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Orange County Car Crashes: Top Questions Injury Lawyers Are Asked

Injury lawyers are asked many of the same questions from clients regarding their Orange County, California car accident. This blog post is a compilation of the top questions we receive here at The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C., and is meant to help anyone seeking clarification regarding their injury claim, but should not be relied on as legal counsel. This is because every case is unique and you should seek the advise of an attorney or injury lawyer in order to address the specifics of your case. However, there are several basic questions that we are asked over and over again, and so this blog post is an attempt to clarify some of these questions.

The job of your injury lawyer is to get you back to where you were before your injury. This means you are physically healthy again, and financially you have been reimbursed for all medical expenses related to your injury.

The job of your injury lawyer is to get you back to where you were before your injury. This means you are physically healthy again, and financially you have been reimbursed for all medical expenses related to your injury.

”How Do I Get My Medical Expenses Refunded?”

As part of your injury claim, you may expect to have your medical expenses paid for by the person who hit you. First, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible following the crash. Then, you need to be attentive to all appointments and be compliant with the doctor’s orders. This may include MRIs, x-rays, physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, or things like injections and surgery. Upon completing your treatment, your attorney will compile all your medical records and present them to the insurance company of the at-fault driver, accompanied by an explanation and a demand for settlement.

“What if I Need Medical Care Over a Long Period of Time?”

You have two years from the date of the accident to either settle your claim, or file a lawsuit. If you fail to do either of these things within two years of your injury, you cannot recover financially, and this includes being refunded the cost of your medical care. But what if you are going to need care for a long time after the two year mark? Your lawyers will compile your medical bills and present them in a manner that will include the cost of future medical expenses as part of your injury settlement. Sometimes this may require bringing in an expert, such as someone familiar with medical billing, in order to give a detailed accounting of what your medical costs will likely be in the future. A good injury attorney will do this for you and will have experience handling claims like yours.

Even ten minutes on the telephone with an injury lawyer is likely to give you a new perspective on how you should move forward. If nothing else, it should provide you with peace of mind as you navigate what can be a frustrating and confusing process.

Even ten minutes on the telephone with an injury lawyer is likely to give you a new perspective on how you should move forward. If nothing else, it should provide you with peace of mind as you navigate what can be a frustrating and confusing process.

”What if I Don’t Have Health Insurance, or I Can’t Get An Appointment to See a Doctor Quick Enough?”

If you don’t have health insurance, but are injured in a car crash or other accident that was not your fault, you may still be able to receive good medical care. Some privately owned medical offices are willing to provide treatment on a lien. This means that they will ask your lawyer a few details about your case, including the likelihood that the insurance company of the individual who caused the accident will pay to settle the claim. This is called lien-based treatment. Most California based injury lawyers know of many medical offices that are willing to work on a lien basis. The office sends a legal document to your lawyer, who signs it and returns it. This means that if there is a settlement or a verdict in your favor, the medical office will be paid before you are paid. Basically it delays payment, but makes sure the medical office eventually gets paid for the services they provide you.

The amount of money you get after your injury case settles depends on many factors, most of which you are unlikely to have considered unless you have been involved in several injury cases in the past. A good injury law firm will guide you through the process and explain the many variables at play in your injury case.

The amount of money you get after your injury case settles depends on many factors, most of which you are unlikely to have considered unless you have been involved in several injury cases in the past. A good injury law firm will guide you through the process and explain the many variables at play in your injury case.

”What If I Don’t Have Money To Pay a Lawyer?”

Most car crash lawyers, also referred to as personal injury lawyers, work on a contingency fee basis. This means their pay is contingent on whether or not they win. If they win your case, they are paid a portion of the settlement money. If your lawyer loses, in most situations this means he or she is paid nothing. This makes it so people who need legal representation are able to have an attorney. This also makes it so a lawyer only agrees to represent someone on a case if he or she thinks the case is winnable. Contingency fee agreements are the standard in California for injury cases. If you decide to hire a lawyer using a contingency fee agreement, you should read the document before signing so you know the percentage your attorney will take in the end as his or her fee, as well as other details pertaining to your case.

Because of the number of drivers in Orange County, traffic accidents resulting in injury are not uncommon. Knowing how to proceed after you are injured in a car crash can be confusing.

Because of the number of drivers in Orange County, traffic accidents resulting in injury are not uncommon. Knowing how to proceed after you are injured in a car crash can be confusing.

”What If I Already Settled My Property Damage Claim But I’m Still Injured?”

If you were injured in a car crash, your vehicle was likely damaged. You may have gotten your vehicle towed and fixed and may have signed something to receive a reimbursement check. This is the property damage portion of your case, and is separate from the injury portion of your case. You should know that just because you settled the property damage portion of your case does not mean you have settled your case. They are essentially two different cases. You can still receive money to help compensate you for your injury even if you already received money for your car. Usually the money you receive for your car is the cost to repair or replace for fair value. The injury portion is different. The injury settlement must include reimbursement for medical bills, money for lost wages, pain and suffering, and money for future medical expenses. This settlement is often much more than your property damage settlement.

