ca injury wreck

Your Injury Claim, Compared to Millions of Other Similar Claims

Plaintiffs looking for a fair and reasonable settlement to their personal injury claim are often frustrated by low settlement offers and prolonged delays in the resolution of their matter. Many people who are injured feel they are treated unfairly by the at-fault party’s insurance company and cannot understand why they are being offered such low amounts of money to settle their case. This frustration is a popular sentiment among people hurt in car crashes, slip and fall cases, premises liability matters, and basically all personal injury situations in California. If you were injured and it was not your fault, a peek into the personal injury settlement process can help you understand why your case is being handled the way it is, and what you can do about it.

With so many drivers on California roads, insurance adjusters see thousands of claims cross their desks. Making your claim be more than a number is the key to getting your injuries reviewed fairly.

With so many drivers on California roads, insurance adjusters see thousands of claims cross their desks. Making your claim be more than a number is the key to getting your injuries reviewed fairly.

It’s Not You - It’s The Millions of Other Cases

If you’re lucky, you never get in a car crash. If you are in a car crash and are injured, however, you will likely have the unpleasant experience of trying to pay for your medical bills, additional transportation expenses, lost wages, and many other costs associated with an accident that was not your fault. Unfortunately, even though the law provides a way for you to have all these expenses paid for by the person or entity who caused your injury, the chances you’ll see a check arrive in your mailbox that covers everything are slim. The reason insurance companies tend to offer small amounts to settle claims is because they can. That is, the great majority of people who are trying to settle their injury case on their own do not know what to do with a bad offer, and they cannot negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement on their own because they don’t know the true value of their case. 

Consider for a moment that you were injured in a California car crash, say for example in Orange County or Los Angeles County. These counties are home to millions of people. Over the years, insurance companies have handled millions of cases in California and throughout the country, and your case is compared to other similar cases. How? Insurance companies keep big data that shows what the estimated value of a case is. For example, the type of car you drive, your zip code, your ethnicity - it all comes into play, whether insurance companies admit this or not (they deny this). The facts of your case, such as the amount of property damage involved, the amount of your medical care, the type of crash, and many other factors, are often plugged into an algorithm that produces a number. This number is the basis for the insurance adjuster’s starting negotiation point; many lawyers suspect that some insurance companies do not even review the photos or read the documents provided to them. They plug in the numbers and run the calculation, and from there they use a number to try to get you to settle your case. 

What To Do With a Bad Injury Settlement Offer?

Because insurance companies see millions of claims, there is a sense the plaintiff’s case is not reviewed in great detail in the majority of situations. Also, because insurance companies keep big data sets that show the settlement values of similar cases, and because most plaintiffs or claimants don’t hire a lawyer or personal injury law firm to represent them, the settlement values are often quite low. That is, when a lawyer is involved, the value rises, as a good lawyer knows what a case like yours will likely settle for. In this way, because your case is compared to millions of other cases, the great majority of which were settled by the individuals by themselves who often don’t know the true value of their case, you are being given a settlement number that is low. 

If you were hurt and want to know what the value of your case is, the best thing you can do is talk with an injury lawyer. A personal injury attorney who practices exclusively injury law in California will be able to compare your case to similar case values that involved an attorney. They will be able to consider up to date trends in the courts, and correspond with a community of personal injury plaintiff attorneys to “round table” your case and give you an evaluation of what is fair and reasonable in your matter.

Putting a Face to a Name

Insurance adjusters can decide to offer you $10,000 or $100,000, or any number for that matter, depending on their evaluation of your case. If your lifestyle was greatly affected, such as if you are a caretaker or a parent to young children, or you had to miss work due to your injuries, it is hard for an insurance adjuster to put a number on that. What is that worth? The reality is that if your loss is not represented by a bill, the value given to lifestyle changes and hardships is often zero. Even though your life is turned upside down and you’re bogged down with bills you don’t know how to pay, or you missed out on a special occasion, or you can’t perform your parental duties or participate in hobbies that you previously loved - none of this matters if you can’t put a number on it. A good lawyer will be able to argue persuasively that these changes to your life can only be compensated by paying you money for your loss. How much is this worth? Personal injury attorneys who handle lots of cases know how to argue for fair and reasonable settlement value. Or, if the insurance company refuses to acknowledge your loss, a good lawyer will bring your case before a court and persuade a jury that you should be paid for your losses.

Of course, nobody wants to go to court. The best scenario for you if you are hurt and want to be treated fairly by insurance is to have the insurance company take your claim seriously, or give it priority. When you are represented by an attorney, the insurance adjusters will often pay closer attention to your case. This is because they know their conduct is being monitored. Personal injury lawyers know that insurance agents and adjusters are regulated by the State of California insurance code. Most people know there are rules as to what insurance companies can and cannot do, but they don’t know what the rules are. Car crash attorneys who practice only personal injury matters know the rules that adjusters are supposed to adhere by; when the adjusters aren’t doing what they are supposed to, they know, and they can fight on your behalf to make sure your case gets a fair review. 

