Motor vehicle accidents continue to rank among the top causes of accidental deaths and injuries throughout the United States. Every driver needs to understand the risks of the road and the importance of adhering to the traffic laws and posted signals at all times. When drivers fail in this duty of care, they put themselves and others at grave risk and become liable for the victim’s damages.
If you or a loved one have recently experienced a vehicle accident of any kind, you may wonder whether you have grounds for legal action against the driver responsible for causing the accident. Typically, the first step in recovering from an accident is filing an insurance claim, either against the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy in states that enforce fault-based rules for car accidents or against your own auto insurance policy in states with no-fault rules for car accidents. However, there is no guarantee that an insurance claim will fully cover your damages from a severe accident. Additionally, if you live in a fault state and the at-fault driver does not have auto insurance, you cannot rely on an insurance settlement to cover your losses. In these situations, you should consult an attorney to determine the best way to take direct legal action against the driver responsible for causing your accident.
At Easton & Easton, our firm provides comprehensive legal guidance to motor vehicle accident victims. These accidents happen for many different reasons, and fault isn’t always immediately clear. If you believe another party is to blame for your recent car accident, we can help you hold them accountable and work with you toward obtaining a fair settlement for your losses.
Our experience in handling personal injury law on behalf of our clients has shown us that a few situations are more likely to cause motor vehicle accidents than others. We’ve identified five types of car accidents that are likely to lead to civil claims and have provided brief explanations of what you can expect after experiencing these types of accidents. Remember that after experiencing any type of car accident your priority should be your health and wellbeing. Seek medical treatment immediately before contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer to help you determine your best available legal options for recovering your damages.
One: Distracted Driving Accidents
The most commonly cited cause of vehicle accidents throughout the US is distracted driving. All drivers must pay attention to the road while operating their vehicles and refrain from any activities that diminish their ability to control their vehicle safely. Distracted driving can take many forms, including smoking, eating while driving, talking with passengers, and more, but the most commonly identified form of distracted driving in the US is cell phone use.
Many states, including California, have enacted strict laws to limit distracted driving accidents. These laws aim at cell phone use as it continues to be the leading form of distracted driving throughout the nation. In California, it is illegal for any driver to use a cell phone while driving unless they use a hands-free attachment, such as a speakerphone or Bluetooth earpiece. Violating this law can lead to fines and other criminal penalties, and if you cause an accident due to any type of distracted driving, you will be liable for any damages your actions caused to other drivers.
Legal Options After a Distracted Driving Accident
If you or a loved one recently experienced a motor vehicle accident that you believe occurred because the other driver was distracted, you have grounds to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver to seek compensation for your losses. If you are unsure how to prove the other driver was distracted when they caused the accident, an experienced attorney can provide valuable guidance and help you determine the best way to prove liability for your damages.
Proving fault in a distracted driving claim typically involves securing material evidence, eyewitness statements, and the police report of the accident. Your attorney can potentially help you secure vehicle computer data, traffic camera footage, or even the other driver’s cell phone records to prove they were using their phone illegally or were otherwise distracted when they caused the accident. For example, if the other driver was looking at their phone and ran a red light, hitting your vehicle, the intersection camera may have captured footage that shows them looking at their phone instead of the road.
Two: DUI Accidents
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is illegal and extremely dangerous for both the intoxicated driver and all others around them. In California, it is illegal to drive with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08% or higher or while under the influence of many different types of drugs. This includes both illicit drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine as well as prescription drugs that diminish driving ability, such as anti-anxiety drugs and barbiturates.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair special awareness, slow down reaction time, and impair hand-eye coordination. Intoxicated drivers are also more easily distracted than sober drivers. Any driver who causes an accident from DUI is liable for victims’ civil damages and will face criminal prosecution as well.
Recovering from DUI Accident Injuries
If you suffered injuries and economic losses because of an intoxicated driver, you have the right to take legal action against them to recover your damages. In California, an auto insurance claim is your first step toward recovery after most types of accidents. You would draft a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s auto insurance carrier explaining the full scope of your damages and providing evidence their policyholder caused your accident. However, if an insurance claim cannot fully cover your losses, an experienced attorney can help you pursue further legal action against the DUI driver.
Filing a personal injury claim against a DUI driver can yield various types of compensation. You can claim medical expenses, vehicle repair costs, and lost income if your injuries prevent you from working. It’s also possible to secure noneconomic damages for your pain and suffering. DUI accidents are likely to happen at high speeds and cause major damage, so you could be facing tremendous losses after a DUI accident. Your attorney can help you maximize your recovery through a personal injury claim when auto insurance is not enough to fully cover your damages. Additionally, the at-fault driver will face criminal prosecution for DUI, and the judge overseeing their criminal case could award you restitution as part of the at-fault driver’s sentencing.
