orange county injury lawyer

Orange County Car Crashes: Top Questions Injury Lawyers Are Asked

Injury lawyers are asked many of the same questions from clients regarding their Orange County, California car accident. This blog post is a compilation of the top questions we receive here at The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C., and is meant to help anyone seeking clarification regarding their injury claim, but should not be relied on as legal counsel. This is because every case is unique and you should seek the advise of an attorney or injury lawyer in order to address the specifics of your case. However, there are several basic questions that we are asked over and over again, and so this blog post is an attempt to clarify some of these questions.

The job of your injury lawyer is to get you back to where you were before your injury. This means you are physically healthy again, and financially you have been reimbursed for all medical expenses related to your injury.

The job of your injury lawyer is to get you back to where you were before your injury. This means you are physically healthy again, and financially you have been reimbursed for all medical expenses related to your injury.

”How Do I Get My Medical Expenses Refunded?”

As part of your injury claim, you may expect to have your medical expenses paid for by the person who hit you. First, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible following the crash. Then, you need to be attentive to all appointments and be compliant with the doctor’s orders. This may include MRIs, x-rays, physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage therapy, or things like injections and surgery. Upon completing your treatment, your attorney will compile all your medical records and present them to the insurance company of the at-fault driver, accompanied by an explanation and a demand for settlement.

“What if I Need Medical Care Over a Long Period of Time?”

You have two years from the date of the accident to either settle your claim, or file a lawsuit. If you fail to do either of these things within two years of your injury, you cannot recover financially, and this includes being refunded the cost of your medical care. But what if you are going to need care for a long time after the two year mark? Your lawyers will compile your medical bills and present them in a manner that will include the cost of future medical expenses as part of your injury settlement. Sometimes this may require bringing in an expert, such as someone familiar with medical billing, in order to give a detailed accounting of what your medical costs will likely be in the future. A good injury attorney will do this for you and will have experience handling claims like yours.

Even ten minutes on the telephone with an injury lawyer is likely to give you a new perspective on how you should move forward. If nothing else, it should provide you with peace of mind as you navigate what can be a frustrating and confusing process.

Even ten minutes on the telephone with an injury lawyer is likely to give you a new perspective on how you should move forward. If nothing else, it should provide you with peace of mind as you navigate what can be a frustrating and confusing process.

”What if I Don’t Have Health Insurance, or I Can’t Get An Appointment to See a Doctor Quick Enough?”

If you don’t have health insurance, but are injured in a car crash or other accident that was not your fault, you may still be able to receive good medical care. Some privately owned medical offices are willing to provide treatment on a lien. This means that they will ask your lawyer a few details about your case, including the likelihood that the insurance company of the individual who caused the accident will pay to settle the claim. This is called lien-based treatment. Most California based injury lawyers know of many medical offices that are willing to work on a lien basis. The office sends a legal document to your lawyer, who signs it and returns it. This means that if there is a settlement or a verdict in your favor, the medical office will be paid before you are paid. Basically it delays payment, but makes sure the medical office eventually gets paid for the services they provide you.

The amount of money you get after your injury case settles depends on many factors, most of which you are unlikely to have considered unless you have been involved in several injury cases in the past. A good injury law firm will guide you through the process and explain the many variables at play in your injury case.

The amount of money you get after your injury case settles depends on many factors, most of which you are unlikely to have considered unless you have been involved in several injury cases in the past. A good injury law firm will guide you through the process and explain the many variables at play in your injury case.

”What If I Don’t Have Money To Pay a Lawyer?”

Most car crash lawyers, also referred to as personal injury lawyers, work on a contingency fee basis. This means their pay is contingent on whether or not they win. If they win your case, they are paid a portion of the settlement money. If your lawyer loses, in most situations this means he or she is paid nothing. This makes it so people who need legal representation are able to have an attorney. This also makes it so a lawyer only agrees to represent someone on a case if he or she thinks the case is winnable. Contingency fee agreements are the standard in California for injury cases. If you decide to hire a lawyer using a contingency fee agreement, you should read the document before signing so you know the percentage your attorney will take in the end as his or her fee, as well as other details pertaining to your case.