”Should I Hire A Lawyer Who Doesn’t Live In My City?”

The location of your injury lawyer’s office does not matter nearly as much as his or her experience in handling injury cases. Much of the work on your injury case is done over the telephone, not in person.

The location of your injury lawyer’s office does not matter nearly as much as his or her experience in handling injury cases. Much of the work on your injury case is done over the telephone, not in person.

Your Lawyer should practice injury law. Similar to doctors, lawyers focus their practice on specific areas of the law. For example, a real estate attorney will not likely know much about injury law, except for the basics. For this reason, most people who hire a lawyer to represent them for their injury hire a lawyer or law firm that only handles injury cases. A lawyer has a license to practice law in the state of California, not a specific county or city. With technology, this means you can hire someone who potentially lives far away from you and still benefit from his or her expertise. It is therefore not important that the lawyer lives close by to you. Most, if not all of the work on your case, is done between the lawyer’s office and the insurance companies and medical offices using email, fax, and telephone. Physical proximity to your residence is not important.

Neck and Back Pain After a Car Crash: What to Do

A car crash can leave you with nagging injuries that last for years, or even a lifetime. Proper medical treatment is critical.

A car crash can leave you with nagging injuries that last for years, or even a lifetime. Proper medical treatment is critical.

If you were involved in a car crash and are suffering from pain in your neck and/or back, you may be wondering what, if anything, you can do to make the pain go away. For some lucky individuals, taking a few painkiller pills and getting good rest is enough for whiplash symptoms to go away. These are the lucky few. For most people, severe whiplash following a car accident can lead to months and sometimes years of neck and back pain. To add insult to injury, if the car crash wasn’t your fault, you’re now stuck with the headache of getting your car fixed, and face a potentially long road of physical recovery.

See a Doctor

Wherever you are in California, there are doctors who will see you and help you recover from your injury. Sometimes your health insurance doesn’t have appointments in the near future. Speak with a lawyer to find out if there are other medical offices that you can seek treatment at. Lawyers do no prescribe treatment, but they may be aware of offices who will treat you on a lien.

Wherever you are in California, there are doctors who will see you and help you recover from your injury. Sometimes your health insurance doesn’t have appointments in the near future. Speak with a lawyer to find out if there are other medical offices that you can seek treatment at. Lawyers do no prescribe treatment, but they may be aware of offices who will treat you on a lien.

The severity of your back pain may be difficult to diagnose by yourself. For example, strained muscles may very well heal on their own without significant medical treatment. However, if you have suffered damage to the vertebrae in your spine, you may not get better without medical treatment. Only a doctor that can give a qualified examination and order the appropriate diagnostic studies such as x-rays and MRI scans will be able to figure out what is going on in your back and neck. To make matters more difficult, many people suffer acute pain for a variety of injuries to their back, not being able to differentiate between the injuries. Some of the pain may go away, some may get worse.

Many people injured in car accidents are afraid to ask their attorney or their medical doctor for advice regarding treatment because of their insurance situation. Many people have high deductibles, or do not have health insurance. If you were not at fault for the car accident, a good lawyer can make sure you are able to receive the care you need. After all, you wouldn’t require medical attention if not for the negligence of someone else, so many personal injury law firms are able to help point you in the right direction. At the very least, you should go to an urgent care office to get checked out.

Neck and back pain following a car crash might go away in a week or two, or might still be bothering you ten years from now. Don’t risk your health - see a doctor who can run the proper diagnostic studies to evaluate the extent of your injury!

Neck and back pain following a car crash might go away in a week or two, or might still be bothering you ten years from now. Don’t risk your health - see a doctor who can run the proper diagnostic studies to evaluate the extent of your injury!

Attend All Treatment

Most doctors prescribe a regimen of treatment to address your injuries following a car crash. This often includes physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, possibly acupuncture, and a variety of other treatment options. These options are for what are called “soft tissue injuries,” and many people benefit from this treatment.

One way that insurance companies deny payment for medical treatment is by saying the patient was non-compliant with the treatment the doctor prescribed. If the doctor says attend three chiropractic appointments a week for six weeks, but you only attend three appointments total, you’re unlikely to have future treatment paid for. Do what the doctors tell you to do. Your attorney will make sure the bills are paid for, but can only do this if you attend all your appointments and are in all ways compliant with the doctor’s treatment plan.

You’d rather be anywhere than the doctor if you are like most people. But if you want to get better, you have to go to your appointments. Also, skipped appointments and failure to follow your doctor’s orders will likely result in a reduced personal injury settlement. It can also mean you will be stuck with your bills, as the insurance company will say you were noncompliant with prescribed treatment.

You’d rather be anywhere than the doctor if you are like most people. But if you want to get better, you have to go to your appointments. Also, skipped appointments and failure to follow your doctor’s orders will likely result in a reduced personal injury settlement. It can also mean you will be stuck with your bills, as the insurance company will say you were noncompliant with prescribed treatment.

