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Insurance and Your Injury Claim

Most people injured in a car accident in California are aware that both their insurance and the at fault party's insurance will be involved in handling the injured person's claim, and that it is the insurance company (and not the individual) who pays the medical bills and property damage. Beyond that, many injured people are not quite sure how it all works, which is completely normal considering we only have to file a claim when we're injured by someone else, which hopefully does not happen often. The role both insurance companies play can be confusing, frustrating, and irritating to the injured person. A better understanding of the role insurance companies and their adjusters play can help someone who is injured better navigate their claim.

No, filing a claim against the at-fault party does not put that person's home or assets at risk

Insurance companies provide drivers and homeowners a certain amount of coverage in exchange for your monthly payment of the insurance premium. In California, the minimum amount of liability insurance for drivers is $15,000 per individual and $30,000 per accident. This means that in order to legally operate a vehicle on California roadways, you need to have at least this much coverage. But what does this cover? The "state minimum" amount means that if you injure someone, your insurance company will cover the injured's medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. The at-fault driver's insurance is the first line of defense, so that means the injured plaintiff's attorney will first communicate with this insurance company prior to filing a lawsuit in most cases. It also means that the amount on the insurance policy is the most the insurance company will pay to resolve the matter. If the injured's medical expenses are much more than $15,000 (hospital bills totaling $100,000 and the at fault driver's policy covers only $15,000, the injured person can still only recover $15,000). Only after the at fault driver's policy has been exhausted can the injured person access their UIM (under-insured motorist insurance policy).

Many individuals who are injured in a California car crash don't want to be "mean" and file a claim against the person who hit them. They don't want to file a lawsuit, don't think litigation is "right," and a host of other reasons not to pursue their claim. The biggest misunderstanding is that by filing a claim, somehow the at fault driver's personal life will be greatly affected. In most cases, this is not the case. If the driver caused an injury due to his or her negligence, his insurance premiums may go up, but they won't lose their home or have to sell their assets. 

Insurance adjusters for the at-fault driver need to pay you to go away

Insurance adjusters are there to make this all go away. They will request a recorded statement, your medical bills, access to your medical records going back many years, and many other things in order to evaluate your claim. They're allowed to ask for all of this, but you don't have to give it to them, and giving them everything they want is unlikely to result in a fair settlement for you. Why? The more they ask for, the more they're likely to find excuses to minimize the amount they decide to pay you, if they are willing to pay at all. Their job is simple: close the claim for as little money as possible. Some insurance adjusters are very pleasant to work with, even seeming to become your friend over the process (a tactic that makes you feel guilty for declining their offers), and others can be confrontational, rude, and insensitive. Whoever the insurance adjuster is, and for whichever insurance company, their job is to make you go away. 

No, your insurance premium won't go up if it wasn't your fault

People injured in car crashes immediately worry about their finances. Many people worry that their insurance premiums will rise if they claim an injury. This is not accurate. If it wasn't your fault, it is the other driver's insurance company, not yours, that will be paying the bills. You should get the medical care you need and take care of your health, as the other party's insurance is responsible for reasonable medical costs associated with the injury their insured caused.

Negotiating for more money with an insurance adjuster on your own is generally a bad idea

Insurance adjusters will almost always offer far less than what your injury is worth. They don't generally itemize their offer, so you don't know how much they're paying for your medical bills and how much they're paying you for pain and suffering. Many insurance companies offer $500 to resolve a claim. Experienced injury lawyers regularly see $500 offered for claims that settle for $15,000, and sometimes over $100,000. How can an insurance adjuster offer so little if the claim is worth so much more? The answer is simple: if they offer and the injured person accepts, the claim is closed and the insurance company will not have to pay more money in the future. And, many people surprisingly accept the first or second offer. 

What's a fair settlement for your injury?

If you were injured in a car crash, you're entitled to be compensated for the cost of your medical care and pain and suffering. But what is pain and suffering worth, and how do you calculate it? The answer is that an injury attorney is able to compare your case against other cases in the past and calculate an "industry standard" amount. Without knowing how much other injury claims are settled for, you cannot possible know how much your claim is worth. 

Finding an injury attorney

In order to get your medical bills paid for and be compensated for your losses, you may be well served by hiring an injury attorney. Most California injury law firms do not charge clients up front, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. You're far more likely to get a fair settlement by working with an attorney than going it alone. When looking for a car crash attorney, you should seek a law firm that focuses on injury claims exclusively, not a lawyer who does a little bit of everything. Location is generally not important, as most of the paperwork and negotiations can happen anywhere. The most important thing to look for is, in the opinion of many injury attorneys, a law firm that handles a lot of injury claims and is excited to work on your behalf.

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. practice only injury law, and are ready to discuss your claim and answer any questions you may have. Located in Newport Beach, California, The Lions handle cases for clients in Orange County, San Diego County, and throughout the state of California, from Los Angeles County all the way north to the Bay Area. Contact The Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free case evaluation with an attorney.

When to Call an Injury Attorney

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.

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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.

