injury law

Neck and Back Pain After a Car Crash: What to Do

A car crash can leave you with nagging injuries that last for years, or even a lifetime. Proper medical treatment is critical.

A car crash can leave you with nagging injuries that last for years, or even a lifetime. Proper medical treatment is critical.

If you were involved in a car crash and are suffering from pain in your neck and/or back, you may be wondering what, if anything, you can do to make the pain go away. For some lucky individuals, taking a few painkiller pills and getting good rest is enough for whiplash symptoms to go away. These are the lucky few. For most people, severe whiplash following a car accident can lead to months and sometimes years of neck and back pain. To add insult to injury, if the car crash wasn’t your fault, you’re now stuck with the headache of getting your car fixed, and face a potentially long road of physical recovery.

See a Doctor

Wherever you are in California, there are doctors who will see you and help you recover from your injury. Sometimes your health insurance doesn’t have appointments in the near future. Speak with a lawyer to find out if there are other medical offices that you can seek treatment at. Lawyers do no prescribe treatment, but they may be aware of offices who will treat you on a lien.

Wherever you are in California, there are doctors who will see you and help you recover from your injury. Sometimes your health insurance doesn’t have appointments in the near future. Speak with a lawyer to find out if there are other medical offices that you can seek treatment at. Lawyers do no prescribe treatment, but they may be aware of offices who will treat you on a lien.

The severity of your back pain may be difficult to diagnose by yourself. For example, strained muscles may very well heal on their own without significant medical treatment. However, if you have suffered damage to the vertebrae in your spine, you may not get better without medical treatment. Only a doctor that can give a qualified examination and order the appropriate diagnostic studies such as x-rays and MRI scans will be able to figure out what is going on in your back and neck. To make matters more difficult, many people suffer acute pain for a variety of injuries to their back, not being able to differentiate between the injuries. Some of the pain may go away, some may get worse.

Many people injured in car accidents are afraid to ask their attorney or their medical doctor for advice regarding treatment because of their insurance situation. Many people have high deductibles, or do not have health insurance. If you were not at fault for the car accident, a good lawyer can make sure you are able to receive the care you need. After all, you wouldn’t require medical attention if not for the negligence of someone else, so many personal injury law firms are able to help point you in the right direction. At the very least, you should go to an urgent care office to get checked out.

Neck and back pain following a car crash might go away in a week or two, or might still be bothering you ten years from now. Don’t risk your health - see a doctor who can run the proper diagnostic studies to evaluate the extent of your injury!

Neck and back pain following a car crash might go away in a week or two, or might still be bothering you ten years from now. Don’t risk your health - see a doctor who can run the proper diagnostic studies to evaluate the extent of your injury!

Attend All Treatment

Most doctors prescribe a regimen of treatment to address your injuries following a car crash. This often includes physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, possibly acupuncture, and a variety of other treatment options. These options are for what are called “soft tissue injuries,” and many people benefit from this treatment.

One way that insurance companies deny payment for medical treatment is by saying the patient was non-compliant with the treatment the doctor prescribed. If the doctor says attend three chiropractic appointments a week for six weeks, but you only attend three appointments total, you’re unlikely to have future treatment paid for. Do what the doctors tell you to do. Your attorney will make sure the bills are paid for, but can only do this if you attend all your appointments and are in all ways compliant with the doctor’s treatment plan.

You’d rather be anywhere than the doctor if you are like most people. But if you want to get better, you have to go to your appointments. Also, skipped appointments and failure to follow your doctor’s orders will likely result in a reduced personal injury settlement. It can also mean you will be stuck with your bills, as the insurance company will say you were noncompliant with prescribed treatment.

You’d rather be anywhere than the doctor if you are like most people. But if you want to get better, you have to go to your appointments. Also, skipped appointments and failure to follow your doctor’s orders will likely result in a reduced personal injury settlement. It can also mean you will be stuck with your bills, as the insurance company will say you were noncompliant with prescribed treatment.

