Car Accident in San Jose

Navigating the Aftermath: What to Do After a Car Accident in San Jose

Tarun Sridharan Legal Editor & Attorney Contributor Read Time: 9 minutes

Navigating the Aftermath: What to Do After a Car Accident in San Jose

In the aftermath of a car accident in San Jose, you may be feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and confused — especially if your injuries are severe and your life has been impacted in a major way.  We understand.  The legal process isn’t always easy to understand.  Read on to learn more about some of the basic issues, so that you’re better prepared to move forward with your case.

What steps should you take after a car accident?

There are several steps that you should take after a serious collision or car accident to ensure that your legal claims are not weakened.  After all, you’ll want to move forward in such a way that you have preserved your right to sue and recover the maximum possible damages.

Consider the following:

  • Seek emergency medical assistance if necessary and ensure you are taken to a hospital if severely injured. If you are severely injured at the scene of the traffic collision and need immediate medical attention, don’t delay — being taken to a hospital promptly is crucial. If you delay, the defendant will attempt to argue that your injuries were worsened by the delay (and therefore, they cannot be held responsible).
  • If you don’t need emergency medical assistance, stay at the scene of the traffic collision and gather eyewitness information.  Eyewitnesses will be useful later on if the defendant attempts to argue a different factual narrative than your own.
  • Take photos and videos of the crash scene.  This can be useful as evidence of what happened (before the accident is cleaned up by City workers).
  • Work with San Jose police and other law enforcement so that they can get the police report done.  That being said, don’t make any sensitive statements about fault — and don’t disclose additional, unnecessary details.  Just answer their questions as simply as possible.
  • Consult an attorney as soon as possible, before you talk to insurance.  Insurance companies will try and get you to make sensitive disclosures that could undermine your claims.  Don’t let them do so.  Have an attorney speak to them on your behalf.

Attorneys aren’t just advocates in the courtroom context — though television shows and movies about attorneys often focus on that side of lawyering.  They advocate for your interests from the beginning of the legal process (i.e., right after the accident) to the end (i.e., collecting the compensation from the relevant parties).

The various responsibilities of a car accident lawyer include:

  • Identifying, gathering, and preserving evidence
  • Communicating with other parties on your behalf (i.e., law enforcement, insurers, defendants, etc.)
  • Managing experts who will provide supportive testimony for your case
  • Developing an airtight legal argument
  • Navigating courtroom hearings and other formal legal matters
  • Negotiating a potential settlement with opposing counsel
  • Pushing forward to court litigation if a favorable settlement is not reached
  • And more

These responsibilities are not simple to handle — even for an attorney.  That’s why it’s crucial to work with a qualified California injury attorney.  It’s not recommended that you handle the case on your own — in fact, even the courts discourage plaintiffs from doing so.

Most plaintiffs’-side San Jose personal injury lawyers work on contingency

In San Jose, and elsewhere, most plaintiffs’-side lawyers (in personal injury disputes) work on contingency.  This is hugely beneficial for you, as you don’t have to pay anything out-of-pocket to pursue your legal claims.

How does this work, exactly?

When a lawyer works on contingency, they don’t need you to pay upfront.  Instead, they’ll work on your case and take a percentage cut of whatever compensation they’re able to secure on your behalf.  Here’s the thing: they only get paid if (and when) they get you paid.  If they’re unable to secure compensation on your behalf, then you don’t have to pay them anything.

The percentage cut they take can vary quite a bit — anywhere from 25 percent to 40 percent or more.

Given that your lawyer will get paid more if they secure more damages for you, they’re incentivized to work efficiently and effectively to maximize your compensation.  So contingency fees create a very favorable dynamic for those looking to secure the best possible result.

In a vehicle accident, what damages can you be compensated for?

Damages in an accident vary from case to case, as damages are meant to cover the losses that the victim sustains as a result of the defendant’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional misconduct.

