injiury firm

Your Injury Claim, Compared to Millions of Other Similar Claims

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

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

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

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

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

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

What To Do With a Bad Injury Settlement Offer?

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

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

Putting a Face to a Name

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

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

Making Your Case Stand Out From the Other Cases

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

How to Choose an Injury Attorney

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

 

Treatment for a Car Accident Injury: How Long Can You Treat?

One of the most frequent and important questions regarding treatment for an injury stemming from a car accident is how long you can treat and expect that the at-fault driver's insurance company will pay for your treatment. Some injuries, such as a broken bone, may be fairly predictable, while other car crash injuries may take significantly longer to mend.

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Big Picture: Treat Until You're Healed

The law basically says that if you were injured and it was not your fault, it is the other party's responsibility to make you whole again. This has been interpreted to mean that you should essentially be put back in the same position you were before the car crash. One way insurance companies avoid paying medical claims from car crashes is by saying that your injuries were "preexisting conditions," or in other words, you already had the ailment or were hurt in that area of your body before the car crash. If that is true, the insurance company (who steps in for the actual driver who caused the crash), does not have to pay for your medical bills relating to a preexisting condition. But what if you were injured in an area of your body that was already painful or hurt, and now it is worse?

Aggravation of Preexisting Conditions

Nobody is perfectly healthy, and the older we get, the more ailments we tend to have. For example, it is common for older people to have back pain. So if you have back pain before a car accident, does that mean that you can't receive medical treatment for the pain if it is now worse than it was before your car accident? California courts have taken the approach of looking at what is fair and reasonable, and consider whether the treatment received is medically necessary. Thus, if you had a bad back before the crash, but it has gotten worse, you should be able to seek treatment. After all, the increase in pain cannot be attributed to you being older, but directly relates to the car crash. Thus, California residents (and this is the same for those living in Southern California as in Northern California) should consider getting medical help and treatment for the aggravation and exacerbation of prior injuries if it is reasonable and medically necessary.

Examples of Treating Prior Medical Conditions

Consider that some people are involved in multiple car crashes. After all, California roads are among some of the busiest in the country, and some of our cities, like Los Angeles, Orange County metro area, like Irvine and Costa Mesa, see millions of drivers every week on their thoroughfares. Thus, some people experience a car wreck more than once. What if a person is injured, received medical treatment and is feeling better, and then gets in another car accident that is not his or her fault, but is injured in the same way again?

If the injury is in the neck and back, the individual will likely follow this type of treatment: a visit to a doctor, which may include going to the emergency room or an urgent care, but often is simply a visit to your primary care physician; then, perhaps they have an x-ray taken, or an MRI, in order to find out the extent and severity of the injury; next, they may go to a chiropractor or pain management doctor and try to heal their injuries through therapy; finally, if necessary, the individual may have a surgical procedure, such as a fusion surgery, or receive a stem cell injection, or an epidural injection. There tends to be a chronology of care that increases in seriousness as the treatment continues. Nobody wants to have an epidural injection, or have an invasive procedure like surgery on their back. However, if the pain a person feels continues, they may elect these procedures.

How do Insurance Policy Limits Play In?

The more treatment an injured person receives, the more expensive it will be. The more intensive the treatment, such as surgery or injection of an epidural or stem cells, the more costly the care is. But what happens if there is not enough money in the at-fault driver's insurance policy? The basic answer is that the at-fault driver's insurance company can rarely be made to pay you more than what their insured's policy limits are. Thus, if the individual who caused the crash was insured for only $15,000, at the end of the day, that is likely the most the insurance company will pay for your medical bills. Of course, if there is a bigger insurance policy, and your injury requires more costly medical care to recover from, then the insurance company will be made to pay more to make you whole again.

It does not seem fair that the same injury can settle for different sums of money, but consider a situation in which two people have the same injuries, but one was injured by someone with a million dollar insurance policy, and the other person was injured by someone with a $15,000 "minimal" policy (in California, to legally drive on California roads, $15,000 is the minimum amount of liability coverage individuals need to be insured for). Now, consider that the two people both need a surgery that costs $50,000. The individual who was hit by someone with a million dollar policy will be able to get the surgery and can reasonably predict the insurance company will eventually be made to foot the bill. The individual hit by the driver with the minimal insurance policy may elect to get the surgery, but how will they pay for it? If the insurance company pays the $15,000, what happens to the remaining $35,000 of the bill? And what about pain and suffering, lost wages, and future medical treatment?

