Kelseyville Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
This neighborhood might not have the gigantic freeways that we associate with massive car accidents, but collisions happen just the same in Kelseyville. Perhaps because of its rural character, Kelseyville encourages all sorts of dangerous driving, including going too fast for conditions or illegally passing other vehicles.
All told, about 450 people are injured or killed in accidents in all of Lake County. This number includes around 60 people killed or injured because of alcohol as well as approximately 40 motorcyclists and 20 pedestrians. State safety data ranks the county close to the middle of the pack—32 out of 58.What You Need to Prove to Win a Lawsuit
As an experienced Kelseyville personal injury attorney, I’ve heard so many misconceptions about car accidents that if I repeated them, your head would spin. Let me break down the law regarding car accidents, which is the same law that applies to slip and fall cases and other serious injuries.
To receive compensation, you need to prove that the person you are suing was negligent. In plain language, this means the driver was sufficiently careless that they are at fault. Go out onto the road any day of the week, and you'll see all kinds of negligent behavior, such as:
- Driving too fast for conditions
- Turning without using proper signals
- Failing to check a blind spot
- Drifting into another lane
- Backing up without using side mirrors
In California, you need to prove four elements to win a negligence lawsuit:
- The person you are suing owed you a duty to use reasonable care. If you’re on the road, then drivers owe their passengers and fellow motorists a duty to operate their vehicles carefully, so this element is usually easy to prove.
- The defendant did not use sufficient care. They might have committed some of the negligent behavior mentioned above.
- You must suffer an injury you can be compensated for under the law. If you broke bones or suffered a concussion, then you qualify.
- The defendant’s conduct (and not something else) must have caused your injuries. In other words, you can’t sue for a pre-existing injury unless your most recent accident made it worse.
If you can't prove these four elements, you can't win. It's as simple as that.The Evidence is Everything in a Personal Injury Case
You can’t win a lawsuit or get a settlement without evidence. Sure, you can go into court and tell the judge, “That man hit me, and I spent $6,000 in medical bills,” but the judge will laugh at you. You shouldn’t expect an insurance adjuster to be impressed, either.
Instead, you need proof of who caused the accident and when. At our firm, we have relied on the following:
- Police report. This report can identify who was involved in the collision and when/where it happened.
- Eyewitness testimony. Anyone who saw the crash can testify as to how it unfolded.
- Blood test results. If the other driver was high or intoxicated, we could use medical evidence to establish that fact.
- Surveillance video. A nearby store might have captured the collision, showing who is to blame.
- Cell phone records. If a driver was on her phone during the crash, we could find that out by issuing a subpoena for her phone records.
We also need to establish your injuries for the jury. This means using your medical records to show how badly you were hurt and submitting medical bills to prove your economic losses. Sometimes, we need a medical expert to establish that the crash caused your injuries, though that isn’t always necessary.How We Negotiate a Settlement with an Insurance Adjuster
Not every case goes to trial—in fact, very few do. I’ve handled thousands of car accident cases in my 30+ years as a lawyer, and I know that insurance companies are often eager to settle their cases out of court. It’s less costly, fasters, and more importantly private. We can often negotiate a settlement for a very favorable sum of money that should cover your injuries.
Here's the key to settling a car accident case: timing. To receive the most compensation, you need to fully understand your economic losses—the cost of medical care, lost wages, etc. The proper time to assess this is when you have made a maximum medical improvement.
Now, maximum medical improvement doesn’t necessarily mean you’re back to normal—if you suffered paralysis, you'd never be back to your old self. But it does mean that you've reached the point in time when you can’t get any better physically. At that point, we should know your economic losses.
You also need to submit a demand for compensation to the insurer of the negligent driver. This letter will lay out your injuries and other facts:
- When the accident occurred
- Why the insured is responsible for the accident
- The amount and cost of medical treatment
- How much compensation you demand to avoid going to court
A well-written demand letter should be professional but to the point. There’s no reason to make threats or anything like that, but you need to be clear about how much compensation you need to cover economic losses and other harms like pain and suffering.
In my experience as a Kelseyville auto accident attorney, insurers rarely agree with your initial demand. Instead, they try to make a counteroffer—usually a meager counter offer. We’ll reject it as too low and continue to negotiate, going back and forth until we reach a number we both agree to.
If we’ve done our research properly, we should obtain a sum of money that will fully compensate you, allowing you to move forward with your life. Our clients are pleased with our negotiation efforts, and insurance adjusters know that we mean business. Still, some of them test us, and we have no choice but to head into court and file a lawsuit to get you the compensation you need.
Watch the following video to learn about my holistic approach to personal injury cases.Kelseyville Personal Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Kelseyville car accident lawyer. I’ve enjoyed this opportunity to pull back the curtain and explain car accident and personal injury law to you. There’s more to it than we can discuss here, so please contact my office if you have questions. We believe in being accessible, so don’t be too embarrassed to reach out.
Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 8.20.20]
Image by Hans on Pixabay
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