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Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States, and San Jose is no exception. In fact, the city’s traffic fatalities hit a two-decade high in 2015, with a 35% jump in just two years. Traffic fatalities outpace the city’s other leading cause of death – violent crime – by a factor of 2 to 1.
According to the San Jose Police Department, there are several trends that contribute to San Jose’s high crash and traffic fatality rate. These include:
Many car crashes are preventable. Taking certain precautions, detailed below, can ensure drivers, passengers, and pedestrians all arrive at their destination safely.
Over half of California drivers reported that a person talking or texting on a cell phone hit or almost hit them, but distractions aren’t limited to phones. Using earbuds or headphones while operating a vehicle is not only dangerous, it is against state law. Distractions can also include adjusting a radio, reaching for an item inside the car, or other negligent actions that result in an accident.
Drivers should maintain safe driving patterns, such as keeping a safe distance, driving at the speed limit, and anticipating potential accidents. Adults in a vehicle should always wear a seatbelt and children should be in a car seat depending on their age. Furthermore, drivers should properly maintain cars with routine maintenance.
It is vital that a driver never drinks or takes drugs (prescription or otherwise) before driving. A driver should avoid another driver who is driving erratically and appears intoxicated. He or she should pull over and alert authorities.
No two car accidents are exactly alike, and injuries vary widely from crash to crash. There are, however, some injuries that we see more often in serious car accidents. Some of these include:
Perhaps the most serious of injuries, trauma to the head and neck, requires extensive monitoring and quality medical care. These injuries may take weeks to months to heal, and victims may experience partial or total disability. Head and neck injuries may result in loss of sensory or motor function, paralysis, or other injuries that require lifelong assistance and accommodation. The loss in life quality can be devastating to both the victim and their loved ones.
The force of impact may lead to open or closed head injuries, traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussions, fractures of the spinal column or damage to the spinal cord. Victims may experience vision loss, hearing loss, behavioral changes, or a loss in cognitive function.
Back injuries are another common scenario in car accidents, leading to temporary or permanent disability. Victims may experience painful herniated discs, or a common condition called whiplash, which results from sudden movement and affects the back and neck. Serious whiplash can cause intense pain, swelling, and even temporary vocal cord paralysis.
Equally serious are injuries to the trunk, which can include soft tissue damage, organ bruising, or internal bleeding. These are life-threatening emergencies that require immediate medical care. Collapsed lungs and broken ribs can result from the force of the impact and even the deployment of the airbag. In the event of a pre-existing medical condition, some victims can even go into cardiac arrest from the stress of the crash.
Lastly, car accident victims can experience fractures or soft tissue injuries in their hands, feet, arms, or legs. Broken limbs can require surgery or other extensive treatments, depending on the extent of the injury.
Aside from filing a claim for damage to a vehicle, property damage, and other related expenses, a person involved in a car accident may also file a personal injury claim if he or she was injured in the crash.
Legal processes in car accidents involving more serious damages than a typical “fender bender” are typically more complicated and lengthy. A person injured in a car accident may be entitled to compensation for:
While a person may be able to negotiate vehicle damage claims after a car accident, we recommend he or she contact an attorney if an injury has taken place.
The following steps are involved in a personal injury claim following a car accident:
A person injured in a car accident in San Jose should contact the trusted team of lawyers at Henshaw & Henry for a free consultation.
Car accident law in California is closely related to insurance law. With regard to insurance, California is considered a “fault” state, which means you’re free to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against an at-fault driver. California law allows victims of car accidents to pursue a couple of different types of damages, which include:
California also has laws that govern compensation in the event that drivers share fault in an accident. You’re still free to pursue compensation if you’re partially at fault for an accident, as long as you are less than 50% at fault. In this case, your damages will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were 20% at fault for an accident, and damages totaled $100,000, your total compensation would be $80,000.
Each state sets certain time limits for filing a personal injury lawsuit, which is also called the “statute of limitations.” In California, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit with the courts. If you fail to meet this deadline, the courts will likely refuse to hear your case, and you will be unable to secure compensation for your injuries. Claims against a city or a municipal agency work differently – you only have 6 months to file these claims, and you must adhere to a strict set of procedural rules. This highlights the importance of contacting an attorney as soon as possible.
The hours and days after a car accident can be confusing. Knowing how to proceed can help protect your case and minimize stress from the situation:
If you were injured in a car accident, you may not be able to collect information from witnesses, take pictures of the accident scene, or record the other driver’s insurance information. Fortunately, the police must respond to any car accident that results in injury and file a report. When you feel able, call the police station and ask if you can add your version of events to the report. Be as specific as possible, explaining how the accident occurred and describing the extent of your injuries.
Due to filing deadlines and the statute of limitations, it’s best to explore your legal options as soon as possible. Contact the Law Offices of Henshaw & Henry. One of our attorneys will visit you at home or in the hospital to listen to your story and provide you with a free review of your legal options.
An insurance company may approach you with a settlement offer, but it’s best not to sign anything until your attorney has reviewed it. You don’t want to settle for less than you deserve. Our attorneys will protect your best interests and seek fair compensation for your injuries.
If you or a loved one has recently sustained injuries in a car accident, you don’t have to go through the claims process alone. Contact the attorneys at Henshaw & Henry, PC to schedule your free case evaluation today. Let us help you get on the road to recovery.
Serious car accidents require legal intervention. In the days and weeks following a car accident, you may experience confusion and helplessness resulting from back-and-forth phone calls with insurance companies, doctors’ appointments, and missed work time. As your bills accumulate, you may be wondering how you’ll pay for everything and when (or if) your life will ever get back to normal.
Insurance companies and third parties want to pay as little on a claim as possible – it’s the nature of their business. The nature of our business is to get accident victims the compensation for their injuries that they deserve. Our personal injury attorneys are uniquely equipped to handle car accident cases. Our firm knows the ins and outs of insurance law and local filing deadlines. Should litigation become necessary, our firm will take your case to a local or higher court. We won’t stop fighting on your behalf and will do everything we can to achieve fair compensation for your injuries.
The attorneys at Henshaw & Henry help San Jose car accident victims by negotiating aggressively on their behalf, taking on the insurance companies, and holding other parties accountable for their negligence. The simple act of getting our law office involved can cause insurance companies to take your case more seriously.