When you are driving in Northern California, there is a wide range of hazards that can cause serious car accidents depending on where you are driving. San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Fremont and other cities in the Bay Area are often the site of serious Northern California car accidents caused by traffic congestion. More rural areas in Northern California like the Central Valley with cities like Fresno, Bakersfield and Stockton in the region pose different dangers such as accidents caused by speeding and intoxicated drivers traveling through sparsely populated areas. This form of unsafe driving is only compounded by the notorious Tully fog that has been involved in some of the most horrific multi-car pileups in California history. No matter where you live in Northern California, the Golden State is the most populous state in the U.S. so it is not surprising that we lead the country in both the number of auto collisions and car accident fatalities.
When you are involved in a Northern California car accident, it is natural to be shaken up and out of sorts. The emotional trauma and physical pain caused by a NorCal car accident can make it very difficult to focus on legal and insurance issues. Unfortunately, the actions that a Northern California injury victim takes in the immediate aftermath of a Northern California auto collision can have a substantial impact on your rights and remedies in subsequent negotiations or litigation. Because our experienced Northern California car accident lawyers have seen the tragic impact of ill-advised actions by injury victims after they have been involved in a collision, we have provided a list of most important actions to take if you are involved in a Northern California car accident:
- Stop and exchange insurance and drivers’ license information with the other driver
- Ensure that anyone who needs medical attention receives it (i.e. call 911)
- Avoid admitting fault or make statements that might be construed as feelings of guilt
- Summon the police to the accident scene and communicate what the other driver did wrong to cause the accident
- Gather visual evidence by taking photos of vehicle damage, injuries, the accident scene, the position of the vehicles and the surrounding area
- Identify witnesses and obtain their contact information
- Seek medical treatment and a full diagnostic exam
- Obtain legal advice and legal representation from an experienced Northern California car accident lawyer
- Complete any course of treatment, therapy or rehabilitation
- Presume that you are always being watched when engaging in physical activity
Many of these steps are designed to preserve critical evidence and preempt insurance company strategies designed to avoid liability on your claim or reduce the amount paid in compensation. Evidence can disappear when vehicles are repaired; witnesses can be difficult to track down; and delay in medical care can raise questions about the cause of one’s injuries. If you follow these basic steps, it will help you preserve the full value of your Northern California car accident claim. If you retain a Northern California car accident law firm promptly following your collision, the firm will understand the tactics used by insurance companies and can help you avoid insurance industry sharp practices.
Northern California Car Accidents: Understanding the Leading Causes of Motor Vehicle Collisions
There are a number of parties and endless variations of negligent conduct that may be the cause of a car accident in Northern California. Any party that fails to exercise reasonable care to avoid foreseeable injury to others may be liable for the injuries they cause in motor vehicle collisions. While most people presume that it is always one of the drivers that is the responsible party in a Northern California auto collision, the situation is often more complicated. Sometimes both drivers in a two car accident may share some degree of fault for an accident.
