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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. 

 

Civil Claim or Criminal Claim?

For those who don't spend a lot of time in California courts, and for people who are trying to navigate the sometimes complicated and confusing names and phrases used in court, it can be confusing to know where to begin. One question that injured people often have is whether they need to file a lawsuit, and if so, what kind of lawsuit? Because every case is different, and the costs of going it alone in court can be high (not to mention incredibly confusing for many people), it is advisable to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with the kind of case you have. One basic distinction is between civil cases and criminal cases.

Criminal Cases

If you were injured by someone who intentionally hurt you, for example, the case falls in the criminal realm. This situation typically means the police were involved, and the person who caused the harm was either arrested or cited for criminal behavior. The State of California, through its district attorney offices, will pursue the case against the person who caused the harm. In a very basic sense, this means the state prosecutes the bad actor. 

Criminal/Civil Cases

In some situations, however, the injured person may file a civil claim against the person who hurt them during the crime. Think about O.J. Simpson, for example. The state tried him for murder, for which he was famously found not guilty. But the family of Nicole Brown pursued a civil suit against O.J. Simpson as well. The legal theories involved are not important to understand in depth. Because O.J. Simpson was a wealthy man, if the family prevailed in their lawsuit, the court could enforce the judgment and make sure O.J. paid (or continues to pay, over a long period of time), the money awarded in a verdict. A civil case may also include "punitive" damages, which are meant as a punishment against the wrong actor, as was awarded in the Simpson case.

The O.J. Simpson case is unique, however, in that the money of the civil verdict was actually paid out to the Brown family. What if O.J. was a poor man at the time of the alleged crime, and remained poor throughout the civil trial? The reality is, even if the jury in the civil trial had awarded millions and millions of dollars, in most situations the Brown family would never have seen a penny of it. Which, in real life, means the case would likely never be brought to trial in the first place. Why? Because most lawyers (there are exceptions, but generally speaking) would not take a civil case to trial when there would be almost zero chance of actually ever seeing payment of the money.

There are many situations that call for both a civil and criminal case. For example, if you or someone you love were injured by a drunk driver, the State of California may pursue the drunk driver in criminal court in order to protect the public. However, the criminal case is about the state taking a dangerous individual off the roads, and possibly putting him or her behind bars. But what about the person or people who were injured by the drunk driver? In order to be compensated, they would need to pursue the drunk driver in a negligence claim, or in civil court. Of course, the issue of who would end up paying arises, and unlike the O.J. Simpson example, the drunk driver, if he had insurance, would be covered for this very situation. Thus, the injured person could open a claim with the drunk driver's insurance company and, if navigated correctly, could resolve this issue without ever having to go to court, and could receive to maximum amount of money the insurance policy covered the drunk driver for.

Civil Cases

In the previous example of the drunk driver who injured someone, there is a common misconception that the injured person must wait for the criminal proceeding to finish. This is not accurate. By contacting an injury law firm in California that handles these hybrid cases, the injured person or persons can move forward with their claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. A good injury attorney will be able to finalize this portion often before the criminal case is even underway. This is, it should be clear, a very general description of how a situation like this example might be handled, and anyone who was injured or who has loved ones who were injured by a drunk driver should not rely on this post for legal advice; they should immediately contact a lawyer or law firm for legal counsel. 

So, Which Case to File?

The reality is, if your situation calls for a criminal proceeding, the police will handle it. If the police aren't aware of what happened, they need to be. Once the police are aware of a criminal act that resulted in injury, a report and investigation will commence, and they will handle it from there. In the civil arena, an experienced and skilled injury law firm may be able to get to the bottom of your case before ever filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits take a lot of time, cost a lot of money, and after all that, don't guarantee that the injured person will recover any more money than if the case settles out of court in the pre-litigation phase. For this reason, an injury attorney may be able to give you an evaluation that will at a bare minimum help you understand where your case or claim stands, and what the possible scenarios are in the future. If you're lucky, you won't ever have to file a lawsuit or step foot in a courtroom, and you'll still end up with the same result as if you had.

Injury Lawyers

The Lions Injury Lawyers P.C. are located in Orange County (OC) California, and help injured persons throughout the State of California. They offer free case evaluations by an attorney. That means you'll be speaking with an actual lawyer, not a salesman who is paid to sign up your case and won't hear a thing about it the day after he signs you up. Don't live in Orange County, or your case didn't happen in Southern California or OC? No problem. The Lions represent clients throughout the state of California, and their handling of your claim won't differ a bit from if you lived right down the street in Irvine, Newport Beach, or Costa Mesa. A brief phone call with an experienced injury attorney will give you peace of mind, and help you look at your situation from a new perspective. The Lions Injury Lawyers can compare your case with thousands of cases in the past, which allows them to estimate how many variables will play out for you. The contents of this blog post are for information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal counsel for your case or claim, or for anyone looking for legal advice. The contents of this blog post are intended to educate people, not as legal counsel.