Keep a Treatment and Pain Journal

Pain affects everyone differently. For some people, a 2-3 mm disc bulge in their spine will be immensely painful; for other people, the same injury will not bother them much. For this reason, insurance adjusters often justify low settlement offers by trying to categorize your injury with the “average” pain and suffering involved in such an injury. There is no “average” injury, of course, when it comes to your health. Your financial recovery should not depend on how much pain other people feel. For this reason, if you keep track of your pain levels in a notebook, you can track the ways in which your injury have affected your life, and later use this to prove to insurance adjusters that you were in fact injured, and that the consequences of their insured’s causing an accident have affected your day to day life.

Call an Injury Attorney

Not many people want to get lawyers involved in their problems. The challenge with injury cases is you usually don’t have experience or an understanding as to how the claims process works. Thus, you don’t know what you don’t know, and are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to knowing whether you’re getting taken advantage of, or whether the insurance company is treating you fairly. Ask a lawyer who practices injury law your questions. You will have a better understanding of how the claims process works. Just because you call a lawyer does not mean you have to sign up with a lawyer and take your case to trial. In fact, the involvement of an injury lawyer in your case may mean you’re less likely to end up in court. Why? Because insurance companies know that if a good lawyer is involved in representing you for your injury, they are often better off playing fair and paying you a fair settlement for your claim than going to court.

Nobody wants to get a lawyer, but the numbers don’t lie: personal injury plaintiffs who have a lawyer are much more likely to get a fair settlement from their injury claim than if they try to settle their case alone. Will a big chunk of the “extra money” you hope to get by going with a lawyer end up going to the lawyer and not you? Great question to ask a lawyer! (Answer: not if you get a good personal injury lawyer).

Nobody wants to get a lawyer, but the numbers don’t lie: personal injury plaintiffs who have a lawyer are much more likely to get a fair settlement from their injury claim than if they try to settle their case alone. Will a big chunk of the “extra money” you hope to get by going with a lawyer end up going to the lawyer and not you? Great question to ask a lawyer! (Answer: not if you get a good personal injury lawyer).

Think Long Term

If you hurt your neck or back following a crash, you may have a day where you feel better, followed by several days of pain. You’re unlikely to feel the same way every day. This means you have to think long-term about the severity of your injury. Will you feel better in a month? Will you feel better in a year, or in ten years. Will you ever feel better? Remember that the person who caused the crash is legally responsible for making you whole again. That means you should be put back in the position you were in before the crash, both financially and physically. The law protects the injured for their long term health, but you have to do your part to think ahead. You can’t simply decide a year after a car accident that you’re still in pain and start going to the doctor and expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay for your medical treatment. You have to think long term from day one, or as close to day one (the date that you were injured) as possible.

The 100 Deadliest Days: What You Should Know

The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has become known by many people as the 100 Deadliest Days due to the number of traffic fatalities during this time. Many news outlets have reported on the issue in the last week, including most local California television networks and several California newspapers. While the '100 Deadliest Days' name is catchy and memorable, not everyone knows what it means.

Parents are the key to helping teens develop safe driving habits and setting easy to remember rules and guidelines.

Parents are the key to helping teens develop safe driving habits and setting easy to remember rules and guidelines.

AAA Research & Tracking

AAA is known for its roadside assistance program and auto insurance, but it is also a leader in tracking travel data. According to the company, more than 1,050 people were killed in car crashes that involved teenage drivers in the year 2016 during this period. The company also mentions several factors that affect the uptick in traffic deaths during this time, including nighttime driving, speeding, and distracted driving.

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Nighttime Driving

Teenagers drive a lot at night during this time period due to their changed social schedules, as school is out and many teenagers spend more time with their peers at night. Driving at night in urban areas, such as around sporting stadiums, bars, dance clubs, and other places where young people like to socialize brings with it additional possible dangers. For example, many of these activities including alcohol as part of the social activity - consider how many people have had a few drinks and then get in their car after a basketball or baseball game! Your teen shares the road with them, and teenagers should be aware of their surrounding drivers more so at night than any other time.

Nighttime driving also includes drivers who are making long passages and road trips. The drivers may be heading to or from vacation, and the longer we drive, the less attentive we can be. This includes drivers returning home from college, or visiting friends and family on the weekend from their jobs. Many car accidents in California's big cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Orange County metro area, involve people who work there and are trying to get home. Young drivers should know that these cities have especially high number of car accidents in the summer months.

Parents should note that it is not just in the late hours of the night (more appropriately, the early morning hours of the next day) when crashes happen. A recent study shows that more crashes involving teens actually happen before midnight.

Speeding

During social outings, teens are more likely to speed with friends in the car, or if they are hurrying to get somewhere to meet up with their friends. While it may be perceived to be an issue with young male drivers only, the reality is that anyone speeding excessively presents a hazard to themselves and to those people around them. Several fatal car crashes in recent years have occurred on roads where the public tends to drive fast, such as the 73 toll road that cuts through Orange County, or several backcountry roads in the Riverside and San Bernardino area. These roads are, at some times, seemingly empty, which gives some drivers the perception that driving fast is OK. Tragically, you don't need to crash into another vehicle, or have another car hit you, to be injured in a car accident. As has been the case in these specific areas, the roads are empty and drivers drive too fast, not aware of how their car operates at high speed. Add to the mix alcohol, nighttime driving, drowsy or distracted driving, and you have a recipe for disaster. 

