The odds of being injured in an auto accident in Orange County are high because of how populated it is. According to the United States Census Bureau, Orange County has a population of over 3.1 million people, making it the 6th most populated county in the United States. As a result of this booming population, in the year 2017 alone there were 21,969 car accidents in Orange County that resulted in injuries according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
If you have recently been involved in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact an Orange County car accident attorney at the Crockett Law Group to learn about how we can help you maximize your settlement. Call (800) 900-9393 for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney in Orange County.
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What Is Considered a Wreck?
A “car accident,” also known as a traffic collision or motor vehicle accident, is where a driver unintentionally loses control of his vehicle and strikes another vehicle or a pedestrian.
A “car crash” is different according to some people because it implies that the driver could have avoided the accident by not doing something. For example, if the driver chose not to text, speed, or drive under the influence of alcohol, he could have avoided the car crash.
Regardless of whether you’ve been injured in a car accident or car crash, you’re entitled to compensation if the other person was at fault.
What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
We all hope we won’t get into a car accident, but the odds are that we will at some point. Therefore, you mine as well be prepared just in case. This is a checklist you should read, printout, and then secure somewhere in your car. You can refer back to it if, god forbid, you ever do get hit by a car.
Stay at the Scene of the Accident
You should never leave the scene of the accident until you’ve had a chance to notify the other party and exchange information. Failing to take this step violates California Vehicle Code Section 20002 and is a misdemeanor. Worse yet, if you injure someone in an accident and leave the scene, you could be subject to a hit and run felony pursuant to California Vehicle Code Section 20001.
Check for Injuries
Check yourself and passengers for injuries. If you think that you or a passenger might be injured, it’s best that you not move or else you could make the injury worse. Remain seated and call 911 instead. Let the operator know that you or a passenger have been injured in an accident, and then wait for medical personnel to arrive on the scene.
Make Sure You Are Safe
Move your car to the side of the road if it is driveable so you don’t risk getting hit again. But if you are disabled, at least put your emergency lights on to alert other drivers.
Call the Police
It’s always a good idea to call the police after a car accident, no matter how minor it may seem. For one thing, the police can help facilitate the exchange of information. But also, a traffic collision report will become useful during the insurance claim process. Keep in mind, though, that some cities won’t come to the accident scene unless an injury is reported.
Do Not Accept Fault
Limit your conversation about the accident with the other party. It’s natural to have a lot of adrenaline running through your body after an accident. You’re probably scared, anxious, and confused as to what just happened. It’s best if you limit your conversation with the other involved parties to identifying information. For example, you might say “I’m sorry” to the other driver after the accident; not because you were at fault, but because it’s an unfortunate situation. You can bet that what you just said will be used against you as an alleged admission.
Get Contact Information
Exchange information with everyone involved. You’ll want to obtain as much identifying information as possible about the other drivers and their vehicles.
- Information about the other driver(s): their name, address, and phone number; date of birth; and driver’s license number.
- Insurance information: the name of their insurance company and policy number.
- Information about the other vehicle(s): the make, model, year, and color of their car; license plate number; and VIN number.
Take Photographic Evidence
Take photos of every vehicle involved. This can be useful later on as evidence of property damage. It might also provide evidence of the mechanism for injury. For example, if your car has very little rear end damage but the other vehicle has severe intrusion damage into their engine compartment, the insurance company won’t be able to successfully claim you couldn’t have been injured in the accident.
Take photos of the placement of the vehicles. This may be useful to shed light on how the accident might have occurred.
Get Medical Attention
Even if you think you’re fine, go see a medical doctor immediately. You have adrenaline pumping through your veins masking your actual pain levels. If you do feel pain but figure it will go away on its own, go see a medical doctor immediately. Medical documentation is your evidence for a bodily injury claim down the road.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Every insurance policy requires that you promptly notify them of an auto accident. Failure to do so could result in a denial of coverage. However, you should be careful not to discuss the issue of fault or injuries until you’ve had a chance to consult with a car accident lawyer in Orange County, CA.
