Category Archives: Car Accidents

What Is the Difference Between Actual and Proximate Cause?

Friday, February 26, 2021

When you suffer injuries due to another person’s negligence, you can recover economic and non-economic damages from the at-fault party through a personal injury lawsuit. To prove your right to compensation, you will need to prove that the defendant violated his or her duty of care to you. You will also need to prove that this violation was the actual and proximate cause of your injuries.

Understanding the difference between actual and proximate cause is very important for a personal injury claim. While actual cause is relatively straightforward, establishing proximate cause can be more complex.

Actual Cause versus Proximate Cause

Actual cause, also known as cause in fact, refers to the actual cause of your accident. For example, if you are driving through an intersection and an oncoming commercial truck runs a red light, the truck driver’s actions are the actual cause of the collision.

Proximate cause refers to the legal cause, or the cause that the law recognizes as the primary cause of the accident. In your case, the proximate cause may not be the first event that contributed to your injuries. It may not be the last event that occurs before the accident either.

Instead, the proximate cause is the natural and direct cause of your injuries, and your injuries are a natural, direct, and foreseeable consequence of the proximate cause. In other words, if the proximate cause had not occurred, you would have not suffered injuries.

The Substantial Factor Test for Proximate Cause

When determining whether or not a defendant’s actions are the proximate cause of an accident, California courts perform the substantial factor test. The court must determine whether the at-fault party’s conduct was a substantial and relevant contributory factor in the accident.

For example, say that you are driving on a highway when you notice a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road. In order to avoid a head-on collision, you swerve to the side and accidentally strike the highway’s guardrail. Since you would have not swerved but for the other driver’s actions—in this case, driving on the wrong side of the road—you can establish that the defendant’s actions played a substantial part in causing the accident. Using this information, you can establish the proximate cause.

The defendant’s conduct is not a substantial factor if the accident would have occurred regardless of his or her actions. You also cannot use conduct that is trivial or far removed from the actual events of the accident.

For example, say that you are in a head-on collision while driving to work. The city has closed your usual route for construction, so you have to take a detour. When driving on the unfamiliar road, you collide into a vehicle traveling in the wrong direction.

While you would have a claim against the other driver, you cannot hold the city liable for closing your usual route. While you would not have been in the accident if not for the construction, it is too remote, or too far removed, from the actual accident to be a substantial factor. For more information, contact a Bakersfield personal injury attorney today.

If you are in an accident, proving actual and proximate cause can be difficult without legal representation. A California personal injury lawyer will understand these statutory rules and will use his or her experience to craft a compelling case in your favor. After seeking medical attention, contact an injury lawyer to discuss your claim.

Posted by highrank at 7:22 pm

Kern County Lawyers for DUI Accident Victims

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Driving under the influence (DUI) is still the #1 cause of death on our roadways, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

People who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs are more likely to cause accidents that are often more serious with more severe injuries because their judgment and reaction time is impaired. While the criminal court system can punish a drunk driver for the accident, it does not compensate the victims of the accident.

Drunk Driving Civil Lawsuit

 If you have been a victim of a drunk driving accident, you have the right to pursue claims in civil court to recover monetary damages, in addition to pressing criminal charges. Even if the drunk driver is not convicted in criminal court, you may still seek compensation through a civil claim. While serious compensation will not make up for the physical and emotional costs that a drunk driving accident victim endures, it can make it easier for the person to start putting back together the pieces of their life. Financial compensation can be pursued for:

  • Medical bills and ongoing healthcare needs related to the accident
  • Pain and suffering from the accident
  • Lost wages as a result of missed work
  • Property damage to the car that was damaged or destroyed in the accident
  • Modifications to a home or car because of the injuries incurred from the accident
  • Punitive damages – intended to punish the negligent party and discourage similar negligent behavior by others

If the claim is for wrongful death, you may be able to collect damages for loss of future income, loss of consortium, and funeral expenses.

What if the Drunk Driver Has No Insurance?