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Young drivers should know that speeding is not only dangerous when they are trying to steer around other vehicles, but can also be fatal when you're the only one on the road. Speed also tends to be involved with many fatal motorcycle accidents, which also happen at a higher frequency during this time period.

Distracted Driving

Much attention has been given to the affect of distracted driving due to cell phone use lately, but cell phones are not the only cause of distracted driving. When it comes to teenagers, too many friends in the car is a bad thing, and every summer there are tragic crashes that injury and kill young people driving together. While carpooling is encouraged by many due to the benefits of reduced emissions into the environment, parents of teenagers should know their teen's social habits and advise accordingly. Some teenagers are better equipped emotionally to drive when they have their friends in the car. Sometimes it may be safer to be driving alone and meet your group at the destination, rather than risk being distracted by rowdy passengers.

Lyft and Uber have added another option to the mix, making it possible for passengers to ride together, but cutting out the need for any of the teens to drive. This option, it should be noted, is not fool-proof, as Lyft and Uber drivers can be distracted as well, and the news has been full of stories where drivers are distracted by their young passengers and have to insist on better behavior in the back seat. Your teen should know that it is important to keep the volume of his or her voice down if driving in a hired car, as the driver needs to be able to concentrate on driving.

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Talk To Your Teenager

As a parent, you are key to helping your teenager drive safely. Teenagers should know that their parents care, and that their parents have given them specific, easy to understand and remember rules regarding driving during the summer months. First, they should know that there are dangers and hazards they cannot control, but may be able to avoid. They should know that if they are involved in a car crash and are injured, they should not worry about money, but should go to the hospital or doctor and get the care they need. Teenagers should know that there are more car crashes this time of year, and there are a lot of intoxicated drivers, distracted drivers, and just plain more drivers in general on the roads during the 100 deadliest days. 

How Does Lien-Based Medical Treatment Work?

Receiving proper medical treatment after an injury is critical to your physical recovery. If you don't get the right care, the chances that your injury will persist for many months and years is significantly higher. However, with the right treatment after a bad car crash or other type of injury, your chances of a full recovery are much better. But what about the cost of getting the "right" care? Most people don't have the cash or credit to get all the treatment they need, and this applies to people with good health insurance, too. 

Some of the best medical facilities in California accept injury liens.

Some of the best medical facilities in California accept injury liens.

Lien-Based Treatment

Doctors area able to treat you and get paid later - obviously the doctor that treats you and gets a check from your health insurance has to wait a few weeks to get paid. This is one approach to the business of healthcare. Some doctors are willing to provide treatment with the expectation that they will be paid after an injury case settles. The idea is that if you were injured by someone else and there's a lawyer involved who is handling the case and expects to win, the insurance company will eventually be paying on the case. In this situation, the patient signs a lien, meaning that when the case settles, the doctor gets paid before the patient does. For example, if you are injured in a car accident and receive lien-based medical treatment, the sequence goes like this: treatment is received by you, with no out of pocket costs. Then, after your attorney wins the case, or reaches a settlement with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, the money goes into a trust account at the law firm's bank. From there, the attorney must first pay the doctor who has a lien - this contract/lien is in the attorney's file. In this way, the patient is able to get the right medical treatment, and the doctor's office is paid for its services.

Proper diagnosis matters: It isn't enough to just say you were hurt, or that your life has changed. You need the right doctor with the right training to help you reach a full recovery.

Proper diagnosis matters: It isn't enough to just say you were hurt, or that your life has changed. You need the right doctor with the right training to help you reach a full recovery.

Why Might Lien-Based Treatment Be Good for Injured Patients?

Big HMOs can be difficult to schedule appointments with, especially if your treatment requires many follow-up visits, or a consultation with a specialist. We've all had the experience of waiting for a referral to a specialist and being told that so-and-so doesn't have an open appointment for a few weeks. Well, if you need to see an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon today, but you can't get in for a month, your health lays in the balance during that time. Also, the quality of care can be better with doctors who treat on a lien. Many lien-based medical offices, or doctors offices who accept traditional health insurance, as well as cash payments and lien based payments, are privately owned. These doctors are often highly specialized, meaning they are able to sustain their own businesses without the need to be part of a big HMO system or hospital. 

Because the offices tend to be privately owned, the doctors have more say in who they decide to treat, and who they decide they don't want to treat. This means they can control their schedules better, meaning your chances of getting in for an appointment are better. The payment system is also a big issue for a lot of people injured in car accidents, auto versus pedestrian injuries, and slip and fall injuries. Again, because many people don't just have thousands of dollars set aside in their bank account just in case they are injured in a car accident, most people are not ready for what can be expensive medical care after an accident.

