Serving People Hurt in Car Accidents Throughout Orange County
It happened. You weren’t expecting it, and you didn’t deserve it. But someone hit you, and now you are left to deal with the consequences…
Neale & Fhima represents car accident victims in Orange County to ensure they receive compensation for pain, suffering, and financial losses. After four decades in this business, we still believe clients should interact personally with their attorney – an approach that sets us apart from other firms. The results speak for themselves.
We have a 99 percent success rate and have won more than $50 million in verdicts and settlements. If you are suffering because of someone else’s careless driving, our Orange County car accident lawyers are here to help.
Our Car Accident Lawyers Go After Each and Every Responsible Party
Multiple parties may be liable for your injuries. This can come as a surprise to injured motorists, especially when only two cars were involved in the accident. Even then, however, you may be able to collect from the driver, the owner of the driver’s car, an employer of the driver, a government entity, a road construction or maintenance company, a vehicle manufacturer, a bar or restaurant owner, or your own insurance company, depending on the circumstances.
Determining which parties are liable – and the degree to which each of them is at fault – is a crucial service our firm provides in every case.
How Much Money Can I Get?
There are many issues to be worked out before an injured plaintiff will receive a settlement or verdict as a result of an insurance claim or lawsuit. The value of your case depends on the degree of your injuries, how long your impairments are expected to last, any permanent scarring, how much work you lost because of the accident and the amount of your medical bills.
That value can decrease if the evidence shows you may have been a major cause of the accident, if it may appear your injuries aren’t as severe as you claim (due to surveillance videos or your social media posts) or the other driver may have valid legal defenses to your claim.
How Do I Know If I Have a Claim?
The only way to know for sure is to schedule a consultation with our office. We can talk to you and learn your side of the story, how the accident was caused, your injuries and their severity. We can investigate your claims by reading the accident report from the police, speaking to witnesses, looking at any photos or videos that may be available and reviewing your medical records. Afterwards we should have a good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your claim and its possible value. Without a full picture of your situation it’s difficult, if not impossible, to have a strong opinion that you have a genuine claim and its value.
Types of Car Accidents Our Attorneys Handle
There are approximately 30,000 collisions in Orange County each year, and no two of them are the same. Part of our job as personal injury lawyers is to illustrate the unique aspects of every case to explain why the amount of compensation we are demanding for our client is reasonable. In broad terms, though, traffic accidents fall into one of several categories. The categories are based on the positions of the vehicles relative to each other at the time of impact:
These accidents occur when a vehicle fails to decelerate in time to avoid contact with another vehicle that has stopped or slowed in front of it. The front of the following vehicle strikes the rear of the forward vehicle. When a vehicle gets struck from behind, the force of the impact may push it forward into the rear of a third vehicle, or worse, out into cross-traffic at an intersection.
These accidents occur when two vehicles collide while traveling in opposite directions on the same roadway. One of the vehicles may have drifted across the center median, attempted an unsafe pass on a two-lane highway, mistakenly entered the freeway on an exit ramp, driven the wrong way on a one-way street, or swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid colliding with an object in its own lane of travel. Injuries are usually catastrophic.
Also known as “T-bone” accidents, these occur when a vehicle strikes the side of another vehicle at a perpendicular angle. They often result when a driver tries to make a permissive left turn through a gap in oncoming traffic at an intersection. In this situation, right-side passengers of that vehicle are put in extreme peril, since there is little structural protection to absorb the impact caused by the front of the oncoming car.
These accidents occur when the side of one vehicle collides with the side of another vehicle traveling in the same direction. The first vehicle is said to have “clipped” the second vehicle. Changing lanes or merging without checking the blind spot is a common cause. While the initial impact may be modest, surprised drivers can overcorrect, leading to serious multi-vehicle accidents.
As the name indicates, rollovers occur when a vehicle flips or rolls during a crash. The vehicle may come to rest on its side or its roof, or it may return to an upright position after one or more full rotations. Rollovers typically involve a single vehicle. Of these, 95 percent are tripped rollovers, meaning the car loses traction, goes into a lateral slide, and then encounters a low-profile object (like a curb) that triggers the rotation.
