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Orange County Car Crashes: Top Questions Injury Lawyers Are Asked

Injury lawyers are asked many of the same questions from clients regarding their Orange County, California car accident. This blog post is a compilation of the top questions we receive here at The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C., and is meant to help anyone seeking clarification regarding their injury claim, but should not be relied on as legal counsel. This is because every case is unique and you should seek the advise of an attorney or injury lawyer in order to address the specifics of your case. However, there are several basic questions that we are asked over and over again, and so this blog post is an attempt to clarify some of these questions.

The job of your injury lawyer is to get you back to where you were before your injury. This means you are physically healthy again, and financially you have been reimbursed for all medical expenses related to your injury.

The job of your injury lawyer is to get you back to where you were before your injury. This means you are physically healthy again, and financially you have been reimbursed for all medical expenses related to your injury.

”How Do I Get My Medical Expenses Refunded?”

As part of your injury claim, you may expect to have your medical expenses paid for by the person who hit you. First, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible following the crash. Then, you need to be attentive to all appointments and be compliant with the doctor’s orders. This may include MRIs, x-rays, physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, or things like injections and surgery. Upon completing your treatment, your attorney will compile all your medical records and present them to the insurance company of the at-fault driver, accompanied by an explanation and a demand for settlement.

“What if I Need Medical Care Over a Long Period of Time?”

You have two years from the date of the accident to either settle your claim, or file a lawsuit. If you fail to do either of these things within two years of your injury, you cannot recover financially, and this includes being refunded the cost of your medical care. But what if you are going to need care for a long time after the two year mark? Your lawyers will compile your medical bills and present them in a manner that will include the cost of future medical expenses as part of your injury settlement. Sometimes this may require bringing in an expert, such as someone familiar with medical billing, in order to give a detailed accounting of what your medical costs will likely be in the future. A good injury attorney will do this for you and will have experience handling claims like yours.

Even ten minutes on the telephone with an injury lawyer is likely to give you a new perspective on how you should move forward. If nothing else, it should provide you with peace of mind as you navigate what can be a frustrating and confusing process.

Even ten minutes on the telephone with an injury lawyer is likely to give you a new perspective on how you should move forward. If nothing else, it should provide you with peace of mind as you navigate what can be a frustrating and confusing process.

”What if I Don’t Have Health Insurance, or I Can’t Get An Appointment to See a Doctor Quick Enough?”

If you don’t have health insurance, but are injured in a car crash or other accident that was not your fault, you may still be able to receive good medical care. Some privately owned medical offices are willing to provide treatment on a lien. This means that they will ask your lawyer a few details about your case, including the likelihood that the insurance company of the individual who caused the accident will pay to settle the claim. This is called lien-based treatment. Most California based injury lawyers know of many medical offices that are willing to work on a lien basis. The office sends a legal document to your lawyer, who signs it and returns it. This means that if there is a settlement or a verdict in your favor, the medical office will be paid before you are paid. Basically it delays payment, but makes sure the medical office eventually gets paid for the services they provide you.

The amount of money you get after your injury case settles depends on many factors, most of which you are unlikely to have considered unless you have been involved in several injury cases in the past. A good injury law firm will guide you through the process and explain the many variables at play in your injury case.

The amount of money you get after your injury case settles depends on many factors, most of which you are unlikely to have considered unless you have been involved in several injury cases in the past. A good injury law firm will guide you through the process and explain the many variables at play in your injury case.

”What If I Don’t Have Money To Pay a Lawyer?”

Most car crash lawyers, also referred to as personal injury lawyers, work on a contingency fee basis. This means their pay is contingent on whether or not they win. If they win your case, they are paid a portion of the settlement money. If your lawyer loses, in most situations this means he or she is paid nothing. This makes it so people who need legal representation are able to have an attorney. This also makes it so a lawyer only agrees to represent someone on a case if he or she thinks the case is winnable. Contingency fee agreements are the standard in California for injury cases. If you decide to hire a lawyer using a contingency fee agreement, you should read the document before signing so you know the percentage your attorney will take in the end as his or her fee, as well as other details pertaining to your case.

