ca injury

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Two-Year Mark

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

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

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

What About Settling Your Injury Claim?

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

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

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

What About Public Entities?

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

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

Basic California Car Crash Injury Claims

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

This Blog Post is Not Legal Counsel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get Checked By a Doctor

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

What If I Don't Have Health Insurance?

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

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

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

What If I Was Previously Injured?

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

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

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

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

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

Now What?

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

 

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

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

The California "Dangerous Index"

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

Consider Other Factors

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

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

True Threats to Safety

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

 

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.

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.

Car Accidents Involving Large Trucks: What You Should Know

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It's no surprise that the large semi trucks that carry much of the food we eat and the products we use throughout the country can cause serious safety threats to other drivers on the road. After all, most of these trucks weigh in excess of 10,000 pounds, and are nowhere near as agile and maneuverable as a common automobile. California highways are sometimes choked with trucks, which is due to the large population of California, as well as the several shipping ports, where the trucks receive their loads from abroad for distribution in California and throughout the country. If you're driving on California highways, there are a few safety tips you should be aware of in order to stay safe.

Remembering Elementary School Science: Inertia

Remember learning about objects in motion staying in motion until another force acts upon it to slow it down? A large truck will stay in motion unless the driver tries to slow it down. This is all common sense. The catch is, even when the driver of the truck tries to stop the truck's intertia, depending on how big and heavy the truck is, it can take a very long time to slow a moving truck. Now consider how fast trucks travel on California freeways - usually at least 60-70 miles per hour. Going this speed, it can take a great distance for a typical 18 wheeler carrying a normal load to slow. Now recall how often you see passenger vehicles, like your standard car or SUV, dart in and out of traffic. Large trucks cannot stop in time to avoid contact, it is as simple as that.

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Driver Fatigue and the Laws Regulating Trucker Drive Hours

Truck drivers make their living by carrying loads from point A to point B. The more distance they travel, the more money they make. There are regulations in place to keep truck drivers from getting too tired and drowsy to drive, but the reality is that truck drivers get tired and occasionally doze off or fall asleep at the wheel, often times causing collisions with other cars. The laws regulating truck driver hours are not always clear cut, either. For example, consider the "14-Hour Limit," which states that commercial truck drivers cannot  "drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty, following 10 consecutive hours off duty. Off-duty time does not extend the 14-hour period." This limitation applies to truck drivers who are carrying goods and products in their cargo, while other limitations apply if truck drivers are carrying passengers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates truck driver hours, and these limits apply to the following drivers in specific vehicles only, known as a "CMV" vehicle: 

In general, a CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business and is involved in interstate commerce and fits any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

While these regulations certainly prevent some drivers from driving too long and becoming dangerous due to the human propensity to need sleep and doze off after long hours of driving, the rules to not obviously apply to all potentially dangerous drivers. Not all trucks meet or exceed the weight limits, or are transporting goods requiring special placards. 

Common Trucking Accidents or Crashes

There are several categorizations of car crashes, and those involving commercial trucking vehicles tend to fall into the following categories:

  • Rear end collision (usually from common cars cutting in front of trucks and the truck can't slow)
  • Head on collisions (often from cars darting in front of a truck, again, trucks cannot slow down)
  • Jacknifes
  • Rollovers
  • Sideswipe
  • T-bone or other side-impact collisions (often resulting from vehicles turning into the path of the truck, which is unable to avoid collision due to an inability to slow in time)
  • Cargo shift causing rollover or jacknife
  • Cargo spill

Trucking Accidents Resulting in Injury

Tragically, many crashes involving commercial trucks result in injury. Sometimes, the injuries are non life-threatening, such as whiplash, sore neck and back, and what are categorized as "soft tissue" injuries. Unfortunately, due to the heavy nature of commercial trucks, many auto versus truck accidents result in catastrophic injury and death. The amount of property damage a truck can cause a pedestrian vehicle is also significantly greater than a typical auto versus auto car crash.

