Anyone who has been involved in vehicle accident understands how frustrating and sometimes frightening such an experience can be. It is important that you work with an Orange County personal injury law firm if you have been in an accident, especially if you are injured.
When a car accident occurs, the first thing you need to do is to look around in your car. Determine whether you or any of your passengers are injured. You should then check to see if anyone else if the other car is injured. If anyone is injured, ask someone to call 911 immediately. You then need to exchange information with the other driver. This other individual may well have caused the accident, but your Orange County personal injury law firm will tell you that you will be working not with him, but his insurance company. For this reason, you will need to get the following information:
You should also use your cell phone to photograph the scene of the accident. Make sure to get pictures of the way the cars are located in relation to each other; places on the car bodies where physical damage exists; and the license plates of the vehicles involved. Your Orange County personal injury law firm will need this information later.
It is very important that you understand the nature of your relationship with the insurance company. They are not on your side. They will ask you a lot of questions and require quite a bit of information; this is not to protect you, but them. Your Orange County personal injury law firm will attest that insurance companies are not in business to pay out on claims. Rather, they are trying to make money, and the way they make money is by paying as little on claims as possible. They may argue, for instance:
They might even argue both of these points. It is important to keep a level head and not become embittered or angry. Instead, focus your energy on collecting all the supportive documentation that you can so that you can build a strong case. Even if you do, the insurance company is not legally bound to offer you a settlement. They may, instead, say that an offer they made is their last one, and that if you want more, you and your Orange County personal injury law firm will have to file a lawsuit and battle it out in court. Sometimes the insurance company is playing a bluff, sometimes not. They know that it is likely to be less expensive in the long run to offer a settlement than to litigate. However, if the company believes you have a weak case, they may think you won’t take it to court.
There are two types of damages: property and bodily damage. If you are not injured and make a claim only for property damage, you may be able to collect damages for items such as:
Make sure when you and your Orange County personal injury law firm make your claim that you include proof of each of these expenses. If you fail to do so, the insurance company will likely argue that you are not entitled to be compensated for that portion of your loss.
Each year many car accidents in this country cause injuries to drivers and passengers. If you experience injuries in your car accident, the legal issues become much more complicated. You will be entitled to additional losses/expenses, but you need to document these thoroughly. For instance, you will be entitled to compensation for injuries sustained in the accident. You might suffer ongoing physical pain after the initial treatment, so don’t let the insurance company base its settlement offer merely on your treatment directly after the accident. Even if you do not seem to be injured, it is a good idea that you go to a doctor to make sure. Some injuries manifest themselves only later. Indeed, sometimes an accident victim can seem injury-free for months until suddenly the effects of the accident are realized. You may suffer ongoing physical difficulties that require long-term treatment. Moreover, you might suffer mental trauma that requires psychiatric care. The bottom line is that you need to document all your injuries, and don’t let the insurance company try to force you into a quick settlement.
If you have been injured in an automobile accident that was caused by someone else you have the right to file a claim to recoup damages. You may well find that it is in your best interests to work with an Orange County personal injury law firm that understands the process and how insurance companies work. Call Russell & Lazarus APC today at (949) 851-0222 to arrange a consultation.
Depending on the scope of your injuries, you may be able to negotiate a car accident insurance claim settlement without the aid of an attorney. But is that a good idea?
The more extensive your injuries are, the more necessary it will be to have an experienced accident attorney advocate on your behalf. And for minor injuries that don’t require that you miss time from work, there’s an art to negotiating with insurance companies that personal injury attorneys have mastered over the years.
For serious injuries, you should leave the negotiation to the professionals. Russell & Lazarus APC has successfully negotiated fair and honest settlements from insurance companies after our clients suffered a personal injury due to another’s negligence. Call us today.
While you’re free to use this information however you want, your best course of action will be to have an experienced car accident attorney manage your claim for you. Yes, they will take a cut of the award, but they will also ensure that you maximize your claim. The more extensive your damages are, the more important it is that you enlist the aid of someone who understands the process and how the game is played.
That being said, there is a strategy for dealing with insurance companies.
