
When faced with this situation, our law firm will begin collecting evidence to prove fault. California law places the burden of proof on the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit. Once hired for your case, our legal team will begin compiling the necessary documents as proof for your case. Among the information we collect are:
- Accident reports from the investigating police department
- Medical reports and evaluations detailing the severity and permanency of injuries
- Current and former traffic citations and tickets for the at-fault driver
- Photographic and video evidence of the crash scene and damage to all vehicles involved
- Eyewitness statements to corroborate fault
- Cellphone records in cases where distracted driving is suspected
- Claims from insurance adjusters and other related documentation
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Motor Vehicle Accidents in Orange County?
The California Code of Civil Procedure § 335.1 places a two-year statute of limitations on automobile accidents. That means victims have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for cases that involve injuries or wrongful death caused by someone else’s negligence. The statute is extended to three years for crashes resulting in property damage. Motor vehicle accidents where a government entity is an at-fault party have an even shorter statute of limitations at six months.
Claimants who miss the filing deadlines are barred from ever seeking court intervention in their cases. It is imperative for victims to immediately contact the best accident lawyers to handle their case. Waiting can prove a costly mistake. Our team of experienced personal injury attorneys will promptly assess your case and take immediate action to ensure all filing deadlines are met. Protecting your legal rights is our number one priority.
Stages of a Car Accident Lawsuit
If you and your legal team determine a lawsuit is warranted, there are several steps involved in the process. The first is to collect all the required evidence to prove your case. We discussed this in detail earlier in this article. The remaining steps are as follows:
- Our team will prepare the petition for the court, outlining your complaint against the at-fault party and your intent to sue for damages.
- A summons, which notifies the defendant of your intent to sue them, is prepared. It must be delivered by the local sheriff’s office, a special process server, or via certified mail.
- Defendants have 30 days to file a response with the court.
- The court will issue a date for a trial.
Our legal team will work with you to prepare you for court proceedings. Victims who plan to testify can practice their testimony to ensure they are ready to accurately share their side of the story. Our team also provides tips on dealing with cross-examination.
During the court hearing, both parties can present evidence to the judge (or jury if appointed). Witnesses and expert testimony are part of the process when appropriate. After both sides have presented their cases, the judge or jury will issue a ruling. This will include the number of damages victims are awarded if the court rules in their favor.
What Are the Chances of Reaching a Settlement?
It is likely we can reach a settlement before your case ends up in court. About 90 percent of personal injury lawsuits in the U.S. are settled out of court. It is in the best interest of both parties to settle. Victims can avoid the time, cost, and mental anguish of reliving the accident and their injuries. Defendants get the benefit of not having the facts surrounding the case publicly disclosed. Most settlements are confidential. Court hearings are public and, depending on the severity of the accident, could be covered by the media.
When our legal team pursues a settlement, the process is like preparing for a court case. We collect all relevant evidence, determine a fair compensation request, and present our findings to the at-fault party. It is not unusual to receive a counteroffer from the at-fault party’s legal representatives. If that happens, do not accept it without first consulting with your legal team. Counteroffers often seek to significantly reduce the damages at-fault parties pay. We will make sure your rights are protected and you receive fair compensation for your injuries.
If the at-fault party refuses to negotiate or makes a low-ball offer to settle, we can proceed with the lawsuit. Even if a case makes it to the courts, a settlement is still possible if one is reached before a verdict is issued.
Rely on the Best Accident Lawyers in Orange County
Chudleigh Law provides an aggressive approach to motor vehicle accident claims. As a top-rated Orange County personal injury law firm, we pursue full and fair compensation for victims. Accidents happen, but that does not mean victims have to suffer financial hardship. Contact us today to schedule your no-obligation consultation so you can take the first step toward protecting your rights and recovering damages.