Access to the proper specialists without having to wait months for an appointment is one reason many injured people decide to seek lien-based treatment.

Access to the proper specialists without having to wait months for an appointment is one reason many injured people decide to seek lien-based treatment.

How Does Lien Treatment Affect Your Injury Case?

The bottom line is that if you don't get proper medical treatment for your injuries, you can't expect the insurance company to take your word for it and trust you were injured. No medical treatment means no settlement money to compensate you for your loss. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, but due to financial constraints or scheduling conflicts you weren't able to get the medical care you needed, you can't just expect the at-fault driver's insurance company to take a compassionate route and pay you the same amount for your injury as if you went to the doctor. Thus, even with very bad injuries, without the documentation and proper treatment from a doctor, the insurance company will not pay fair money on your claim.

But what is "fair" money anyways? Well, consider a scenario in which two people have identical injuries from the same crash. One person goes to the doctor, sees the specialists he/she is referred to, and reaches a full recovery after a few months. The doctor's notes document the patient's injury step-by-step, from the first visit until the last. Perhaps this person's case settles for $50,000. Now consider the second person does not go to the doctor, although they have the exact same injuries. This person has nothing to "prove" he/she was injured. They may not get any settlement at all. If they do get a settlement, it will likely be around a couple hundred of dollars, known as "nuisance money." If the second person gets $500, that's a difference of $49,500! The difference is the first person sought appropriate and reasonable medical care, and their injuries are documented by a medical professional. Although the second person had identical injuries, they basically walk away with nothing. 

How Can You Find Lien-Based Treatment?

If you got hurt in a car accident, or got hit on your bicycle, or was injured and it was not your fault, you're likely going to need to see a primary care physician, or other general medical practitioner. This may be at the emergency room, or at urgent care, or at your primary care physician's office. The office may refer you to future treatment, and you can ask if they know of offices for the treatment you require who will accept lien-based care. Also, most personal injury law firms are aware of medical facilities that are willing to treat on a lien. A good injury lawyer will have handled lots of injury cases, and so he or she will have worked on files and made payments on past cases to medical offices and doctors who accept lien-based care.

Many top surgeons accept liens. This is one reason some injured clients decide to have their surgeries performed at a private medical clinic rather than at an HMO

Many top surgeons accept liens. This is one reason some injured clients decide to have their surgeries performed at a private medical clinic rather than at an HMO

What Kind of Treatment Can You Get on a Lien?

Name a kind of medical office or specialty and you can find an office that treats on a lien. In California, there are surgeons, chiropractors, MRI facilities, physical therapy offices, holistic medicine, orthopedic surgeons, pain management, podiatrists - the list is basically endless. This is not to say that every office accepts lien-based care, or even the majority. While lien-based treatment is increasingly popular, the majority of medical offices may not be comfortable with this arrangement. However, if a medical office has provided treatment and then gotten paid promptly by a good injury attorney, they are very likely to accept lien-based treatment. For this reason, a medical office may want to know the name of your attorney and the firm he or she works for. If your attorney is a general attorney who does a bit of everything, but does not focus on personal injury exclusively, it is less likely that the medical office will be willing to treat you on a lien. But, if you are represented by a law firm that focuses its entire practice on injury law, the chances that that medical office will be willing to treat you up front at no cost are much higher.

Get an Attorney With a Good Reputation

Because doctors want to work with attorneys who they know will win the case and pay the doctor's bill, it is important that you seek an attorney who has a lot of experience handling personal injury cases. Consider that with the aid of modern technology, the best attorney for handling your injury claim may not be in your town or even your county! Most law firms these days are able to do a lot of work using email, faxes, and video-chat, such that someone located in San Bernardino, for example, might be best off going with a law firm represented in Orange County or Los Angeles County. At the end of the day, you want an attorney who knows injury law backwards and forwards - the chances that you will find an attorney with that kind of experience just by happenstance that is located in your city or town may not be high. Most attorneys in California will agree that the best thing you can do is find an attorney who focuses on one type of case, and has room in his or her schedule to give your case the attention it deserves.

Still Have Questions?

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. focus entirely on personal injury matters. They don't handle any other types of cases but injury claims. They accept car accident cases, auto versus pedestrian (including auto versus bicycle and skateboard), slip and fall, general negligence, products liability, failure to warn, and premises liability. The Lions are not a settlement mill - they won't just settle your case for pennies on the dollar in order to be able to handle more cases. All cases handled by The Lions are handled by an actual attorney. If you have questions about your case, including whether it is worth it to get an attorney, or whether in the end you'll get more money in your pocket by representing yourself or going with a lawyer, you should talk to a lawyer. Call The Lions and talk to a lawyer, not a salesman.  

Back to where you were before the injury - that's what the law says you're entitled to after you're hurt by someone else's negligence.

Back to where you were before the injury - that's what the law says you're entitled to after you're hurt by someone else's negligence.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Boat Safety

Boating is one of California’s favorite pastimes. Every summer millions of locals and vacationers enjoy soaking up the California sun exploring coastlines and waterways, partaking in recreational activities such as boating, sailing, fishing, and water sports. California is popular for its warm climate, during the year boating accidents and fatalities may occur at a moment’s notice.