Most car insurance companies offer uninsured motorist (UM) coverage so if you are involved in an accident with someone who is uninsured, you can make a claim with your insurance company to be compensated for your medical care, pain and suffering, and lost wages. However, once you file a claim, your insurance company will view you as a liability, instead of as a customer, and they will do everything in their power to minimize or avoid paying out your claim (learn more about dealing with insurance companies and Uninsured Motorist coverage here).

Another option may be to sue the drunk driver but if the judgment is returned in your favor the defendant may declare bankruptcy which means they’re not responsible for paying the judgment or they may have no money to pay the judgment. Suing the driver can be a long process that may not amount to any compensation.

A third option may be suing a third party such as a restaurant that continued to serve a customer who was already drunk or a bar that served a minor.

Third-Party Liability in a DUI Accident

 While the person who was driving under the influence may be the primary cause of the accident, there could be liability for third parties who contributed to the circumstances of the driver. Third parties that may be held responsible can include:

  • Bar or Restaurant Staff & Owners: it is their responsibility to stop serving patrons that appear to be intoxicated.
  • Hosts: people who host parties or gatherings where alcohol is served can be held liable if they continued to provide alcohol to a guest that was clearly inebriated.

Determining third party liability can be complex and involving an experienced lawyer in representing DUI accident victims is highly recommended.

We Represent DUI Accident Victims in Kern County and California

At Rodriguez & Associates, our experienced personal injury attorneys are ready to represent you or a loved one who has been injured as a result of a DUI accident. We have the resources to fully investigate the accident, contributing factors, and can determine if there is third party liability. Our Kern County lawyers are caring and empathetic with our clients and will do everything possible to hold the wrongdoer accountable.

We represent DUI accident victims in Kern County and throughout California. Call us to request a free consultation at (661) 323-1400 or toll-free (800) 585-9262.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 8:51 pm

Who is Liable for a Car Accident Caused by a Medical Emergency?

Sunday, December 13, 2020

California is a fault insurance state, which means that drivers who cause accidents must pay for the damages of their victims. Dangerous and negligent driving behaviors, such as failure to yield and distracted driving, often contribute to these accidents.

There are some situations, however, where a driver may experience a medical emergency while behind the wheel and lose control of his or her vehicle. In these accidents, liability will depend on whether the medical emergency was foreseeable.

The California Car Accident Sudden Emergency Defense

California is one of many states that recognizes the sudden medical emergency defense in car accident cases. Also known as the doctrine of imminent peril, this rule relieves drivers who are responsible for car accidents if they suffered an unforeseen medical emergency at the time of the crash. This doctrine applies if the sudden emergency caused the accident, was outside of the driver’s control, and the driver could not have foreseen the emergency.

A driver who seeks to use the sudden emergency defense must prove the following facts.

  • The driver experienced a sudden and unexpected emergency where he or she was in actual or apparent danger of an injury.
  • The driver did not cause the emergency.
  • The driver acted in a way that a reasonably careful driver would have under the same circumstances, even if a safer option became apparent at a later time.

For example, say that a driver suffers a heart attack while operating her vehicle and suddenly loses consciousness. The driver loses control of her vehicle and runs through a red light, colliding into you. Since the driver could not have anticipated the onset of the heart attack and did not have time to remove her vehicle from the road, she can establish the sudden emergency defense. As a result, this driver would not be liable for your injuries.

Exceptions to the Sudden Emergency Defense Rule

A driver cannot have any knowledge of the illness or medical condition prior to the actual emergency. If you can prove that the driver did know or should have reasonably known about the risk before the accident, he or she would have acted in negligence.

For example, say you are in an accident with a driver who loses consciousness at the wheel. She tries to establish the sudden emergency medical defense, but medical records show she lost consciousness due to the side effects of a new medication.

The medication warning label states that drowsiness is a common side effect and to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery during use. The driver should have known that she could not have safely driven while taking the medication and did so anyway, leading to the accident. In this situation, she would be liable for your damages.

