Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that the typical American motorist spends up to an hour behind the wheel of their vehicle every day, traveling more than 11,000 miles in a year. From the daily work commute to visiting out-of-state relatives for the holidays, we spend a considerable amount of time and money on our vehicles. Most people do so with the expectation that they can keep us safe—however, roadways are some of the most dangerous places for you and your family. The more time you spend in your car, the greater your exposure to potentially devastating accidents.
Over 6 million motor vehicle accidents occur every year, approximately one collision every minute. While some motorists and their occupants are lucky enough to walk away with minor bruises, many car accident victims experience serious or even debilitating injuries that significantly impact their lives. Tragically, thousands of victims die because of their injuries. Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show car accidents consistently rank third on annual lists of the most avoidable fatal injuries, comprising 22% of deaths.
Everyone likes to believe they are a reasonably cautious driver. However, even if you remain attentive and obey traffic laws and the rules of the road, this is often not enough to protect you from the reckless or negligent actions of other drivers. Unfortunately, any time you enter a roadway, you are at risk for meeting other motorists who drive while distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated. Others simply fail to keep a proper lookout while operating their vehicles. When careless or intentionally risky drivers are behind the wheel of a two-ton machine, the results can be catastrophic. Other motorists and pedestrians typically pay the price.
If you experienced a motor vehicle collision and suffered a severe injury, contending with a long healing process might not be the only focus. Worse is the mounting pile of expensive medical bills and no way to pay them because you are unable to work. You know you could pursue compensation for your damages, but you may feel frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed by the prospect of pursuing a personal injury claim. At Guenard & Bozarth, our expert team of experienced Sacramento car accident lawyers offers the highest quality legal representation for car accident victims to pursue fair compensation for their injuries.
Learn more about car accident cases by reviewing the information below, then contact our firm today to discuss your case. We have the legal expertise and litigation skills to protect your rights, prepare your claim, and negotiate with insurance companies. We strive to deliver the best possible results in your case and help you regain your financial stability during this challenging time.
When you sustain serious or permanent injuries in a car accident due to the negligence or recklessness of another driver, you have the right to pursue compensation for any damages. The best way to protect your interests is to immediately hire the services of an experienced attorney who specializes in car accident cases. Sacramento car accident lawyers can help you with the following:
- Explaining your rights and helping protect them, including the right to refuse to provide an official statement to the other driver’s insurance company
- Conducting a comprehensive investigation of the accident and its aftermath
- Identifying all responsible parties, such as the other driver, the employer of the driver if they were working when the accident occurred, or the manufacturer of a faulty car part
- Gathering vital evidence to support your claim, including police reports, photographs, and witness statements
- Obtaining documentation from your healthcare providers that shows the extent and severity of your injuries, including medical reports, physician’s notes, and hospital bills
- Calculating the economic and noneconomic damages described below
- Filing a personal injury claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company
- Creating a formidable case that proves the negligence of the other driver and demonstrates exactly how the accident impacted you
- Negotiating with the insurance company to reach a fair settlement
- Ensuring you know what to expect throughout every stage of the claims process
- Representing you in court if your case requires litigation
Like other personal injury claims, a car accident claim requires proof of negligence by the other party. Every motorist driving on public roadways owes a duty of care to others. Violating this duty by not preserving others’ safety is negligence when it results in an injury-causing collision. In a car accident case, negligence includes failing to exercise reasonable care when operating a vehicle, driving in a dangerous manner, or otherwise disregarding the safety and well-being of the public. This includes endangering other motorists in all types of vehicles, their occupants, and pedestrians.
Your attorney will investigate the details of the accident and determine whether a reasonably cautious driver in the same circumstances would have operated their vehicle in the same way. If a reasonably cautious driver could have avoided the accident, the defendant displayed negligence. To demonstrate negligence, your Sacramento car accident lawyer will gather evidence of the accident scene and identify all responsible parties. Then, the lawyer will compile medical records or other documents to prove the extent of your injuries, calculate your damages, and create a formidable case based on facts and witness testimony.
