Accident-Avoidance Driving (Defensive Driving)

 Your commute will take more time. Accept this and avoid being involved in an injury-causing crash!

Your commute will take more time. Accept this and avoid being involved in an injury-causing crash!

Perhaps you remember the term “defensive driving” from your drivers-ed days, but don’t recall what exactly you are and are not supposed to do to be safer on the roads. Many people assume that there is nothing they can do to avoid being injured in a car crash. In one sense, that is correct. In some car accidents, there isn’t much anyone can do to predict or change their behavior. Think, for example, of a rear-end crash when you are sitting at a traffic light. Your car isn’t moving, and the car behind you slams into you from behind. Nothing you can do to avoid that. Most injury-causing car crashes don’t follow that sequence of events.

Defensive Driving Explained

Defensive driving is a tactic, or approach to driving, that aims to avoid accidents, no matter what is happening around you. It has been described as driving as if everyone around you on the road is drunk. While that may sound pessimistic, there is merit in driving not only in an effort to mind your own vehicle, but in anticipation of what others may do on the roadway. For example, let’s suppose you are driving through a construction zone. You see signs of warning, and you see workmen on the roadway. A defensive driver is not only looking at the speedometer, making sure they’re adhering to the speed of the zone. Rather, the defensive driver is looking out for workers who may inadvertently step into the lane of traffic, or other things out of the ordinary that could result in injury. Tragically, men working near roadways are struck and killed in California every year. Many of these deaths could be avoided by using defensive driving techniques.

 When it rains in California, roadways become slick and unsafe. Slow down, schedule more time for travel, and practice defensive driving to avoid being injured in a crash.

When it rains in California, roadways become slick and unsafe. Slow down, schedule more time for travel, and practice defensive driving to avoid being injured in a crash.

Assured Clear Distance Ahead

Defensive drivers routinely monitor what is going on around them, particularly what is happening in the immediate vicinity of their car. By definition, the Assured Clear Distance Ahead (ACDA) is the distance ahead of any terrestrial locomotive device such as a land vehicle, watercraft, skates, or skis, although commonly an automobile, which can be seen to be clear of hazards by the driver, within which they should be able to bring the device to a halt. This comes from the commercial driving manual, or the rule book that people who drive trucks, vans, and buses for a living go by. In short, the assured clear distance ahead is what drivers should be paying attention to. What could happen in the space in front of your vehicle? Many car crashes that result in injury happen in this zone. Are there cyclists around? Are there children at play? Is there a crowd, or people leaving a shopping store? Are there animals? Is there debris on the roadway? Is there a detour, or perhaps workers in the roadway directing traffic? By paying attention to the assured clear distance ahead, drivers must think about their immediate surroundings and consider what could happen.

Two-Second Rule

 Flooded roadways can fill up suddenly and create dangerous driving conditions. Never attempt to pass through deep standing water.

Flooded roadways can fill up suddenly and create dangerous driving conditions. Never attempt to pass through deep standing water.

Most cars that are legal to drive in California can stop within a second or two. So long as your brakes are in working order, and you’re driving at a safe speed for the conditions, you should be able to stop before two seconds of recognizing the need to stop. It follows that when you’re driving, you should be aware of whether you would have two seconds to come to a complete stop within two seconds of needing to do so, or whether you are at least two seconds from the vehicle in front of you. And what if you are not able to stop that quickly? Recognizing that you’re trailing the vehicle in front of you too closely may be half the battle in avoiding causing a collision. Thus, if you’re thinking about whether you have two seconds to stop at any time, you’re going to have to make adjustments to your driving speed, and perhaps change lanes. In Southern California, stop-and-go traffic can be brutal, and when the freeways finally open up a bit, drivers tend to go as fast as possible. Zones where stopped traffic suddenly begins moving again can be very dangerous, and are the location of many traffic crashes. Tragically, injury and death are the result of bad traffic congestion. They don’t have to be, if drivers will pay attention to the changing conditions around them.

 Rain brings new driving conditions. Some changes, such as massive puddles and standing water, are obvious. Some hazards, like slick roadways, are less noticeable.

Rain brings new driving conditions. Some changes, such as massive puddles and standing water, are obvious. Some hazards, like slick roadways, are less noticeable.

Rain

California drivers, particularly those who are born and raised here in Southern California, are not known to be good drivers in the rain. We’re used to driving on dry roadways. Our habits, our reactions, our understanding of how long it will take to come to a stop - all of this is related to our weather patterns, which most of the time means warm and dry driving conditions. Rain changes everything. Not only is the roadway wet, but the water on the roadway mixes with oil on the road to create a slick surface. Every time it rains a significant amount in Southern California, there are literally thousands of car accidents. Many of these crashes cause injury, ranging from whiplash and so-called “soft tissue” injuries, to severe injury and even death. How to avoid causing or being involved in a car crash during a rainstorm? Follow the two-second rule, be a defensive driver, and slow down. Many people wisely avoid driving in the rain altogether. Sounds drastic? Remember, it isn’t just your driving you need to be worried about, it’s the other guy. Using public transit, such as the train or bus, can be a safe alternative. Train passenger volume rises when it is raining, so get to the train station early if you want to get a seat on the train.

If You’re Injured, Think Ahead

 Speaking with an injury attorney may help you save a lot of money in the long run. Don’t assume the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay for your medical bills, no matter the facts of the incident.

Speaking with an injury attorney may help you save a lot of money in the long run. Don’t assume the at-fault driver’s insurance will pay for your medical bills, no matter the facts of the incident.

Despite your best efforts to be a safe driver, you may be involved in a crash that injures you. You may leave the scene of the crash feeling fine, only to wake up the next day feeling like you got hit by a train! A few pointers: make sure you get the other party’s insurance information. Take photographs. Don’t give recorded statements to the other party’s insurance. If possible, get a police report, or a traffic collision report. Get the names and telephone numbers of witnesses, if any. Perhaps most importantly, go to the doctor and get checked out. If your symptoms worsen, you may need more treatment than what you originally might assume. Think big picture: even though you may have had great experiences with your insurance in the past, or perhaps you were injured and were able to get your medical bills paid for in another crash.

Every case is different, and you need to make sure everything you say happened is documented. The more objective the documentation, the better. Get checked out. And, if you have any questions about how the injury claim process works, speak with an injury lawyer. An experienced injury lawyer will be able to give you a general understanding of what you might expect moving forward. And, because every crash and injury is different, he or she can help you to make a plan so you can recover. Getting hurt in a car crash is no fun, but sometimes dealing with the insurance agencies afterwards can be the hardest part. A brief conversation with a law firm that focuses on injury cases is something that could save you a lot of time, energy, and money in the future. In all car accidents, you need to make sure you are taking care of your health, but you also need to make sure you aren’t assuming the best case scenario will play out. Even the most basic of crashes can turn into disputes, and you should never assume the other side will pay for your medical bills, no matter the circumstances. What you think is fair and reasonable may not be what insurance companies think is fair and reasonable. Document what happened, take photos, take names, and talk to an injury lawyer.