Because of the number of drivers in Orange County, traffic accidents resulting in injury are not uncommon. Knowing how to proceed after you are injured in a car crash can be confusing.

Because of the number of drivers in Orange County, traffic accidents resulting in injury are not uncommon. Knowing how to proceed after you are injured in a car crash can be confusing.

”What If I Already Settled My Property Damage Claim But I’m Still Injured?”

If you were injured in a car crash, your vehicle was likely damaged. You may have gotten your vehicle towed and fixed and may have signed something to receive a reimbursement check. This is the property damage portion of your case, and is separate from the injury portion of your case. You should know that just because you settled the property damage portion of your case does not mean you have settled your case. They are essentially two different cases. You can still receive money to help compensate you for your injury even if you already received money for your car. Usually the money you receive for your car is the cost to repair or replace for fair value. The injury portion is different. The injury settlement must include reimbursement for medical bills, money for lost wages, pain and suffering, and money for future medical expenses. This settlement is often much more than your property damage settlement.

”Should I Hire A Lawyer Who Doesn’t Live In My City?”

The location of your injury lawyer’s office does not matter nearly as much as his or her experience in handling injury cases. Much of the work on your injury case is done over the telephone, not in person.

The location of your injury lawyer’s office does not matter nearly as much as his or her experience in handling injury cases. Much of the work on your injury case is done over the telephone, not in person.

Your Lawyer should practice injury law. Similar to doctors, lawyers focus their practice on specific areas of the law. For example, a real estate attorney will not likely know much about injury law, except for the basics. For this reason, most people who hire a lawyer to represent them for their injury hire a lawyer or law firm that only handles injury cases. A lawyer has a license to practice law in the state of California, not a specific county or city. With technology, this means you can hire someone who potentially lives far away from you and still benefit from his or her expertise. It is therefore not important that the lawyer lives close by to you. Most, if not all of the work on your case, is done between the lawyer’s office and the insurance companies and medical offices using email, fax, and telephone. Physical proximity to your residence is not important.

5 Things To Remember During Your Personal Injury Deposition

Sitting across the table from a lawyer that represents the insurance company for your personal injury case can be intimidating. Fortunately, with a little preparation and sound legal representation, you have nothing to worry about.

Sitting across the table from a lawyer that represents the insurance company for your personal injury case can be intimidating. Fortunately, with a little preparation and sound legal representation, you have nothing to worry about.

Following a car accident in which you are injured, you may at some point have your deposition taken by an attorney that represents the insurance company that insures the at-fault party. This can be a nerve wracking experience for anyone. With any luck, your personal injury attorney will help prepare you for what to expect. No matter what the symptoms or cause of your injury, your deposition is an important part of your case, and understanding how to best answer the questions asked of you is something you should take seriously.

With a little preparation, you can rest assured your deposition will go smoothly. A deposition is sworn testimony. This means you will literally raise your right hand before answering the questions and swear to tell the truth. A certified court reporter will ask this of you. Be advised that the deposition may be recorded on video as well. While the format is basically a conversation or interview, the importance of your answers cannot be understated: your deposition will be typed up in a word-for-word document that becomes part of the official record on your case, meaning it can (and likely will) be presented at trial. You should therefore prepare for your deposition as if you were preparing to answer the same questions before a judge and jury in a courtroom.

We have prepared five things you should remember when preparing for your deposition. This is not official legal advice, and we urge you to seek legal counsel and/or representation by an attorney in order to understand the details specific to your case.

Answer the Question and STOP Talking

Most lawyers agree that the shorter your answer to a deposition question, the better. Keep it simple. Remember that although you are sitting across from an attorney, the result of the deposition is a written transcript. The deposition transcript is written in the following format:

Attorney: What color was the car?