Keep a Treatment and Pain Journal

Pain affects everyone differently. For some people, a 2-3 mm disc bulge in their spine will be immensely painful; for other people, the same injury will not bother them much. For this reason, insurance adjusters often justify low settlement offers by trying to categorize your injury with the “average” pain and suffering involved in such an injury. There is no “average” injury, of course, when it comes to your health. Your financial recovery should not depend on how much pain other people feel. For this reason, if you keep track of your pain levels in a notebook, you can track the ways in which your injury have affected your life, and later use this to prove to insurance adjusters that you were in fact injured, and that the consequences of their insured’s causing an accident have affected your day to day life.

Call an Injury Attorney

Not many people want to get lawyers involved in their problems. The challenge with injury cases is you usually don’t have experience or an understanding as to how the claims process works. Thus, you don’t know what you don’t know, and are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to knowing whether you’re getting taken advantage of, or whether the insurance company is treating you fairly. Ask a lawyer who practices injury law your questions. You will have a better understanding of how the claims process works. Just because you call a lawyer does not mean you have to sign up with a lawyer and take your case to trial. In fact, the involvement of an injury lawyer in your case may mean you’re less likely to end up in court. Why? Because insurance companies know that if a good lawyer is involved in representing you for your injury, they are often better off playing fair and paying you a fair settlement for your claim than going to court.

Nobody wants to get a lawyer, but the numbers don’t lie: personal injury plaintiffs who have a lawyer are much more likely to get a fair settlement from their injury claim than if they try to settle their case alone. Will a big chunk of the “extra money” you hope to get by going with a lawyer end up going to the lawyer and not you? Great question to ask a lawyer! (Answer: not if you get a good personal injury lawyer).

Nobody wants to get a lawyer, but the numbers don’t lie: personal injury plaintiffs who have a lawyer are much more likely to get a fair settlement from their injury claim than if they try to settle their case alone. Will a big chunk of the “extra money” you hope to get by going with a lawyer end up going to the lawyer and not you? Great question to ask a lawyer! (Answer: not if you get a good personal injury lawyer).

Think Long Term

If you hurt your neck or back following a crash, you may have a day where you feel better, followed by several days of pain. You’re unlikely to feel the same way every day. This means you have to think long-term about the severity of your injury. Will you feel better in a month? Will you feel better in a year, or in ten years. Will you ever feel better? Remember that the person who caused the crash is legally responsible for making you whole again. That means you should be put back in the position you were in before the crash, both financially and physically. The law protects the injured for their long term health, but you have to do your part to think ahead. You can’t simply decide a year after a car accident that you’re still in pain and start going to the doctor and expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay for your medical treatment. You have to think long term from day one, or as close to day one (the date that you were injured) as possible.

It Didn't Hurt, But Now It Does: Your Car Accident Injury Recovery Questions Answered

All too often, people are involved in car crashes and don't realize they are injured until several days or even weeks after the crash. The reasons for the delay of symptoms varies from person to person, but there's no doubt that many injuries related to car crashes don't show up until after a delay. Unfortunately, car insurance companies will look at any gaps in treatment as evidence that the claimant was not injured by the subject crash. So what to do if you were hurt in a California car accident, but didn't realize the full extent of your injuries until a few days or weeks after the accident?

Gaps in treatment can end up with the insurance company denying payment of your medical bills. Whenever you're injured due to another's negligence, it is imperative you seek medical treatment immediately.

Gaps in treatment can end up with the insurance company denying payment of your medical bills. Whenever you're injured due to another's negligence, it is imperative you seek medical treatment immediately.

Get Checked By a Doctor

The most important part of recovering from your personal injury is knowing what is hurt and how best to recover from the injury. Although nobody knows your body better than you, a qualified medical doctor can help assess the severity of your injuries and help chart a plan to help you recover. Most general practitioners will be able to discuss what hurts and point you in the right direction, which often includes x-rays and MRIs in order to find out exactly what the extent of your injuries are. The sooner you see a doctor, the better of you will be, both physically and in relation to your claim or lawsuit. Many law firms advise clients to see a doctor no later than within the first week of the car crash, and some injury lawyers refuse to accept clients who have not been to the doctor within a week, so the sooner you go, the better off you'll be.

What If I Don't Have Health Insurance?

