Fresno Personal Injury Lawyer
As a Fresno personal injury lawyer, I've learned a great deal about this vibrant city. With a metro area population of nearly one million, Fresno has grown to encompass a diverse population with varied interests, a multitude of jobs and culture. With growth, however, comes the potential for accidents with the associated physical and emotional trauma that often goes hand-in-hand with financial hardship. That is where an experienced personal injury law firm can be most beneficial. Injury lawyers help those injured in an accident obtain the financial compensation they need and deserve.How Can a Personal Injury Attorney Help my Accident Case?
While it may seem that there are only certain cases where an injury lawyer is needed, this is not always true. It’s a given that when an accident involves serious injuries, multiple vehicles or insurance company resistance to pay for damages, an attorney’s help is definitely required.
But what about minor accidents? In many cases, they are not as minor as they seem. For instance, a rear-end collision that causes cervical strain and sprain is often overlooked or considered a mild injury. It is far from that. Any injury involving the cervical or neck portion of the spine and its accompanying muscles and tendons should not be taken lightly. For some, the pain resolves with rest and time. But for others, it persists for years and leads to a less active life. Damage to a vehicle, even in an accident at low speed, can cost a significant amount to repair to retain your vehicle’s value and usefulness.Establishing Proof in an Auto Accident
To recover damages, it is often necessary to negotiate with an insurance company. To do this effectively, you must provide enough evidence to show that the at-fault driver or other party caused the car crash. This requires investigation of the accident site, if possible, and testimony from witnesses who were present as well as footage from security cameras that recorded the incident. Stores often have cameras positioned within the commercial establishment and outside of it. Traffic lights have video cameras to catch errant drivers that also record accidents. If the owner of the video camera is resistant to providing the footage, a Fresno personal injury lawyer can subpoena it.Recovering Financial Compensation
Let’s face it, being hurt in an accident costs a good deal of money. Whether it is a car wreck, falling in a local store or riding in a bike path that is not properly cared for by a government agency, visits to the emergency room, hospital stays and time lost from work all add up. While you are trying to recover damages, you are faced with calls from insurance companies and others, asking questions about the accident. Having stress while trying to recover from an injury is not helpful. By incorporating information about the incident, medical reports and other records, a personal injury lawyer in Fresno can establish a case to obtain the compensation you need to get back on your feet.Is There Enough Insurance?
An injury attorney will also speak on your behalf to insurers. Protecting your right to adequate compensation is an important role for a lawyer. As a case moves forward, it may reach a point where the insurer is unable or unwilling to arrive at a fair settlement offer. In that case, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit. Before doing so, our office will find out whether the responsible party has enough insurance to cover your injuries and the expenses necessary to present your case to a jury. If the at-fault party does not have enough insurance, and liability is properly determined, we will try to settle the case without filing a lawsuit. If there is enough insurance, our office will spend time getting to know you and your family and understand how your serious injuries have impacted your life. This will make it easier for us to prepare your case for trial.How Compensation Is Calculated?
There are several ways to calculate compensation. In each, the type of compensation is divided into economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are those that refer to concrete expenses such as medical costs, lost wages and the cost of traveling to and from medical appointments. Noneconomic costs, however, are more complex and are case-specific. They represent the physical, emotional and psychological damage an injured individual experiences. They include:
- Anxiety related to the accident
- Physical pain in the weeks and months after an accident and extending into the future
- Inability to interact socially or to leave home for fear the accident will happen again
- Loss of the very things the person enjoyed before the accident
- Loss of time spent with the family or a spouse
- Punitive damages that do not represent a loss but is meant to punish the negligent person
There many different types of personal injury cases. Some examples are:
- Car accidents: These represent the most common type of personal injury case. In California, the number of car accidents is about 500,000 annually. The number of deaths associated with them is approximately 3,900 each year. Conversely, there are roughly 300,000 injuries. The majority of auto accidents are due to driver error. This includes reckless driving, drug, and alcohol impairment, operating a motor vehicle while distracted, speeding or getting behind the wheel when fatigued. According to a 2015 report by the California Office of Traffic Safety, the last year for which data was compiled in Fresno, there were 1,788 accident injuries and deaths. Of these, 196 involved the use of alcohol. Overall, 452 involved speeding. Losing a loved one to a negligent driver is one of the most common reasons for a wrongful death claim.