Talk With an Attorney
You don’t know what you don’t know. Contacting an accident attorney in Orange County will ensure you get the best advice possible as to how to proceed with your claim. You’re also more likely to receive a higher settlement award with an attorney than without one.
What Are the Most Common Injuries in Car Accidents?
There are some common injuries that occur regardless of the type of auto accident you’re involved in. Any injury you sustain will come from at least one of the three different kinds of impact that happen during a car crash.
The first impact is when your vehicle collides with someone or something. Your vehicle will absorb some of the impact, and so too will your body. The second impact is when your body collides with the interior compartment of your car. Your body might hit the steering wheel or your door, for example.
The third impact is with your own body. When your body stops moving from being jerked around, your internal organs are still in motion. Your brain, heart, lungs, and other organs may collide with your bones and other structures around them as they come to a stop.
According to the CDC, motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury in the US. Nearly every body part could potentially get injured, but these are some of the most common injuries we see from car accidents:
Soft Tissue Injuries
The most common soft tissue injuries are those that affect your ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Whiplash and back strain are probably the best examples of this. However, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and abrasions would also fall into this category.
Although there are several ways you could potentially sustain a burn injury in a car crash, airbag deployment is the leading cause.
Brain injuries can happen from either your head striking the interior of your car, or from your brain smacking against your skull. There are many different types of brain injury, the most common of which is a concussion. Make no mistake though, even a concussion can be extremely dangerous.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Next to a brain injury, a spinal cord injury is one of the most severe types of injuries you could sustain in a car accident. The spinal cord extends from the base of your skull down to the first level of your lumbar vertebra. The injuries you sustain depend on where in your spine your cord was damaged.
A lumbar level spinal cord injury may result in paralysis or weakness of the legs. A thoracic level spinal cord injury may result in not only paraplegia but also the inability to control your bladder and bowel function. A cervical level spinal cord injury is the most severe type because it may result in quadriplegia, sometimes referred to as quadriplegia, which is where all four limbs are affected.
What Is the Most Common Cause of Car Accidents in Orange County?
Orange County is ripe for auto accidents when you think about it. Orange County is home to some of the busiest freeways in the entire U.S., like the I-405 and the I-5. Orange County is also home to professional sports teams like the Los Angeles Angels, and theme parks like Disneyland in Anaheim, that attract large groups of people in one concentrated area, many of whom are tourists unfamiliar with where they’re going.
These crowded circumstances result in all sorts of auto accident types, such as:
- Head-on collisions
- Rear-end collisions
- Drunk driving
- Sideswipe collisions
- T-bone collisions
- Hit and runs
- Distracted driving
- Intersection accidents
- Texting while driving
- Freeway accidents
- Rollover accidents
- Parking lot accidents
- Uninsured motorists
There are so many causes for these types of car crashes in Orange County, but here are some of the top causes of collisions:
In one recent year, speeding accounted for 5,432 of car accident-related injuries in Orange County according to the OTS. It’s a simple fact that speeding is dangerous because it increases the risk of accidents. In California, it is illegal to drive faster than the posted speed limit, or “at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent” under the circumstances.
Talking on your phone and texting are usually the first things we think of when we hear the words “distracted driving.” However, essentially anything done behind the wheel other than driving that diverts your full attention from the road could be classified as distracted driving. For example, eating, applying makeup, or even messing with the radio could all be considered distractions.
Alcohol was involved in 1,955 of accidents in Orange County that resulted in an injury or death. Drivers have to use their eyes, hands, and feet to control their car, all of which is controlled by their brain. Because alcohol affects the brain, a car accident is more likely to occur. Alcohol negatively affects our vision, reaction time, concentration, comprehension, and coordination. Mothers Against Drunk Driving advocates for four important steps we can take to stop drunk driving:
- Support more high-visibility law enforcement
- Ignition interlocks for all convicted drivers
- Advanced vehicle technology
- public support
How Do I Dispute Car Accident Fault in California?
