Has A Car Accident Affected Your Life?
When another driver’s carelessness causes injury or death, families are left devastated because of the incident. You are not alone – Chain | Cohn | Stiles has helped countless car accident victims and families through these difficult times. Our attorneys have decades of personal injury experience, so you can rest assured knowing you are in good hands. Since the foundation of our law firm in downtown Bakersfield in 1934, our goal has always been to fight for the little working man and woman, and we keep this promise by fighting for your interests to the maximum extent of the law. We provide a no-cost evaluation to determine if you have a case.
DO YOU HAVE A CLAIM?
After a car accident, you may not be sure whether or not you are eligible for a claim. To be eligible to collect damages, your accident must meet two criteria:
- The accident was caused, at least partially, by another party’s negligence.
- The accident caused you or a family member to suffer serious physical injuries.
Even if your particular accident doesn’t fall under either of the previously mentioned conditions, that doesn’t mean that you can’t necessarily file a claim or lawsuit. Generally, if you’ve been involved in a car accident that caused an injury or that you believe to be someone else’s fault, please contact our lawyers for a free consultation. Our Bakersfield car accident attorneys are standing by to provide a free consultation to help you determine whether or not your case is eligible. If we can help, we will begin building your case immediately.
You man be entitled to compensation for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement, and more.
Talk To Us Before The Insurance Company
Insurance companies have nearly unlimited resources when it comes to fighting claims made against their drivers’ policies. It is paramount that you know and understand your rights before speaking to them. Our attorneys specialize in auto accidents in California, and we can advise you of your rights and ensure that you are not taken advantage of. Innocent comments can be manipulated to make it look like the accident was your fault, or used to claim that your injuries aren’t severe. They may also try to pressure you into quickly signing a settlement worth far less than you actually need.
An experienced California auto accident attorney will take into account your current and future medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses, so you get the compensation you need to cover the true costs of your accident. We’re used to dealing with insurance company tactics, so when the insurance company calls, hang up and contact us instead. We’ll help you figure out whether or not a settlement offer is fair, and we’ll talk to the insurance company for you.
Our Bakersfield car accident lawyers have helped hundreds of auto accident victims receive their rightful compensation, let us fight on your behalf, while you focus on moving forward with your life. If you or a loved one have been injured in an auto accident, call today for a free evaluation of your case.
Why Trust Chain | Cohn | Stiles with Your Case?
We Live Where You Live
Our firm has deep roots in the Bakersfield community. All of our attorneys were either born or raised in the area, and call it home, and are committed to serving its residents to the best of our ability. Many firms or legal referral services will give the false impression of being local and refer your case to a remote attorney, or staff member. We know the roads and intersections where the accidents take place, the police officers and emergency personnel that respond to auto accidents, as well as the locations, policies, and staff of local medical facilities and hospitals.
Our Track Record Of Success
Over the years, the Bakersfield and Kern County car accident attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have successfully helped countless families receive compensation for their accident. We have obtained more multi-million dollar personal injury case results on behalf of our clients than any other law firm in Kern County. In total, we have collected more than half a billion dollars on behalf of our clients. Our track record of winning results speaks for itself. Here are a few cases we have won for our clients:
The defendant entered the roadway and did not allow enough room for the plaintiff on a motorcycle to enter with traffic approaching. Plaintiff lost his right leg.
The driver left the roadway onto the sidewalk, where he struck and killed the decedent as he was out for a morning jog.
Plaintiff was rear-ended at a stop due to dusty conditions on the roadway caused by field work.
Plaintiff suffered a brain injury, as well as severe orthopedic injuries, when he was involved in an auto accident caused by blinding dust from an almond harvester. (Verdict)
The plaintiff was riding his motorcycle when the defendant pulled out in front of the motorcyclist, striking and killing him.
Plaintiff was stopped when the driver of a truck failed to stop and rear-ended his vehicle.
Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle that was rear-ended by a van while stopped at a stop sign.
