As a resident of San Bernardino County, you probably use a car to get around. When you go out, you don’t expect to get into a car accident, but it happens. In fact, San Bernardino ranks 6th among similarly sized cities in California for nighttime driving accidents. If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, you need to hire a car accident attorney.
The San Bernardino car accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm have put together this guide to help you do just that. We’ve gathered some of the most common questions we receive and questions you should ask a lawyer before enlisting their services.
If you were seriously injured or lost a loved one in a car accident in San Bernardino, call The Dominguez Firm for a free consultation at 800-818-1818 today.
Do I Need a San Bernardino Car Accident Lawyer?
Yes. Being seriously injured or losing a loved one in a San Bernardino car accident completely upends a person’s life financially and emotionally. An unethical insurance adjuster may tell you it’s easier to deal with them directly. Nothing could be further from the truth. That isn’t true.
Insurance companies are a business. Their only aim is to make money. Their adjusters are trained to settle claims quickly and for the lowest amount possible, regardless of your injuries. You need an experienced San Bernardino car accident lawyer by your side. They can fight for the maximum compensation you’re entitled to while you concentrate on getting better.
Do They Need to Specialize in Personal Injury Cases?
Yes. Just like doctors, attorneys specialize in different areas of the law. You might think an attorney who practices general law is good enough, but it isn’t. Instead, you’ll want to choose someone who successfully handles personal injury cases. They’ll have the knowledge and experience to fight for the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.
How Long Do I Have to File My San Bernardino Car Accident Claim?
Generally, you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a claim in San Bernardino and throughout California. If your accident involved a government vehicle, like a postal truck, you have six months to file your claim.
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t wait weeks or months to file your claim. There are several reasons for this:
- First, the sooner your attorney starts working on your San Bernardino car accident case, the better. A full-service law firm will have its own investigators and experts. Together with the attorneys, they’ll piece together your accident to present the strongest case possible.
- The longer you wait to file your claim, the more likely vital evidence will be lost. That will give investigators, accident experts and attorneys much less to work with. Waiting months can also cause you to lose contact with any witnesses to the accident. People change their phone numbers or email addresses all the time.
- Defense attorneys will question why you waited so long to take action. They’ll likely challenge the extent of your injuries if you wait. If enough time has passed, they might question whether your injuries were even caused by your car accident.
When You Called for a Consultation, Did They Provide Good Customer Service?
First impressions matter. Make note of how you’re treated during your initial consultation. Did they listen to you attentively or did they sound rushed? Were you able to ask questions? Were the answers explained clearly? Were they compassionate? Legal knowledge and experience matter, but how a firm treats potential clients is also important.
That first phone conversation will give you a good idea of how it will be once you become a client. If you don’t like what you hear, feel free to call other firms.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a San Bernardino Personal Injury Firm
Here are some questions to ask when you’re looking to hire a personal injury law firm in San Bernardino for your car accident case.
How Do I Pay You?
Most San Bernardino car accident lawyers, including The Dominguez Firm work on a contingency basis. That means we’re paid from a percentage of your final verdict or settlement when your case ends. That percentage will be clearly stated in the client representation agreement you sign with us. Furthermore, that percentage won’t change, regardless of the amount we obtain for you.
Our clients don’t have to worry about any upfront fees or hidden costs of any kind. In short, there are no out-of-pocket expenses when you go with The Dominguez Firm. Plus, if we don’t obtain any compensation for you, which very rarely happens, you owe us nothing. In other words, if there is no recovery, there is no fee.
Does Your Firm Have Its Own Litigation Attorneys if My Case Goes to Trial?
This is an important question to ask. Going to trial is expensive. Many law firms and individual lawyers can’t afford to take a case to trial. Because of this, they might refer your case out or even settle for less and close out your claim.
The Dominguez Firm is a full-service law firm with a team of award-winning litigation attorneys. If the insurance companies and their lawyers won’t make you a fair offer, we aren’t afraid to go to trial and they know it. That gives you, our client the kind of leverage other law firms and attorneys can’t provide.
One very important note: don’t be afraid to ask if you’re calling a law firm or a referral service. There are attorney referral services that pose as law firms and only disclose this in their fine print. If the person you’re speaking to hesitates or gives you a confusing, indirect answer, they’re probably a referral service.
I’m an Undocumented Immigrant, Can Your Firm Still Help Me?
Yes. When it comes to your San Bernardino car accident claim, your immigrant status is irrelevant. This is thanks to a California state law that went into effect in 2017. You can file a claim for your injuries without worrying about being deported or arrested. Defense lawyers can’t even bring it up.
This law also impacted the amount undocumented immigrants can receive for accident injuries. In the past, their damages were calculated based on earnings and medical costs in their native countries. These amounts were much lower than what they would be in the U.S. Plaintiffs were routinely awarded very small amounts, regardless of how long they had been in this country.