Because of the number of drivers in Orange County, traffic accidents resulting in injury are not uncommon. Knowing how to proceed after you are injured in a car crash can be confusing.

Because of the number of drivers in Orange County, traffic accidents resulting in injury are not uncommon. Knowing how to proceed after you are injured in a car crash can be confusing.

”What If I Already Settled My Property Damage Claim But I’m Still Injured?”

If you were injured in a car crash, your vehicle was likely damaged. You may have gotten your vehicle towed and fixed and may have signed something to receive a reimbursement check. This is the property damage portion of your case, and is separate from the injury portion of your case. You should know that just because you settled the property damage portion of your case does not mean you have settled your case. They are essentially two different cases. You can still receive money to help compensate you for your injury even if you already received money for your car. Usually the money you receive for your car is the cost to repair or replace for fair value. The injury portion is different. The injury settlement must include reimbursement for medical bills, money for lost wages, pain and suffering, and money for future medical expenses. This settlement is often much more than your property damage settlement.

”Should I Hire A Lawyer Who Doesn’t Live In My City?”

The location of your injury lawyer’s office does not matter nearly as much as his or her experience in handling injury cases. Much of the work on your injury case is done over the telephone, not in person.

The location of your injury lawyer’s office does not matter nearly as much as his or her experience in handling injury cases. Much of the work on your injury case is done over the telephone, not in person.

Your Lawyer should practice injury law. Similar to doctors, lawyers focus their practice on specific areas of the law. For example, a real estate attorney will not likely know much about injury law, except for the basics. For this reason, most people who hire a lawyer to represent them for their injury hire a lawyer or law firm that only handles injury cases. A lawyer has a license to practice law in the state of California, not a specific county or city. With technology, this means you can hire someone who potentially lives far away from you and still benefit from his or her expertise. It is therefore not important that the lawyer lives close by to you. Most, if not all of the work on your case, is done between the lawyer’s office and the insurance companies and medical offices using email, fax, and telephone. Physical proximity to your residence is not important.

How Does a ‘Statute of Limitations’ Affect Your Injury Claim?

The 'Statute of Limitations' language can be confusing to non-lawyers (and even lawyers!). Make sure you've got accurate information regarding the time constraints of your California injury case.

The 'Statute of Limitations' language can be confusing to non-lawyers (and even lawyers!). Make sure you've got accurate information regarding the time constraints of your California injury case.

The law is full of terms and phrases that can be confusing to people unfamiliar with their meaning and significance. One such term is the ‘statute of limitations’ that limits a plaintiff’s ability to recover a financial settlement or reward for their injury. In the state of California, if you were injured by the negligence of another person, you must either file a lawsuit against the negligible (at-fault) party, or settle your case, within two-years in most cases.

Receiving the proper medical treatment for a car crash injury can often take you past the two-year mark. What then? In short, talk to an attorney: you have options.

Receiving the proper medical treatment for a car crash injury can often take you past the two-year mark. What then? In short, talk to an attorney: you have options.

The Two-Year Mark

If you were involved in a car crash in which you were injured by another person, you generally have two years to either resolve the claim amicably (settlement), or file a lawsuit. This applies to most general negligence claims when two private citizens or corporations are involved. The California courts are exact in their approach to the statutory limit: two years means two years, not two years plus one day. Do not rely on your own charisma, or exceptional circumstances, or any reason whatsoever for failing to file your claim, or resolve your claim, within the applicable statute of limitations. Judges and insurance companies will not be lenient and make an exception for your case. It does not matter if you travel for work, gave birth, lost the phone number, or are a NASA astronaut and traveled to the moon! The statute of limitations is rigid. Don't miss it!

What to do if you're not back to full health, but the statute of limitations is approaching? Talk to an injury lawyer. The law provides for you, but it isn't straightforward. 

What to do if you're not back to full health, but the statute of limitations is approaching? Talk to an injury lawyer. The law provides for you, but it isn't straightforward. 

What About Settling Your Injury Claim?

Also, if you consider your injury claim more or less settled, you still have to provide the insurance carrier a signed release prior to the two year deadline. If you've talked with an insurance adjuster and have basically agreed on a number, but haven't signed a release, or there are other parties that must sign the release in addition to you, you're not safe in the sense that you can expect the insurance company to pay. Most injury attorneys in California will advise you to sign all necessary documents (in the case of settlement), at least a few weeks before the statute of limitations approaches in order to avoid surprise.