Making Your Case Stand Out From the Other Cases

At the end of the day, the difference between a fair settlement and an unfair settlement is the attention given to your matter by the insurance company, and the exposure they think the insurance company has in the future. That is, if you don’t accept their proposals, what will happen? Will you simply go away? Will you hire a lawyer who will fight them and require them to spend a lot of time and money on your case? Could the insurance company be liable for millions of dollars due to a court verdict that punishes the insurance company for its bad behavior or failure to adhere to the insurance code? The best way to stand out, in the opinion of many, is to seek the counsel of a lawyer or law firm that knows the true value of your case. Injury lawyers in California usually do not charge for an initial consultation, and the advise you can get in that time could be the difference between something fair and something that is pennies on the dollar for your claim. 

How to Choose an Injury Attorney

Before you sign a contract with an attorney, consider that your attorney will be an individual or office that you may communicate with on and off for several months, or several years, depending on the nature of your injury. Are you talking to a lawyer, or a salesman? Is the person you’ve been dealing with the same individual you’ll be talking to in the future? Is the law firm you’re considering a firm that focuses on only injury cases, or are they a jack of all trades, do-it all firm? If they claim to do all types of cases, what are they chances they have the experience and up to date knowledge of personal injury case values throughout California? Most lawyers would agree that the best thing would be to speak with an attorney who is willing to discuss your case, give you a fair evaluation, and can tell you who the attorney that will be handling your matter in the future is. 

 

Unintended Consequences of Car Modification

Most car owners who modify their cars are aware that the modifications tend to decrease, not increase, the value of their vehicle when they want to sell it. Why is the vehicle worse less money after modification, when modification can cost a lot of money? Your tastes are unique and don't necessarily match the tastes of other drivers. But there are several even more important reasons to carefully consider any modification to the external appearance of your vehicle.

This is how law enforcement may perceive you, regardless of how you're driving

This is how law enforcement may perceive you, regardless of how you're driving

Safety First

People change the appearance of their vehicle to get a certain look, something perhaps sportier than the original version. Or, maybe they want to stay up to date in trends of color and wheels. But many car owners may not consider that their modifications can have safety implications, and may not even be legal. For example, you may have driven behind a vehicle that has darkened plastic covering their rear lights, usually on a dark colored or black vehicle. The appearance makes the car look more uniform in color, as the back lights are less pronounced. What you may also have noticed is the brake lights are not as bright on these vehicles. Owners of these vehicles risk being rear-ended due to their brake lights not being bright enough, resulting in the driver behind them not being aware that the car in front is braking. 

Some modifications, like tinting light covers, especially brake light covers, can be illegal. There are millions and millions of vehicles on California roads, so what are the chances a driver of a vehicle with illegal brake light modifications will get pulled over? Maybe slim. But the chance that they'll get in a car accident certainly rises, posing a public safety hazard. This is why this particular modification tends to be against DMV standards. Also, if the vehicle has modifications that contributed to the crash, even a rear-end accident that results in injury, liability will almost always go against the car that has the modification. Thus, if you modify your car and are injured, the chances that you're placed at fault are high. Then, in many cases neither the other party's auto insurance, nor your own, will pay for your medical expenses.

badidea.jpg

Also consider that seemingly minor modifications, if enough to convince a police officer or California Highway Patrol officer that your vehicle's appearance had something to do with causing the crash, you may be liable for any injuries caused to other parties. A car modification to make your vehicle look "cool" may not feel so cool, after all.

Visibility is Good, But Excessive Visibility is Bad

Some car owners have followed trends shown in the "Fast and Furious" movies, and other car racing movies, and install neon lights under their vehicle. Again, these modifications tend to be illegal, and the owner can be tickets. If the owner is ticketed on multiple occasions, the car may be impounded and their license suspended. What's the big deal of a little neon light? First, if you have neon lights under your car, the vehicle is very visable - too visable to other drivers, in fact, making it a distraction and a safety hazard. If you cause an accident and the other party says they were distracted by your lights, you're unlikely to convince the California Highway Patrol that your under-carriage lights had nothing to do with the crash. In fact, many California injury attorneys will attest that in almost every case where one of the vehicles has significant modifications, that vehicle is placed at fault on the police report.

dontdoit.jpg

The Presumption of Guilt

Stereotypes are often unfair and inaccurate, but they still matter. You  may have an impeccable driving record and be an upstanding citizen in every way, and a great driver, but if you're involved in a crash that injures someone, the appearance of your vehicle matters. It may not seem fair, but California injury lawyers almost unanimously agree that the appearance of your vehicle comes into play when deciding who should pay for the damages. An extreme example may be helpful: if you're driving a sports car with bright paint, modified wheels, and other changes to the vehicle, and you're involved in a crash with a brown minivan, and the driver of the minivan says you were speeding and driving crazy, who do you think the police officer is going to believe? And modifications sometimes aren't needed at all: a sports car involved in an accident with a more "normal" car will often result in the sports car driver being put at fault.

nope.jpg

Which Modifications Matter?