Claimable losses may include:

  • Wage loss
  • Loss of earning capacity
  • Medical expenses
  • Property loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Loss of companionship
  • And more

Each crash victim has a unique life circumstance that could be impacted by the same vehicle accident in different ways — as such, courts are careful to evaluate the losses to determine whether the claims are well-supported by the evidence.

For example, suppose that you’re injured in an accident when you’re unemployed.  You would have no “wage loss” claim.  On the other hand, if you were working a job with a salary of $70,000, and you were forced to take a year off to recover from your injuries, then you would have a claimable wage loss of $70,000.  That’s an enormous difference in compensation between those two scenarios!

Given the stakes, it’s important to consult a qualified personal injury lawyer who can help you build a well-supported damages claim.

Who is liable for a car accident in California?

Liability for a car accident in California will depend on the circumstances.  Every case is different.  That being said, defendants who can potentially be held responsible for your injuries may include:

  • The driver who hit you
  • The employer of the driver
  • Other drivers
  • The auto manufacturer
  • The auto repair shop
  • The City
  • Other property owners
  • And more

Identifying the vehicles involved in the accident, such as a black 2017 Chevrolet Camaro or a white 2000 Nissan Frontier pickup truck, is crucial to establish liability and understand the context of the accident.

For example, imagine that you’re a pedestrian injured by a truck driver in an accident in downtown San Jose.  The driver was making a delivery for his employer at the time of the accident.  Under these circumstances, you’d likely have a claim against both the truck driver and his employer for damages.  This could be a potentially useful strategic opportunity, as their employer would have “deeper pockets” as a business defendant with substantial insurance coverage to pay out compensation.

How fault is assigned in a California car collision scenario

In California, the courts evaluate the liability of each vehicle and each party involved in an accident through the lens of “pure comparative fault.”

How does this work?

Under pure comparative fault principles, if you — the injury victim — are partially at fault, then you can still sue and recover damages.  In fact, you can do so even if you are found to be up to 99 percent at fault!

Here’s the thing: you’ll have the opportunity to sue and recover damages, but your total compensation amount will be reduced by a percentage.  Specifically, it will be reduced by the percentage fault that you’re responsible for the traffic collision — if you’re 40 percent at fault, for example, then your $100,000 damages will be reduced by 40 percent to $60,000.  Still good, of course, but you’ll want to account for the compensation shift as you navigate the legal process.

San Jose, CA — be wary of road dangers

San Jose has several dangerous roadways, from the stretch of lanes of I-80 running through the city to Curtner Avenue and others. But the most dangerous roadway in the San Jose area is undoubtedly the segment of the Monterey Highway between Morgan Hill and San Jose, dubbed “Blood Alley” due to the number of vehicle fatalities that have occurred there. Additionally, the areas near Saratoga Avenue and Belvedere Drive have recently witnessed incidents highlighting the risks of navigating local roads. The dangers extend to interstate highways as well, with Interstate 880 and Interstate 680 witnessing significant accidents, underscoring the hazards present on these major thoroughfares in and around San Jose.

Given the dangerousness of San Jose roadways, it’s important that you have your claims evaluated properly by an attorney. The City has a responsibility to design and maintain its roadways so that they are reasonably safe — their failure to do so could give rise to liability.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident — whether in San Jose or elsewhere — then you may be feeling overwhelmed and confused.  After all, you might not know if you’re entitled to compensation, and how to go about securing said compensation.  That’s where an attorney can help.  Experienced attorneys can evaluate your case and work with you to pursue the compensation you deserve.

Contact 1-800-THE-LAW2 to get in touch with a skilled San Jose car accident lawyer in our network.  They’ll be able to offer you a free legal consultation, during which you’ll have the opportunity to discuss your case in more detail.  You’re under no obligation to move forward with the attorney if you decide against it, so there’s no downside to calling in and learning more about your strategic options.

We look forward to assisting you.

Our offices are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we can assist you no matter when your accident occurs.

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