You're supposed to be put back to the place in health and finances that you were before the injury. If you're not there, what can you do to "get back?" Start with calling a good lawyer.

You're supposed to be put back to the place in health and finances that you were before the injury. If you're not there, what can you do to "get back?" Start with calling a good lawyer.

What About Public Entities?

If, however, you were injured by what is called a 'public entity,' such as a school bus, or a metro bus, or any other government-owned entity, your statute of limitations is significantly less. In California, you have just six months to assert your claim to the proper entity. This can be confusing, as you are bound by a rigid timeline, but it isn't clear how to proceed with your claim in most situations. A law firm that focuses or specializes in personal injury cases may be a good point of contact to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.

For example, if you were injured by a Metro bus in Los Angeles, there is a claims process that the injured party must initiate prior to the six month mark. Because there are a lot of people injured by buses due to the large volume of its fleet and riders, the process for a bus claim is not as tricky as, say, a claim against a charter school, or a park that you're not sure if it is a city park or not. The six month mark is general, and there are exceptions. From there, the government has forty-five (45) days to respond to your claim. In most situations, you have six months to file a lawsuit from the date of receiving the government's rejection of your claim in the mail. Again, this is a general timeline aimed at giving some helpful information, but the details can be complicated, and it is advisable that you seek the counsel of a reputable attorney if you have any questions regarding how the statute of limitations may affect your claim.

Basic California Car Crash Injury Claims

In most car accident crashes, which account for the majority of personal injury claims in California, the process is fairly straightforward, and there are few surprises. This is of course according to a law firm that focuses entirely on injury cases - if you are trying to handle the settlement or litigation of your injury case by yourself, then you should expect the process to be frustrating, confusing, and not at all straightforward. However, as car crash lawyers handle these cases every day, year after year, there are rarely surprises. This is one reason why personal injury attorneys are often consulted by people who are not sure whether they have a claim, how they should proceed, and don't know whether they can afford a lawyer. The good news is most personal injury lawyers in Orange County and Los Angeles county offer free consultations or case reviews, and they almost all work on a contingency basis, meaning there is no out of pocket expense to the client. The attorney collects a percentage of the total settlement as his or her fee, so the injured person does not have to pay for anything up front.

This Blog Post is Not Legal Counsel

Don't sleep on the statute - if you miss it in California, there really isn't a way around it! Judges will not be "lenient."

Don't sleep on the statute - if you miss it in California, there really isn't a way around it! Judges will not be "lenient."

This blog post is meant to inform, but not give a comprehensive legal analysis or provide information upon which you should base your decisions on how to pursue your legal claim. Each injury claim is unique, and your claim may get confusing or tricky fast - such as when several cars are involved, and when one of the cars is a public bus, for example. The most important thing to remember is you don't have forever to decide whether you want to file a claim against the at-fault person. Most injury lawyers would advise that it is always helpful for someone unsure about how the statute of limitations affects their case to talk with a personal injury lawyer who handles California cases. 

This blog post was written for basic information purposes only by  The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C.   The Lions  practice personal injury law in Southern California and  represent clients  throughout the state of California. The content contained herein is not formal legal advise, and should not be relied upon as you decide how to move forward with your injury claim. You are advised to seek the formal legal opinion of a lawyer to discuss the details of your injury claim.

This blog post was written for basic information purposes only by The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. The Lions practice personal injury law in Southern California and represent clients throughout the state of California. The content contained herein is not formal legal advise, and should not be relied upon as you decide how to move forward with your injury claim. You are advised to seek the formal legal opinion of a lawyer to discuss the details of your injury claim.

Southern California Car Crash Hotspots

Driving at night in Los Angeles County presents many challenges. Traffic can be lighter, but that leads to many drivers who exceed safe speeds. Take your time, be well rested, and plan your route ahead to avoid being involved in a car accident.

Driving at night in Los Angeles County presents many challenges. Traffic can be lighter, but that leads to many drivers who exceed safe speeds. Take your time, be well rested, and plan your route ahead to avoid being involved in a car accident.