These occur when a traffic incident starts a chain reaction of collisions. Poor visibility is almost always a contributing factor. For example, a dust storm in 1991 caused one of the worst wrecks in our state’s history. Here in the coastal areas of Orange County, morning fog is more likely to be the culprit. Of course, poor visibility is not directly responsible for pile-up accidents – the real cause is drivers who are traveling too fast for conditions.
Not every car accident will fit into one of the categories above. The Orange County car accident lawyers at Neale & Fhima are prepared to handle any type of vehicle accident involving serious physical injuries.
10 Common Causes of Traffic Collisions
Determining the cause of an accident is the first step toward collecting damages from the other party. When the cause is unclear, the team at Neale & Fhima will gather information from the parties, witnesses, law enforcement, and our own investigators in order to piece together what happened.
We also make a practice of analyzing data from government agencies to stay abreast of the latest trends in driver negligence. For 2015, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) reports that 13,204 collisions involving injuries occurred in Orange County. Excluding pedestrian-related causes, here are the ten most frequent causes of those accidents:
|Cause of collision
|Percentage of all injury
collisions in Orange Co.
|1. Speeding or driving too fast for conditions||34%|
|2. Failing to yield to another vehicle||18%|
|3. Improper turns||10%|
|4. Failing to obey traffic control signs and signals||10%|
|5. Alcohol or drug impairment (DUI)||7%|
|6. Improper lane changes||4%|
|7. Driving on wrong side of the roadway||2%|
|8. Unsafe starting or backing||1%|
|9. Following too close||1%|
|10. Equipment failures (including defective auto parts)||<1%|
Notably absent from this list are texting behind the wheel and other forms of distracted driving. Despite all the efforts to reduce distracted driving, it remains an ever-present danger on the streets of Southern California. Given how many of the causes listed above are attributable to driver error, however, it is safe to assume that distracted driving plays a role in many of them.
When and Where Do Accidents Happen?
Collisions seem to happen when and where you are expecting them the least. They can happen while backing out of the driveway bright and early in the morning, or while circling the terminals at John Wayne Airport late at night while waiting for a loved one to arrive on a redeye. Nevertheless, some degree of predictability does exist. Recent data compiled by the CHP (and reported by The Orange County Register) pinpoints the most risky times and places to be on the road:
- Most dangerous day of the week to drive in Orange County: Friday
- Most dangerous time to drive in Orange County: 5 to 6 p.m.
- Most dangerous intersection in Orange County: Chapman Ave. at Jamboree Rd.
What You Should Do After a Car Accident
If you’re able to safely leave the vehicle, exchange contact, driver’s license and insurance information with the other driver. If the vehicles can be driven, get them out of the travel lane so they won’t cause another accident. Remain calm and treat the other person professionally and respectfully. Don’t escalate the situation by becoming angry or by making accusations. You also shouldn’t admit you made any mistakes or caused the accident (the insurance company would be very interested in hearing about that).
Getting Medical Treatment
If you feel like you’ve been seriously injured, stay where you are unless you fear the vehicle may catch fire. If you can’t call for one yourself, ask that an ambulance come to the scene. If you’re seriously injured and you start moving or walking around, you can make your injuries worse. If you’ve been injured but you’re not sure of the extent, ask for an ambulance. You may be in shock and numb to the injuries you’ve suffered. If your injuries are minor or you don’t feel any, you may want to go to the nearest emergency department for an examination or at least to your physician as soon as possible.
Seeing a physician early on may help you avoid medical and legal problems. The longer the time delay between the accident and your seeing a healthcare professional, the greater the likelihood an insurance company may claim your injuries were suffered away from the accident and that you’re engaging in insurance fraud.
The Danger of Accepting an Early Settlement Offer
Immediately following a serious car accident, you may look at your smashed vehicle and assume that auto repair bills will be your biggest expense. This is rarely the case. Physical and emotional damages can exceed the amount of property loss many times over. Economic damages, such as lost wages, can also be substantial.
These losses begin to accumulate immediately (an ambulance ride in Orange County may cost $1,000 or more) and they continue to grow as time goes on. Insurance companies know this. Adjusters will contact injury victims soon after an accident and try to settle quickly, before the full extent of their losses is known.