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How an Injury Attorney Can Help

Most people don't know how to proceed in a situation such as the example shown above - even finding out how much the at-fault driver is insured for can be a great challenge to people who are not represented by an injury lawyer. The good news is that injury law firms usually work on a contingency fee basis, meaning whatever money they are paid comes out of what they win. For example, most injury lawyers will pay all the costs on a case up front, and won't get pain anything until they win your case, so you're never left writing a check to your lawyer, not knowing whether you'll actually win in the end or not.

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An injury attorney can help you compare your situation to other cases, and can help advise regarding policy limits, jurisdictional issues (a case in San Francisco may play out differently in court than it would in Los Angeles County, or Orange County), and other questions you might have. Regarding how long you should treat, a good injury lawyer will be able to get into the details about your prior injuries or ailments, and will help you understand the process of how injury cases are handled, including what the general value of your case may be, and whether or not your case is one that will likely go to trial or not. 

Ask More Questions

The more you understand how the injury claims process works in California, the better position you will be in to make wise and educated decisions. If you're like most people, this is new territory. Fortunately, injury lawyers and most injury law firms have seen hundreds and sometimes thousands of cases, and their attorneys can compare your case with the outcome of similar cases. Without knowing how similar cases worked out in the past, you will have a hard time making educated decisions regarding your treatment. For this reasons, many people find it helpful to discuss their injury with a car crash lawyer, even if they don't decide to hire the lawyer. The more you know, the better you'll be in the long run, and that is never more true than when it comes to treating your car accident injury.

 

 

Insurance and Your Injury Claim

Most people injured in a car accident in California are aware that both their insurance and the at fault party's insurance will be involved in handling the injured person's claim, and that it is the insurance company (and not the individual) who pays the medical bills and property damage. Beyond that, many injured people are not quite sure how it all works, which is completely normal considering we only have to file a claim when we're injured by someone else, which hopefully does not happen often. The role both insurance companies play can be confusing, frustrating, and irritating to the injured person. A better understanding of the role insurance companies and their adjusters play can help someone who is injured better navigate their claim.

No, filing a claim against the at-fault party does not put that person's home or assets at risk

Insurance companies provide drivers and homeowners a certain amount of coverage in exchange for your monthly payment of the insurance premium. In California, the minimum amount of liability insurance for drivers is $15,000 per individual and $30,000 per accident. This means that in order to legally operate a vehicle on California roadways, you need to have at least this much coverage. But what does this cover? The "state minimum" amount means that if you injure someone, your insurance company will cover the injured's medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages. The at-fault driver's insurance is the first line of defense, so that means the injured plaintiff's attorney will first communicate with this insurance company prior to filing a lawsuit in most cases. It also means that the amount on the insurance policy is the most the insurance company will pay to resolve the matter. If the injured's medical expenses are much more than $15,000 (hospital bills totaling $100,000 and the at fault driver's policy covers only $15,000, the injured person can still only recover $15,000). Only after the at fault driver's policy has been exhausted can the injured person access their UIM (under-insured motorist insurance policy).

Many individuals who are injured in a California car crash don't want to be "mean" and file a claim against the person who hit them. They don't want to file a lawsuit, don't think litigation is "right," and a host of other reasons not to pursue their claim. The biggest misunderstanding is that by filing a claim, somehow the at fault driver's personal life will be greatly affected. In most cases, this is not the case. If the driver caused an injury due to his or her negligence, his insurance premiums may go up, but they won't lose their home or have to sell their assets. 

Insurance adjusters for the at-fault driver need to pay you to go away

Insurance adjusters are there to make this all go away. They will request a recorded statement, your medical bills, access to your medical records going back many years, and many other things in order to evaluate your claim. They're allowed to ask for all of this, but you don't have to give it to them, and giving them everything they want is unlikely to result in a fair settlement for you. Why? The more they ask for, the more they're likely to find excuses to minimize the amount they decide to pay you, if they are willing to pay at all. Their job is simple: close the claim for as little money as possible. Some insurance adjusters are very pleasant to work with, even seeming to become your friend over the process (a tactic that makes you feel guilty for declining their offers), and others can be confrontational, rude, and insensitive. Whoever the insurance adjuster is, and for whichever insurance company, their job is to make you go away. 

