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Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyers

Any car accident—from a seemingly minor one to a head-on collision—can have serious, long-lasting effects on your life. Physical injuries and damage to your car are the most obvious impacts, but there are often psychological repercussions that are more subtle but no less real and harmful. And then—even as you’re dealing with your injuries and repairing your car—you have to deal with the insurance companies and answer the nagging questions that keep popping up:

  • How will I pay for these car repairs?
  • What if I need rehab—who will pay for that?
  • Is the other driver’s insurance company going to blame me for this accident?
  • Who’s at fault? How can I prove that I didn’t cause the crash?

Chain | Cohn | Clark’s team of Bakersfield car accident lawyers understands these physical, mental, and practical complexities. We also know how to negotiate with insurance companies and, if necessary, pursue claims in court. If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident, you don’t need to handle the aftermath on your own. Use our contact form to talk to a Bakersfield car accident lawyer from Chain | Cohn | Clark today for help.

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How Does a Lawyer Help After a Car Accident?

You may wonder, “Should I contact a lawyer after a car accident? Won’t the other driver’s insurance cover my injuries and the damage to my car?”

When all parties act in good faith following a car crash, accident victims receive fair compensation for property damage and medical bills. Unfortunately, insurance companies are for-profit businesses; consequently, they often try to minimize how much they pay out. For example:

  • In some instances, the at-fault driver’s insurer refuses to pay a legitimate claim.
  • In other cases, insurance companies make unfair, lowball settlement offers. Not realizing that they’re getting less than they deserve, some crash victims accept these offers.
  • If you do realize the insurance company is lowballing you, you can either negotiate or go to court. Most people are not prepared (or comfortable enough) to pursue either of these options alone.

Chain | Cohn | Clark’s Bakersfield auto accident attorneys are veterans of many insurance negotiations and car accident lawsuits, and they work hard to ensure that our clients receive full and fair compensation. Our team has handled all kinds of car accident cases in and around Bakersfield, and we can guide you through each step of the process to ensure you get a settlement that serves you and your loved ones well.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer in Bakersfield, CA?

Our Bakersfield auto accident attorneys work on a contingency basis. Contingency basis is a fancy way of saying that you don’t pay anything for our services unless you receive an insurance settlement or are awarded damages by a jury. Then, the lawyer’s fee is a small percentage of the settlement or jury award.

In most cases, accident victims end up with more compensation when they hire an attorney—even after the fee is deducted—because the attorney negotiates a larger insurance settlement or convinces the jury to award higher damages.

When Should I Contact an Auto Accident Attorney?

The more time and information your lawyer has, the better they can represent you.

If you contact us shortly after an accident, you’ll remember more details. In addition, we’ll be able to instruct you regarding your rights, what records to keep, and any actions you should take.

When we represent you in a car accident personal injury claim, we investigate the circumstances of the accident and build a file to support your case. Our lawyers can still help if you bring us in after the other driver’s insurer has offered you a laughable settlement, but it’s in your best interest to involve us sooner.

And remember—there’s no cost and no obligation when you contact us for a consultation.

What to Do After a Car Accident

The actions you take in the aftermath of a car accident are important for two reasons.

  1. To ensure the safety of everyone involved and prevent further injuries.
  2. To safeguard your ability to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit.

Here are some steps you should take (and things to avoid):

  1. Unless your injuries prevent you from doing so, call 911 immediately so emergency medical personnel and police can be dispatched. 
  2. If you are injured, seek immediate medical treatment.
  3. If possible, check on your passengers and the occupants of any other vehicles involved in the accident, and provide assistance if you can.
  4. If possible, move your vehicle to the side of the road—but do not leave the scene of the accident.
  5. Even if you feel like you are not injured, get a full medical evaluation as soon as you can. You may not be aware of internal injuries, like internal bleeding, but they can be dangerous and even life-threatening; other injuries might not have immediate symptoms.
  6. Exchange contact and car insurance information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident. Avoid admitting fault or getting into a confrontation—even if you’re angry about another driver’s actions.
  7. Get a copy of the police report for the accident.
  8. Get a name and contact information for anyone who witnessed the accident.
  9. Gather evidence at the scene. Take photos or video of the cars, skid marks, and the surrounding area. Write down your recollection of the sequence of events that led to the accident while the memory is fresh. 
  10. Report the accident to your insurance company, but do not admit fault.
  11. Keep detailed records of your medical treatment—doctors’ and hospital bills. Keep a diary of how you’re feeling physically and emotionally in the days and weeks after the accident.
  12. Confer with a car accident lawyer before accepting an insurance settlement.

