Causing an Accident Due to Texting is Likely to be a Crime

texting while driving and accident is a crime in CaliforniaThe law against texting while driving went into effect in California on January 1, 2009. However, few drivers are aware that when you cause an accident due to texting or a similar distraction caused by a cellphone use while driving, that accident will likely be considered a crime. If the accident is a fatality it will be considered an involuntary manslaughter, and chances are very high that the driver at fault will be imprisonment for nearly two years or more. This is yet another reason why texting while driving is not a good idea, especially on those roads where you are likely to have “surprise” – i.e. pedestrians popping up on the street unexpectedly, cars switching lanes often and stop and go traffic. Driving might be the time when calling the other person while using your headset, rather than texting, is a much better idea.

As I drive around San Francisco, I see that the drivers routinely violate the law against texting while driving. It’s unfortunate that most of those drivers learn how dangerous is the hard way – when they rear-end another vehicle, run over a pedestrian or a bicyclist or even go off the road, when traveling on a curvy highway.

Do you need to be represented by a personal injury lawyer?

One of the first questions that a person who is injured in an auto accident asks himself is whether he should handle the claim himself or retain an injury lawyer. And… if to hire a lawyer, how to find the right one – how to find an honest, aggressive legal professional who will obtain fair compensation and do a thorough job representing you? Choosing a lawyer can be a challenging task, especially in San Francisco, where there are literally hundreds and hundreds of personal injury lawyers.

Generally, a small accident with minimal property damages and mild injuries from which you completely recover does not justify hiring an attorney unless the third-party insurance company of the driver at fault simply denies liability. Otherwise, if you document your injuries, medical treatment and loss of wages well, you should be able to obtain fair compensation in your insurance settlement without the necessity of paying anywhere between 25% and 40% of your recovery to the attorney.

However, if you suffered a serious injury to one or more parts of your body, which is likely to have residual effects in the future or possibly for the rest of your life which has and will affect various aspects of your life and your ability to enjoy the typical social and professional activities, it is in your best interest to hire a reputable, knowledgeable, personal injury lawyer for a number of compelling reasons:

  1. Assessing your injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney will help you understand the legal issues involved in your specific personal injury claim. Is the injury serious? Is it a permanent or temporary injury? Who was at fault? Was there an uninsured or underinsured motorist involved? Is there any third party responsibility? Do you have pain and suffering? Should you try to negotiate with the insurer yourself? Do you have to accept his settlement offer? Do you know what your case is worth (the insurance company does and won’t tell you)? A good lawyer will tell you whether it makes sense to sue in small claims court, to sue for a larger amount in state court or to settle out of court.
  2. Obtaining additional evidence, information and reports. A good personal injury attorney will know what kinds of evidence to look for (i.e., medical and vocational evidence, police reports, etc.) and will investigate and interview potential witnesses for statements to gather all the necessary records and other evidence to prove the extent and the gravity of your injuries and to prove liability of the other party of it’s in dispute.
  3. Provide legal education to find a possible shortcut to resolving your injury claim. If representing yourself works better for you, consider using an attorney as a legal coach to help you (1) understand the personal injury law that applies to your case; (2) find the evidence that best supports your case; (3) understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of your claim; (4) understand the litigation process and customs unique to your local courts; (5) draft or review paperwork; (6) identify opportunities for a settlement to your personal injury claim; or (7) represent you if at some point you feel you can no longer go it alone.
  4. Negotiate. If there is an unresolved dispute, there will be negotiations with a claim adjuster who is a professional negotiator. You’d be wise to hire an attorney to negotiate on your behalf and to protect your interests, as both insurance companies and insurance defense lawyers take the arguments of a lawyer much more seriously than those of a lay person who is trying to handle his own injury claim.
  5. Represent you in court. An experienced lawyer can help you file a personal injury lawsuit against the party with whom you have a dispute. If your opponent has a lawyer, then by all means, you need to get one as well.
  6. Relieving you of the hassle associated with handling your own injury claim – your most important job after being involved in an injury accident is making sure that your recover and get back to the normal course of your life. From the moment you hire an attorney, you are relieved of the trouble of handling many of the issues associated with your claim, as most, if not all, the work will be done by your lawyer.

So, the bottom line is this: if your injuries are insignificant, you didn’t miss a lot of time from work and the insurance company being reasonable with you, then you should settle your claim and move on with your life.

If your injuries are serious and require careful treatment and evaluation and are likely to affect your future, it is highly recommended that you retain a personal injury lawyer to represent your interests, to negotiate on your behalf and possibly fight for a fair recovery in court.

San Francisco Accident Injury Lawyer: Police report and liability in the accident

You have just been involved in a car accident. You might be hesitating who you should call for help, and whether it’s a good idea to call anyone at all. It is very important to contact the police immediately after the accident, especially if any of the parties suffered serious injuries. The arriving police officer will gather all the available information and evidence from the scene of the collision – the statements of parties, parts of the vehicle, if any, will make the measurements of any skidmarks on the road, and will take down all the personal and insurance information of the drivers involved in the accident.

It is not uncommon, however, for a police report to contain incorrect information or even find the wrong party at fault, as the officer who prepares the report bases his conclusions on the statements received from other people, which are often incorrect or even biased. It is important to remember, however, that although the findings in the police reports are evidence of liability, they are no conclusive and are definitely subject to dispute. First, you can contact the police officer who prepared the collision report, discuss the accident and request that he/she amend the report in light of overlooked facts. The police officer may or may not supplement the original report, as the office has the ultimate discretion on preparing the document.

It is just as effective or even more effective to conduct your own investigation and submit your findings to the insurance company in order to dispute liability prove that the other party was liable. You may want to go back to the scene of the incident, take pictures or even a short movie of the intersection if you need to prove that the other drivers should have seen you and had enough time to stop. The insurance company will gladly consider any new evidence, especially in a serious accident, as they are very interested in avoiding significant liability and would rather settle a serious injury case early than argue over liability, litigate the claim and possible incur a much more significant liability and attorney’s fees.

If you have been recently involved in an injury accident in the San Francisco area or anywhere in Northern California, and would like to discuss your claims, contact Arkady Itkin – San Francisco injury lawyer for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss the injury incident you have been involved in.