If your tint is too dark, you can expect raised suspicion by the officer who makes the car crash report. If you have after-market wheels on your car, that will also likely go against you. This is not fair, of course, as the kind of rims on your vehicle likely had nothing to do with causing the crash, but these statements are made based on many years of observation by experienced California car accident lawyers who have dealt with thousands of injury cases. Under-carriage lighting, especially neon, is a big no-no; if you want to do this to your car, it is recommended that you don't drive with the lights on. You're asking for a ticket, at a minimum, and if you're involved in a car crash and someone gets hurt, your chances of not being put at fault are very low. Don't tint your tail lights; it's most often against DMV code, and it often results in rear-end accidents. Flashing lights on the interior that can be seen from outside are a big no-no. Basically anything that could distract other drivers and are not necessary to the safe operation of your vehicle are frowned upon by law enforcement, and do in fact contribute to car crashes. Mirror paint, or metallic paint jobs can often be distracting (this is, of course, obvious and on purpose), and the drivers of these vehicles will often attest that the number of tickets and perceived harassment by law enforcement is simply not worth it. Not to mention, most of these chances to your car are expensive, some costing many thousands of dollars!

theythinkthisisyou.jpg

What if You're Involved in an Crash That Results in Injury?

If you were injured in a car crash, there are a lot of things to consider right away: your health, your auto insurance, the other driver's auto insurance, a police report or California Highway Patrol report, medical bills, lost wages - the list goes on and on. Most people have a decent idea of where to start and how to go about it, but there are endless loopholes designed to keep money with the insurance companies and out of your pocket. A call with an experienced car crash lawyer who practices in California may be beneficial. Also, if you were driving a modified vehicle and were involved in a crash where someone was injured, you  may benefit from speaking with an attorney, especially if you feel you were unfairly put at fault. Speaking with an injury law firm may save you a lot of time, headache, and money in the long run, and most lawyers offer these consultations at no up front cost.

The Lions Injury Lawyers practice injury law, and have seen many of the examples contained in this blog post play out in real life cases. If you or someone you love was involved in an accident that resulted in injury, you owe it to yourself to discuss the matter with an attorney, if only to reassure yourself you're going about things properly. The Lions Injury Lawyers represent clients throughout California, from San Diego all the way past San Francisco and including the Inland Empire and more remote parts of California. 

 

Driving on Wet Roads 101

Millions of California commuters woke up to wet roads this morning, and as is the case every time California gets significant rainfall, water on the roadway has undoubtedly attributed to more than a few car accidents already this morning. Because some parts of California, such as Orange County and San Diego County can go many months in between rainfalls, our driving habits become tailored to driving on dry roads. As those who have been involved in a car accident due to wet weather will attest, a vehicle stops and goes differently when there's water on the road, and the difference is significant. Here are a few things to keep in mind that might help you avoid a car accident.

Give Yourself Space

Your car takes longer to stop on a wet road than it does on a dry road. The best thing you can do to avoid causing a rear-end car accident is give yourself space between the front of your car and the back of the nearest car in front of you. Of course you can't control other drivers' actions, but you are the only one who determines your speed. Most car accidents related to water or ice on the roadway are caused by drivers who rear-end the car in front of them because they don't give themselves enough room to stop. Tragically, many of these accidents result in injury to both the driver who causes the accident, and they also often result in injury to the passengers and driver of the car that was rear-ended. The more road you can see in front of you, the more likely you are going to be able to control your vehicle and come to a safe stop.

Pump Your Brakes

What about getting rear-ended? A rear end accident can cause severe injury, and can cause injury even at relatively low speeds. Many California drivers don't think there is anything they can do to avoid being hit from behind, but this is not entirely accurate. Rear-end accidents happen when the driver from behind does not stop in time, and hits the car in front. What many drivers don't consider is that by pumping their brakes, they cause their brake lights to turn on and off, which may alert the driver from behind that they are stopping. The flashing on and off of lights may catch the attention of the driver behind you, giving him or her an added 'heads up,' and possibly resulting in their ability to stop sooner. It isn't your job to teach the driver behind you how to drive, and the tactic is certainly not foolproof, but it is better than getting rear-ended and possibly injured!

Decent Tires Matter

Don't drive on bald tires. The tread of your tires matters, and the lower the tread gets, the less able you will be to stop suddenly on a wet road. Nobody likes replacing their tires, as most people can think of a lot of things they'd rather spend a couple hundred dollars on than tires. However, a car accident can cost you more than a couple hundred dollars, even if you're not at fault. And, if you're in an accident, and you're injured, the cost can easily creep into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. By comparison, putting a decent set of tires on your vehicle may not be such a terrible expense after all.

