Do You Need to Contact an Auto Accident Lawyer After a Car Accident?
While it certainly isn’t a requirement to contact an auto accident lawyer after you have been involved in an auto accident, you may find it in your best interest to do so. If another driver was at fault for the incident and their actions caused you to become injured, it is unwise to deal with the insurance company on your own without consulting with an auto accident lawyer first. You may be entitled to file a personal injury claim, and a lawyer can help you through each step of the process involved. Here are five reasons why you should hire a lawyer after experiencing a car accident in California.
1. Protecting Your Rights
For your personal injury claim, you want to make sure that you get everything that you are entitled to receive from the party who is responsible for your injury. Dealing with the insurance company on your own could actually cost you thousands of dollars in the end because you might not claim everything that you are legally eligible to. Additionally, the insurance company may take any statement that you make to them and use it against you to justify reducing or denying your claim altogether. An auto lawyer can defend your rights and help you avoid these and other common mistakes that many drivers make when they file insurance claims without attorney representation.
2. Collecting Evidence
When it comes to personal injury claims, the more evidence you have, the better. However, there may be some evidence from the accident that you are unable to obtain on your own. The good news is that a lawyer can often ask for a court order to access this information. If the other party is disputing responsibility, you will need an established lawyer who knows how to get the information that you need to prove that you weren’t the driver at fault. For example, they may be able to access traffic cameras from the scene of the incident. Other pieces of vital evidence that could help with your case include:
- Photos of the scene as well as accident damage from all involved vehicles
- Statements from any witnesses of the incident
- Police reports from the scene
- Medical bills associated with your injury
- Auto repair estimate
- Proof of missed work hours and lost salary
The insurance company will try to find holes in your story in order to reduce your claim, so it is important to ensure you have a sufficient amount of evidence. Your lawyer will collect any relevant evidence and use it to build the strongest case possible for you.
3. Knowing What to Claim
You should keep in mind that the insurance company’s primary objective will be to pay you as little as possible. This is why you need an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side who can help you build a solid case. Most people aren’t sure what to expect from their personal injury claim in terms of compensation. They may think that it is enough for the insurance company to pay for their car repairs and the hospital bills that they incurred immediately after the auto accident. However, in some cases, you may be eligible to receive damages for other unexpected events related to your accident such as:
- Lost wages:Any time that you had to miss from work while you were recovering from your injury should be accounted for in your claim. This may also include any future lost income should your injury be so debilitating that it has affected your ability to return to work in the same manner as before the accident.
- Pain and suffering:Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may also be able to receive compensation for any pain or emotional distress that the accident has caused you.
- Future anticipated medical costs:For severe injuries, you may need ongoing medical care on a short-term or even long-term basis. Your lawyer will work to ensure that you are reasonably compensated by the insurance company for this expected treatment.
A personal injury lawyer can examine the unique details of your case and determine which damages you should include in your claim. They will be able to work with the insurance company and their attorney on your behalf to get you fair compensation for your injuries.
4. Statute of Limitations
In California, personal injury claims must be filed within two years of the accident in question. Working with a an auto accident lawyer right away can ensure that you stay within this statute of limitations. The attorney will be able to file your claim promptly so that you can get the funds that you need to fully recover from your injury.
5. Filing a Lawsuit
The at-fault driver’s insurance company will only pay you up to the policy holder’s limits. This can be minimal if they only have liability insurance. If your damages exceed that limit, you may have to pursue a lawsuit against the individual driver for the additional compensation that you’re seeking. In that case, it is best to work with a qualified personal injury lawyer who can streamline the process for you. The lawyer will be able to estimate the value of your claim, work to negotiate an out-of-court settlement, or file a lawsuit if necessary. The ultimate goal will be to obtain the maximum amount of compensation that you deserve.
Call a Bakersfield Lawyer
Even if your accident wasn’t a major one, it is still a good idea to get in touch with an auto accident lawyer when the other driver is at fault. Your attorney will be able to advise you of your next steps to ensure that you don’t say or do anything that could impact the amount of your claim.
At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we work with car accident victims in Bakersfield and throughout Kern County. When you hire us, we’ll strive to achieve the most compensation you’re entitled to. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.
