head-on collision car crash on wet highwayEven if you have a good driving record and obey the laws of the road, you may still be involved in a car crash caused by a negligent driver. If you sustain injuries, they may be serious or catastrophic, causing a life-long disability.

The aftermath of a car accident can leave you with a mountain of expensive medical bills and many questions. You may not know what to do or who to turn to for help. That’s why it’s important to contact the skilled car accident lawyer team at Case Barnett Law. We have the background and experience to help our clients obtain fair compensation.

Negligence in a Dana Point Car Accident

Negligent driving behavior is at the core of most car accident cases. A driver is negligent if they fail to act responsibly or show reasonable care when behind the wheel. For example, a driver can be negligent by failing to do something they should have done, such as turning on their headlights or stopping for a bicyclist. A driver can also be negligent by doing something they should not have done, such as speeding or running a stop sign. If their careless conduct causes harm to another person, they could be found negligent

Negligent Driving Behaviors That Cause Car Crashes in Dana Point

  • Distracted driving. In California, distracted driving is considered anything that takes your hands off the wheel, your attention away from the road, or your mind off driving. California law prohibits the use of a cellphone while holding it in your hand. It must be used in a hands-free manner only. Any driver under 18 cannot use a cellphone for any reason while driving.
  • Speeding and reckless driving. Drivers speed for many reasons, including being in a hurry, being too familiar with the road, not paying attention to the speed limit, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While many people believe drunk driving causes the most accidents, it’s speeders who cause the highest number of deadly crashes. 
  • Aggressive driving. Aggressive driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as occurring when “an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other person or property.” This could be if the driver tailgates, blocks lanes, fails to let another car merge or exhibits road rage.
  • Drunk or impaired driving. Drivers 21 or older are legally drunk in California when their BAC is .08 or more. Drivers of commercial vehicles are legally drunk when their BAC is .04 or more. Drivers under 21 are legally drunk when their BAC is .01 or more.

Four Elements of a Car Crash Negligence Claim in Dana Point

  1. Duty of care. The defendant owes a duty of care to other drivers. They must act in a reasonable manner that will not injure others.
  2. Breach of duty of care. The driver did not fulfill their duty of care or drive in a manner that kept others safe.
  3. Causation. You must prove more than the driver’s negligence. You must also prove that the driver’s negligence caused your injuries.
  4. Damages. Because you suffered injuries and loss, this is money awarded to compensate you for the driver’s negligence.

Help Ensure Fair Compensation After a Dana Point Car Accident

If you’re injured in a car accident, obtaining fair compensation for your medical expenses and other damages can often depend on what you do immediately after the crash. There are important steps to take that will help protect your legal rights and help your attorney support your personal injury claim. If you’re able, follow these steps after your accident:

After Your Dana Point Car Crash: Steps to Take

  • Move your car to safety. If you’re not seriously injured and can get your car out of the road—pull it over to the side where you’ll be safer.
  • Call 911. If anyone has been injured in the crash, call for an ambulance. It’s important that you have a medical history of your bills, diagnoses, and treatments as proof that you suffered injuries in the accident. 
  • Call the police. Even if you don’t think you’re injured, it’s important to call the police. Some injuries take a while to present themselves, and if you file a personal injury claim, a police report can help with your case.
  • Limit your communication. Never admit fault, and be cautious about what you say to others at the scene. 
  • Collect all contact information from the at-fault party and eyewitnesses. Be sure to get their license plate number, name, address, insurance information, and driver’s license number.
  • Collect evidence. Take photographs and videos of the accident scene; photograph any injuries you might have, and photograph the damage to the vehicles and any property. 
  • Contact a car crash attorney. Obtaining legal representation right away can help in many ways, including ensuring that important evidence doesn’t get lost.

Obtain a Fair Settlement After a California Car Accident

Obtaining a fair settlement after a Dana Point car crash can be challenging. Insurance companies want to pay you as little as possible, so they’ll use underhanded tactics to get you to say or do things that jeopardize your claim.

How an LA Car Accident Attorney Can Help After a Dana Point Car Crash

  • Take over all communication with the insurance company and the at-fault party’s lawyer. This is important if you inadvertently jeopardize your case by apologizing after the crash—just to be polite or comment on the other party’s injury. The insurance company may say this was an admission of guilt, but a skilled attorney can help show that your comments were not a confession.
  • Handle unscrupulous tactics by the insurance company, such as a settlement offer of far less than your claim is worth and denying your claim without reason. 
  • Advise you on what to say and not say to an insurance adjuster. For example, an attorney will tell you not to give a recorded statement because the adjuster will try to use this statement against you later.
  • Advise you not to give the insurance company access to your medical records or provide information about your injuries.
  • Obtain important evidence to help prove the at-fault party’s negligence.
  • Advise you not to accept the first settlement offer. An insurance adjuster will likely offer far less than you might receive if an attorney negotiated with them for fair compensation. Even if the settlement covers most of your medical expenses, you may need long-term care due to the extent of your injuries.  

Other Advantages of Hiring a Dana Point Car Crash Attorney

The value of your claim is more than the medical bills you pay for your injuries and the cost of the damages to your car. When you’re injured in a crash, you may suffer pain and anguish, lost wages due to time off work, and pay out-of-pocket expenses and transportation costs going back and forth to medical appointments. Your attorney will evaluate the monetary value of your claim or lawsuit to ensure that you receive fair compensation. 

After a Dana Point Car Crash: Potential Recoverable Damages

  • Medical costs associated with the accident and any future medical costs
  • Future care needs, such as rehabilitation
  • Lost wages, including raises, bonuses, and loss of future earnings
  • Property damage
  • Assistive devices such as wheelchairs or ramps
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Pain and suffering
Case C. Barnett
Costa Mesa Personal Injury Attorney practicing in child injury law, car accident injuries and elder abuse law