Orange County, California is home to over 3 million residents. The county is also a major tourist destination due to it’s world famous beaches, sports and cultural events and of course, Disneyland. On any given day, millions of residents, tourists and those just passing through travel Orange County’s freeways and roads. That means car accidents with injuries are bound to happen.
The good news is, Orange County doesn’t even rank in the top ten for traffic accidents in California. In fact, it ranks 13th overall for accident victims injured or killed in crashes here in the Golden State. The bad news is, that still means close to 22,000 people suffered an accident injury or died in accidents here. The majority of those were in car accidents.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in an Orange County auto accident, you have rights. You can seek compensation from those responsible for your injuries due to their negligent or reckless actions. Below you’ll find more information on what to do if you’ve been involved in an auto accident in Orange County and what your legal options are. Of course, one of your first moves should be to call an Orange County car accident lawyer at The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation at 800-818-1818.
The insurance company wants to talk to me, should I do that first?
Absolutely not. You are under no legal obligation to talk to an insurance company adjuster, whether it’s your carrier or the other person’s. And contrary to what the adjuster may lead you to believe, there is no law in Orange, or any county in California that says you have to give them a statement, much less a recorded one.
Insurance adjusters try to settle accident injury claims for the lowest amount possible, not what you may be entitled to. They are trained to ask leading questions in an effort to say something that puts you partially at fault for your auto accident or minimizes your injuries. And if they can somehow deny your claim outright, make no mistake, they will do so.
Most people don’t negotiate for a living. That’s probably the case with you too. The adjuster you’re talking to negotiates accident injury claims every day. Given those circumstances, the odds of you walking away with a favorable settlement amount are very low. Let an experienced car accident attorney handle all negotiations with the insurance company for you.
Should I hire a lawyer after a car accident in Orange County or wait to see what the insurance company settlement offer is?
The short answer is you should hire an accident injury attorney immediately. As noted in the previous question, insurance companies employees are not your friends, contrary to what their commercials would have you believe. They may go so far as to tell you that you don’t need a lawyer. They aren’t doing this to save you money. They’re trying to close your accident injury claim quickly and for the least amount possible. If you try to deal with the insurance company directly, you could end up with a long wait or worse, take an offer that’s too low.
The Orange County motor vehicle accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm are very familiar with insurance adjuster tactics and know how to counter them effectively. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience fighting for the rights of car accident victims. We know what a fair and just settlement offer for your injuries should look like and will do everything we can to get you the maximum compensation you are legally entitled to.
If you were injured in a car accident in Orange County, you shouldn’t be dealing with the stress that comes from negotiating with the insurance company. Let The Dominguez Firm handle them while you concentrate on your recovery, not your medical bills.
What if I can’t afford to hire a personal injury lawyer?
The Dominguez Firm works on a contingency basis. That means you have no upfront lawyer fees or hidden expenses to worry about. We only get paid if we obtain a settlement or verdict for you. We receive a percentage of that final amount. That percentage will be clearly stated in the Client Representation agreement you sign with us. And in the unlikely event that we are unable to recover anything for you, you owe us nothing. That means you win, or you don’t pay.
There’s no need to take on defense lawyers and their insurance companies on your own. On the contrary, it could end up costing you dearly. By allowing The Dominguez Firm to represent you for your Orange car accident case, you can rest assured your best interests are being looked out for.
Can The Dominguez Firm help me if I don’t have medical insurance?
Yes. The Dominguez Firm works with a network of top medical providers to make sure you receive excellent medical treatment for your car accident injuries. It doesn’t matter whether you have medical insurance or not. When your case ends, we will deduct the cost of your medical treatment from your final settlement or verdict.
One very important note: don’t let a lack of medical insurance stop you from seeking medical attention after your car accident. First of all, your health should be your top priority. You may feel fine on the outside, but you may have suffered dangerous internal injuries and not be aware of them yet. Also, the adrenaline rush that is common after a car accident might mask any pain and lead you to mistakenly believe you’re fine.
