car crash injury

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Two-Year Mark

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

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

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

What About Settling Your Injury Claim?

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

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

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

What About Public Entities?

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

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

Basic California Car Crash Injury Claims

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

This Blog Post is Not Legal Counsel

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

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

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

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

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

How Does Lien-Based Medical Treatment Work?

Receiving proper medical treatment after an injury is critical to your physical recovery. If you don't get the right care, the chances that your injury will persist for many months and years is significantly higher. However, with the right treatment after a bad car crash or other type of injury, your chances of a full recovery are much better. But what about the cost of getting the "right" care? Most people don't have the cash or credit to get all the treatment they need, and this applies to people with good health insurance, too. 

Some of the best medical facilities in California accept injury liens.

Some of the best medical facilities in California accept injury liens.

Lien-Based Treatment

Doctors area able to treat you and get paid later - obviously the doctor that treats you and gets a check from your health insurance has to wait a few weeks to get paid. This is one approach to the business of healthcare. Some doctors are willing to provide treatment with the expectation that they will be paid after an injury case settles. The idea is that if you were injured by someone else and there's a lawyer involved who is handling the case and expects to win, the insurance company will eventually be paying on the case. In this situation, the patient signs a lien, meaning that when the case settles, the doctor gets paid before the patient does. For example, if you are injured in a car accident and receive lien-based medical treatment, the sequence goes like this: treatment is received by you, with no out of pocket costs. Then, after your attorney wins the case, or reaches a settlement with the insurance company of the at-fault driver, the money goes into a trust account at the law firm's bank. From there, the attorney must first pay the doctor who has a lien - this contract/lien is in the attorney's file. In this way, the patient is able to get the right medical treatment, and the doctor's office is paid for its services.

Proper diagnosis matters: It isn't enough to just say you were hurt, or that your life has changed. You need the right doctor with the right training to help you reach a full recovery.

Proper diagnosis matters: It isn't enough to just say you were hurt, or that your life has changed. You need the right doctor with the right training to help you reach a full recovery.

Why Might Lien-Based Treatment Be Good for Injured Patients?

Big HMOs can be difficult to schedule appointments with, especially if your treatment requires many follow-up visits, or a consultation with a specialist. We've all had the experience of waiting for a referral to a specialist and being told that so-and-so doesn't have an open appointment for a few weeks. Well, if you need to see an orthopedic surgeon or neurosurgeon today, but you can't get in for a month, your health lays in the balance during that time. Also, the quality of care can be better with doctors who treat on a lien. Many lien-based medical offices, or doctors offices who accept traditional health insurance, as well as cash payments and lien based payments, are privately owned. These doctors are often highly specialized, meaning they are able to sustain their own businesses without the need to be part of a big HMO system or hospital. 

Because the offices tend to be privately owned, the doctors have more say in who they decide to treat, and who they decide they don't want to treat. This means they can control their schedules better, meaning your chances of getting in for an appointment are better. The payment system is also a big issue for a lot of people injured in car accidents, auto versus pedestrian injuries, and slip and fall injuries. Again, because many people don't just have thousands of dollars set aside in their bank account just in case they are injured in a car accident, most people are not ready for what can be expensive medical care after an accident.

Access to the proper specialists without having to wait months for an appointment is one reason many injured people decide to seek lien-based treatment.

Access to the proper specialists without having to wait months for an appointment is one reason many injured people decide to seek lien-based treatment.

How Does Lien Treatment Affect Your Injury Case?

The bottom line is that if you don't get proper medical treatment for your injuries, you can't expect the insurance company to take your word for it and trust you were injured. No medical treatment means no settlement money to compensate you for your loss. For example, if you were injured in a car accident, but due to financial constraints or scheduling conflicts you weren't able to get the medical care you needed, you can't just expect the at-fault driver's insurance company to take a compassionate route and pay you the same amount for your injury as if you went to the doctor. Thus, even with very bad injuries, without the documentation and proper treatment from a doctor, the insurance company will not pay fair money on your claim.

But what is "fair" money anyways? Well, consider a scenario in which two people have identical injuries from the same crash. One person goes to the doctor, sees the specialists he/she is referred to, and reaches a full recovery after a few months. The doctor's notes document the patient's injury step-by-step, from the first visit until the last. Perhaps this person's case settles for $50,000. Now consider the second person does not go to the doctor, although they have the exact same injuries. This person has nothing to "prove" he/she was injured. They may not get any settlement at all. If they do get a settlement, it will likely be around a couple hundred of dollars, known as "nuisance money." If the second person gets $500, that's a difference of $49,500! The difference is the first person sought appropriate and reasonable medical care, and their injuries are documented by a medical professional. Although the second person had identical injuries, they basically walk away with nothing. 