Pay Better Attention

It may be as simple as paying better attention that keeps you out of an accident. Your car won't stop as quickly when the roads are wet, and even if you're aware of this, chances are someone around you is not paying attention. Don't assume that everyone on the roadway is even considering that the driving conditions have changed and that the added precipitation on the road could be dangerous. Watch for vehicles who are driving recklessly and stay out of their way. Keep an eye out for vehicles driving too fast for the conditions. Let them pass, and even move aside if safe in order to let them go by - it is worth it to be behind an aggressive driver, even if you have to change lanes for a second. Also, watch for surges of water on the roadway, such as from drain pipes and from water coming off irrigation ditches and hillsides. 

If Involved in a Car Crash, Take Care of #1 (Yourself)

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a car crash during a rainstorm, you may be tempted to just get home as soon as possible, meaning you may not call the police or California Highway Patrol, or seek appropriate medical care. If you're injured, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. This means going to the Emergency Room, or Urgent Care, or your primary care physician as soon as you are able. The decision to forego medical treatment can limit your ability to recover financially for your injuries. Don't let the convenience of going directly home keep you from seeking appropriate medical care. In the long run, for both your health and your financial stability, the sooner you seek medical care, the better.

Get Help Dealing With Insurance Adjusters

If you were injured in a car crash, and especially if the crash happened during rainy conditions, don't expect the at-fault driver's insurance company to just pay your medical bills right away. In fact, because weather was a factor, they may seek to diminish the amount of liability they will take responsibility for, or deny liability altogether. Don't get taken advantage of by loopholes you're not aware of. A good injury attorney who represents clients in California car crashes will be able to guide you along the way and make sure you get a fair settlement for your medical bills and pain and suffering. The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent injured clients throughout California, and have recovered good settlements for their clients in motorcycle, auto, trucking, pedestrian, slip and fall, and dog bite cases. If you were injured and it was not your fault, you owe it to yourself to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you avoid the headache and frustration of trying to negotiate with an insurance adjuster on your own. Putting your case in the hands of an experienced professional can mean the difference of getting good health care, and can result in tens of thousands (or more) dollars added to your settlement. Contact the Lions today, and speak with an actual injury attorney (not a salesman). 

Car Accident Injuries & Medical Bills: What Insurance Will (and will not) Pay

LionsGroup.png

The range of injuries that result from car accidents varies greatly, from minor scuffs and bruises, to catastrophic injuries that require extensive hospitalization, surgery, and other intense medical treatment. If you were injured in a car accident in California, the laws essentially state that you are entitled to be made whole again, or to receive the medical care necessary to bring you back to the same state of health you were in prior to the car crash. The person who hit you is responsible for paying these medical bills, in general, but there are many "loopholes" that make getting full payment of your medical bills paid for difficult or impossible. 

How Does Insurance Evaluate Medical Care?

An injured person is expected to pursue reasonable medical treatment to care for their pains and ailments. What is reasonable? The answer to that question is, of course, subjective and it depends on who you ask. Generally speaking, medical care is considered reasonable by insurance adjusters if it happens at an appropriate time in relation to the car accident, the number of visits are within a normal range, and the cost of the care is within what insurance companies define as "industry standard." Some insurance companies are more strict than others when defining a price point for industry standard, which means they will not pay for treatment over a certain dollar point, regardless of where you live or how soon after your car accident you sought medical treatment. This situation leads many injured people to seek the advice of an injury attorney, even just to review their case and get advice on how to move forward.

triangle (1).jpg

The Cost of Medical Treatment

Some insurance companies look to what Medicare accepts as "normal" pricing for a medical treatment or procedure. Obviously this is the lowest number possible for any given medical care, and the average car accident victim is unlikely to receive any medical treatment at the Medicare price. Does this mean you have to shop around endlessly to find the absolute cheapest medical care to treat your injuries? No. It may mean you'll benefit from the representation of a lawyer who practices car accident law, or an injury law firm that can assist you in finding access to medical care that will get you on your way towards full health. A good lawyer will fight to make sure you get your medical bills paid for and also compensation for pain and suffering.

Sequence Matters in Medical Treatment

Another way in which medical bills are slashed or denied by insurance companies is by the insurance adjuster claiming there was a "gap in treatment," or improper sequencing of care. This means that if you are hurt, you need to get help right away, and then follow the advice of your doctor. If you're injured, you need to first see a qualified doctor, and then follow the regimine the doctor prescribes you until you are better. If you take long breaks in-between treatment, you may find it difficult or impossible to get your bills paid for due to gaps in treatment. Similarly, if you know you require surgery, for example, you can't just delay getting the surgery for months and years. At some point, and it varies case by case, the insurance company will say the surgery is not related to the initial accident, and they will deny liability to pay for the operation. Sequence matters. This means you should seek the opinion of someone able to give an assessment of your injuries or ailments, like the kind of doctor visit you might get at an emergency room, at an urgent care, or through your primary care doctor. Then, you're expected to follow the advice of the doctor. For example, if the doctor says you need 25 visits of chiropractic care, you will be expected to go to a chiropractor and receive that amount of care.