Trucking Accidents Often Result in Fire

When an 18-wheeler crashes into a small SUV, for example, the result is often fatal, sometimes due to fire. Crashes with trucks often result in fire, as the trucks necessitate large amounts of petroleum based fuel, or gasoline. Fortunately, as clean(er) energy options enter the market (such as the newly-announced truck from California's own Tesla), future crashes with trucks may be less likely to result in fire. Many large players in the domestic shipping business have placed orders for the Tesla truck, so hopefully the technology will soon spread throughout the industry, bringing safer trucks to the roads.

What To Do If You Were Injured by a Truck

If you were injured while traveling in California by a truck, you should first take care of your health. Seek medical attention immediately. Proceed to take care of yourself and any passengers involved as you would with a common accident - your health is most important. When you are able to think clearly and are beginning to try to figure out how to recover financially and physically, a call to a California injury law firm may be beneficial. Trucking companies are often represented by aggressive law firms that tend to deny liability on all crashes, sometimes even in contradiction with reports issued by the California Highway patrol or the local police department. Even if you think you were not at fault and that it is obvious that the trucker was at fault, do not assume the truck's insurance company will pay for your medical bills. In fact, if you were injured by a truck, you are actually more likely to face an uphill battle in recovering your costs. 

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent injured plaintiffs throughout the state of California, and are ready to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have. The sooner you discuss your injury claim with an experienced and trusted attorney, the more likely the attorney will be able to help you. When you call The Lions, you will speak directly with an injury attorney, not a salesman. Access to a lawyer who is experienced in handling California injury claims will help you navigate the often complicated world of injury insurance claim settlements.

Dealing With Your Car Insurance After A Car Crash

Despite writing that monthly check to your auto insurance for liability and injury coverage, most people are understandably confused regarding what happens following a car crash when it comes to speaking with insurance. The assumption is that everything will be taken care of. After all, that is why you pay for insurance, right? And if you were not at fault for the car crash, why would you have anything to worry about? Unfortunately, reality is less cut and dry, and there are several things you should (and should not do) when communicating with your insurance provider following a car crash, especially an accident that resulted in injury to you or your passengers.

What Does Your Insurance Cover

In California, the state minimum policy, or the least amount of insurance you need to legally drive in the state, is a 15/30 policy. This is the amount of insurance coverage that is likely to cost you the least amount of money. What do the numbers mean? The 15 represents $15,000 for bodily injury you cause another individual. That is, if you injure someone, your insurance will pay up to $15,000 towards their medical bills and pain and suffering. This amount must cover everything, and is the maximum amount of money any one individual can recover as a result of an accident that was your fault. Even if that person's medical bills exceed $15,000, that's the most your insurance will pay. If you were injured by someone who has this insurance policy, the most you can recover from their insurance is $15,000. Even if your medical bills are extremely high, let's say $500,000, you will only get a check for $15,000 (in the best case scenario) from the at fault driver's insurance. 

The second number represents $30,000, or the total amount that your insurance will pay towards injury claims from a given accident. This means if there were multiple people injured, they must divide all their claims into the $30,000; if, for example, ten people were hurt, and each have $100,000, the total amount any one person can get is $15,000, and the entire group's net recovery cannot exceed $30,000. Given the high cost of medical care, a 15/30 or "bare minimum" insurance policy may not be enough to cover the medical bills and pain and suffering of those involved in the crash.

Will Your Insurance Premiums Be Increased?

The short answer is no, not automatically. This depends on whether you were at fault, and whether you were issued a citation or ticket from the California Highway Patrol or another law enforcement office. The amount you pay for car insurance depends on what you use your car for (business or pleasure), what kind of car you drive, where you live, what your driving/criminal records looks like, among other factors. If you were not at fault in a car accident, you should not see an increase in your insurance premiums. If you were at fault, you will likely see an increase. This is because it will cost more for your insurance company to insure you, and you are a greater risk of costing more money to insure in the future.