Many people delay or forego entirely healthcare after a car crash because they don't have health insurance and they are afraid of the high cost of medical bills. A good law firm that practices personal injury law will be able to point you in the right direction. There are many doctors who will treat you with no payment up front, but will require payment once your injury claim settles. This is called lien-based treatment. In this situation, your attorney, yourself, and the treating medical office, all sign a document that says the doctor will be paid once the injury case settles. Of course, you would need to have an attorney represent you for your car crash for this setup to work for you, but the benefit is you can receive the healthcare you need at no out of pocket costs.

If you don't have health insurance, seeking proper medical treatment can be scary. Talking with a good injury lawyer will set your mind at ease. If you were hurt by someone else's negligence, you have options.

If you don't have health insurance, seeking proper medical treatment can be scary. Talking with a good injury lawyer will set your mind at ease. If you were hurt by someone else's negligence, you have options.

What If I Was Previously Injured?

Sometimes, people who are hurt in car crashes are afraid they won't be able to be reimbursed for their losses because they were previously injured, or they have chronic pain. This is a common situation, and the law provides for a fair outcome. If your previous injury was worsened, or exacerbated, because of the car crash, you are able to recover the money you lost, or owe, due to the accident. That is, if the car crash made it worse, you shouldn't have to pay for the costs of medical care of getting you back to the state of health you were in before the crash. 

Getting back to living life before your car crash isn't easy. Delaying medical treatment often makes the injury worse.

Getting back to living life before your car crash isn't easy. Delaying medical treatment often makes the injury worse.

What If I Have to Travel for Work and Miss Treatment?

Life doesn't just stop just because you were rear ended and hurt. Maybe you have a vacation scheduled, or you travel for work. If you're traveling, you can't be expected to go to your doctors appointments. In this situation, again, you will likely benefit from the counsel and representation of a lawyer who focuses on personal injury cases. A good lawyer will help explain to the other party's attorneys the reason you had to travel, and will likely be able to get you fair compensation for your injury claim. The rule of thumb is you should always seek proper medical treatment for as long as you need, and you should not delay or miss appointments. But if your travel plans require you to be away, a good lawyer can explain this to the insurance company and their lawyers.

Now What?

First things first: get to the doctor! You need to take care of your health following a car crash. If there has been a delay in treatment, you will likely benefit from speaking with a lawyer who has seen cases similar to yours. In most cases, the law firm will review the facts of your case at no cost to you, and most law firms in personal injury work on a contingency fee basis, meaning their fee comes out of the case settlement value. This means you will not have to pay up front, but the fees will be deducted from your settlement. Of course, no good injury law firm would take your case and work for free - if they take your case, they know they can win. In summary, you need to get back to the doctor to treat any injury that was caused by your car accident. Then, you should consult with a lawyer who has seen a situation like yours before. 

 

Deaths From Injuries Rising Among Youth in America

CNN published findings from a report today in which the rise in accidental deaths among young people in America are analyzed. For many years, the total death rate among 10-19 year olds declined significantly, according to the report from the National Center for Health Statistics at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The decrease was between the years 1999 and 2013 and represented a 33% decrease in accidental deaths; however, between 2013 and 2016, the death rate rose 12%. Tragically, car accident fatalities play a large role in the uptick. 

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The increase in accidental deaths and serious injuries is not only attributed to car crashes, however. As the table below shows, drowning, suicide, homicide, and poisoning are also causing more deaths in recent years than in the past. Many experts point the blame at easily accessible recreational drugs and social media. Even as other causes of death and permanent injury rise in other areas, the fact remains that among 10 to 19 year-old adolescents, traffic injuries were the leading cause of death in 2015. The US Department of Health and Human Services' report entitled Deaths: Leading Causes for 2015 is an easy to read, informative study that would likely be of tremendous value to parents of children and teenagers. If nothing else, it gives parents and youth alike an objective reference point that shows the dangers young people around the world face. As parents often face a challenge from teenagers not wanting to hear it from their mom or dad, the study and data are indisputible proof that car accidents (shown in the table as "motor vehicle traffic") is, without question, a serious cause of unintentional injury and death among youth. 