Respondent (You): Blue

The range of questions the attorney on the other side of the table asks you is essentially unlimited. The attorney may appear to be your best friend, or may come off as mean and combative - you never know and it does not really matter. End of the day, the attorney asking you the questions is not your friend - his or her job is to chip away at your case and find weaknesses or inconsistencies in your version of events. This can be tricky, as many of the questions you will be asked are not difficult, and there’s no room for error, such as ‘what is your birthdate,” or “where were you born?” But some questions are not so simple. For example, “explain to me the symptoms of you injuries.”

In short, you should listen to the question you are asked, and pause for a second before answering. What was the question? Answer only that question, and wait for the attorney to ask you another question. It is easy to get into “conversation mode,” where you feel like you are just having a normal conversation, back-and-forth, with the attorney. This is especially challenging when you get along well with the attorney, who may be very friendly towards you. Remember: answer the question asked of you, and stop talking! The more you talk, the better for the attorney on the other side of the table. If you remember just one tip, remember this: answer the question and stop talking!

The format of your personal injury deposition does not change based on location - your case might be Orange County, the Central Coast, or San Diego - it doesn’t matter.

The format of your personal injury deposition does not change based on location - your case might be Orange County, the Central Coast, or San Diego - it doesn’t matter.

Don’t Volunteer Information

The attorney asking you questions can basically ask you whatever he or she wants. Your attorney will be there, but your attorney won’t be doing much talking. Again, this is not a normal conversation, but rather an opportunity for the insurance company’s lawyers to chip away at your case, which ultimately means less money in your settlement. You may feel the urge to explain yourself, or give your version of events.

Listen to your lawyer, as he or she is well versed in injury law and will help you understand when you should feel free to give your version of what happened, and when you should keep quiet. We have a tendency to try to be defensive if we feel our opinions or position on an issue is being attacked. The fact that you are sitting in a conference room answering questions to an attorney for an injury you incurred through no fault of your own might be offensive, even angering to you. But don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Remember, if your attorney guides you to share more information in a particular line of questioning, feel free to do so. Otherwise, don’t volunteer information, even if in your mind you feel like it is completely harmless and can only help you.

Not Your Friend

Defense lawyers (as with all lawyers) come in all shapes and sizes, and most importantly, their personalities are not always predictable. You may be imagining a scary, intimidating older man, or perhaps a sharp and mean lady. This may be who you are sitting across the table from. But don’t be surprised if the attorney is the opposite of what you imagined. Maybe he or she is younger, more attractive, friendlier, or however you say it, a lot more likable than what you were expecting. We tend to talk more easily when we are with people we get along with, so don’t be surprised if the attorney talks with you in a way that makes you very comfortable. Don’t get too comfortable, and remember, he or she is doing their job, and you’re unlikely to meet this attorney again. Just because you are having a good time talking to the attorney, or you feel he or she is really on your side, doesn’t mean this person won’t hurt your case, or weaken it. That is his or her job. Remember that the defense attorney is not your friend.

A deposition may be one step you have to go through to get to the light at the end of the tunnel on your personal injury case. In most injury cases, this is a step that helps lawyers on both sides prepare for trial, or expedite the settlement of your case.

A deposition may be one step you have to go through to get to the light at the end of the tunnel on your personal injury case. In most injury cases, this is a step that helps lawyers on both sides prepare for trial, or expedite the settlement of your case.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

There is a reason the attorney is asking you the questions he or she is asking you. Don’t try to figure it out. Some of the questions regarding your injury will make sense. Some won’t. Do not waste your time engaging in mind games, trying to understand what the other attorney is trying to get at, or trying to get you to say. At the same time, don’t assume the questions are not important. You should be concise in your answers, and answer truthfully, but you should not try to add information in an effort to “fight back.” Leave that to your injury lawyer, who will have experience in understanding what the other attorney is doing, and why.