Three: Accidents Caused by Speeding and Other Moving Violations
There are countless traffic signals and signs all over the roads of the US. These traffic indicators exist to help drivers anticipate the actions of other drivers. There are two main components to safe driving: physical ability to operate the vehicle safely and the ability to anticipate how other drivers around you will move based on nearby signs and signals. Unfortunately, some drivers do not heed posted traffic signs and commit moving violations. Speeding, failure to stop at red lights and stop signs, turning without using a turn signal, or improperly changing lanes are just a few examples of moving violations that can potentially cause devastating accidents.
Proving fault for an accident caused by another driver’s moving violation is often difficult. It’s a good idea to consult an experienced attorney after experiencing this type of accident. For example, if you had the right-of-way through an intersection and another driver approaching the intersection from either side fails to stop and hits your car, you may wonder how you would prove their fault for the accident. Your attorney can help you obtain vehicle computer data, cell phone records, or available traffic camera footage to establish the other driver’s liability for your damages.
How to Recover Compensation for Moving Violation Accident Damages
If another driver injured you because they committed a moving violation, a personal injury attorney is the best asset you can have as you work toward recovery. Your attorney can help you gather the evidence you will need to prove the driver responsible for causing your accident committed a moving violation that directly resulted in your damages.
Experienced personal injury attorneys have many tactics they can employ to help their clients establish liability for their moving violation accident injuries. It’s possible to submit subpoenas for traffic camera data, vehicle computer data, cell phone records, and more. Your attorney can also help you identify any eyewitnesses who saw the accident occur. In some cases, your attorney may need to consult with expert witnesses like engineers or accident reconstruction experts to help them prove fault for a moving violation accident.
Four: Accidents Involving Trucks and Large Commercial Vehicles
Tractor-trailers, delivery trucks, and many other commercial vehicles are essential components of the American economy. These vehicles are also some of the largest on US roads, and when they cause accidents, the damage can be astronomical. The average tractor-trailer, when fully loaded with cargo, stands about 13 feet off the ground and can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds, making it significantly larger than even the largest passenger vehicles. Truck accidents can happen due to driver inattention, driver inexperience, mechanical problems, and simple negligence.
Trucks can cause severe accidents when truck drivers do not take adequate rest breaks between shifts, when they operate their vehicle at dangerous speeds, or when they take sharp turns too fast. Large trucks have higher centers of gravity than smaller passenger vehicles and are therefore vulnerable to tip-over and rollover accidents. When a large truck crashes to its side, rolls over, or when the trailer swings out in a jackknife, the truck can easily damage multiple nearby vehicles.
Can I Take Legal Action for a Commercial Vehicle Accident?
If you or a loved one experienced damages in a commercial truck accident of any kind, you have just as much right to take legal action as you would after suffering damages from an accident caused by a private driver. However, your damages are likely to be much greater from a truck accident than an accident with another passenger vehicle. Additionally, liability is often a murky issue in commercial truck accident cases due to the legal statute of “vicarious liability,” which states that employers can absorb liability for the actions of their employees in certain situations.
Your attorney can help you determine which party or parties bear liability for your damages from a truck accident. Depending on how the accident occurred, fault may rest solely on the driver or on the driver’s employer as well. If failure to conduct proper truck maintenance caused the crash, the party charged with maintaining the truck could absorb liability as well. Another complicating factor in many truck accident claims is the fact that many commercial truck accidents cause damage to multiple vehicles, and chain reaction-type accidents can make it difficult for victims to determine who is responsible for their losses.
An experienced attorney will be invaluable as you work toward your recovery from a truck accident. They can help you determine which parties are responsible for your losses and gather the evidence you will need to prove the full extent of your losses. Your attorney can help you examine trucking industry regulations to determine whether fault rests with the truck driver’s employer. Ultimately, truck accident claims are some of the most inherently complex vehicle accident claims one can face, and proper legal representation is crucial for obtaining reasonable compensation after experiencing this type of accident.
Five: Motorcycle Accidents
Many people in California enjoy riding motorcycles. They are smaller, lighter, and more maneuverable than most passenger vehicles, but they afford virtually no physical protection to their riders and passengers when accidents occur. Motorcycles are also smaller and harder to see than passenger vehicles. All motorcyclists must remember that they have the same rights and responsibilities as all other drivers. This includes adhering to posted traffic signals, driving at reasonable speeds within posted speed limits, signaling for turns and lane changes, and refraining from driving under the influence.
