It can happen in the blink of an eye – one moment everything seems fine and the next your life is changed when you find yourself involved in a serious motor vehicle accident. Car accidents happen every day, but residents of Lake Elsinore don’t usually prepare to be involved in one when they get into their vehicle – let alone the victim of catastrophic or even fatal injuries. However, if you are hurt in a motor vehicle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you should speak to an experienced Lake Elsinore car accident attorney to see if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Injuries and Fatalities in Lake Elsinore
The California Office of Traffic Safety counted 312 traffic fatalities and severe injuries in Lake Elsinore in 2016 alone; this does not include unreported injuries or seemingly minor aches and pains. The densely populated city has seen an explosion of residents in the past few decades and now counts over 66,000 people that call Lake Elsinore home. Additionally, the city’s picturesque freshwater lake, abundance of roads and bike trails that attract motorcyclists and bicyclists, and status as a resort town attracting copious tourists only add to the number of people traveling the busy 15 freeway and Lake Elsinore’s surface streets. Given these facts it is no surprise motor vehicle accidents and resulting injuries are a common occurrence.
Common Car Accident Causes
Lake Elsinore car accidents, as with most motor vehicle accidents, are usually caused because someone behaved negligently – that can include motorists, parties charged with road maintenance, or even auto manufacturers. Car accidents, however, are most commonly caused by driving behaviors such as:
- Texting and driving,
- Unsafe turns and lane changes,
- Intoxicated driving, and
These behaviors are not only unsafe and should be avoided, many of them are violations of traffic laws and regulations specifically designed to protect people on California’s roadways – a solid indication of negligence. If you were injured due to these or other improper behaviors, talk to a Lake Elsinore attorney today to see if you can recover for your injuries.
Recovering for Car Accident Injuries in Lake Elsinore
The most common way victims pursue recovery in Lake Elsinore is filing a personal injury claim alleging negligence on the part of the injuring party. Establishing negligence requires you to show more likely than not:
- You were owed a duty of care by the defendant;
- The defendant breached their duty through an act or omission/failure to act; and
- Defendant’s breach caused you injury.
If you prove these elements, the other party will be presumed to have acted negligently and, if unable to raise a valid legal defense, will be liable for damages you can prove in court.
Types of Damages You May Recover
Compensatory damages are intended to make victims whole for injuries sustained through another’s negligence. An award may be intended to make up for economic and noneconomic harms. Some, such as lost wages, hospital bills, or damage to property, are factual and can be quantified through evidence. Other harms – usually emotional and psychological trauma – are more abstract and not easily priced. In cases such as these, the court or jury determines the amount to award for harms like disfigurement, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
In situations where a party’s injurious conduct was particularly reprehensible, additional damages in the form of punitive damages may be given – these are meant to punish the wrongdoer and prevent repetition of the behavior by defendant or others and generally vastly greater than compensatory damage awards. Victims must prove more elements were present and the burden of proof is higher than when merely establishing negligence, so it’s wise to have a skilled car accident attorney navigate these complex standards and make compelling arguments.
What Do I Do if I Was Hurt in a Lake Elsinore Car Accident?
If you or a loved one was injured in a Lake Elsinore car accident, it is important you take a few simple steps to help both your health and the health of any potential legal claims you may bring in the future.
See a Doctor
Get medical treatment as soon as possible after a car accident occurs. You need to be evaluated and treated for any apparently injuries as well as checked for injuries you may not know you sustained. Some serious injuries do not show symptoms for days or even weeks after they happen.
To help your physical recovery as well as strengthen any claim you bring, follow all treatment provider instructions exactly, take medicine just as prescribed, and attend all follow-up appointments.
Gather Records and Evidence
Negligence claims hinge on evidence – not only to establish whether the defendant behaved negligently, but to prove the extent of your injuries. If possible, photograph the car accident scene and all vehicles involved. Notify authorities and get a copy of the police report created. Obtain names and contact information for all accident witnesses, and retain a copy of any bills, receipts, records, reports, or documentation generated that reflects the extent of your injuries (physical and otherwise) and expenses you have incurred because of your injuries.
Do Not Delay
Don’t procrastinate, because time is working against you. California created a 2-year statute of limitations for almost all personal injury claims – including car accidents – that starts running the date your injuries occur. If you don’t file your lawsuit in civil court before the statute runs, you permanently lose your ability to recovery compensation for your injuries in court.
Contact a Lake Elsinore Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one was hurt in a car accident, contact the skilled Lake Elsinore car accident attorneys at Walton Law without delay. Our attorneys have spent years representing victims like you and recovered millions for their car accident injuries through personalized, aggressive advocacy. Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (866) 338-7079 or online through our Contact Us webpage to set up a risk-free, no obligation case review today. The initial consultation is always free, and you will not pay until we win your case. Let our experienced attorneys review the facts of your case and start you on the path to securing the best possible outcome out of an unfortunate, avoidable car accident.