Nobody expects to get injured in a car accident, and so people injured in auto crashes are often uncertain how to proceed. The reality is most people who are injured incur some medical expenses, and without the help of a personal injury lawyer, these same people often forego appropriate medical treatment because they don't know how they will pay for it. A common question injured victims face is when they should call an attorney, and what the attorney will do for them. There are a few common misconceptions that go against the injured, such as the assumption that an attorney only helps at the end, once medical treatment is complete.
What Kind of Injuries do 'Personal Injury' Law Firms Handle?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 31 million people each year seek treatment in a hospital or emergency room for accidental injuries. These injuries may include broken bones, muscle or tendon tears, cuts and burns, as well as accidental ingestion of toxins and damage to internal organs. The most common causes of injuries are:
- Automobile accidents, including motorcycle and trucking accidents
- Bicycle/pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Strike by a falling object
- Dog bites
- Medical error (commonly assumed to be medical malpractice)
- Defective or dangerous products (often called 'product liability' cases)
Most of these accidents involve someone else's negligence. In California, if you were injured in one of these situations, and someone else is partially or fully to blame (liability), they may be responsible for making you "whole" again, or providing the financial means to pay for your medical treatment to help you recover to the state of health you were in prior to the accident or car crash.
When to Call an Injury Attorney or Car Crash Law Firm
In California, you have two years to file your claim for your injury. After two years, you cannot recover money for your injury. This rule, called the statute of limitations, applies regardless of where in California you live. For example, the statute of limitations for car crashes is the same whether you live in Orange County, Los Angeles County, or in the Bay Area. All California residents must file before the two year limit. The same applies for visitors to the state of California.
If you were injured in a car crash, you should call an injury attorney as soon as possible. There are many reasons why time is very important right after your injury. For example, the at-fault driver's insurance will likely push you to accept a small amount of money as a settlement. Their insurance may pressure you to make a recorded statement, which will most often be used against you in the future. Many people have a hard time seeing an appropriately trained doctor soon after a crash; many law firms can help injured people gain access to lien-based medical treatment, meaning the doctors will treat the patient at no out of pocket cost to the person, and the law firm will pay the doctor when they win the case.
Don't Settle Your Claim Alone
Most people assume that if they hire an attorney, they will need to either pay the lawyer a lot of money up front, or they will have to pay a large portion of their settlement to the law firm. In many cases, the injured person does not know what his or her case is worth. It can be very difficult to know if the settlement amount the insurance is offering is fair. In most cases, an experienced California injury attorney will be able to compare your case against thousands of other injury claims in order to determine how much money is fair and reasonable. Once an amount is determined, a good injury law firm will have a specific strategy to achieve the best possible outcome for their client. Also, most car crash lawyers in California are willing to work on a contingency fee basis, meaning the lawyer does not take a fee unless he or she wins. This is good for plaintiffs (the injured) because most people do not have cash on hand, ready to pay a lawyer just in case they are injured.
Don't Underestimate Car Insurance Claims Adjusters
Auto insurance adjusters may seem friendly on the phone, but make no mistake, their job is to get you to accept as little money as possible to settle your claim. After all, these are multi-billion dollar publicly-traded companies that are trying to make as much money as possible. Next time you're watching sports, pay attention to how many insurance companies are advertising during commercial breaks. Why do they do this? Auto insurance is an extremely profitable industry. That's all fine, of course, but when you're injured and the person who caused your injury has an insurance policy that is supposed to cover the costs of your medical treatment, you should not have to fight tooth and nail to get what is rightfully owed you. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters often rely heavily on complex computer algorithms, meaning no matter how friendly you are to them, or visa versa, at the end of the day, the computer spits out a number and that is how much money they will try to get you to settle for. With an injury attorney who knows what he or she is doing, that computer-generated number is meaningless.
Future Medical Care and "Pain and Suffering"
You should call an injury law firm when you are trying to figure out how to pay for future medical expenses. Depending on your injury, the cost of your future medical expenses may be large. It can be difficult to know whether you have calculated enough money to cover future medical costs. Many California car accident law firms hire expert witnesses to calculate how much a client will need to treat their injury in the future.
Another challenging aspect injured persons encounter is how to calculate general damages, commonly known as "pain and suffering" damages or money. This amount is the money the at-fault person pays to compensate you for the pain they put you in. How much is your pain worth? Experienced injury attorneys can look at past cases and build your claim based on their knowledge of California case law. Pain and suffering damages are not commonly offered by insurance companies, and a good lawyer will fight hard to recover as much money as possible on your behalf.
The Lions Injury Lawyers are proud to represent clients throughout California, from San Diego all the way to the Oregon border and everywhere in between. If you were injured, you owe it to yourself to speak with a good attorney. You have nothing to lose, and even a short conversation with a good injury law firm will give you peace of mind, if nothing else, that you are proceeding correctly. You will speak with a lawyer (not a salesman), who will answer your questions and give you a free, no pressure evaluation.