Sacramento Car Accident Attorney
A car accident can be the most traumatic incident to happen to you in your lifetime. However, with the right team of injury attorneys, an accident doesn’t have to destroy the rest of your life. The Sacramento car accident lawyers at Eric Ratinoff Law work from the beginning to the end of your injury case to improve the lives of accident victims the best we can. We relentlessly fight for our clients, securing the compensation their catastrophic injuries deserve. It is our goal to take the weight, stress, and pressure off the shoulders of car accident victims, and help them focus on what matters most – healing.
Negligence: The Foundation of All Car Accident Cases
Automobile accidents are one of the greatest causes of death and serious injury in California. Almost all car accidents stem from someone’s negligence. Negligence is the legal theory that if someone fails to act with reasonable care, resulting in the injury of another person, he or she is liable for the injuries. Proving negligence is at the heart of most car accident cases and other torts, or civil wrongs, such as slips and falls and defective products. To prove negligence, a plaintiff (the injured party bringing the claim) must establish four main elements:
- The defendant (the accused party) owed the plaintiff a duty of care. All drivers assume a duty of care to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and others on the roadway when they get behind the wheel. If a car accident stems from a defective product, such as bad brakes, the manufacturer owed a duty of care to its consumers. An accident due to a roadway defect, such as a broken stoplight, comes under the duty of care of the party in charge of roadway maintenance.
- The defendant breached his or her duty of care. The defendant’s breach of care is the crux of personal injury law. It is the plaintiff’s burden of proof to convince the judge or jury of the defendant’s breach of duty, such as texting and driving or driving under the influence.The right lawyer is critical in this step, as it is your lawyer who can gather evidence and eyewitness testimonies, and use a variety of means to recreate your accident and prove its cause(s). If a car accident takes the form of a defective product case, the plaintiff does not bear the burden of proving this element.
- The defendant’s breach of duty caused the accident. It is not enough to show that the defendant was negligent, careless, or reckless in some way – his or her act of negligence must have been the main cause of the car accident.For example, if Driver A fell asleep behind the wheel just as a defective stoplight made Driver B run a red light and collide with Driver A, the defective light would be the main cause of the accident, not the drowsy driver. Despite Driver A’s negligence, he or she would most likely not be liable for Driver B’s injuries.
- The accident caused compensable damages. If a plaintiff did not suffer any damages, there is no reason to file a personal injury claim. Damages may include physical injury, pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional distress, medical bills, lost wages, lost capacity to work, lost quality of life, and/or property damage.
A skilled attorney will strive to maximize recovery with powerful storytelling to show the judge or jury the extent of the plaintiff’s damages. At Eric Ratinoff Law Corp, we use multiple forms of advanced storytelling aided with top technologies to paint an accurate and compelling portrayal of your accident and injuries. We know what it takes to prove a car accident case, to gather and protect important evidence, conduct eyewitness interviews, hire experts, and more on your behalf.
Common Causes of Car Accidents in Sacramento
With a population of nearly 480,000, it is not surprising that Sacramento, CA is the location of thousands of car accidents every year. Many people never walk away from these accidents. Others spend the rest of their lives in chronic pain or with permanent disabilities. Driver error is to blame for the vast majority of these accidents – texting, talking, emailing, using apps, eating, drinking, or otherwise failing to pay attention while driving.
Driving is a privilege, not a right. It is the duty of all drivers to keep their eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and minds on the driving task. Failure to do so, resulting in an accident, is negligence. Eric Ratinoff Law Corp has the ability to collect cell phone records, video footage of the collision or the moments leading up to the crash, and statements from people who saw the defendant that day to help prove distracted driving. We know what steps to take to prove driver distraction as well as other causes of car accidents, including:
- Improper vehicle maintenance. If a driver, trucking company, or another party fails to ensure the safety of a vehicle, the person or company responsible for maintenance may be liable for subsequent accidents.
- Drunk driving. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), an average of 27 people die in drunk driving crashes every day. Even if a driver’s blood alcohol concentration level was below the legal maximum of 0.08%, one can prove intoxication or drug-impaired driving at the time of a crash with a proper investigation.
- Drowsy driving. Driving while tired is just as dangerous as driving drunk – perhaps more so, since most drivers don’t realize they are falling asleep until it’s too late. Driving drowsy slows reflexes and increases the odds of a collision. It is a driver’s duty to pull over and rest if he or she is too tired to drive safely.
- Roadway hazards. Potholes, loose gravel, broken stoplights, obscured traffic signs, debris, downed power lines, and other such hazardous conditions are common causes of non-driver related car accidents. In these cases, roadway maintenance crews, the county, or the district may be liable.
- Defective vehicle parts. If vehicle defects such as malfunctioning brakes cause a car accident, it may be the manufacturing company or distributor’s legal responsibility. This is also the case if a defective seatbelt or airbag causes injury in an accident.
There may be more than one party responsible for your accident. If this is the case, it is possible to bring claims against two or more parties. The courts will assign fault and split liability between parties as necessary. Even if you were partially responsible for your car accident, you may still be eligible to receive compensation.
