Frequently Asked Questions
The Law Offices of Irwin R. "Rob" Miller in Oxnard provide the following answers to questions we frequently encounter as we represent victims of car, truck and motorcycle accidents throughout Ventura County and surrounding areas. We hope you find this information useful. If you have other questions or need immediate assistance with a personal injury, wrongful death, or other negligence claim, please contact our office for a free consultation with an experienced Ventura County motor vehicle accident attorney.
What should I do if I am in an accident?
Of course, your primary concern, and ours as well, should be for the safety of yourself and others involved in the accident. If you smell gas or suspect a fuel spill, try to get everyone to move away to a safe distance from the vehicles, except that you should never move an unconscious or injured person unless absolutely necessary for their safety; if the person has a spinal cord injury, you could make the injury worse by moving them. Administer whatever first aid you are qualified to give, and call 9-1-1 for help.
Before you leave the scene, it is important to exchange information with the other driver, including driver's license and insurance information. If there were witnesses to the accident, try to obtain contact information for them as well. If you have a camera, even your cell phone camera, take pictures of the damage to both vehicles and the scene of the accident, as well as photos of your injuries. These can be valuable pieces of information for your case.
If you were not able to give a statement to the police at the scene, be sure and obtain a copy of the police report as soon as possible and check it for accuracy, as the other driver may have presented only a one-side account of the accident. Your Oxnard personal injury lawyer can help you obtain a copy of the accident report. As soon as possible after the accident, contact the Law Offices of Irwin R. "Rob" Miller, so that we can begin preparing your case and gathering important evidence before it is lost. We can come to you at your home or hospital if you are unable to travel to our Oxnard office.
It can be hard to remember all of these things after an accident, so you may want to print this page and keep it in your car. If you need immediate assistance, we can be reached at (805) 486-2100.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit?
Under California personal injury law, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit in a motorcycle or automobile accident case is two years from the date of the accident. This is a general rule, but you will want to check with your lawyer to make sure of the timeframe applicable to your particular case. Also, you do not want to wait too long before contacting an attorney. Although you may have up to two years to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will want to start working long before that in preparing your case for a settlement or trial.
How long does a personal injury case take?
This of course differs from case to case, but the most important thing to consider is to not settle your case too early. The insurance company may offer you a cash settlement within days of the accident, when you are vulnerable and not in the best frame of mind to consider the nature and extent of all your damages. Most experienced personal injury attorneys will not attempt to settle or try a case until you are medically stationary, meaning you have basically reached the maximum level of improvement that medical treatment can provide. Only then are your present and future medical expenses and other damages able to be fairly estimated. It may take several months to reach this point, depending upon your injuries. Once a case is filed, it may take a year or more to come to trial, and while a case may settle at any time, it is frequently only on the eve of trial when the insurance company finally decides to settle the case for what it is truly worth.
It may seem frustrating to have to wait so long for your compensation. We do our best to resolve your matter as quickly as we can, but without jeopardizing the worth of your case. Rest assured that we will work diligently on your case and communicate settlement offers and other developments in your case as they occur. In the meantime, we want you to know that you can leave your case in our hands while you focus on regaining your health and getting your life back in order after the devastation caused by the defendant's negligence or misconduct.
Is it true that if the plaintiff dies before the case is settled, then the defendant is no longer liable for damages?
No, this is not true. If an accident victim dies before filing a lawsuit or before the lawsuit is concluded, the surviving family members or estate representative may bring or continue the lawsuit in what is known as a survival action.
What is Wrongful Death?
If a person dies because of the negligence of another, as opposed to suffering a personal injury, then the spouse, children, parents or other family members may bring a wrongful death action against the wrongdoer to recover damages they have suffered as a result of the loss of a loved one. These damages include funeral and burial expenses, the loss of financial support and gifts, the loss of household services, and the loss of companionship, including the loss of relations for a spouse or the loss of training and guidance for a child.
A survival action and a wrongful death case may be joined by the court and tried together as one case. This practice maximizes the compensation available to the family, but there are usually enough factual, legal and technical differences between the two types of cases so that you will want to be sure and retain an experienced Ventura County personal injury attorney for your case.