Chiropractic care can be especially tricky when seeking payment for your medical bills from the insurance company of the individual liable for the accident and your injuries. Most insurance companies will balk at paying for more than 25 visits, unless specifically prescribed by a doctor not affiliated with the chiropractor's office. After 25 visits, if you are still injured, you'll be expected to seek additional treatment, something more advanced, such as an MRI, or a visit with a pain management office, or a specialist that deals with the body part(s) you've suffered injury in. 

truckingaccident.jpg

Don't Accept Pennies on the Dollar for your Bills

Some people injured in a car crash or other injury that was not their fault feel helpless when the insurance adjuster offers them a couple hundred dollars to pay for large bills. Feeling helpless, they don't know what to do and accept the money, thinking something is better than nothing. This plays perfectly into the insurance companies' strategy: if you offer ten people a very small settlement, at least seven or eight of those people will either go away, or eventually accept it. Dollar for dollar, this is their best bet, and they save the most money by doing this. What the seven or eight people who accept this offer do not know is that if they're offered $500, there is likely at least a couple thousand dollars available to pay for their bills, but they don't know how to get it.

Getting to a "Fair and Reasonable" Settlement for Your Injury

trucktipped.jpg

If you weren't at fault, but you were injured, you deserve compensation to pay for your bills and for your pain and suffering. While the law says you deserve this, and there are tens of thousands of cases where this happens, most people don't know how to go about getting this money, and without the assistance of an experience and trusted injury law firm, you're very unlikely to get the money you deserve for your injury. Experience matters in injury law, and the representation of a good lawyer will, in almost every case, mean the injured person walks away with more money in their pocket and their medical bills paid for, than if they try to negotiate on their own. This has nothing to do with how smart the injured person is or how good a negotiator he or she is. If you don't know what your case is worth, or how the insurance company reviews your file and comes up with a price tag, you will not be able to get to their top offer. Of course, you can threaten to sue, but insurance companies are well represented by good defense law firms, so they are not intimidated by threats of lawsuits from individuals saying they'll go it alone and file the lawsuit. An injury law firm, on the other hand, will not only file a lawsuit on the injured person's behalf, but they'll go about it the right way and will very likely increase the cost of your claim by a lot of money: a lawsuit from a plaintiff represented by a good injury lawyer will get the attention of any insurance company or insurance adjuster.

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represents injured clients throughout California. Based in Orange County, CA, The Lions practice only injury law, meaning they focus 100% of their time, energy and effort on winning money for injured people throughout California. No matter if you live in San Diego County, Orange County, Los Angeles County - or somewhere else in California, The Lions will vigorously fight for you and your case. You won't talk to a salesman if you call for a free consultation - you'll discuss your case with an actual attorney, a lawyer who may eventually represent you and help you recover from your injury. Lawyers are ready to discuss your case today, or simply answer your questions.

Holiday Parties, Drunk Driving and You

At no other time of the year are more people celebrating with friends, coworkers, and loved ones, and many of these celebrations include lots and lots of alcohol. As your mother likely said at least once, it isn't you she's worried about, it's the "other guy." Tragically, every year there are thousands of drunken driving accidents throughout the state of California, and every year innocent people die due to the negligence and carelessness of others. While being hit by a drunk driver may seem like an entirely unavoidable happening, and sometimes that is the case, there are a few things you can do to lessen the chances of your being involved in a drunk driving crash.

Be Aware of your Surroundings

The first thing you should remember is if you're driving during Christmas and New Year's, especially in the evening time, there is a higher chance a driver near you is intoxicated. That may sound paranoid, but awareness to your general surroundings while driving during the holidays (or any other time of the year, for that matter), may be the difference between being involved in an injury-resulting car crash, and not. Watch for erratic driving, drivers not using headlights, drivers with their high beam or brights on, and any other unusual driving behavior.

Drunk Drivers Are Out There

Especially when you're driving at night, and especially around highly populated areas that have a high concentration of restaurants and bars, you should just assume that at least some of the other drivers on the road have been drinking.  If you assume this, your best bet is then to look for unusual behaviors, and to keep your distance from other cars. Don't drive too close to anyone. For example, even if all the cars around you are fine, if you're rear-ended at a high speed by a drunk driver from behind, if you're too close to other cars, the crash is much more likely result in injury or death. Drive with plenty of open space around you, and stay out of the left lane if reasonable and possible.

Use Lyft or Uber, and Request Your Ride Early

Lots of people attending holiday parties plan on using Uber or Lyft, but they sometimes forget that there are only so many ride hail service cars on the road, and sometimes the wait can be long and frustrating. Unfortunately, sometimes people who at first request a ride hail service like Uber or Lyft simply get tired of waiting and decide they're in good enough condition to drive. These same people end up injuring or killing others when they drive. Plan ahead: some ride services allow for scheduling ahead of time. Or, leave a little earlier than when most people will be leaving and ensure you'll be able to get a car. Finally, even if it is your habit to hail an Uber or Lyft, don't forget that traditional taxi services are still out there in many cities, and there may be a taxi available even if the other services are not.