If you feel like you want to talk to your lawyer, you can at any time ask to step into the hall. Most defense lawyers will ask that you first answer the last question they asked you, and then step into the hall. But you may sense that you are uncomfortable with the direction the questioning is going. This is normal. Feel free to take a bathroom break, ask to speak with your injury lawyer in the hall, or go “off the record” whenever you want.

Don’t be surprised if you are answering questions for many hours. For the first two or three hours, you may feel like your deposition is a breeze. But five or six hours in, you may find yourself somewhat exhausted. This is often by design. Again, you do not need to figure the whole process out. In fact, because you are not an injury attorney, you’ll never be able to learn all the nuances necessary to understand exactly what is going on. This takes years and years of practice, and you would first have to handle thousands of injury cases to pick up on the trends, tricks, and traps. Trust the counsel of your lawyer, and he or she will guide you through the entire process and help you get through your deposition testimony without unnecessary stress or anxiety.

Your Deposition is Not a Conversation

Finally, remember that you are not just chatting casually with an attorney about how you were hurt. Defense lawyers are building their case against you, even if the lawyer sitting on the other side of the table has a smile on his or her face. Remember that you have sworn to tell the truth, and that every word you say will be transcribed (typed) and made into a small booklet that can be used at trial. Don’t get carried away talking too much. Listen to your lawyer, and answer only the question asked of you, one at a time. Take a moment after each question to think about what was actually asked, and provide a basic, brief answer. If you remember that the court reporter is typing every word, you will speak more slowly, which is good for everyone. Don’t interrupt the attorney who is asking you questions.

“Don’t Get Screwed”

This information is not official legal counsel, and you should not rely on it exclusively. These tips were compiled by plaintiff’s attorneys at The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C., a law firm that helps injured people get fair money for their pain and suffering. The Lions are based in Orange County, California, but represent plaintiffs throughout the state of California, from San Diego all the way to the Oregon border, and everywhere in between. If you have questions regarding your injury or your case, feel free to call The Lions today. You will speak with a lawyer, not a salesperson, and your call is free of charge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Two-Year Mark

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

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

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

What About Settling Your Injury Claim?

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

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

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

What About Public Entities?

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

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

Basic California Car Crash Injury Claims

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

This Blog Post is Not Legal Counsel

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

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

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

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

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

The 100 Deadliest Days: What You Should Know

The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has become known by many people as the 100 Deadliest Days due to the number of traffic fatalities during this time. Many news outlets have reported on the issue in the last week, including most local California television networks and several California newspapers. While the '100 Deadliest Days' name is catchy and memorable, not everyone knows what it means.

Parents are the key to helping teens develop safe driving habits and setting easy to remember rules and guidelines.

Parents are the key to helping teens develop safe driving habits and setting easy to remember rules and guidelines.

AAA Research & Tracking

AAA is known for its roadside assistance program and auto insurance, but it is also a leader in tracking travel data. According to the company, more than 1,050 people were killed in car crashes that involved teenage drivers in the year 2016 during this period. The company also mentions several factors that affect the uptick in traffic deaths during this time, including nighttime driving, speeding, and distracted driving.

nighttimeteens.gif

Nighttime Driving

Teenagers drive a lot at night during this time period due to their changed social schedules, as school is out and many teenagers spend more time with their peers at night. Driving at night in urban areas, such as around sporting stadiums, bars, dance clubs, and other places where young people like to socialize brings with it additional possible dangers. For example, many of these activities including alcohol as part of the social activity - consider how many people have had a few drinks and then get in their car after a basketball or baseball game! Your teen shares the road with them, and teenagers should be aware of their surrounding drivers more so at night than any other time.

Nighttime driving also includes drivers who are making long passages and road trips. The drivers may be heading to or from vacation, and the longer we drive, the less attentive we can be. This includes drivers returning home from college, or visiting friends and family on the weekend from their jobs. Many car accidents in California's big cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Orange County metro area, involve people who work there and are trying to get home. Young drivers should know that these cities have especially high number of car accidents in the summer months.

