Bakersfield is home to an entire genre of country music stars spearheaded by Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. Tourists and locals flock here to see places like the Crystal Palace, attend events like the Hotrod Reunion, and to enjoy river rafting and other outdoor activities near Bakersville.
Whether on Interstate 5, the network of state highways that run through and around Bakersfield, or our sometimes busy city streets, however, drivers can let their attention wane. Tourists trying to navigate unfamiliar roads can make mistakes. Some indulge too heavily on local wines and microbrews, or more mainstream alcoholic beverages. That’s when tragedies occur.
Some Bakersfield car accident injuries result in life-long disabilities, or in the worst cases, death. While there is nothing that can bring back a loved one who was killed in an accident, there is a legal process through which those who have been injured or lost loved ones in accidents, due to the careless or reckless actions of someone else, can recover damages from their injury and/or loss with the aid of a Bakersfield car accident lawyer.
Many types of car accidents occur in Bakersfield, including:
Head-on collisions: Head-on collisions involve the front of one vehicle making contact with the front of another vehicle. While this type of collision is relatively rare, it is overrepresented in fatality statistics. Head-on collisions generally occur when a vehicle is driving in an opposing traffic lane or as the result of a previous accident that forces one vehicle into oncoming traffic.
Broadside collisions: Also known as T-bone or side-impact collisions, broadsides occur when the front of one vehicle makes contact with the side of another vehicle. Broadside collisions generally occur in intersections, when one vehicle has failed to yield the right-of-way. These accidents can also occur as one vehicle is exiting a private driveway or parking lot, or if a vehicle attempts to make a U-turn without ensuring that the traffic lane is clear. Because the doors of vehicles do not offer the same protective features as do the fronts and rears, the occupants sitting on the side of the vehicle that is struck often suffer severe injuries, particularly when there is a large discrepancy in the sizes of the vehicles that collide.
Rear-end accidents: Rear-end accidents involve the front of one vehicle colliding with the rear of another vehicle. Common reasons for rear-end accidents include following too closely (tailgating) and speeding. While often regarded as “minor fender-benders,” rear-end accidents can cause severe injuries and even death.
Sideswipe accidents: Sideswipe accidents occur when the side of one vehicle makes contact with the side of another vehicle. This type of accident is often the result of one vehicle attempting to overtake another, and the front driver failing to ensure that his or her vehicle has safely passed the other before attempting to re-enter the lane of travel. Another common cause of this type of accident is a driver attempting to change lanes without ensuring that the travel lane is clear.
Single-car collisions: Single car collisions may only involve one vehicle, but they can also involve bicycles or pedestrians. This type of accident can feature a rollover, either off of the roadway or when the vehicle makes contact with another object.
Chain-reaction crashes: Chain-reaction crashes generally occur when the impact of a collision between two vehicles results in one of the vehicles colliding with a third vehicle. Sometimes, this results in other cars colliding with the wreckage. If several cars are involved, it is referred to as a multi-car pileup. Pileups frequently occur in inclement weather and on interstates, where increased speeds and wet or icy surfaces make it harder for drivers to stop for hazards, such as previous accidents.
Regardless of your type of car accident the skilled legal professionals at Gomez Trial Attorneys can walk you through the claim process and get you the compensation you need. Don’t hesitate to speak to a skilled Bakersfield car accident lawyer today, call us at(619) 237-3490or use our online contact form to schedule a time to discuss your case.
Causes of Bakersfield Car Accidents
The vast majority of car accidents are the result of human error. Human error is a broad term referring to errors that a driver makes that cause an accident to occur. Examples of common human errors that result in car accidents include:
Drunk driving: Around 200 accidents each year in Bakersfield involve alcohol impairment. On a national level, around 30 people die each day as a result of drunk driving accidents, equaling one fatality every 50 minutes. Alcohol impairment is measured by blood alcohol content by volume, with 0.08 percent being the legal limit to drive for most drivers. Most individuals would achieve this level of impairment by consuming four alcoholic drinks in one hour. Alcohol impairment creates deficits in many of the skills that drivers need to drive safely, including the ability to track moving targets, pay attention to the task of driving, brake effectively, and maintain one’s own lane of travel. Contrary to popular belief, however, these deficits don’t begin at 0.08 percent BAC, but rather with the very first drink.
Distracted driving: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that more than 2,800 lives are lost each year in accidents involving distracted driving. There are three categories of driving distractions: (1) manual distractions, which cause a driver to remove his or her hands from the steering wheel; (2) visual distractions, which draw a driver’s eyes from watching the roadway; and (3) cognitive distractions, which draw a driver’s mind from the task of driving. Some distractions fall in more than one category.
Texting is particularly dangerous, as it is a manual distraction, a visual distraction, and a cognitive distraction. In the five seconds it takes a driver to read or reply to a text message when driving at highway speeds, he or she will have traveled the length of a football field without looking at the road, without his or her hands both properly positioned on the steering wheel, and without his or her mind on the task of driving.
Other driving distractions include eating or drinking; adjusting the stereo or vehicle controls; interacting with other occupants of the vehicle, including children or pets; other cellphone use, including talking on the phone, checking email; browsing the internet or social media; and external distractions, such as previous accidents, construction zones, billboards, or other cars and drivers.