Lastly, delaying medical care and treatment can hurt your case. It will most likely cause the insurance company to challenge or downplay your accident injury. They might even deny your claim outright by deciding too much time has passed to tie any recent injury diagnosis to your car accident.
As an example, say you get into a car accident in Orange County and think you’re just shaken up. After a few days, you might notice some pain in your knee but do nothing about it. If the pain doesn’t go away, or gets worse, you might mention it to your doctor several months later. Your doctor notes some previously unseen damage. But because you waited so long to get this diagnosis, the insurance company says they have no way of verifying whether the car accident caused your knee injury or not. And if your medical history includes arthritis, they will certainly try and use that against you too.
In short, do seek immediate medical attention after your Orange County car accident whether you have medical insurance or not.
What compensation could I be entitled to for my auto accident?
If you suffered a car accident injury in Orange County due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may be entitled to two types of compensatory damages as they are known in legal terms. One is economic damages. As the term implies, these are specific economic damages caused by your car accident injury that can be added up with a calculator. They include:
- Medical expenses resulting from your car accident injuries such as,
- Hospital bills
- Ambulance bills
- Medical bills for doctors and specialists
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation bills
- Mental health counseling
- Wages and earnings lost due to your car accident injuries.
- Lost future earning capacity.
- Property damage to your vehicle.
- For more serious injuries, long term care and/or home modifications.
The other type of damages you may be entitled to are non-economic damages. These can’t be added up, but they often make up the largest part of the car accident victim’s settlement or verdict. Some of these are:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The third type of damages for a car accident injury case are known as punitive damages. These are not awarded based on the losses the car accident victim has suffered. Instead, punitive damages are awarded to punish the defendant if their behavior was particularly malicious or reckless. Punitive damages are not commonly awarded in car accident cases.
There is no limit to the amount you can be awarded in damages for your car accident case.
When hiring an auto accident lawyer in Orange, what questions should I ask?
You want a law firm with the experience and skill to be able to fight for the maximum compensation you are legally entitled to for your car accident case. They should have a successful track record for cases similar to yours. What’s more, they should have the resources to be able to go to trial against powerful insurance companies and their lawyers if needed. Not all attorneys and law firms can do that, which can leave you settling for less.
Here are some of the questions you should ask an Orange County car accident lawyer:
- How long has your firm been practicing personal injury law in Orange County?
- Do your attorneys have experience going to trial for auto accident cases in Orange County?
- Overall, what is the percentage of personal injury cases you’ve won?
- Will my accident injury case be handled by in-house attorneys or is there a chance it will be referred out to another law firm?
- What are your fees?
- Do I owe you anything if you don’t recover any compensation for me?
- Have you obtained any record-setting personal injury case verdicts or settlements?
- Have any of your attorneys won any awards or otherwise been recognized for their work?
- Can you give me a general idea of what my personal injury case will be worth?
- Do you have an in-house support staff? If so, how many employees are there?
Don’t be shy about asking these questions. Make sure you are happy not only with their responses, but with the interaction between you and the person you are talking to. Naturally, you want a personal injury law firm with a winning track record, but good customer service is also important. You can get a good idea of how a law firm’s customer service by seeing how they treat you when you ask these questions.
I may have been partially to blame for my car accident, can I still file a claim?
Yes, because California is a comparative fault state. That means even if you share some of the blame for your Orange County car accident, you may still be able to obtain compensation. The court will determine your percentage of fault and subtract that amount from your final verdict. Say you are awarded a verdict of $500,000 but your percentage of fault for your car accident is determined to be 20% by an Orange County court, your final award will be $400,000 ($500,000 – 20% or $100,000).
One word on whether you are partially to blame for your auto accident. An experienced personal injury law firm will go over all of the particulars of your car accident and piece everything together to see if you are in fact, partially to blame. In the heat of the moment, your recollection of the chain of events that led to your accident may not be accurate, especially if you were seriously injured.
