1. Car accident Insurance companies, even your own, are out to save money by paying you as little as possible. They take in billions of dollars each year, and when a person is hurt, sometimes the injured person is treated very unfairly by an auto accident insurance company, even their own. Why and how would they do this? They will probably want to take your “recorded statement,” ask you all kinds of personal questions such as your social security number (private, right?). Why? There are many reasons, mostly to pin your story down in the event things change and perhaps you were not thinking things through when you provided a recorded statement. Does the statement help you? Usually, “NO!” The car accident insurance companies may try to use it against the injured person (for example, to show that somehow their story has changed implying you are lying). They may even try to discourage you from even hiring an auto accident lawyer and will not tell you what you are legally entitled to recover (such as pain and suffering, loss of work, and disfigurement).2. In almost all car accident cases, not worker’s compensation, an individual gets just one bodily injury settlement at the very end of the auto claim/case. Sounds crazy. Some people can not work, or perhaps do not have health insurance, but, people are supposed to somehow get by, receive medical care, maintain their lifestyle, support one’s family, and then collect the money which was lost much later. What happens if your bills are due, such as rent, electricity, car payments, and now, healthcare expenses? What if you cannot afford to take time off from work? What if you now do not have a car to take you to work? Can you get access to quality healthcare without insurance? There are no “magic answers” to each of these and other problems, but there is a smart way to “respond,” instead of “reacting.” For example, what if you sign a car accident insurance company’s “General Release of all Claims,” feel well today and then need future medical care?
As car accident attorneys, we have a legal obligation to inform you of what is called the “statute of limitations, ” the legal time limit to bring a bodily injury claim in a California court of law. This is generally two years from the date of the car accident. However, the time limits may be shorter for many reasons, such if a government employee/entity is involved or if the responsible party passes away. Each case is different.
3. What “appears to be the truth” is often more important is actually “the truth.” You might be saying what does all of this mean. For example, the injured person must prove that the car accident was someone else’s fault and the resulting injuries were due to the same car accident, which in the law is called “the burden of proof.” Meaning, just because someone hit you and admits fault, the injured person has to prove with some reasonable medical and legal certainty that the accident is the cause of the injuries. In this regard, pictures are very good of the injured areas and of any property or other damages.
4. Insurance companies want your cooperation, but, usually will not do the same for you. For example, as stated above, they want to take your statement and ask you all kinds of personal questions. Try asking them if they will agree in writing if they will give you the responsible party and/or their insured’s statement in exchange for your cooperation. 99.9% of the time, in our experience, if they are at fault, the answer is “no.”
5. Many times a computer will determine how much your auto accident claim is worth. This is not universally true, the claims adjuster will usually deny it, claiming their computer is a “tool.” But, many insurance companies are “married” to a computer program called “Colossus.” You might ask them about this program and if they will send you some literature about it.
6. All doctors and health insurance companies are the same. As car accident attorneys, we wish it were true, but, it is not. For example, today, we have HMOs (Health Maintenance Organizations, such as Kaiser), who, you guessed it, usually require approval for everything and are out to save money at your time and expense. Then, there are some healthcare providers who are “treatment oriented,” for example, will treat what is wrong with you, but, do not want to be involved in with any accident insurance claims process on your behalf. Remember, as discussed above, as you bear the legal burden of proof, it sure is helpful if your doctor and perhaps others help show that the accident is the legal cause of your problems. Auto accident Insurance companies usually will not tell you that you can get paid for re-injuring the same part of your body that has been hurt before. This is referred to as an “aggravation of a pre-existing condition,” meaning, that the car accident may have made your previous condition worse.
7. A good auto accident attorney can make the world of difference. You might say “why.” Here are some reasons:
(1) Most people are terrible at representing themselves for a car accident, they say and do the wrong things. And guess what, often, the insurance companies are listening, watching, and usually writing down everything that will help the insurance company, not you.
(2) For most people that are terribly injured, the question is not will a car accident attorney will be hired, it is whether or not that person will hire a “good auto accident attorney” as opposed to just an “auto accident attorney.” In our firm, we have excellent experienced attorneys and large support staff (with many people that speak both Spanish and English, fluently). For example, the senior auto accident lawyer is an experienced Former Insurance Company Attorney who has insider knowledge about how insurance companies work. In our firm, the attorneys went to top law schools and all do just one thing, car accidents. That is right, if our law firm was a restaurant, we have just one thing on the menu, “car accidents,” meaning, we specialize and only handle car accidents.
(3) We would be glad speak with you over the phone or send someone to you for a no pressure/free consultation. We are pleased to give references and are proud to tell you we have been practicing since 1992 with a large dedicated bilingual (Spanish speaking) staff.
(4) We have two goals for people, first, for the injured person to get well, and second, to get the injured person the maximum financial result possible. Unfortunately, money is the only way we have in America to compensate the injured. Also, please do not forget, about 60 million Americans reportedly do not have health insurance.
(5) The best time to hire an accident lawyer is at the beginning of the case, just as if one was ill and needed to see a doctor. We can give an estimate once we have enough information about what cases are worth and can give you intelligent/honest advice. What people like about our firm is that we tell people from the very beginning exactly what we think, whether it is good or bad.
(6) We are one of the few firms where you can contact an attorney seven days a week, including holidays. We treat people as we would want to be treated if the roles were reversed and we were injured in a car accident.
(7) As accident lawyers, we do not charge for anything unless there is a recovery, so, you have nothing to lose by contacting us and getting a free opinion.
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines