general damages

Just a "Mild" Brain Injury?

If there's one thing a good injury attorney is accustomed to, it is the defense or insurance companies' insistence on minimizing the significance of an injury. What you may call a broken leg, they will call a "fracture to the lower extremity." Doesn't sound so bad, does it?  But why would an insurance adjuster do this? End of the day, it is all about money. The less severe, the less life-altering the injury, the less money the insurance company will pay for your injury. But how does this play out when your brain is involved?

Unlike with a broken leg, a brain injury can be hard to see, and for all except the most specialized medical professionals, difficult to diagnose and explain. Yet for the injured person, the affects of a brain injury can be devastating. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) is somewhat helpful in explaining what a brain injury is:

"A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury -or TBI-caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain."

Southern California is home to millions of people, and many are driving to and from work and play throughout the day. With so many people relying on commuting on a daily basis, Southern California, particularly Orange County and Los Angeles County, is home to a large number of car accidents every day. Often times the injured person complains of symptoms commonly associated with car accidents, such as whiplash, soreness in the back and neck, and headaches. The last symptom, which can range from occasional head pain, to all encompassing and debilitating migraine headache, may be a TBI.

How will you know if you are just having a bad headache, or if you suffered a concussion or TBI? A visit with the appropriate medical professional is crucial. Usually, this means visiting your primary care physician, and then getting a referral to see a specialist. Sometimes, it can take a long time to see your primary care doctor. In this case, most law firms in California, especially in LA County and Orange County, are able to sign lien paperwork with certain doctors offices. This means the doctor will treat you, and you won't have to pay out of pocket. When your case closes, a portion of the money will go to pay for the doctor's bills. Because brain injuries can be severe and life-altering, an experience injury attorney will always make sure that access to the right doctor does not keep the client/patient from seeking appropriate care.

What Symptoms Should You Look For?

If you're worried you've experienced a concussion or TBI after a car accident (or any other type of impact that injured you), you should be aware of any of the following symptoms: headache, nausea, vomiting, vertigo (problems with balance), vision problems, fatigue, sensitivity to light and noise, numbness and a dazed or stunned sensation that reoccurs. Additionally, if you feel mentally "foggy" or slowed down, are having a difficulty concentrating and remembering, or are more forgetful and confused than normal, this may indicate that you suffered a brain injury. Emotionally, if you feel more irritable and sad than normal, or are more nervous that normal, you may have suffered a TBI. Finally, if your sleep patterns have altered, such as feeling drowsy when you normally wouldn't, are sleeping more or less than usual, and are having trouble falling asleep, these changes may indicate a brain injury.

What To Do Now?

If you suffer from any of the above-mentioned symptoms, most car accident attorneys will advise their clients to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If access to medical care is a challenge, your call to an injury attorney may make it possible for you to see the right doctor very soon, and not have to pay out of pocket. The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. has handled many brain injury cases for clients who have suffered concussions. When the client is unable to get appointments with their normal doctors, The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. are willing to sign lien paperwork so that its clients can receive immediate healthcare and not have to pay out of pocket. If you or someone you care about is concerned about a possible brain injury as the result of an accident or car crash, call the Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. today. You will discuss your case with an attorney who has handled this type of cases, not a salesman. 

Your Injury Claim: Understanding Pre-Litigation and Litigation

The different terms to explain the varying stages of a personal injury case can be confusing and misleading. If you're wondering where your case is at present, and when it is likely to conclude, you may have heard the terms 'pre-litigation,' 'settlement,' and 'litigation.' But the difference between these terms may not be clear to you. This blog post will help explain the stages of a typical California injury claim.

Pre-Litigation

After an injured person contacts the at-fault party's insurance, a claim is opened, and the "case" is in the pre-litigation stage. Law firms and injury attorneys refer to your matter as a "case," but that does not mean that your matter is in court. In the pre-litigation stage, the parties exchange information freely and without guidance or regulation from the court. Lawyers are, of course, guided by ethics requirements of the State Bar of California, and insurance companies are required to act within the Insurance Code, but there is not judge or jury presiding over the process. This is important to understand because the claim is not on a timeline, meaning the pre-litigation process might last from as short as a day or a few days, to over a year. That's not to say there is no limit to how long it can last. In California, injured claimants are required to file their claim with the court within two years of the date of the accident. After two years, the claimant cannot claim recovery in court. In short, if you don't file a lawsuit in court within two years, you're not going to be able to recover financially for your loss, no matter how grave your injuries. This is called the Statute of Limitations. Again, in California, the Statute of Limitations is two (2) years. If you remember anything of the rules that govern your case, remember this: you must protect your right to recovery by filing a lawsuit in the appropriate court within two years of your loss.

Settlement

During the pre-litigation stage, the insurance company that insures the at-fault driver (the person who caused the accident) may offer to settle your claim. They may offer you whatever amount they determine is reasonable. There is no judge or jury to determine whether the offer is fair. For example, if you were injured in a car accident and broke your leg, you may have large medical bills, been out of work for some time, and unable to walk for months. But if the driver who hit you was insured by GEICO, you may get a call from a GEICO claims adjuster who says he wants to make it right and offer to settle. He may offer you $5 or $500, and tell you that all you have to do is sign a release and they'll give you a check that same day, no questions asked. Of course, that's a ridiculous amount of money for anyone with that kind of injury to settle for, but there are no parameters within which the insurance companies must offer a specified amount. If you accept, you cannot ask for more money in the future.

Because many people are unaware of how California injury claims work with insurance companies, many claimants assume that the small amount of money (say $500) is to cover immediate expenses, and more money is available in the future. This is not the case. Insurance companies do not incrementally distribute settlement money. Sometimes, they will simply send you a check that says on the bottom something to the effect of "for full and final settlement of his/her injury claim." If you cash the check, you're done: you cannot get more money in the future. Need more treatment? Expecting to have surgery soon? Rehabilitation therapy required? It will not matter, and you cannot recover more money at a later date. For this reason, all claimants should be exceedingly cautious when signing any documents with insurance companies, or cashing any checks. A short consultation with an injury attorney may save you a lot of money!

Settlement means you agree to accept money in exchange for waiving your right to future recovery. That is, the insurance company will give you a check, and by cashing that check, you agree not to sue their insured in court. If at a later date you feel that the amount of the settlement was not enough, you cannot file a lawsuit, and if you do, it is likely to be thrown out of court. If, however, you reach a fair and reasonable settlement within two years of the date of your California car accident, you do not need to file a lawsuit to get your money. A good California personal injury lawyer will make sure the insurance company issues the check and all the required paperwork is acceptable and in your best interest - all of this, of course, before the two year mark.

Litigation

If you are not able to reach a settlement agreement, litigation may be necessary. This means you file a lawsuit against the person who caused your injury. Sometimes this means filing a lawsuit against several different people or entities, such as a driver who was driving a work vehicle at the time of the accident - you would file a lawsuit against the individual and the entity he or she was working for. Filing a case in court can be tricky, and consulting with an injury attorney is highly advisable. 

Once the case is filed, attorneys on both sides will exchange information and paperwork regarding the case. Your case will be put on the court calendar, and a court date for your trial will be chosen. Due to high volume, court dates are often 18 months to over two years out. During that time, your attorney will work towards a fair and reasonable settlement. This means your case may never go to trial. From your perspective as a claimant, you won't have to go to court, and your attorney will handle the necessary paperwork. Nobody wants to go to court - not you, not the attorneys on the other side, and not the person who caused the accident.

Litigation can be costly for all parties involved, and if your case goes to trial, costs can rise quickly. Fortunately for plaintiffs, most injury attorneys cover all costs up front, meaning your case will go forward without you having to pay out of pocket. In the end, the costs come out of your award or settlement, but at least you don't have to pay out of pocket to seek fair compensation for your injury. Once litigation closes, you are likely to receive a check to compensate you for your losses, including payment towards your medical bills and money for your pain and suffering. This is assuming you win. An experience car accident attorney will be able to give you a good evaluation of your case and the likelihood of success.