How long do I have to file my accident injury claim?
In Orange County, you have two years from the date of your car accident injury to file a personal injury claim for your car accident. If your car accident injuries involved a motor vehicle owned by a government entity, such as a utility truck, you have six months from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim.
For car accident injury cases where the victim is under the age of 18, the statute of limitations is tolled. That means the time limit doesn’t start to run until the minor turns 18.
Legally, those are the time limits for filing a car accident claim in Orange County, California. However, that doesn’t mean you should wait months or years to file your accident injury claim. Instead, speak to an experienced car accident attorney right away. Waiting can hurt your case. There are many reasons why, but the three main ones are:
- Defense attorneys and the defendant’s insurance company will question why you waited. They may also use it to throw doubt on the seriousness of your injuries.
- The longer you wait, the more likely vital evidence can be lost, especially from the accident scene or as they relate to your injuries.
- The specifics of your car accident can become less clear over time. If you file your claim right away, your recollection of what happened will be much fresher and reliable. The same goes for any witness accounts.
I lost a loved one in a car accident in Orange County. Is there anything I can do?
If you are their legal next of kin, you can file a Wrongful Death lawsuit against the person who caused your loved one’s death in a car accident in Orange County, California. Here is the list, in order:
- Their spouse and any minor children
- Registered domestic partner
- Children of the deceased
- If there are no living children, any grandchildren
- Stepchildren, if there are no grandchildren
This list is by no means complete, but it does provide, in order of importance, the family members who have the right to file an Orange County car accident wrongful death claim. Keep in mind, living with someone without a marriage license or domestic partnership agreement makes it difficult for that person to file a wrongful death claim, no matter how long the couple were together. However, if you find yourself in that exact situation, speak to a personal injury lawyer who handles wrongful death claims to see what your options might be.
As with an accident injury claim for an Orange County car accident, the plaintiff in a wrongful death claim can also collect economic and non-economic damages. Some of the economic damages include:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Any medical bills for injuries related to the auto accident
- Loss of the victim’s future earnings
- Lost benefits and gifts the victim’s next of kin expected to receive
- Any household services with a market value the victim provided
Here are a few of the non-economic damages:
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of sexual relations
- Loss of affection
- Loss of the guidance the victim would have provided
Note that pain and suffering are not included in the list of non-economic damages in a wrongful death claim. However, as with a personal injury car accident claim, there is no cap on the amount the plaintiff can be awarded for their wrongful death claim.
The Dominguez Firm is here for you
Whether you’re in Irvine running some errands, headed to Huntington Beach to surf some waves or simply passing through Orange County on the 405 freeway, you don’t expect to get into an accident, much less suffer injuries. But car accidents and injuries can happen anywhere, including Orange County, California.
The Dominguez Firm has an in-house team of investigators, experts and award winning trial attorneys ready to help you with your accident injury claim. We will never refer your case out or settle for less. We have the skills and resources to go to trial if necessary and fight to get you the maximum compensation you are legally entitled to. Plus, we are committed to our motto of compassion, service and results by always providing outstanding customer service to all of our clients.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident in Orange County, call The Dominguez Firm today for a free consultation at 800-818-1818. We have over 30 years of experience successfully handling cases across all personal injury practice areas, including Orange auto accidents. We have recovered over $750 million* for our clients and will fight to get you the maximum compensation you are entitled to as well.
My experience was good. They made sure to kept me in the loop and made sure to let me know what was going on the whole time. My mom has used other attorneys and this experience was beyond better. I would definitely recommend them!
— Ashley Magana
The attorneys were always available and answered my questions. I would recommend them to anyone. Zoe is the best!
— Janet Salazar
My experience with The Dominguez Firm and the attorneys was really good. They were very informative and always returned my calls.
— Jocelyn Gonzalez