Negligence can take many forms:
- Distracted driving, such as talking, texting, eating, or using the radio or a GPS
- Driving while fatigued or falling asleep while behind the wheel
- Excessively speeding
- Neglecting to keep a proper lookout
- Disobeying traffic laws, lights, signs, or other road markings
- Failure to maintain an appropriate driving distance
- Failure to alter driving behavior to accommodate for poor road conditions or extreme weather that impacts the road surface, visibility, and stopping time
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
A Sacramento car accident lawyer can help you recover economic and non-economic damages when your injuries occurred due to the other party’s negligence.
Economic damages may consist of:
- The cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle.
- Medical expenses, such as emergency treatment, surgical procedures, rehabilitative care, medication, assistive devices, and the cost of traveling to and from appointments with health care providers.
- Ongoing medical treatment in the future, including physical therapy, surgery, or hospitalization due to complications from your injuries,
- Lost wages due to time off work while recovering.
- Lost employment or career opportunities.
- Loss of future earning capacity, such as the inability to re-enter your previous position or the need to transfer to a different industry.
- Burial and funeral expenses for fatal injuries.
Non-economic damages include:
- Physical pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress or mental anguish.
- Disability or disfigurement that permanently impacts quality of life.
- Damage to personal and/or professional reputation.
- Loss of consortium, which refers to comfort, companionship, affection, love, sexual relations, and other components of your romantic relationship with your spouse that were affected by your injury.
Unlike other attorneys that charge a flat fee or an hourly rate for their services, most car accident lawyers charge a contingency fee. This means the firm will only charge you if they are able to recover compensation for you through an insurance settlement or a jury verdict. If they win your case, you pay them with a percentage of the money you receive, generally between 25% to 40% of your award. There is not a standard contingency fee for car accident attorneys, but the most common percentage is 33%.
The fee varies depending on whether the case settles out of court through negotiations with an insurance company or involves filing a personal injury claim in court against the party responsible for the accident. You can expect to pay 25% for a case that settles without filing a claim and closer to 33% for a case that settles after filing a claim but without going to trial. When the case reaches a settlement after filing a claim and the defendant must answer with a formal response, or if the case goes to trial and ends with a jury verdict, the percentage typically increases to 40%.
Some Sacramento auto accident lawyers choose to include all fees and expenses in their contingency fee, while others will deduct them from your settlement award. Along with attorney fees, you may be responsible for court fees or other expenses associated with litigation, such as the cost of acquiring police reports, medical records, or hiring expert witnesses to provide testimony in the case. Often, these firms expect you to pay the various fees as they become due.
The average value of a car accident settlement can range from $3,000 to $75,000, but this amount varies depending on the severity of the injuries and the willingness of the defendant’s insurance company to negotiate. According to recent data collected by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average settlement for a car accident with injury equals approximately $18,417. There is no standard formula for calculating a settlement award, but many insurance adjusters utilize a “multiplier” method that takes several factors into account.
Using this method, the adjuster adds up the medical bills resulting from the accident-related injury (referred to as medical special damages). Then, the adjuster multiplies that figure by a factor between 1 and 5 to reach an appropriate value of “general” damages. This multiplier establishes a monetary value for noneconomic damages like pain and suffering. Compared to a minor injury that heals quickly without much difficulty, an injury requiring extensive medical treatment or rehabilitative care would involve more expensive medical bills and a higher degree of pain suffering. Because of this, the adjuster will assign it a higher multiplier.
The adjuster adds the medical special damages, general damages, and lost income or lost earning capacity to calculate an overall estimate of the claim’s value. They may consider other factors as well. Factors can include whether you sustained a new injury in the accident or aggravated a preexisting condition, how quickly you sought medical attention after the accident, and if the length of your treatment is excessive for the severity of the injury.
Although it is possible to receive a settlement for a car accident without a lawyer, this route is often not recommended. If you choose to approach the situation without representation from a car accident attorney, you are solely responsible for your case. You must complete all paperwork accurately, navigate all legal obligations required by the state, and meet the various statutes of limitation for your claim.
Pursuing a settlement involves assessing the extent and severity of your damages, predicting future damages such as lost earning capacity, and estimating the value of these damages. You must handle all communications with the other party, their attorney, and their insurance company throughout the entire process, including conducting negotiations for a settlement. Insurance companies are well-known for using manipulative tactics to downplay your injuries, reduce your damages, and lower your settlement award. If an insurance company refuses to agree to a fair settlement, you must represent yourself in court.