The first part of the car accident insurance claim settlement process is writing a demand letter. In a personal injury lawsuit involving a traffic accident, there are a number of damages you can claim. Those include:
In the demand letter, you specify any damages you have. That includes any evidence you’ve collected to back up those claims. The insurance adjuster will counter with an offer of their own. It’s important to remember that whatever you can prove you are entitled to collect 100% fully. Once you accept the insurance adjuster’s offer you can no longer go back and renegotiate that claim. You will only have one chance to negotiate the best car accident insurance claim settlement.
Typically, insurance adjusters will counter with a lower offer and the two of you will meet somewhere in the middle. However, there is no reason to back off from economic damages. Any bill or lost time from work you suffered as a result of the accident should be paid in full. What you can negotiate is elements like pain and suffering.
Again, it’s hard to recommend this process to those who are not familiar with insurance negotiations because you will only get one chance to litigate this claim. If you sign off on a lowball offer, that’s it. You’re locked into that agreement forever. If you later show signs of continued pain or require a second surgery to repair damage, you’re out of luck. The deal is signed.
Insurance adjusters do this for a living and they negotiate claims against lawyers, not laypeople. They will generally try to lowball you just to see that you know what you’re doing. They will ask you questions as if they’re trying to help you and trick you into divulging information that may damage your claim.
When the insurance adjuster leads with a low offer, you can force them into the position of justifying that offer. Remember, there are laws that govern the process of how traffic accident claims are managed. The insurance adjuster is not free to do whatever they feel like. They can, however, force you into the position of proving every claim you are making. If you’re claiming you have whiplash, that’s fine, but they want to see a doctor sign off on that. If you’re claiming you’re suffering serious pain, they want a doctor to sign off on that.
Every claim you make needs to be justified by the evidence. Without that evidence, the insurance adjuster can brush off you claim and refuse to honor it.
Negotiating a car accident insurance claim settlement yourself is not advisable when the stakes are very high. Those who have serious injuries, permanent impairment, or require a rehab and recovery period need to elicit the aid of a skilled personal injury attorney. Russell & Lazarus APC have successfully negotiated settlements for severely injured clients. Don’t sign off on a car accident insurance claim settlement prematurely. Contact us today.
After a serious collision, you might have questions for a Riverside car accident attorney, especially about damages. Damages are the monetary compensation you receive from a personal injury lawsuit or settlement. To understand your case’s value, you must understand the extent of your physical, financial, and emotional losses. Below, we discuss how damages are calculated in California.
If another driver’s negligence substantially caused your injuries, you are eligible for compensation. Depending on the facts surrounding your claim, you might receive both economic and non-economic damages, including compensation for your:
Under certain circumstances, you might also recover punitive damages (punishing the defendant for egregious behavior). A Riverside car accident attorney can review your claim and help you understand the value of your damages.
Under California law, you must have evidence documenting your losses– your testimony alone will not result in an award. Therefore, it’s important that you organize your receipts, medical records, and other evidence establishing your losses. For claims relating to noneconomic damages (such as pain and suffering and loss of consortium), you might need testimony from both expert witnesses (such as a psychologist) or your spouse.
Additionally, weaknesses in your case can impact its value. The insurance company will look for problems, such as conflicting medical evidence, pre-existing medical conditions, or inconsistencies in your statements. They will use these issues to deny your claim and avoid financial responsibility. However, when properly addressed, many of these “problems” can be minimized. A Riverside car accident attorney will help you identify and minimize the impact of your claim’s weaknesses and emphasize its strengths.
Unlike some states, California does not cap damages in car accident cases. However, if you are an uninsured driver, you cannot receive compensation for your non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium) pursuant to Civil Code §3333.4. An uninsured driver is still entitled to economic damages for their lost income, property loss, and medical expenses.
Additionally, the state does apply principles of comparative negligence in car accident cases. If you are partially at-fault for the collision, the court will reduce your damages by your percentage of fault. For example, suppose you had $50,000 in damages after an accident. However, you were 25% at fault. You could only receive $37,500 in a damage award ($50,0000 x 0.75 = $37,500). Since these percentages are fact-specific, it’s important to consult with a Riverside car accident attorney. Without a lawyer, the court may improperly assign fault, resulting in a lower award.
Under California law, an injured motorist must try to minimize his or her damages. This means that, after an injury, you should:
For example, your damage award might be reduced if you refuse to look for work, skip job interviews, or unreasonably pursue alternative medical therapies (such as unproven homeopathic treatment).