- Truck accidents: Due to their size and weight, being in an accident with a large truck often results in catastrophic injuries. Some common reasons for truck accidents include the low visibility of smaller passenger vehicles, failure of trucking companies to allow truck drivers ample time to deliver their cargo, lack of adequate sleep time for truckers and reckless behavior. In addition, failure to maintain trucks by making sure the vehicle is fit for the road such as ensuring tires are not worn out and brakes are working properly can cause accidents.
- Premises liability: Ensuring your home or commercial establishment is safe for visitors is important. When this is not done, visitors or customers can experience a slip and fall accident, causing injuries ranging from minor bruising to pelvic fractures. Commercial establishments have the highest duty of care, guarding against spills, melted ice or even fruit falling on the floor near storage bins. Landlords are required to maintain an apartment building in such a way as to ensure safety by clearing walkways of debris and making sure that steps and overhead lights are safe for tenants. If an accident happens, most landlords and homeowners carry liability insurance.
- Motorcycle accidents: Bikers face daunting odds if they are in an accident with a motor vehicle. Due to their lack of protection, the biker frequently faces serious injuries. Such injuries can prevent the rider from working and force him or her to be hospitalized for an extended period. In order to obtain just compensation, the biker might rely on a personal injury lawyer to negotiate their claim with an insurance company or take the matter to court as they recover.
- Pedestrian accidents: Walkers are susceptible to catastrophic accidents with a motor vehicle. This is due to their lack of physical protection similar to motorcycle riders. Serious injuries are common. In 2016 alone, California had the highest number of pedestrians killed by a motor vehicle in the country, and this number accounted for almost 15 percent of all pedestrian deaths nationwide.
- Farm tractor accidents: Each year, serious injuries and deaths are caused by farm tractor accidents. The causes of such incidents range from lack of safety protocols and failure to operate equipment safely to defective manufacturing. Newer units are required by law to have rollover protection. Operators are also required to have training on how to operate the tractor. However, of the 4.5 million tractors used in this country, 50 percent lack seat belts or rollover protection. Claims can be filed against the manufacturer or the farm owner. Even if the injured party was partially at fault for the accident, under California’s comparative fault laws, a claim can still be filed.
- Rollover accidents: Rollover accidents are often deadly. Nationwide, rollovers account for approximately 3 percent of all crashes, yet are responsible for 35 percent of all deaths. The causes of rollovers range from reckless driving to poor or defective vehicle manufacturing. One of the most common vehicle defects involves the failure of the roof to withstand the pressure during a rollover, crushing the occupants within the vehicle. The government requires that the roof should limit crush space to five inches or less and should be able to withstand 1.5 times the weight of the vehicle. Potholes and heaving pavement, as well as road debris, can also cause rollovers. If the condition of the road is poor and the reason a rollover occurred, a claim can be filed against the local or state government responsible for roadway upkeep. Since government entity claims must be filed within the statute of limitations, which is approximately 6 months or 180 days from the date of loss, retaining a personal injury lawyer is essential for protecting the statute. Once the time limit has passed, the claim will not be heard by the court.
- Grain bin explosions: A grain bin explosion can cause serious injury and death. Such explosions occur when grain dust particles are exposed to a spark or friction, resulting in the ignition. Injuries include traumatic brain injury, blindness, internal bleeding, and death. Safety protocols mandated by the government such as proper ventilation are often ignored, and evidence of the failure to provide them can be found during an investigation after the explosion. An injury lawyer will be able to shed light on why the accident happened, and file a claim on your behalf.
- Defective products: Manufacturers have the responsibility to make products that are safe for consumer use. When this does not happen, the manufacturer, supplier or seller can be held financially responsible for injuries the consumer suffers.