Common Causes of Car Accidents
As unfortunate as it is, car accidents are exceptionally common in Kern County, largely due to various highway systems in close proximity, such as Highway 5 and Highway 99. According to California Highway Patrol ( 2018 SWITRS Report), the most common car accidents are improper turning, which combined account for half of all collisions in Kern County. The largest factor of fatal collisions is driving under the influence, which resulted in 39 Kern County victims killed in 2018.
|PRIMARY COLLISION FACTOR||TOTAL COLLISIONS||KILLED VICTIMS||INJURED VICTIMS||SEVERE INJURIES|
|DUI - Alcohol / Drug||998||39||109||612|
|Traffic Signals And Signs||611||8||38||702|
|Unsafe Lane Change||438||2||3||132|
|Unsafe Starting Or Backing||437||0||3||86|
|Other Than Driver||263||5||11||56|
|Wrong Side Of Road||204||15||32||158|
|Other Hazardous Violation||76||0||4||32|
|Following Too Closely||58||0||0||21|
|MOTOR VEHICLE INVOLVED WITH||TOTAL COLLISIONS||FATAL COLLISIONS||KILLED VICTIMS||INJURED VICTIMS|
|OTHER MOTOR VEHICLE||6,034||49||62||4,058|
|PARKED MOTOR VEHICLE||916||2||2||134|
|MOTOR VEH ON OTHER RDWY||78||1||1||76|
Common Injuries Associated with Car Accidents
Many injuries associated with auto accidents are not visible on the surface. For your health it is critical that you are checked and treated for common injuries. Checking for injuries is not only for your safety, having a full medical evaluation is also critical to your claim. It is important that you are seen by a medical professional, make sure to keep documentation of all paperwork and bills. Common injuries you should be checked for, and what to look for:
- Whiplash:According to the Mayo Clinic, whiplash is "a neck injury due to forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck, like the cracking of a whip." The injury is most common after rear-end auto collisions, but you can also get whiplash from a variety of other sources of physical trauma.
- Muscle Pain and Aches:If you have muscle pains or aches shortly after experiencing a car accident, then you may have internal injuries and should seek immediate medical attention. In fact, it's always wise to get a full medical examination after any type of physical trauma like a car accident.
- Head Injuries:Head injuries are far too common after car and motor vehicle accidents. If you lost consciousness, have a headache, are vomiting or nauseous, feel fatigued or drowsy, or are having problems speaking following a car accident, then seek immediate medical attention.
- Broken Bones:Contrary to the popular expression "if it was broken, you'd know it," broken bones can sneak past you. This is especially true following any traumatic accident. Sometimes, adrenaline and the location of the broken bone play a big part in whether or not you initially notice the injury. Like we mentioned before, if you've been in an accident, then please get a full medical checkup as soon as you can. It could save your life.
- Scrapes and Cuts:Scrapes and cuts are common after car and motor vehicle accidents. Unless particularly bad, most scrapes and cuts will heal on their own, needing only antibiotic ointments. However, sometimes, cuts and scrapes require stitches or other forms of medical intervention. A good rule of thumb is if you think it needs attention, then it probably does.
- Broken Ribs:Due to the forces involved in car accidents, broken ribs are extremely common. If you feel tightness or pressure-based pain in or around your rib cage, then you likely have at least one broken or bruised rib. Seek medical attention immediately following any car accident!
- Internal Bleeding:Internal bleeding is, probably, the scariest and most dangerous item on this list. Often, those suffering internal bleeding don't realize it until it's too late. Often, there is no pain, and it also often takes a medical professional to diagnose properly. Again, seek medical attention immediately following any type of car accident!
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:Commonly referred to as PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder is exceptionally common following car accidents. Usually, the symptoms include things like extreme emotions, flashbacks to the event, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and heightened reactions. Luckily, however, PTSD is treatable by medical professionals. If you think you may be suffering from PTSD, then seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist right away.
Why Hire A Car Accident Attorney?
Our Bakersfield car accident lawyers know that life can become extremely complicated after you are involved in a serious car accident. The main reason seems to be that the at-fault driver’s insurance company resists paying claims when the other motorist was clearly at fault. Bills can start to pile up, including medical bills. In these incidents, it is necessary for residents to hire our Bakersfield car accident attorneys immediately after they experience devastating injuries during a collision.
Catastrophic injuries often mean that a very large car accident verdict or settlement will be awarded to the injured party. When this process moves along in an expeditious manner, each side can negotiate honestly and reach an agreement in a reasonable amount of time. If it is not possible for this to occur because administrators with the at-fault driver’s insurance company are acting in bad faith, the injured does not receive an adequate car accident settlement for several years. Our Bakersfield car crash lawyers are here to ensure that you receive the proper settlement, or a positive verdict in the case we have to go trial. We have years of experience representing auto wreck cases like these, and we always come highly recommended.
