Most of us don’t think twice about hopping in a car. Whether we use a vehicle to get to work, to school, or for another reason, driving (or riding in) a car is a part of life for most Californians. What many of us don’t realize, however, is just how dangerous motor vehicles can truly be.
In 2017 alone, 277,160 people were injured and an additional 3,904 people were killed in car accidents in California. These numbers are scary – and show just how common motor vehicle accidents are in our state.
If you have been hurt in an automobile accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your losses – including medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and more. Through a personal injury claim, you can recover money from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
The Kuvara Law Firm represents people who have been injured in all types of accidents, from car crashes to motorcycle accidents to slip and falls. Our legal team handles all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you’ll never pay a fee unless we recover money for you. For each case, we fight to make sure that our personal injury clients get fair compensation for their injuries.
Common Types of Car Accidents
As experienced personal injury lawyers, we represent accident victims who have been hurt in all types of collisions. Most frequently, we help people who have been hurt in:
- Rear end crashes
- T-bone accidents
- Sideswipe wrecks
- Head-on collisions
- Hit and run accidents
- Drowsy driving crashes
- Drunk driving accidents
- Distracted driving collisions
- Rollover accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the vast majority (94%) of car accidents are caused by driver error. Common types of driver error include:
- Failure to yield
- Running a red light or stop sign
- Texting while driving (distracted drivers)
- Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs
- Not looking before turning, changing lanes, or pulling out
- Drowsy driving
- Not paying full attention while behind the wheel (careless drivers)
These types of mistakes can lead to serious or even fatal injuries. Our legal team has represented accident victims who have suffered a range of injuries in Marin County vehicle collisions, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Broken bones or fractures
- Spinal cord injury
- Sprains and strains
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal injuries
We also advocate on behalf of family members who have lost a loved one in a fatal car accident. In these cases, our law office may file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for the survivors’ losses, such as funeral expenses and loss of consortium.
Each of our cases begins with a free initial consultation, where we will listen to your story and offer you legal advice on your options. If you choose to hire our law firm, we will get to work right away – investigating the facts of the case, identifying responsible parties, and researching California personal injury law.
From there, we will draft a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This letter will set out the facts of the case, the legal reason why their insured is responsible, and make a demand for damages. This typically begins the negotiation process.
Most personal injury claims are settled without going to trial. Because insurance companies are in business to make a profit, however, there are situations where they refuse to offer a fair settlement. Whenever necessary, our personal injury attorneys will take your case to trial to get you the money that you deserve for your injuries.
Can I File a Claim for My Marin County Car Accident?
If you are an accident victim, then you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver and their insurance company. These claims are based on a theory of negligence, which is the failure to use the level of care that a reasonable person would in a similar situation.
Negligence has four elements:
- Duty: the at-fault driver (defendant) owed the injury victim (plaintiff) a duty of care;
- Breach: the defendant breached, or violated, that duty in some way;
- Causation: this violation was the proximate cause of the accident; and
- Damages: the plaintiff suffered losses as a result.
To win a personal injury case, the plaintiff will need to prove each of these four elements. This can be done in a number of ways, depending on the facts of the situation.
For example, Mary is struck by a car that ran a red light. Her personal injury attorney may introduce evidence to show that the other driver breached his duty of care to drive safely and follow traffic laws and that this breach caused the accident. Because Mary suffered damages (losses) in the accident, she is entitled to compensation for her injuries.
In a personal injury case, there are three types of damages that may be available: economic, non-economic, and punitive. Generally, economic and non-economic damages are considered compensatory, as they are meant to compensate an injury victim for their losses. By contrast, punitive damages are designed to penalize a wrongdoer and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.
Economic damages compensate an individual for their financial losses. They may include lost wages, property damage, medical bills, future medical treatment, and reduced earning capacity. These damages are often proved by introducing evidence such as bills, pay stubs, and invoices.
Non-economic damages compensate an accident victim for intangible losses. Examples of non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, scarring, disfigurement, and emotional distress. They can be more difficult to prove, but a skilled Marin County car accident attorney can gather evidence and work with expert witnesses to develop a number for each type of damages.
Punitive damages are reserved for cases where the defendant acted intentionally or recklessly. For this reason, they are often not awarded in personal injury cases, which are typically based on a theory of negligence. However, there are situations – such as accidents caused by drunk drivers – where punitive damages may be appropriate.
When Should I Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer After a Car Accident?
In California, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is 2 years. This means that, with a few exceptions, you must file a lawsuit within 2 years of the date of the accident. If you don’t, then your claim will likely be barred by law.
For this reason, you should schedule a free consultation with a Marin County car accident attorney as soon as possible after your collision. Your lawyer will help you through the process, advocate for your rights – and make sure that all legal paperwork is filed before the statute of limitations expires.
What Is the Value of My Car Accident Case?
The value of your car accident claim will depend on a number of factors, including the nature and severity of your injury, the amount of car insurance the at-fault party has, and whether liability is clear. For example, a person who suffers a permanent disability and will require a lifetime of medical care will typically be entitled to more money than a person who needs physical therapy for a few months to fully recover.
Because each case is unique, the best way to learn the value of your personal injury case is to consult with a lawyer who has significant experience handling accident claims like yours. During a free consultation, they can give you a ballpark estimate of the value of your insurance claim, and advise you about your legal rights and options.
Is It Worth It to Hire a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?
For most car accidents, it is a good idea to have legal representation. Overall, studies show that people with an attorney recover far more compensation than people who represent themselves. Insurance companies make money by denying or minimizing legitimate claims, so it makes sense to have an advocate who can fight for your rights.
If you were in a truly minor car accident with minimal property damage and no injuries, then it may be OK to handle the insurance claim on your own. Otherwise, you should reach out to a Marin County car accident lawyer to help you get the biggest possible recovery.
Help for Injury Victims Is Just a Phone Call Away
Being in a motor vehicle accident can be incredibly traumatic. If you have been injured in any type of accident, you may not know how to achieve justice. Our team of personal injury lawyers is here to help.
Based in San Rafael, the Kuvara Law Firm represents accident victims throughout Northern California. We aggressively advocate for each of our clients, working hard to get them the maximum compensation for their injuries. To schedule a consultation with a Marin County car accident lawyer, call our law offices today at 408-446-5879 or fill out our online contact form.