If the driver has a history of medical issues that make it risky to drive, you could argue that a loss of consciousness was foreseeable. For example, if a diabetic driver loses consciousness due to low blood sugar, you could argue that it would be reasonably foreseeable that he or she would experience a medical emergency while driving.

Hiring an Attorney for Medical Emergency Accidents

Liability in car accident claims involving medical emergencies can be very complex. Although you may discover evidence that establishes a driver’s negligence, the insurance company may continue to deny your claim by invoking this defense.

Hiring a California car accident attorney to handle your claim can help you establish your right to damages. Your attorney will conduct a thorough investigation of the accident and explore all possible options to secure compensation on your behalf, leveraging strategies to determine whether or not the medical emergency was foreseeable. Contact your lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to discuss your legal options.

Posted by highrank at 7:39 pm

Why You Need Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Bakersfield personal injury attorney, Danay Gonzalez, shares four very important reasons why everyone needs Uninsured (UM) / Underinsured Motorist (UIM) Coverage in her TikTok video.

  1. Covers you when the at fault driver has no coverage.
  2. Covers you when the at fault driver doesn’t have ENOUGH coverage.
  3. Covers you if the at fault driver is an excluded driver on a policy.
  4. Covers you if the at fault driver has a lapse in their insurance coverage.

Being smart about your insurance coverage can spare you from having to pay for a crash that you didn’t cause.

Watch Danay’s TikTok video here:

If you have sustained an injury in a car accident, call our Bakersfield personal injury law firm to discuss your case at (661) 323-1400 or toll free (800) 585-9262 or request to schedule a no-charge consultation online.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 9:51 am

Can a Passenger Be Charged for Distracted Driving?

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Distracted driving, or any activity that removes a driver’s attention from the act of driving, is a very dangerous practice. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,841 people died due to distracted driving in 2018 alone.

When we think of distracted driving, we often assume the driver bears sole responsibility for the distraction itself. In some cases, however, a passenger inside the vehicle may be the reason for the distraction. In these situations, the passenger may be partially liable for the resulting accident.

What Is Distracted Driving?

As California drivers, we have a responsibility to operate our vehicles carefully and safely. This means that you must focus your attention on the road—manually, visually, and cognitively—so that you can adequately respond to hazards and follow traffic rules. Any distraction that takes your mind, eyes, or brain off the act of driving can raise the risk of an accident.

There are three forms of distractions that can occur while driving.

  • Manual distraction, or taking your hands off the steering wheel. Manual distractions may include eating and drinking, applying makeup, fiddling with GPS or radio controls, or texting or typing on a cell phone.
  • Visual distraction, or taking your eyes off the road. Visual distractions may include looking at a cell phone, GPS, or radio screen, looking at another person inside the vehicle, or reaching for something inside of the car.
  • Cognitive distraction, or taking your mind away from driving. Cognitive distractions may include having a conversation while driving, listening to the radio, daydreaming or becoming lost in thought, thinking about stressful situations, or driving while tired.

Passengers inside of a vehicle can distract a driver, leading to an accident. Passengers can initiate arguments, block the driver’s line of sight, show the driver content on a smartphone, or engage in many other behaviors that impact a driver’s ability to operate his or her vehicle safely.

Passenger Liability for Distracted Driving

California is a fault accident state, which means drivers who cause accidents must pay for victims’ damages. In most cases involving distracted driving, the driver himself or herself is liable for these costs. However, if a passenger’s actions are responsible for causing the accident, you may hold the passenger liable for your resulting injuries.

A driver or passenger may have sole liability for the accident, or both parties can share some portion of the blame based on their actions. Drivers have a responsibility to ignore any distraction to the furthest extent possible. If the driver failed to uphold this duty of care, he or she may be partially responsible for the accident. If the passenger’s actions prevented the driver from operating his or her vehicle safety, the passenger will likely be entirely at fault.

For example, say you are in an accident where a passenger grabbed the steering wheel and caused a vehicle to run a red light. In this situation, the passenger will be at fault for the accident as it would have been difficult for the driver to ignore or avoid the crash.

