Traffic accidents kill or injure someone two times a week on the streets of Oakland. The report highlights how traffic safety remains an issue in the big city. In response, the city government promotes safe traffic behaviors to prevent severe and fatal crashes.
If you or a loved one sustains hurt in a car crash in Oakland, you might be entitled to compensation. If you want to file a claim, you will need an Oakland personal injury lawyer for legal representation and support.
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“According to a report by the Medical Malpractice Center, about 15,000 to 19,000 medical negligence lawsuits are filed in the U.S. every year.”
Common Causes of Vehicle Accidents
There are many ways to prevent vehicle accidents while on the road. An effective one is to know the common causes of these accidents.
In Oakland, speeding is the cause of 25 percent of fatal car crashes. Driving too fast reduces the driver’s reaction time, leading to accidents.
Going over the specified speed limit could also earn you a traffic ticket. If you have a clean record before getting a ticket, you have the following options:
- Plead guilty, pay fines, and get a point on your license
- Plead guilty, pay fines, and attend traffic safety school to avoid getting a point on your license
- Request a court date to challenge the citation
Once in court, you can also negotiate the fine you must pay for speeding. The judge may also issue a lower fee based on your ability to pay.
In California, penalty points can stay on a driver’s record anywhere from three to seven years. However, insurance surcharges last one to three years, meaning you pay higher premiums the more points you have.
Failure to yield
Some people drive as if they always have the right of way. However, the state’s Vehicle Code Section 21804 mandates drivers to yield the right of way to all traffic. Obeying the rules of the road helps them avoid causing harm to themselves and others.
A failure-to-yield accident happens when a driver fails to yield to traffic, causing a crash. In these cases, the one injured is the one who drove into the car that failed to yield.
Failure to yield crashes usually occurs in the following instances:
- A driver does not yield to oncoming traffic while making a turn
- There is a flashing yellow light or red light
- A driver aggressively merges into a highway
- A driver fails to give right of way to a pedestrian already crossing a road
- A parked car re-enters traffic
Driving under the influence
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a mistake that can have fatal consequences. Driving while drunk or impaired can lead to injuries and even death.
Drunk driving reduces alertness and affects cognitive abilities and vision. Although drugged driving gets less publicity, it has similar effects and consequences as drunk driving.
Unfortunately, courts may not always convict a driver of a DUI charge after a crash. However, you can still hold them liable for your injuries.
Distracted driving is another common cause of motor vehicle accidents in the state. Today, the most familiar type of distracted driving is using a phone while driving. However, a phone is only one of the many distractions behind the wheel.
Drivers fumbling with their GPS or car radio are also less attentive on the road. Drinking and eating are also forms of distraction. Arguing with passengers can likewise take away some of the driver’s attention on the road.
Trying to do other tasks, no matter how simple, can be harmful if you drive. Distractions can reduce a person’s concentration and reaction time. The road can be unpredictable, and dangers can suddenly arise.
Consumers take it for granted that car manufacturers have high standards for the cars they produce. Unfortunately, some parts of their product may fail, which can lead to accidents that cause serious injuries.
If a car has a defect or a defective component, this issue may result in a malfunction. In this case, you can hold the manufacturer and other parties involved in the distribution liable.
You can file a product liability claim if you get into an accident because of a defective car part. The claim may be against the manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers.
Heavy rain, snow, ice, fog, or other poor weather conditions can cause car accidents. Crashes during lousy weather may seem unavoidable, and it can be easy to blame them for the accident. However, this statement is only sometimes true.
A motorist driving fast on a slippery road can cause an accident. Even if they were within the speed limit, you could hold them liable for driving too fast for the conditions. Remember that you should never assume that nobody was at fault until the police thoroughly investigate the crash.
Poor road conditions
State and local governments must keep roadways safe to drive on and free of hazards. However, issues such as potholes, unexpected elevation updates, and missing guardrails remain a problem for drivers in the city.
If you get hurt due to a road hazard, you can file a claim against the entity responsible for road maintenance. Unfortunately, these claims involve shortened deadlines and complicated procedural rules. For legal guidance, you will need to find an experienced personal injury lawyer in Oakland.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Car accidents happen, even to careful drivers. After getting in a crash, you may feel overwhelmed, but it is crucial to stay calm. The post-accident process can be straightforward but still challenging.
Keeping calm can help you go through the process safely. Follow these simple steps to ease the stress after an accident.
- Stay on the scene
You should not leave the scene of the accident. You must stay until you have exchanged information with the other parties involved in the crash. If a police officer is investigating, you cannot leave without their permission. If you drive off before then or before exchanging information with the others, you risk a hit-and-run charge.
- Check for injuries
Check yourself for injuries immediately after the crash. If you have a passenger, check them for injuries, too. You should also take a close look at the other drivers and passengers. If someone is hurt, call 911 for immediate medical treatment regardless of the severity of the injuries.