If you were injured by the negligence of someone else, The Lions Injury Lawyers P.C. are eager to speak with you and discuss your claim. All consultations are free of charge. The Lions Injury Lawyers represent injured persons throughout the state of California, including residents of Orange County, Los Angeles County, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, and San Diego County. To speak with a lawyer at The Lions Injury Lawyers, call (949) 329-5000, or visit their website at www.TheLionsLawyers.com to fill out information regarding your injury.

Pain & Suffering: How Is It Calculated?

Who Is At Fault?

In a criminal court case, the at-fault party is brought to court by the government. The case amounts to the government showing that the accused perpetrated a crime. Personal injury cases are different. In a personal injury case, the claim is brought by one individual against another individual. The case amounts to the injuries of one person were caused by the actions of another. In the case of car accidents, the injured party shows that the other party caused the accident, and therefore caused the injury.

Fault = Liability

When one party is determined to have caused the accident, they are at fault. If this person caused  a car accident, for example, his auto insurance provider would accept liability for the injuries caused. This part of the case can be confusing and frustrating. Insurance companies often try to show that their insured (the at-fault driver) was not entirely at fault. Insurance providers do this so they will not have to pay as much money for the damages their client caused. The injury lawyers at The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C., are well versed in the many excuses insurance companies use to try to deflect liability. 

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Restitution

Restitution is the compensation the injured will receive in order to compensate the wrong that was done to him. In a personal injury case, restitution covers reasonable medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Insurance providers frequently fight to pay less than the amount of the injured party's medical bills. They use a host of tactics to try to prove that the injured's bills were not "reasonable." Despite this, a good attorney can make sure the injured party is reimbursed the full cost of their client's medical expenses. The costs you incur to treat your injuries, therefore, are essentially reimbursed. The great unknown amount in personal injury cases comes from what are called general damages, or pain and suffering.

Pain And Suffering

There is a lot of confusion surrounding how pain and suffering is calculated in a personal injury case. There is no simple formula for calculating how much someone's pain and suffering is worth. The question becomes how much an injured person should be payed by the person who caused his or her pain. The at-fault party pays money to the injured party to compensate them for the injuries they caused. In an auto accident case, the driver's insurance company pays this amount. Again, a skilled attorney is critical. Experienced attorneys know what similar injuries were "worth" in previous cases. For example, if an attorney has seen a hundred cases where his client suffered a similar injury, this attorney will have a good idea what the approximate amount of money they should expect from the at-fault party's insurance company. There is no chart that can determine what your injury is worth. One of the best ways to ensure you are getting a fair settlement is to rely on the experience of a seasoned personal injury attorney who has gone through similar cases many times in the past.

Negotiations

Because there is no objective way to evaluate price tag on your injury, the process of evaluating pain and suffering is often a negotiation between the injured and the at-fault party's insurance company. A good lawyer will not accept the first or even second offer. Sometimes it is necessary to file a court complaint against the at-fault individual in order to motivate the insurance carrier to pay a fair price. Without an attorney in their corner, many injured claimants are offered very low amounts to settle their claims. If they are wise and seek the counsel of a personal injury attorney, the amount the insurance company offers often increases dramatically once an attorney is involved.

Is It Fair?

Imagine two people suffer the exact same injury. One person settles his case with the insurance company by himself. The other person hires an attorney. The person who hires a quality attorney will most certainly receive more money for her injuries. Remember, their injuries were exactly the same. It is not fair, but the injured person who hires an attorney to represent her will almost always recover more money.

Your Personal Injury Case

Don't be the injured party that gets taken advantage of by the insurance company. The lawyers representing the insurance companies are very good. You'll need someone with passion, someone ready to fight back and win what you deserve. The experience attorneys at The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. stand ready to win the true value of your injury case. Contact The Lions today for a free consultation.