Our Bakersfield car accident attorneys are available to help you every step of the way.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Many things can cause a car accident—anything from a mechanical malfunction to a self-driving car gone haywire. But most automobile crashes are the result of just a few common causes. 

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Alcohol and Drugs

The statistics for drunk driving accidents in the United States are unsettling. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that about 32 people die each day in alcohol-related crashes—that’s one person every 45 minutes.

Even a little bit of alcohol is dangerous. According to NHTSA data, there were 222 alcohol-related crash deaths in which the driver had a blood alcohol level below the legal limit of .08 in California in 2021.

Despite the fact that drunk driving and driving under the influence of drugs is known to be deadly, impaired drivers get behind the wheel every day. Alcohol- and drug-impaired drivers in California are liable for their actions; you can pursue damages against impaired drivers to the fullest extent.

Distracted Driving

It’s easy to forget that a car—a heavy machine moving at high speeds—requires a driver’s full attention at all times. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car crashes. Because distracted driving is so dangerous, Section 23123 of the California Vehicle Code (CVC) prohibits handheld use of cellular phones while driving.

Common forms of distracted driving include:

  • Texting
  • Changing the radio station
  • Punching an address into a GPS
  • Putting on makeup
  • Eating, drinking, and talking to passengers
  • Rubbernecking or reading billboards

According to the NHTSA, there were 3,522 distracted-driving fatalities in the U.S. in 2021. The NHTSA reports, “Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

Reckless Driving

California law (CVC Section 23103) defines a reckless driver as “a person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Reckless driving in California is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. However, other factors, such as driving under the influence, can result in additional legal penalties. 

Examples of reckless driving include:

  • Driving above the speed limit: Speeding increases the chances of an accident occurring. It also shortens a driver’s reaction time.
  • Weaving through lanes: Some accidents are caused by drivers moving in and out of traffic lanes without signaling and too close to other vehicles. Always use turn signals when changing lanes. 
  • Tailgating: Impatient drivers often follow the car in front of them too closely, leaving too little time to react and inadequate room to stop if the driver ahead of them hits the brakes. Always maintain a proper distance between you and the car ahead of you.
2020 NHTSA StatisticsUnited StatesCaliforniaKern County
Speeding-related fatalities11,2581,22862.0

Driving While Sleepy

It goes without saying that it’s dangerous to fall asleep at the wheel. Most drowsy driving occurs late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.

According to the NHTSA, over 90,000 police-reported crashes involved a drowsy driver in 2017, leading to about 50,000 injuries and 800 deaths. In 2020, there were 633 deaths from drowsy driving nationwide.

Common Injuries From Car Accidents

Physical Injuries and Psychological and Mental Injuries on a Banner

Car accidents cause both physical and psychological injuries, but not all injuries are immediately apparent. After an accident, you’re likely to feel a rush of adrenaline, and you may not notice an injury right away. In addition, you may not feel some physical symptoms—such as neck pain from whiplash—for a day or more. And serious psychological complications like post-traumatic stress disorder may take months to fully manifest. Consequently, it’s a good idea to get a full medical exam after any car accident.

Physical Injuries

Car accidents exert great force upon the human body. Here are some of the more common auto accident injuries:

  • Whiplash: In some collisions, the neck is thrown forward violently as a result of the impact. This can occur in both rear-end and side-impact (T-bone) collisions.
  • Broken bones: The human musculoskeletal system can’t always withstand the force of a car crash. Broken arms, legs, and ribs are common.
  • Cuts/abrasions/gashes: Broken glass, loose objects, or contact with the doors or dashboard can result in cuts and scrapes. 
  • Severe bruises: The blunt force of a car crash can throw occupants around the vehicle, bruising soft tissue and bones. 
  • Burns: Burns may result from contact with hot engine components, a vehicle fire, or even friction from seat belts. 
  • Organ damage/internal bleeding: An accident can cause internal organs to rupture. Broken ribs can cause internal bleeding or punctured lungs. Internal injuries aren’t necessarily evident right after an accident, but they can be life-threatening without timely treatment. Be sure to get a medical examination after a car accident—even if you don’t think you’re injured.
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs): If someone’s head strikes a window, a seat, the steering wheel, or the dashboard, they may have a mild TBI (sometimes referred to as a concussion). More severe TBIs can cause long-term physical and mental disabilities or death. 
  • Spinal cord injuries: A car crash may cause crushed vertebra or ruptured discs; severe spinal injuries can result in partial or full paralysis. Spinal injuries may require ongoing pain management, and a full recovery may take months or years. 