In 2016 there were 588 reportable boating accidents which resulted in 266 injuries and there were 50 reportable fatal boating accidents according to a 2016 California Recreational Boating Accident Statistics report release by California State Parks Division of boating and waterways.  Also, the Division of Boating and Waterways can help you learn about how to apply for your California Boater Card, which is required for boaters ages 20 years and younger. The State of California also offers several other boating safety courses to help its citizens and visitors to the state stay safe on the water.

Many of these crashes and accidents were easily avoidable. Tragically, many of the deaths and serious injuries that happen on the water are part of what are supposed to be exciting outings among family and friends, such as dinner cruises, scuba diving and snorkeling, surf excursions, deep sea fishing, and whale watching. None of these outings should result in injury to anyone involved. 

Newport Harbor is one of the busiest harbors on the west coast. Unfortunately, it is also home to many boating injuries and accidents every year.

Newport Harbor is one of the busiest harbors on the west coast. Unfortunately, it is also home to many boating injuries and accidents every year.

Knowing your ABCs boating practicing safe a responsible boating habits start with knowing basic navigation rules and always boating sober.

Boating Do’s

·      Educate yourself on state laws before embarking on a boating excursion. Regulations vary by state so make sure you are following proper laws and protocol. 70 percent of operators involved in fatal boating accidents had no formal boater education. Be aware that even if you are an experienced boater, there are a lot of people who are renting a boat, many for the first time. They don't know what they are doing. Similar to driving, assume that the other boater does not see you, or does not know proper distance - be defensive and avoid traffic.

Harbors can be dangerous for many reasons. Boaters are distracted, excited to be on the water, or eager to get off the water. Speed laws are strictly enforced to encourage safe passage making.

Harbors can be dangerous for many reasons. Boaters are distracted, excited to be on the water, or eager to get off the water. Speed laws are strictly enforced to encourage safe passage making.

 

·      Make sure your boat is mechanically sound and your engine, fuel, electrical, and steering systems are up to the task.

·      Check the weather forecast for your designation and know your safety limitations. Always let someone know where you are going and when to expect your return.

·      Keep a Global Positioning System (GPS) with you at all times and know how to use it. This includes checking batteries and maintaining in a dry box or bag. Regular testing is advisable. You don't want to go to use your GPS for the first time in an emergency and realize it is out of power.

·      Obey marine traffic laws and know warning and distress signals in case of an emergency. Always carry a working fire extinguisher and a warning flares.

·      Always travel slowly in shallow waters and keep alert around other watercraft, paddlers, and swimmers. The leading type of boating accident 2016 was caused by collisions with other vessels. Stand-up-paddle (SUP) is increasingly popular, as are accidents and fatalities involving SUPs. Remember that SUPs move slow and are not able to change direction quickly. 

·      Make sure you have adequate insurance protection. Talk to your insurance agent to make sure your boat is adequately covered for liability insurance.

Boating Don’ts

·      Don’t mix boating with drugs or alcohol. Based off reportable boating fatality statistics, alcohol or drug use is estimated to have played a role in over 24 percent of boating deaths. The US Coast Guard monitors boating and alcohol use in the major harbors, and the penalties for drinking and boating can be serious. 

·      Don’t forget life vests for each person on the boat. In fatal boating accidents, the leading cause of death is drowning. Again, alcohol often plays a role in the injury or death. 

·      Don’t overload the boat or permit passengers to ride on the bow, seatbacks, or gunwales.

·      Don’t forget to have designated lookout to keep tracks of other boats, swimmers, and debris and objects. Be especially careful entering and exiting the harbor. The closer you get to leaving the harbor, the more anxious many boaters get to increase speed. Many crashes happen in this zone of the harbor.

·      Don’t go faster than you should. Travel at a safe speed so you can be prepared to slow down suddenly if the need arises.

·      Don’t ignore posted speed limit and no wake zone signs.

·      Don’t jump a wake; make sure to be aware of others in the water as your cross at a low speed. Many boats are not built to sustain strong impacts. Jumping the wake of another boat can crack your hull and result in slow leaks into the bow of your vessel. 

·      Don’t forget to pack additional safety devices like a first aid kit, spare parts, and a radio. Communication with land can be crucial if you are involved in an accident. In Southern California, many incidents happen within a few miles of shore, but there is a tendency for boaters to assume that because there are sometimes many boats around, someone will come along. Remember that on some days, Catalina Island is easily visible from Orange and Los Angeles counties, while other days it is impossible to see. The same goes for boats: don't assume others will be able to see you. The marine layer and other precipitation can limit visibility. 

Give larger yachts plenty of space - they cannot pivot their position on the water as quickly as smaller vessels. 

Give larger yachts plenty of space - they cannot pivot their position on the water as quickly as smaller vessels. 

As Summer begins the beaches and water will begin to fill with families, couples, and individuals who intend to enjoy their vacations and time on the water. Boaters have the responsibility to adhere to safe boating practices to not only protect themselves and their passengers, but also everyone around them on coastline and waterways.