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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. 

 

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

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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.

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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. 

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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

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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.

 

 

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

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

Your Claim Comes Down To Documentation

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

Start a File

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

California Injury Claims

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

How To Proceed With Your Injury Claim

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

California Injury Attorneys

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

Social Media and Injury Claims

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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. 

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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 

"Delayed" Car Accident Injuries

The variety of injuries you may suffer if you are involved in a car crash is expansive. There are typical injuries, such as fractures, cuts, whiplash, and neck strain. Some of these appear immediately, such as a broken bone or a laceration (cut). However, some injuries do not appear until several days or weeks after the accident. What then?

See A Doctor

The best advice is always to seek the treatment and evaluation of a qualified medical professional. Often times this means a visit to your primary care provider. However, if your health care provider is like most medical offices, getting an appointment is not easy. For many offices is Los Angeles and Orange County, which are heavy populated areas, it can take weeks and even months to get in to see your doctor. If you are frustrated with the amount of time you have to wait to see a doctor, you are actually appropriately justified in feeling that way: it is critical to your health that you see a doctor after an injury accident, especially when you cannot determine the full extent of your injuries by yourself. 

Go To Urgent Care If Necessary

If you can't get in to see your doctor, or you feel you are being marginalized and turned away with minimal "gloss-over" care at your normal doctor's office, you should go to an Urgent Care facility, even if you have to pay out of pocket. Sometimes, an established injury attorney may be able to sign a lien so you can visit an Urgent Care facility at no out of pocket cost to you. The important this is to see a doctor as soon as possible.

What If Your Injuries Only Appear Later?

"Delayed" onset injuries are common in car accidents. Why? Your body responds to trauma and high-stress environments differently than it would in other circumstances is one reason you may not feel the injury right away. Consider than after a car crash, you may be scared, worried about your vehicle, worried about the safety of your passengers or the driver of the other vehicle - the number of things you have to consider all at once is overwhelming, for anyone. Your brain can only handle so much stress. It is rare, but occasionally people who suffer even severe fractures and lacerations do not notice until hours after the accident because they are preoccupied with handling immediate concerns at the scene of the accident.

When injuries appear that you connect to the crash, you still need to seek medical attention. Your car accident attorney will be well versed in arguing on your behalf. Don't expect the insurance company to pay you for your injury unless it is appropriately documented in your medical records. The only way to do this is to see a doctor as soon as possible.

What Kind Of Injuries Are Often "Delayed?"

There is no definitive list as to which injuries that result from car accidents show up later, but the most common injuries are whiplash, concussions, sprains to the neck and back, and bruising. Every person's body reacts differently, but injuries to the "soft tissue" areas of your body, such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons, can take time to exhibit symptoms, due to the body's endorphin and adrenaline response, which tries to cover up or less pain associated with damaged tissue or bone. 

Will The Insurance Company Pay Your Medical Bills?

The answer depends on how you approach your injury and your injury claim. If you simply submit your medical bills on your own to the at-fault driver's insurance, you do not have a high chance of having your medical bills paid. Why? If you did not seek immediate treatment, they will almost always deny payment, saying there is an inexcusable "gap in treatment." At The Lions Injury Lawyers, we have seen insurance companies deny payment on medical bills that were incurred only two days after a major accident. (Of course, we fought and won, and they ended up paying. But without an attorney, the claimant would have had to pay out of pocket). A good injury attorney will make sure the insurance company pays them. Do not expect them to be paid just because you say the bills are a result of your car accident. Even if the police report says their insured is at fault, and you went to the doctor immediately, insurance companies are notorious for using a very long list of excuses for not paying medical bills.

You're Feeling The Effects of Your Crash - Now What?

You deserve to be fairly compensated for your injuries. That won't happen easily. The Lions Injury Lawyers know the ins and outs of the insurance industry's approach to injury claims, including the tricks and traps they utilize to minimize the amount of money they will pay you for your claim. Don't get taken advantage of. Even if you don't sign up with our firm, you owe it to yourself to speak with someone who has done this before. (Or, preferably, thousands of times before!) When you call The Lions Injury Lawyers, you'll speak with an attorney, not a salesperson. We are not a legal marketing firm - we don't just sign up clients and sell their files to other law firms. We will fight to get you fair compensation and make sure you don't get taken advantage of by predatory insurance adjusters. Serving all of California, including Orange County, CA, Los Angeles, CA, San Bernardino, CA, San Diego, CA, and the inland empire, we are ready to help you get what you deserve.