insurance adjuster

How Gaps in Treatment Affect Injury Claims

One of the frustrations many people experience when trying to settle their personal injury claim with an insurance adjuster is trying to figure out what a “gap in treatment” is, and why the at-fault driver’s insurance refuses to pay for some medical treatment. If you were hurt by someone else, and you have medical bills that are the result of treatment you received following the injury, how is it possible that those bills will be your personal financial responsibility, when the reason you have them in the first place is because someone else was negligent? This article will help people who have been injured in a car crash understand what the insurance companies look for.

Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Treatments to the back, neck, and spine, such as chiropractic and physical therapy care, can sometimes last several months after a car crash.

Chronology of Medical Treatment

Immediately following your injury, which for the sake of using an easy to follow example, we’ll say was the result of a car crash. The law in California is that the person who hurt you must make you “whole” again, or put you in as close to the same condition you were in before the car crash. This means physically, emotionally, financially, and sometimes even socially. So if you were hurt, and you seek medical treatment, it follows that the person who hurt you should pay for your medical bills, right? Yes, and no. The at-fault driver is responsible for reasonable and medically-necessary treatment. So the insurance company can deny payment for medical treatment you receive that they say is not the result of your injury, in this example a car crash.

The most common way an insurance adjuster will deny payment on medical bills is by saying there was an unreasonable gap in treatment. If you wait too long to receive treatment, they will argue that you weren’t really hurt, and that treatment you receive after a gap is not really their insured’s responsibility. So what should you do to make sure the insurance adjuster doesn’t refuse to pay your medical bills by saying you waited too long to treat your injury?

Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

Proper diagnostic studies, such as an MRI, can help avoid gaps in treatment. If you know the severity of the injury, you're better equipped to treat it properly.

The first thing any injury lawyer will advise their attorney to do is get a medical checkup as soon as possible. If you’re hurt, go to a doctor. Go to an urgent care, or an emergency room, if necessary, but if you were injured, you need to have a medical professional document the nature of your injury. From there, you should follow the advice you are given. For example, if you go to your primary care physician and he or she tells you that you require an x-ray, or an MRI, then it is your responsibility to follow up and get the care they tell you is needed. If you don’t do what your doctor says, the insurance companies will say you were non-compliant with recommended treatment. This hurts your claim, and as it relates to the outcome of your case, it is more likely you will receive less compensation during the settlement phase of your injury case.

What is a gap in treatment?

Our office has seen insurance adjusters claim that delays in seeking the advice of a doctor for as little as three days after a car accident is unreasonable. More common, any delays of more than five days after a crash will certainly be disputed, and the longer you go in between treatment, the worse it will be for your case. This can be difficult for single parents and anyone who works, as taking off work, or scheduling a babysitter to make it possible for you to visit a doctor and receive the treatment you need is sometimes a difficult obstacle. A good injury attorney will be able to successfully argue that any gaps were not only reasonable, but that you did everything you could to follow up on medical treatment. After all, the injury was not your fault in the first place, so you should not have to turn your life upside down to go to the doctor.

What is a proper treatment sequence?

If your primary care physician says you need chiropractic care, or physical therapy, generally the minimum number of appointments you should plan on attending is one per week; gaps of more than one week can hurt your claim. Of course, life happens and it can be hard to stay consistent with treatment. The medical benefits of going to a chiropractor or physical therapist are greater if you go more frequently; a good chiropractor or physical therapy office will be able to work around your scheduling conflicts, and give you therapy you can do at home to help alleviate your pain. Most personal injury law firms in California are aware of the good chiropractors and physical therapy offices that help people recover from car accidents, as well as those who perhaps have a reputation of not helping their patients reach a full recovery.

what if I need to return to treatment after a gap?

Unfortunately, many people have no choice but to return to treatment, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist, not because their schedule was crazy or they were being lazy, but because their symptoms/injuries returned. That is, after a sequence of treatment at a chiropractor or physical therapist, the doctor says let's see how it goes, and after a few weeks, you realize you are still suffering from pain from the car crash. Most doctors put in their notes that this may happen. This is often referred to as a flair up. Insurance companies do whatever they can to deny paying for these kinds of treatment. In many cases, the only way you'll successfully get them paid for is by hiring an attorney. In fact, this is a common reason people seek advice from an injury lawyer - they have a need to continue medical treatment for their injury, but the at-fault driver's insurance is saying they won't cover the bills.

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Can an Injury Attorney Help?

It is hard to imagine a circumstance where contacting an injury attorney after a car crash would be a bad idea. If nothing else, you'll be able to ask the questions you're wondering about, and get the advice from someone who works on this type of legal case every day. Gaps in treatment can hurt your claim, but not all "gaps" that insurance adjusters deny are fairly denied. Keep in mind that the best attorney to answer your question may not be in town. This is normal, and most injury firms that practice exclusively injury law in California represent clients throughout the state. If you live in a rural area or small town, chances are the best injury lawyer to consult with is not close by. However, many law firms in areas of California with greater populations, such as Orange County and Los Angeles County, are able to fully service clients that live within the state of California, with ease using technology. 