From mega yachts to small kayaks, the water is home to a broad array of vessels, each with the right to be on the water. Be aware of smaller craft near your own when exploring California's numerous waterways.

From mega yachts to small kayaks, the water is home to a broad array of vessels, each with the right to be on the water. Be aware of smaller craft near your own when exploring California's numerous waterways.

Despite your best efforts, boating accidents happen, and the scenarios in which injury can happen on the water are endless. If ever a need to a Personal Injury Lawyer for severe boating accidents, The Lions Injury Lawyers can help. Consulting with an experienced lawyer can help you navigate what is often a difficult and emotional time for you and your family. The laws regarding liability, insurance, negligence, and due care can be complex and confusing for anyone involved in an accident. Seeking proper medical treatment can be costly, and most people don't know how to get the care they need. The Lions Injury Lawyers are ready to answer your questions and help you move forward. You deserve to be compensated for your loss, including lost wages, loss of companionship and loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and the cost of your medical bills. Call The Lions today for a free, no-cost consultation.

Injured at the Gym? Who May be Liable, and How to Proceed

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Who is Responsible When You Are Injured at The Gym?

Injuries at your local gym are more common than you may believe. You may have experienced muscle soreness later in the day from a good workout. However, there are instances when someone could have gym equipment breakdown on them, injuring themselves more severely. Nobody goes to the gym with that in the back of their mind, and the last thing most gym attendees want to do is have to call a lawyer or recover from an injury. After all, the gym is a place to release stress and improve your health, not build more stress and injure yourself.

Gyms are typically thought to be a fairly safe place. Gyms are staffed with knowledgeable employees to teach people how to properly operate the equipment available. But what would happen when you do experience an injury at the gym? When an accident occurs, who is responsible? Is it the gym owner? The staff? Victims could be left wondering, here’s what you need to know.

Liability Waivers

When you’re new to a gym, normally you are asked to sign some form of liability waiver. Gym owners attempt to protect themselves from lawsuits filed by people who didn’t use equipment properly or tried to do more than they are physically able to do. Signing a liability waiver doesn’t mean that a gym owner is fully exempt from all lawsuit. Take a look at your copy and see what it includes. Better yet, keep a copy saved on your phone and discuss it with an injury attorney. Even if the waiver appears to cover anything and everything, courts are unlikely to enforce such a contract if the gym or manufacturers of equipment at a gym are found to have acted in a negligent manner. Here are a few clauses and verbiage to keep an eye out for:

1. Total waiver of liability means that the gym is not liable for any injuries within it walls. With that being said, courts may find these waivers to be unenforceable if they are too broad.

2. Waiver for negligence means that you can’t sue the gym if your injury was caused by negligence by the part of the gym owner or an employee.

3. Waiver of liability for intentional acts means that you can’t sue if someone in the gym assaults you in some way, these waivers are typically unenforceable in court.

Knowing what your waiver says is the first step in determining whether or not you have successful case on your hands. For example, If during a workout a machine comes crashing down on you due to poor maintenance or an issue the gym owner was aware of, you could potentially file a lawsuit. Nobody wants to file a lawsuit, but if you or a loved one was injured, chances are your lifestyle and general health have suffered greatly as a result. Many people are scared off by the idea of calling a law firm to ask questions, or they assume (incorrectly) that because they signed a waiver, they are stuck with their injury.

Premises Liability

Like any other business, a gym must be reasonable safe and free of hazards. That means that all the equipment must be inspected regularly, slip and fall hazards must be remedied and potential dangers must be repaired or removed. If any of these things have caused your injury, you may choose to file a lawsuit. Again, discussing the facts specific to your incident will likely prove valuable. If nothing else, after discussing your injury with a lawyer, you'll be in a better position to move forward with making an informed and educated decision.

Does Location Matter?

Many people incorrectly assume that because they were hurt in, for example, San Bernardino, that they must find a lawyer in San Bernardino that can help them. This is not accurate. In fact, any lawyer who is licensed to practice in the State of California can help any individual injured in California, no matter whether they be in San Bernardino or San Diego - or San Francisco! This is not limited to unique injuries, such as those that happen at a gym or an exercise facility. Car accidents, slip and fall, animal (dog) bites - no matter where it happens in California, the most important thing is to consult with an attorney that has experience in that type of case or claim. If the attorney or law firm is licensed in California, they can help you, and with modern technology, this can mean a firm in, for example, Newport Beach, can easily help represent clients throughout the state.

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Who to Call?

Like any injury, one that takes place in a gym is unique, If you have been injured in a gym in California, call The Lions Injury Lawyers. We will talk with you about your injury and circumstances surrounding it and help determine if you have a premises liability or other type of personal injury case. The lawyers at The Lions Injury Lawyers have handled many cases against gyms and exercise facilities, and despite the existence of waivers, have won large settlements on behalf of their clients. There is no obligation to sign up as a client, and there is no fee charged for talking with an attorney about your injury. Call today to discuss what your options may be, and before making any decision about how to go about fixing the damage done, educate yourself by talking with an attorney.