How Does a ‘Statute of Limitations’ Affect Your Injury Claim?

 The 'Statute of Limitations' language can be confusing to non-lawyers (and even lawyers!). Make sure you've got accurate information regarding the time constraints of your California injury case.

The 'Statute of Limitations' language can be confusing to non-lawyers (and even lawyers!). Make sure you've got accurate information regarding the time constraints of your California injury case.

The law is full of terms and phrases that can be confusing to people unfamiliar with their meaning and significance. One such term is the ‘statute of limitations’ that limits a plaintiff’s ability to recover a financial settlement or reward for their injury. In the state of California, if you were injured by the negligence of another person, you must either file a lawsuit against the negligible (at-fault) party, or settle your case, within two-years in most cases.

 Receiving the proper medical treatment for a car crash injury can often take you past the two-year mark. What then? In short, talk to an attorney: you have options.

Receiving the proper medical treatment for a car crash injury can often take you past the two-year mark. What then? In short, talk to an attorney: you have options.

The Two-Year Mark

If you were involved in a car crash in which you were injured by another person, you generally have two years to either resolve the claim amicably (settlement), or file a lawsuit. This applies to most general negligence claims when two private citizens or corporations are involved. The California courts are exact in their approach to the statutory limit: two years means two years, not two years plus one day. Do not rely on your own charisma, or exceptional circumstances, or any reason whatsoever for failing to file your claim, or resolve your claim, within the applicable statute of limitations. Judges and insurance companies will not be lenient and make an exception for your case. It does not matter if you travel for work, gave birth, lost the phone number, or are a NASA astronaut and traveled to the moon! The statute of limitations is rigid. Don't miss it!

 What to do if you're not back to full health, but the statute of limitations is approaching? Talk to an injury lawyer. The law provides for you, but it isn't straightforward. 

What to do if you're not back to full health, but the statute of limitations is approaching? Talk to an injury lawyer. The law provides for you, but it isn't straightforward. 

What About Settling Your Injury Claim?

Also, if you consider your injury claim more or less settled, you still have to provide the insurance carrier a signed release prior to the two year deadline. If you've talked with an insurance adjuster and have basically agreed on a number, but haven't signed a release, or there are other parties that must sign the release in addition to you, you're not safe in the sense that you can expect the insurance company to pay. Most injury attorneys in California will advise you to sign all necessary documents (in the case of settlement), at least a few weeks before the statute of limitations approaches in order to avoid surprise.

 You're supposed to be put back to the place in health and finances that you were before the injury. If you're not there, what can you do to "get back?" Start with calling a good lawyer.

You're supposed to be put back to the place in health and finances that you were before the injury. If you're not there, what can you do to "get back?" Start with calling a good lawyer.

What About Public Entities?

If, however, you were injured by what is called a 'public entity,' such as a school bus, or a metro bus, or any other government-owned entity, your statute of limitations is significantly less. In California, you have just six months to assert your claim to the proper entity. This can be confusing, as you are bound by a rigid timeline, but it isn't clear how to proceed with your claim in most situations. A law firm that focuses or specializes in personal injury cases may be a good point of contact to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.

For example, if you were injured by a Metro bus in Los Angeles, there is a claims process that the injured party must initiate prior to the six month mark. Because there are a lot of people injured by buses due to the large volume of its fleet and riders, the process for a bus claim is not as tricky as, say, a claim against a charter school, or a park that you're not sure if it is a city park or not. The six month mark is general, and there are exceptions. From there, the government has forty-five (45) days to respond to your claim. In most situations, you have six months to file a lawsuit from the date of receiving the government's rejection of your claim in the mail. Again, this is a general timeline aimed at giving some helpful information, but the details can be complicated, and it is advisable that you seek the counsel of a reputable attorney if you have any questions regarding how the statute of limitations may affect your claim.

Basic California Car Crash Injury Claims

In most car accident crashes, which account for the majority of personal injury claims in California, the process is fairly straightforward, and there are few surprises. This is of course according to a law firm that focuses entirely on injury cases - if you are trying to handle the settlement or litigation of your injury case by yourself, then you should expect the process to be frustrating, confusing, and not at all straightforward. However, as car crash lawyers handle these cases every day, year after year, there are rarely surprises. This is one reason why personal injury attorneys are often consulted by people who are not sure whether they have a claim, how they should proceed, and don't know whether they can afford a lawyer. The good news is most personal injury lawyers in Orange County and Los Angeles county offer free consultations or case reviews, and they almost all work on a contingency basis, meaning there is no out of pocket expense to the client. The attorney collects a percentage of the total settlement as his or her fee, so the injured person does not have to pay for anything up front.

This Blog Post is Not Legal Counsel

 Don't sleep on the statute - if you miss it in California, there really isn't a way around it! Judges will not be "lenient."

Don't sleep on the statute - if you miss it in California, there really isn't a way around it! Judges will not be "lenient."

This blog post is meant to inform, but not give a comprehensive legal analysis or provide information upon which you should base your decisions on how to pursue your legal claim. Each injury claim is unique, and your claim may get confusing or tricky fast - such as when several cars are involved, and when one of the cars is a public bus, for example. The most important thing to remember is you don't have forever to decide whether you want to file a claim against the at-fault person. Most injury lawyers would advise that it is always helpful for someone unsure about how the statute of limitations affects their case to talk with a personal injury lawyer who handles California cases. 

 This blog post was written for basic information purposes only by  The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C.   The Lions  practice personal injury law in Southern California and  represent clients  throughout the state of California. The content contained herein is not formal legal advise, and should not be relied upon as you decide how to move forward with your injury claim. You are advised to seek the formal legal opinion of a lawyer to discuss the details of your injury claim.

This blog post was written for basic information purposes only by The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. The Lions practice personal injury law in Southern California and represent clients throughout the state of California. The content contained herein is not formal legal advise, and should not be relied upon as you decide how to move forward with your injury claim. You are advised to seek the formal legal opinion of a lawyer to discuss the details of your injury claim.

Car Crash Injury? Keep a Pain Journal

 A lazy injury lawyer will get you enough money to pay for your medical bills and perhaps a bit more. A good injury lawyer will get you money to compensate for the ways in which your life is now different than it was before.

A lazy injury lawyer will get you enough money to pay for your medical bills and perhaps a bit more. A good injury lawyer will get you money to compensate for the ways in which your life is now different than it was before.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident and are recovering from your injuries, you may notice that your symptoms are worse some days, and better others. This is typical for most people, and with any luck you won’t have to get involved in a lawsuit in order to get a fair settlement for your car crash case. However, even in pre-litigation (when your attorney is negotiating on your behalf with the insurance company of the at-fault driver), insurance companies’ default position is that you’re only as injured or hurt as the paperwork says you are. That means that if it isn’t documented over time, you are not really injured.

