Car Crash Fresno CA

Car Crash Fresno CA: How to Deal With the Legal Aftermath

Car crashes in Fresno, California, are more than just news headlines; they’re a growing concern that affects us all. With a 40% increase in traffic fatalities between 2016 and 2020, the statistics are alarming – indicating the possibility of a deeper issue within our traffic safety measures. This surge not only reflects the potential hazards present on our roads but also underscores the urgent need for enhanced safety protocols and awareness among drivers

In this article, we aim to provide an in-depth analysis of the factors leading to the increase in car accidents in Fresno, alongside a clear guide on the legal steps victims can take. By dissecting the causes and examining the legal avenues available, we offer direct and actionable advice for those affected by these tragedies.

Common Causes of Car Crashes in Fresno CA

When navigating the streets of Fresno, understanding the factors that contribute to car crashes is crucial. The Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) rankings report of 2021 provides us with insights on the key causes of car crashes in Fresno:

Breakdown of Car Crash Victim Statistics in Fresno, CA (2021)

  • Distracted and Impaired Driving: Fresno has a high incidence of alcohol-related accidents, with 248 victims affected in 2021. It ranks 1st for DUI incidents involving drivers under 21 and 2nd for those aged 21-34.
  • Speed and Nighttime Risks: With 227 total casualties, the city is 14th in speed-related crashes. Driving between 9:00 pm and 2:59 am significantly increases the risk, with Fresno ranking 14th for incidents during these hours.
  • Motorcyclists and Pedestrians: Fresno ranks 12th for motorcycle-related accidents with 77 victims and faces challenges in pedestrian safety, ranking 13th and 7th for victims under 15 and over 65, respectively.
  • Hit and Run: There were 134 victims of hit-and-run incidents, emphasizing the problem of drivers fleeing the scene.
  • DUI Arrests: Enforcement efforts resulted in 1,065 DUI arrests in 2021, highlighting the ongoing struggle against impaired driving in Fresno.

If you’re dealing with the aftermath of a car crash in Fresno contact the Personal Injury Center. Our team will get you in touch with the best Personal Injury lawyers in your region to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. 

What to do Immediately After a Car Crash in Fresno

Experiencing a car crash can be overwhelming. Here’s a detailed guide on the immediate steps you should take following an accident in Fresno, California. This guide integrates general best practices with specific legal requirements under California law, ensuring you’re well informed about the necessary actions.

Ensure Safety First

  • Check for Injuries: Immediately assess if anyone in the vehicle is hurt. You must adhere to California Vehicle Code 20003, which obligates drivers to assist injured individuals, potentially including calling for medical help.
  • Move to a Safe Location: If the accident is minor and there are no serious injuries, relocating vehicles to the roadside is advised to prevent further accidents and traffic blockages, in compliance with California Vehicle Code 20002.

Report the Accident

  • Notify Law Enforcement: In cases of injury, death, or significant property damage, promptly inform the police or California Highway Patrol. An official report, as mandated by California Vehicle Code 20008, is crucial for subsequent insurance and legal proceedings.
  • File a Report with the DMV: Accidents resulting in injuries, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000 necessitate filing an SR-1 form with the DMV within 10 days, as required by California Vehicle Code 16000.

Gather Essential Details

  • Exchange Information: Exchange names, addresses, driver’s license numbers, vehicle license plate numbers, and insurance information with the other driver(s). Under California Vehicle Code 16025, failing to exchange insurance information can result in penalties.
  • Document the Scene: Documenting the scene with photos and videos of the vehicles, damages, and surrounding area provides essential evidence for your claims.

File Claims

  • Insurance Claims: Notify your insurance company immediately to begin the claim process. This step is crucial for covering repair costs for your vehicle and medical expenses, as outlined in your insurance policy. 
  • Personal Injury Claims: If you or any passengers are injured, you may file a personal injury claim to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This claim is supported by California Civil Code Section 1714, which assigns liability for wrongful acts. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in California is two years from the date of injury. This means you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit for your injuries.
  • Property Damage Claims: This claim addresses damages to your vehicle or personal belongings. Governed by California Civil Code Section 3333, which allows for recovery of damages due to someone else’s negligence, you must file this claim within three years from the accident date, as per the statute of limitations. This is the deadline for initiating legal action to recover costs for repairs or replacements.

Consult an Attorney

  • Legal Advice and Representation: Consulting with a personal injury attorney early on can provide invaluable guidance through the complexities of filing claims and dealing with insurance companies. They can also ensure you meet all legal requirements and deadlines, such as those set by statutes of limitations, and help you navigate the legal system to secure the compensation you deserve.
  • Maximize Your Compensation: An experienced attorney can help identify all possible sources of compensation, ensuring you do not overlook potential claims such as lost earning capacity, future medical expenses, and pain and suffering. They play a critical role in negotiating with insurance companies to achieve a fair settlement or, if necessary, representing your interests in court to maximize your compensation.