How Can You Find Lien-Based Treatment?

If you got hurt in a car accident, or got hit on your bicycle, or was injured and it was not your fault, you're likely going to need to see a primary care physician, or other general medical practitioner. This may be at the emergency room, or at urgent care, or at your primary care physician's office. The office may refer you to future treatment, and you can ask if they know of offices for the treatment you require who will accept lien-based care. Also, most personal injury law firms are aware of medical facilities that are willing to treat on a lien. A good injury lawyer will have handled lots of injury cases, and so he or she will have worked on files and made payments on past cases to medical offices and doctors who accept lien-based care.

Many top surgeons accept liens. This is one reason some injured clients decide to have their surgeries performed at a private medical clinic rather than at an HMO

Many top surgeons accept liens. This is one reason some injured clients decide to have their surgeries performed at a private medical clinic rather than at an HMO

What Kind of Treatment Can You Get on a Lien?

Name a kind of medical office or specialty and you can find an office that treats on a lien. In California, there are surgeons, chiropractors, MRI facilities, physical therapy offices, holistic medicine, orthopedic surgeons, pain management, podiatrists - the list is basically endless. This is not to say that every office accepts lien-based care, or even the majority. While lien-based treatment is increasingly popular, the majority of medical offices may not be comfortable with this arrangement. However, if a medical office has provided treatment and then gotten paid promptly by a good injury attorney, they are very likely to accept lien-based treatment. For this reason, a medical office may want to know the name of your attorney and the firm he or she works for. If your attorney is a general attorney who does a bit of everything, but does not focus on personal injury exclusively, it is less likely that the medical office will be willing to treat you on a lien. But, if you are represented by a law firm that focuses its entire practice on injury law, the chances that that medical office will be willing to treat you up front at no cost are much higher.

Get an Attorney With a Good Reputation

Because doctors want to work with attorneys who they know will win the case and pay the doctor's bill, it is important that you seek an attorney who has a lot of experience handling personal injury cases. Consider that with the aid of modern technology, the best attorney for handling your injury claim may not be in your town or even your county! Most law firms these days are able to do a lot of work using email, faxes, and video-chat, such that someone located in San Bernardino, for example, might be best off going with a law firm represented in Orange County or Los Angeles County. At the end of the day, you want an attorney who knows injury law backwards and forwards - the chances that you will find an attorney with that kind of experience just by happenstance that is located in your city or town may not be high. Most attorneys in California will agree that the best thing you can do is find an attorney who focuses on one type of case, and has room in his or her schedule to give your case the attention it deserves.

Still Have Questions?

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. focus entirely on personal injury matters. They don't handle any other types of cases but injury claims. They accept car accident cases, auto versus pedestrian (including auto versus bicycle and skateboard), slip and fall, general negligence, products liability, failure to warn, and premises liability. The Lions are not a settlement mill - they won't just settle your case for pennies on the dollar in order to be able to handle more cases. All cases handled by The Lions are handled by an actual attorney. If you have questions about your case, including whether it is worth it to get an attorney, or whether in the end you'll get more money in your pocket by representing yourself or going with a lawyer, you should talk to a lawyer. Call The Lions and talk to a lawyer, not a salesman.  

Back to where you were before the injury - that's what the law says you're entitled to after you're hurt by someone else's negligence.

Back to where you were before the injury - that's what the law says you're entitled to after you're hurt by someone else's negligence.

Injured at the Gym? Who May be Liable, and How to Proceed

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Who is Responsible When You Are Injured at The Gym?

Injuries at your local gym are more common than you may believe. You may have experienced muscle soreness later in the day from a good workout. However, there are instances when someone could have gym equipment breakdown on them, injuring themselves more severely. Nobody goes to the gym with that in the back of their mind, and the last thing most gym attendees want to do is have to call a lawyer or recover from an injury. After all, the gym is a place to release stress and improve your health, not build more stress and injure yourself.

Gyms are typically thought to be a fairly safe place. Gyms are staffed with knowledgeable employees to teach people how to properly operate the equipment available. But what would happen when you do experience an injury at the gym? When an accident occurs, who is responsible? Is it the gym owner? The staff? Victims could be left wondering, here’s what you need to know.