 

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

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

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What Do Insurance Adjusters Do?

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

What Exactly Does "Evaluate Claims" Mean?

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

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

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

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

The Insurance Company says ________________. Is this true?

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

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

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

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

Isn't All This Overly Skeptical of Insurance Companies?

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

If You Are Injured

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

Motorcycle Crashes: How to Avoid, What to do After

Motorcycle accidents can leave riders with catastrophic injuries, and as the hobby continues to be popular throughout the United States and especially in California, better education to both riders and car drivers alike can only help to heighten everyone's awareness and hopefully prevent future crashes. After all, there are an estimated 8.6 million motorcycles on the roads, and if you drive a car or truck on California roads, you are guaranteed to be driving alongside motorcyclists eventually. Despite the inherent risk, California is a wonderful place to ride, and the state is home to some of America's most picturesque roads. For both motorcycle riders and car drivers alike, better education can prevent crashes.

California is home to some of the best motorcycle rides in America

California is home to some of the best motorcycle rides in America

Pay Attention at Intersections

Nearly half of all motorcycle-vehicle collisions happen at an intersection. Thus, when approaching an intersection on your motorcycle or in your car, you should be aware and alert that this is where many crashes happen. Vehicles make bad turns - too wide, too soon or out of turn, illegal u-turns, you name it, they happen at intersections. Sometimes the buildings at intersections in commercial areas are distracting, and there can be a lot happening at any given moment, leading to distraction. Every driver passes through intersections regularly, so it's a good habit to develop to pay particular attention to your surroundings at intersections. Remember, even if you're doing everything by the book, that doesn't mean the drivers around you are. For your own protection and safety, paying close attention to traffic in intersections can help you avoid a crash.

Intersections in California can be particularly distracting, as lane-splitting is now legal in the state, meaning when you're stopped, you may have a motorcycle approach you and pass you in-between lanes. Motorists should by now be aware that this technique is legal, but many drivers become frustrated and angry, sometimes creating a dangerous situation for both themselves and the motorcyclist. 

Helmets Save Lives

California requires motorcyclists to wear helmets, and the requirement saves lives. Based on extensive studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmets are more than 67 percent more effective at preventing brain injuries than those not wearing a helmet, and helmets are approximately 37 percent more effective at preventing death. California has required riders to wear helmets for some time now, and the effect has undoubtedly been many lives saved. Some motorcycle riders from out of state are unfamiliar with the requirement; failure to wear an appropriate helmet can result in a ticket, regardless of whether you were aware of the requirement or not. The State of California has a free motorcycle safety and laws handbook, which is available for download, and is also available at all California DMV locations. The contents of this handbook are valuable for all riders, both those who live in California and those who do not. 

Don't risk the "coolness" factor of riding without a helmet. A helmet can save your life!

Don't risk the "coolness" factor of riding without a helmet. A helmet can save your life!

Motorcycles Are More Dangerous Than Cars

More people die in car accidents every year than in motorcycle accidents, but that's because there are more cares on the road than motorcycles. In fact, motorcycles are an estimated 27 times deadlier than cars in the United States, based on federal government comparisons of death per mil traveled. Part of the reasons for so many deaths related to motorcycle accidents is that motorcycles do not provide protection to the rider, so when there is a collision between a car and a motorcycle, the rider's body takes the impact, whereas a car's doors and frame take the impact in a car accident.

Also, a motorcycle rider can easily fall off his or her bike after impact with another vehicle, so even a seemingly minor collision can put a rider onto the roadway; depending on how fast he or she was moving at the time of collision, a motorcyclist can die as a result of a minor impact, after losing control of the bike and falling into the roadway at a high rate of speed. 

What to Do After a Motorcycle Crash

First, regardless of what happened, who caused the crash, and many other important questions, you must take care of your health. Seek proper medical treatment, even if you're worried about your ability to pay for the resulting medical bills. Many people involved in car crashes decline to go to the hospital or see their doctor based on financial pressure; while understandable, this decision can have devastating consequences in the long run. If you weren't at fault for the crash, a good injury lawyer will likely be able to recover the costs of your medical care, so you won't be stuck with high bills in the end. Reasonable medical attention should be sought when your injuries require an expert's opinion. Sometimes this is obvious, such as with fractures and lacerations. Other times, such as whiplash and neck and back pain, people decide not to go to a doctor, but they may be setting themselves up for many months or even years of pain that could otherwise be treated by a competent doctor.

Document Everything

If you were injured, you will eventually be making a claim to the other party's insurance company. Any money you are paid will likely come from their insurance, but first you will need to prove everything, including that you were actually injured, the cost of your medical treatment, and any other expenses for which you are seeking compensation. Don't expect the insurance company to take your word for it, or to show much sympathy. Their job is to pay as little money as possible to resolve your claim. Expect the insurance adjuster to reduce your medical bills, meaning they will offer to pay a portion of the bill, but not the bill in its entirety. Again, a good injury lawyer will make sure this doesn't happen, but it is to be expected if you try to settle your claim alone. Of course, because motorcycle accidents can result in serious injury, the medical treatment required can sometimes be very expensive. Before undergoing very expensive procedures, you may want to discuss your claim with a personal injury lawyer, as the phone call may give you some insight into how the procedure will affect your case, and whether the bill is likely to be paid by the at-fault driver's insurance company or not.

Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer

You may decide not to hire a lawyer in the end, but the information you will learn by talking with an injury attorney can be invaluable. The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent motorcycle riders throughout California for all types of injury claims, including lane-splitting crashes, debris on the roadway crashes, motorcycle versus auto crashes, and most other motorcycle-related claims. At the very least, a telephone call with a knowledgable attorney will give you a better understanding of how your claim will be processed, the timeline of claim processing, and even the approximate value of your case. The Lions Injury Lawyers strive to help their clients return to full health, and return to financial stability. If it wasn't your fault, you should not have to pay for medical bills, and you should be paid for the pain and suffering you've endured. Call the Lions Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation with a personal injury lawyers.

California is home to many motorcycle enthusiasts, and for good reason. California roads can be the perfect terrain to ride your motorcycle.

California is home to many motorcycle enthusiasts, and for good reason. California roads can be the perfect terrain to ride your motorcycle.

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.

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.

Going With a "Local" Attorney: Pros and Cons

After a car accident in which you were injured, you may wisely decide to discuss your case with an injury attorney. The benefits of talking about what happened can be great, and there really is no risk - all injury attorneys will gladly discuss your incident free of cost. But before you get on the phone, which law firm or attorney should you call? This blog post will address the pros and cons of going with a "local" attorney.

What To Look For In an Injury Attorney

Consider first that your lawyer will be your advocate, your representative. You want he or she to be familiar with all aspects of injury law where you live. If you live in California, this means the lawyer will be admitted to practice law in California. The laws regarding injuries are the same in California whether you live in San Diego or San Francisco. In this regard, the attorney who's office is down the block from where you live is not more qualified or experienced to handle your car crash if the accident happened locally. More important than geography is experience and expertise in the specific practice of injury law. Thus, if the attorney practices injury law exclusively, he or she may be more likely to be successful in handling your claim than a "generalist" attorney. This is similar to medicine. If you have a specific injury, say to your eye, you could certainly visit your primary care physician, who would be able to help you with your injury, to some extent. However, a doctor specialized in eye injuries, such as an opthamologist, would certainly have the expertise and experience to give you thorough, high-quality care. The law is similar. The more specific an attorney's practice, the more likely they are to be up to speed on that specific area of law. 

Is Local Better?

In short, no. Consider that your attorney will be corresponding with the at-fault driver's insurance company on your injury claim. Your attorney will be your advocate, fighting for your fair and reasonable recover. This is done via letter, over the phone, and if necessary, in court. The vast majority of injury cases in California, no matter where you live, will settle out of court. Your attorney will be discussing your claim with attorneys for the insurance, who may be located anywhere in the country. For example, several large insurance companies have their main offices in Georgia, Arizona, and on the east coast. Their attorneys may or may not be in California. Again, technology allows representatives from all over the country to handle the matter. Thus, whether your attorney lives hours away or down the street, his or her skill in injury law is what matters, not how close you live to the office.

Should I Meet My Attorney In Person?

This may be a surprise to many people, but often times claimants (injured people who hire an attorney) never meet their attorney in person. Why? It is simply not necessary in most cases. How is this possible? Again, technology. Your attorney's office will request all medical documents directly from your doctors. You will provide the office with photographs and any applicable documents related to your California car crash, and your attorney will go from there. There are, of course, some cases where meeting in person with your attorney may be beneficial. Some attorneys utilize Skype or FaceTime, or other live video apps, to make this possible. Your attorney should be willing to meet with you personally, but don't assume you will get a better outcome if you meet with your attorney in person. Your case comes down to the facts - and you attorney's skill in advocating your injury claim. A good injury lawyer will do this regardless of whether you meet in person.

What About Going To Court?

Most car accident cases never go to court. Court is expensive, inefficient, and takes a very long time. In the end, you are not likely, in many cases, to get more money for your injury case if it goes to court. Thus, your injury lawyer will, in many cases, be able to get you just as much money outside of court, either in pre-litigation negotiations, mediation, arbitration, or any setting prior to court. If your case goes to court, your injury attorney will make appearances on your behalf, regardless of where their office is located. Therefore, injured people are usually better off choosing an attorney who handles lots of injury cases, rather than just choosing the lawyer who has an office in town or down the road, or where the accident happened. In most cases, where the attorney's office is physically located is not important. 

The Lions Injury Lawyers represent clients throughout the state of California, from San Diego all the way to the Oregon state line. The Lions Injury Lawyers practices injury law exclusively. Wondering what your case is worth, how to proceed, or what you should be doing after a car crash? Call the Lions Injury Lawyers to discuss your car crash case with an attorney today. 

"Delayed" Car Accident Injuries

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

See A Doctor

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

Go To Urgent Care If Necessary

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

What If Your Injuries Only Appear Later?

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

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

What Kind Of Injuries Are Often "Delayed?"

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

Will The Insurance Company Pay Your Medical Bills?

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

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

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