Estate Planning for Young Families
Young families often don’t think about estate planning until it’s too late. You might believe you have plenty of time to put your affairs in order, but the truth is that every young family should prepare for the unexpected. A good estate plan will ensure your family is financially secure if you were to die from an accident or illness.
When it comes to estate planning, it’s best to consult with an experienced Bakersfield estate planning attorney who understands the intricacies involved. At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we work with young couples from all over the San Joaquin Valley who need help putting the legal measures in place that will protect their surviving spouse and children should they pass away.
What An Estate Plan Includes
For most young families, the estate planning process is relatively simple. However, it grows more complicated for those with considerable wealth. As an estate planning attorney, Law Office of Kyle W. Jones can see you through the process from start to finish. Your estate planning documents include any of the following listed below.
1. Living Will
A living will is a legal document that explains your wishes regarding your healthcare should you become incapacitated. Also known as an advance healthcare directive; your healthcare providers use this to determine your course of treatment if you’re unable to do so yourself. In this directive, you can address the measures your doctors can take on your behalf, such as:
- Life support
- Palliative care
You can elect to have your healthcare providers use all of these measures in your treatment or you can elect to have no measures taken to extend your life.
It’s also a good idea to develop a healthcare power of attorney so that you can select a healthcare proxy. The person listed in your living will as healthcare power of attorney makes medical decisions for you based on the instructions that you’ve left in the documentation when your incapacitated
2. Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney can give another person the legal authority over your estate if you are incapacitated. This person is often the surviving spouse, but you may instead declare a trustworthy friend or family member. This person will be able to disperse your finances to pay your family’s bills and provide for your children. If you don’t want the person to have full access to your entire estate, you will be able to identify which assets they will be in control of, and you can revoke this authorization at any time.
3. Letter of Intent
Create a letter of intent to instruct your loved ones on what to do following your immediate death. It’s not a legally binding document, but since a will might not be ready for days or even weeks after your death, it’s smart to create the letter of intent so that your family has some direction regarding your wishes as they pertain to your funeral, the care of your children, and your finances.
4. Last Will and Testament
Your last will and testament fully outlines how your estate will be managed and who will care for your children in the event both you and your spouse were to die. It’s important to select a guardian you trust to care for your children through adulthood. Clearly identify this person in your will and be sure to designate one or two backup guardians if the first one is unable or unwilling to care for your children. Don’t let a court decide who raises your children, so be sure to discuss your wishes with the guardians before creating your will so they are not caught by surprise.
For your last will and testament, you’ll also need to declare an executor to manage your estate. The executor acts as a personal representative to ensure your assets are handled in accordance with your wishes. This will include opening probate, gathering your asset information, paying your outstanding taxes and other debts, and dispersing the rest of your assets to the people you’ve listed as beneficiaries. This person can be a responsible friend or family member but may also be an attorney or other trusted advisor.
When you’re deciding on how to divide up your assets, you should know that some assets (probate assets) can be governed by a will and some (non-probate assets) cannot be. The latter already have a contracted beneficiary, so they won’t need to go through the probate process, meaning you don’t need to add them to your will. All you need to do is ensure the right individual(s) is identified as the beneficiary of the account.
These non-probate assets can include:
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
- Bank and brokerage accounts that designate a beneficiary
- Real property owned in joint tenancy
- Real property owned as tenants by the entirety
Once you’ve declared your beneficiaries on these accounts, then you need to list the remaining assets in your will. These will be subject to the probate process and might include:
- Financial accounts
- Personal property like art, collectibles, and jewelry
- Real property owned as tenants in common
- Individual bank and brokerage accounts
5. Trust (s)
Trusts are a crucial part of the estate planning process for a young family with minor children. A trust will give your children financial security in the event of your passing. You determine how your assets are dispersed to your family members. Such as providing for living expenses through their childhood and adolescence and then giving them full access to your estate when they reach a certain age.
Your trust will designate a trustee who will be in charge of managing the assets for your children. It will also list the heirs of your estate. Lastly, it will establish the conditions of the trust. There are two common types of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust allows you to change or terminate the trust at any time while an irrevocable trust cannot be amended. Most young families elect to use a revocable trust.
Bakersfield Estate Planning Attorney
No one likes to consider what could happen in the event of their death. At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones in Bakersfield, we’re here to help with the estate planning process. Contact us today for a consultation.
