Stockton Car Accident and Personal Injury Lawyer
Stockton is the most populated city in San Joaquin County. With a population of over 309,000, rush hour in the area is often bursting at the seams as commuters head to work or school via Highway 99, Interstate 5, and State Route 4. Millions of vehicles travel these highways every day, and with so much traffic, crashes are inevitable. As with any motor vehicle collision, there is a possibility of traumatic injuries that may require extensive medical treatment and time missed at work to recover from. When the incident is the result of someone else’s negligence, a personal injury claim may be brought to seek the recovery of losses resulting from accident-related injuries.
Anyone who has been hurt in a car accident in Stockton should know about their legal rights. Our personal injury lawyers at our law firm can answer your questions and provide you free, friendly advice on your case. Give our legal team a call today to get started at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400.
At AutoAccident.com, our legal team understands the devastation and pain an injury may bring. We are dedicated to helping parties injured in accidents caused by the negligence of others obtain the justice and fair compensation they deserve. We have handled personal injury cases since 1982 and have the experience necessary in overcoming the various defense tactics insurance companies may use to get out of paying claims. We are prepared to fight for the insurance settlement or jury award our clients deserve and will work tirelessly on their behalf. Learn more about how our family can help your family through this difficult time by contacting us today to schedule a free case evaluation.How Many Car Accidents Happen a Year in Stockton, CA?
The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) revealed in a 2019 report that approximately 2,172 injury and fatal accidents occurred in the city that year. Of these crashes, alcohol was involved in 175 of them and resulted in 497 DUI arrests. Speeding was attributed as a factor in 418 of the total traffic collisions in the report.What Are the Minimum Coverage Limits You Must Have in California?
All drivers are required to carry liability coverage in California. The state minimum insurance limits for bodily injury are $15,000 for injury or death to one individual or $30,000 if more than one party was injured or killed in a motor vehicle collision. In the latter, the $30,000 must be allocated among the claimants.
For property damage, the state minimum liability limits are $5,000 for damage to the property of other parties. This may include crashing into another person’s vehicle, structures, or fixed objects. It is recommended for all drivers to carry higher liability limits than what California law requires to protect themselves in the event of an at-fault accident.Why Should You Have Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM and UIM) coverage protects an insured if they suffered injuries in a traffic collision caused by another party that does not have adequate policy limits or no liability coverage. Since California was ranked as the tenth state with the highest percentage of uninsured motorists with 16.6 percent in a 2019 report by the Insurance Information Institute (III), it is essential to carry UM and UIM protection in the golden state.
What is particularly useful about this type of coverage is that UM coverage may come into effect in a hit-and-run accident resulting in bodily injury. With the city of Stockton having 304 hit-and-runs in 2019, according to a report by the California Office of Traffic Safety, having peace of mind knowing that you are covered under your insurance policy is crucial. The same may be said when faced with serious injuries from an auto accident caused by a driver with insufficient liability coverage.
Before an injured party may use their UM coverage, it must be proven that the other party did not carry liability coverage at the time of the incident. This may be established through an SR-22 form for a California proof of insurance certificate. Conversely, the other party’s insurance limits must be fully exhausted before a UIM claim may be made. There are various filing criteria and deadlines that must be met when bringing a UM or UIM claim. That is why it is essential to retain a top-rated car accident lawyer in Stockton with extensive experience handling first-party insurance claims.What Does a Personal Injury Claim Cover?
Compensation from a personal injury case is divided into economic damages and non-economic damages. The first type of damages reflects the financial losses of the auto accident, whereas the second type considers the intangible harms from the incident. These may include but is not limited to:
- Medical Expenses: The costs of medical treatment for accident-related injuries may be recovered through a personal injury claim. This is possible so long as the medical care has been proven through substantial evidence to be reasonable and necessary. If serious injuries are involved, a claim for future medical expenses may also be made.
- Lost Wages: An injury from a motor vehicle crash may require time to recover that often involves missing time at work. A claim for wage loss may be made for the recovery of the earnings that should have been made had the injured party not taken time off work to recover and attend medical appointments.
- Loss of Future Earnings: If the injury prevents the claimant from earning income in the future, a loss of future earning potential claim may be brought forward. Determining the amount of future wage loss may be challenging as medical records must support that the injuries are permanent and will most likely have an impact on an injured party’s ability to work the same position they held before the crash.
- Out-of-Pocket Expenses: The costs of a serious injury suffered in a car accident may be staggering. Any insurance settlement or jury award should consider the long-term effects of the injury. To accomplish this, a Stockton personal injury lawyer will often work with an expert witness such as a life care planner. Testimony from this type of expert witness may help prove the need for home and vehicle modifications like wheelchair accessibility and medical devices to accommodate an injured party with a permanent disability.
- Pain and Suffering: Damages for pain and suffering reflect the physical pain and emotional suffering an injury has had on a claimant. Insurers have their own ways of calculating pain and suffering damages by using computer claims programs such as Colossus. An initial settlement offer may not account for the true extent of this non-economic damage, and that is why it is essential to retain legal counsel to ensure you are not taken advantage of by the insurance company.
- Loss of Consortium: A claim for loss of consortium considers the losses suffered by the spouse of an individual that suffered traumatic injuries in a traffic collision caused by another party’s negligence. Compensation sought through this type of claim is intended to address the damage to the marital relationship that resulted from traumatic injuries. It may also consider the inability to conceive children because of a catastrophic injury, such as a spinal cord injury.