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Parents interested in the data presented in this study may also benefit from visiting the National Vital Statistics System, which tracks public health data and includes statistics on vital matters such as traffic deaths, pedestrian versus auto deaths and injury, and drug and alcohol-related injury and death. 

What Can Concerned Parents Do?

The statistics showing an increase in traffic deaths do not specifically mention California, but California drivers are part of the data set, and the causes of death and injury most certainly apply to young people living here.  Parents can first help their families and loved ones by being aware of the threats and familiarizing themselves with the numbers. Once parents understand the threats to young peoples' safety, they can have a more insightful conversation with their kids and teenagers about the issues. Some marriage and family therapists recommend printing off data such as the studies referenced here, and allowing the teenager or young adult to review the material for themselves before trying to talk too in depth about the issue. Jumping right into it can come off as "preachy," and many young teenagers are becoming more comfortable with their own analysis skills and ability to form an educated opinion. Have them read it and ask them what they think.

Set Rules, Set an Example

Car accident deaths are often the result of a bad combination of texting while driving, alcohol or drug use, careless or distracted driving, or any combination of these factors. Checking your phone when driving can be a against family rules, for example, although for the rule to have any weight, parents must obey it too! The more young people see their parents practicing safe driving habits, the more likely they are to incorporate these habits into their own driving.

Discuss The Obvious

California residents who have driven here for a long time sometimes do not realize that our roads are, in many ways, not the norm. Not everyone is aware that the bad traffic and seemingly crazy driving on the 405 and 5 Freeways are actually especially dangerous and chaotic - not every freeway or highway is like this. In Southern California, for example, we have some of the most dense population, with the large majority of working adults commuting to and from work in their own vehicle, instead of using public transportation. This presents a unique challenge - our roads are more busy, and the volume of drivers using our roads and freeways is extremely high. Young drivers need to know that not only are they relatively new to the challenges and dangers of operating powerful and heavy vehicles, they are doing so in an especially dangerous place. It's ok to discuss the frequent car accidents and scary crashes we see on the side of the road with our teenagers. After all, many of California's metro areas are among the most dangerous driving thoroughfares in the country! 

Helping Teenagers Respond to Crashes

Despite our best efforts, parents cannot prevent crashes, and whether or not it was your teenager's fault that a car crash happened, your loved one needs to know how to respond in the event they are part of a car wreck. They need to know that they have to pull over and call the police if anyone was injured. They may not know that they need to take photos of the scene of the crash, ask that a California Highway Patrol report, or local police report, be taken. Your loved one should know that if they may be hurt or injured, they need to seek proper medical attention, which may include an ambulance ride to a nearby hospital or urgent care facility in order to assess their injury.

Many teenagers will resist this, but it can be a crucial step in diagnosing the extent of their injury. In California, the police and Highway Patrol are supposed to ask if the injured wants to be transported to a hospital. Also, teenagers are in the stage of life where they are starting to understand money and financial constraints, so they should know that if they do take the ambulance or go to the doctor, the other driver's insurance company can be held responsible for paying the bills (assuming the car crash wasn't their fault). Taking photos of the scene of the wreck is an easy one for young drivers to do, but some don't know that they should take pictures of the vehicles involved, the scene of the crash, the surrounding area, and any bruises or lacerations they may have gotten during the car crash. 

Seek Appropriate Counsel

After a car accident, adults and teenagers alike may have questions - this is normal, and the road to financial and physical recovery can be tricky and confusing. Dealing with medical bills, police reports, insurance companies and auto repair shops can take a toll on your wallet and your nerves. Depending on the extent of your injuries, it may be wise to discuss your crash and your injury with a lawyer or attorney who handles personal injury cases. There are many injury law firms in California who handle cases throughout the state. A good injury attorney will be able to point you in the right direction, give you a general evaluation or assessment of the value and strength of your case, and help you get a fair and reasonable settlement for your pain and suffering. You should never have to pay up front, as most law firms who handle injury cases work on a contingency fee and only take a fee if they win your case. 

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.

