Helping Clients in the Stressful Time after a Car Accident
Many of us in the Oakland area drive our vehicles every day. Whether you are driving to work, taking your kids to school, or heading out to enjoy a day at the beach, you likely do not expect a car accident to happen to you. Unfortunately, car accidents strike millions of people every year in the United States, many of whom suffer serious injuries. In fact, in 2016, more than 3,600 people did not survive their car accident injuries in California, 74 in Alameda County.
While a car accident can disrupt your life—sometimes permanently—you can take control and improve your situation as much as possible. One important step is to contact an Oakland car accident law firm with extensive experience handling crash-related cases. Please do not hesitate to call the dedicated legal team at Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP today.
You Were in a Crash—What’s Next?
The moments after a sudden car crash can terrify anyone. You may not know what hit you—quite literally—and you may not immediately realize the severity of the accident or the injuries you sustained. If you had family in the car, you may first worry about them before you worry about your own state. Some accident victims feel pain and injuries right away, and they may naturally panic. Others may fall into shock and may not feel any pain despite their injuries, which can prove dangerous as injuries may worsen if the victim walks on a broken leg or moves around with a spinal injury.
Once you’re out of the vehicle, most people wonder what to do next. Even though we’ve all learned to remain at the scene, call 911, and exchange information, the chaos of that moment may cause you to second-guess yourself. Should you call 911? What should you say to police or the other drivers involved? What information do you need to collect? These are all completely normal and even expected questions.
Should you call 911? The answer is generally yes. Rarely can calling the police hurt your position after a car accident. Instead, emergency personnel can significantly help you. Emergency medical technicians can quickly review your condition and advise you as to whether you should go to the hospital by ambulance. If so, heed their advice and go to receive the immediate stabilization and treatments you need. If you don’t need an ambulance, head to the emergency department or your doctor’s office as soon as you can after the crash anyway. A medical diagnosis is critical to ensure you receive proper treatment—and in case you later file an insurance or legal claim.
What should you say to police or the other drivers involved? As little as possible. It may feel tempting to start apologizing and trying to seek out reasons for the accident, but this can only make a future case more difficult. Answer an officer’s questions as simply as possible, and if you’re unsure of something, say so. Do not guess at answers, as other parties can use them against you later.
What information do you need to collect? The scene of an accident can cause stress and confusion. You may not know from whom you should get information or what else you should do. First, try to gather the names and contact information of any other drivers as well as any witnesses who were in the vehicles or who will stop to give their accounts. Use your phone to take pictures of anything unusual you notice or the results of the crash, such as tire marks, the damage to vehicles, the road conditions, and more.
Should you call an attorney? It is always a good idea to discuss what happened with a skilled car accident lawyer. A lawyer can evaluate your situation and advise you as to whether you may have the right to compensation. Case evaluations are free at Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, so you have nothing to lose by making a call.
Common Injuries from Crashes
You should especially contact an attorney as soon as possible if you suffered any injuries in your accident that required medical treatments. Even seemingly minor injuries can result in medical bills and lost wages that can significantly damage your household’s finances. The following car accident injuries commonly lead to legal claims.
Neck and back injuries – Anyone who has suffered a sprain, strain, tear, or another injury to the neck or back knows the pain these injuries can cause. A neck or back injury can severely limit your movements and cause serious pain when you do try to move. These injuries can keep you from working or even performing the most basic duties around your house. Often, neck and back injuries may just seem like soreness or stiffness at first after a crash. However, the pain may worsen during the next few hours or days. Always seek a medical evaluation after an accident, even if you think you are “just sore.” People with neck and back injuries often require diagnostic imaging tests, extensive physical therapy, and rest while they recover.
Head injuries – Car accidents often cause motorists to hit their heads or experience sharp jolts of the head. In either situation, the possibility of serious head or brain injuries exists. Some people who hit their heads suffer skull fractures, which can disfigure them. In addition, part of the fractured skull may hit the brain and cause damage. Even without a fractured skull, car accident victims are at a high risk of a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Accidents can cause the brain to hit the inside of the skull, causing damage to brain tissue. This type of injury can range from a concussion to a severe TBI that results in a coma and permanent disabilities—or even death. TBIs can cause cognitive, physical, and behavioral impairments depending on what part of the brain suffered damage. Victims often require extensive rest, time away from work, rehabilitative therapy, and more.