Proving the value of personal injury damages in an accident case may be challenging as a collection of compelling evidence and testimony from expert witnesses is often necessary. Fortunately, an injury lawyer with the expertise, knowledge, and resources required in such claims will help provide a client with the information and support they need to obtain the best outcome possible. The following video provides tips on how to select the best Stockton car accident lawyer to handle your case.What is the Role of a Lawyer in a Personal Injury Case?
When legal counsel is retained in an accident case, an injured party will have an advocate who will perform the following on their behalf:
- Communicate with Insurance Carriers: An auto accident attorney will notify the insurance companies involved in the personal injury matter that the claimant is being represented by counsel. This establishes that communication will be between the insurance representatives and the lawyer moving forward. It may also help protect the claimant’s right to privacy by preventing insurance adjusters from reaching out to them for information regarding their case.
- Investigate the Incident: An independent investigation of a car wreck is often necessary as there may be disputes regarding liability for the incident or the severity of the injuries that resulted from it. The process may involve a personal injury lawyer heading out to the scene of a crash in Stockton to gather and preserve evidence relevant to the case. An attorney may also work with expert witnesses such as accident reconstruction experts to determine the sequence of events leading up to the collision.
- Prepare a Demand Package: In pre-litigation, a lawyer will prepare what is often called a demand package to the insurance company representing the at-fault party to request a specific amount in settlement of the bodily injury claim. Demand packages are a presentation of the details of the auto accident, collection of evidence in the form of exhibits, medical records and billing statements from all medical providers, documents of wage loss, and damages incurred.
- Negotiate with Insurers: The unfortunate reality about car accident cases is that insurance companies are primarily concerned with protecting their bottom line, and that may come at the cost of claimants as they work to downplay the value of cases or outright deny claims. That is why it is crucial to work with a Stockton personal injury attorney that has years of experience working with difficult insurance carriers and defense counsel to ensure that a fair settlement is obtained on behalf of the injured party.
- File in Civil Court: The thought of litigation may be stressful and overwhelming for injured parties. However, the calculation of damages by programs like Colossus often results in unfair settlement offers that may leave claimants without a choice but to file lawsuits. An accident attorney will file in civil court and present the case in front of a jury if it is the best option for the client and their case.
One of the greatest benefits of retaining legal counsel is that most that handle personal injury matters often work under a contingency fee agreement. This means that there are no upfront costs due for legal representation. Attorney’s fees will only be due if there is a successful outcome in the case.Stockton Car Accident FAQ
How much time do you have to file a personal injury lawsuit in California?
There is not an unlimited amount of time allowed to bring an accident claim. That is because there is a statute of limitations that applies to civil cases. Under the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1, a personal injury lawsuit must be filed in civil court no later than two years from the date of the incident. If a case is brought after the time limit has expired, the court will most likely dismiss it, and the claimant may lose the right to recovery of compensatory damages. Various factors may influence the statute of limitations that may apply to a case. Keep in mind that it is a good idea to discuss a potential claim with a personal injury lawyer in Stockton as soon as possible because the preparation of each injury case requires substantial time and effort to build. That is why the best course of action after getting injured in a motor vehicle accident is to reach out to a lawyer immediately to learn about your rights and options for recovery moving forward.
Can I recover for damages in a car accident if I’m partially at fault?
A common question our law firm often receives from clients after a motor vehicle accident is “can I recover for my damages in a car accident if I was also at fault?” The answer is yes. California is a comparative fault state when determining personal injury damages. That means all parties are liable for the percentage of negligence in the accident. In comparative negligence cases, insurance companies usually allocate a percentage of liability to each party involved. However, if the injured person is not familiar with comparative fault, insurance companies may use that to their advantage. That's why it's important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Having your attorney by your side in these situations is essential. Your lawyer will review the evidence of the case to ensure liability is properly determined.
What are the chances of winning a personal injury claim?
According to statistics, 95 percent of personal injury claims are settled out of court, while only 5 percent go to trial. Experts say the claims that do go to trial end up losing 90 percent of the time. One of the biggest reasons why so many cases settle out of court is that a trial is expensive and can drag out over several years. During that time, injured individuals could lose their job and may experience grim financial consequences due to mounting bills. If you need a quick settlement, it's important to work with an experienced injury attorney you can trust. Negotiating is often time-consuming due to the back and forth from both sides. This could take up to two years before a settlement is reached. If you decide against the insurance company's final offer, your case will go to trial. To ensure your chances of a successful outcome, you must work with a lawyer who has a strong track record of wins. You can reach out to one of our experienced Stockton personal attorneys for a free initial consultation.
Call a Personal Injury Attorney in Stockton, CA Today
At AutoAccident.com, our attorneys handle personal injury and wrongful death cases for injured parties and families of decedents in Stockton and throughout California. We have recovered fair compensation on behalf of our clients for over three decades. Our legal team attributes our track record of success to our commitment and dedication to meeting the needs of our clients by working tirelessly to obtain a favorable outcome.
We are available anytime to provide free, friendly case advice. Call today at (209) 227-1931 or (800) 404-5400 to set up an appointment for a free consultation at our Stockton office:
115 N Sutter St Floor 3 STE 6
Stockton, CA 95202
Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 5.12.22]
Photo Source: Pexels User "Taras Makarenko"
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