california injury

How Gaps in Treatment Affect Injury Claims

One of the frustrations many people experience when trying to settle their personal injury claim with an insurance adjuster is trying to figure out what a “gap in treatment” is, and why the at-fault driver’s insurance refuses to pay for some medical treatment. If you were hurt by someone else, and you have medical bills that are the result of treatment you received following the injury, how is it possible that those bills will be your personal financial responsibility, when the reason you have them in the first place is because someone else was negligent? This article will help people who have been injured in a car crash understand what the insurance companies look for.

Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Chronology of Medical Treatment

Immediately following your injury, which for the sake of using an easy to follow example, we’ll say was the result of a car crash. The law in California is that the person who hurt you must make you “whole” again, or put you in as close to the same condition you were in before the car crash. This means physically, emotionally, financially, and sometimes even socially. So if you were hurt, and you seek medical treatment, it follows that the person who hurt you should pay for your medical bills, right? Yes, and no. The at-fault driver is responsible for reasonable and medically-necessary treatment. So the insurance company can deny payment for medical treatment you receive that they say is not the result of your injury, in this example a car crash.

The most common way an insurance adjuster will deny payment on medical bills is by saying there was an unreasonable gap in treatment. If you wait too long to receive treatment, they will argue that you weren’t really hurt, and that treatment you receive after a gap is not really their insured’s responsibility. So what should you do to make sure the insurance adjuster doesn’t refuse to pay your medical bills by saying you waited too long to treat your injury?

Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

The first thing any injury lawyer will advise their attorney to do is get a medical checkup as soon as possible. If you’re hurt, go to a doctor. Go to an urgent care, or an emergency room, if necessary, but if you were injured, you need to have a medical professional document the nature of your injury. From there, you should follow the advice you are given. For example, if you go to your primary care physician and he or she tells you that you require an x-ray, or an MRI, then it is your responsibility to follow up and get the care they tell you is needed. If you don’t do what your doctor says, the insurance companies will say you were non-compliant with recommended treatment. This hurts your claim, and as it relates to the outcome of your case, it is more likely you will receive less compensation during the settlement phase of your injury case.

What is a gap in treatment?

Our office has seen insurance adjusters claim that delays in seeking the advice of a doctor for as little as three days after a car accident is unreasonable. More common, any delays of more than five days after a crash will certainly be disputed, and the longer you go in between treatment, the worse it will be for your case. This can be difficult for single parents and anyone who works, as taking off work, or scheduling a babysitter to make it possible for you to visit a doctor and receive the treatment you need is sometimes a difficult obstacle. A good injury attorney will be able to successfully argue that any gaps were not only reasonable, but that you did everything you could to follow up on medical treatment. After all, the injury was not your fault in the first place, so you should not have to turn your life upside down to go to the doctor.

What is a proper treatment sequence?

If your primary care physician says you need chiropractic care, or physical therapy, generally the minimum number of appointments you should plan on attending is one per week; gaps of more than one week can hurt your claim. Of course, life happens and it can be hard to stay consistent with treatment. The medical benefits of going to a chiropractor or physical therapist are greater if you go more frequently; a good chiropractor or physical therapy office will be able to work around your scheduling conflicts, and give you therapy you can do at home to help alleviate your pain. Most personal injury law firms in California are aware of the good chiropractors and physical therapy offices that help people recover from car accidents, as well as those who perhaps have a reputation of not helping their patients reach a full recovery.

what if I need to return to treatment after a gap?

Unfortunately, many people have no choice but to return to treatment, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist, not because their schedule was crazy or they were being lazy, but because their symptoms/injuries returned. That is, after a sequence of treatment at a chiropractor or physical therapist, the doctor says let's see how it goes, and after a few weeks, you realize you are still suffering from pain from the car crash. Most doctors put in their notes that this may happen. This is often referred to as a flair up. Insurance companies do whatever they can to deny paying for these kinds of treatment. In many cases, the only way you'll successfully get them paid for is by hiring an attorney. In fact, this is a common reason people seek advice from an injury lawyer - they have a need to continue medical treatment for their injury, but the at-fault driver's insurance is saying they won't cover the bills.