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Documenting Expenses for your Personal Injury Claim

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Costs add up quickly when you're trying to recover from an injury, from co-payments for doctors visits, to prescriptions and travel to and from medical facilities. If you were injured in an accident and it was not your fault, you are entitled to reimbursement for these expenses. Unfortunately, many claimants do not keep track of their expenses (bills), and so the defense insurance company is not obligated to pay for costs that are not appropriately documented. A few tips on how to organize your car accident injury-related bills may help you recover more money for your injury settlement.

Your Claim Comes Down To Documentation

Your injury attorney will be using your medical records and bills to prove the extent and severity of your injury. Your injury lawyer will also be using any bills you have to prove out of pocket expenses, such as receipts for travel expenses, receipts for prescriptions you fill at a pharmacy, and other expenses. If you missed work, for example, you cannot simply tell the at-fault insurance company you missed work and expect them to compensate you for your lost wages. You must provide proof of all lost income via pay stub or other documentation. This can be agitating and difficult, but the more aware you are of the process at the beginning, the better.

Start a File

Many individuals who are hurt in a California car accident are going through the experience for the first time. Unfamiliar with how insurance adjusters evaluate injury claims, they assume the best. This is not wise. Insurance adjusters are well-trained to minimize the amount they will pay for an injury claim. When possible, they will reduce the amount they will pay as low as they can. In order to prove lost income, or out of pocket expenses, you should start a file where you keep all documentation related to your injury. This includes photographs of the scene of the accident, all correspondence from the other driver, bills, medical records, and anything else your injury law firm might need in order to get you the most money for your injury settlement.

California Injury Claims

If you were injured in California, no matter whether it is in Southern California, the Inland Empire, or up north, the state insurance code provides insurance companies several "loopholes" through which they can deny payment. An experienced injury attorney in California will be well versed in the tactics used by insurance companies, and will be able to guide injured clients through the process. You should provide your attorney with all information related to the claim, but you should not provide the at-fault insurance company this information directly. There are many reasons for this, but the way you provide information to the insurance company can drastically affect the leverage you have to settle for a higher amount. 

How To Proceed With Your Injury Claim

First, you will be well served to consult with an experienced injury attorney or injury law firm. Consider all the things you likely do not know about how injury claims work. Also, remember that all insurance companies are for-profit corporations that make billions of dollars a year - their motivation is not to pay all your bills, it is to create a profitable business. Therefore, expect them to pay as little as possible to you to settle your claim. An attorney will give you the best chance of settling for fair value with the at-fault insurance company. Keep all documents and photographs, and do not simply mail them or email them to the at-fault insurance company. First, you should speak with an attorney and get a free consultation. This could literally save you tens of thousands of dollars, and a good attorney may be able to help you receive the best healthcare available without having to pay out of pocket. 

California Injury Attorneys

The Lions Injury Lawyers represent car crash victims throughout the state of California. We represent plaintiffs from San Diego, to Orange County, from Los Angeles, all the way up to San Francisco and beyond. Our office prides itself on achieving fair and reasonable settlements for our clients. If you're unsure where to go from here, an attorney is waiting to take your call and discuss your claim or case. You will never write us a check or have to pay out of pocket - our injury law firm works on a contingency fee basis, meaning there is no up front cost to you, and we take our fee as a percentage of what we win. If we don't win, we don't take any money or bill you. If you were injured in California and are looking to pay for your medical bills and be paid for your pain and suffering, call The Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation.

Who Pays Medical Bills After A Crash?

If you were injured in a car crash, you likely have medicals bills. And, given the high cost of healthcare in California, these bills are sometimes very high. For some, the cost of medical expenses can be daunting, and the unknown as to how and when they will be paid can be paralyzing. Understanding who pays and how can be helpful for those trying to figure out how to proceed after an injury accident.

What About Car Insurance?

In an ideal world, the driver who causes an accident has car insurance. If he injures someone, eventually his auto insurance will ideally pay for the medical expenses of the injured person. But what if his insurance only covers him for the California state minimum of $15,000 and the injured person's bills exceed $15,000? In that scenario, the injured person's insurance may come into play, if he or she is insured for more than the state minimum. Additionally, if there are other insurance policies that might cover the at-fault driver, such as a business or umbrella insurance policy, those insurance policies might also pay for the injured person's medical expenses.

And If Car Insurance Won't Pay?

It sounds unfair and unlawful, but car insurance companies are notorious for trying to avoid paying medical bills. For example, they may state that the car accident did not cause the injuries, and so they do not have to pay the bills. There's a sliver of truth to this, but the extent to which insurance agencies use this excuse is often ridiculous. Or, the insurance adjusters may state that the amount billed is too much, and so they will offer you the minimum amount for the medical treatment billed. Or, they may simply decide that some medical treatment is not necessary, was not properly prescribed, or the date of treatment was too far after the car accident and therefore not related. 

How To Get Your Bills Paid For

An experience car accident or injury attorney may be able to help you. The insurance companies are likely to deal more fairly with you if you are represented by an attorney, as politically incorrect as that sounds. An injury attorney knows the rules of the insurance code. Also, a good injury attorney in California will have heard the excuses for not paying before. Therefore, he or she will be in a much better position to fight back on your behalf. Also, consulting an injury attorney shortly after your car accident will likely benefit you by learning more about the claim and litigation process before you finish your medical treatment. You may be able to avoid falling into the traps the insurance companies expect you to fall into.