Unfortunately, when accidents happen involving motorcycles and large passenger cars, the motorcycle is almost always more seriously injured. Motorcyclists can suffer not only injuries from crash impact forces but also the secondary impact of hitting the ground. Motorcycle accidents have a much higher fatality rate and are more likely to cause catastrophic injuries than accidents involving standard passenger vehicles.
Legal Options for Recovering from a Motorcycle Accident
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you can pursue compensation for your losses the same way you would after any other vehicle accident. However, if you were riding a motorcycle when your accident occurred, your damages are likely to be far more substantial than damages you would experience while inside an enclosed passenger vehicle. Motorcycles offer no protection to riders, and even when riders wear appropriate safety helmets, they can still suffer devastating injuries, many of which prove fatal.
Whether you suffered injuries in an accident while riding your motorcycle or if you believe a motorcyclist is to blame for your recent accident, it’s vital to work with an attorney who is experienced in handling motorcycle accident claims. While similar to passenger vehicle accident claims in many ways, there are some factors that are unique to motorcycle accidents, and it’s vital to have legal representation capable of addressing these variables.
Why Do I Need Legal Representation After a Vehicle Accident?
There are many ways that vehicle accidents occur. Sometimes they are not the direct consequences of any driver’s actions but rather unexpected circumstances beyond anyone’s control, such as bad weather, poor road conditions, or unexpected mechanical failures. If you are unsure whether another party bears responsibility for your recent accident, it’s essential to consult an attorney as soon as possible to determine your best available legal options.
While it is technically possible to pursue recovery for your losses after a vehicle accident on your own, this is a tremendously difficult process when you are recovering from severe injuries or helping a loved one recover. Many vehicle accident victims experience a chain reaction of financial problems following their accidents. Severe injuries will lead to expensive medical treatment and prevent the victim from working while they recover. This, in turn, can make it difficult for the victim and their family to manage everyday expenses.
When a vehicle accident victim attempts to recover compensation for their losses on their own, they face several significant risks. First, they risk settling for far less than they actually deserve. They also face a risk of encountering issues with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or they may not know how to secure the evidence they need to prove another driver’s liability for their damages. It’s also possible that they could obtain a settlement and release the at-fault driver from liability for the accident only to later discover additional damages they should have claimed previously.
Hiring an experienced vehicle accident attorney is the best way to prevent these issues. Additionally, you will be able to focus on your recovery with peace of mind knowing that your legal affairs are in capable hands.
What to Expect from Your Attorney
When you choose an experienced and reliable personal injury attorney to represent you after a motor vehicle accident, they can provide several valuable services that will help you approach the recovery process with greater confidence and increase the chances of maximizing the compensation you receive from the party or parties responsible for the accident.
Your personal injury attorney will likely begin handling your case by helping you navigate your insurance claim. Dealing with an insurance company is rarely a pleasant or easy experience, as most insurance companies will look for any justification they can find to reduce or deny a claim. Having an attorney draft a demand letter for coverage on your behalf will automatically strengthen your claim and reduce the chance of the insurance company unfairly pushing back against your claim. If you successfully obtain an insurance settlement, but it is not enough to fully cover your losses, your attorney can then assist you in pursuing further legal action against the driver responsible for your accident through a personal injury claim.
The vast majority of personal injury claims settle outside of court. Settlement offers an expedient resolution to a personal injury claim. Both parties can save money on legal fees compared to the cost of litigation. The plaintiff receives compensation much faster, and the defendant is able to put the situation behind them more quickly when both parties are agreeable to settlement negotiations. However, there is always the possibility that the defendant will refuse to assume responsibility for an accident, or they may argue that the plaintiff’s claim for compensation is unreasonable. In this situation, it is essential to have an attorney who is capable of representing you in court.
Recovering from Your Accident With Confidence
Working with the right personal injury attorney can make a tremendous difference in your recovery experience after a motor vehicle accident of any kind. No matter how your accident happened, an experienced attorney can provide the guidance and professional legal services you need to navigate your recovery process with confidence.
The attorneys at Easton & Easton believe in providing client-focused legal counsel in every case we handle. We understand the devastating losses that vehicle accidents can cause and the fact that many accident victims experience the effects of these incidents for years to come. Our firm can help you secure compensation for your immediate and future medical expenses, lost income and lost earning capacity, property damage, and pain and suffering through a civil claim against the driver responsible for your accident.
Our firm has years of experience handling the most complex vehicle accident claims in Orange County. Even if you are unsure who is at fault for your recent accident or unclear as to the full extent of your claimable damages, we can help. The attorneys at Easton & Easton will assist you in exploring every available channel of compensation after an accident. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced team of personal injury attorneys and find out how our firm can empower your recovery after an accident.