Driving on Wet Roads 101

Millions of California commuters woke up to wet roads this morning, and as is the case every time California gets significant rainfall, water on the roadway has undoubtedly attributed to more than a few car accidents already this morning. Because some parts of California, such as Orange County and San Diego County can go many months in between rainfalls, our driving habits become tailored to driving on dry roads. As those who have been involved in a car accident due to wet weather will attest, a vehicle stops and goes differently when there's water on the road, and the difference is significant. Here are a few things to keep in mind that might help you avoid a car accident.

Give Yourself Space

Your car takes longer to stop on a wet road than it does on a dry road. The best thing you can do to avoid causing a rear-end car accident is give yourself space between the front of your car and the back of the nearest car in front of you. Of course you can't control other drivers' actions, but you are the only one who determines your speed. Most car accidents related to water or ice on the roadway are caused by drivers who rear-end the car in front of them because they don't give themselves enough room to stop. Tragically, many of these accidents result in injury to both the driver who causes the accident, and they also often result in injury to the passengers and driver of the car that was rear-ended. The more road you can see in front of you, the more likely you are going to be able to control your vehicle and come to a safe stop.

Pump Your Brakes

What about getting rear-ended? A rear end accident can cause severe injury, and can cause injury even at relatively low speeds. Many California drivers don't think there is anything they can do to avoid being hit from behind, but this is not entirely accurate. Rear-end accidents happen when the driver from behind does not stop in time, and hits the car in front. What many drivers don't consider is that by pumping their brakes, they cause their brake lights to turn on and off, which may alert the driver from behind that they are stopping. The flashing on and off of lights may catch the attention of the driver behind you, giving him or her an added 'heads up,' and possibly resulting in their ability to stop sooner. It isn't your job to teach the driver behind you how to drive, and the tactic is certainly not foolproof, but it is better than getting rear-ended and possibly injured!

Decent Tires Matter

Don't drive on bald tires. The tread of your tires matters, and the lower the tread gets, the less able you will be to stop suddenly on a wet road. Nobody likes replacing their tires, as most people can think of a lot of things they'd rather spend a couple hundred dollars on than tires. However, a car accident can cost you more than a couple hundred dollars, even if you're not at fault. And, if you're in an accident, and you're injured, the cost can easily creep into the thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. By comparison, putting a decent set of tires on your vehicle may not be such a terrible expense after all.

Pay Better Attention

It may be as simple as paying better attention that keeps you out of an accident. Your car won't stop as quickly when the roads are wet, and even if you're aware of this, chances are someone around you is not paying attention. Don't assume that everyone on the roadway is even considering that the driving conditions have changed and that the added precipitation on the road could be dangerous. Watch for vehicles who are driving recklessly and stay out of their way. Keep an eye out for vehicles driving too fast for the conditions. Let them pass, and even move aside if safe in order to let them go by - it is worth it to be behind an aggressive driver, even if you have to change lanes for a second. Also, watch for surges of water on the roadway, such as from drain pipes and from water coming off irrigation ditches and hillsides. 

If Involved in a Car Crash, Take Care of #1 (Yourself)

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a car crash during a rainstorm, you may be tempted to just get home as soon as possible, meaning you may not call the police or California Highway Patrol, or seek appropriate medical care. If you're injured, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible. This means going to the Emergency Room, or Urgent Care, or your primary care physician as soon as you are able. The decision to forego medical treatment can limit your ability to recover financially for your injuries. Don't let the convenience of going directly home keep you from seeking appropriate medical care. In the long run, for both your health and your financial stability, the sooner you seek medical care, the better.

Get Help Dealing With Insurance Adjusters

If you were injured in a car crash, and especially if the crash happened during rainy conditions, don't expect the at-fault driver's insurance company to just pay your medical bills right away. In fact, because weather was a factor, they may seek to diminish the amount of liability they will take responsibility for, or deny liability altogether. Don't get taken advantage of by loopholes you're not aware of. A good injury attorney who represents clients in California car crashes will be able to guide you along the way and make sure you get a fair settlement for your medical bills and pain and suffering. The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent injured clients throughout California, and have recovered good settlements for their clients in motorcycle, auto, trucking, pedestrian, slip and fall, and dog bite cases. If you were injured and it was not your fault, you owe it to yourself to speak with an experienced attorney who can help you avoid the headache and frustration of trying to negotiate with an insurance adjuster on your own. Putting your case in the hands of an experienced professional can mean the difference of getting good health care, and can result in tens of thousands (or more) dollars added to your settlement. Contact the Lions today, and speak with an actual injury attorney (not a salesman). 