 Pain and suffering includes changes to your lifestyle. If you were active before, and can no longer do what you previously enjoyed due to someone else's negligence, a good injury lawyer can help compensate you for this loss.

Pain and suffering includes changes to your lifestyle. If you were active before, and can no longer do what you previously enjoyed due to someone else's negligence, a good injury lawyer can help compensate you for this loss.

What is a Pain Journal?

Your documentation of the pain you experience as a result of your car crash does not need to be anything fancy. In fact, writing notes in a simple notebook is enough. The most important thing is that you document regularly how you feel, and the affect it has on your life. For example, if you have a particularly difficult day, and have to cancel a social event, or forego a planned activity, this should be documented. Many pain journals are simple hand-written entries on a couple sheets of paper. In California, there are so many car crashes and subsequent injury claims, that you need to show the at-fault driver's insurance company that your injuries are real, affect your daily life, and did not simply disappear overnight. 

 As part of your injury claim, you should include the ways in which your lifestyle has been affected. For people who previously lived an active lifestyle, there is no amount of money that can compensate for the things they can no longer do.

As part of your injury claim, you should include the ways in which your lifestyle has been affected. For people who previously lived an active lifestyle, there is no amount of money that can compensate for the things they can no longer do.

How Frequently Should You Update It?

Because your pain journal is an informal document, there is no rule of thumb to follow as far as how often you should update it. However, the more often you can write down specific instances of pain, and how it affects your lifestyle, work, or ability to parent, these things should be written down. If you are seeking medical treatment for an injury, you should be updating your pain journal at least a couple times a week. As time goes on, your pain journal will show how your symptoms are improving, if they are improving. This can also help show that you were compliant in following doctors' recommendations and orders. As the cost of your medical treatment rises, the insurance company will be looking for reasons to deny paying your medical bills. When a plaintiff has a thorough journal showing how the injury has affected his or her life, it becomes increasingly difficult for the other party's attorneys to say you weren't hurt and they shouldn't have to pay for your medical expenses.

 A pain journal does not need to be fancy. Keep track of the days you feel worse than usual, and document days when you're feeling better. This will be of great value to your injury law firm as they negotiate on your behalf.

A pain journal does not need to be fancy. Keep track of the days you feel worse than usual, and document days when you're feeling better. This will be of great value to your injury law firm as they negotiate on your behalf.

Why Does it Help?

Your case is one of tens of thousands that insurance adjusters will review. If necessary, your attorney may have to file a lawsuit on your behalf, and will have to prove that you were injured by someone else, and that your injuries have affected your lifestyle. As part of the process of determining the value of your case, or in other words, how much money you are likely to be paid as a settlement, your medical records will make up one portion of your claim, and your pain and suffering will make up the second part of the evaluation. 

 Orange County is home to a beautiful coast - if you previously enjoyed days at the beach, but have had to cut back on your leisure activities due to an injury, a good Orange County injury lawyer will help compensate you for this change in your lifestyle.

Orange County is home to a beautiful coast - if you previously enjoyed days at the beach, but have had to cut back on your leisure activities due to an injury, a good Orange County injury lawyer will help compensate you for this change in your lifestyle.

What is 'Pain and Suffering'

The laws in California provide for compensation for your pain and suffering, which is sometimes called your general damages. So if you were injured in a California car crash, and you are seeking a claim against the driver who hit you, you will have two parts to your claim: special damages (the "hard costs", such as your medical bills and other things you paid out of pocket for), and general damages (hard to put a number on, but the value of your pain and suffering). The more you can prove you were injured, the better position your injury lawyer will be in to win more money for you. For example, if you had a hobby you can no longer participate in, or if your exercise routine was disrupted or changed as a result of the car injury, you are entitled to pain and suffering damages for the negative affect the accident has had on your lifestyle. All these things are unique to your case, and of course specific to your lifestyle. But it is not enough to simply state that you've missed out, or your life has changed. You need documentation, and a pain journal can be of great assistance to your lawyer as he or she fights for your case.

Assessing General Damages (Pain and Suffering)

 Orange County residents who were injured in a car crash have many options of injury lawyers to choose from. 

Orange County residents who were injured in a car crash have many options of injury lawyers to choose from. 

Your personal injury lawyer will be explaining the many ways in which your life has been affected by your injury. This may include anything from a sport you can no longer play, to difficulties caring for your children, to discomfort in a variety of situations unique to your life as a result of someone else's negligence. Because it is not as simple as adding up receipts and claiming the total, you must be specific in explaining to your injury lawyer the ways in which your life has been affected. He or she will then argue these points on your behalf. A good injury lawyer in California will be able to compare the types of losses you have incurred with similar cases in the past. An injury law firm that has handled a lot of cases and is paying attention to trends in the courts will be in the best position to fight for maximum value for your car crash injury case. 

How to Choose a Car Crash Lawyer

Attorney or Salesman?

Some people feel like they are talking with used car salesmen when they are talking to an injury law firm. In California, there are no shortage of law firms that practice injury law, so there is competition amongst the lawyers. This is good for you, as it gives you plenty of options. However, it can also lead to a situation where the people you are talking to when looking into a law firm play the role of salesmen, and are not lawyers and will not handle your case. You should expect to speak with a lawyer licensed to practice law in California - if a law firm won’t put you on the phone with the lawyer who will handle your case, you are likely talking to a salesman. Like any sales position, these individuals say all the right thing and put on the charm, but they do not know the intricacies of the law, as they are not lawyers. More importantly, you won’t talk with this person ever again, in most situations. Their job is to sign you up and get your case, not help you in the long run. 

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Who will be your attorney?

If you are looking for a lawyer to help you, you can expect to talk to an actual attorney, not just the sales team. Consider it a red flag if the person you are talking to is not a lawyer, and cannot tell you which lawyer will be handling your case. They will tell you the case will be reviewed by a team of lawyers and assigned to the lawyer most capable to help your case. This sounds good, but what it really means is you have no idea who will be taking your case. Most injury cases last many months and sometimes years. If you sign a contingency fee agreement or contract to hire a lawyer or law firm to represent you, but you’re not allowed to talk to the actual lawyer, do you really have enough information to make an educated decision as to whether the lawyer will be a good fit for you?

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Too Good to be True?

Unfortunately, many people who are looking for a lawyer to help them with their car crash injury case are given unrealistic expectations. If you are discussing your accident claim with an attorney who is telling you how much money you will walk away with, and it sounds too good to be true, it very well may be. Predicting the amount of money a plaintiff will receive is not easy. While a good injury lawyer can give a ballpark estimation, some law firms use inflated estimation with savvy salesman techniques to excite you and convince you to sign on the dotted line. A good case evaluation will include a review of numbers, including the cost of your medical bills, the cost of your future medical treatment, and of course the structure of the attorney's fees. Beware of salesmen who only want to talk about how much money they think you'll get in the end. This can be exciting, but it can also be a smoke and mirrors situation. 

