Have You Been a Victim in an Orange County Car Accident?
Most car accidents are caused by someone's avoidable negligence. Where a driver has "rear-ended" your car and caused injuries the neglect is clear and responsibility rests with the driver behind. There are few exceptions to this rule. Additionally, where another driver has driven through a stop sign or red traffic signal and collided with your car the party violating your right of way is at fault. Finally, if a driver turns left in front of your vehicle causing a collision that left-turning driver is almost always at fault. These are just some of the types of accidents we all encounter on the busy roadways of Orange County. While they all seem relatively cut and dry, they can become complicated when insurance companies do their best to defend their careless drivers.
For example, in a recent Orange County case handled by this office, a left-turning driver raced through a yellow and then red light to make his turn. Unfortunately, in doing so he violated an innocent driver's right of way coming from the opposite direction. This lead to a serious collision that totaled both cars and left the "straight-traveling" driver and his passenger badly injured. Incredibly, despite an independent witness confirming who had the right of way and a police report favorable to the clients, the turning driver's insurance company denied responsibility.
What to Do After a Car Accident to Protect Your Rights
As can be seen from the above example, sometimes a careless driver's insurance carrier will deny responsibility even in the face of independent evidence and a favorable police report. Consequently, it is always a good idea to gather as much evidence at the scene of an accident as is reasonable and safe under the circumstances. Photographs should be taken of the points of rest (if possible) and the property damage to all vehicles. Not only will this assist in determining fault, but it may also help to establish the severity of the impact.
Insurance companies and defense attorneys for careless drivers will often argue (if they can't challenge responsibility) that the collision was not enough to have caused any injury. For example, they may conveniently focus on the damage done to the victim's car if it does not appear that substantial. Sometimes a strong bumper or trailer hitch will protect the rear of a car from substantial damage while causing considerable crumpling and damage to "rear-ending" car. The insurance company or attorney will then try to focus on the injured party's car while ignoring the sometimes catastrophic damage to the at-fault driver's vehicle. Pictures of BOTH vehicles after an accident can go a long way to defeating such arguments.
In addition to taking pictures, you can protect yourself from an unfair evaluation of your claim by NOT giving a recorded statement to the adverse driver's insurance company, not without your attorney participating. Insurance adjusters know exactly what they are looking for to defeat a claim, and this gives them an unfair advantage. They also like to contact claimants shortly after an accident to best ensure not all of the injuries and damages will be included in the claimant's statement. Injuries sometimes take weeks or even months to develop.
If you have been injured in a car accident, particularly one here in Orange County, you should take the necessary steps to protect your right to compensation for the injuries and damages sustained. Contacting an experienced car accident attorney is an important first step.