You have a right to dispute fault in a car accident, both with the officer who wrote the traffic collision report and with your insurance carrier. If you disagree with facts contained in the traffic collision report or find a mistake, you have the right to file a supplemental report. In fact, we recommend that you do so as quickly as possible. Hopefully, the officer just got a basic detail wrong, like a vehicle’s make or color.
However, the officer might have actually mischaracterized a statement made by you as a witness that affected the officer’s legal conclusion. In that case, write up your own account of what happened. Visit the police station responsible for creating the report and ask that they attach it to the report. This is referred to as a supplemental report. Although it won’t change the officer’s legal conclusion, at least it memorializes your position with respect to what actually happened.
Don’t fret too much though; the traffic collision report is inadmissible as evidence. Sure, it is persuasive in that it affects an insurance adjuster’s liability decision, but that can be disputed as well. In that case, it’s probably best that you contact an experienced accident lawyer in Orange County to help you navigate this difficult process. You can be sure that the insurance adjuster won’t change their liability decision easily.
How to Obtain an Accident Report in Orange County
You might be wondering how you even go about getting the accident report in the first place.
First, you’ll need to find out whether the report is even available. You were probably given an incident report number by the officer at the scene. You’ll need to provide this incident report number to the police station that wrote the report and ask them whether it’s ready. Keep in mind that it usually takes at least a few weeks before the report is available. Also, keep in mind that more populated cities like Anaheim are more likely to become backed up and thus take longer. Also be aware that if someone was arrested for a crime, like DUI, the report will take longer than usual to become available.
Second, you’ll want to submit a request. Once the report is ready, you can request a copy of it either in person or online. Depending on which city in Orange County the accident occurred in, like Anaheim, the report might even be posted online here.
Keep in mind that in order to request a copy of the traffic collision report, you’ll need to prove you’re one of the following people:
- The driver of a vehicle involved;
- A registered owner of a vehicle involved;
- A parent of a minor driver involved;
- A passenger involved so long as you’re listed on the report;
- An insurance adjuster for a party involved; or
- An attorney who represents one of the people above.
What Should You Not Say to an Insurance Adjuster?
What you should not say to an insurance adjuster depends on whose insurance company you’re speaking with.
If you receive a call from the other driver’s insurance company—and I’m sure you will—don’t speak with them. I can assure you that there is nothing good that can come from that conversation. You’re also not legally obligated to speak to them anyhow. The insurance adjuster will probably act like your friend and make it seem like an innocuous call. However, they will use whatever you say against you later on.
If by some chance you end up on the phone with an adjuster and they ask for a recorded statement, say no. If they ask for medical authorization, say no. If they try to make you a settlement offer, decline it. If they try to friend you on social media, decline their request, and change your privacy settings.
If you receive a call from your own insurance company, you should not say any of the following:
Don’t speculate about what happened, just say the facts. If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. Otherwise, the insurance adjuster might try to claim later on that you changed your story.
Saying sorry could negatively affect the insurance adjuster’s apportionment of fault. Sometimes we say “sorry” out of habit or embarrassment, but don’t do it. It can be misconstrued.
The insurance adjuster might introduce themselves and ask how you’re doing, to which you reply: “I’m fine.” This, too, can be misconstrued and negatively affect a future bodily injury claim.
“I think I Might See a Doctor”
Don’t discuss the details of your injuries with the insurance adjuster. It’s okay to let them know you’re injured and leave it at that.
Insurance only covers accidents, not intentional acts. Discussing intent is speculative anyhow because it refers to the state of mind of the defendant.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
If you feel comfortable dealing with the insurance company on your own, by all means. However, we’ve found that a majority of our clients don’t want to be bothered with all the stress that accompanies property damage and bodily injury claims. So, for the sake of convenience alone, it makes sense for most people to hire a lawyer after a car accident near Orange County.