Personal Injury "Specialists"

Technically speaking, there is no such thing as a personal injury specialist in the law, according to the State Bar of California. That said, there are law firms that only practice injury law. These law firms obviously have more experience in car crash cases and the nuances of injury law. In comparison, a lawyer who practices a little transactional law, some tax law, perhaps a divorce here and there, does not always know the up-to-date trends and changes in injury law. 

Are They Located Near You?

Surprisingly to some people, this matters less and less as technology enables lawyers to represent people who live far from their physical office. In fact, most personal injury law firms that specialize in car accidents and injury cases in California are able to represent clients throughout the state. This means that it tends to be less important where the physical office of the lawyer or law firm is, and it makes your attorney's experience and practice focus all the more important. 

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If Nothing Else, Remember This

Personal injury cases can be complex, and your attorney's experience in this area of law matters. If you're looking for a lawyer to represent you for your California car accident injury case, or any type of injury case, you should seek the counsel of a lawyer who knows what he or she is doing, and is willing to give you the time of day to discuss your case without pressuring you to sign with his law firm. Injury law firms are notorious for employing aggressive sales techniques - this should be a red flag to you. If you're talking to a salesman, you're being sold something. If you were injured and need someone to help you recover physically and financially, you don't need a salesman, you need a good lawyer. 

 This post was written by  The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. , a personal injury law firm located in Newport Beach, California.  The Lions  represent injured people throughout California and focuses exclusively on personal injury law.

This post was written by The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C., a personal injury law firm located in Newport Beach, California. The Lions represent injured people throughout California and focuses exclusively on personal injury law.

Southern California Car Crash Hotspots

 Driving at night in Los Angeles County presents many challenges. Traffic can be lighter, but that leads to many drivers who exceed safe speeds. Take your time, be well rested, and plan your route ahead to avoid being involved in a car accident.

Driving at night in Los Angeles County presents many challenges. Traffic can be lighter, but that leads to many drivers who exceed safe speeds. Take your time, be well rested, and plan your route ahead to avoid being involved in a car accident.

Anyone who has driven on the congested roads in Southern California can attest to the unique driving conditions here in comparison to other parts of the country. Every day, tens of millions of people take to the roads of Southern California, particularly in the metro areas of Orange County and Los Angeles County. Where do most car crashes happen in Southern California, you may ask? A quick review of where you’re most likely to end up in a traffic collision could help you pay extra attention when you’re driving in these areas.

 Distractions are everywhere in Los Angeles. Assume the traffic surrounding you is distracted, and may not respond correctly to merging traffic, speeding traffic, or unsafe drivers.

Distractions are everywhere in Los Angeles. Assume the traffic surrounding you is distracted, and may not respond correctly to merging traffic, speeding traffic, or unsafe drivers.

Los Angeles Metro Area

For those driving in Los Angeles, there are a few areas that experience consistent traffic congestion, meaning the areas are often in stop and go traffic, which tends to result in more rear end crashes. Pay attention to on and off ramps, especially those near major freeways like the 110, the 405 Freeway, and the 5 Freeway. Other areas that experience higher than normal rates of crashes include areas where traffic merges to 'exit only' ramps. If you've driven in Southern California for long, you know that instead of waiting in line for their turn to exit on a ramp, many drivers will wait until the last possible second, then cut in front of slowed traffic so they don't miss their exit. This causes many rear end crashes.

Remember that Los Angeles is a hub for travelers, meaning many people are in and out of the city who do not live here and therefore do not become acclimated to the unique driving environment. Because there are so many cars on the road, we must acknowledge that lots of the cars that surround us at any given time are driven by people who may not know where they are going exactly (or which road or exit they're looking to turn onto next), or are uncomfortable with the speed of traffic. This can lead to dangerous situations. We are comfortable with our own driving skills, but it is often the people who surround us on the road who create dangerous circumstances.

 Los Angeles is not all freeway. There are beautiful neighborhoods, but these can be easy to get lost in too. Take your time, plan ahead, and maintain a safe distance from other drivers to avoid a car crash.

Los Angeles is not all freeway. There are beautiful neighborhoods, but these can be easy to get lost in too. Take your time, plan ahead, and maintain a safe distance from other drivers to avoid a car crash.

If you miss your exit, or are lost, it is best to pull off the freeway to a safe spot in order to gather your thoughts and plan your route. Do not try to keep driving while fiddling with a GPS device or an app on your phone; distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car crashes in Los Angeles, and often results in injury. If you are about to miss your exit, let it happen and move on - forcing your way into traffic, especially during peak hours, can result in danger situations, where you, your passengers, or other drivers may be seriously injured.

 Orange County freeways can be just as jammed as Los Angeles freeways. Plan your travels ahead to avoid congestion zones.

Orange County freeways can be just as jammed as Los Angeles freeways. Plan your travels ahead to avoid congestion zones.

Los Angeles can be a difficult place for any driver. It is normal to get lost occasionally, to miss an exit, or to get stuck in frustratingly slow traffic. Fortunately, planning ahead, knowing which part of Los Angeles is experiencing high volumes of traffic at the time your are planning to travel, and adhering to defensive driving techniques can all help you avoid a traffic collision. 

Orange County Metro Area

Orange County also has several areas that experience frequent traffic, and these areas have more car crashes than most areas. As is the case in any big city or metropolitan area, the onramps and off ramps of the freeways are areas where car crashes are frequent. Orange County drivers will attest to the predictably bad traffic in a few areas in particular. The 55 Freeway, which connects the 405 Freeway and the 5 Freeway, is almost always stop and go traffic during the day. Additionally, the 55 Freeway has a juncture with the 405 Freeway close to John Wayne Airport, so there is more traffic in that area due to people coming and going to the airport.

The 5 Freeway runs north and south through California, connecting San Diego and Orange County, Los Angeles, all the way up to the northern parts of the state. Thus, there is a lot of commercial traffic on this thoroughfare. Many large semi trucks use the 5 Freeway, and traffic can move at a very fast pace when it isn’t stop and go. This means speeds of 85 miles per hour are not unusual in the left hand lanes of traffic. Average speed, when traffic is moving, is around 80 miles per hour in the left hand lanes and the carpool lane. Many onramps have traffic lights, meaning you must stop and wait for a green signal before merging onto the freeway. Thus, there are cars entering traffic that start at a standstill, or zero miles per hour, that are trying to merge with traffic traveling in excess of 80 miles per hour. This results in many car crashes.

