Bakersfield Car Accident Attorneys
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Bakersfield Car Accident Attorneys
AIDING BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT VICTIMS
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 Bakersfield. Whether on Interstate 5, the network of state highways that run through and around Bakersfield, or on 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 long term disabilities, or in the worst cases, death. While there is nothing that can bring back a loved one who was killed in a car wreck, there is a legal process through which you can recover damages for your physical injuries or the loss of a family member with the aid of an auto accident lawyer.
After an accident, you should talk to a Bakersfield car accident lawyer at Gomez Trial Attorneys to help determine your eligibility to seek the compensation you deserve. Let our legal team deal with the insurance adjuster, so you can worry about getting the proper medical treatment that you need. We have helped to recover millions of dollars for people just like you. Contact us to see how we can help.
TYPES OF BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENTS
Bakersfield residents are no strangers to car accidents, which result in more than one thousand injuries and deaths each year. 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), texting while driving 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) 237-3490 or 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 do not 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.
- Road rage: Often used interchangeably, the terms “aggressive driving” and “road rage” actually refer to two different types of driving behavior that lead to human error-caused accidents.
- 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
Auto accidents can produce significant, life-changing injuries. In California, individuals who suffer injuries in car accidents caused by a at fault driver or reckless behavior can seek compensation for their damages through car accident lawsuits. Bakersfield accident victims generally have two years to file their lawsuits according to the statutes of limitations 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
Bakersfield accident victims may claim several types of damages in a car accident action, including the following:
- Medical expenses, such as medical 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 wages, 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. Wrongful death claims allow surviving family members to seek compensation for certain expenses, such as the cost of funeral and burial, the income the decedent would have earned 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.
BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT FAQS
As anyone who lives in, works in, or regularly travels through Bakersfield knows, traffic congestion, and the car accidents that inevitably flow from it, have long plagued our city.
For more than a decade, major public projects, like the Centennial Corridor linking Highway 58 to the Westside Highway via a new bridge over the Kern River, have promised to improve Bakersfield traffic conditions. Sadly, however, those necessary investments have not eliminated the steady drumbeat of car accidents that happen in and around town, which in a recent year killed or injured nearly 2,000 motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
Victims of Bakersfield car accidents, and families of those who tragically die in those crashes, need answers to their questions concerning their legal and financial rights. Contacting a Bakersfield car accident attorney can be the best way to get those questions answered. Meanwhile, you may also find these general answers to our most frequently asked questions helpful.
CAN I SUE FOR MY BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT INJURIES?
All of us owe each other a basic duty of care when traveling on Bakersfield streets and highways. We each must act in a reasonably safe and responsible manner, so as not to put others in harm’s way.
Anyone who breaches that duty by, for example, speeding, ignoring traffic laws, or joyriding, can typically face legal liability for injuries and losses that behavior causes to someone else. Similarly, any individual, business, organization, or other entity whose decisions or actions lead to unreasonably dangerous situations on Bakersfield roads may also bear financial responsibility for causing a car accident.
So, if you believe that the car accident that injured you happened, or might have happened, because of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful decisions or actions, then you likely have the right to seek compensation by suing the at-fault party or parties. To see whether you have a viable Bakersfield car accident claim, contact an attorney today to get started.
WHO CAN I SUE?
It depends entirely on the circumstances of your Bakersfield car accident.
However, car accident lawyers in Bakersfield often find that their clients have claims to make against:
- Other motorists who cause a crash through carelessness behind the wheel;
- Employers of motorists who crash work vehicles;
- Automotive manufacturers that produce dangerous, defective vehicles and vehicle parts that play a role in causing a crash;
- Anyone who provides alcohol to a minor who subsequently causes a car accident while intoxicated; and
- Government agencies that unreasonably create or fail to address hazardous road conditions.
These are merely a few examples, of course. The most reliable way to learn who may owe you compensation for injuries sustained in a Bakersfield car accident is to speak with a car accident injury lawyer as soon as possible.