Those who have sustained injuries may hope to avoid hiring a Bakersfield car accident law firm in situations such as these because they do not want to go to court. However, a car accident lawsuit in Bakersfield may be the only way to receive the compensation that you rightfully deserve. This is why it is a smart idea to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys to find out if you have a case. Our attorneys have more than 100 years of experience combined, and have helped countless people receive an auto accident compensation. If you hire an auto accident attorney in Bakersfield from Chain | Cohn | Stiles, you can rest easy knowing we can help you get the compensation you rightly deserve.
If you are or a loved one is currently paralyzed because of the collision, you cannot afford to wait years for an insurance company to finally provide you with the funds you need to pay your medical bills. A Bakersfield auto accident attorney will help you stop the other side from stalling. If a car accident settlement in Bakersfield is necessary, hiring an experienced attorney is critical to receiving a timely settlement. We understand you need compensation soon, we are here to hold the insurance company accountable so you can get back to your life.
If you have been involved in a car accident of any kind, then you may need to contact our team of reliable legal representatives. Each and every one of our auto accident attorneys is guaranteed to have the training and experience to handle your case.
Still Have Questions?
- Who can recover damages in a motor vehicle accident? Anyone who is involved in a motor vehicle accident is entitled to bring a lawsuit against an at-fault driver, or any other person or entity who may be at fault.
- What if more than one driver is at fault? If multiple drivers are responsible for the accident, the injured person can sue all of the potential defendants. At some point between the settlement demand stage and a settlement and/or verdict, a decision is made as to the relative percentage of fault of each defendant. Each defendant then owes the injured person compensation for the injuries caused by his or her percentage of fault.
- What if I am at fault for causing the accident? If the injured person's own negligence is the only cause of his or her injuries and the injured person is 100% at fault, the injured person will recover no money in a legal case. However, California is a comparative negligence state and any fault for an injury attributable to the injured person will reduce the injured person's damages in proportion to that fault. Thus, if you are 50% at fault for your accident, and your damages are 100%, your recovery from the defendant would be only 50%.
- How is fault determined? This is a complicated question and differs from case to case. At the settlement demand stage, i.e. before a lawsuit is filed, attorneys and adjusters generally, at least initially, look to the police report and the conclusions of the investigating officers. If there is no police report, then the people evaluating the case will generally look to whatever physical evidence exists and the statements of the drivers and witnesses.Unfortunately, police reports are frequently inaccurate, and the conclusions of the investigating officers are sometimes wrong. Thus, a police report that is favorable to one side or the other may not be conclusive as to who is at fault and, in fact, the opinions of the police officer are usually not allowed into evidence if the case goes to trial.In serious cases, attorneys hire private investigators and expert witnesses to help prove fault. Ultimately, if the case does not settle, a judge, jury, or arbitrator will decide who is at fault and the relative percentage of fault to the parties.
- Can I sue the driver of the vehicle if I am a passenger? Yes. The passenger in a vehicle, whether driven by a friend, relative or stranger, can sue the driver of the vehicle if the driver is at fault. However, even a passenger can be found to be comparatively negligent for an accident if, for instance, the passenger does not wear a seatbelt or contributes to the cause of the accident.If the passenger is a member of the same household as the driver, there may insurance coverage exclusions that could prevent the passenger from collecting against the driver's insurance company.
- Is there anyone other than the drivers and passengers involved in a motor vehicle collision that I can sue for my damages? Yes. In some serious personal injury or death cases the drivers involved in a collision will not have enough insurance coverage or assets to fully compensate an accident victim or the victim's survivors for all of their damages. In these cases it becomes particularly important to perform an investigation to determine if anyone other than the operators of the motor vehicles were also at fault. CHAIN | COHN | STILES attorneys will do a thorough investigation of a serious personal injury or death case to determine if there are other factors involved in contributing to the accident.
- What damages can I recover in a motor vehicle accident? The injured person is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical treatment, past and future wage loss, damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress, and, if the injured person can establish bad enough conduct on the part of the defendant, punitive damages (i.e. damages intended to punish the defendant). If the injured person dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the injured person's death, as well as monetary damages which stem from the loss of society, care, and comfort of the decedent.
- What if I have no insurance? If you are a passenger in a motor vehicle or a pedestrian injured by a motor vehicle, the fact that you do not have insurance is irrelevant. However, if you are the driver of a vehicle involved in an accident, even if you are not at fault, under a new California law you are not allowed to recover damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress. One must have an automobile liability insurance policy to recover those damages.