Car Accident Laws in California
The laws and statutes relevant to your car accident case will change depending on the state where the accident occurred. In California, there are specific time limits, restrictions, and rules for filing a car accident claim. Working with an experienced local attorney in Sacramento is the best way to ensure your representation fully understands the federal, state, and local rules that may apply to your case. Here is a brief overview of some of the pertinent state laws in California:
- Time limit for bringing a claim. In the Golden State, you have two years to file a personal injury lawsuit of any kind against a defendant. In a car accident case, this may be two years from the date of the accident or two years from the date you discovered your injuries. Some injuries, such as slipped discs or concussions, may not be immediately apparent. If you’re filing a claim for property damage only, you have three years.
- Claims against the government. If a government vehicle or on-duty government employee caused your accident, the rules are different than a typical car accident claim. You must get paperwork in within six months of the date of your injury. Speak to the attorneys at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp for more details about a car accident involving government liability.
- Comparative fault laws. California is a comparative fault state, meaning you can collect recovery regardless of the degree of your own fault. However, the courts will reduce any compensation you recover by your percentage of fault. Count on the attorneys at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp to explain how these rules apply in your case.
With more than 50 years of combined personal injury experience in California, our team has firsthand knowledge you need to navigate complex car accident laws. We use current industry best practices and all tools available to us to help our clients pursue car accident cases. Browse our past case results for an idea of our high success rates.
Car Accident Injuries and Wrongful Death
Automobile accidents are so damaging because there is virtually no end to the types of injuries that can occur. The immense impact of a vehicle collision can cause a wide range of injuries to the driver, vehicle occupants, and bystanders. Gravitational forces, blunt force trauma, car fires, crush injuries, penetrations, and a number of other causes can lead to major injuries and wrongful death. Here are a few common car accident injuries our firm has seen:
- Head and brain injuries. The brain and its surrounding tissues are delicate, and easily injured in impacts to the head. When an object strikes the skull in a car accident, it can rattle the brain in the skull, leading to bleeding in the brain (brain hemorrhage) or swelling. Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) can cause temporary or permanent disabilities, coma, and death.
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs). There are many different types of SCIs depending on the type and location of the injury. An SCI can lead to chronic back pain or partial/full paralysis depending on the damages. There is currently no treatment to reverse spinal cord injuries.
- Internal injuries. Extreme gravitational forces can make the organs collide with one another in a car accident, leading to an array of internal damages. Internal injuries and bleeding can cause organs to fail or stop functioning altogether.
- Broken bones and muscle strains. Fractured bones and ligament/muscle injuries can be extremely painful and require weeks or months to heal. During this time, accident victims may be unable to return to work. Some victims never fully regain their strength, and often lose the capacity to work at their old jobs.
- Burn injuries. Car accidents may result in devastating burn injuries if the vehicle’s occupants become trapped in a burning vehicle. Burns can destroy the outer layer of skin and affect the underlying tissues, tendons, and muscles. Burn injuries often result in permanent scarring, disfigurement, or even amputation.
- Wrongful death. In the worst accidents, victims never recover from their injuries. If someone else’s negligence caused the death of your loved one in a car accident, please come to our firm for help. We truly care about our clients and will represent your case aggressively.
Car accidents are some of the most damaging personal injury events in the world. Regardless of the type or extent of your injuries, consult with the lawyers at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp to find out if your case has merit. We offer completely free initial consultations, and will travel anywhere in California to meet with you to discuss your case. Schedule your free consult now.
What to Do After a Car Accident
In the aftermath of a car accident, you may feel overwhelmed, and unsure of what to do. Car accidents can be chaotic and confusing, with other parties and insurance companies contacting you for statements and settlement offers. Before you make any decisions, contact a Sacramento personal injury attorney. An attorney will help you protect your rights and find the best way forward after a car crash. Here’s what to do after an accident:
- Call the police. Stay on the scene after a crash and call the police, even if the accident appears minor. Police officers can file an official report of the accident and document its details, including the other driver’s name and license plate information.
- Seek medical attention. It is wise to see your health care practitioner after any accident. Tell your doctor about the crash and have him/her check you for injuries that have not yet shown symptoms. Seek medical care as soon as possible after an accident to avoid hurting your case.
- Report the accident to your insurance company. Most car insurance policies require immediate reporting of accidents. As soon as you are able, call your company and report the accident. If the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, do not feel pressured to make a statement or accept a settlement before you speak to an attorney.
- Contact Eric Ratinoff Law to speak to our attorneys directly following any car accident that results in personal injuries or extensive property damage. Our team can take care of everything on your behalf, including taking over communications with insurance adjusters and filing a claim against the accused party.
Call our Qualified Sacramento Car Accident Lawyer
We take the time to get to know you and your family, and thoroughly understand all aspects of your case. Our team is passionate about defending the rights of injured car accident victims, as well as those of surviving family members. Our seasoned trial personal injury lawyers at Eric Ratinoff Law will go to court for you if we believe it’s necessary to secure the compensation your damages warrant. For questions or to schedule a free case consultation, call our Sacramento office at (916) 970-9100.