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.

Insurance and Your Injury Claim

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What's a fair settlement for your injury?

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

Finding an injury attorney

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

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

Holiday Parties, Drunk Driving and You

At no other time of the year are more people celebrating with friends, coworkers, and loved ones, and many of these celebrations include lots and lots of alcohol. As your mother likely said at least once, it isn't you she's worried about, it's the "other guy." Tragically, every year there are thousands of drunken driving accidents throughout the state of California, and every year innocent people die due to the negligence and carelessness of others. While being hit by a drunk driver may seem like an entirely unavoidable happening, and sometimes that is the case, there are a few things you can do to lessen the chances of your being involved in a drunk driving crash.

Be Aware of your Surroundings

The first thing you should remember is if you're driving during Christmas and New Year's, especially in the evening time, there is a higher chance a driver near you is intoxicated. That may sound paranoid, but awareness to your general surroundings while driving during the holidays (or any other time of the year, for that matter), may be the difference between being involved in an injury-resulting car crash, and not. Watch for erratic driving, drivers not using headlights, drivers with their high beam or brights on, and any other unusual driving behavior.

Drunk Drivers Are Out There

Especially when you're driving at night, and especially around highly populated areas that have a high concentration of restaurants and bars, you should just assume that at least some of the other drivers on the road have been drinking.  If you assume this, your best bet is then to look for unusual behaviors, and to keep your distance from other cars. Don't drive too close to anyone. For example, even if all the cars around you are fine, if you're rear-ended at a high speed by a drunk driver from behind, if you're too close to other cars, the crash is much more likely result in injury or death. Drive with plenty of open space around you, and stay out of the left lane if reasonable and possible.

Use Lyft or Uber, and Request Your Ride Early

Lots of people attending holiday parties plan on using Uber or Lyft, but they sometimes forget that there are only so many ride hail service cars on the road, and sometimes the wait can be long and frustrating. Unfortunately, sometimes people who at first request a ride hail service like Uber or Lyft simply get tired of waiting and decide they're in good enough condition to drive. These same people end up injuring or killing others when they drive. Plan ahead: some ride services allow for scheduling ahead of time. Or, leave a little earlier than when most people will be leaving and ensure you'll be able to get a car. Finally, even if it is your habit to hail an Uber or Lyft, don't forget that traditional taxi services are still out there in many cities, and there may be a taxi available even if the other services are not.

Let the Driver Drive

Don't be a distraction to the driver. This applies to your Uber or Lyft driver, or your sober driver. Your driver has enough to pay attention to - don't be an annoying or disruptive drunk in the back seat that makes his or her job more difficult.

If Injured, Document Everything

If you're unlucky enough to be involved in a car crash this holiday season, take care to document as much as you can. This means taking photos of the scene, and calling the police or California Highway Patrol if the facts of the accident make such a call reasonable and necessary for your safety. Don't assume it will get sorted out in your favor in the future, even if the cause of the accident seems obviously not your fault. Go to Urgent Car, the Emergency Room, or your primary care health provider as soon as possible if you were injured. Any delays in treatment will allow the at-fault driver's insurance company to deny liability, which means the can avoid paying for your medical treatment. Auto insurance companies are very likely to believe their insured's version of events. It is common for even drunk drivers to tell their insurance they did nothing wrong; the auto insurance then sides with their insured, and you have to fight to make things right. If it was not your fault, in the end, the law entitles you to money for your medical bills and your pain and suffering.

California Injury Attorneys: What to Look For After a Car Crash Injury

Don't go it alone against sophisticated car insurance companies when you were injured in a crash. The tricks the insurance companies use are far too complicated, and they use so many of them, that even the highly educated and savvy person will have little chance of settling for fair value on their own. This means if you try to settle the case on your own, you are likely leaving money on the table, and accepting less than fair value for your injury case. You should look for an injury law firm that specializing in personal injury claims, has experience in California, and is able to communicate with you regularly from the time of the crash until settlement.

