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Hiring a Car Accident Attorney in California

You may have many questions when you are involved in a car wreck, we are here to help! We have compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions by car accident victims in the state of California.

How Common Are Car Accidents in California?

Car accidents in California are slightly more common than the national average, with approximately 3 accidents occurring per 1,000 people in the state.

A few of the most common causes of car accidents in California are speeding, reckless driving, and distracted driving.

How Much Do Car Accident Lawyers Charge in California?

Most auto accident lawyers charge on a contingency fee basis, although some may charge an hourly rate instead. Hourly rates vary greatly depending on experience, case success, and other factors, and may range from $60 to $200/hour or more.

Lawyers who work on contingency won’t require you to pay any upfront fees or costs to your legal team unless your case reaches a settlement offer or verdict.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident in California?

You are not required to have an auto accident attorney in California when filing a claim or lawsuit, but it is highly recommended if you do not have legal experience.

Hiring a personal injury attorney can make the process much smoother and you will be more likely to earn a settlement before needing to go to court.

How Much Is the Average Accident Settlement in California?

The average car accident settlement in California is $21,000, but this number can be much higher or lower and depends on several factors.

Factors that affect settlement amounts include the extent of damages and injuries and whether the claimant was partially at fault in the accident.

How Long Does a Car Accident Settlement Take in California?

Depending on the complexity of the case, it can take as little as several weeks to settle a claim or as long as several years.

Every car accident case is different, and the length of time it takes to settle will depend on many factors.

A car accident can leave you reeling both physically and mentally, possibly with severe injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, or even grief from the loss of a loved one.

On top of the physical and emotional distress you may be feeling after an accident, you could also be facing high medical bills, extensive property damage, and loss of income or benefits.

By working with a top California car accident lawyer, you can focus on healing from your accident while your attorney works hard to secure you a fair settlement and maximum compensation.

Ready to locate an experienced California car accident attorney in your area? Contact LegalFinders today.

California Car Accident Lawyers

Who Needs a California Car Accident Lawyer?

If you have recently been in an automobile accident in California, you may be wondering what your legal options are and whether you need to hire an attorney.

The short answer is that not everyone needs an attorney after a car accident, but it can be extremely beneficial to have one — especially in certain situations.

You may need a California car accident lawyer if:

  • You have been injured in an accident
  • You have lost a loved one or family member in an accident
  • You have been in an accident and the at-fault driver had no insurance
  • You have been in an accident with a dispute over fault
  • You have been in an accident and are unsure what to do next

 

California Car Accident Statistics

According to recent data from the California Highway Patrol, there are nearly 200,000 auto accidents in California every year that result in injury.

Further, close to 4,000 people lose their lives in California car accidents each year.

Most Dangerous Highways in California

California is known for having many dangerous highways, including multi-lane interstates and coastal highways that wind along oceanic cliffsides.

Most dangerous highways in California include:

  • State Route 99 — Considered the most dangerous highway in the U.S., this road is also ranked as the darkest highway and the one with the second-highest number of drunk drivers.
  • Interstate 5 — This highway passes through multiple major cities, is often highly congested, and is subject to bad weather and poor visibility.
  • U.S. Route 199 — A scenic highway known for its beauty, drivers often fall subject to visual distractions on this road.
  • Interstate 15 — Considered one of the most dangerous highways in all of the U.S., the segment which passes through California is subject to poor weather conditions, fog, and heavy gusts of wind.
  • State Route 138 — This highway features crowded and overloaded traffic conditions regularly and also has numerous segments that are mountainous and winding.
  • Interstate 80 — This highway is often congested with semi-trucks and has areas with high speed limits, and is most dangerous during winter months.

Top California Areas for Speeding Citations

Speeding is one of the most common causes of car accidents in California, and tends to happen in the same areas on a regular basis.

Top areas for speeding citations in California include:

  • Los Angeles
  • San Francisco
  • Oakland
  • San Diego
  • Sacramento

 

Legal Options after a Car Crash in California

After a car crash in California, you have two legal options: to file a personal injury claim or to file a car accident lawsuit.

Personal Injury Claims

California is an at-fault insurance state, so a motorist’s first step after being injured in an auto accident is to file a claim with the at-fault party’s car insurance provider.

You can file a personal injury claim, also called a car accident claim, to pursue damages incurred from the car accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, and injuries from pain and suffering.

This process differs from that of no-fault insurance states, in which car accident victims must first file insurance claims with their own providers in order to pursue compensation.

Car Accident Lawsuits

While most car accident claims are settled outside of court, those that are not may end up in court under a personal injury lawsuit.