- What if one of the other drivers has no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover the cost of my damages? An injured plaintiff can attempt to attach the personal assets of an uninsured or underinsured motorist. However, in most of those situations the likelihood of recovery of sufficient monetary damages is not worth the time and cost to pursue the defendant.If the injured person has an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy of their own, then the injured person can recover from the their own insurance company the damages caused by an at-fault driver.If the at-fault driver is uninsured, the injured person can recover damages up to his or her own uninsured motorist policy limit. If the at-fault driver has insurance, but not enough to cover the injured person's damages, then the injured person can seek to recover from their own insurance company the difference between the at-fault driver's policy limit and the injured person's own policy limit
- Do I need to retain an attorney if I am injured in a motor vehicle accident? Usually, but not always. If liability is clear and your injuries are relatively minor, you may be better off attempting to settle the case with an insurance carrier. However, you should always be cautious because what might seem like a minor injury may become more serious.Generally speaking, in cases of difficult or questionable liability and/or cases with serious personal or psychological injuries or death, an accident victim or his or her survivors should retain an attorney who specializes in serious injury and wrongful death cases.A good attorney can usually significantly increase the value of a case by a thorough work up and may be able to identify defendants other than the motor vehicle drivers who can be sued in situations where there is not enough insurance coverage to compensate the plaintiff for all of his or her damages.
- How long do I have to bring a motor vehicle accident case? That depends. If a potential defendant is a public entity, such as the state, county or a city, a claim for personal injuries must be filed with the public entity within six months of the date of your injury. If the defendant is a private entity, such as a business or an individual, a complaint must be filed within one year of the date of the accident for all accidents up to January 1, 2003; and for accidents occurring after January 1, 2003, a complaint must be filed within two years of the date of the accident.
- If I am in an auto accident, do I have to stop? Yes. California law says you must stop, whether the accident involves a pedestrian, a moving car, a parked car or someone's property. If you drive away, you can be charged with "hit and run" - even if the accident is not your fault. If you hit a parked car, try to find the driver. If you cannot, the law says you may drive away only after you leave behind your name, address and an explanation of the accident - and you must notify the local police or California Highway Patrol either by telephone or in person.You must call the police or the CHP if the accident caused a death or injury. An officer who comes to the scene of the accident will make a report. If an officer does not show up, you must make a written report on a form available at the police department or CHP office.
- What should I do if someone is injured? The law requires you to give reasonable assistance to injured persons. If you are not trained in first aid, do not move someone who is badly hurt; you might make the injury worse. However, you should move someone who is in danger of being hurt worse or killed - even if you do make the injury worse.To avoid additional collisions, try to warn other motorists that an accident occurred. Placing flares on the road, turning on your car's hazard lights and lifting the engine hood are good ways to warn oncoming traffic.Arrange to get help for any injured persons, and try not to panic.
- How can I get help? As soon as you can get to a telephone, call 911. Explain the situation and give your exact location, so help can arrive quickly. Be sure to mention whether you need an ambulance or a fire engine. Or, flag down a passing car, and ask the driver to go for help. Perhaps the driver will have a cellular phone in the car and can make an emergency call on the spot.
- What information should I gather at the accident scene? Since many records are now confidential under the law, you may not be able to obtain the information you want from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). So be sure to get as much correct and complete information as you can at the scene of the accident. You and the other driver should show each other your driver's licenses and vehicle registrations. Record:
- The other driver's name, address, date of birth, telephone number, driver's license number and expiration date, and insurance company.
- The other car's make, year, model, license plate number and expiration date, and vehicle identification number.
- The names, addresses, telephone numbers and insurance companies of the other car's legal and registered owners (if the driver does not own the car).
- The names, addresses and telephone numbers of any passengers in the other car.
- The names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses to the accident. Ask them to stay and talk to the police. If they insist on leaving, ask them to tell you what they saw and write everything down.
- The name and badge number of the law officer who comes to the accident scene. Ask the officer where and when you can get a copy of the accident report.
- A simple diagram of the accident. Draw the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If there are skid marks on the road, pace them off. Draw them on the diagram, noting the distance they cover. Mark the positions of any crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights or street lights. If you have a camera with you, take pictures of the scene.