If you are in an accident where a passenger showed the driver a text message on his phone and the driver ran the red light due to the distraction, both parties will share fault. California’s joint and several liability laws will apply at this stage, which will enable you to file claims against both parties for specific damages.

Seek Help from a California Car Accident Lawyer

Liability in car accident claims involving negligent passengers can be complex. To ensure you file the correct claims and gather the evidence you need to secure compensation, seek the help of a California car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your dedicated car accident attorney can evaluate your case, determine which legal options are available to you, and initiate your first steps toward recovery.

Posted by highrank at 7:35 pm

Who is Liable for an Accident Caused by Dangerous Roads?

Monday, November 30, 2020

A car accident can happen due to many factors. Negligent driving behaviors, from drinking and driving to running a red light, are among the most common causes of these collisions, and California’s insurance laws reflect this reality. California follows a fault-based insurance system, which requires drivers responsible for car accidents to pay for their victims’ damages.

However, not all accidents occur due to the actions of a negligent driver. In some cases, poor road conditions, such as loose gravel or cracked asphalt, cause these collisions. If you are in an accident due to poor road conditions, multiple parties may be liable for your injuries. A Bakersfield car accident lawyer can help.

Who Is Liable for Road Maintenance?

If you are in an accident due to poorly-maintained or poorly-designed road, you do not have an at-fault driver you can hold accountable. Instead, the entity responsible for maintaining or planning the road will be liable for the damages you sustain.

In cases where poor road conditions cause your accident, you may file a claim against the city, county, or state government agency responsible for the road’s maintenance. The liable entity may vary based on where your accident occurred and the exact cause of the accident. In some cases, multiple agencies may share liability.

For example, say you suffer an accident on the road due to a pothole. While your city government may be responsible for de-icing the roads or removing gravel, the state government is responsible for paving the roads and fixing defects such as potholes. In this situation, you can hold the state agency accountable. However, if you skid on ice that road maintenance workers failed to clear and strike a tree, you could hold the city agency responsible.

Government agencies have a responsibility to keep roads in reasonably safe conditions. However, to prove your claim, you will need to establish that the government either knew about the condition or that the condition had been around for so long that the agency should have discovered it. You will also need to prove that the government failed to take action and repair the road in a reasonable amount of time.

Establishing Liability for Poorly Planned Roads

Your accident may occur due to a planning and development defect instead of a dangerous condition on the road itself.  In these cases, you will need to prove that the agency’s road design is inherently dangerous, and this defect directly caused your accident and injuries.

For example, say that a state government agency decides to build a road next to a lake suffering obvious and well-documented erosion. You suffer an accident when the road buckles underneath your vehicle due to this erosion. In this situation, you can establish that the state government should have reasonably known about the erosion and should have not built the road in that location in the first place. As a result, the agency is liable for your injuries and damages.

Filing a Lawsuit Against a Government Agency

While the government may be responsible for the poor road conditions that caused your accident, filing a lawsuit against these entities can be challenging. Most agencies have immunity from lawsuits, which means they cannot face lawsuits unless they provide permission. You will first need to file an administrative claim against the agency; if you do not receive compensation through this process, you may be eligible for a civil lawsuit.

These administrative claims can have very short deadlines and follow different procedures depending on the agency. To navigate this process and ensure you preserve your right to compensation, contact a California car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will evaluate your claim, explain your legal options, and take the necessary steps to file your claim.

Posted by highrank at 8:49 pm

What to do if You’ve Been Hurt in a Car Crash

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Danay Gonzalez, Bakersfield personal attorney at Rodriguez & Associates, created a TikTok video sharing tips on what to do if you’ve been hurt in a car crash.

