Understanding Injury Law: Preparing Your Case Begins with the Facts

As a law firm for people injured in car accidents in San Jose and throughout Northern California, we know that every car accident is complex. We take a comprehensive view of every case, closely examining the facts to identify every person/entity whose acts contributed to the incident and anticipating the defenses they might raise. This fact-first approach to civil injury law allows us to prepare the best possible case, using the facts and the law to explain why our client it entitled to recover money damages from the identified defendants.

A single-car accident might include product-related claims for a faulty tire and complex municipal liability issues related to a long-unrepaired pothole and anticipated defenses involving immunity and the driver’s failure to wear a seatbelt. Complexity may be more overt in multi-car accidents such as the accident near Sunol that occurred early Saturday evening and, per the San Francisco Chronicle, left one dead and several injured. As of the time of the article, investigators would not even hazard a guess (at least publicly) as to what caused the accident that closed the westbound lanes of Highway 84 in a portion of rural Alameda County for several hours.

Our Hypothetical
To further our discussion without risking undue speculation into a developing story, let’s imagine a hypothetical accident. According to a witness, Ms. Brown ran a red light and collided with Mr. Blue. Mr. Blue, in turn, hit Mr. Black who then spun out, eventually crashing into a wooden utility pole that fell and landed on Ms. Pink, instantly killing the pedestrian who was out walking her dog. All three drivers appeared to be blaming each other for the tragedy.

When we are engaged to represent Mr. Pink in a wrongful death action, we would perform an in-depth analysis of the facts. We would talk to police, interview witnesses, and might also work with experts in accident reconstruction and other fields. We would seek to determine who is factually to blame, keeping in mind that more than one party may have had a role in causing the tragedy. From there, we would look to the law to determine who we can hold legally accountable. In this hypothetical, our analysis might include:

  • Ms. Brown – Did her negligent driving cause Ms. Pink’s death? We’d look at two related theories: 1) Traditional negligence law holds a person responsible for the results of her failure to exercise due care; 2) Negligence per se involves holding a person liable when she violated a law and that violation was a substantial factor in the resulting injury (in effect, negligence is presumed). Issues might include whether Ms. Pink’s death was foreseeable (liability only extends to reasonably foreseeable results) and whether the law on stoplights is intended to prevent this type of harm. We’d probably argue yes on both counts and argue both types of negligence.
  • Mr. Blue & Mr. Black – Did they also contribute to the accident? Was Mr. Blue following too close? Did Mr. Black respond to the initial collision in an unreasonable manner, perhaps slamming on the gas instead of the brake? Why are they being blamed by Ms. Brown and by each other? We would examine what they did before and during the crash to see if their actions were reasonable, even considering whether one of them intentionally escalated matters and whether they contributed to the risk that Ms. Pink might die. Maybe Mr. Blue hated Mr. Black and rammed into him when he saw an opportunity! That might be taking it a bit far, but the key point is we focus on evidence, not assumptions.
  • The Pole – While we can’t hold the pole liable, we’d still examine its condition closely and consider whether poor construction, improper maintenance, or other pole-related issues played a role. Did it fall too easily? Was it placed in an unreasonably dangerous location? Complex issues of municipal liability and sovereign immunity might come into play, but it is still an inquiry worth making.

And Your Reality
Sound complex? While our hypothetical may involve more parties than a “typical” two-vehicle crash, the reality is that car accident injury law is much more complex than it might seem at a quick glance. That is why you should never go it alone. Our team has the knowledge and experience to help you navigate through all the issues related to your case. This includes attempting to negotiate a pre-trial settlement — and most cases do settle before trial — and going to trial if necessary. Call our any of our convenient Northern California offices to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation. We handle car accident injury cases on a contingency basis, meaning you pay no legal fees unless you recover compensation. From our San Francisco and Oakland offices to our newest injury law offices in Santa Clara and Santa Rosa, we’re here for you
See Related Blog Posts:
“The Car Was Out of Control” – A Lesson in Excuses from your Oakland Injury Lawyer
Fatal Single-Vehicle Crash Serves as a Reminder of the Threat of Dangerous Road Conditions