CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: What We Are Doing to Protect Our Clients

Chico Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer

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In a split second, any person on the road may find themselves involved in an accident resulting in injuries ranging from bruises and scrapes to serious injury and death. In a motor vehicle crash, the right personal injury attorney may make the difference in obtaining the compensation you need for damages incurred. It is in your best interest to speak with a lawyer right away to ensure a favorable outcome of your claim.

If you were injured in a car accident in Chico or elsewhere in Butte County, protect your right to fair compensation by working with an experienced personal injury attorney. Call (530) 392-9400 for free, friendly advice on your potential legal options.

When you need assistance in bringing a civil case for damages, our accident attorneys can provide experienced and compassionate guidance in helping you seek recovery of resulting losses. Our personal injury law firm has helped many injured parties and families in California obtain successful outcomes in their cases since 1982. Reach out to us today to discuss your case with one of our skilled personal injury lawyers and learn how we can help you get your life back on track.

How Many Accidents Happen in Chico, California?

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), in a 2018 traffic report, there were 303 accidents in total that resulted in injury or fatality that year. Of these motor vehicle collisions, cyclists were involved in 44 of them, followed by pedestrians with 23 and motorcycles with 21. Wrecks involving speeding comprised 35, and alcohol was involved in 42 of all reported traffic accidents.

Common Reasons for Car Crashes in Northern California

There is a wide array of reasons for motor vehicle crashes in California. However, specific causes may contribute more than others, such as:

  • Distracted Driving: Whether it is adjusting the radio, speaking with passengers, or texting while driving, any of these types of distracted driving may increase the chances of a car accident.
  • Drunk Driving: Impaired motorists, whether the intoxication results from drugs or alcohol, may not be able to take the types of precautions that sober and prudent motorists would take. This may endanger the lives of others on the road, especially if the drunk driver is unable to maintain a safe speed.
  • Manufacturing Defects: Automakers are expected to design and manufacture vehicles that meet federal safety guidelines. However, when car manufacturers fail to do so, any defect in the manufacturing or design process may lead to a motor vehicle collision. Insufficient roof crush resistance, faulty tires, and acceleration issues are just some of the many factors contributing to an auto accident.
  • Road Defects: Some road conditions may make it dangerous for drivers to navigate from pavement surface changes to potholes. The direct result is often a traffic collision and injuries.
  • Speeding: Not only does speeding cause car wrecks, but it may also make them worse when they happen.

These are just some of the many types of factors that may contribute to motor vehicle accidents. If you are one of the many people hurt in traffic accidents in Butte County or elsewhere in California, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the person or entity who caused the incident. A local injury attorney may advise you of your rights and what to expect from your claim. 

Watch the video below for information on how to find the best Chico personal injury lawyer to handle your case.

Types of Accident Cases Our Law Firm Handles

Our accident attorneys handle a wide array of cases, including those that involve:

What are the Elements of Negligence in a Personal Injury Case?

Whether you suffered traumatic injuries in a motor vehicle collision or another type of accident caused by negligence, there may be compensation available. However, various elements must be proven in the case to recover damages. This is where an experienced and best-rated personal injury lawyer in Chico comes in. An accident attorney can help demonstrate elements of negligence in a lawsuit, including:

  • The at-fault party owed a duty of care to the injured party
  • The other party breached this duty through negligence
  • The other party’s negligent actions played a significant role in the causation
  • The injured individual suffered damages as a direct result

When this criterion has been met, the court in Butte County may uphold a claim for damages, and the injured party may be awarded compensation.

How Do You Value a Personal Injury Claim?

It can be challenging to place a fair value on accident-related injuries and losses. Compensation is unique to each injured party and accident case as they vary greatly on the facts and circumstances of the incident. A top-rated personal injury lawyer in Chico can help an injured party determine the types of damages they may be entitled to, including:

  • Economic Damages: Economic damages are also known as special damages in an accident case, economic damages are financial losses resulting from injuries suffered in a crash. These may include past and future medical expenses, lost income, loss of future earning potential, and more.
  • Non-Economic Damages: Intangible losses fall under the category of non-economic damages. Also referred to as general damages, it may be challenging to place a monetary value on these. The reason is that general damages are subjective in nature and vary from case to case. It may include emotional trauma, lost enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering.

Aside from general damages and special damages, punitive damages may be sought from the party responsible for the incident in cases where egregious conduct on their part is established. This may include evidence proving that the other party was driving under the influence (DUI) or excessively speeding in the moments leading up to the accident. Punitive damages are not intended to compensate claimants and serve the sole purpose of punishing negligent individuals and entities for their wrongdoing.

What Happens When the At-Fault Driver Has No Liability Insurance?

When you are involved in a motor vehicle collision caused by another driver, you may expect that person to have liability coverage. However, that is not always the case. A 2019 report by the Insurance Information Institute (III) revealed that 16.6 percent of drivers were uninsured in California, putting the state at a ranking of 10 with the highest uninsured rate in the country. With this information in mind, we cannot always depend on others on the road to be insured. It is essential to understand what options you may have if you are involved in a car wreck with a driver who lacks liability coverage or has minimal policy limits.

Drivers in California are encouraged to carry uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). If a driver causes a traffic collision and has limited to no bodily injury liability coverage, your insurer will pay for damages incurred, provided you carry UM and UIM coverage. It may also extend protection to those injured in hit-and-run accidents. What is great about this type of coverage in California is that it may protect the insured and family members in the household who are hurt in motor vehicle crashes as passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians. This is possible so long as they are not listed as excluded members of the insurance policy.

While UM and UIM coverage may provide some assistance, such coverages may create stressful and challenging situations. In first-party insurance claims, insurers may attempt to avoid paying claims brought by their insured. Conversely, there may be exclusions for specific situations, and coverage may not apply. An effective way to protect your rights and best interests are to speak with a local personal injury attorney who has years of experience handling cases like yours. A skilled Chico car accident lawyer will know how to negotiate with difficult insurance companies and litigate the case if the insurer cannot reach a fair settlement.

How Long Do I Have to Make a Personal Injury Claim in California?

People injured in motor vehicle collisions do not have unlimited time to bring a claim for damages. California, like all states, has a statute of limitations. This law restricts how long an individual has to file a lawsuit in civil court as a plaintiff if a settlement agreement cannot be reached with the insurance company. Under the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1, the injured party only has two years from the incident date to file a personal injury lawsuit.

In cases where a government entity is involved, the claimant has less time to take action. Under the California Government Code Section 911.2, a notice of claim must be filed with the appropriate public entity within 180 days of the accident date. Because of the strict filing criteria and deadlines that apply to these cases, it is essential to consult an experienced and top-rated Chico personal injury lawyer.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Chico, CA Today

Our personal injury law firm's mission is to seek full and fair compensation when representing Northern California residents who have been hurt in car accidents through no fault of their own. We believe that no one should have to bear the consequences of someone else’s negligent actions.

If a recent crash in the Chico area or elsewhere in Butte County left you with traumatic injuries, now is the time to take action by retaining legal counsel. Contact our law office today to learn how to help at (530) 392-9400 or (800) 404-5400. Our accident attorneys are available to speak with you and provide free, friendly advice on how to best proceed in your case.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 8.16.21]

Image Credit: Pexels User ~ “Craig Adderley”

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"Me and my wife; had a car accident. We were amazed how easy, professional, friendly attorney Ed Smith is along with his staff. Everybody is amazing. Thank you so much, we are very impressed!" Alex & Dinah M.
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