Do not provide medical care that goes beyond your training. If someone is hurt, do not move them unless they are in imminent danger.
- Call emergency services
If you call 911 after a car accident, the dispatcher will send a law enforcement officer to the scene. The officer will talk to everyone involved and prepare a police report.
The presence of a law enforcement officer may also be helpful if one of the drivers is driving under the influence. Make sure to get the name and badge number of the officer and the police report number before leaving the area.
- Get your vehicles out of the way
If the accident is minor, you must move your car outside the traffic flow. Doing so can help prevent other events, such as truck accidents or motorcycle accidents. It will also help first responders reach the scene of the crash faster.
- Exchange information
Generally, you need to give only your full name and your insurance information to the other driver involved. You might feel the need to discuss the accident’s details with the other driver, but it is best to limit your interaction. This way, you don’t say anything that might hurt your case if you make a claim or file a suit.
When you are collecting information, you want to include the following:
- The other driver’s name and insurance information
- Their phone number
- Contact information of witnesses
- The police report number and a copy of the report
- The responding officer’s name and badge number
- Document the scene
Before you leave the scene, document crucial details. The following are some of the things you might want to note and photograph:
- Damage to cars and other vehicles
- Skid marks, traffic signals, and road conditions
- The other driver’s license plate
- Date and time of the car crash
It would help if you also made personal notes on the incident. Write down your driving speed and road conditions when the accident occurred. Try to draw a simple diagram of the scene and how the accident occurred. Take note of the direction that each vehicle was traveling.
You should also look around and check if any cameras caught the accident. Take note of their location and who you need to reach out to to get a copy of the footage.
- Notify your insurance company
Some insurance companies require their clients to inform them immediately of accidents. You can also call an insurance agent who can report the accident to the company on your behalf.
It is crucial to call your car insurance company after a crash as soon as possible. Failure to notify your insurer of the collision on time could jeopardize your claim.
- Talk to a lawyer
You would need a lawyer if the crash resulted in serious injuries or significant property damage. The other driver’s attorney or insurance company might want to speak to you immediately after the accident.
However, it is wise to wait until you have consulted a lawyer before agreeing to have a conversation. Always consult a legal professional before you sign or agree to anything.
Law offices all over San Francisco and Oakland offer free consultations to help auto accident victims. Call a lawyer and learn what you should do after a collision. It is also an opportune time to find out how to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Recoverable Damages After a Car Accident in Oakland
Serious motor vehicle accidents can result in a wide range of injuries. If you sustain significant injuries in a car crash, you will pay medical expenses and incur lost wages.
Depending on what caused the accident, you may get compensation for your losses. You can get compensation for two types of recoverable damages in California. Read more to know the difference between compensatory and punitive damages.
Courts award compensation for compensatory damages to accident victims for the injury they suffered. These payments reimburse the injured party’s expenses incurred in the crash.
Payments for compensatory damages can include the following:
- Lost wages: Plaintiffs who were too injured to work after the accident can receive compensation for their lost wages
- Medical expenses: Medical fees can include emergency transportation costs, prescription costs, and other future hospital bills
- Pain and suffering: The injured party may seek compensation for the pain and suffering they have endured in the accident
- Loss of consortium: In a wrongful death case, the spouse of a victim can sue for damages based on loss of consortium
Courts award compensation for punitive damages to punish the party responsible for injury or wrongful death.
Sometimes, a judge can decide that paying for compensatory damages is not enough of a punishment. In these cases, they may consider awarding compensation for punitive damages.
If the defendant acted maliciously, there is a higher chance that the court will seek to award punitive damages. Potential car accident claims that could lead to an award of punitive damages include drunk driving crashes.
Questions To Ask When Hiring an Oakland Car Accident Lawyer
Car crash injuries can result in a debate with insurance companies over the coverage you need to pay medical bills. However, if you have an experienced car accident lawyer, you will have the legal support you need to get compensation.
Your lawyer will work hard to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Some attorneys also work on contingency, meaning they only get paid once the suit is successful. You will find a car accident lawyer who meets your legal needs by asking the right questions.
What is the extent of their experience?
Many personal injury lawyers specialize in particular types of cases. Some attorneys handle workers’ compensation cases, while others specialize in class action lawsuits against manufacturers. You want to look for an experienced personal injury attorney.
Look for a car accident lawyer who has taken claims to trial. This way, they can represent you in court in the unlikely event you and the other party fail to settle. Find someone with a winning track record of getting settlements and judgments from insurers.
The following questions should help you assess a lawyer’s experience in the personal injury field:
- How long have you practiced personal injury law?
- Do you specialize in representing car accident victims? Do you do other legal work as well?
- How many car accident victims do you represent every year?