Let the Driver Drive

Don't be a distraction to the driver. This applies to your Uber or Lyft driver, or your sober driver. Your driver has enough to pay attention to - don't be an annoying or disruptive drunk in the back seat that makes his or her job more difficult.

If Injured, Document Everything

If you're unlucky enough to be involved in a car crash this holiday season, take care to document as much as you can. This means taking photos of the scene, and calling the police or California Highway Patrol if the facts of the accident make such a call reasonable and necessary for your safety. Don't assume it will get sorted out in your favor in the future, even if the cause of the accident seems obviously not your fault. Go to Urgent Car, the Emergency Room, or your primary care health provider as soon as possible if you were injured. Any delays in treatment will allow the at-fault driver's insurance company to deny liability, which means the can avoid paying for your medical treatment. Auto insurance companies are very likely to believe their insured's version of events. It is common for even drunk drivers to tell their insurance they did nothing wrong; the auto insurance then sides with their insured, and you have to fight to make things right. If it was not your fault, in the end, the law entitles you to money for your medical bills and your pain and suffering.

California Injury Attorneys: What to Look For After a Car Crash Injury

Don't go it alone against sophisticated car insurance companies when you were injured in a crash. The tricks the insurance companies use are far too complicated, and they use so many of them, that even the highly educated and savvy person will have little chance of settling for fair value on their own. This means if you try to settle the case on your own, you are likely leaving money on the table, and accepting less than fair value for your injury case. You should look for an injury law firm that specializing in personal injury claims, has experience in California, and is able to communicate with you regularly from the time of the crash until settlement.

The Lions Injury Lawyers represent car accident victims throughout the state of California. Their staff and attorneys will assist you every step of the way. Questions about your crash, what to do (and what not to do)? Talk with an attorney at The Lions today, and move forward with confidence that you're setting yourself up for success. You've already gone through what should be the hard part - a car crash that results in injury can turn your life upside down. Don't let the aftermath be worse than the crash and injury. Get the healthcare you deserve, make sure you don't walk away with debts you cannot pay, and get money in your pocket for the pain and suffering you've experienced.

 

 

Car Accidents Involving Large Trucks: What You Should Know

trucker.jpg

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.

truckscomingatchya.jpg

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.

Social Media Makes You A Dangerous Driver (and it's not just you!)

California roads and highways can be a challenge for even the most experienced and focused driver, with tens of millions of commuters taking to the roadways daily. Long before the rise of smart phones and social media, California roads were a stressful and sometimes dangerous place to drive. Now, with many drivers checking and updating their social media platforms during their commute, the roadways are even more dangerous. Tragically, car accidents that result in injury and death are now often the result of one driver being distracted, and the culprit for the distraction is often the driver's cell phone. What are they doing on the cell phone that is so distracting? Checking social media.

California Law Prohibits Using Your Handheld Phone While Driving

It's not news that distracted driving causes hazards. As cell phones became more popular in the late 1990s, the California state legislature responded by making it illegal to use a handheld device while driving. At the time, use of a cell phone was limited almost entirely to talking on the device. Now, the capability of an average smartphone allows its user to engage in an endless list of distracting activities, from taking photos and videos, to trading stocks and playing video games. 

Courtesy: NHTSA

Courtesy: NHTSA

Distracted Driving Causes Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an estimated 660,000 people use their handheld devices every day while driving. Many experts would argue the actual figure is exponentially higher than that. State and local laws are beginning to catch up to the bad habit, with many jurisdictions strictly enforcing laws prohibiting distracted driving. For example, in Orange County, California, police officers on motorcycles have been slowly driving between lanes during stopped traffic at intersections and checking to see who is on their phones. When the lights change and traffic begins to move again, they pull over the individual who was on their phone. Just because traffic is stopped does not mean you are legally allowed to check your cell phone. The law prohibiting cell phone use applies whether traffic is moving or not. New distracted driving laws are going into effect in California, but their efficacy is yet to be determined.

Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
— NHTSA

Instagram, Snapchat, and the Urge to Update

Especially prevalent among young drivers such as teenagers and college students is the urge to update social media while driving. Tragically, this often results in disastrous consequences such as serious injury and death. As if the possibility that your social media usage while driving might result in serious injury or death from a car accident you cause weren't enough, consider that your social media usage can be used against you as evidence of negligence while driving. If you are involved in a car accident in California that results in injury, the injured party's attorneys may subpoena access to your social media accounts. This means the injured person's attorney will know the content, and most importantly, the timing of your social media usage. This can allow their lawyers to easily connect the dots and prove that your social media use happened at the same time of the accident, thus proving your fault and liability for the injury or death. Sounds scary, right? Luckily, such a scenario is easy to avoid. Simply put, don't update or check your social media accounts while driving!