WHAT COMPENSATION CAN I GET FOR MY BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT?
Again, it depends on the circumstances of your crash.
In general, however, you may have the right to take legal action seeking compensation for:
- Your crash-related medical expenses and other out-of-pocket costs;
- Wages and income you lost because of your crash injuries;
- Your pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life owing to your injuries; and
- In some cases, exemplary damages to punish the party at-fault for your crash.
No lawyer can guarantee that you will recover compensation for all, or even any, of these categories of damages. However, you can give yourself the strongest possible chance of a favorable financial outcome by entrusting your case to a Bakersfield car accident lawyer who has a proven track record of success in cases like yours.
HOW MUCH IS MY BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT CASE WORTH?
Once again, that depends on the details of your Bakersfield car accident. Many factors potentially affect the size of any settlement, judgment, or damages award you may obtain with the help of a car accident attorney.
They can include:
- The type and severity of your injuries, which have a direct impact on the amount of compensation you deserve for expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- The strength of the claim a car accident lawyer can make on your behalf, which may depend on the amount and availability of evidence supporting your case, and the skill and experience of the lawyer you choose.
- The financial resources that the at-fault parties have available with which to pay you. Most Bakersfield car accident claims, for example, involve seeking compensation from someone’s liability insurance policy. Some also involve seeking payment directly out of an at-fault party’s personal or business assets.
Skilled Bakersfield car accident lawyers know that it often takes a careful investigation of the facts to determine the amount of damages you should receive. Look warily on any attorney who claims to predict the value of your case with certainty the first time you meet.
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS IF MY LOVED ONE DIED IN A BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT?
You may have the right to seek compensation through a lawsuit known as a wrongful death action, and through a separate suit called a decedent’s right of action. California law generally entitles a surviving spouse, child, and other family members who were dependent on a deceased car accident victim to file these types of lawsuits.
In a wrongful death action, the deceased’s survivors may secure compensation for:
- Loss of a loved one’s income;
- Costs resulting from a loved one’s death, such as funeral and burial expenses;
- Loss of the value of the household services a loved one provided;
- Loss of gifts, benefits, or inheritances; and
- Loss of consortium, guidance, and/or companionship.
In a decedent’s cause of action, which asserts the rights the deceased Bakersfield car accident victim would have had but for passing away, the family may also secure payment for:
- Medical and other expenses resulting from the accident or injury that caused their loved one’s death;
- Loss of income before death resulting from the accident or injury;
- Exemplary damages.
Speak with an experienced Bakersfield car accident lawyer as soon as possible about the accident that took your loved one’s life. You may have a very limited window of time in which to take legal action.
DOES IT MATTER IF ONE OF THE CARS INVOLVED IN MY ACCIDENT WAS AN UBER OR LYFT?
Yes, it most likely does.
Victims of Bakersfield car accidents involving a rideshare vehicle may have the right to seek compensation from supplemental liability insurance coverage that companies like Uber and Lyft must provide for their drivers. California law sets the minimum amounts of that insurance and, in some instances, it offers at least $1 million in injury and loss protection to accident victims. This coverage exists in addition to any other auto insurance a ride-share driver also carries.
The availability and amount of extra, supplemental coverage that you may have the ability to tap into depend on the ride-sharing status of the driver at the time of the accidents. The highest levels of coverage apply if the crash occurred during the time that a driver had already accepted a ride request and the ride was not yet complete.
Speak with a skilled Bakersfield car accident injury lawyer right away if you suffered injuries in a crash involving a rideshare like an Uber or Lyft car. Our lawyers know how to handle those claims. We may need to act quickly to secure critical evidence necessary to prove your entitlement to extra insurance coverage for your injuries and losses.
SHOULD I TALK TO AN INSURANCE ADJUSTER WHO WANTS TO ASK ME QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ACCIDENT?