However, you only have a duty to reasonably mitigate your losses. For example, California law does not require you to undergo risky, experimental surgeries. If you have shown that you have, in good faith, followed your doctor’s orders and searched for work, you should fulfill your duty to mitigate. And, since every case is different, consult with a Riverside car accident attorney for personalized advice about your duty to mitigate.
Most people cannot assess a lawsuit’s strength and value without the help of a Riverside car accident attorney. At Russell & Lazarus, APC, we represent injured motorists, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians. We will help you recover emotionally and financially from the trauma of an accident. Contact our office for an evaluation of your claim.
When you file a personal injury claim with an insurance company, it’s important to provide certain documents to your Long Beach car accident attorney and maintain clear communication with him until the case is resolved. Medical records and doctors’ bills are some of the materials that will substantiate the injuries you sustained in the accident. The paperwork will also help your attorney calculate the amount of compensation you should receive for your financial losses.
Your medical records are a crucial part of your personal injury claim. They state what your injuries are and the type of treatment recommended by your doctor. Forward copies of your medical records to your Long Beach car accident lawyer. Your attorney needs to review these documents in order to understand the full extent of your injuries and how long it will take for you to recover.
While you are receiving treatment for your injuries, the healthcare providers will likely give you bills, invoices, and statements that list the type of services you received and how much they cost. Keep receipts for any prescription medications, medical equipment, and other related items that you purchase. You should also record any transportation costs you incur as you travel to and from doctors’ appointments. Send copies of those bills and receipts to your attorney so that he can assess all of your medical expenses. Having this information will enable your lawyer to evaluate how much money is needed to sufficiently cover your past, present, and future medical expenses.
Keep a journal where you document the mental and physical problems you are dealing with as a result of the accident. When your Long Beach personal injury attorney asks you about your symptoms and how the injuries have impacted your life and relationships, it will be easier to recall those details if you write them down. List specific examples of changes you have gone through since the accident such as feeling pain in your legs when you try to walk for an extended period of time, sleeping disturbances or difficulty remembering names and places.
If you have been injured due to the negligence of others, you may be entitled to receive compensation for your damages. Russell & Lazarus APC aggressively fights on behalf of their clients and gives them the personal attention they need. Call us today at (949) 851-0222 to schedule a consultation with an experienced Long Beach car accident lawyer.
Unfortunately, car accidents in Orange County are all too common. You may realize this as you are stuck in the “Orange Crush” due to a car accident on the freeway. Sometimes it seems like spotting an accident on the side of the freeway is a daily occurrence.
Perhaps you have been involved in an auto accident. If so, it is likely that you have suffered from an injury due to the accident. If you have been injured it is important that you know what to do after being treated.
Many accident victims find themselves struggling financially due to the high cost of their medical bills. What they failed to understand is that medical expenses can be recovered through an Orange County car accident claim.
Some of the medical costs that can be recovered by using an experienced Orange County auto accident attorney are:
Accident victims are sometimes surprised at the seriousness of the injuries they suffer in what they think is a minor incident. Our Orange County personal injury lawyer can explain the range and severity of injuries that commonly occur in auto accidents. See video below.
If you have been injured in a car crash, you will need to recover medical costs you have incurred. To discuss your legal options, contact an Orange County auto accident attorney at Russell & Lazarus. Call (949) 851-0222 for a free legal consultation.
Medical records often play an important role in car accident cases. A large part of the compensation that is owed you for your damages as the plaintiff is due to the physical injuries you sustained and the medical records provide the proof.
Although an individual has the right to obtain a copy of their own medical record at any time, the victim in a personal injury lawsuit most often will request his or her lawyer to do so. Due to the fact that medical records are considered a private matter, a hospital requires a specific medical release form authorizing the lawyer to receive the information.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the car accident, the records may be quite extensive and involve different hospital departments. It is important that your lawyer have all the relevant records, which may include information concerning the past in addition to the current incident. In many cases, the issue of a pre-existing injury may arise, and past medical records may be essential in determining that fact.