In these instances, your case will be brought before a judge and most likely a jury as well. Most lawyers and claimants prefer to avoid trials, even though they may potentially result in a much larger verdict.

 

Why Hire a Lawyer for a California Car Accident Claim?

It is not legally required that you hire a lawyer when filing a car accident claim, but there are a few reasons why you may want to do so.

Reasons to hire a lawyer for a California car accident claim include:

  • If the accident you were in was very serious or your case is complex, a lawyer can handle the difficult aspects for you
  • If you have no legal experience or knowledge, you may quickly become overwhelmed trying to represent yourself
  • If the accident you were in involved an uninsured motorist
  • If your accident involved the loss of a loved one, and you think you may have a case for wrongful death
  • If you want to ensure you receive the highest settlement amount possible
  • If you are hoping to avoid going to court through a lawsuit

If you are unsure whether you want to hire a lawyer for your car accident claim, you can always participate in a free case review to get a legal opinion.

 

What Does a California Car Accident Lawyer Do?

Lawyers have a range of skills and provide a great many benefits to your case. The following are a few of the actions that you can expect a car accident lawyer to take for you.

Assess Whether You Have a Valid Car Accident Case

Your relationship with a car accident attorney will usually begin with a free consultation to determine your case eligibility.

During this process, a case manager will listen to your story and determine whether you have a valid car accident case and enough evidence to build a strong claim or lawsuit.

Identify Possible Car Accident Causes

An attorney can look at your case closely and identify possible causes of your car accident, which can be important in determining fault.

Your lawyer will also have more knowledge about any vehicle malfunctions or environmental factors that may have played a role in your accident.

Determine Fault for the Accident

It is very important to determine which driver is at fault for a car accident, as this determination will affect the entire case.

In some instances there may be multiple drivers at fault, or at least with some level of fault, even if not the majority.

Work to Prove Negligence

Just as important as determining fault in a car accident is proving negligence. In order for a motorist to be found liable, they must also be found negligent.

Negligence means that a person was careless, thoughtless, or unreasonable in their actions and these actions resulted in the accident occurring.

Examine Your Injury Medical Records

Your medical treatment records are an important piece of evidence in your case, and your lawyer will look them over closely.

Common car accident injuries include:

The types of injuries that result from car accidents are not just physical — some of the most common injuries from car accidents involve severe emotional and mental distress.

File Your Car Accident Claim

A car accident attorney can file your claim for you, ensuring all paperwork is in order and that all deadlines are met.

If you miss deadlines and allow the statute of limitations to run out, you could potentially lose your ability to file a claim or lawsuit.

Negotiate a Car Accident Settlement

Your car accident attorney can handle all legal communications and negotiations on your behalf, including all settlement amount negotiations.

In the vast majority of cases, car accident claims reach a settlement before ever needing to go to court.

Defend Your Car Accident Lawsuit in Court

In the rare event that your car accident claim does not reach a settlement, you have the option to file a lawsuit.

Your lawyer will stand for you and represent you during all legal proceedings in court, with the goal of reaching a successful verdict.

What Types of Cases Do Car Accident Lawyers Handle?

Car accident lawyers handle a wide variety of cases, no matter how major or minor the accident and the resulting injuries or damages.

Types of car accident cases that lawyers handle include:

  • Hit-and-run accidents
  • Head-on collisions
  • Rear-end collisions
  • Side impact, or t-bone collisions
  • Accidents involving intoxicated or drunk drivers (DUIs)
  • Collisions with animals
  • Accidents caused by texting and driving or other cell phone use
  • Failure to yield or stop accidents
  • Accidents related to weather
  • Accidents resulting from vehicle malfunctions
  • Three-car accidents

The best way to determine your eligibility is with a free consultation at a respected law firm.

 

What to Do Before You Call a California Car Accident Attorney

You can seek an attorney at any point following a car accident, but there are a few actions you can take immediately before speaking with a lawyer.

1. Report the Car Accident

If you have been in an accident that involved serious injury or vehicle damage in California, you have up to 24 hours to report the accident to police.

Failure to report an accident to police is considered a criminal offense in California and can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and potentially even prison time.

2. Seek Medical Care

Seek any necessary medical attention immediately after the accident and in the days and weeks following the accident.

Be sure to keep detailed records of all your medical care related to the accident, as this can be important evidence in your claim or lawsuit later on.

3. Gather Evidence from the Scene of the Crash

There can be a lot going on in the direct aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, but try your best to gather as much information as you can while still at the scene of the accident.