No, your insurance premium won't go up if it wasn't your fault

People injured in car crashes immediately worry about their finances. Many people worry that their insurance premiums will rise if they claim an injury. This is not accurate. If it wasn't your fault, it is the other driver's insurance company, not yours, that will be paying the bills. You should get the medical care you need and take care of your health, as the other party's insurance is responsible for reasonable medical costs associated with the injury their insured caused.

Negotiating for more money with an insurance adjuster on your own is generally a bad idea

Insurance adjusters will almost always offer far less than what your injury is worth. They don't generally itemize their offer, so you don't know how much they're paying for your medical bills and how much they're paying you for pain and suffering. Many insurance companies offer $500 to resolve a claim. Experienced injury lawyers regularly see $500 offered for claims that settle for $15,000, and sometimes over $100,000. How can an insurance adjuster offer so little if the claim is worth so much more? The answer is simple: if they offer and the injured person accepts, the claim is closed and the insurance company will not have to pay more money in the future. And, many people surprisingly accept the first or second offer. 

What's a fair settlement for your injury?

If you were injured in a car crash, you're entitled to be compensated for the cost of your medical care and pain and suffering. But what is pain and suffering worth, and how do you calculate it? The answer is that an injury attorney is able to compare your case against other cases in the past and calculate an "industry standard" amount. Without knowing how much other injury claims are settled for, you cannot possible know how much your claim is worth. 

Finding an injury attorney

In order to get your medical bills paid for and be compensated for your losses, you may be well served by hiring an injury attorney. Most California injury law firms do not charge clients up front, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. You're far more likely to get a fair settlement by working with an attorney than going it alone. When looking for a car crash attorney, you should seek a law firm that focuses on injury claims exclusively, not a lawyer who does a little bit of everything. Location is generally not important, as most of the paperwork and negotiations can happen anywhere. The most important thing to look for is, in the opinion of many injury attorneys, a law firm that handles a lot of injury claims and is excited to work on your behalf.

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. practice only injury law, and are ready to discuss your claim and answer any questions you may have. Located in Newport Beach, California, The Lions handle cases for clients in Orange County, San Diego County, and throughout the state of California, from Los Angeles County all the way north to the Bay Area. Contact The Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free case evaluation with an attorney.

Dealing With Your Car Insurance After A Car Crash

Despite writing that monthly check to your auto insurance for liability and injury coverage, most people are understandably confused regarding what happens following a car crash when it comes to speaking with insurance. The assumption is that everything will be taken care of. After all, that is why you pay for insurance, right? And if you were not at fault for the car crash, why would you have anything to worry about? Unfortunately, reality is less cut and dry, and there are several things you should (and should not do) when communicating with your insurance provider following a car crash, especially an accident that resulted in injury to you or your passengers.

What Does Your Insurance Cover

In California, the state minimum policy, or the least amount of insurance you need to legally drive in the state, is a 15/30 policy. This is the amount of insurance coverage that is likely to cost you the least amount of money. What do the numbers mean? The 15 represents $15,000 for bodily injury you cause another individual. That is, if you injure someone, your insurance will pay up to $15,000 towards their medical bills and pain and suffering. This amount must cover everything, and is the maximum amount of money any one individual can recover as a result of an accident that was your fault. Even if that person's medical bills exceed $15,000, that's the most your insurance will pay. If you were injured by someone who has this insurance policy, the most you can recover from their insurance is $15,000. Even if your medical bills are extremely high, let's say $500,000, you will only get a check for $15,000 (in the best case scenario) from the at fault driver's insurance. 

The second number represents $30,000, or the total amount that your insurance will pay towards injury claims from a given accident. This means if there were multiple people injured, they must divide all their claims into the $30,000; if, for example, ten people were hurt, and each have $100,000, the total amount any one person can get is $15,000, and the entire group's net recovery cannot exceed $30,000. Given the high cost of medical care, a 15/30 or "bare minimum" insurance policy may not be enough to cover the medical bills and pain and suffering of those involved in the crash.

Will Your Insurance Premiums Be Increased?