The Lions Injury Lawyers represent injured persons throughout California, including claimants living in San Bernardino County, Riverside County, San Diego County, Orange County, San Joaquin County, and Los Angeles County. Speak with an attorney, not a salesman.

Driving Safely With Children

Navigating busy California roads can be a difficult task in a quiet car. Driving the same roads with children in the car can be a much more difficult task. During summer, when most kids are out of school, more parents are driving their children around town and on road trips. If you're getting ready to spend a lot more time in the car with kids, taking a few minutes to consider your approach may help avoid problems and frustrations in the future. A few safety points to remember:

• Fix Technology or Entertainment Before You Put The Car in Drive

More and more new cars offer abundant entertainment options, from video screens to individual headphones for rear-seated passengers. Before you put the car in drive, start the movie or show, or figure out what the entertainment is going to be, if any. Fixing entertainment is a main cause for distracted driving, and distracted driving is a main factor in many car accidents. These decisions can easily be made before you pull away. If you're driving with another adult passenger, put that person in charge of media and entertainment so you can focus on the road.

• No Children in the Front Seat

This sounds like an obvious precaution to most adults, but tragically every summer children are injured in California car accidents because they are seated in the front seat. Modern airbag systems are not designed for small bodies, and a deployed airbag will often injure small children. Check the owner's manual for suggested body weight before allowing children in the front seat. Additionally, even if the airbag does not deploy, many rear-seated passengers are more likely to leave an accident less severely injured than if they are seated in the front. 

•  Proper Car Seat and Booster Seat Installation Matters

You may have purchased an appropriately sized carseat or booster seat for your child, but if it isn't installed correctly, it is not likely to protect your child the way it was designed to. Many stores that sell car seats are willing to assist with the installation. Similarly, several automobile insurance providers will, upon request, assist with proper installation. You should also occasionally check product recalls and safety alerts. A simple internet search will show results of up to date safety recalls. Even the best brands recall car seats occasionally. Your child's safety in the event of an accident may depend on whether they are in an appropriate seat that is installed correctly.

• Beware the Sun

Every year, children are left in cars while their parents or guardians run into a store. Cars heat up quickly in the summer sun, and children are unable to cool their bodies as quickly as adults. It doesn't take long for a car to heat up, and it doesn't take long for a child to overheat. The consequence of leaving your child or any child in a car alone in the summer heat are too great a risk. Cracking the windows open is not enough. Pets are similarly prone to overheating. Don't risk tragedy - bring the kids inside with you, even on errands that you think will only take a few minutes. California law enforcement are encouraged to prosecute, if appropriate, parents or guardians who ignore the safety of their children and leave them in the car unattended. 

• Parking Lot Accidents

Because children are shorter than adults, they can be difficult for other drivers to see, especially drivers backing out of parking spots. Don't assume drivers in parking lots are paying attention, or that slow speeds mean a lesser danger. Children should know that the parking lots can be dangerous. Many children are injured every summer in parking lots by inattentive drivers. Hold their hands, and don't assume that because they are in a cross walk they are safe. Slow speed accidents can be fatal, but can easily be avoided. Don't be careless just because the cars are moving slowly. No child (or adult) is a match for a car, which weighs several thousand pounds and even at slow speed can cause serious injury or death.

• Check Crash Test Results

If you're renting a car for an out of town visit or road trip, pay attention to the size and safety of the vehicle you choose. Often times people look only at the rental price. The difference between a very small or compact car with lesser safety and a full size car with better safety ratings is nominal. Is saving a dollar or two (or five) per day worth driving a car that has poor safety rankings? If you're driving with children on an extended trip, don't forget to factor in luggage. If you have a few bags, suddenly that mini or small car will be miserably cramped, and even less safe in the event of a crash. Err on the side of safety and rent a car with enough room for your luggage, and one that has a better crash test ranking.

• If You Get In A Crash . . . 

Check your injuries, but also pay close attention to your children. You will have a lot on your mind, such as who is at fault, are the police or ambulance on their way, is your insurance current, etc. Don't forget that children sometimes deny or don't recognize their injuries as quickly as adults. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters often shrug off injuries to children, unless fractures are present. If your child is injured, don't accept a small settlement just because they're a child. The law provides them just as much protection as if they were an adult, and you should not brush off their injuries when settling your injury claim.

• Questions

If you have questions about driving safely with children, the internet is full of best practices that will enhance the likelihood of traveling safely with children. If you are involved in a crash and you or your children are injured, the car crash attorneys at The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. are experienced and ready to discuss your situation. Consulting an injury lawyer is a good idea, even if you don't sign a contract and agree to formal representation. The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. currently represent several families with small children who were injured in California car crashes in Los Angeles and Orange counties. We make sure their medical expenses are paid for, and that each client, young or old, receives money for the pain and suffering the car crash caused them. Call today at (949) 329-5000 if you have any questions regarding your California car accident.