Sacramento car accident attorneys have the extensive resources, negotiation skills, and litigation experience to increase your chances of achieving a positive outcome in your case. Hiring legal representation from an experienced attorney is the best approach for obtaining maximum compensation and receiving it as quickly as possible. An attorney can prepare a compelling case, protect your rights, advocate on your behalf in court, and strategically respond to attempts by the insurance company to lessen your settlement. Best of all, your attorney will handle your case for you while you recover from your injuries.
You should hire a car accident attorney if any of the following apply to your situation:
- You sustained serious injuries.
The more extensive and severe your injuries, the more valuable an attorney can be in helping you achieve fair compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. Experiencing a minor fender bender with minimal injuries, such as small contusions or lacerations, means you can probably handle an insurance claim on your own. However, if you were in a serious accident and sustained significant injuries that required extensive medical treatment, the value of your case rises and the need for an attorney becomes more pressing.
- Your injuries are permanent.
When your injuries are severe enough that they will impact the rest of your life, you face decades of medical expenses. Expenses like hospitalizations, surgical operations, assistive devices, physical therapy, modifications to your home to make it accessible, and loss of earning capacity make the need to acquire representation much greater.
- Another person’s actions contributed to the accident.
If it is even possible that the actions of another individual, entity, or government agency resulted in the accident that caused your injuries, you should speak with an attorney right away. Sacramento car accident lawyers can investigate the case and gather evidence to prove the other party acted negligently or carelessly, and that these actions directly contributed to the accident and your injuries.
- The other party’s insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement.
Insurance adjusters will do everything in their power to convince you to accept the lowest possible settlement. Fortunately, an attorney knows exactly how to respond in these situations. Speaking to an attorney before you make any official statement to an insurance company prevents you from agreeing to a settlement without fully understanding the costs your injury will impose on your life, both now and in the future. If you accept a settlement and later realize it is insufficient to cover your expenses, you will likely not get another chance to ask for additional compensation.
If you sustained injuries from a motor vehicle accident that occurred due to the careless, negligent behavior of another motorist, contact Guenard & Bozarth today. For more than 25 years, our team of Sacramento car accident lawyers has successfully represented thousands of injured clients throughout Northern California. We offer attentive, compassionate services, and meet with every client personally to provide expert legal advice and ensure they know exactly what to expect throughout the personal injury case process.
Unlike other firms that settle or drop cases, the attorneys at Guenard & Bozarth are committed to following through with your case and delivering optimal results. We can help you negotiate with insurance companies to recover damages and represent you in court if they refuse to agree to a fair settlement. From the very beginning, we approach each claim with the expectation that it may reach a trial, so we devote our extensive resources to pursuing compensation for you.
We represent our clients so they can focus on recovery rather than navigating a complicated claims process or challenging unfair tactics of insurance companies. Schedule a consultation with our team to discuss your case and we can put our skills to work for you.
We will promptly investigate your car, motorcycle or truck crash to pursue maximum damages.
We fight back when legitimate claims are unfairly denied by insurance companies.
Bad faith litigation is becoming more common as the insurance industry continues to engage in dishonest practices that trample the rights of policyholders.
INSURANCE COMPANIES KNOW US BECAUSE THEY’VE PAID OUR CLIENTS OVER $130 MILLION DOLLARS.
CAR ACCIDENT INJURY
Guenard & Bozarth llp obtained a $2,962,903 jury verdict in the Sacramento County Superior Court for plaintiff David Schoonover, who suffered head and neck injuries and fractures in a head-on accident on Roseville Road in Roseville on July 22, 2012
HAIR SALON INJURY
Guenard & Bozarth LLP recently settled a case for $300,000 involving a hair weave that went terribly wrong. Our client was a young lady, and aspiring model, who experienced pressure necrosis from a tight weave and it changed her life.
SLIP & FALL INJURY
Guenard & Bozarth LLP recently settled a slip and fall case for $500,000 a couple weeks before trial. The client slipped and fell on a wet piece of cardboard in a grocery store and sustained a serious shoulder injury that required surgery.
On February 13, 2013 Maricela, a Certified Nursing Assistant presented to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital Emergency Room with complaint of neck and back pain. She was diagnosed with a neck strain and was given Ibuprofen and instructed to return if her symptoms did not subside.