Driving Safely in High Traffic Areas

If you’re not used to driving in heavy traffic, Orange and Los Angeles counties can be an anxious and stressful experience. A few tips may be helpful to remember when you are navigating these areas:

  • Anticipate traffic at onramps and off ramps, and proceed through these areas with caution.
  • Anticipate traffic near airports. Los Angeles International Airport and John Wayne Airport are the busiest airports in LA County and Orange County, but there are many other airports that also experience heavy car traffic in these counties as well.
  • Remember what hours tend to be “rush hour” traffic hours. Millions of people commute to and from work using the freeways. Mornings from around 6:30 to around 9 a.m. tend to be busy traffic hours; evenings from 4 p.m. to around 7 p.m. tend to experience high volumes of traffic throughout California metropolitan areas. 
  • Stop and go traffic is part of life in California. Give yourself plenty of space, and don’t be in a rush.
  • Wear your seatbelt at all times, even if you think you’re driving too slowly to be injured. Just because you’re driving slow doesn’t mean someone won’t rear end you at a high rate of speed, a crash that can result in severe injury.
  • Know where you’re going before you get in the car. If you need to use a navigation aid on your phone, set the address prior to starting your drive. Trying to drive in heavy traffic is stressful enough, and adding the task of entering addresses into your phone can distract you. If the device is already set to give you directions before you embark on your journey, you are less likely to be distracted, and therefore are less likely to be involved in a car crash.
  • Plan ahead. Leaving half an hour early can sometimes mean saving yourself from sitting in traffic for hours. This is especially true when you are trying to arrive at your destination during or around rush hour traffic. If you can, it is often worth it to drive to your destination early in order to avoid heavy Los Angeles or Costa Mesa commuter traffic.
  • Check traffic apps before starting your drive to make sure there are no road closures or car crashes that are obstructing traffic. Whatever your choice of app, many apps can help you predict where the worst traffic is likely to be so you can avoid areas of extreme or abnormal congestion. Many radio stations will also give live updates on traffic conditions during rush hour so you can avoid car crashes, which often result in road closures, or the number of lanes being reduced.
 Freeway driving is part of life in Southern California. Know which roads are experiencing bad traffic, and where construction may slow your journey. Planning ahead is key to avoiding frustrating situations of being stuck in traffic for hours.

Freeway driving is part of life in Southern California. Know which roads are experiencing bad traffic, and where construction may slow your journey. Planning ahead is key to avoiding frustrating situations of being stuck in traffic for hours.

Know the Area You’re Heading To

If you’re driving to a destination that is new to you, familiarize yourself with the area ahead of time. This means looking at a map of the area, or using Google to get some insight into what kinds f area you’re driving to. Are there schools or major shopping areas nearby that will result in high traffic? Is the neighborhood you’re heading to a place where there are lots of office towers, meaning that around rush hour there will likely be a lot of people coming and going from the area? Is the area perhaps more rural, such that facilities such as gasoline stations may be few and far between? Is there road construction happening on your route, or are parts your journey experiencing a detour due to any number of reasons? Are there any natural disasters, such as wildfires, that are restricting traffic, or making driving through the region either impossible, or on an “as necessary only” basis? All these questions can likely be answered by spending just a few minutes on the internet prior to getting in your car. Knowing more about your destination will result in your ability to avoid areas that will slow you down. It will also ensure you take a route that is likely to have less traffic, meaning you’re less likely to be involved in a car crash.

 

 It is rare to find the freeways of Southern California empty. Plan on traffic, no matter when you're driving. Crashes happen frequently at on and off ramps, during peak traffic hours (rush hour), and near major destinations, like schools, airports, and business centers.

It is rare to find the freeways of Southern California empty. Plan on traffic, no matter when you're driving. Crashes happen frequently at on and off ramps, during peak traffic hours (rush hour), and near major destinations, like schools, airports, and business centers.

It Didn't Hurt, But Now It Does: Your Car Accident Injury Recovery Questions Answered

All too often, people are involved in car crashes and don't realize they are injured until several days or even weeks after the crash. The reasons for the delay of symptoms varies from person to person, but there's no doubt that many injuries related to car crashes don't show up until after a delay. Unfortunately, car insurance companies will look at any gaps in treatment as evidence that the claimant was not injured by the subject crash. So what to do if you were hurt in a California car accident, but didn't realize the full extent of your injuries until a few days or weeks after the accident?

 Gaps in treatment can end up with the insurance company denying payment of your medical bills. Whenever you're injured due to another's negligence, it is imperative you seek medical treatment immediately.

Gaps in treatment can end up with the insurance company denying payment of your medical bills. Whenever you're injured due to another's negligence, it is imperative you seek medical treatment immediately.

Get Checked By a Doctor

The most important part of recovering from your personal injury is knowing what is hurt and how best to recover from the injury. Although nobody knows your body better than you, a qualified medical doctor can help assess the severity of your injuries and help chart a plan to help you recover. Most general practitioners will be able to discuss what hurts and point you in the right direction, which often includes x-rays and MRIs in order to find out exactly what the extent of your injuries are. The sooner you see a doctor, the better of you will be, both physically and in relation to your claim or lawsuit. Many law firms advise clients to see a doctor no later than within the first week of the car crash, and some injury lawyers refuse to accept clients who have not been to the doctor within a week, so the sooner you go, the better off you'll be.

What If I Don't Have Health Insurance?

Many people delay or forego entirely healthcare after a car crash because they don't have health insurance and they are afraid of the high cost of medical bills. A good law firm that practices personal injury law will be able to point you in the right direction. There are many doctors who will treat you with no payment up front, but will require payment once your injury claim settles. This is called lien-based treatment. In this situation, your attorney, yourself, and the treating medical office, all sign a document that says the doctor will be paid once the injury case settles. Of course, you would need to have an attorney represent you for your car crash for this setup to work for you, but the benefit is you can receive the healthcare you need at no out of pocket costs.

 If you don't have health insurance, seeking proper medical treatment can be scary. Talking with a good injury lawyer will set your mind at ease. If you were hurt by someone else's negligence, you have options.

If you don't have health insurance, seeking proper medical treatment can be scary. Talking with a good injury lawyer will set your mind at ease. If you were hurt by someone else's negligence, you have options.

What If I Was Previously Injured?

Sometimes, people who are hurt in car crashes are afraid they won't be able to be reimbursed for their losses because they were previously injured, or they have chronic pain. This is a common situation, and the law provides for a fair outcome. If your previous injury was worsened, or exacerbated, because of the car crash, you are able to recover the money you lost, or owe, due to the accident. That is, if the car crash made it worse, you shouldn't have to pay for the costs of medical care of getting you back to the state of health you were in before the crash. 

 Getting back to living life before your car crash isn't easy. Delaying medical treatment often makes the injury worse.

Getting back to living life before your car crash isn't easy. Delaying medical treatment often makes the injury worse.

What If I Have to Travel for Work and Miss Treatment?

Life doesn't just stop just because you were rear ended and hurt. Maybe you have a vacation scheduled, or you travel for work. If you're traveling, you can't be expected to go to your doctors appointments. In this situation, again, you will likely benefit from the counsel and representation of a lawyer who focuses on personal injury cases. A good lawyer will help explain to the other party's attorneys the reason you had to travel, and will likely be able to get you fair compensation for your injury claim. The rule of thumb is you should always seek proper medical treatment for as long as you need, and you should not delay or miss appointments. But if your travel plans require you to be away, a good lawyer can explain this to the insurance company and their lawyers.

Now What?

First things first: get to the doctor! You need to take care of your health following a car crash. If there has been a delay in treatment, you will likely benefit from speaking with a lawyer who has seen cases similar to yours. In most cases, the law firm will review the facts of your case at no cost to you, and most law firms in personal injury work on a contingency fee basis, meaning their fee comes out of the case settlement value. This means you will not have to pay up front, but the fees will be deducted from your settlement. Of course, no good injury law firm would take your case and work for free - if they take your case, they know they can win. In summary, you need to get back to the doctor to treat any injury that was caused by your car accident. Then, you should consult with a lawyer who has seen a situation like yours before. 

 

Your Injury Claim, Compared to Millions of Other Similar Claims

Plaintiffs looking for a fair and reasonable settlement to their personal injury claim are often frustrated by low settlement offers and prolonged delays in the resolution of their matter. Many people who are injured feel they are treated unfairly by the at-fault party’s insurance company and cannot understand why they are being offered such low amounts of money to settle their case. This frustration is a popular sentiment among people hurt in car crashes, slip and fall cases, premises liability matters, and basically all personal injury situations in California. If you were injured and it was not your fault, a peek into the personal injury settlement process can help you understand why your case is being handled the way it is, and what you can do about it.

 With so many drivers on California roads, insurance adjusters see thousands of claims cross their desks. Making your claim be more than a number is the key to getting your injuries reviewed fairly.

With so many drivers on California roads, insurance adjusters see thousands of claims cross their desks. Making your claim be more than a number is the key to getting your injuries reviewed fairly.

It’s Not You - It’s The Millions of Other Cases

If you’re lucky, you never get in a car crash. If you are in a car crash and are injured, however, you will likely have the unpleasant experience of trying to pay for your medical bills, additional transportation expenses, lost wages, and many other costs associated with an accident that was not your fault. Unfortunately, even though the law provides a way for you to have all these expenses paid for by the person or entity who caused your injury, the chances you’ll see a check arrive in your mailbox that covers everything are slim. The reason insurance companies tend to offer small amounts to settle claims is because they can. That is, the great majority of people who are trying to settle their injury case on their own do not know what to do with a bad offer, and they cannot negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement on their own because they don’t know the true value of their case. 

Consider for a moment that you were injured in a California car crash, say for example in Orange County or Los Angeles County. These counties are home to millions of people. Over the years, insurance companies have handled millions of cases in California and throughout the country, and your case is compared to other similar cases. How? Insurance companies keep big data that shows what the estimated value of a case is. For example, the type of car you drive, your zip code, your ethnicity - it all comes into play, whether insurance companies admit this or not (they deny this). The facts of your case, such as the amount of property damage involved, the amount of your medical care, the type of crash, and many other factors, are often plugged into an algorithm that produces a number. This number is the basis for the insurance adjuster’s starting negotiation point; many lawyers suspect that some insurance companies do not even review the photos or read the documents provided to them. They plug in the numbers and run the calculation, and from there they use a number to try to get you to settle your case. 

What To Do With a Bad Injury Settlement Offer?

Because insurance companies see millions of claims, there is a sense the plaintiff’s case is not reviewed in great detail in the majority of situations. Also, because insurance companies keep big data sets that show the settlement values of similar cases, and because most plaintiffs or claimants don’t hire a lawyer or personal injury law firm to represent them, the settlement values are often quite low. That is, when a lawyer is involved, the value rises, as a good lawyer knows what a case like yours will likely settle for. In this way, because your case is compared to millions of other cases, the great majority of which were settled by the individuals by themselves who often don’t know the true value of their case, you are being given a settlement number that is low. 

If you were hurt and want to know what the value of your case is, the best thing you can do is talk with an injury lawyer. A personal injury attorney who practices exclusively injury law in California will be able to compare your case to similar case values that involved an attorney. They will be able to consider up to date trends in the courts, and correspond with a community of personal injury plaintiff attorneys to “round table” your case and give you an evaluation of what is fair and reasonable in your matter.

Putting a Face to a Name

Insurance adjusters can decide to offer you $10,000 or $100,000, or any number for that matter, depending on their evaluation of your case. If your lifestyle was greatly affected, such as if you are a caretaker or a parent to young children, or you had to miss work due to your injuries, it is hard for an insurance adjuster to put a number on that. What is that worth? The reality is that if your loss is not represented by a bill, the value given to lifestyle changes and hardships is often zero. Even though your life is turned upside down and you’re bogged down with bills you don’t know how to pay, or you missed out on a special occasion, or you can’t perform your parental duties or participate in hobbies that you previously loved - none of this matters if you can’t put a number on it. A good lawyer will be able to argue persuasively that these changes to your life can only be compensated by paying you money for your loss. How much is this worth? Personal injury attorneys who handle lots of cases know how to argue for fair and reasonable settlement value. Or, if the insurance company refuses to acknowledge your loss, a good lawyer will bring your case before a court and persuade a jury that you should be paid for your losses.

Of course, nobody wants to go to court. The best scenario for you if you are hurt and want to be treated fairly by insurance is to have the insurance company take your claim seriously, or give it priority. When you are represented by an attorney, the insurance adjusters will often pay closer attention to your case. This is because they know their conduct is being monitored. Personal injury lawyers know that insurance agents and adjusters are regulated by the State of California insurance code. Most people know there are rules as to what insurance companies can and cannot do, but they don’t know what the rules are. Car crash attorneys who practice only personal injury matters know the rules that adjusters are supposed to adhere by; when the adjusters aren’t doing what they are supposed to, they know, and they can fight on your behalf to make sure your case gets a fair review. 

Making Your Case Stand Out From the Other Cases

At the end of the day, the difference between a fair settlement and an unfair settlement is the attention given to your matter by the insurance company, and the exposure they think the insurance company has in the future. That is, if you don’t accept their proposals, what will happen? Will you simply go away? Will you hire a lawyer who will fight them and require them to spend a lot of time and money on your case? Could the insurance company be liable for millions of dollars due to a court verdict that punishes the insurance company for its bad behavior or failure to adhere to the insurance code? The best way to stand out, in the opinion of many, is to seek the counsel of a lawyer or law firm that knows the true value of your case. Injury lawyers in California usually do not charge for an initial consultation, and the advise you can get in that time could be the difference between something fair and something that is pennies on the dollar for your claim. 

