While car accidents are an unfortunate but common occurrence for the millions of drivers on the road daily, they can also have potentially devastating consequences. Injuries, medical bills, damage to the car and other property, and trauma can follow accident victims for years or even decades. That’s why a Sacramento auto accident attorney can be such an important partner if someone hit you or injured you while on the road.
The situation is often complex. From understanding who was responsible for the accident to knowing what steps to take and how to protect yourself, no one involved should be alone in the process. When working with an auto accident attorney Sacramento residents can rest easier knowing that they will have a fair chance at justice and potential compensation.
Why Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
When a car accident occurs, it’s only a matter of time before insurance companies get involved. The costs, from property damage to potential medical bills, are just too significant. Unfortunately, because insurance companies work to maximize their profits, they will look for reasons to minimize any payment to car accident victims.
Hiring a Sacramento auto accident attorney ensures that you don’t have to take on insurance companies by yourself. Instead, the lawyer can represent your best interests, providing you with a higher chance of gaining financial compensation and justice.
The right legal partner can also help in a variety of other areas. For example, they communicate with the police on your behalf, ensuring that you don’t accidentally or wrongly admit fault when no liability exists. They will help you gather evidence necessary for a potential legal proceeding and help you get everything in order before the California time limit for car accidents expires two years after the incident.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Sacramento
While vehicle accidents can occur for a variety of reasons, the city of Sacramento has published the top five most common traffic violations that cause car accidents on its website:
- Following vehicles in front of you too closely. Drivers have to keep a distance far enough that allows them to stop, no matter how quickly the vehicle ahead stops. As a general guideline, three seconds should elapse before you pass the same stationary object that the vehicle in front of you passed.
- Failing to stop for red traffic lights. Especially in a busy city like Sacramento, failure to stop at a red light can be fatal for everyone involved. It’s one reason why California has doubled the fine for any red light violations leading to accidents.
- Driving under the influence. Drugs or alcohol are an unfortunate common reason for many auto accidents and tend to result in immediate liability for anyone involved in an accident who was under the influence.
- Speeding. This does not just include driving faster than the road’s posted speed limit but also driving at any speed that may be unsafe based on rain, fog, or other conditions that make driving more dangerous than clear conditions would.
- Left turns. Turning left tends to require crossing a lane of other vehicles approaching head-on, leading to many accidents in the process. Drivers who fail to pay enough attention to oncoming vehicles during their left turns are probably the faulty party for any consequences of the accident.
Of course, these are far from the only causes of car accidents in Sacramento. Failure to yield in right-of-way situations, unsafe lane changes, and driver fatigue can all lead to accidents with potentially devastating consequences. An auto accident attorney in Sacramento can help you sort through these potential causes in a situation where a split second can make a dramatic difference.
Sacramento Car Accident Statistics
According to California’s Transportation Injury Mapping System, the number of car accidents in Sacramento has risen in the past few years. During 2021 3,842 total crashes resulted in injuries in the city, compared to 2,931 in 2020.
While that lower number in the prior year was undoubtedly related to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 also outpaced 2019 (3,649 crashes), 2018 (3,279 crashes), and 2017 (3,123 crashes). Of those accidents, 361 resulted in serious injuries in 2021, while 64 were fatal.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident in Sacramento
When you are in an auto accident, it can be difficult to think straight. Keep in mind that your priority should be your health, the safety of those around you, and your future well-being. These steps can help to keep those priorities in order while also protecting your personal rights and maximizing your potential to get justice down the road.
1. Call 911
Anytime an accident results in an injury, obstruction of the road, or significant vehicle or property damage, calling 911 is crucial. Emergency responders will answer right away, while the police will arrive to create an accident report with details of the scene.
2. Stay at the Scene
It’s illegal in California to leave the site of an accident. And even if it weren’t, doing so might make you look suspicious. So, as tempting as it might be to chase after a perpetrator or just go home, it’s vital to stay at the scene of the accident as long as needed.
3. Check for Injuries
While waiting for medical first responders to arrive at the scene, check yourself and any passengers for potential injuries. If no one in your vehicle seems seriously hurt, check others involved in the crash as well. You might need to administer first aid but wait for the properly trained professionals for any more in-depth medical assistance.
4. Gather Information
With immediate needs taken care of, start to gather and compile as much information as you can. That includes a few different actions:
- Write down all the details you remember about the accident and anyone else involved. You might have trouble remembering some of these details, like whether the other driver was driving erratically or running a red light or the color, make, and license plate of the vehicle at a later date.
- Take pictures, including images of any damage to your vehicle, injuries, and the scene of the accident. All of it may become evidence at a later point.