Avoiding Accidents With Motorcycles
Every day people are injured in a motorcycle accident. In fact, the number of motorcycle fatalities has been on the rise since the late 1990s as more and more people are choosing this mode of transportation. Approximately 5,000 motorcyclist deaths were reported in 2017 alone, which is more than twice the number that was reported just 20 years ago.
Motorcycles are more compact than other vehicles, so it’s essential to look out for them on the road. As a driver, you have a responsibility to be aware of other drivers to prevent unnecessary accidents. Here are some things to keep in mind to reduce the likelihood of a crash with a motorcycle.
Give Motorcyclists Space
Motorcyclists face more obstacles than other drivers on the road. While your car can handle something minor like a pothole with ease, it can cause a major problem for a motorcyclist. Thus, riders are constantly maneuvering to account for changing road conditions. You should drive more carefully around motorcyclists, assume that they can change position at any time, and signal when changing lanes so they have plenty of time to adjust.
Treating motorcycles like any other automobile, which can have grave consequences. When you’re following behind a motorcyclist, you should give them more space than you would a normal vehicle. Following too closely, or tailgating, is one of the top contributors to auto accidents, and it can be especially deadly for a motorcyclist, who won’t have the protection of a vehicle in the event of a rear-end collision.
Lane-Splitting Is Legal
Lane splitting is not strictly prohibited in California like it is in some other states. Effective January 1, 2017, Section 21658.1was added to the California Vehicle Code to define “lane splitting” and states that it is up to the California Highway Patrol (CHP) to create educational guidelines for motorcycle safety. While you may encounter two or more motorcycles following each other, they can at any time decide to split lanes, so you should be aware of these changes and prepare for them by giving the riders enough space. If you were to change lanes and not notice the rider who decided to split the lane, you could be held liable if you hit them.
Use Caution Making Left-Hand Turns
Often, left-turn lanes are directly parallel to the through lanes at an intersection, making them especially dangerous for motorcyclists. When turning left, your line of sight may be blocked by vehicles in the opposite left-turn lane, so you might not be able to easily see drivers coming from the opposite direction. Since motorcycles are harder to see on the road, it is crucial to exercise extreme caution when you’re making these turns. First, you should look for cars and then look for motorcycles that might be driving in the opposite direction. Only turn left when you feel certain that the path is clear of traffic.
What to Do If You Are Involved in an Accident
Sometimes, accidents are unpreventable no matter how many precautions you take. If you do experience a collision with a motorcycle on the road, here’s what you should do.
- Assess your injuries immediately. An accident can cause a variety of injuries, including:
- Internal bleeding
- Head trauma
- Broken or fractured bones
- Spinal injuries
You should take note of any injuries you have before leaving your vehicle. Then, if you’re able to, check on the motorcycle driver. Look around for them in the immediate area. If you find them and notice any injuries, avoid moving them and call for emergency medical assistance immediately.
- Call the police. Officers won’t always respond to a traffic accident, but if they do, they will want to prepare a written report of what happened. Without admitting fault on your part, you should give them the details of the accident. Ask any witnesses to provide a statement as well. These first-hand accounts at the scene can prove invaluable should you need to seek a personal injury claim.
- Get medical assistance. Even if you don’t appear injured by the motorcycle accident, don’t delay getting medical help after the incident. There may be issues you don’t know about yet, such as internal bleeding or organ trauma. These types of injuries might not present symptoms until days after the accident. You should get a medical evaluation from a professional as soon as possible. Make sure to ask for a copy of all medical tests performed on you as well as any bills you incurred as a result.
- Call a lawyer. If you believe the other driver is at fault in a motorcycle accident then its time to get legal representation. A Bakersfield lawyer can review all aspects of your case to determine liability and work to get you sufficient compensation. Depending on the specific circumstances related to your situation, you may be able to obtain compensation for:
- Medical assistance, including ER visits and rehabilitative care
- Pain and suffering related to the accident
- Lost wages and future lost income
- Property damage
- Other losses you incur as a result of the incident
Your lawyer will need all of the information related to your case. This includes copies of any police reports, witness statements, and medical exams and treatments. This also includes all bills collected from medical care as well as any bills associated with vehicle repairs. Providing as much information as you can strengthen the case and help you in your efforts in getting the maximum amount of compensation.