Important evidence from the accident scene can include:

  • Photos of all vehicles and the surrounding environment
  • Videos
  • Notes of any road barriers, blocks, or signage
  • Notes of road conditions
  • Notes of weather conditions

4. Obtain Information from the At-Fault Driver

Make sure to collect information from the other driver, even if you have not yet determined who the at-fault driver is.

Items to collect from the at-fault driver include:

  • Driver’s license number
  • License plate number
  • Insurance information
  • Contact information

5. Collect Witness Statements

In addition to taking down your own eyewitness account, try to obtain witness statements from any individuals who saw the accident happen.

Remember, you can contact a car accident attorney at any point during this process, and it may be helpful to do so.

 

Top Benefits of California Car Accident Lawyers

Working with one of the best car accident attorneys in California can bring numerous benefits to your case.

Collision Damages Assessment

A car accident lawyer can have their own team do a thorough assessment of your collision damages to ensure that no damages are missed.

Making sure that all damages are included, no matter how small, gives you the best chance at seeking the highest settlement possible.

Access to Expert Witnesses

If necessary, car accident attorneys can call in witness experts to provide testimony during your case if it ends up in court.

Witness experts can include medical experts, road collision experts, and others who may have expertise in any accident-related areas.

Thorough Discovery Process

An experienced lawyer will leave no stone unturned during the discovery process for your case when it comes to expertly deposing witnesses and deep diving into the scene of the accident and corresponding police report.

Further, with an in-depth discovery process, a case is much more likely to be settled before needing to go to court.

Handling the Insurance Companies

Negotiating settlements involves a lot of back-and-forth communication between your lawyer and the lawyers and insurance adjusters for the at-fault party.

Without legal experience, these conversations may be overwhelming for someone without legal representation.

In-depth Knowledge of Car Accident Law

An experienced California car accident attorney will have extensive knowledge of all relevant California laws.

Relevant California car accident laws include:

  • Statute of limitations: In California, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years from the date of the accident.
  • Fault insurance laws: California is an at-fault state, meaning that motorists may file claims with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider in order to collect financial compensation.
  • California’s pure comparative negligence rule: This rule allows both drivers in an accident to seek compensation, even the at-fault driver, based on the percentage of fault they have for the accident.

Real-Time Knowledge about Your Case

A good car accident attorney will always keep you in the loop about everything regarding your case and make sure to give you frequent updates.

They will also make sure you understand your legal rights as well as the legal process surrounding your case.

Improved Car Accident Settlement Outcomes

People who work with personal injury lawyers have a higher chance, on average, of obtaining a settlement or verdict than those who do not.

Not only do you have improved chances of reaching a settlement, but working with a California car accident lawyer may also earn you a higher settlement as well.

 

Tips for Choosing a Quality California Car Accident Lawyer

Choosing the right car accident attorney is an important decision, as they will be with you every step of the way throughout the claims or lawsuit process.

Tips for choosing a quality California car accident lawyer include:

  • Obtain free consultations from multiple law firms before you decide on a lawyer who is a good fit for you.
  • Look at the track record for any firm that you are interested in, especially in regards to cases that are similar to yours.
  • Find a lawyer with years of experience in personal injury and who is locally and nationally reputable.
  • Meet with lawyers that you are interested in working with in person before making any final decisions.

 

Cost of California Car Accident Lawyers

While some California car accident lawyers do charge on an hourly basis, most work on what is called a contingency basis.

What this means is that clients are required to pay no upfront or hourly fees and only pay their lawyer if and when their case reaches a settlement or verdict.

 

Where Can You Find a California Car Accident Lawyer near You?

Experienced and reputable car accident lawyers can be found at personal injury law firms throughout the state of California, and many offer free case evaluations.

Browse the list below for experienced car accident lawyers in your area:

 

LegalFinders Can Connect You with Experienced Car Accident Law Firms

If you have recently experienced a car accident in California that left you physically injured or emotionally suffering, you may be eligible for a claim or lawsuit.

LegalFinders works with only top-rated and experienced car accident attorneys throughout the United States, and can help you find the right car accident attorney to handle your case.

Please do not hesitate when it comes to seeking the compensation that you and your family deserve. Contact us today for your free initial consultation.

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California Car Accident Lawyers Near You

We have a large network of attorneys throughout California, and particularly in the following cities:

Published: 30 September 2021

ARTICLE SOURCES

California Highway Patrol. “​2019 Annual Report of Fatal and Injury Motor Vehicle Traffic Collisions.” Retrieved from: https://www.chp.ca.gov/programs-services/services-information/switrs-internet-statewide-integrated-traffic-records-system/switrs-2019-report.

Cornell Law School. “Comparative negligence.” Retrieved from: https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/comparative_negligence.

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