There are approximately six million car accidents each year in the United States, ranging from minor fender-benders to deadly collisions. In California, about 3,500 people are killed in car wrecks annually. Those fortunate enough to survive a traumatic accident may still be seriously injured and unable to work, while at the same time being inundated with costly medical and household bills. This can leave an accident victim wracked with worry about how to make ends meet, which is where our experienced Riverside car accident lawyer at Inland Empire Law Group will be a major help.
If you were hurt in a crash caused by another driver or company, you are likely entitled to compensation, and luckily, our Riverside car accident lawyer has more than 30 years defending injury victims in California.
Below, we discuss not only common causes of car accidents in Riverside, CA, but the importance of seeking medical attention, understanding the insurance company’s rights, and, most importantly, how hiring an experienced Riverside car accident lawyer can make the difference between getting the minimum compensation and securing your financial stability.
5 Common Causes of Car Crashes in Riverside
- Drowsy Driving: A lot of people burn the candle at both ends, but research shows that getting behind the wheel while sleepy can have a devastating impact on your driving performance. Multiple studies have shown that fatigue can be just as impairing as alcohol in reducing attentiveness, slowing reaction time, and negatively affecting judgment. Drowsy driving is impaired driving.
- Blind-Spot Accidents: These kinds of crashes occur when a driver hits something they didn't expect to be there simply because they couldn't see it. For example, when a driver makes a left turn at an intersection, but can't see what's coming from the other direction because their view is blocked by a school bus. Motorists are required to watch for others and “I didn't see you” isn't a valid defense against negligence.
- Rear-End Collisions: Rear-end crashes account for a surprising number of car accidents, and while people often assume that these wrecks are nothing more than fender-benders, that isn't always the case. Depending on the speed of the vehicle that hits the one in front of it, the involved cars can twist or flip, resulting in horrific accidents. Even slow-speed rear-end collisions can lead to severe injuries under the right—or, rather, the wrong—circumstances.
- Loss of Control: Some accidents are caused by drivers who lose control of their vehicles, resulting in collisions that injure or kill others. These wrecks can occur when a motorist engages in aggressive or reckless driving, such as taking a sharp curve too fast or failing to slow down when the road is wet.
- Rolling Right Turn on Red: When a driver approaches a red light and prepares to make a right turn, they often slow down, but don't stop completely. They look to the left while rolling forward, and when they look back and turn right suddenly, they hit an unseen motorcyclist, pedestrian, or bicyclist, leaving them with potentially catastrophic or even deadly injuries.
Gathering Evidence at the Scene of Your Riverside Car Accident
The process of gathering evidence for a successful personal injury claim begins at the scene of the car accident. If you are able to do so, there are several types of evidence you can collect on your own which will be invaluable later on. You can use your cell phone or a camera to collect photos or video that can show the scene of the collision and verify the circumstance of the accident. This includes:
- The scene of the accident
- Vehicle damage
- Your injuries
- Your witnesses
You should also write down your own timeline of the events surrounding the accident with as much detail as you can remember. Over time, it's natural for our memories to start to fade. Writing down everything immediately ensures you won't forget any vital information.
If applicable, jot down the names and contact information of any witnesses who can support your version of the events. According to our Riverside car accident lawyer, you might even want to see if you can record a statement from any witnesses.
Verifying Your Accident-Related Expenses
Economic compensation in personal injury cases is based on the actual expenses incurred or the losses which will be incurred as the result of the accident. Your expenses should be documented with:
- Copies of hospital bills
- Receipts for medication, assistive equipment such as walkers or canes, and any special foods you needed during your recovery
- Recipes for travel expenses related to medical appointments, including gas and parking
- Pay stubs showing lost earnings
- Insurance payments for those expenses are also necessary
Pain and suffering is considered a category of non-economic damages. Typically, this type of compensation is much more difficult to calculate and occasionally linked to your medical expenses but is also based on the severity of your injuries. Many times, general damages and economic expenses have no correlation at all. According to our Riverside car accident lawyer at Inland Empire Law Group, serious injuries may not result in a lot of medical expenses but can result in significant non-economic damages.
Is an Accident Report Required to Prove Your Claim?
Should I Talk to My Insurance Company After a Car Accident in Riverside
According to our Riverside car accident lawyer, you have a legal obligation to cooperate with your car insurance claims representative regarding the facts of your collision. However, it's vital that you understand the scope of what information you are required to provide so you don't inadvertently damage your case.