Facing legal challenges after a car crash in Fresno can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to navigate this path alone. Reach out to the Personal Injury Center today for a free evaluation of your case. Our dedicated team is ready to provide the support and guidance you need to secure the compensation you deserve.

Compensation Types After a Fresno CA Car Crash

Compensation Types After a Fresno CA Car Crash

Following a car crash, understanding the types of compensation you might be eligible for is crucial. Compensation after a car accident is typically categorized into economic damages, non-economic damages, and, in some rare cases, punitive damages. 

Here’s a breakdown of what these entail:

Economic Damages

Economic damages provide financial compensation for direct monetary losses caused by the accident. Under California law, these can include:

  • Medical Expenses: Compensation for medical treatments, both immediate and long-term, necessitated by injuries from the crash. This covers hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, and any future medical care required, as outlined in the California Civil Code.
  • Lost Wages: Reimbursement for income lost due to the inability to work while recovering. This extends to loss of earning capacity if the injuries affect your future earnings potential, supported by evidence and projections of income loss over time.
  • Property Damage: Repayment for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle and other personal property damaged in the accident, as per provisions in the California Civil Code.

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages compensate for intangible losses that affect your quality of life, recognized by California personal injury law:

  • Pain and Suffering: Acknowledges physical pain and emotional distress, including psychological effects such as depression, anxiety, and loss of enjoyment of life. The compensation is determined based on the severity and duration of suffering.
  • Loss of Consortium: Provides compensation for the adverse effects on your relationship with your spouse or partner due to the accident, covering loss of companionship, affection, and support. This is a claim often made by the uninjured spouse in serious injury cases.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages are a special kind of compensation not often awarded. Unlike other damages that aim to reimburse the victim for losses or suffering, punitive damages serve a different purpose. 

In California, the law (as detailed in the California Civil Code) allows for punitive damages in cases where the person at fault did something particularly bad, beyond just negligence. This means if someone caused an accident through actions that were fraudulent (deceitful), oppressive (unjustly harsh), or malicious (intended to cause harm), the court might order them to pay punitive damages. 

The goal here isn’t just to compensate the victim but to punish the wrongdoer for their unacceptable behavior and to send a message to others that such conduct won’t be tolerated.

  • Example: Suppose a driver, knowingly under the influence of alcohol, decides to drive at high speeds in a residential area and causes an accident. If their behavior is found to be not just negligent but also malicious, with a disregard for the safety of others, a court might award punitive damages to the victims. This is both to penalize the driver and to signal to society that driving under the influence, especially recklessly, will have severe consequences.

Common Legal Traps to Avoid After a Car Accident in Fresno

Navigating the aftermath of a car crash involves more than just dealing with insurance claims and car repairs. It’s crucial to avoid common pitfalls that could complicate your legal standing or jeopardize your ability to secure fair compensation. 

Legal Traps to Avoid After a Car Accident

  • Admitting Fault: Avoid saying anything that could be interpreted as an admission of guilt. Prematurely admitting fault could undermine your claim and potentially lead to a denial of coverage.
  • Skipping Medical Attention: Not seeking immediate medical care can not only jeopardize your health but also weaken your personal injury claim, as the opposing party may argue your injuries were not serious.
  • Neglecting Timely Notification: Failing to report the accident to your insurer on time can result in a breach of your insurance policy terms, potentially leading to a lack of coverage.
  • Overlooking Documentation: Insufficient evidence can diminish your ability to recover full compensation. Always document every aspect of the accident and your injuries.
  • Engaging with Other Parties’ Insurers: Direct communication with the other party’s insurance can lead to manipulated statements. Let your lawyer handle these discussions to avoid misrepresentation.
  • Delaying Legal Action: Waiting too long to initiate legal action can result in being barred from recovery due to the statute of limitations.

If you’re overwhelmed by the legal aftermath of a car accident, the Personal Injury Center is here to help. Our team of seasoned online professionals specializes in the personal injury industry, offering the knowledge you need to understand your legal rights fully. Contact us for a free evaluation of your case and let our team connect you with a top-tier lawyer in your area. Securing the compensation you deserve becomes a more attainable goal with our assistance.

Key Takeaways
  • Fresno’s alarming ranking for DUI-related incidents underscores the critical importance of driving sober to prevent accidents and legal complications.
  • In California’s fault-based insurance system, identifying the at-fault driver is key, as they are financially responsible for the damages caused by the accident.
  • Adhering to the statute of limitations is paramount; victims have two years to file personal injury claims and three years for property damage, ensuring timely legal recourse.
  • Understanding California’s comparative fault rule can significantly impact your compensation, as you may still recover damages even if partially responsible for the accident.
  • Engaging a personal injury attorney early on can provide crucial guidance through the maze of filing claims, negotiating settlements, and, if necessary, litigating in court.
  • Immediate and appropriate actions post-accident, including not admitting fault and seeking medical attention, are vital in safeguarding your rights and maximizing potential compensation.