accident lawyer

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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