When Should You Report A Car Accident To Your Insurance?

Most people don't want to talk to their insurance because they don't want to see their bills increase. However, if you were injured, or someone else was injured, you should call your insurance company. Also, if property damage exceeds $500, or is likely to exceed that amount, you should call your insurance company. Some insurance policies (the "contract" between you and your insurance) require you talk notify them immediately after any motor vehicle collision.

What Should You Say To Your Insurance Following A Crash?

They need to know where it happened, when, any contact information from the other vehicles involved, and a basic explanation of the crash. That's it. You do not need to try to explain everything. In fact, doing so is likely to hurt you more than help you. Don't accept fault for the accident, and don't give a full list of possible injuries to you or anyone else. If you were injured, say you were injured and you have not yet visited a doctor. If you give a detailed accounting of injuries, you may miss something, and you will most certainly not give an accurate accounting of your injuries when compared to your medical records. This enables insurance adjusters to deny payment towards medical treatment later. You therefore shoot yourself in the foot by trying to be helpful. 

What Shouldn't You Say Following A Crash?

First, make sure you're safely off the road and are emotionally in a good spot. Too many people try to get on the phone with their insurance when their vehicle is still in the roadway, or they are in shock and still flustered from the accident. Take care of yourself first.

  • Don't admit fault. Just don't give your opinion. State the facts as simply and straightforward as you can. 
  • Don't say you are uninjured, or were not injured. If you feel pain a day or two later, which is very common, you may negate your ability to recover in the future. If you have medpay, or excess liability coverage, for example, your insurance policy that you've been paying for may cover you. It won't cover you if you make a statement that to you seems harmless, but allows your own insurance company do deny payment later on. 
  • Don't give a recorded or "official" statement. It won't help you and it can only hurt you. Sounds overly critical of insurance company, perhaps. But attorneys that handle car accident injuries regularly in California have seen time after time cases where the injured person makes a seemingly harmless recorded statement that is later used against that person. If you make a recorded statement (some insurance providers require this), you should do so only after consulting with an attorney. 
  • Don't estimate. Communicate the facts and stick to that. The more you try to connect the dots, the more likely you are to make a statement that although it sounds harmless to you, will prejudice your case in the future. This means it will work against you in the future. Keep it simple.
  • Don't sign medical records or releases. The insurance adjuster may say this is required, but it is not. You should consult with your attorney prior to signing medical release forms. 

Don't Settle Without First Consulting With An Attorney

Above all else, if you are considering settling, you should first speak with an injury law firm or an attorney who handles injury cases. Even if your case seems simple and straightforward, there are many loopholes that allow insurance companies to settle for less than fair value. If you don't know any better, you are likely leaving money on the table. Settling without an attorney almost always means you will get less money in your pocket. 

Depending on the facts of your case, you may be leaving large amounts of money on the table that you don't even know about. This is money that you have been paying for as part of your insurance premiums, or is money that the at-fault party is covered for. Remember, insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They want to spend as little money as possible on your claim. The less money they spend on your case, the more money they keep in the business. However, this does not mean you are getting a fair settlement for your California injury claim. Don't pad the pockets of the insurance company by accepting less than fair value. 

California Car Accident and Injury Attorneys

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. handle injury claims throughout the state of California. The lawyers at The Lions Injury Lawyers do not work on other matters, but focus exclusively on injury cases. This means they have the experience and knowledge to help you get fair compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one were injured, the attorneys at The Lions Injury Lawyers will answer your questions free of charge. All representation is done on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will never have to write a check or pay for your attorney out of pocket. Your fee is taken as a percentage of the amount your attorney wins on your behalf. If your attorney does not win, you owe nothing for the services provided. Also, you will speak directly with an attorney, not a salesperson. Don't sign up with an injury law firm after speaking with only a salesperson. Salespersons are fine at selling tires and perfume, but when it comes to your health and financial wellbeing, you deserve to speak with an attorney. Contact The Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free consult.