How to Choose an Injury Attorney

Before you sign a contract with an attorney, consider that your attorney will be an individual or office that you may communicate with on and off for several months, or several years, depending on the nature of your injury. Are you talking to a lawyer, or a salesman? Is the person you’ve been dealing with the same individual you’ll be talking to in the future? Is the law firm you’re considering a firm that focuses on only injury cases, or are they a jack of all trades, do-it all firm? If they claim to do all types of cases, what are they chances they have the experience and up to date knowledge of personal injury case values throughout California? Most lawyers would agree that the best thing would be to speak with an attorney who is willing to discuss your case, give you a fair evaluation, and can tell you who the attorney that will be handling your matter in the future is. 

 

How Gaps in Treatment Affect Injury Claims

One of the frustrations many people experience when trying to settle their personal injury claim with an insurance adjuster is trying to figure out what a “gap in treatment” is, and why the at-fault driver’s insurance refuses to pay for some medical treatment. If you were hurt by someone else, and you have medical bills that are the result of treatment you received following the injury, how is it possible that those bills will be your personal financial responsibility, when the reason you have them in the first place is because someone else was negligent? This article will help people who have been injured in a car crash understand what the insurance companies look for.

 Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Chronology of Medical Treatment

Immediately following your injury, which for the sake of using an easy to follow example, we’ll say was the result of a car crash. The law in California is that the person who hurt you must make you “whole” again, or put you in as close to the same condition you were in before the car crash. This means physically, emotionally, financially, and sometimes even socially. So if you were hurt, and you seek medical treatment, it follows that the person who hurt you should pay for your medical bills, right? Yes, and no. The at-fault driver is responsible for reasonable and medically-necessary treatment. So the insurance company can deny payment for medical treatment you receive that they say is not the result of your injury, in this example a car crash.

The most common way an insurance adjuster will deny payment on medical bills is by saying there was an unreasonable gap in treatment. If you wait too long to receive treatment, they will argue that you weren’t really hurt, and that treatment you receive after a gap is not really their insured’s responsibility. So what should you do to make sure the insurance adjuster doesn’t refuse to pay your medical bills by saying you waited too long to treat your injury?

 Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

The first thing any injury lawyer will advise their attorney to do is get a medical checkup as soon as possible. If you’re hurt, go to a doctor. Go to an urgent care, or an emergency room, if necessary, but if you were injured, you need to have a medical professional document the nature of your injury. From there, you should follow the advice you are given. For example, if you go to your primary care physician and he or she tells you that you require an x-ray, or an MRI, then it is your responsibility to follow up and get the care they tell you is needed. If you don’t do what your doctor says, the insurance companies will say you were non-compliant with recommended treatment. This hurts your claim, and as it relates to the outcome of your case, it is more likely you will receive less compensation during the settlement phase of your injury case.

What is a gap in treatment?

Our office has seen insurance adjusters claim that delays in seeking the advice of a doctor for as little as three days after a car accident is unreasonable. More common, any delays of more than five days after a crash will certainly be disputed, and the longer you go in between treatment, the worse it will be for your case. This can be difficult for single parents and anyone who works, as taking off work, or scheduling a babysitter to make it possible for you to visit a doctor and receive the treatment you need is sometimes a difficult obstacle. A good injury attorney will be able to successfully argue that any gaps were not only reasonable, but that you did everything you could to follow up on medical treatment. After all, the injury was not your fault in the first place, so you should not have to turn your life upside down to go to the doctor.

What is a proper treatment sequence?

If your primary care physician says you need chiropractic care, or physical therapy, generally the minimum number of appointments you should plan on attending is one per week; gaps of more than one week can hurt your claim. Of course, life happens and it can be hard to stay consistent with treatment. The medical benefits of going to a chiropractor or physical therapist are greater if you go more frequently; a good chiropractor or physical therapy office will be able to work around your scheduling conflicts, and give you therapy you can do at home to help alleviate your pain. Most personal injury law firms in California are aware of the good chiropractors and physical therapy offices that help people recover from car accidents, as well as those who perhaps have a reputation of not helping their patients reach a full recovery.

what if I need to return to treatment after a gap?

Unfortunately, many people have no choice but to return to treatment, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist, not because their schedule was crazy or they were being lazy, but because their symptoms/injuries returned. That is, after a sequence of treatment at a chiropractor or physical therapist, the doctor says let's see how it goes, and after a few weeks, you realize you are still suffering from pain from the car crash. Most doctors put in their notes that this may happen. This is often referred to as a flair up. Insurance companies do whatever they can to deny paying for these kinds of treatment. In many cases, the only way you'll successfully get them paid for is by hiring an attorney. In fact, this is a common reason people seek advice from an injury lawyer - they have a need to continue medical treatment for their injury, but the at-fault driver's insurance is saying they won't cover the bills.

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Can an Injury Attorney Help?

It is hard to imagine a circumstance where contacting an injury attorney after a car crash would be a bad idea. If nothing else, you'll be able to ask the questions you're wondering about, and get the advice from someone who works on this type of legal case every day. Gaps in treatment can hurt your claim, but not all "gaps" that insurance adjusters deny are fairly denied. Keep in mind that the best attorney to answer your question may not be in town. This is normal, and most injury firms that practice exclusively injury law in California represent clients throughout the state. If you live in a rural area or small town, chances are the best injury lawyer to consult with is not close by. However, many law firms in areas of California with greater populations, such as Orange County and Los Angeles County, are able to fully service clients that live within the state of California, with ease using technology. 

 

Treatment for a Car Accident Injury: How Long Can You Treat?

One of the most frequent and important questions regarding treatment for an injury stemming from a car accident is how long you can treat and expect that the at-fault driver's insurance company will pay for your treatment. Some injuries, such as a broken bone, may be fairly predictable, while other car crash injuries may take significantly longer to mend.

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Big Picture: Treat Until You're Healed

The law basically says that if you were injured and it was not your fault, it is the other party's responsibility to make you whole again. This has been interpreted to mean that you should essentially be put back in the same position you were before the car crash. One way insurance companies avoid paying medical claims from car crashes is by saying that your injuries were "preexisting conditions," or in other words, you already had the ailment or were hurt in that area of your body before the car crash. If that is true, the insurance company (who steps in for the actual driver who caused the crash), does not have to pay for your medical bills relating to a preexisting condition. But what if you were injured in an area of your body that was already painful or hurt, and now it is worse?

Aggravation of Preexisting Conditions

Nobody is perfectly healthy, and the older we get, the more ailments we tend to have. For example, it is common for older people to have back pain. So if you have back pain before a car accident, does that mean that you can't receive medical treatment for the pain if it is now worse than it was before your car accident? California courts have taken the approach of looking at what is fair and reasonable, and consider whether the treatment received is medically necessary. Thus, if you had a bad back before the crash, but it has gotten worse, you should be able to seek treatment. After all, the increase in pain cannot be attributed to you being older, but directly relates to the car crash. Thus, California residents (and this is the same for those living in Southern California as in Northern California) should consider getting medical help and treatment for the aggravation and exacerbation of prior injuries if it is reasonable and medically necessary.