It is important to understand that a car accident settlement is a two-way agreement. The insurance company agrees to pay a certain amount of compensation, and in return the accident victim must sign a release of liability.
After signing a release, the victim can never seek additional compensation from that party, even if there are future expenses resulting from the accident.
If you were recently injured in a car accident and the adjuster for the other driver’s insurance company wants to discuss settlement, you should politely refuse and then contact an attorney immediately. At Neale & Fhima, we have evaluated thousands of car accident claims. A brief discussion with one of our Orange County car accident lawyers will put you in a much better position to make decisions about your case and avoid agreeing to an early settlement you will later regret.
Physical Injuries from Automobile Collisions
Safety features on modern automobiles go far beyond seatbelts and airbags. But even with the newest protective technologies, the human body is vulnerable to all types of acute injuries during a car crash. These include:
- Brain injuries – The impact of a crash can jolt a vehicle occupant’s head and cause blunt trauma against an object. Serious head injuries impact a person’s memory, language processing skills, emotions and other vital cognitive abilities.
- Broken bones – Fractures are a common injury in car accidents, and they come in many forms. Some of the most serious fractures are those involving complex bone structures like hips, knees, shoulders, wrists and ankles.
- Facial injuries – The force of a collision combined with flying glass and other vehicle parts can cause serious facial injuries, including fractures to facial bones and deep scarring. These injuries can result in damage to the eyes, nose and mouth, in addition to disfigurement.
- Burns – Burns are notoriously painful, costly injuries. Exposure to overheated vehicle parts and flames of an automobile fire can have a devastating impact on a vehicle occupant, leading to disfigurement, physical disability and incredibly expensive medical treatment.
- Loss of limbs – Injuries that require amputation significantly affect crash victims. These injuries impact a person’s ability to perform routines tasks and do their jobs. They sometimes require prosthetics and a lifetime of ongoing medical care.
- Severe cuts or bruises – Far from being simple bumps and bruises, these injuries can be signs of much more serious internal damage, such as internal bleeding or organ damage. Cuts and bruises are common in car accidents, and they require immediate medical attention and, in some cases, extensive treatment.
- Sprains, strains, or tears – Injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments are common in car wrecks. Hallmarks of sprains, strains and tears include restricted movement and intense pain. These injuries can linger for years after a crash and have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life.
- Spinal cord injuries – Damage to the spine is considered a catastrophic injury because it is often permanent and debilitating. The spine is central to many essential and basic bodily functions. When it is damaged in a car accident, it can lead to paralysis, restricted movement and incredible pain.
- Soft-tissue injuries (damage to muscles and connective tissues)- among the most common injuries suffered by car accident victims. Unfortunately, insurance companies will try to avoid paying fair compensation for such injuries, apparently believing they should pay only for injuries that show up on an X-ray. We do not accept such nonsense.
Our firm negotiates full compensation for all of our client’s injuries. And if the other side refuses, we take them to court. Our reputation is built on the fact that we mean business. By working with our firm, you’re letting the insurance company know that you won’t be satisfied with anything less than you deserve.
Laws Related to Car Accidents
There are California statutory laws passed by the legislature and common law developed over the years by judges deciding vehicle accident and insurance law cases. There are state laws requiring us to drive while we’re not intoxicated (whether by alcohol or drugs), safely (at or below the speed limit, depending on the conditions), and in a way that’s safe for ourselves and others (obeying stop signs and red lights, not weaving in and out of traffic, in vehicles in good enough shape that they can pass inspection).
The legal theory of negligence states that if a driver owes you a legal duty (to operate a reasonably safe vehicle in a reasonably safe way), that legal duty is breached when the driver makes a mistake that shouldn’t have been made, resulting in an accident and your injuries, the driver may be legally obligated to compensate you for the harm sustained.
Other publications and resources…
Contact Neale & Fhima for a Free Consultation
Too many people accept whatever dollar amount the insurance company offers, without the benefit of sound legal advice. Do not be one of those people. At Neale & Fhima, we offer free consultations, and we do not charge for our services unless you win your claim.
We have years of experience holding insurance companies and negligent drivers accountable on behalf of our clients. We encourage you to put that experience to work for you. To speak directly with one of our car accident attorneys, call (888) 407-2955 or request your free consultation online.