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Can an Injury Attorney Help?

It is hard to imagine a circumstance where contacting an injury attorney after a car crash would be a bad idea. If nothing else, you'll be able to ask the questions you're wondering about, and get the advice from someone who works on this type of legal case every day. Gaps in treatment can hurt your claim, but not all "gaps" that insurance adjusters deny are fairly denied. Keep in mind that the best attorney to answer your question may not be in town. This is normal, and most injury firms that practice exclusively injury law in California represent clients throughout the state. If you live in a rural area or small town, chances are the best injury lawyer to consult with is not close by. However, many law firms in areas of California with greater populations, such as Orange County and Los Angeles County, are able to fully service clients that live within the state of California, with ease using technology. 

 

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. 

 

Motorcycle Crashes: How to Avoid, What to do After

Motorcycle accidents can leave riders with catastrophic injuries, and as the hobby continues to be popular throughout the United States and especially in California, better education to both riders and car drivers alike can only help to heighten everyone's awareness and hopefully prevent future crashes. After all, there are an estimated 8.6 million motorcycles on the roads, and if you drive a car or truck on California roads, you are guaranteed to be driving alongside motorcyclists eventually. Despite the inherent risk, California is a wonderful place to ride, and the state is home to some of America's most picturesque roads. For both motorcycle riders and car drivers alike, better education can prevent crashes.

California is home to some of the best motorcycle rides in America

California is home to some of the best motorcycle rides in America

Pay Attention at Intersections

Nearly half of all motorcycle-vehicle collisions happen at an intersection. Thus, when approaching an intersection on your motorcycle or in your car, you should be aware and alert that this is where many crashes happen. Vehicles make bad turns - too wide, too soon or out of turn, illegal u-turns, you name it, they happen at intersections. Sometimes the buildings at intersections in commercial areas are distracting, and there can be a lot happening at any given moment, leading to distraction. Every driver passes through intersections regularly, so it's a good habit to develop to pay particular attention to your surroundings at intersections. Remember, even if you're doing everything by the book, that doesn't mean the drivers around you are. For your own protection and safety, paying close attention to traffic in intersections can help you avoid a crash.

Intersections in California can be particularly distracting, as lane-splitting is now legal in the state, meaning when you're stopped, you may have a motorcycle approach you and pass you in-between lanes. Motorists should by now be aware that this technique is legal, but many drivers become frustrated and angry, sometimes creating a dangerous situation for both themselves and the motorcyclist. 

Helmets Save Lives

California requires motorcyclists to wear helmets, and the requirement saves lives. Based on extensive studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmets are more than 67 percent more effective at preventing brain injuries than those not wearing a helmet, and helmets are approximately 37 percent more effective at preventing death. California has required riders to wear helmets for some time now, and the effect has undoubtedly been many lives saved. Some motorcycle riders from out of state are unfamiliar with the requirement; failure to wear an appropriate helmet can result in a ticket, regardless of whether you were aware of the requirement or not. The State of California has a free motorcycle safety and laws handbook, which is available for download, and is also available at all California DMV locations. The contents of this handbook are valuable for all riders, both those who live in California and those who do not. 

Don't risk the "coolness" factor of riding without a helmet. A helmet can save your life!

Don't risk the "coolness" factor of riding without a helmet. A helmet can save your life!

Motorcycles Are More Dangerous Than Cars

More people die in car accidents every year than in motorcycle accidents, but that's because there are more cares on the road than motorcycles. In fact, motorcycles are an estimated 27 times deadlier than cars in the United States, based on federal government comparisons of death per mil traveled. Part of the reasons for so many deaths related to motorcycle accidents is that motorcycles do not provide protection to the rider, so when there is a collision between a car and a motorcycle, the rider's body takes the impact, whereas a car's doors and frame take the impact in a car accident.