Anyone who has driven on the congested roads in Southern California can attest to the unique driving conditions here in comparison to other parts of the country. Every day, tens of millions of people take to the roads of Southern California, particularly in the metro areas of Orange County and Los Angeles County. Where do most car crashes happen in Southern California, you may ask? A quick review of where you’re most likely to end up in a traffic collision could help you pay extra attention when you’re driving in these areas.

Distractions are everywhere in Los Angeles. Assume the traffic surrounding you is distracted, and may not respond correctly to merging traffic, speeding traffic, or unsafe drivers.

Distractions are everywhere in Los Angeles. Assume the traffic surrounding you is distracted, and may not respond correctly to merging traffic, speeding traffic, or unsafe drivers.

Los Angeles Metro Area

For those driving in Los Angeles, there are a few areas that experience consistent traffic congestion, meaning the areas are often in stop and go traffic, which tends to result in more rear end crashes. Pay attention to on and off ramps, especially those near major freeways like the 110, the 405 Freeway, and the 5 Freeway. Other areas that experience higher than normal rates of crashes include areas where traffic merges to 'exit only' ramps. If you've driven in Southern California for long, you know that instead of waiting in line for their turn to exit on a ramp, many drivers will wait until the last possible second, then cut in front of slowed traffic so they don't miss their exit. This causes many rear end crashes.

Remember that Los Angeles is a hub for travelers, meaning many people are in and out of the city who do not live here and therefore do not become acclimated to the unique driving environment. Because there are so many cars on the road, we must acknowledge that lots of the cars that surround us at any given time are driven by people who may not know where they are going exactly (or which road or exit they're looking to turn onto next), or are uncomfortable with the speed of traffic. This can lead to dangerous situations. We are comfortable with our own driving skills, but it is often the people who surround us on the road who create dangerous circumstances.

Los Angeles is not all freeway. There are beautiful neighborhoods, but these can be easy to get lost in too. Take your time, plan ahead, and maintain a safe distance from other drivers to avoid a car crash.

Los Angeles is not all freeway. There are beautiful neighborhoods, but these can be easy to get lost in too. Take your time, plan ahead, and maintain a safe distance from other drivers to avoid a car crash.

If you miss your exit, or are lost, it is best to pull off the freeway to a safe spot in order to gather your thoughts and plan your route. Do not try to keep driving while fiddling with a GPS device or an app on your phone; distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car crashes in Los Angeles, and often results in injury. If you are about to miss your exit, let it happen and move on - forcing your way into traffic, especially during peak hours, can result in danger situations, where you, your passengers, or other drivers may be seriously injured.

Orange County freeways can be just as jammed as Los Angeles freeways. Plan your travels ahead to avoid congestion zones.

Orange County freeways can be just as jammed as Los Angeles freeways. Plan your travels ahead to avoid congestion zones.

Los Angeles can be a difficult place for any driver. It is normal to get lost occasionally, to miss an exit, or to get stuck in frustratingly slow traffic. Fortunately, planning ahead, knowing which part of Los Angeles is experiencing high volumes of traffic at the time your are planning to travel, and adhering to defensive driving techniques can all help you avoid a traffic collision. 

Orange County Metro Area

Orange County also has several areas that experience frequent traffic, and these areas have more car crashes than most areas. As is the case in any big city or metropolitan area, the onramps and off ramps of the freeways are areas where car crashes are frequent. Orange County drivers will attest to the predictably bad traffic in a few areas in particular. The 55 Freeway, which connects the 405 Freeway and the 5 Freeway, is almost always stop and go traffic during the day. Additionally, the 55 Freeway has a juncture with the 405 Freeway close to John Wayne Airport, so there is more traffic in that area due to people coming and going to the airport.

