Archive for April, 2014

Apr 2014

Irvine Injury Lawyers Best Counsel After Traffic Accident

Do I need an Irvine car accident attorney?

It’s a question we most often hear. What if it’s a “minor” accident and everyone is “fine?”

We point to the old adage about the definition of “minor injuries” being injuries that don’t happen to you.

Most traffic accidents are complex matters. April is both Alcohol Awareness Month and Distracted Driving Awareness Month, two of the driving behaviors most likely to result in a serious or fatal traffic collision. Each year in California, about 3,000 motorists are killed in auto accidents. The California Highway Patrol reports 128 people were killed in Orange County traffic accidents in 2011. More than 13,500 motorists were injured that year in Orange County – that’s 37 people a day!

In many cases, determining the causes of your traffic collision can make all the difference t0 your ability to seek compensation. Evidence of distracted driving or an unsafe vehicle may only be captured in the moment. Issues involving third-party liability, like obstructions in the road, overgrown vegetation other dangerous conditions, may only be readily apparent at the time of the collision, and may even be quickly repaired in response to an incident.

Then too, you must carefully consider your definition of “minor injuries,” particularly if you are relying upon self-diagnosis. Certain back and joint injuries may take weeks or even months to become apparent. Even soft-tissue injuries like whiplash and very serious conditions such as traumatic brain injuries or nerve damage may not be readily apparent in the immediate aftermath of a traffic collision. Yet whether your medical costs are covered, and whether you receive compensation for lost wages and other damages, will be directly impacted by whether you seek experienced legal counsel.

The Statute of Limitations is two years for a negligence or wrongful death lawsuit in California. A potential claimant loses the right to collect damages or other relief once 24 months has passed from the time of the accident.

In some cases we find an injury victim did not seek legal advice at the outset because he or she felt partially responsible for the incident. Those claimants should understand that California is a pure comparative negligence state, which means even in cases where a plaintiff is found to be at some degree of fault, he or she can still recover damages to the extent a defendant is found to be to blame.

Thus, delay is what is most likely to be damaging to your claim. Like work injuries or other insurance claims, your best course of action is to properly document the incident in the immediate aftermath before seeking experienced legal and medical advice. Law firms focused on personal injury and wrongful death litigation typically handle such cases on a contingency-fee basis. This gives plaintiff’s access to experienced legal counsel in exchange for payment at case settlement or resolution. To not avail yourself of free legal advice is not typically the best move in the aftermath of an auto accident.

If you’ve been injured, or you lost a loved one, contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton at (949) 757-0707, or visit 19700 Fairchild, Suite 280, Irvine, CA 92612.

Apr 2014

Irvine Traffic Accidents Fault of Distracted, Careless Drivers

Distracted driving has become a serious concern, with 3,331 people losing their lives and another 387,000 suffering injuries in 2011 because of distracted drivers. Numerous efforts have been made to discourage drivers from distraction, with limited success. Even in California, which has some of the strictest anti-texting laws in the nation, the texting rate reportedly has not declined. 

Texting bans are notoriously hard to enforce, so a lot of focus is on public education. Unfortunately, campaigns by AT&T, Allstate, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and State Farm Insurance have seem limited effectiveness. Understanding the reasons for failures is essential in finding better solutions. It is also important to accurately understand the extent of the problem, which experts are not currently measuring correctly.

Until better methods of preventing distracted driving are identified, collisions are likely to continue to cause thousands of injuries and fatalities. Experienced accident attorneys in Irvine can help accident victims to understand their rights.

Distracted Driving Campaigns Lack Effectiveness

A study on the effectiveness of road safety campaigns revealed that mass media public education campaigns have “virtually no effect” in reducing the risk of accidents unless the campaign is also accompanied by an enforcement campaign. However, when combined with active enforcement from local and state police, public education efforts can have as much as a 10 percent reduction in accidents.

A study of an anti-drunk driving program, Checkpoint Strikeforce, also lent credence to the theory that both publicity and enforcement are necessary.  In that campaign, there were too few sobriety checkpoints to raise public perceptions of risks associated with driving while impaired and inadequate publicity surrounding the campaign to prevent drunk driving.

While Checkpoint Strikeforce may not have been a success, campaigns against drunk driving have, overall, had a much more significant impact in reducing fatalities than anti-distracted driving campaigns. There are several possibilities for why this is the case.

First and foremost, drunk-driving campaigns went into full force at a time when it was easier to reach broad segments of the population.  Limited broadcasting networks (there were just three when the largest anti-drunk driving campaigns started in 1988) allowed for many people to be reached using prime time television advertisements. Today, the American public gets its news and entertainment from many different sources, so a successful campaign would require finding new and innovative ways to reach audience.

The anti-drunk driving campaigns also had a clear and positive message that asked motorists to make only a minor change in behavior. Most campaigns targeting drunk driving don’t suggest that drivers refrain from drinking altogether, but instead simply suggest that people have a designated driver. This is empowering, compared to the distracted driving storylines used in major Hollywood productions, which help make the idea of distracted driving “cool.”

Today, there are no such equivalent campaigns for distracted driving.  The true risks of distracted driving aren’t even understood by the experts as many convictions for distracted driving are instead described as “careless driving” convictions.

Without clear enforcement and a positive message providing a good reason for drivers not to drive while distracted, safety campaigns are likely to remain ineffective at solving this serious public health threat.

Accident attorneys in Irvine can help after a collision. Contact the Law Offices of Daniel C. Carlton today at (949) 757-0707 to schedule a free consultation.