Civil Claim or Criminal Claim?

For those who don't spend a lot of time in California courts, and for people who are trying to navigate the sometimes complicated and confusing names and phrases used in court, it can be confusing to know where to begin. One question that injured people often have is whether they need to file a lawsuit, and if so, what kind of lawsuit? Because every case is different, and the costs of going it alone in court can be high (not to mention incredibly confusing for many people), it is advisable to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with the kind of case you have. One basic distinction is between civil cases and criminal cases.

Criminal Cases

If you were injured by someone who intentionally hurt you, for example, the case falls in the criminal realm. This situation typically means the police were involved, and the person who caused the harm was either arrested or cited for criminal behavior. The State of California, through its district attorney offices, will pursue the case against the person who caused the harm. In a very basic sense, this means the state prosecutes the bad actor. 

Criminal/Civil Cases

In some situations, however, the injured person may file a civil claim against the person who hurt them during the crime. Think about O.J. Simpson, for example. The state tried him for murder, for which he was famously found not guilty. But the family of Nicole Brown pursued a civil suit against O.J. Simpson as well. The legal theories involved are not important to understand in depth. Because O.J. Simpson was a wealthy man, if the family prevailed in their lawsuit, the court could enforce the judgment and make sure O.J. paid (or continues to pay, over a long period of time), the money awarded in a verdict. A civil case may also include "punitive" damages, which are meant as a punishment against the wrong actor, as was awarded in the Simpson case.

The O.J. Simpson case is unique, however, in that the money of the civil verdict was actually paid out to the Brown family. What if O.J. was a poor man at the time of the alleged crime, and remained poor throughout the civil trial? The reality is, even if the jury in the civil trial had awarded millions and millions of dollars, in most situations the Brown family would never have seen a penny of it. Which, in real life, means the case would likely never be brought to trial in the first place. Why? Because most lawyers (there are exceptions, but generally speaking) would not take a civil case to trial when there would be almost zero chance of actually ever seeing payment of the money.

There are many situations that call for both a civil and criminal case. For example, if you or someone you love were injured by a drunk driver, the State of California may pursue the drunk driver in criminal court in order to protect the public. However, the criminal case is about the state taking a dangerous individual off the roads, and possibly putting him or her behind bars. But what about the person or people who were injured by the drunk driver? In order to be compensated, they would need to pursue the drunk driver in a negligence claim, or in civil court. Of course, the issue of who would end up paying arises, and unlike the O.J. Simpson example, the drunk driver, if he had insurance, would be covered for this very situation. Thus, the injured person could open a claim with the drunk driver's insurance company and, if navigated correctly, could resolve this issue without ever having to go to court, and could receive to maximum amount of money the insurance policy covered the drunk driver for.

Civil Cases

In the previous example of the drunk driver who injured someone, there is a common misconception that the injured person must wait for the criminal proceeding to finish. This is not accurate. By contacting an injury law firm in California that handles these hybrid cases, the injured person or persons can move forward with their claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. A good injury attorney will be able to finalize this portion often before the criminal case is even underway. This is, it should be clear, a very general description of how a situation like this example might be handled, and anyone who was injured or who has loved ones who were injured by a drunk driver should not rely on this post for legal advice; they should immediately contact a lawyer or law firm for legal counsel. 

So, Which Case to File?

The reality is, if your situation calls for a criminal proceeding, the police will handle it. If the police aren't aware of what happened, they need to be. Once the police are aware of a criminal act that resulted in injury, a report and investigation will commence, and they will handle it from there. In the civil arena, an experienced and skilled injury law firm may be able to get to the bottom of your case before ever filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits take a lot of time, cost a lot of money, and after all that, don't guarantee that the injured person will recover any more money than if the case settles out of court in the pre-litigation phase. For this reason, an injury attorney may be able to give you an evaluation that will at a bare minimum help you understand where your case or claim stands, and what the possible scenarios are in the future. If you're lucky, you won't ever have to file a lawsuit or step foot in a courtroom, and you'll still end up with the same result as if you had.

Injury Lawyers

The Lions Injury Lawyers P.C. are located in Orange County (OC) California, and help injured persons throughout the State of California. They offer free case evaluations by an attorney. That means you'll be speaking with an actual lawyer, not a salesman who is paid to sign up your case and won't hear a thing about it the day after he signs you up. Don't live in Orange County, or your case didn't happen in Southern California or OC? No problem. The Lions represent clients throughout the state of California, and their handling of your claim won't differ a bit from if you lived right down the street in Irvine, Newport Beach, or Costa Mesa. A brief phone call with an experienced injury attorney will give you peace of mind, and help you look at your situation from a new perspective. The Lions Injury Lawyers can compare your case with thousands of cases in the past, which allows them to estimate how many variables will play out for you. The contents of this blog post are for information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal counsel for your case or claim, or for anyone looking for legal advice. The contents of this blog post are intended to educate people, not as legal counsel.