The party accused of negligence in the car accident will be interested in evaluating the injured party’s medical records as well. Although there is a principle of privacy in regards to a doctor-patient relationship, when you claim your health has been damaged due to a car accident, you effectively waive that privilege. As it is evidence in a potential litigation, the defendant does have that right as part of the discovery phase of the process. If the plaintiff or the hospital refuses the request for the records, a medical records subpoena may be obtained.
Among the records your lawyer will collect are:
Damages must be specifically proved in a personal injury claim and not be speculative or uncertain. The full medical records your lawyer will obtain will assist in illustrating how serious your injuries are, how long you have been dealing with your recovery, the level of pain and suffering you have endured, and the extent of the economic cost the accident has caused.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you cannot rely on insurance companies to make certain you are fully compensated for all your losses. You need experienced counsel. Call Russell & Lazarus APC, Riverside car accident lawyers, at (949) 851-0222.
Injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents can be devastating and can have long-term impacts on your life – not to mention the disruption to your work and social activities. Fortunately, under the law, various types of damages in auto accident cases are available to compensate you for your injuries in a partial attempt to make you whole.
In order to prove negligence in a motor vehicle accident, an injured plaintiff must prove that the defendant driver owed a duty to the plaintiff and to other drivers on the road, and that the defendant driver breached this duty, proximately resulting in the plaintiff’s injuries and damages.
Luckily for injured plaintiffs, California, unlike some other jurisdictions, does not follow the antiquated law of contributory negligence. Rather, California uses a pure comparative negligence standard in motor vehicle accident cases. This means that even if a plaintiff was slightly at fault for the motor vehicle accident, they can still recover damages proportionate to the defendant driver’s fault. For example, if the defendant driver was determined to be 75% at fault for the accident, and the injured plaintiff contributed to the accident 25%, the plaintiff is still entitled to recover 75% of the damages. In some jurisdictions, under those same circumstances, the injured plaintiff would not be entitled to recover anything.
Past, Present, and Future Medical Care
The plaintiff can receive compensation for past, present, and future medical care that is related to the injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff can also receive compensation for all medical and physical therapy bills that are determined to be related to the accident. In order to prove these types of damages, the plaintiff may introduce evidence of the medical records and bills or may introduce the testimony of an expert witness at trial. These experts are usually physicians or other health care providers, and their testimony can be helpful if the insurance company is disputing specific treatment or bills. Expert testimony may also be needed if there is a prognosis for future care. For example, a physician could make an estimate as to the likelihood, cost, and success of future medical care and procedures, such as surgeries.
An injured plaintiff can also recover lost wages for the time period when he or she is out of work recovering from injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. This can include time missed from work for attending medical appointments, physical therapy appointments, or other types of medical treatment. In order to prove damages for lost wages, it is necessary for a health care provider to authorize the missed time from work. This is usually accomplished by way of a doctor’s note and is often referenced in the medical records as well. The injured person’s employer would also have to verify the person’s salary and time missed from work in order to arrive at a total amount to claim in lost wage damages.
In addition to receiving actual lost wages, an injured plaintiff can also be compensated for loss of future earning capacity. For example, as a result of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident, the person may not be able to return to the same job as before, or may have to be moved to a lighter duty capacity – oftentimes being forced to take a drastic pay cut. In more serious cases, the injured plaintiff may have to change careers altogether, to his or her financial detriment. Testimony – such as that of a vocational rehabilitation expert, boss, or co-worker – can be helpful in proving lost wages and loss of future earning capacity.
Past, Present, and Future Pain and Suffering
An injured plaintiff can also be compensated for past, present, and future pain and suffering experienced as a result of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident. Unlike the types of damages listed above, these damages are called “non-economic damages,” as they cannot readily be measured in dollars and cents. In order to prove these types of damages, an injured plaintiff will need to testify about the impact that the injuries have had on his or her life while treating, at the present time, and into the foreseeable future. It can also be helpful to testify about activities which are much more difficult to do now (or even impossible to do), but which were very easy to do before the accident. These damages are also designed to compensate the person for conscious pain and suffering experienced while treating for injuries and undergoing physical therapy.
Expert testimony from healthcare providers is necessary to establish the likelihood of permanency and to offer an opinion about the extent to which the person will suffer for the rest of his or her life, based upon the person’s age, injury level, and prognosis for future care. The expert, who is oftentimes a physician, can draw on his or her medical experience and background in treating other patients with similar injuries.