If a motorcycle accident occurs, our lawyers will tell you if you are eligible to seek compensation. At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we work hard to get each of our clients the compensation they deserve for their injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free appointment.
6 Reasons Why You Need a Living Trust
A living trust is an important tool that shouldn’t be overlooked in the estate planning process. It is a written legal document that is created by someone during their lifetime. This enforceable document is used to spell out their wishes regarding any property, financial assets, and beneficiaries. People often create these trusts to avoid the costs and delays related to the probate process that is involved in the execution of a will.
There are two types of living trusts: revocable and irrevocable. A revocable trust can be terminated or changed at any time up to your death. At that point, it becomes irrevocable, and the successor trustee must administer the estate as outlined. However, an irrevocable trust can’t be amended once it has been signed and finalized. Most people select a revocable trust for their estate.
Here are the top reasons why you need a living trust:
- Distributes Assets Quickly
When you set up a living trust, your assets, such as bank accounts, property, stocks and bond accounts, are transferred to the trust during your lifetime. This means that you can avoid the probate process that is associated with the distribution of assets according to a will. While you’re alive, unless you are otherwise incapacitated, you will typically be the designated trustee and have control over your own financial matters. After you pass on, the successor trusteewho you have named will handle the trust for you. This person may be your spouse, close friend, grown child, or even a lawyer. Since they won’t have to go through the probate process with a living trust, the trustee can distribute assets among your heirs much faster after paying off creditors and any other final bills of the estate.
- Provides for Minor Children
As a parent with minor children, it can be difficult to imagine them being able to handle large sums of money in a responsible manner. This is where a trust can prove to be invaluable for you. It can be used to hold the money you have set aside for your children until they are mature enough to make good financial decisions themselves. The trustee would disperse it as needed for their schooling, living expenses, and other incidentals until your children have reached the age you have specified in your trust document. In that event, the trust would then end, and all inherited property and other financial assets would be turned over to them to manage on their own.
- Saves on Estate Taxes
If you are married, a living trust can greatly reduce or even eliminate your estate taxes. In 2019, the estate and gift tax exemptionrose to 11.4 million per person. That means that a married couple can leave up to 22.8 million to their heirs without having to pay the federal estate or gift tax. This can result in significant savings for those who have a substantial estate.
- Keeps Your Wishes Private
A revocable living trust is a private document, so you won’t have to worry about someone accessing the specific details of your estate. Unlike a will, it does not get filed with the probate court, so no one will be able to look at it without the permission of the trustee. A will, on the other hand, is a public record that can give information about your estate. Once it is admitted to probate, anyone can look at the estate file to find out who the beneficiaries are as well as the list of assets. Unscrupulous people might go through this information to try to prey on the heirs of the estate. For some, privacy is paramount, so they choose to create a living trust in order to protect themselves and their beneficiaries.
- Protects You During Your Lifetime
If you have a trust in place and you somehow later become incapacitated, meaning you are no longer able to make decisions yourself, the trust will ensure that you are provided for until the time of your death. Your successor trustee will act on your behalf while you’re alive. They will be able to take full financial control of the trust, from paying the bills to selling the assets, as long as their actions don’t conflict with the instructions that you have outlined in the trust document. This is why it is so important to choose someone who you trust with the task of overseeing your trust.
Do You Need a Will Too?
In many cases, it is necessary for people to create a will along with a living trust. Many create what is known as a “pour-over will.”You may have created your living trust but have since gained more property or other assets in your name. This type of will ensures that anything you own goes into the trust upon the event of your death. It will, however, have to go through the probate process since it was not added to the trust beforehand. You must also utilize a will if you want to designate a guardian for your children if you happen to die before they turn 18 years of age. This cannot be done with a living trust.
Are you ready to get started on your living trust in Bakersfield? The Law Office of Kyle W. Jones can assist you with every step of the estate planning process. The first 25 to email in from our blog post gets a no-charge Estate Plan Consultation.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA), rear-end collisions contribute to almost 30 percent of all automobile accidents, making them the most common type of collision on U.S. roads. These accidents happen when a motor vehicle crashes into the rear of the vehicle in front of it, which often has a domino effect that results in multiple cars being hit.