Also, a motorcycle rider can easily fall off his or her bike after impact with another vehicle, so even a seemingly minor collision can put a rider onto the roadway; depending on how fast he or she was moving at the time of collision, a motorcyclist can die as a result of a minor impact, after losing control of the bike and falling into the roadway at a high rate of speed. 

What to Do After a Motorcycle Crash

First, regardless of what happened, who caused the crash, and many other important questions, you must take care of your health. Seek proper medical treatment, even if you're worried about your ability to pay for the resulting medical bills. Many people involved in car crashes decline to go to the hospital or see their doctor based on financial pressure; while understandable, this decision can have devastating consequences in the long run. If you weren't at fault for the crash, a good injury lawyer will likely be able to recover the costs of your medical care, so you won't be stuck with high bills in the end. Reasonable medical attention should be sought when your injuries require an expert's opinion. Sometimes this is obvious, such as with fractures and lacerations. Other times, such as whiplash and neck and back pain, people decide not to go to a doctor, but they may be setting themselves up for many months or even years of pain that could otherwise be treated by a competent doctor.

Document Everything

If you were injured, you will eventually be making a claim to the other party's insurance company. Any money you are paid will likely come from their insurance, but first you will need to prove everything, including that you were actually injured, the cost of your medical treatment, and any other expenses for which you are seeking compensation. Don't expect the insurance company to take your word for it, or to show much sympathy. Their job is to pay as little money as possible to resolve your claim. Expect the insurance adjuster to reduce your medical bills, meaning they will offer to pay a portion of the bill, but not the bill in its entirety. Again, a good injury lawyer will make sure this doesn't happen, but it is to be expected if you try to settle your claim alone. Of course, because motorcycle accidents can result in serious injury, the medical treatment required can sometimes be very expensive. Before undergoing very expensive procedures, you may want to discuss your claim with a personal injury lawyer, as the phone call may give you some insight into how the procedure will affect your case, and whether the bill is likely to be paid by the at-fault driver's insurance company or not.

Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer

You may decide not to hire a lawyer in the end, but the information you will learn by talking with an injury attorney can be invaluable. The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent motorcycle riders throughout California for all types of injury claims, including lane-splitting crashes, debris on the roadway crashes, motorcycle versus auto crashes, and most other motorcycle-related claims. At the very least, a telephone call with a knowledgable attorney will give you a better understanding of how your claim will be processed, the timeline of claim processing, and even the approximate value of your case. The Lions Injury Lawyers strive to help their clients return to full health, and return to financial stability. If it wasn't your fault, you should not have to pay for medical bills, and you should be paid for the pain and suffering you've endured. Call the Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyers.

California is home to many motorcycle enthusiasts, and for good reason. California roads can be the perfect terrain to ride your motorcycle.

California is home to many motorcycle enthusiasts, and for good reason. California roads can be the perfect terrain to ride your motorcycle.

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.

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.

 

 

When to Call an Injury Attorney

Nobody expects to get injured in a car accident, and so people injured in auto crashes are often uncertain how to proceed. The reality is most people who are injured incur some medical expenses, and without the help of a personal injury lawyer, these same people often forego appropriate medical treatment because they don't know how they will pay for it. A common question injured victims face is when they should call an attorney, and what the attorney will do for them. There are a few common misconceptions that go against the injured, such as the assumption that an attorney only helps at the end, once medical treatment is complete.

What Kind of Injuries do 'Personal Injury' Law Firms Handle?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 31 million people each year seek treatment in a hospital or emergency room for accidental injuries. These injuries may include broken bones, muscle or tendon tears, cuts and burns, as well as accidental ingestion of toxins and damage to internal organs. The most common causes of injuries are:

  • Automobile accidents, including motorcycle and trucking accidents
  • Bicycle/pedestrian accidents
  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Strike by a falling object
  • Dog bites
  • Medical error (commonly assumed to be medical malpractice)
  • Defective or dangerous products (often called 'product liability' cases)

Most of these accidents involve someone else's negligence. In California, if you were injured in one of these situations, and someone else is partially or fully to blame (liability), they may be responsible for making you "whole" again, or providing the financial means to pay for your medical treatment to help you recover to the state of health you were in prior to the accident or car crash. 