Emotional Distress and Mental Anguish
An injured plaintiff can also receive compensation for emotional distress and mental anguish sustained as a result of injuries suffered in a motor vehicle accident. Motor vehicle accidents are traumatic incidents, and they often have residual, long-standing emotional effects on a person’s life and well being. For example, as a result of a hit and run collision at a traffic intersection, an injured plaintiff may become nervous every time he or she crosses the street in the future. Similarly, the victim of a serious motor vehicle accident may become nervous every time he or she gets behind the wheel of a car, enters an intersection, or passes a stop sign. Seriously injured plaintiffs may have flashbacks every time they get behind the wheel of a car.
Expert testimony, such as that of a psychiatrist or psychologist, may be necessary to prove these types of damages. While these damages are recoverable, they can be difficult to prove, except in the most serious cases. You should also know that whenever an injured plaintiff puts emotional distress or mental anguish “on the table,” he or she opens the door to other possible causes for these problems, such as a prior history of mental health issues or recurring problems involving drug and alcohol use.
It can be difficult to recover the compensation you deserve after you are hurt in a car accident, and many Orange County car accident victims are unaware that they may be entitled to lost wages, in addition to their medical expenses. If you missed work due to your car accident injuries, here is how an Anaheim accident attorney can help you recover your lost wages:
If you have been hurt in an Orange County car accident and have questions about negotiating a fair personal injury settlement, please reach out to us today at (949) 851-0222 for a free and confidential case review.
The aftermath of a car accident can be devastating. Injuries can range from relatively mild cuts and scrapes to grievous physical trauma that requires surgery, rehabilitation, and a long recovery process.
In addition to visible wounds, victims can also walk away from an accident with non-tangible losses, including emotional pain and mental anguish. This can take a heavy toll on a person. Both physical and emotional pain, like the loss of self-worth or self-esteem post-accident, can be classified as pain and suffering, under the same umbrella as physical injuries, when it comes time to seek compensation after an accident.
However, suing for pain and suffering in a car accident can be complicated. It can be tricky for you to actually prove you deserve a specific amount of compensation, especially if the damages are not quantifiable.
Pain and suffering falls under an umbrella of non-economic losses.
Economic losses, like property damage, lost wages, and medical expenses are relatively easy to add up and make a case for.
However, non-economic and subjective losses, such as the emotional strain of being in physical agony, can be much harder to calculate. If you have a physical injury that results in prolonged pain or leads to emotional trauma post-accident, this can be regarded as pain and suffering when it comes time to make a case for compensation.
California law gives people the ability to seek damages for pain and suffering from a variety of situations. Loss of self-worth, self-esteem, or general enjoyment of life are all after-effects of an injury that can be included in a car accident claim.
Since emotional trauma or a loss of self-esteem is not quantifiable, it can be very challenging to determine how much compensation is worthwhile to pursue. It can also be hard to prove you actually deserve the restitution.
An experienced car accident attorney can provide insight and help you avoid over-valuing a claim based on pain and suffering.
The following are helpful tools you and your attorney can look use to help prove the value of pain and suffering:
California law places a few restrictions on how much compensation can be accrued as a result of pain and suffering post-accident. In general, motorists who do not have proper insurance waive the chance to recover non-economic damages.
However, if an uninsured driver gets hit by someone who was driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and the driver gets a DUI conviction post-accident, the uninsured motorist might be able to receive damages for pain and suffering after filing a case.
Seeking damages for pain and suffering can be much more difficult after a minor accident. Accidents with low trauma levels often pose a difficult case for those trying to prove large amounts of physical or mental pain and suffering.
At Russell & Lazarus APC, we can help guide you through the process of suing for pain and suffering in a car accident. To learn more about how to file a case, contact us today to speak with an Orange County car accident attorney.
After you’ve been injured in an Orange County auto accident, it’s not unusual to feel a lot of pressure to settle your personal injury claim against the other driver as soon as possible. You may be feeling:
Unfortunately, the insurance company’s first offer is rarely its best, and victims should hold out—within applicable time limits—until they know they’re getting a settlement that will cover the full costs of their medical care, future medical care, lost wages, etc.