- Get the full name, contact information, and insurance policy details of other people involved in the accident. Getting the name and contact information of witnesses can also help for any legal steps down the road.
Keep all this information easily accessible and in a central location to make sure you can refer to it and dig it out anytime you need it.
5. Get a Medical Follow-Up, If Needed
Even if you think you don’t need it, a medical check-up can uncover internal injuries that may not develop until after the accident. Keep any receipts and records of the check-up for potential later use.
6. Contact an Attorney
With the immediate steps taken care of, it’s time to get in touch with an experienced Sacramento auto accident attorney. They will help you organize existing information and gather potential follow-ups, like a quote for your car damage or statements from other witnesses. The right car accident lawyer can also protect you by working with intimidating insurance companies on your behalf.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You File a Police Report?
California requires anyone involved in a car accident to report it to the local police department or the California Highway Patrol within 24 hours. If you called 911 and an officer arrived on scene, they will file the report on your behalf.
In addition, drivers also must file an accident report to the California Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days if the crash resulted in an injury or death, or if it caused more than $1,000 in property damage.
You can get the police report in Sacramento should you need it for legal purposes. You can request it in writing from the Sacramento Police Department, or by visiting the city’s police station on Freeport Boulevard. The cost to obtain the report is $5, and the person requesting it needs to be either someone directly involved in the accident or their legal representation.
When to Report the Car Accident to Your Insurance Company
Shortly after the accident, your insurance company may contact you to ask for a settlement. It’s in their best interest to settle the claim quickly and with the lowest possible cost for them, so avoid signing or verbally agreeing to anything.
Instead, let your car accident lawyer manage any communication with the insurance on your behalf. If you haven’t already hired a qualified attorney, the first time the insurance company contacts you is the perfect time to do so.
How to Protect Yourself After a Car Accident
If you’re in a vehicle accident in Sacramento, the first and most important step is to ensure your health. Call 911 if you can at the scene, and follow up as quickly as possible with a trusted doctor for a check-up. If physically able, gather information at the scene to make sure the police and any other entities down the road have the most accurate picture of the accident possible.
After that, protecting yourself takes a more long-term view. Get in touch with a lawyer to ensure you are fully and accurately represented in any conversations with law enforcement and insurance claims adjusters.
When to Call a Sacramento Auto Accident Lawyer
The best time to call an auto accident attorney is shortly after the accident and before you have any communications with your car insurance company or law enforcement beyond the scene of the accident. At this point, the attorney can best assist you in what information to gather and how to interact with the many stakeholders or conduct those interactions on your behalf.
If you do not take this step directly after the accident, don’t wait longer than necessary. Your insurance company will likely contact you, or Sacramento law enforcement will ask for a follow up. Use these opportunities as prompts to get legal representation.
An Auto Accident Attorney in Sacramento Can Help Determine Liability
When you’ve had a car accident, determining liability will be crucial to potentially sue for damages against your medical bill and/or property damage. Your attorney can help you work through all the details of the accident to determine who was at fault and what that means for potential compensation.
California has at-fault laws for determining liability, which means that damages depend on who is proven to be responsible for the accident. Though the officer at the scene may include an initial observation on who may be at fault in the police report, the party suing for compensation will need to prove that others were responsible.
Sacramento residents will also need to know California is a state that follows comparative negligence laws, which means that more than one party may share responsibility. An experienced attorney can help to ensure that even if you caused the accident, you can receive a percentage of the damages sustained as compensation if you can prove partial fault by the other party.
Finally, an auto accident attorney in Sacramento can help you secure the full extent of damages including not just initial medical or car repair bills but also past and future pain and suffering, long-term physical and mental medical costs as a result of the injury, and loss of earnings or missed wages.
What to Do If You Have a Car Accident With an Uninsured Driver
In California, just under 17% of drivers don’t have car insurance. If you were in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have insurance, you still need to report the accident to the police. After that, getting in touch with an auto accident attorney can help you walk through the necessary steps to get compensation even if it doesn’t come through the other party’s insurance policy.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Berg Injury Lawyers, Sacramento Auto Accident Attorneys
When you’ve had an auto accident, working with the right legal professionals can make all the difference. Berg Injury Lawyers has helped victims of car accidents in Sacramento for more than 40 years, from working with insurance companies to taking the legal actions necessary for compensation.
Our no fee guarantee means that you only pay for our partnership if we get compensation on your behalf. We’ll do our best to help you get there, working through all the details of the case and with all relevant stakeholders on your behalf. If you had a car accident, schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced Sacramento auto accident lawyers.