Psychological/Mental Injuries

For many people, recovering from a car accident is about more than cuts, bruises, and broken bones—there are unseen psychological wounds that also need to heal:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): A traumatic incident like a car accident can trigger a range of symptoms. Some people suffer from nightmares, crippling anxiety, or find themselves suddenly vividly reliving an accident in their mind.
  • Insomnia: Some accident victims have trouble falling or staying asleep.
  • Depression: After a car accident, some people become depressed—overwhelmed with feelings of melancholy or sadness that won’t go away.
  • Anxiety: Car accidents can also trigger anxiety, including vehophobia, a fear of driving.

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Car Accident FAQs

What Kinds of Compensation Can I Get for Car Accident Injuries?

What Kinds of Compensation Can I Get for Car Accident Injuries?

There are two basic kinds of damages you may be able to receive car accident compensation from:

  1. Economic damages: These payments are reimbursement for expenses incurred to repair your car or treat your injuries and include things like:
    1. A bill from a body shop
    2. Medical bills
    3. The cost of rehab
    4. Lost wages if you miss work while recovering from your injuries
  2. Noneconomic damages: These payments compensate you for your pain and suffering after an accident and include things like:
    1. Mental anguish
    2. Loss of consortium (loss of the enjoyment of a relationship like marriage)
    3. Loss of sexual intimacy
    4. Loss of enjoyment of life 

In rare instances, a jury may award you punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish defendants who acted with extreme negligence and disregard for others’ safety

Can I Receive Compensation for Psychological Injuries After a Car Accident?

Can I Receive Compensation for Psychological Injuries After a Car Accident?

You might think that mental health problems are less “real” than physical injuries and, therefore, not worthy of compensation. But that’s not true—if a medical professional properly diagnoses you with a psychological condition stemming from an auto accident, you are eligible to receive financial compensation.

Many people hesitate to seek help for mental health issues, either out of embarrassment or because it can be difficult to talk about emotional problems. However, it may be in your best interest to see a mental health professional for an evaluation after a car accident. It may help cover the cost of treating conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, vehophobia, and insomnia.

What If I’m in an Accident Without a Seat Belt?

What If I’m in an Accident Without a Seat Belt?

If you’re not wearing a seat belt and you get into an accident, that doesn’t necessarily prevent you from collecting an insurance settlement or pursuing a lawsuit if you didn’t cause the accident.

California’s Motor Vehicle Safety Act mandates seat belt use: “A person shall not operate a motor vehicle on a highway unless that person and all passengers 16 years of age or over are properly restrained by a safety belt.” In other words, California law requires drivers to wear a seat belt and also holds drivers responsible for ensuring that all passengers are belted. Other codes cover vehicle restraints and safety seats for children and infants under 16 years old.

In addition, wearing a seat belt is one of the most important things you can do to stay safe while on the road.

2020 NHTSA Statistics United States California Kern County
Total passenger vehicle deaths 23,824 2,114 127
Without seat belt 10,893 778 55
% without seat belt 45.7% 36.8% 43.3%

Let Our Experienced Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyers Help You

A car accident can have a significant impact on your life, and it’s no small task to try to get a fair deal from an at-fault driver’s insurance company while recuperating from physical and psychological injuries and staying afloat financially. That’s why you need a personal injury lawyer who has your back and works on your behalf throughout the entire process. 

Chain | Cohn | Clark is Bakersfield’s top car accident law firm because we’re serious about our mission to serve our clients and help them win the best settlements possible. Insurance companies work hard to minimize what they have to pay out, but we know how to recognize their tactics, and—even better—how to counter them. 

We’ve seen so many scenarios—from a paralyzed client with a lowball offer from the insurance company to an insurer trying to wear a client down with endless delaying tactics. Whatever your situation may be, our Bakersfield car accident lawyers will help you successfully navigate the settlement process—even if that means taking your case to court.

We’re the Bakersfield Car Accident Law Firm for You

As savvy car accident lawyers, we look out for our clients’ best interests. Far too often, people place their hopes—and misplace their trust—in the insurance companies. Our Bakersfield auto accident attorneys level the playing field, helping clients stand up to unscrupulous insurers. At our Bakersfield, CA car accident law firm, we’re prepared to handle every aspect of your claim—from investigation to negotiation and, if necessary, presenting your case at trial. 

Reach Out to a Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyer at Chain | Cohn | Clark for a Free Consultation Today

Putting your life back together after a car accident can be overwhelming. You may feel powerless or unsure of how to handle everything that’s being thrown at you. With one of Chain | Cohn | Clark’s Bakersfield car accident lawyers on your side, you can breathe easier. We’ll bear the burden with you and work to win all the compensation you deserve. 

If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident caused by another driver, reach out to Chain | Cohn | Clark for a free consultation with a Kern County personal injury lawyer today.

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