  • Call the police so that they can make a report
  • Exchange your contact, license, and insurance information
  • Take photos of the damage, injuries, and the scene
  • Seek medical care as soon as possible- symptoms can sometimes take a few days to show up
  • Call the personal injury attorneys at Rodriguez & Associates at (661)-323-1400 to help you with the rest

Watch Danay’s full TikTok video here:

Our Kern County injury attorneys are always here to answer your questions if you or a loved one have been injured. You can contact us via phone or through our website to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 8:15 pm

Who Will Pay My Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Car accidents can result in serious, debilitating medical conditions, including broken bones, spinal cord damage, paralysis, and traumatic brain damage. If you suffer severe injuries in a car crash, you may need to undergo intensive treatment that could continue for years in the future.

This medical care requires adequate insurance and funds to pay for services the policy does not cover, but many car accident victims cannot afford to pay for these costs out-of-pocket. However, filing an insurance claim or lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident can help you recover the funds you need to heal from your injuries.

California’s Fault Insurance System

Like most states, California follows a fault-based insurance system. This means that any person who causes a car accident will need to pay for the damages of all of the victims involved in the crash, including other drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians. These damages include all past and future medical expenses for the injuries sustained in the accident.

To uphold this financial responsibility, all California drivers must carry the following minimum amounts of liability insurance. Policyholders can purchase higher amounts of coverage if they choose.

  • $15,000 for bodily injury or death per person per accident
  • $30,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage per accident

If you are an accident victim, the fault insurance system provides three pathways to collecting compensation. You can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or your own insurance, if you have the right coverage. You can also file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.

Typically, the insurance company overseeing the claim pays the settlements in these processes. If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver and do not have appropriate coverage through your own policy, the driver may carry the financial burden alone.

Paying for Medical Treatment Before a Settlement

After a car accident injury, auto insurance policies are supposed to pay for accident-related medical costs from the beginning. However, it can take a long time for your case to reach a conclusion. You may need to pay for your treatments as your medical bills accumulate, using your health insurance or medical payments coverage, if available.

Most health insurance policies will cover treatment for accident injuries, although the terms of your policy may vary. If your health insurance pays for your medical care first, the company will typically file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company for compensation. However, you may need to pay for deductibles, co-pays, and any treatment the policy does not cover. Your insurance or lawsuit settlement can reimburse you for these expenses; make sure to save every piece of evidence related to your medical care and the money you paid.

Medical payments coverage, or med pay, is a type of optional insurance coverage that can help you pay for your medical treatment after an accident up to a certain amount. California does not require this coverage, so you will need to purchase it separately. After you exceed your med pay policy limits, you will need to pay for your medical bills by yourself. If you do not have med pay, you will need to rely on your health insurance and personal funds to receive care.

Seeking medical care after an accident can be complex. If you need help finding treatment or understanding your legal rights, contact a California personal injury attorney. Your lawyer can assist you in receiving the care you need, understanding the compensation you qualify for, and filing your insurance claim or lawsuit.

Posted by highrank at 12:21 pm

How Do Insurance Companies Investigate a Car Accident?

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

After a California car accident, you may wonder what to do next. Since California is a fault-based insurance state, the person responsible for your accident is responsible for paying for your damages, or the losses you suffer due to the crash. This means you have two main pathways to compensation: an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit.

Most car accident cases begin with an insurance claim. During this process, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case will investigate the accident and determine whether or not you deserve compensation. Understanding an insurance company’s investigation process is necessary to protect your rights and achieve a fair settlement.

Compensation in California Insurance Claims

California requires all drivers to hold the following amounts of liability coverage.

  • $15,000 for injury or death per person per accident
  • $30,000 for injury or death to multiple people per accident
  • $5,000 for property damage per accident

You can collect multiple types of damages through a driver’s liability insurance: funds for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and property replacement, for example. However, the driver in your accident may not have insurance; in this situation, you can file a claim under your own policy if you have the appropriate insurance, such as collision coverage.

What Happens After You File an Insurance Claim?

After seeking medical attention and consulting with a car accident attorney, you will begin the insurance process by filing a claim with the at-fault driver’s company. Once you file your claim, the company will assign your case to a representative who will contact you. This representative, or adjuster, must determine whether your accident qualifies for coverage and resolve the claim.