- If I think the accident is my fault, should I say so? Do not volunteer any information about whose fault the accident was. You may think you are in the wrong and then learn that the other driver is as much or more to blame than you are. You should talk to your lawyer before taking the blame. Anything you say to the police or the other driver can be used against you later.Do not agree to pay for damages or sign any paper except a traffic ticket until you check with your lawyer.Be sure to cooperate with the police officer investigating the case. But, stick to the facts
- What if I get a ticket? Sign it. A ticket has nothing to do with your guilt or innocence. When you sign, you promise to appear in court. If you do not sign the ticket, the police officer can arrest you.While it is okay to sign the ticket, you may want to talk with your attorney before you pay a fine or plead guilty to the charges. Find out if you can attend traffic school instead. If you plead guilty, you may hurt your chances of collecting damages from the other driver later, or you may help the other driver to collect damages from you.
- Do I need automobile insurance? Yes. California law requires every owner of an automobile to have that vehicle insured. If you are in an automobile accident, you must share the name of your insurance
- Should I get a physical check-up after the accident? A check-up may be a good idea for both you and your passengers. You could be injured and not know it right away. At least call your doctor or another health care provider for help in deciding what your needs may be. Your automobile insurance may pay your health care bills.
- Do I have to report the accident? Yes. First, you may need to call the police. Second, report the accident to your insurance company. Ask your agent what forms you should fill out to help you make other necessary reports on the accident. Third, you and the other driver must report the accident to DMV within 10 days if:
- The damage to either car is more than $500.
- Anyone is injured or killed in the accident.
- You may obtain an SR-1 Report of Traffic Accident form from your local DMV office, CHP, police,insurance company or CHAIN | COHN | STILES.
- Who pays if I am injured or my car is damaged? That depends on who is at fault, whether you and the other driver have insurance and what kind of insurance you have. There are two major types of insurance "liability" and "collision".
- Liability. If you are to blame for an accident, your liability insurance will pay the other driver for property damage and personal injuries up to your policy's limits. If you are not at fault, the other driver's liability insurance pays for your car damage and/or personal injuries.
- Collision. No matter who is at fault, your collision insurance pays for damages to your car (not your medical expenses), minus the policy deductible. Most insurance companies do not offer collision coverage for very old cars.
- You may have other insurance too. Your health insurance, for example, may pay your medical bills. Also, your automobile insurance may have medical payments coverage. If so, it will pay the cost of your medical treatment up to the medical payment limits. This coverage can be used in place of your other health insurance or in addition to it.
- What should I do if the other driver does not have insurance? If the other driver caused the accident and is not insured, your own policy will pay for your personal injuries - if you have "uninsured motorist" or "medical payments" coverage. If the other driver's insurance is not enough to pay for all of your damages, your own insurance may pay the difference - if you have "underinsured motorist" coverage. If you do not have these kinds of insurance or if your damages are more than the policy's limit, you can sue the other driver. However, even if you win the case, you cannot be sure that the other driver has the money to pay. If you have collision insurance, it will pay for damage to your car, no matter who is at fault.
- What if I want to make a claim for my injuries? If the other driver was at fault, you may be entitled to compensation for your personal injuries, pain and suffering, property damage and other expenses, such as lost wages. You should make a claim with the other driver's insurance company. But, if you are not satisfied with the amount they offer, you may want to sue.If you plan to sue, do not delay. There are time limits for filing various types of claims.Beginning in 1991, you can sue for $5,000 or less in small claims court. An attorney cannot represent you in this court, but you can talk with one beforehand. If you want to sue for a larger amount, you will need your own attorney.
Recent Car Accident News
Chain Cohn Stiles made me feel comfortable... they did it!
Meet Marilyn Burgos, a resident of Arvin in Kern County who was involved in a car accident and received help from the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.
Mr. Cohn took my case, within just months it was completely settled to the full amount!
Meet Loreen Stephens, a resident of Bakersfield who was involved in a car accident and received help from the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles.
Ellos siempre comunicaron todo y si les hablas con cualquier pregunta, ellos siempre te llaman los mas pronto posible que ellos pueden.
Conoce a Dolores Escamilla, un residente del condado de Kern que estuvo en accident en el trabajo, y recibio ayuda de Chain | Cohn | Stiles.
There was never a question unanswered, and I had total confidence in the way they took matters into their own hands
Meet Joe Botts, a resident of Bakersfield who was involved in a motorcycle accident and received help from Chain | Cohn | Stiles.
It's very nice to know that you have someone like Matt Clark representing you
Meet Cindee Bryan, a resident of Kern County who was involved in a car accident and received help from Chain | Cohn | Stiles.