By contrast, in a motorcycle accident where the roadway is improperly surfaced causing the motorcycle to skid off the road, the public entity that contracted for the road surfacing and/or the contractor that did the work may be liable. There may even be several drivers at fault in a multi-car pileup like the type that is often seen in heavy fog conditions with poor visibility. The key point is that each individual car accident may involve multiple issues of causation and fault so it is important to have an experienced Northern California car accident attorney analyze your accident after a careful investigation. While there are many types of negligent driving that may cause a collision in Northern California, some of the most prevalent may include the following:
- Driving too quickly in poor weather that limits visibility or stopping distance (e.g. rain, ice or Tully fog)
- Speeding especially in rural or agricultural areas with light traffic flow like some Central Valley areas
- Failing to focus attention on driving especially in heavy traffic regions like the Bay Area
- Unsafe following distance (2-second rule)
- Drivers using mobile phone or portable electronic devices
- Public entities that fail to install or maintain proper traffic controls at intersections
- Improper vehicle maintenance (i.e. failure to check tire pressure, brake maintenance)
- Drivers that have consumed alcohol, legal drugs or illegal narcotics prior to traveling
- Unsafe speed on unfamiliar sparsely populated roads with minimal lighting
- Failing to check blind spots when making lane changes
- Confusing construction zones and inadequately marked detours
- Not following right of way rules at uncontrolled intersections
- Disregarding red lights or stop signs
- Multi-tasking while driving (i.e. driver distraction)
- Tire tread separation, sudden acceleration and other vehicle defects
These are a small cross-section of causes of collisions involved in Northern California car accidents. Most of these hazards can impact a driver of any type of vehicle including passenger cars, SUVs, pickup trucks, tractor-trailers, motorcycles, bicycles and buses. Collisions with any of these vehicles can be even more dangerous when a pedestrian is involved. There are certain types of collisions that are typical including:
- Two car accidents
- Multi-car pileups
- Single car crashes
- Sideswipe accidents
- Drunk driving wrecks
- Head on collisions
- Parking lot and driveway backup accidents
- Distracted driving crashes
- Chain reaction accidents
- T-bone intersection crashes
- Rollovers involving SUVs or 15-passenger vans
- Run of the road collisions
If you are involved in any of these types of collisions, an experienced Northern California car accident lawyer may be able to help you seek compensation for your injuries. One advantage to working with a proven and successful Northern California car accident lawyer is that the insurance company faces a greater risk by proceeding to trial. Sometimes the reputation of a well-established Northern California law firm will induce an insurance company to resolve a claim on reasonable terms through alternate dispute resolution (ADR). However, the best Northern California car accidents lawyers build their reputation on their willingness and ability to proceed to trial when appropriate.
Compensation for Serious Injuries in Auto Accidents throughout Northern California
Injuries that may be caused by a Northern California car accident may range from minor bruises and lacerations that heal in a matter of days to catastrophic injuries that may permanently affect your quality of live, ability to work and interactions with your spouse and children. The most serious injuries can cause permanent loss of intellectual or physical functioning including the following:
- Loss of memory
- Impaired reasoning and decision-making
- Paraplegia or quadriplegia
- Damage to verbal skills and ability to communicate
- Impairment of basic cognitive skills
- Loss of use of extremities
- Loss of mobility
- Diminished perception
- Lack of sensation
- Permanent pain
These types of long-term effects can have an extraordinary impact on one’s quality of life. This type of severe permanent loss of mental or cognitive ability may result from traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, amputation injuries and other serious injuries. While other injuries like broken bones, dislocations, soft tissue injuries, tears of ligaments/tendons and whiplash injuries may be less severe, they still may result in intense pain, periods of disability from employment, substantial medical expenses and other damages.
If you suffer injury or lose a loved one in a Northern California auto accident, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to obtain reimbursement for medical expenses, income replacement, disability and/or disfigurement damages as well as compensation for other types of intangible loss like impairment of one’s enjoyment of life experience and marital relationship, pain and suffering and punitive damages in the case of particularly egregious conduct. If the life of someone you love is taken from you, an experienced Northern California car accident law firm may also be able to obtain reimbursement for funeral and burial expenses.
If a careless, inattentive or indifferent driver turns your life upside down by causing serious injury in an avoidable traffic collision, a Northern California car accident attorney may be able to help you steer clear of insurance company traps.
An experienced and skilled Northern California car accident law firm may be able to assist you with any type of motor vehicle collision in any of the following Northern California counties including: Alameda County, Butte County, Contra Costa County, El Dorado County, Fresno County, Humboldt County, Kings County, Madera County, Marin County, Merced County, Monterey County, Napa County, Nevada County, Placer County, Sacramento County, San Francisco County, San Joaquin County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, Solano County, Sonoma County, Stanislaus County, Sutter County, Tulare County, Yolo County as well as all major metro-areas in these counties and all smaller, rural or unincorporated areas within these counties.