Liability Waivers

When you’re new to a gym, normally you are asked to sign some form of liability waiver. Gym owners attempt to protect themselves from lawsuits filed by people who didn’t use equipment properly or tried to do more than they are physically able to do. Signing a liability waiver doesn’t mean that a gym owner is fully exempt from all lawsuit. Take a look at your copy and see what it includes. Better yet, keep a copy saved on your phone and discuss it with an injury attorney. Even if the waiver appears to cover anything and everything, courts are unlikely to enforce such a contract if the gym or manufacturers of equipment at a gym are found to have acted in a negligent manner. Here are a few clauses and verbiage to keep an eye out for:

1. Total waiver of liability means that the gym is not liable for any injuries within it walls. With that being said, courts may find these waivers to be unenforceable if they are too broad.

2. Waiver for negligence means that you can’t sue the gym if your injury was caused by negligence by the part of the gym owner or an employee.

3. Waiver of liability for intentional acts means that you can’t sue if someone in the gym assaults you in some way, these waivers are typically unenforceable in court.

Knowing what your waiver says is the first step in determining whether or not you have successful case on your hands. For example, If during a workout a machine comes crashing down on you due to poor maintenance or an issue the gym owner was aware of, you could potentially file a lawsuit. Nobody wants to file a lawsuit, but if you or a loved one was injured, chances are your lifestyle and general health have suffered greatly as a result. Many people are scared off by the idea of calling a law firm to ask questions, or they assume (incorrectly) that because they signed a waiver, they are stuck with their injury.

Premises Liability

Like any other business, a gym must be reasonable safe and free of hazards. That means that all the equipment must be inspected regularly, slip and fall hazards must be remedied and potential dangers must be repaired or removed. If any of these things have caused your injury, you may choose to file a lawsuit. Again, discussing the facts specific to your incident will likely prove valuable. If nothing else, after discussing your injury with a lawyer, you'll be in a better position to move forward with making an informed and educated decision.

Does Location Matter?

Many people incorrectly assume that because they were hurt in, for example, San Bernardino, that they must find a lawyer in San Bernardino that can help them. This is not accurate. In fact, any lawyer who is licensed to practice in the State of California can help any individual injured in California, no matter whether they be in San Bernardino or San Diego - or San Francisco! This is not limited to unique injuries, such as those that happen at a gym or an exercise facility. Car accidents, slip and fall, animal (dog) bites - no matter where it happens in California, the most important thing is to consult with an attorney that has experience in that type of case or claim. If the attorney or law firm is licensed in California, they can help you, and with modern technology, this can mean a firm in, for example, Newport Beach, can easily help represent clients throughout the state.

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Who to Call?

Like any injury, one that takes place in a gym is unique, If you have been injured in a gym in California, call The Lions Injury Lawyers. We will talk with you about your injury and circumstances surrounding it and help determine if you have a premises liability or other type of personal injury case. The lawyers at The Lions Injury Lawyers have handled many cases against gyms and exercise facilities, and despite the existence of waivers, have won large settlements on behalf of their clients. There is no obligation to sign up as a client, and there is no fee charged for talking with an attorney about your injury. Call today to discuss what your options may be, and before making any decision about how to go about fixing the damage done, educate yourself by talking with an attorney.

"You Don't Need an Attorney for Your Car Crash Injury Claim"

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For personal injury attorneys in California who practice exclusively injury law, it is only a matter of time before they take a case where the client was told at one point by someone at an insurance company that they didn't need an attorney to help them. The longer injury lawyers practice, the more frequent this story becomes. Clients are told shortly after their car accident by the other driver's insurance company that they "don't need a lawyer for this kind of claim." Because this advice has drastic consequences, a brief look as to why an employee of an insurance company, especially an injury claim adjuster, would say this is worth looking into.

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What Do Insurance Adjusters Do?

Insurance adjusters evaluate claims and, if necessary, offer money to settle the claim. What does "settlement" entail? It basically means that in exchange for money, the claimant will not sue the insurance company's insured in a court of law. This all happens before any lawsuit is filed against the person who caused a crash. Insurance adjusters are therefore middlemen that are supposed to protect the interests of their insured. The more claims an adjuster can settle or close, the better they are at their job in the eyes of their bosses, and they are often compensated accordingly. In short, if an insurance adjuster can get you to settle your claim, they win, and personally it is good for their careers.

What Exactly Does "Evaluate Claims" Mean?

Insurance adjusters evaluate claims. Basically this means they investigate what the claimant is saying in comparison to what their insured says. However, their evaluation is not objective, whereas a jury evaluation of a case is supposed to be objective. If the insurance adjuster's client/insured says they didn't cause the accident, the insurance adjuster will stick by their client, regardless of what the facts say. This means they can deny your claim, even though there's a lot of evidence to show that their guy is at fault. So even though they are tasked with evaluating the claim and trying to get the claimant to go away, their view favors the interests of their company.