The adjuster will ask you for information about the accident, including the police report, witness testimony, and a statement from you describing the crash. You will also need to supply evidence that you suffered the damages you intend to claim, such as medical records, pay stubs, and photographs of any damage to your car or personal property. The adjuster will also reach out to the policyholder and hear his or her version of events.

All of this information helps the company determine if the at-fault driver’s policy can pay for your damages. At the conclusion of the investigation, the adjuster will issue a decision on the claim and possibly present a settlement offer.

If the adjuster believes you are responsible for the crash or your injuries are not as severe as you claim them to be, the company may deny your claim or issue an insufficient settlement. The company may also deny your claim if your damages exceed policy limits or if the policy does not cover the type of claim you are filing. At this stage, you and your attorney may decide to appeal the decision or escalate your claim to a lawsuit.

Hiring an Attorney for an Insurance Investigation

While the insurance investigation process may seem simple, it is important to remember that the adjuster’s goals may not align with your own. It is the adjuster’s job to act in the best interest of the company, and you may not receive a fair settlement offer. By hiring an injury attorney to represent your claim, you can protect your best interests throughout this process.

Your lawyer can help you prepare documents for review during the investigation, evaluate your settlement offers, and negotiate for fairer compensation if you do not receive an appropriate amount. As soon as you receive medical treatment for your injuries, contact a California car accident attorney to discuss your claim.

Posted by highrank at 11:21 am

Hit-and-Run Accident Attorneys in Bakersfield

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

A “hit-and-run” accident is when someone leaves the scene of an accident that s/he was involved in. These accidents typically involve two (or more) vehicles or a pedestrian or cyclist and a vehicle. If the responsible party for the accident flees the scene, and is not caught, the injured party can still recover compensation for injuries, damages, pain and suffering, lost wages or death of a loved one caused by the accident.

It is important to note that if you are a victim of a hit-and-run accident, you should remain on the scene until law enforcement arrives and you can give a full statement. Take notes and pictures of the scene and write down everything you can recall about the accident and any description of the other vehicle. Do not try to chase the perpetrator down. There is a chance that other people may have witnessed the accident and can provide information to law enforcement to catch the perpetrator. If the perpetrator is caught and identified, civil charges can be pursued. Having representation by a hit-and-run attorney will help you get the compensation that you need to move forward with your life.

If the perpetrator is not found, you may be able to submit a claim under your uninsured motorist coverage.

About Uninsured Motorist Coverage

About 85% of California auto insurance policies include uninsured motorist coverage. This means that if you are in an accident that is not your fault – whether it is a hit-and-run or a driver who is not insured or does not carry enough insurance coverage – your auto insurance company will cover your losses, damage, and medical bills dependent upon the amount of coverage you have.

However, there are cases when people are surprised to find that they do not have full coverage and the minimum coverage is not sufficient. If this is the case, having a personal injury attorney on your side will help you get fair and just compensation from your insurance company by using one or more of the following tactics.

  • Assembling evidence to prove that you were a victim of a hit-and-run accident including evidence of injuries – how severe they are and if they are going to affect your life permanently.
  • Holding the insurance company accountable by making sure they are being transparent in their communications and not using difficult or deceptive tactics to confuse the victim and give less than what the person is entitled to.
  • Calculating damages accurately for your claim including quantifying your damages and asking for enough money to make sure you will be covered for medical fees, medical devices, future treatments, and, if applicable, pain and suffering and lost income.
  • Negotiating with the insurance company for a fair settlement. Attorneys are familiar with the tricks that insurance companies use during these negotiations that can trap an unsuspecting victim to settle for less.
  • If the insurance company and attorney cannot come to a settlement, the attorney can take the case to trial on your behalf to fight for you.

At Rodriguez & Associates, our Bakersfield hit-and-run accident attorneys are committed to making the responsible party pay so you can focus on getting back on your feet.

If you or a loved one was involved in a hit-and-run accident, contact us at (661) 323-1400 or toll-free (800) 585-9262 to schedule a no-charge consultation.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 7:41 pm