Policy terms vary, but most auto insurance companies require the following after an accident has been reported:
- You Must Provide a Basic Factual Account of the Accident. This includes a general statement of what happened before and immediately after the accident, the identity of those involved, and witness names to the collision. Your insurance company may ask about contact information for the doctors who are treating your injuries, but this information should be withheld until you speak with an attorney.
- You Must Allow Access to Your Medical and Work Records. Your insurance agent will likely ask you to sign a form authorizing the release of these records so your losses can be formally verified before a settlement offer is made. Our team at Inland Empire Law Group does not recommend that you provide the insurance company with authorization to secure your medical records without first consulting an attorney. Those are your private records and you control the distribution of those records. However, at the time you are prepared to resolve your claim, you will then be required to provide the medical record and billing information required to justify the settlement of your claim.
- You Must Allow the Insurance Company's Representative to Inspect Your Vehicle. Taking pictures of your vehicle damage at the scene of the accident is helpful, but the insurance company is entitled to request an in-person inspection before repairs are made.
The Importance of Seeking Medical Attention After a Riverside Car Wreck
Seeking a medical evaluation immediately after a car accident is absolutely vital, even if the victim doesn't think they're seriously injured—or even injured at all. Doctors, especially those who frequently treat car accident victims, are trained to spot injuries that the victim might not notice, such as those masked by the release of adrenaline during the crash.
Also, receiving a thorough medical evaluation after a car accident starts the documentation of evidence that may end up playing a central role in a future personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. Victims who initially thought that they weren't injured or that their injuries weren't “that bad” may have late-appearing injuries or injuries that worsen with time. Without medical documentation connecting these injuries to the accident, the other party's insurance company or defense attorney may claim that they are completely unrelated to the crash or made up after the fact.
4 Ways a Riverside Car Accident Lawyer Can Help You in Your Quest for a Financial Recovery
If you recently suffered injuries in a car accident caused by another driver's negligence, you may be wondering if it is really necessary to hire a Riverside car accident lawyer to settle your personal injury claim. Although it may seem tempting to try to resolve the claim on your own, the services and experience an attorney provides may be worth the expense incurred for the attorney’s services.
1) A Riverside Car Accident Attorney Gathers Evidence
The success of your personal injury claim will depend upon the quality of the evidence you can submit to support your request for damages. When you hire an attorney to represent your interests, he or she will gather many different types of evidence on your behalf. This may include:
- Police reports
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Witness testimony
- Medical bills
- Medical records
- Documentation of lost wages
If you are trying to settle a case on your own, you can easily overlook crucial evidence that supports your request for damages.
2) A Car Accident Lawyer in Riverside Helps Find Relevant Experts
Expert testimony can be used as valuable evidence in many types of personal injury cases. In some cases, experts are absolutely necessary to prove your case. Different kinds of experts an attorney may be able to locate for your case include:
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Human factors experts
- Medical experts
- Lifecare planning experts
- Economic loss experts
- Vocational rehabilitation experts
There are strict criteria used to determine what makes an expert a credible personal injury witness. An experienced Riverside car accident lawyer has a network of experts known for their reputation in court.
3) An Attorney Can Help Avoid Common Personal Injury Claim Mistakes
Most people realize that lying to an insurance company is not a good idea, but an attorney can help you strengthen your case by pointing out other mistakes you may not have thought of. For example:
- Speculating about the cause of the accident on your social media accounts
- Failing to keep all of your recommended medical appointments
- Being seen in a public place engaged in activity that goes against the doctor's orders, such as lifting heavy weights or not using your crutches
- Failing to document all related accident expenses, including things like transportation to medical appointments
- Neglecting to plan for reimbursement of Medicare, Medicaid, or your own private health insurance after you receive your settlement
4) A Competent Riverside Car Crash Lawyer Negotiates on Your Behalf
Never forget that insurance companies exist to make a profit. They are not necessarily concerned with whether you receive a settlement that adequately compensates you for your injuries. In fact, car accident victims without legal representation are likely to receive offers significantly smaller than what their case is truly worth.
Although an attorney's expert negotiating skills are invaluable in any car accident case, they become particularly important if you are partially at fault for the accident. California law allows you to collect damages if you are partially at fault for the accident, although your compensation will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. However, since there is no set formula used to determine the percentage of fault, a skilled attorney can often negotiate a lower fault percentage and thus increase your eligibility for compensation.
Hiring the right Riverside car accident lawyer to handle your case will increase the likelihood that your settlement will be much better than handling the claim on your own. Each case is unique, but generally, hiring the right attorney makes a major difference.