To start, it may matter who the insurance adjuster works for: your insurance company or someone else’s. You may have an obligation to speak with a representative from your own insurance company, as a condition of receiving benefits under an insurance policy you purchased. You likely do not, however, have an obligation to speak with a representative of anyone else’s insurance company.
In either case, it pays to exercise caution. The job of an insurance adjuster is to decide how much, if any, money to pay on your claim. Often, their goal is to pay the least amount possible, especially if they work for an insurance company that issued liability insurance to someone who was at-fault for your Bakersfield car accident.
Insurance adjusters often ask to speak with an accident victim in hopes that they can get the victim to say something that will reduce the amount of a potential claim. They may phrase their questions in ways designed to obtain answers helpful to them and their companies. They may try to trip you up in your recollection of events; anything to call the validity or amount of a car accident injury claim into question.
Bakersfield car accident victims can benefit from speaking with an experienced car accident attorney first, before they say a word to any insurance adjuster about their accident or injuries.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR MY BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM TO SETTLE?
We cannot say, at least not without conducting a detailed review of the facts.
A settlement is an agreement between you and the party at-fault for your car accident (and usually that party’s insurance carrier). You accept a certain amount of money, and in exchange, you release the at-fault party from further liability.
Most Bakersfield car accident cases end in this kind of settlement agreement. However, not all do. Those that do not instead wind up in a Bakersfield courtroom, to be decided by a judge or jury.
If your case settles, an array of factors can affect the timeline for reaching an agreement.
They include, for example:
- How long it takes until you have reasonable certainty about your expected future medical condition and needs;
- The difficulty your lawyer encounters in securing evidence to prove your case; and
- The amount of disagreement among the parties over core questions like who owes you money or how much money you should get.
By and large, neither you nor your lawyer can control these factors entirely. You can, however, control one important aspect of the timeline of your case: when you hire a skilled car accident lawyer to represent you. The sooner you take that step, the sooner the rest of your case can take its course.
WHAT DOES A BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER COST?
Car accident lawyers in Bakersfield work on contingency. That means they do not charge up-front attorneys’ fees, and do not bill their clients by the hour. Instead, they do their work in exchange for a percentage of any money they secure for their car accident victim client.
Never let your concerns about cost keep you from speaking with an experienced Bakersfield car accident attorney. You have nothing to lose, and potentially a lot to gain, from hiring an attorney as soon as possible.
CAN I DO ANYTHING TO HELP MY BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT CASE?
Yes. Seek medical attention as soon as you can, and do as your doctor tells you.
Bakersfield car accidents commonly cause serious, life-threatening injuries. Victims of those injuries may not feel them right away, however. The stress of getting into a crash can mask or dull pain you might otherwise feel. Also, some potentially severe injuries, like brain trauma and spinal cord damage, do not always display symptoms immediately.
In other words, you cannot trust yourself to know whether you have suffered an injury in a car accident. Instead, leave that to a qualified doctor who can examine you, spot injuries, and begin your treatment as soon as possible. Not only does this help protect your health, it also generates medical records your lawyer may use as evidence to support your compensation claim.
Following your doctor’s orders is also critically important. To safeguard your health and legal rights, take your medications, do your physical therapy, and go to your follow-up appointments. These simple steps help to ensure that no one can claim you made your own injuries worse.
To learn more about your rights and options for seeking compensation after a Bakersfield car accident, contact an experienced attorney today.
LET GOMEZ TRIAL ATTORNEYS HELP WITH YOUR BAKERSFIELD CAR ACCIDENT CLAIM
Personal injury claims for car accident cases are often complex. You should always speak to an auto accident attorney after experiencing a car accident, particularly if you suffered injuries or the loss of a loved one. The experienced Bakersfield personal injury attorneys at Gomez Trial Attorneys can help you make sense of your legal options when dealing with insurance companies.
Contact an attorney online or call (619) 237-3490 for a free case evaluation.
Gomez Trial Attorneys
1825, 18th Street
Bakersfield, CA 93301
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