Parents should note that it is not just in the late hours of the night (more appropriately, the early morning hours of the next day) when crashes happen. A recent study shows that more crashes involving teens actually happen before midnight.

Speeding

During social outings, teens are more likely to speed with friends in the car, or if they are hurrying to get somewhere to meet up with their friends. While it may be perceived to be an issue with young male drivers only, the reality is that anyone speeding excessively presents a hazard to themselves and to those people around them. Several fatal car crashes in recent years have occurred on roads where the public tends to drive fast, such as the 73 toll road that cuts through Orange County, or several backcountry roads in the Riverside and San Bernardino area. These roads are, at some times, seemingly empty, which gives some drivers the perception that driving fast is OK. Tragically, you don't need to crash into another vehicle, or have another car hit you, to be injured in a car accident. As has been the case in these specific areas, the roads are empty and drivers drive too fast, not aware of how their car operates at high speed. Add to the mix alcohol, nighttime driving, drowsy or distracted driving, and you have a recipe for disaster. 

drivingatnightteens.png

Young drivers should know that speeding is not only dangerous when they are trying to steer around other vehicles, but can also be fatal when you're the only one on the road. Speed also tends to be involved with many fatal motorcycle accidents, which also happen at a higher frequency during this time period.

Distracted Driving

Much attention has been given to the affect of distracted driving due to cell phone use lately, but cell phones are not the only cause of distracted driving. When it comes to teenagers, too many friends in the car is a bad thing, and every summer there are tragic crashes that injury and kill young people driving together. While carpooling is encouraged by many due to the benefits of reduced emissions into the environment, parents of teenagers should know their teen's social habits and advise accordingly. Some teenagers are better equipped emotionally to drive when they have their friends in the car. Sometimes it may be safer to be driving alone and meet your group at the destination, rather than risk being distracted by rowdy passengers.

Lyft and Uber have added another option to the mix, making it possible for passengers to ride together, but cutting out the need for any of the teens to drive. This option, it should be noted, is not fool-proof, as Lyft and Uber drivers can be distracted as well, and the news has been full of stories where drivers are distracted by their young passengers and have to insist on better behavior in the back seat. Your teen should know that it is important to keep the volume of his or her voice down if driving in a hired car, as the driver needs to be able to concentrate on driving.

teendrivingdeaths.png

Talk To Your Teenager

As a parent, you are key to helping your teenager drive safely. Teenagers should know that their parents care, and that their parents have given them specific, easy to understand and remember rules regarding driving during the summer months. First, they should know that there are dangers and hazards they cannot control, but may be able to avoid. They should know that if they are involved in a car crash and are injured, they should not worry about money, but should go to the hospital or doctor and get the care they need. Teenagers should know that there are more car crashes this time of year, and there are a lot of intoxicated drivers, distracted drivers, and just plain more drivers in general on the roads during the 100 deadliest days. 

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.

Civil Claim or Criminal Claim?

For those who don't spend a lot of time in California courts, and for people who are trying to navigate the sometimes complicated and confusing names and phrases used in court, it can be confusing to know where to begin. One question that injured people often have is whether they need to file a lawsuit, and if so, what kind of lawsuit? Because every case is different, and the costs of going it alone in court can be high (not to mention incredibly confusing for many people), it is advisable to speak with a lawyer who is familiar with the kind of case you have. One basic distinction is between civil cases and criminal cases.

Criminal Cases

If you were injured by someone who intentionally hurt you, for example, the case falls in the criminal realm. This situation typically means the police were involved, and the person who caused the harm was either arrested or cited for criminal behavior. The State of California, through its district attorney offices, will pursue the case against the person who caused the harm. In a very basic sense, this means the state prosecutes the bad actor. 

Criminal/Civil Cases

In some situations, however, the injured person may file a civil claim against the person who hurt them during the crime. Think about O.J. Simpson, for example. The state tried him for murder, for which he was famously found not guilty. But the family of Nicole Brown pursued a civil suit against O.J. Simpson as well. The legal theories involved are not important to understand in depth. Because O.J. Simpson was a wealthy man, if the family prevailed in their lawsuit, the court could enforce the judgment and make sure O.J. paid (or continues to pay, over a long period of time), the money awarded in a verdict. A civil case may also include "punitive" damages, which are meant as a punishment against the wrong actor, as was awarded in the Simpson case.