The Lions Injury Lawyers represent car accident victims throughout the state of California. Their staff and attorneys will assist you every step of the way. Questions about your crash, what to do (and what not to do)? Talk with an attorney at The Lions today, and move forward with confidence that you're setting yourself up for success. You've already gone through what should be the hard part - a car crash that results in injury can turn your life upside down. Don't let the aftermath be worse than the crash and injury. Get the healthcare you deserve, make sure you don't walk away with debts you cannot pay, and get money in your pocket for the pain and suffering you've experienced.

 

 

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.

Fall Weather Driving Hazards

Parts of California may enjoy some of the most predictably sunny weather in the country, but even minor changes can result in major safety hazards. An increased awareness of road conditions that can result in dangerous conditions may help you avoid an accident.

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Wet Roads

We all know that California cities often crawl to a stop during heavy rains, but most of the precipitation on the roads is not heavy rain, or rain at all. With daylight savings time approaching, the days feel shorter and many drivers will be making their morning commute in the dark. Condensation settles on the road heavier this time of year than most. Even cities in Southern California, like Los Angeles, Orange County (which includes major business hubs like Costa Mesa and Irvine), and all the way down to San Diego, experience higher levels of morning dew. Similar to black ice in colder climates (some parts of California of course to have black ice as well), dew can be unrecognizable and therefore even more dangerous. If you are driving in the morning or evening, consider there may be more condensation on the roads than you can see, making fast stops and high speeds dangerous. Every year, drivers are injured and killed in California car accidents that are the result of a driver not realizing slick conditions on the roadway. Slow down, give yourself more time to break, and remember that there's more water on the road than you see, even if it is in the form of dew or fog.

Fog

Similar to dew, fog becomes a safety issue this time of year, especially in coastal cities and mountainous areas. Fog presents many safety hazards, and is a more obvious dangerous condition than dew, as drivers can readily see their visibility is impaired. Don't use your bright beam headlights - it doesn't help and it makes the situation even more dangerous for other drivers. Drive slower, put your normal lights on, and give yourself plenty of time to get to and from your destination. Keep your foot on the brake, as fog can be more dense in some areas and significantly decrease vision. The California Highway Patrol responds to fog-related accidents resulting in injury and death every year at this time, sometimes single-car accidents where the driver becomes disoriented and crashes. Avoid crashing your car in fog by taking it slow and proceeding cautiously.

Pedestrians

Halloween is, of course, a time of great excitement and increased pedestrian traffic. It is not just the neighborhoods, either. Consider there are more people at the grocery store and shopping mall, and as happens during every holiday season, people preparing for holidays are often aloof and not paying attention. Auto versus pedestrian accidents often result in serious injury or death, as no person is a match for a moving automobile. Pedestrians bear responsibility too: if you are walking in areas that pedestrians share with cars, remember to keep your eyes up and stay off your cell phone. Drivers owe pedestrians a heightened level of care because they are driving heavy machinery that can be dangerous and deadly. Pedestrians too can help avoid accidents simply by paying attention and acknowledging they see drivers, and visa versa.

Darkness

Daylight savings time results in more darkness, especially in the early evening. You should drive more slowly in the dark, taking more time to get to your destination. Remember that visibility is decreased, meaning other cars, bicyclists, and pedestrians are more difficult to see. Drive slowly, and remember that your response time is diminished when it is dark outside.

Involved in a Fall Weather Car Accident or Injury?

For those unlucky enough to be injured in a car accident, or an auto versus pedestrian accident or slip and fall injury, the road to recovery can be challenging. Insurance companies are notoriously difficult to work with and even more difficult to get fair compensation for your losses. Speaking with an experience personal injury attorney may be advisable. If your injury wasn't your fault and you are wondering how you will pay for everything, a good injury law firm will be able to give you sound counsel regarding your options. The Lions Injury Lawyers help people throughout California bounce back after an accident. If you are wondering what to do and how you will recover, the attorneys at The Lions Injury Lawyers will be more than happy to give you a free case assessment, as well as recommend medical providers that may be willing to provide high quality healthcare at no cost up front.