Distracted driving is a major cause of rear-end accidents as well as single-car collisions, like Bakersfield pedestrian accidents and Bakersfield bicycle accidents.
Speeding: More than 9,000 people die each year as a result of accidents involving excessive speed. Speeding refers not only to driving faster than the posted speed limit, but also driving too fast for the present conditions of a road. Speeding causes drivers to have less time to perceive and respond to hazards, and necessitates more distance to bring the car to a safe stop after applying the brakes. Speeding also increases the severity of collisions and causes a vehicle’s protective features—including its airbags, seat belts, and steel frame—to work less effectively.
Failure to yield: Drivers are required to yield the right-of-way to others in several different instances, including at stop signs, red lights, and crosswalks. Failing to do so is a major cause of accidents, particularly those that occur in intersections, including dangerous broadside accidents that often cause severe injury to vehicle occupants that are seated on the side of the vehicle that was struck.
Driver fatigue: Driver fatigue, also commonly referred to as drowsy driving, accounts for nearly 800 deaths a year. Although the acceptable amount of sleep that a person needs for optimal function is between 7 and 9 hours a night, many people fall far short of that goal. Driver fatigue is a particular risk for night shift workers and long-haul truck drivers, who are often working in the late-night hours, which is when the body is biologically wired to sleep. Drowsy driving accidents are most prevalent between the hours of midnight to 6 am, and often occur on rural roads or highways, where there is often little stimulation to help drivers stay awake. Fatigue is a major cause of single-vehicle accidents in which the vehicle goes off the road without showing signs of braking. In Bakersfield, more than 100 accidents occur in a year’s time between the hours of 9 pm and 3 am. While some of these accidents are attributable to reduced visibility due to darkness, drowsy driving caused others.
Aggressive driving is a series of traffic infractions that a driver commits to get through congested areas. Some forms of aggressive driving include speeding, red-light running, tailgating, and improper lane changes.
Road rage, however, is the criminal attempt to punish or even injure other drivers through not only aggressive driving tactics, but also through dangerous behaviors that may include attempting to bump or ram a vehicle from the roadway, exiting one’s vehicle to confront other drivers, and preventing other drivers from passing or turning.
Bakersfield Car Accident Claims
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Motor vehicle accidents are capable of producing significant, life-changing injuries. In California, individuals who suffer injuries in car accidents caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless behavior can seek compensation for their damages through car accident lawsuits. Bakersfield accident victims generally have two years to file their lawsuits and must prove the elements of liability to successfully recover damages.
These elements include:
The at-fault party owed the injured person a duty of care. While this duty of care depends on the facts of the case, the duty that is owed by one driver to another is generally to drive safely and legally.
The at-fault party breached the duty of care. The breach is determined by the facts of the case and refers to the specific human error or behavior that resulted in the accident, such as distracted driving or speeding, both of which constitute a breach.
The at-fault party’s breach caused the accident, which resulted in injuries, expenses, and significant life impacts on the plaintiff.
5 Different Types of Damages You Can Claim in Bakersfield
Bakersville accident victims may claim several types of damages in a car accident action, including the following:
Medical expenses, such as emergency treatment on the scene and in the emergency department, transport to the hospital via ambulance or air, physician services, diagnostic testing, surgical services, prescription medication, hospitalization, physical therapy, and rehabilitation
Lost income due to being too injured to work or missing work to attend injury-related medical appointments
Lost future earning capacity, if the injury results in permanent disability and renders the injured individual unable to return to the job that he or she previously held or unable to work at all in the future
The cost of repairing or replacing the injured individual’s vehicle
Non-economic damages, such as physical pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of the enjoyment of life, and physical impairment
Bakersfield Wrongful Death Claims From Car Accidents
If your loved one died in a motor vehicle accident in California that was caused by someone else’s negligence or carelessness, then you should determine your eligibility to recover compensation through a wrongful death claim.
The following people can file wrongful death claims in California:
Spouses or domestic partners
Grandchildren, if the decedent’s children are also deceased
Other minor children, including step-children, if the decedent contributed at least 50 percent of the child’s overall support
Anyone else entitled to the decedent’s property under intestate succession laws
Wrongful death claims allow surviving family members to seek compensation for certain expenses, such as the cost of funeral and burial, the amount that the decedent would have earned in income had his or her death not occurred, and the loss of companionship and support that the decedent provided to his or her family members.
A wrongful death action is often filed in concert with a survival cause of action, which provides compensation for other damages, such as medical bills incurred during the treatment of the deceased’s final injuries, wages that the deceased lost between when the accident occurred and death, property damage (such as damage to the decedent’s car), and punitive damages—not related to the decedent’s actual damages, but rather awarded to punish the defendant for particularly reckless behavior.
Let Gomez Trial Attorneys Help With Your Bakersfield Car Accident Claim
Legal claims for car accident cases are often complex. You should always speak to an attorney after experiencing a car accident in Bakersfield, particularly if you suffered injuries or the loss of a loved one. The experienced Bakersfield car accident lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys can help you make sense of your legal options.Contact us online or call (619) 237-3490 for a free case evaluation.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
1825, 18th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301 (619) 237-3490