Rest assured, if you were injured or lost a loved one in an accident in San Bernardino, you can safely file a claim, regardless of your immigration status.
I Don’t Have Medical Insurance, Can Your Firm Still Help Me?
Yes. The Dominguez Firm works with many leading medical specialists, rehabilitation centers and hospitals to ensure all our injured clients get the care they deserve during every phase of their recovery. It doesn’t matter whether you have medical insurance or not.
For qualifying cases, we offer monetary loans to assist you financially in that time frame between your recuperation and the end of your case. We subtract these costs and the loan from your final compensation amount.
You can concentrate on getting better while we handle your medical bills, the insurance companies and the litigation of your San Bernardino car accident claim.
I Share Some of the Blame for My San Bernardino Car Accident, Can I Still File a Claim?
Yes. Even if you share part of the blame for your San Bernardino car accident, you can still file a claim against the other driver. That’s because California is a comparative negligence state. Each driver’s percentage of blame will be determined in court. That percentage will be subtracted from your final settlement or verdict.
For example, if you’re assigned 25% of the blame for your accident and are awarded $500,000, your final compensation would be $375,000 ($500,000 – $125,000 = $375,000).
Whether you think you may share part of the blame for your car accident or not, never apologize or admit blame at the scene of the accident. A car accident, especially a serious one has many moving parts. You’re undoubtedly shaken up. If you’re seriously injured, you probably aren’t even sure how the events that caused the accident happened.
Instead, call a San Bernardino car accident lawyer right away. Let them conduct a thorough investigation before making any assumptions.
How Much Do You Think My Case is Worth?
No attorney can answer this question with an exact total. Every San Bernardino car accident case has its own unique set of circumstances and injuries. What an attorney can do is add up all of the damages (the legal term for compensation) you could be entitled to because of your accident.
These are broken down into economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are easy to calculate. You add up all of the bills that resulted from your accident injuries:
- Medical bills, including ambulance fees, medical treatment, hospital bills, physical therapy and rehabilitation and mental health counseling.
- Lost wages and income because of your injuries. If you can’t return to work in the same capacity as before, or you’ve been left permanently disabled, loss of future earnings also.
- Property damage, which is the cost to repair or replace your vehicle.
Non-economic damages compensate you for the emotional toll the accident is having on you and your family. These can’t be added up, but there is no limit in how much can be awarded for non-economic damages. For this reason, this category of damages usually makes up the largest part of a San Bernardino car accident victim’s final settlement or verdict. They can include:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium (companionship)
- Loss of enjoyment of life (sports, time with family, etc.)
- Psychological trauma
The experienced San Bernardino car accident lawyers at The Dominguez Firm can compare your accident injuries to similar cases they’ve handled in the past to get a general estimate of what your case may be worth. Then, they’ll work hard to get you every cent of the compensation you’re legally entitled to.
Can I File a Claim if I Lost a Loved One in a San Bernardino Car Accident?
Yes. If you lost a loved one in a San Bernardino car accident, you can file a wrongful death claim if you are the legal next of kin. You would be entitled to the following economic and non-economic damages:
- Funeral expenses
- Burial costs
- Medical bills stemming from the accident injuries
- All estimated future wages
- Loss of consortium, defined as the love, sexual relations and affection of the deceased.
- Any moral support, guidance and training the deceased would have given had they lived. This applies to any children they cared for.
Who is Liable When a Car Accident is Caused by Road Debris?
Anyone who leaves debris on a road in San Bernardino is at fault if it causes a driver to be injured in an accident. The injured driver has the right to sue whoever left the debris.
California law dictates that any road debris must be immediately cleared by the responsible party. Those parties can include:
- Anyone who dropped debris on the road, intentionally or not.
- Someone driving a vehicle that wasn’t securely fastened, causing cargo to fall on the road.
- Anyone tasked with keeping a road clear if they failed to do so.
Caltrans is tasked with removing road debris on freeways in San Bernardino and throughout California. They would be liable for any accident only if they did not remove the debris in a timely manner. If you had an accident because of road debris either on a freeway or surface street in the county, it would be a claim against a city, county or state government. However, it happened, if you were injured due to road debris, call The Dominguez Firm to see what your options are.
The San Bernardino Car Accident Lawyers at The Dominguez Firm Can Help
The Dominguez Firm has been helping car accident victims throughout San Bernardino County for over 30 years. In that time, our award-winning lawyers have won verdicts and settlements in the millions and tens of millions of dollars.
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident in San Bernardino, call us for a free consultation today at 800-818-1818. We can travel to your home or hospital at a moment’s notice. And we stand by our promise, if there is no recovery, there is no fee!