Depending on the type and severity of the accident, certain injuries occur. Here are some of the most common:
- Traumatic brain injury: This type of injury can have moderate to severe repercussions. For instance, the effects of a concussion can be serious, lasting for years, or mild with a return to normal activities within a few months. Others, such as bleeding within or on the surface of the brain can be life-threatening and require surgery. In this case, the injured individual may be unable to work or resume their usual way of life, further leading to severe financial hardship. A Fresno personal injury attorney can help to recover compensation.
- Abdominal trauma: Blunt trauma to the abdomen can be the result of a car accident or other incident where an impact on the abdominal area occurs. This can have a detrimental effect on the abdominal organs, causing bleeding and loss of function. In severe cases, surgery is needed to stop the bleeding. Perforation of organs can also cause leakage of their contents such as fecal material into the abdominal cavity. Both types of injury can lead to death without swift surgical intervention.
- Spinal cord injury: Injuries to the spinal cord can cause paralysis, the degree of which depends on the level and type of injury. The area of the spinal cord that is injured partly determines the impairment the person suffers. For instance, damage at the cervical or neck area of the spinal cord can result in total paralysis with a concomitant loss of the ability to breathe unaided. An injury in the lower part of the spinal cord can result in the paralysis of the lower limbs while retaining the function of other parts of the body innervated by upper spinal nerves. There are two types of spinal cord injury. Complete severance of the spinal cord or partial where the spinal cord is partly severed. Each type exhibits different functional loss.
- Loss of limbs: Amputation injuries vary according to the level at which the limb is lost. However, both partial and total amputations can cause significant problems for the injured individual. Between caring for the amputated area to prevent subsequent infection and surgery to fitting and acquiring a prosthetic device, the cost of an amputation injury can approach $100,000. Besides the financial cost, there are emotional and psychological components. If this happened due to the negligence of another, compensation for all losses can be recovered with the assistance of a Fresno personal injury attorney.
- Fractures: Bones are often fractured during an accident. Some are simple breaks and require casting and rest. Others are more complex and often require surgical placement of pins and other appliances to hold the bone together. When surgery is performed on broken bones, there is a risk of infection.
- Lacerations: Lacerations can require medical intervention to repair. Certain areas, such as the face, carry the burden of disfigurement due to scarring. This may require further cosmetic surgery to correct this disabling outcome.
- Muscle, ligament and tendon damage: Some injuries confine themselves to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that help an individual stand, turn and move. Such an injury can cause extended periods of disability. A study in 2016, presented by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, says that after five years, individuals with cervical strain and sprain had significant health issues related to neuropathic pain. A Fresno injury lawyer can help by gathering information about the injury from medical experts and the person’s treating physician. This data will help the attorney build a strong case for compensation.
Watch the following video by attorney Ed Smith to learn how to choose a personal injury lawyer:How a Fresno Injury Attorney Can Help
Whether an accident is minor or major, it is difficult to determine the long-term effect it will have on the injured individual. For this reason, it is necessary to investigate the accident thoroughly and determine who was at fault. Once a fault is established, it is possible to incorporate the cost of both economic and noneconomic damages to arrive at the amount of compensation the person deserves.
Sometimes, this can be done through negotiation with the insurer, and at other times, it may be necessary to take the case to civil court. That is why it is necessary to find a Fresno personal injury lawyer who is equally at home at the negotiation table or before a jury. It is also essential that the final resolution is not accepted until the person has reached the point of maximal treatment of all injuries.
This means that further treatment will not achieve any improvement. If the case is concluded before this happens, any treatment for injuries caused by the accident will not be paid. The case is closed once compensation is accepted.Fresno Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Fresno personal injury lawyer. If you were injured due to someone’s negligence, you have the right to be compensated for the financial damage the accident caused. Call me at (559) 377-7676 in Fresno, or use my toll-free line at (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly legal advice. You can also contact me online if that is more convenient for you.
Photo Attribution: pixabay.com
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Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 12.9.19]