In California, the rear driver is usually (but not always) found at fault for these types of accidents. The driver in front often has little to no warning that the crash is going to occur, so they are unable to avoid the hit in time. If you have been rear-ended in an accident that has left you injured, it’s important to speak to a Bakersfield lawyer right away in order to protect your rights.
Common Causes of Rear-End Collisions
Rear-end accidents often happen because a driver is following too closely to another driver, also known as tailgating. Tailgating is very dangerous because traffic can slow down or stop abruptly, and the rear driver won’t have enough time to react to avoid crashing into the car in front of them. Other causes of rear-end accidents include:
- Distracted driving
- Speeding and making sudden stops
- Inclement weather conditions
- Driving while under the influence
- Poor road maintenance
- Worn-out tires or brakes
- Faulty tail lights
Some of these situations indicate the negligence of the rear driver. In that case, a lawyer can help you explore your legal options. At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we can review your case to determine whether you should pursue compensation from the other driver. By proving you were driving in a reasonable manner and had no opportunity to prevent the collision yourself, we will work to establish the other driver’s liability in order to maximize your settlement.
Types of Injuries Caused by Rear-End Collisions
The National Transportation Safety Boardreported that there were more than 1.7 million rear-end crashes in 2012 alone with more than 500,000 people being reported as injured. Whiplash is the most common injury among auto accident victims. Whiplash occurs when a high impact causes a person’s head to move backward and then forward suddenly, stretching the individual’s neck beyond its normal range of motion, resulting in an injury.
Other injuries that can be caused by a rear-end crash include:
- Fractured or broken bones
- Bruises, cuts, or burns
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
- Facial disfigurement
- Herniated or slipped neck disc
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury
Some of these injuries may not be present at the time of the crash. Symptoms can often appear days later, so you should get medical treatment immediately to rule out any injuries. Seeking medical assistance promptly after an accident will also help your case should you decide to pursue a personal injury claim against the other driver.
What to Do Next
The first thing you should do after an auto accident is to move your vehicle to the side of the road if possible. Then, assess your injuries and check on the other driver if you’re able. If needed, call 911 for urgent medical assistance.
After a rear-end accident, it’s crucial to gather as much evidence as possible. If the police did not arrive at the scene, call them to get instructions for filing a report of the incident. Look for any eyewitnesses and ask them to write down what they saw happen.
Most importantly, do not admit fault to the other driver. Ideally, you will want to speak to a Bakersfield lawyer before making any type of official statement to the police or to the other driver’s insurance company.
Seek Compensation for Your Injuries
An auto accident can have a substantial impact on your life. Not only can it leave you with injuries and high medical bills, but it can also result in you being unable to work as you recover. Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to pay for car repairs. As the victim of a rear-end collision, you may be able to obtain compensation to cover these costs.
A Bakersfield lawyer can inform you of your legal options. Successful claims may achieve compensation for:
- Vehicle damages
- ER bills and follow-up care
- Physical therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages and future lost income
All drivers in California are required to follow a legal principle known as “duty of care.”This means that drivers should act reasonably on the road, which involves keeping a safe distance from other vehicles and following all traffic laws. If your lawyer can prove the rear driver did not follow this standard and acted recklessly, you may be entitled to compensation.
Get Legal Assistance in Bakersfield
If you’ve been injured, the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones will work hard to reach a reasonable agreement with the party responsible. Depending on your case, we may:
- Investigate the incident
Our office will determine what caused your accident and figure out who is at fault. We do this through eye witnesses, police reports, and other pieces of evidence.
- Document the details
It’s crucial to document your injuries through medical records if you’re to prove you were injured as a result of the other driver’s negligence. Keep all receipts for medical payments to give to your lawyer.
- Handle paperwork
Preparing the claim paperwork accurately is essential as incomplete paperwork can delay or reduce your claim. We can take care of the paperwork for you throughout the process.
- Negotiate with the other party
Our office will work with the other driver and/or their insurance company to prove you’ve been negatively impacted by the incident. We’ll attempt to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. In the unlikely event that we’re unsuccessful, our firm will represent you in court to seek compensatory damages.
Contact Us Today
Hurt in a rear-end collision? Don’t delay getting legal representation. At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we’ll work hard on your behalf to achieve the maximum settlement you’re entitled to. Contact us to schedule your free initial consultation.