personal injury law

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 to Choose a Car Crash Lawyer

Attorney or Salesman?

Some people feel like they are talking with used car salesmen when they are talking to an injury law firm. In California, there are no shortage of law firms that practice injury law, so there is competition amongst the lawyers. This is good for you, as it gives you plenty of options. However, it can also lead to a situation where the people you are talking to when looking into a law firm play the role of salesmen, and are not lawyers and will not handle your case. You should expect to speak with a lawyer licensed to practice law in California - if a law firm won’t put you on the phone with the lawyer who will handle your case, you are likely talking to a salesman. Like any sales position, these individuals say all the right thing and put on the charm, but they do not know the intricacies of the law, as they are not lawyers. More importantly, you won’t talk with this person ever again, in most situations. Their job is to sign you up and get your case, not help you in the long run. 

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Who will be your attorney?

If you are looking for a lawyer to help you, you can expect to talk to an actual attorney, not just the sales team. Consider it a red flag if the person you are talking to is not a lawyer, and cannot tell you which lawyer will be handling your case. They will tell you the case will be reviewed by a team of lawyers and assigned to the lawyer most capable to help your case. This sounds good, but what it really means is you have no idea who will be taking your case. Most injury cases last many months and sometimes years. If you sign a contingency fee agreement or contract to hire a lawyer or law firm to represent you, but you’re not allowed to talk to the actual lawyer, do you really have enough information to make an educated decision as to whether the lawyer will be a good fit for you?

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Too Good to be True?

Unfortunately, many people who are looking for a lawyer to help them with their car crash injury case are given unrealistic expectations. If you are discussing your accident claim with an attorney who is telling you how much money you will walk away with, and it sounds too good to be true, it very well may be. Predicting the amount of money a plaintiff will receive is not easy. While a good injury lawyer can give a ballpark estimation, some law firms use inflated estimation with savvy salesman techniques to excite you and convince you to sign on the dotted line. A good case evaluation will include a review of numbers, including the cost of your medical bills, the cost of your future medical treatment, and of course the structure of the attorney's fees. Beware of salesmen who only want to talk about how much money they think you'll get in the end. This can be exciting, but it can also be a smoke and mirrors situation. 

Personal Injury "Specialists"

Technically speaking, there is no such thing as a personal injury specialist in the law, according to the State Bar of California. That said, there are law firms that only practice injury law. These law firms obviously have more experience in car crash cases and the nuances of injury law. In comparison, a lawyer who practices a little transactional law, some tax law, perhaps a divorce here and there, does not always know the up-to-date trends and changes in injury law. 

Are They Located Near You?

Surprisingly to some people, this matters less and less as technology enables lawyers to represent people who live far from their physical office. In fact, most personal injury law firms that specialize in car accidents and injury cases in California are able to represent clients throughout the state. This means that it tends to be less important where the physical office of the lawyer or law firm is, and it makes your attorney's experience and practice focus all the more important. 

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If Nothing Else, Remember This

Personal injury cases can be complex, and your attorney's experience in this area of law matters. If you're looking for a lawyer to represent you for your California car accident injury case, or any type of injury case, you should seek the counsel of a lawyer who knows what he or she is doing, and is willing to give you the time of day to discuss your case without pressuring you to sign with his law firm. Injury law firms are notorious for employing aggressive sales techniques - this should be a red flag to you. If you're talking to a salesman, you're being sold something. If you were injured and need someone to help you recover physically and financially, you don't need a salesman, you need a good lawyer. 

This post was written by  The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C. , a personal injury law firm located in Newport Beach, California.  The Lions  represent injured people throughout California and focuses exclusively on personal injury law.

This post was written by The Lions Injury Lawyers, P.C., a personal injury law firm located in Newport Beach, California. The Lions represent injured people throughout California and focuses exclusively on personal injury law.

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.

Dealing With Your Car Insurance After A Car Crash

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

What Does Your Insurance Cover

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

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

Will Your Insurance Premiums Be Increased?

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

When Should You Report A Car Accident To Your Insurance?

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

What Should You Say To Your Insurance Following A Crash?

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

What Shouldn't You Say Following A Crash?

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

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

Don't Settle Without First Consulting With An Attorney

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

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

California Car Accident and Injury Attorneys

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