An Orange County auto accident attorney can help you and your family protect your rights after you’ve been injured in an accident in Newport Beach, Mission Viejo, Anaheim, or another Orange County city. Speak to us today at 1-(949) 851-0222 for more answers to your questions, or simply fill out the online contact form on this page to schedule a completely free and confidential case evaluation with a skilled personal injury attorney.
In addition to medical, lost wages, and repair claims, you also might have a diminished value claim after a serious accident. Unfortunately, many injured Californians fail to file these claims or give up after the insurance company denies their diminished value claim. Before you walk away from valuable compensation, you should discuss your claim with an experienced attorney.
During a collision, your car might sustain serious damage. Even after repairs, its value will be significantly lower than a comparable accident-free car. This is because:
Because your car’s accident history is easily accessible via CARFAX and other systems, it’s difficult to hide its accident history. (It’s also illegal to conceal a vehicle’s collision damage.)
In California, you can file an insurance claim for your car’s diminished value after an accident. These claims are sometimes called “diminution of value” claims. After an accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy should compensate you for your vehicle’s decreased value. Computing your car’s diminished value is a complicated process that assesses its inherent diminished value, repair-related diminished value, and immediate diminished value.
California law also limits diminished value claims in several ways:
If you need help computing your car’s diminished value, schedule a complimentary evaluation with Russell & Lazarus.
The first step towards compensation for your car’s diminished value is filing an insurance claim. This typically involves completing a series of forms and submitting evidence supporting your claim. However, you must file your diminished value claim within three years of the accident. If you miss this deadline, the court will automatically dismiss your case (and you will lose your right to compensation). If you need help with a diminished value claim, contact us for more information.
Auto insurance companies are for-profit companies that are more worried about shareholder expectations than customer satisfaction. For this reason, your insurance adjuster might not notify you of your potential diminished value claim. And, even if you file a claim, the adjuster might quickly deny the claim (sometimes with minimal review or explanation). The insurance company is simply trying to reduce its costs and save money.
If the insurance company denies your claim (or gives you the runaround), you can file a diminished value lawsuit. At your trial, the judge will assess the evidence in your case and might award you compensation. However, before you handle a diminished value case on your own, consider speaking with an experienced attorney.
At Russell & Lazarus, we will evaluate your diminished value claim as well as your other accident-related claims. If you sustained serious injuries in an Orange County auto accident, contact us for a free and confidential evaluation. Our offices are conveniently located in Newport Beach, Long Beach, and Riverside.
Our Long Beach car accident attorney can explain that outside factors such as the economy can affect personal injury cases. Here are several ways that a bad economy can impact cases.
Our Long Beach car accident attorney can explain that when the economy is in poor shape, state governments have a lower budget. This often causes the judiciary branch to be hit and not to have the funds it needs to fully function. Court staff may be cut and judges may not be replaced when they retire. Some courthouses may also close. This causes there to be fewer personnel available for trial, so there tend to be fewer trials. Judges may strongly encourage small and mid-sized claims to settle so that personnel is available to work on cases that are deemed a higher priority in that jurisdiction.
Our Long Beach car accident attorney can also explain that litigation costs tend to increase in a poor economy. When courts are underfunded, costs and fees can be raised to help provide additional funding, including mediation costs and filing fees.
When victims are in a poor economy, our Long Beach car accident attorney can explain that they may also be affected by more dire financial circumstances. They may believe that they will not be able to return to work or find a replacement job. As such, they may be more desperate for a high settlement. They may unrealistically believe that the settlement is their only way out and may refuse to accept a fair settlement due to these unrealistic expectations. In other cases, the victim may be so desperate to get out of debt that he or she accepts a settlement well below the value of the claim. Some victims will exaggerate their conditions or even make up claims in order to receive a fraudulent payout.
Health insurers are usually entitled to be reimbursed for the medical expenses that they covered if the victim receives a settlement or judgment. In some cases, a lien reduction on medical bills is requested in order for the victim to receive a slightly higher payout. However, in bad economies, these insurers are less likely to agree to lien reductions.
For more information on this topic, contact a Long Beach car accident attorney from Russell & Lazarus APC by calling (949) 851-0222.