- How many lawsuits do you settle every year?
- Have you ever appeared in court to represent personal injury victims?
- Have you frequently worked on cases similar to mine?
- Do you belong to any bar associations? Did you join any professional organizations? If so, which ones?
- Do you have any experience representing victims in need of long-term medical attention?
What do they think about your case?
When consulting with a new lawyer, take time to describe your car accident and injuries. After your explanation, ask them what they think about your case.
Relevant questions you need to ask include:
- What is your initial assessment of my personal injury case?
- What kind of financial settlement offer or compensation should I expect to receive?
- What factors and elements work in our favor? What factors could work against my case?
- Do you think we have to go to trial?
- Is mediation or arbitration an option?
- How long would it take to close my personal injury case?
Who will handle your case?
Sometimes, personal injury law firms will have representatives who speak to clients during the initial consultation. They will not be the ones personally handling your case. If you want to know who you will work with, you can ask the following questions:
- Will you personally handle my case? Will another attorney step in to manage it?
- Will you work on negotiations and court appearances?
- Will you be the one who will update me about my case?
- Will other personal injury lawyers work on my case? How can they contribute to my case?
How do they get paid?
Before hiring a lawyer, you should know that they charge differently from standard workers. Most attorneys work and get paid on a contingency fee basis. This term means the lawyer will only receive a payment if they win your case.
Once you get compensation, your attorney will retain between 20 to 40 percent of the total awards or settlement. If your car collision case goes to trial, you will have to pay your lawyer more for legal representation. Moreover, you will also shoulder costs such as expert testimonies and filing fees.
There are still some lawyers who will charge hourly. If you cannot afford their service, you should look for someone on a contingency basis.
Before signing any document with your lawyer, read and understand the attorney’s fee agreement. This way, you know what you must pay in legal fees, with or without settlement money.
It would be best if you asked the following questions below before you agree to work with a lawyer:
- Do you charge an hourly rate or work on a contingency fee basis?
- If I do not get a settlement or lose the case, will I have to pay you?
- What other expenses do I have to pay? Can you give an estimate?
- Do I have to pay a retainer fee?
- How much money will I receive after deducting the legal fees and expenses?
How do they communicate?
Once you file a personal injury claim, you will want to keep in touch with your lawyer. You will have endless questions about your case. You need an attorney who can talk to you when you need answers and explain what is happening.
You want to work with a lawyer who can explain legal processes in lay terms. While an attorney using legal jargon might seem impressive, you may need help understanding the terms. It also means the lawyer is not overly concerned about educating their clients.
The following questions below can help you determine how a potential lawyer communicates with their clients:
- What is the fastest way to contact you?
- How quickly do you typically reply to client inquiries?
- Will you provide progress reports? How often can you give updates? What is included in your reports?
What is their reputation?
Reputation is crucial for law firms and their lawyers. More people will go to a lawyer if they have an excellent record of winning settlement cases for personal injury victims.
When looking for a lawyer, do thorough research online. This way, you can see what previous clients and other attorneys have to say about a law firm.
You should ask them what percentage of their business comes from other lawyer referrals. The higher the number, the better the lawyer. If a lawyer has a high referral count, it usually means other legal professionals respect and has faith in them.
Referrals are crucial in the legal field. If a lawyer recommends a lawyer, it means they believe in their ability enough to risk their reputation.
Another way to gauge a lawyer’s reputation is through The State Bar of California. The state bar website can help determine whether an attorney has been subject to disciplinary actions.
Asking the following questions can help you effectively determine a lawyer’s reputation:
- What percentage of your business comes from attorney referrals?
- How many cases have you won?
- Have you failed to get compensation for a car accident victim before?
Seek Legal Advice From Experienced Oakland Car Accident Attorneys
It can be challenging to go through all the legal processes involved in filing a car accident claim. Fortunately, you do not have to face all your legal hurdles alone. Call an experienced car accident lawyer in Oakland and get the legal help you need to get fair compensation.
If you do not know what to do after getting hurt in a car crash in the city, visit The Personal Injury Center. We publish educational content to help you regain your life after a car accident. We can also help victims find an experienced Oakland car accident lawyer to help them file a claim.
FAQs on Car Accident Lawyer Oakland
When should I file an Oakland car accident lawsuit?
If you get hurt in an accident in Oakland, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the car accident. If someone dies due to the crash, the statute of limitation starts on the date of the person's death.
Is it necessary to report my car accident to the DMV?
You should report a car accident to the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) if:
- Someone got hurt
- Someone was killed
- The accident resulted in property damage of more than $1,000
Can I claim pain and suffering damages if I don’t have insurance?
You might not recover compensation for pain and suffering or other non-economic damages if you have no insurance. However, that might not be the case if the negligent driver is drunk or has a DUI charge.