Another reason to hire a lawyer after a car accident is if fault might be disputed. An accident that involves disputed liability is a difficult claim to make. It requires the expertise and tenacity of an aggressive attorney to overcome the challenges that come along with it.
Even if fault is not an issue, it makes sense to hire a lawyer after a car accident because you won’t have any bite to your bark without one. The insurance company knows you’ll have no real recourse if they deny your demand for settlement and make a lowball offer instead. The reason insurance adjusters make a higher settlement offer to someone who is attorney-represented than to someone who is not is because there is a greater risk their insured could be sued if they don’t settle the claim. Put simply, you don’t have any leverage without an attorney fighting by your side.
How Long Do Auto Settlements Take?
This is easily one of the most common questions I field from clients. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. It depends on so many factors, but here some:
The Severity of Injuries and Treatment Needed
The value of your claim will depend in part on the severity of your injuries and the extent of your medical treatment. We want to obtain the most compensation for you as possible. So if you require medical treatment for 6 months, we should wait that long before making a demand to the insurance company. Similarly, if you require medical treatment for 12 months, we should wait that long too.
The Defendants Insurance
Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to wait for your medical treatment to wrap up before making a demand because the value of your claim already exceeds the at-fault party’s policy limits. In California, all drivers are required to carry bodily injury liability coverage with a minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. A car accident settlement will probably happen faster against a driver who is only insured with minimum liability coverage.
If the Claim Goes to Court
This is largely dependent on who the defendant is insured with. Some insurance companies are known to delay, deny, and defend all the way into litigation, whereas others are more interested in settling claims out of court.
The Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for car accident injuries in California is generally two years from the date of the accident. This means that you have to either settle your injury claim or file suit within two years from the date of the accident in order to preserve your claim. Keep in mind that the statute could be shorter depending on who the defendant is, like a public entity. It’s important that you hire an experienced car accident attorney near Orange County to ensure your injury claim is preserved.
How Much Compensation Can You Get for a Car Accident in Orange County?
This is the million-dollar question, isn’t it? No two claims are alike, though. The amount of compensation you receive from a car accident will depend on the following factors:
This refers to the cost of your past, present, and future medical expenses, and is commonly referred to as economic damages. As you can imagine, someone who has $2,000 in medical bills will probably receive a smaller settlement than someone who has $200,000 in medical bills.
This refers to your past and future loss of earnings. These are also considered a part of your economic damages and should be factored into your settlement.
Pain and Suffering
Your pain, suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment is largely subjective. It depends on who you are and what your personal story is. Keeping a personal journal is useful when trying to prove the value of your pain and suffering claim. Photographs and statements from friends and family can also be useful.
The Severity of Your Injuries
The severity of your injuries will impact the value of your pain and suffering claim more than anything else. A person with a sprained back will probably receive less money than someone with a fractured leg, and a person with a fractured leg will probably receive less money than someone with a fractured leg that undergoes surgery.
This refers to the location where the accident occurred. If you have to try your case, certain venues tend to have higher settlement verdicts than others. For example, settlement verdicts tend to be higher on average in Orange County than in San Bernardino County.
Orange County Car Accident Statistics
We were particularly interested to know which city in Orange County has the most car accidents. It turns out that Anaheim does, which isn’t surprising. Anaheim also happens to have the largest population in Orange County so it makes sense that they would have the most car accidents.
Schedule a Free Case Review With An Orange County Car Accident Attorney
As Orange County car accident attorneys, we regularly represent the interests of victims who have been treated unfairly by an insurance company. Crockett Law Group is committed to handling your injury claim from start to finish and will fight to make sure that you receive the money you deserve. If you’ve been injured as a result of a car crash, contact Crockett Law Group to speak with a car accident attorney at (800) 900-9393.