When to Call an Injury Attorney or Car Crash Law Firm

In California, you have two years to file your claim for your injury. After two years, you cannot recover money for your injury. This rule, called the statute of limitations, applies regardless of where in California you live. For example, the statute of limitations for car crashes is the same whether you live in Orange County, Los Angeles County, or in the Bay Area. All California residents must file before the two year limit. The same applies for visitors to the state of California.

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If you were injured in a car crash, you should call an injury attorney as soon as possible. There are many reasons why time is very important right after your injury. For example, the at-fault driver's insurance will likely push you to accept a small amount of money as a settlement. Their insurance may pressure you to make a recorded statement, which will most often be used against you in the future. Many people have a hard time seeing an appropriately trained doctor soon after a crash; many law firms can help injured people gain access to lien-based medical treatment, meaning the doctors will treat the patient at no out of pocket cost to the person, and the law firm will pay the doctor when they win the case.

Don't Settle Your Claim Alone

Most people assume that if they hire an attorney, they will need to either pay the lawyer a lot of money up front, or they will have to pay a large portion of their settlement to the law firm. In many cases, the injured person does not know what his or her case is worth. It can be very difficult to know if the settlement amount the insurance is offering is fair. In most cases, an experienced California injury attorney will be able to compare your case against thousands of other injury claims in order to determine how much money is fair and reasonable. Once an amount is determined, a good injury law firm will have a specific strategy to achieve the best possible outcome for their client. Also, most car crash lawyers in California are willing to work on a contingency fee basis, meaning the lawyer does not take a fee unless he or she wins. This is good for plaintiffs (the injured) because most people do not have cash on hand, ready to pay a lawyer just in case they are injured. 

Don't Underestimate Car Insurance Claims Adjusters

Auto insurance adjusters may seem friendly on the phone, but make no mistake, their job is to get you to accept as little money as possible to settle your claim. After all, these are multi-billion dollar publicly-traded companies that are trying to make as much money as possible. Next time you're watching sports, pay attention to how many insurance companies are advertising during commercial breaks. Why do they do this? Auto insurance is an extremely profitable industry. That's all fine, of course, but when you're injured and the person who caused your injury has an insurance policy that is supposed to cover the costs of your medical treatment, you should not have to fight tooth and nail to get what is rightfully owed you. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters often rely heavily on complex computer algorithms, meaning no matter how friendly you are to them, or visa versa, at the end of the day, the computer spits out a number and that is how much money they will try to get you to settle for. With an injury attorney who knows what he or she is doing, that computer-generated number is meaningless.

Future Medical Care and "Pain and Suffering"

You should call an injury law firm when you are trying to figure out how to pay for future medical expenses. Depending on your injury, the cost of your future medical expenses may be large. It can be difficult to know whether you have calculated enough money to cover future medical costs. Many California car accident law firms hire expert witnesses to calculate how much a client will need to treat their injury in the future.

Another challenging aspect injured persons encounter is how to calculate general damages, commonly known as "pain and suffering" damages or money. This amount is the money the at-fault person pays to compensate you for the pain they put you in. How much is your pain worth? Experienced injury attorneys can look at past cases and build your claim based on their knowledge of California case law. Pain and suffering damages are not commonly offered by insurance companies, and a good lawyer will fight hard to recover as much money as possible on your behalf.

The Lions Injury Lawyers are proud to represent clients throughout California, from San Diego all the way to the Oregon border and everywhere in between. If you were injured, you owe it to yourself to speak with a good attorney. You have nothing to lose, and even a short conversation with a good injury law firm will give you peace of mind, if nothing else, that you are proceeding correctly. You will speak with a lawyer (not a salesman), who will answer your questions and give you a free, no pressure evaluation.

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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. 

 

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.