The short answer is no, not automatically. This depends on whether you were at fault, and whether you were issued a citation or ticket from the California Highway Patrol or another law enforcement office. The amount you pay for car insurance depends on what you use your car for (business or pleasure), what kind of car you drive, where you live, what your driving/criminal records looks like, among other factors. If you were not at fault in a car accident, you should not see an increase in your insurance premiums. If you were at fault, you will likely see an increase. This is because it will cost more for your insurance company to insure you, and you are a greater risk of costing more money to insure in the future.

When Should You Report A Car Accident To Your Insurance?

Most people don't want to talk to their insurance because they don't want to see their bills increase. However, if you were injured, or someone else was injured, you should call your insurance company. Also, if property damage exceeds $500, or is likely to exceed that amount, you should call your insurance company. Some insurance policies (the "contract" between you and your insurance) require you talk notify them immediately after any motor vehicle collision.

What Should You Say To Your Insurance Following A Crash?

They need to know where it happened, when, any contact information from the other vehicles involved, and a basic explanation of the crash. That's it. You do not need to try to explain everything. In fact, doing so is likely to hurt you more than help you. Don't accept fault for the accident, and don't give a full list of possible injuries to you or anyone else. If you were injured, say you were injured and you have not yet visited a doctor. If you give a detailed accounting of injuries, you may miss something, and you will most certainly not give an accurate accounting of your injuries when compared to your medical records. This enables insurance adjusters to deny payment towards medical treatment later. You therefore shoot yourself in the foot by trying to be helpful. 

What Shouldn't You Say Following A Crash?

First, make sure you're safely off the road and are emotionally in a good spot. Too many people try to get on the phone with their insurance when their vehicle is still in the roadway, or they are in shock and still flustered from the accident. Take care of yourself first.

  • Don't admit fault. Just don't give your opinion. State the facts as simply and straightforward as you can. 
  • Don't say you are uninjured, or were not injured. If you feel pain a day or two later, which is very common, you may negate your ability to recover in the future. If you have medpay, or excess liability coverage, for example, your insurance policy that you've been paying for may cover you. It won't cover you if you make a statement that to you seems harmless, but allows your own insurance company do deny payment later on. 
  • Don't give a recorded or "official" statement. It won't help you and it can only hurt you. Sounds overly critical of insurance company, perhaps. But attorneys that handle car accident injuries regularly in California have seen time after time cases where the injured person makes a seemingly harmless recorded statement that is later used against that person. If you make a recorded statement (some insurance providers require this), you should do so only after consulting with an attorney. 
  • Don't estimate. Communicate the facts and stick to that. The more you try to connect the dots, the more likely you are to make a statement that although it sounds harmless to you, will prejudice your case in the future. This means it will work against you in the future. Keep it simple.
  • Don't sign medical records or releases. The insurance adjuster may say this is required, but it is not. You should consult with your attorney prior to signing medical release forms. 

Don't Settle Without First Consulting With An Attorney

Above all else, if you are considering settling, you should first speak with an injury law firm or an attorney who handles injury cases. Even if your case seems simple and straightforward, there are many loopholes that allow insurance companies to settle for less than fair value. If you don't know any better, you are likely leaving money on the table. Settling without an attorney almost always means you will get less money in your pocket. 

Depending on the facts of your case, you may be leaving large amounts of money on the table that you don't even know about. This is money that you have been paying for as part of your insurance premiums, or is money that the at-fault party is covered for. Remember, insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They want to spend as little money as possible on your claim. The less money they spend on your case, the more money they keep in the business. However, this does not mean you are getting a fair settlement for your California injury claim. Don't pad the pockets of the insurance company by accepting less than fair value. 

California Car Accident and Injury Attorneys

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. handle injury claims throughout the state of California. The lawyers at The Lions Injury Lawyers do not work on other matters, but focus exclusively on injury cases. This means they have the experience and knowledge to help you get fair compensation for your injuries. If you or a loved one were injured, the attorneys at The Lions Injury Lawyers will answer your questions free of charge. All representation is done on a contingency fee basis, meaning you will never have to write a check or pay for your attorney out of pocket. Your fee is taken as a percentage of the amount your attorney wins on your behalf. If your attorney does not win, you owe nothing for the services provided. Also, you will speak directly with an attorney, not a salesperson. Don't sign up with an injury law firm after speaking with only a salesperson. Salespersons are fine at selling tires and perfume, but when it comes to your health and financial wellbeing, you deserve to speak with an attorney. Contact The Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free consult.