What You Can Do About It

First, change your own habits, if you're in the habit of checking your phone while you drive. This makes you safer, and it makes those around you safer as well. Second, if your loved ones use their phones while driving, talk to them about the very real consequences of using handheld devices while driving. If you are driving and see someone on their phone and driving in a dangerous or reckless manner, you can:

  • Get their license plate information, if you can do so safely
  • Make note of the make and model of their vehicle
  • Pull over to a safe place, or have a passenger in your vehicle call the police
  • Notify the police of this information. If the driver poses a hazard to others on the roadway, it is appropriate to call 911

Injured In a Crash Where The At Fault Driver Was on their Phone?

If you were injured in a car crash and think the at-fault driver was on his or her cell phone at the time of the incident, you should discuss the facts of the automobile accident with an attorney. If you or your passengers were injured, an injury attorney who practices personal injury in California will be able to make sure evidence regarding cell phone usage at the time of the accident is preserved, just in case it is needed later. For example, even if you saw the driver who hit you on their phone, if they deny it to their insurance, their insurance will take their insured's word, not yours.

The police are unlikely to make a determination, as the "he-said-she-said" scenario can be difficult for law enforcement to make accurate determinations as to what happened after the fact. However, an injury attorney that regularly handles California injury cases will send the appropriate letters and file the necessary paperwork to make sure they're able to access the cell phone and data records of the defendant. Also, if the distracted driver had their phone plugged into their car via USB cable at the time of the accident, the car's "black box" may have a record of the phone's usage, depending on the make and model of the car, and how long after the accident the information is pulled from the black box system.

California Distracted Driving Injury Questions

Wondering what to do following a California car accident where you suspect one of the drivers was on their phone? The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. practices personal injury law and represents injured clients throughout the state of California. A call to The Lions will put you on the phone with an actual injury attorney (not a salesperson), so you'll be able to ask questions to an experienced and knowledgable lawyer regarding the facts of your injury. If you were hurt in a crash and it was not your fault, the law entitles you to more than simply payment of your medical bills. The Lions make sure their clients are fairly compensated for lost wages, loss of consortium, changes in lifestyle (pain and suffering), and of course the costs related to medical treatment related to the crash. At the very least, a phone call to an experienced injury attorney regarding your California car accident will help you better navigate the often confusing world of injury settlements with auto insurance providers. 

 

Navigating Your Car Accident Whiplash Claim

Thousands of car accidents occur each day in California, and many people involved in these accidents are injured as a result. The most common injury that results from being involved in a car accident is whiplash. Although whiplash is the most common complaint by injured persons involved in car accidents, it is an often misunderstood and misdiagnosed injury. It is also the injury that the at-fault driver's insurance is most likely to dispute and refuse payment towards treatment for.

Whiplash is the most common injury following a rear end accident

Whiplash is the most common injury following a rear end accident

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is essentially neck strain and sprain that occurs when a driver or passenger's head is violently jerked backwards or forwards as the result of a car crash. The neck muscles and ligaments are strained as a result of the collision. Severe whiplash may also include damage to discs in the cervical spine, torn and ruptured ligaments, and even fractures in the vertebrae. Whiplash can be a serious, life altering injury, however many people who suffer whiplash assume the pain will go away after a few days, and they fail to document their injury in a way that will enable them to recover from the defendant's insurance company.

Symptoms of Whiplash

Whiplash can take several days to set in, and the resulting pain can last for the rest of your life if you do not treat it appropriately. Here are a few symptoms to look for:

• Neck pain and stiffness

• Loss of range of motion in neck, back, and arms

• Headaches, especially those with dizziness and vomiting

• Tingling and numbness in arms and hands

• Pain in your arms, shoulders, neck and back

• Other symptoms may include ringing of the ears, blurred vision, memory and concentration difficulties and abnormalities, difficulty sleeping, moodiness and lack of patience, anxiety and depression.

An MRI of the cervical spine is often required in order to evaluate the severity of a whiplash inury

An MRI of the cervical spine is often required in order to evaluate the severity of a whiplash inury

Treatment for Whiplash

If you were injured in a car crash that resulted in whiplash, you were likely hit from behind, meaning you were not at fault and you will be able to pursue the other driver's insurance company to have your medical bills paid. Unfortunately, the insurance company will not simply believe that you are injured and write you a check. You must seek appropriate, reasonable medical treatment as soon as possible after the car crash. Your injury will be attributed to age, pre-existing conditions, degenerative conditions - really anything other than the car crash, if you do not seek proper treatment and the medical professional makes note that you were involved in a car crash.

Proper treatment usually involves visiting your primary care physician within a day or two after the crash. This is impossible for most people due to scheduling. You should visit the Emergency Room or Urgent Care facility as soon as possible if you cannot get an appointment with your primary care physician shortly after the crash. Fortunately, especially in Southern California and Orange County, there are an abundance of 24-hour Urgent Care facilities that are equipped with the proper staff to evaluate the severity of your injury.

What if You Can't Afford Medical Treatment?