Examples of Treating Prior Medical Conditions

Consider that some people are involved in multiple car crashes. After all, California roads are among some of the busiest in the country, and some of our cities, like Los Angeles, Orange County metro area, like Irvine and Costa Mesa, see millions of drivers every week on their thoroughfares. Thus, some people experience a car wreck more than once. What if a person is injured, received medical treatment and is feeling better, and then gets in another car accident that is not his or her fault, but is injured in the same way again?

If the injury is in the neck and back, the individual will likely follow this type of treatment: a visit to a doctor, which may include going to the emergency room or an urgent care, but often is simply a visit to your primary care physician; then, perhaps they have an x-ray taken, or an MRI, in order to find out the extent and severity of the injury; next, they may go to a chiropractor or pain management doctor and try to heal their injuries through therapy; finally, if necessary, the individual may have a surgical procedure, such as a fusion surgery, or receive a stem cell injection, or an epidural injection. There tends to be a chronology of care that increases in seriousness as the treatment continues. Nobody wants to have an epidural injection, or have an invasive procedure like surgery on their back. However, if the pain a person feels continues, they may elect these procedures.

How do Insurance Policy Limits Play In?

The more treatment an injured person receives, the more expensive it will be. The more intensive the treatment, such as surgery or injection of an epidural or stem cells, the more costly the care is. But what happens if there is not enough money in the at-fault driver's insurance policy? The basic answer is that the at-fault driver's insurance company can rarely be made to pay you more than what their insured's policy limits are. Thus, if the individual who caused the crash was insured for only $15,000, at the end of the day, that is likely the most the insurance company will pay for your medical bills. Of course, if there is a bigger insurance policy, and your injury requires more costly medical care to recover from, then the insurance company will be made to pay more to make you whole again.

It does not seem fair that the same injury can settle for different sums of money, but consider a situation in which two people have the same injuries, but one was injured by someone with a million dollar insurance policy, and the other person was injured by someone with a $15,000 "minimal" policy (in California, to legally drive on California roads, $15,000 is the minimum amount of liability coverage individuals need to be insured for). Now, consider that the two people both need a surgery that costs $50,000. The individual who was hit by someone with a million dollar policy will be able to get the surgery and can reasonably predict the insurance company will eventually be made to foot the bill. The individual hit by the driver with the minimal insurance policy may elect to get the surgery, but how will they pay for it? If the insurance company pays the $15,000, what happens to the remaining $35,000 of the bill? And what about pain and suffering, lost wages, and future medical treatment?

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How an Injury Attorney Can Help

Most people don't know how to proceed in a situation such as the example shown above - even finding out how much the at-fault driver is insured for can be a great challenge to people who are not represented by an injury lawyer. The good news is that injury law firms usually work on a contingency fee basis, meaning whatever money they are paid comes out of what they win. For example, most injury lawyers will pay all the costs on a case up front, and won't get pain anything until they win your case, so you're never left writing a check to your lawyer, not knowing whether you'll actually win in the end or not.

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An injury attorney can help you compare your situation to other cases, and can help advise regarding policy limits, jurisdictional issues (a case in San Francisco may play out differently in court than it would in Los Angeles County, or Orange County), and other questions you might have. Regarding how long you should treat, a good injury lawyer will be able to get into the details about your prior injuries or ailments, and will help you understand the process of how injury cases are handled, including what the general value of your case may be, and whether or not your case is one that will likely go to trial or not. 

Ask More Questions

The more you understand how the injury claims process works in California, the better position you will be in to make wise and educated decisions. If you're like most people, this is new territory. Fortunately, injury lawyers and most injury law firms have seen hundreds and sometimes thousands of cases, and their attorneys can compare your case with the outcome of similar cases. Without knowing how similar cases worked out in the past, you will have a hard time making educated decisions regarding your treatment. For this reasons, many people find it helpful to discuss their injury with a car crash lawyer, even if they don't decide to hire the lawyer. The more you know, the better you'll be in the long run, and that is never more true than when it comes to treating your car accident injury.

 

 

The Most Dangerous Cities in California: Why, and What You Should Know

California residents are no stranger to the topic of crime and danger, as many cities in California have a reputation of being busy, densely populated areas, which are sometimes affiliated with high crime rates. How much of this stigma is true, and should you worry about it? A recent article discussed the data and ranked the ten most-dangerous cities, adding data to the discussions and resulting in some surprising results. While the article focused on crime rates and property crime, it failed to take into consideration a few key data points, such as number of traffic accident fatalities.

The California "Dangerous Index"

First, the California cities shown on the index below obviously are home to many residents, but not all the cities are major towns. For example, of the most dangerous, according to this index, only Barstow, San Bernardino, and Santa Cruz are actually large communities. Emeryville, which is the most dangerous California city, is home to approximately 12,000 people; Red Bluff is home to approximately 14,000 people, and Commerce being home to only about 14,000. Also take into consideration what the study is measuring - property crime. Commerce, California is an industrial and shipping city, so there are hundreds of warehouses, so it makes sense that there would be more property crime there.

Consider Other Factors

The authors of this article were direct in saying their article was "infotainment," so it is not by any means meant to be a conclusive study. However, if you're wondering what other factors to consider about whether a city or region in California is safe or dangerous, crime rate, including violent crime, car accident rates, fatality rates for youth and adults, and other metrics should be taken into account. For example, consider that the total number of car accident deaths in a single year (2013) in Southern California were as follows: Los Angeles County, 630 traffic deaths; County of Orange, 185 traffic deaths; Riverside County, 225 traffic deaths; San Bernardino County, 264 traffic deaths; County of San Diego, 201 traffic deaths. When considering where to live in California, this statistic may be more insightful into the safety of an area than the rate of property crime.

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It is also important to remember that statistics often are over general. For example, in 2013, 32 percent of all drivers killed in a car crash in California tested positive for drugs, legal and illegal. So even if an area has a high number of traffic related deaths, it does not mean that area is necessarily inherently dangerous, because in many of the statistics, personal decisions were involved, such as the driver who ends up dying in a motor vehicle accident being the one who decided to take drugs or drive while under the influence of alcohol or prescription medicine. 

True Threats to Safety

When deciding where to visit or live in California, people serious about making the move or visit will obviously look at many factors. Of course violent crime is an important statistic to look at, but many California cities have low crime rates compared to similarly sized cities in other states or part of the country. Consider the number one cause of death of adolescents is unintentional injury, and in that category, traffic related crashes resulting in death are the number one cause of death. So whether or not an area is safe to drive in may be a bigger threat to your family's safety than the property crime rate. Of course, the more cars, the more car crashes, and the more injuries related to car crashes are likely to happen. Because California has so many residents living in many large cities, there are lots of traffic related deaths in these cities, such as Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Bay Area.