The 5 Freeway runs north and south through California, connecting San Diego and Orange County, Los Angeles, all the way up to the northern parts of the state. Thus, there is a lot of commercial traffic on this thoroughfare. Many large semi trucks use the 5 Freeway, and traffic can move at a very fast pace when it isn’t stop and go. This means speeds of 85 miles per hour are not unusual in the left hand lanes of traffic. Average speed, when traffic is moving, is around 80 miles per hour in the left hand lanes and the carpool lane. Many onramps have traffic lights, meaning you must stop and wait for a green signal before merging onto the freeway. Thus, there are cars entering traffic that start at a standstill, or zero miles per hour, that are trying to merge with traffic traveling in excess of 80 miles per hour. This results in many car crashes.

Driving Safely in High Traffic Areas

If you’re not used to driving in heavy traffic, Orange and Los Angeles counties can be an anxious and stressful experience. A few tips may be helpful to remember when you are navigating these areas:

  • Anticipate traffic at onramps and off ramps, and proceed through these areas with caution.
  • Anticipate traffic near airports. Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport are the busiest airports in LA County and Orange County, but there are many other airports that also experience heavy car traffic in these counties as well.
  • Remember what hours tend to be “rush hour” traffic hours. Millions of people commute to and from work using the freeways. Mornings from around 6:30 to around 9 a.m. tend to be busy traffic hours; evenings from 4 p.m. to around 7 p.m. tend to experience high volumes of traffic throughout California metropolitan areas. 
  • Stop and go traffic is part of life in California. Give yourself plenty of space, and don’t be in a rush.
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times, even if you think you’re driving too slowly to be injured. Just because you’re driving slow doesn’t mean someone won’t rear end you at a high rate of speed, a crash that can result in severe injury.
  • Know where you’re going before you get in the car. If you need to use a navigation aid on your phone, set the address prior to starting your drive. Trying to drive in heavy traffic is stressful enough, and adding the task of entering addresses into your phone can distract you. If the device is already set to give you directions before you embark on your journey, you are less likely to be distracted, and therefore are less likely to be involved in a car crash.
  • Plan ahead. Leaving half an hour early can sometimes mean saving yourself from sitting in traffic for hours. This is especially true when you are trying to arrive at your destination during or around rush hour traffic. If you can, it is often worth it to drive to your destination early in order to avoid heavy Los Angeles or Costa Mesa commuter traffic.
  • Check traffic apps before starting your drive to make sure there are no road closures or car crashes that are obstructing traffic. Whatever your choice of app, many apps can help you predict where the worst traffic is likely to be so you can avoid areas of extreme or abnormal congestion. Many radio stations will also give live updates on traffic conditions during rush hour so you can avoid car crashes, which often result in road closures, or the number of lanes being reduced.
Freeway driving is part of life in Southern California. Know which roads are experiencing bad traffic, and where construction may slow your journey. Planning ahead is key to avoiding frustrating situations of being stuck in traffic for hours.

Freeway driving is part of life in Southern California. Know which roads are experiencing bad traffic, and where construction may slow your journey. Planning ahead is key to avoiding frustrating situations of being stuck in traffic for hours.

Know the Area You’re Heading To

If you’re driving to a destination that is new to you, familiarize yourself with the area ahead of time. This means looking at a map of the area, or using Google to get some insight into what kinds f area you’re driving to. Are there schools or major shopping areas nearby that will result in high traffic? Is the neighborhood you’re heading to a place where there are lots of office towers, meaning that around rush hour there will likely be a lot of people coming and going from the area? Is the area perhaps more rural, such that facilities such as gasoline stations may be few and far between? Is there road construction happening on your route, or are parts your journey experiencing a detour due to any number of reasons? Are there any natural disasters, such as wildfires, that are restricting traffic, or making driving through the region either impossible, or on an “as necessary only” basis? All these questions can likely be answered by spending just a few minutes on the internet prior to getting in your car. Knowing more about your destination will result in your ability to avoid areas that will slow you down. It will also ensure you take a route that is likely to have less traffic, meaning you’re less likely to be involved in a car crash.

 

It is rare to find the freeways of Southern California empty. Plan on traffic, no matter when you're driving. Crashes happen frequently at on and off ramps, during peak traffic hours (rush hour), and near major destinations, like schools, airports, and business centers.

It is rare to find the freeways of Southern California empty. Plan on traffic, no matter when you're driving. Crashes happen frequently at on and off ramps, during peak traffic hours (rush hour), and near major destinations, like schools, airports, and business centers.