The O.J. Simpson case is unique, however, in that the money of the civil verdict was actually paid out to the Brown family. What if O.J. was a poor man at the time of the alleged crime, and remained poor throughout the civil trial? The reality is, even if the jury in the civil trial had awarded millions and millions of dollars, in most situations the Brown family would never have seen a penny of it. Which, in real life, means the case would likely never be brought to trial in the first place. Why? Because most lawyers (there are exceptions, but generally speaking) would not take a civil case to trial when there would be almost zero chance of actually ever seeing payment of the money.

There are many situations that call for both a civil and criminal case. For example, if you or someone you love were injured by a drunk driver, the State of California may pursue the drunk driver in criminal court in order to protect the public. However, the criminal case is about the state taking a dangerous individual off the roads, and possibly putting him or her behind bars. But what about the person or people who were injured by the drunk driver? In order to be compensated, they would need to pursue the drunk driver in a negligence claim, or in civil court. Of course, the issue of who would end up paying arises, and unlike the O.J. Simpson example, the drunk driver, if he had insurance, would be covered for this very situation. Thus, the injured person could open a claim with the drunk driver's insurance company and, if navigated correctly, could resolve this issue without ever having to go to court, and could receive to maximum amount of money the insurance policy covered the drunk driver for.

Civil Cases

In the previous example of the drunk driver who injured someone, there is a common misconception that the injured person must wait for the criminal proceeding to finish. This is not accurate. By contacting an injury law firm in California that handles these hybrid cases, the injured person or persons can move forward with their claim with the at-fault driver's insurance company. A good injury attorney will be able to finalize this portion often before the criminal case is even underway. This is, it should be clear, a very general description of how a situation like this example might be handled, and anyone who was injured or who has loved ones who were injured by a drunk driver should not rely on this post for legal advice; they should immediately contact a lawyer or law firm for legal counsel. 

So, Which Case to File?

The reality is, if your situation calls for a criminal proceeding, the police will handle it. If the police aren't aware of what happened, they need to be. Once the police are aware of a criminal act that resulted in injury, a report and investigation will commence, and they will handle it from there. In the civil arena, an experienced and skilled injury law firm may be able to get to the bottom of your case before ever filing a lawsuit. Lawsuits take a lot of time, cost a lot of money, and after all that, don't guarantee that the injured person will recover any more money than if the case settles out of court in the pre-litigation phase. For this reason, an injury attorney may be able to give you an evaluation that will at a bare minimum help you understand where your case or claim stands, and what the possible scenarios are in the future. If you're lucky, you won't ever have to file a lawsuit or step foot in a courtroom, and you'll still end up with the same result as if you had.

Injury Lawyers

The Lions Injury Lawyers P.C. are located in Orange County (OC) California, and help injured persons throughout the State of California. They offer free case evaluations by an attorney. That means you'll be speaking with an actual lawyer, not a salesman who is paid to sign up your case and won't hear a thing about it the day after he signs you up. Don't live in Orange County, or your case didn't happen in Southern California or OC? No problem. The Lions represent clients throughout the state of California, and their handling of your claim won't differ a bit from if you lived right down the street in Irvine, Newport Beach, or Costa Mesa. A brief phone call with an experienced injury attorney will give you peace of mind, and help you look at your situation from a new perspective. The Lions Injury Lawyers can compare your case with thousands of cases in the past, which allows them to estimate how many variables will play out for you. The contents of this blog post are for information purposes only, and should not be relied upon as legal counsel for your case or claim, or for anyone looking for legal advice. The contents of this blog post are intended to educate people, not as legal counsel.

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). 

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.

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.

Car Accident Injuries - What's a 'Defense Medical Exam?'