Spinal cord injuries – Most people are aware of the importance of the spinal cord to our everyday functioning. Movement, sensation, and many organ functions are facilitated by a healthy spinal cord. A damaged spinal cord can cause a car accident victim to experience an interruption in such functioning. Some spinal cord injuries may result in temporary or partial loss of movement, while others may cause total and permanent paralysis in parts of the body. Such paralysis can completely change a person’s life and may cause them to change careers, stop working altogether, or even require permanent care and assistance at home. Spinal cord injuries require emergency trauma care and often result in extended hospitalizations, as well as a long period of medical treatments.
Broken bones – Even though a broken bone may seem like a relatively routine injury, it still requires substantial medical treatment. A trip to the emergency department, diagnostic imaging tests, casts or other stabilizing equipment, visits to orthopedic specialists, and rehabilitative therapy can all result in a pile of medical bills. Some broken bones may even require surgeries, and you may lose income if your broken bone prevents you from performing your job duties. In short, broken bones can result in more serious losses than you may think.
No matter what type of injuries resulted from your crash, always seek medical help first, then contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights. A legal case can help you recover financially for your medical debts, lost income, pain and suffering, and possibly more.
Is Someone Liable for Your Losses?
One of the most important steps following a car accident is to determine whether you may hold someone else liable for your injury-related losses. This is a complex process, and it’s always best to seek assistance from a trusted car accident lawyer who understands how liability works under California law.
In California, to hold someone liable for your losses, you must prove that person acted in a negligent manner that led to the accident. Negligence comes in many forms and can prove difficult to identify at first. Sometimes, it requires an investigation into the circumstances of the crash to determine the negligent parties.
Examples of negligence in car accident claims include:
- Drunk driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or medication
- Distracted driving, such as using a smartphone
- Tailgating, threatening other drivers, or other aggressive driving behaviors
- Running traffic lights or stop signs
- Failing to yield properly
- Not slowing down in rain, fog, or other inclement conditions
- Driving while overly fatigued
While traffic can frustrate us, drivers who engage in aggressive driving or otherwise violate traffic laws put everyone else at risk. In addition, we should all know that it is extremely dangerous and unacceptable to drive while texting or while impaired by drugs or alcohol. However, drivers in the Oakland area continue to engage in these types of behaviors—and often cause serious and potentially life-changing crashes as a result.
While many accidents happen due to another driver’s negligence, this is not the only possible cause of a crash. Some car accidents take place due to dangerous road conditions or defective car parts. In such situations, the city of Oakland or a automobile or car-parts manufacturer may face liability. These particularly complicated cases call for the right law firm. Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP handles even the most challenging car accident cases and knows how to fight for your rights.
An Oakland Car Accident Attorney Can Help
After a car accident, most people assume they can simply file an insurance claim and receive a payment for all of their losses. Unfortunately, it is rarely this simple, and the process of seeking compensation can prove stressful and confusing. A car accident attorney can provide invaluable assistance simply by handling the following steps in the legal process so you can focus on your recovery from your injuries:
- Insurance claims – Auto insurance companies try to avoid paying out on claims as much as possible to preserve their bottom lines. Claims adjusters will want you to make recorded statements as they seek any information that may limit your payment. Settlement offers are often embarrassingly low, and companies hope you will accept them thinking it is your only option. Our attorneys, however, will handle the entire claim process, from communicating with the adjuster to reviewing settlement offers to negotiating for the offer you truly deserve.
- Personal injury lawsuits – In some situations, an insurer will not offer the full amount you deserve, or your losses may exceed policy limits. In such cases, we can file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party on your behalf. We handle every step of the litigation process and will zealously negotiate the settlement agreement you deserve for your car accident losses.
The above are only some examples of how our legal team can help you in the stressful time following a crash. Please call us to learn more about how we can help in your specific situation.
Contact Our Oakland Car Accident Law Firm to Learn About Your Rights
At the law office of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, we regularly assist clients in the Oakland area who experience devastating losses due to unexpected accidents.
Never underestimate the impact of a car accident on your life. Any amount of medical bills or lost wages can cause financial problems, and you deserve to receive full compensation from any liable parties. We are here to seek full financial recovery for our clients and will explore every avenue to do so. If you were injured in a car accident, please call our office at (510) 200-0162 or contact us online to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.