You likely did not see the car crash coming, and you probably don't have a couple thousand dollars lying around just in case you need medical care following an accident. If you're like most people, you will benefit from consulting with an injury law firm in California that handles car crash cases. An established and reputable injury lawyer will know of doctors who will treat you on a lien. This means the attorney vouches for your case, and the doctor agrees to be paid out of the settlement, rather than being paid up front. This also means you may receive state of the art care at no up front cost to you. Fortunately, many facilities that accept car accident attorney liens are privately owned and operated, and are able to provide the very best medical care available.

How to Document Your Injury

The most important documentation comes from your doctor's office or hospital or urgent care. Thus, the most important step you can take towards better health and financial recovery for your injury claim is to visit a doctor immediately. Sometimes whiplash does not become painful for several days after an accident. If this is the case for you, you should still go to a doctor as soon as the pain becomes bothersome and persistent.

Pursuing Your Claim

If you or someone you know has been injured in a California car accident and is trying to recover physically and financially, contact The Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation. The injury lawyers at The Lions are skilled and experienced in arguing on behalf of their clients to receive fair and reasonable compensation for car accident injuries like whiplash. The Lions main office is in Newport Beach, California, but the firm represents injured persons throughout the state of California. Call (949) 329-5000 today for a free consultation with an injury attorney.

 

 

Documenting Expenses for your Personal Injury Claim

billssss.jpg

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.

Social Media and Injury Claims

sm1.jpg

After a car accident, you may want to communicate with your friends and family to let them know what happened, maybe even share some photographs. For many people, posting on Facebook or Instagram is something they do without even thinking. However, prior to posting anything regarding your injury on social media, you should use caution and consider how your post may be used against you.

Say Nothing, Post Nothing

Perhaps it sounds hypersensitive to say that after a car accident in which you were injured, you should not post anything. After all, if the accident or car crash wasn't your fault, what is the harm in sharing what happened with your friends and loved ones? Isn't that what social media is for, and isn't it obvious you weren't at fault? Consider that even car collisions that fault and liability is usually easy to establish, such as a rear end accident, the at-fault insurance company's adjusters will not simply take your word for it, and are increasingly fighting liability on all claims. Your car accident claim is not a criminal case, so the familiar Miranda rights verbiage "anything you say can and will be used against you" does not exactly apply, but the spirit of the Miranda rights certainly does apply: everything you post, everything you say, can be manipulated by the other insurance company to diminish the amount of money they will pay to resolve your claim.

Set Your Accounts to "Private"

Even if you never post anything on social media regarding your injury, the insurance adjusters can still look at everything you've posted and create a narrative that there is nothing wrong with you. Is this legal, you might be asking yourself? Yes. If your social media accounts are open to the public, there is nothing to prevent an insurance agent from looking at your pages and taking screen shots. Many injury lawyers have seen in recent years a tendency for insurance adjusters to create a narrative, or story, about your life. Basically they will look at your photos and posts and come to the conclusion that you're fine and that you did not suffer serious injury. 

wavwavwave.jpg

Example Of Social Media Gone Wrong

For example, consider the case of a client who was injured in a car crash in Santa Ana, California. Despite being rear-ended (so it was clearly not her fault), and after she visited with her primary care physician at the local Hoag hospital, she slowly recovered through typical injury treatment of chiropractic care, physical therapy, and got two epidural injections to help alleviate her pain and facilitate recovery. During her recovery, as a student at Cal State Fullerton, she continued to take classes and work part time in an office on campus. Her treatment lasted about six months, during which she attended family birthday parties and went to Crystal Cove State Beach in Newport Beach with friends and her boyfriend. Sounds pretty normal for a college student.

When it came time to try to reach a resolution on her injury claim, the insurance adjuster denied payment and refused to pay her medical bills. Why? Because her social media posts on Facebook showed photos of her at the beach, at a few Cal State Fullerton athletic events (as a spectator, not participating), and at birthday parties. The insurance adjuster claimed "she seems pretty good to me, going to the beach, hanging out with her college friends at basketball games." You may ask what that has to do with this client's injury and medical bills. Of course, going to the beach has nothing to do with the client's injuries.

After her personal injury attorney at The Lions Injury Lawyers aggressively pursued her claim, the insurance company eventually paid all of her medical bills and paid her for her pain and suffering. This was only after her car accident attorney filed a lawsuit on her behalf in order to recover fair compensation on her behalf. Had this client marked her social media accounts to "private" the insurance company would not have been able to create a story that she was not injured based on her photos.

Getting A Fair Settlement For Your California Injury Claim

Social media is a new tool for insurance adjusters to use to diminish the value of your claim, or deny it altogether. Just because you were not at fault and sought proper medical treatment for your injuries does not mean you will be treated fairly. Often, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney law firm that practices throughout California is the best way to get fair treatment from the insurance company. People injured in car crashes in Anaheim, Santa Ana, Fullerton, and throughout Orange County have turned to The Lions Injury Lawyers to get fair treatment by the insurance companies. The Lions Injury Lawyers represent injured plaintiffs throughout California, from San Diego County to the Inland Empire, up to Los Angeles and all the way