If you were injured in a car accident and your case has proceeded to litigation, you may be required to attend what is called an 'independent medical examination,' or 'defense medical exam.' Under the laws of the State of California, a plaintiff can be required to undergo an examination by a doctor or the Defendant's choice.

Why Does The Plaintiff Have To Attend A 'Defense Medical Exam?'

If you were injured and are pursuing your claim against the at-fault party or driver (the defendant), you will of course be required to explain your injuries and provide documentation. The defendant does not have to take your word for it, even if you have hospital records, doctors office records, and other medical records that document your injuries. The law allows the defense or defendant to have an "independent" doctor evaluate the plaintiff. The idea is that the defense gets a chance to have an "objective" doctor evaluate the plaintiff. Most defense attorneys and the insurance companies they represent have strong biases against doctors who treat injury patients on a lien basis, so the "independent" medical examination supposedly levels the playing field. 

There's Nothing "Independent" About It

First thing to remember is that the defense and the insurance company they represent gets to choose the doctor. These doctors are well paid by the law firm/insurance company. When you're getting paid a lot of money by a law firm, with potentially a steady stream of work coming your way, you're likely to make an evaluation that your client (the law firm and insurance company) will like. For this reason, most California injury attorneys refer to these examinations as 'defense medical exams.' They are, after all, the defense's paid doctors making an evaluation of the plaintiff's injuries. Almost without exception, the defense medical examination results in a report that minimizes the plaintiff's injuries in the eyes of the 'independent' doctor.

What Does The Defense Medical Examination Include?

The doctor conducting the exam is instructed to evaluate injuries and make a report. Thus, the doctor will be looking into injuries involved in the claim. The examination cannot include diagnostic tests, or any procedure that is painful or intrusive. Also, the exam cannot be scheduled further than 75 miles from the Plaintiff's residence. The doctor cannot be from a different specialty than those injuries included in the complaint - that is, if the plaintiff is complaining of neck and back injuries, the doctor doing the defense medical examination must be practicing in that area of medicine. A good California injury attorney will be well versed in how to approach the defense medical examination, ensuring that the Plaintiff is not taken advantage of during the defense attorneys' doctor's exam, which could result in a report that could hurt the plaintiff's case. 

The Day of the Defense Examination

If you are required to attend an independent medical examination, don't go alone. You should attend the examination with your injury attorney, or with someone from the injury law firm's staff or choosing. Don't fill out any paperwork. Remember, you're not the doctor's patient. You're there only because the law requires you to attend. Thus, you're not required to fill out any forms. The office will push paperwork on you, but your attorney will dispense of this with ease. Also, remember that the doctor is employed by the other side's attorneys. He or she is not on your side, no matter how friendly or charismatic. Don't answer any questions you don't feel comfortable answering. Some California injury lawyers will allow the plaintiff to make a brief oral accounting of the accident and injuries, while others will not. Remember that the doctor will likely generate a report that downplays the significance and seriousness of your injuries. If you were injured in a car accident, for example, the doctor may say that the injuries were not likely the result of (or caused by) the car accident, but are 'degenerative in nature.' Your injury attorney will have seen this many times before and will know how to respond.

A Few More Things To Remember

The independent medical examination can be very useful for the other side. They may, in the end, have a report that says your injuries weren't caused by their client, or that your injuries are not that bad. If you were injured in a California car accident, for example, you may be well served by seeking the counsel and representation of an attorney whose practice focuses exclusively on injury claims. These attorneys are well versed in the tricks and tactics of defense firms, and are able to respond and protect your rights to recovery. 

The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. represent injured clients throughout the state of California. If you were injured and it wasn't your fault, an attorney at The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. will gladly evaluate your case and discuss your options. Unlike most car accident law firms in California, you will be speaking with an attorney, not a salesman. Contact The Lions today to discuss any questions you might have. The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. maintains its main office in Orange County, California, but represents California plaintiffs in Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego - the entire state of California.