Why Don't Adjusters Want Me to Speak With an Attorney?

First, remember that insurance adjusters are expected to move files off their desks. The quicker they can get rid of your file, the sooner they can move on to the next file, and so on. The involvement of an attorney does not necessarily mean your claim will go unsettled longer, but it most certainly means that when your claim settles, it will be for more money. Injury attorneys specialize in getting their clients money, plain and simple. The money comes from the at fault party's insurance company. In short, if an attorney is involved, the insurance company is going to have to pay more money to make the claim go away. This is bad for the individual insurance adjuster's performance metrics.

Insurance adjusters also handle so many car crash cases that they become accustomed to getting their way with plaintiffs who are not represented by an injury lawyer. They get used to having the upper hand in the negotiation, and they are used to getting their way. They also know that the tables turn when an injury law firm is involved, as an experienced injury lawyer will know far more about the law, case results, and how the courts actually work.

The Insurance Company says ________________. Is this true?

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Insurance adjusters are not bad people, but they do have often have a narrow perspective as to how an injury case might play out if an attorney is involved. Again, they settle so many cases for pennies on the dollar that they don't realize a case they settle for $500 may be worth $15,000 or $50,000 if an attorney is involved. They view themselves at injury authorities, even though they are not trained in the law, and don't know what happens to cases that they don't settle that end up in litigation and going to trial. Insurance adjusters therefore often try to coach claimants as to how the process works, even though their approach is heavily favorable to the insurance company's bottom line, and geared towards low settlement.

"My Adjuster is Very Friendly. I Don't Want to Cause Problems for Anyone."

Friendliness is a proven negotiating tactic that is taught to insurance adjusters in most insurance companies. Hint: if you've seen a commercial on television for an insurance company, you can rest assured the adjusters for those companies have all been trained how to present themselves in a friendly manner during negotiations with claimants. Also, remember that none of this is personal. You will never meet the insurance adjuster, and even in the event that your case requires a lawsuit be filed, you will probably never see the individual who injured you again. The insurance policy is there to protect you in the event of injury, and so when you are injured by someone else's careless or reckless driving, the law has provided a way for you to recover, physically and financially. 

If you pursue your claim, it is extremely unlikely that the actual individual who hit you will know or care how much their insurance company settles for. For example, an auto insurance policy for $50,000 covers your injuries up to that amount. Whether you settle for $500 or $50,000, it does not affect the person who injured you personally, as the money comes from the insurance agency. This is why we pay insurance premiums. Every month, every California driver pays money to be insured. In return, if they cause an accident and hurt someone, that money is used to protect the negligent person. Thus, your efforts to get a fair settlement and have your medical bills and pain and suffering paid for have nothing to do with the individual who hit you, but become the responsibility of the insurance company to resolve.

Isn't All This Overly Skeptical of Insurance Companies?

The more injury claims an attorney sees, the more aware he or she is of the many ways in which insurance adjusters are able to convince injured people to do things that will ultimately result in the claimant receiving less money. Insurance companies are insanely profitable, as evidenced by their high profile advertising campaigns, the stadiums their brands are on, and their pervasive presence in advertising culture. Insurance companies spend billions of dollars every year in advertising, and in return, they earn billions of dollars in profits. If you are injured and want to get your medical bills paid for, that is why the insurance policy exists, and why California law requires drivers to have insurance. Insurance companies employ good people, and are not necessarily corrupt, but they do have a bias, and that is to settle all claims for as little money as possible, as this is how they stay profitable.

If You Are Injured

California law provides for full recovery if you were injured, meaning you should be in the same position you were after the car accident or other injury-causing accident as you were before the accident. If your injury is long-lasting, catastrophic, or permanent, this may not be possible. Still, the law makes sure the negligent/at fault person is responsible for making you whole, so if you can't be put back together, you are owed money for pain and suffering. The Lions Injury Lawyers are passionate about getting fair value for injury claims. They fight endlessly to recover as much money as possible for their clients, which will cover all medical expenses and also include money for pain and suffering, lost wages from time off work, and money for other incidental and inconvenient or painful lifestyle changes. The Lions Injury Lawyers spend 100% of their time practicing injury law, and are exclusively dedicated to personal injury clients. Speak with an actual injury attorney today to make sure you're not being taken advantage of as you seek to settle your claim.