Archive for the ‘ Personal Injury ’ Category

The Importance Of Uninsured And Underinsured Motorist Coverage In California

Posted on: May 18, 2018 by in Personal Injury
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Do you have the auto insurance coverage you need? You might need more coverage than you think.

In the state of California, drivers are not required to purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, but any California personal injury lawyer will insist that you have it.

You’re about to learn why accident attorneys will tell you that uninsured motorist (UM) coverage and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage are so imperative.

HOW MANY DRIVERS ARE UNINSURED?

Auto insurance statistics for California offer some disturbing numbers. The state’s Department of Transportation reports that almost fifteen percent of the motorists in California – one out of seven – have no automobile insurance coverage whatsoever.

That puts everyone at risk. Collisions involving uninsured drivers happen every day in every part of California.

What is your recourse if you’re injured in California by a negligent motorist who is without any insurance – and without any way to compensate you if you’re injured?

It’s important to know your options. Uninsured drivers are uninsured for a reason – they don’t have the funs. That also means their vehicles probably receive less maintenance, which makes uninsured drivers even more likely to be involved in collisions.

AFTER A CRASH WITH AN UNINSURED DRIVER, WHAT’S YOUR FIRST STEP?

If you’re injured in a collision with an uninsured, negligent driver, summon medical attention immediately for yourself and for anyone else who may be injured in the crash.

Even if you feel perfectly healthy, have a healthcare professional examine you within 24 hours after any traffic accident. You may have sustained a latent or hard-to-detect injury – and you may not even realize it.

You also need an immediate medical exam for legal reasons – to document the cause and extent of any personal injury or injuries.

If you have in fact been injured in southern California traffic because another motorist was negligent, arrange at once to discuss your legal rights and options with a personal injury attorney.

If the driver who injured you was uninsured or underinsured, what happens next will depend almost entirely on the provisions of your auto insurance policy and the limits of your coverage.

HOW DOES UM AND UIM INSURANCE WORK?

Although California does not obligate a driver to buy UM or UIM coverage, auto insurance providers are required by law to explain and to offer UM and UIM coverage to every policyholder.

When you buy auto insurance in this state, if you prefer not to have UM and UIM coverage (a bad choice, by the way), you’ll sign a document stating that you’re electing to turn down coverage that includes:

1. Uninsured motorist (UM) injury coverage: Coverage for your own injuries and your passengers’ injuries if those injuries are caused by an uninsured, negligent, at-fault motorist.

2. Underinsured motorist (UM) injury coverage: Additional injury coverage if you’re injured by a motorist who has auto insurance – but not enough to cover your total damages.

3. Uninsured motorist property damage: You may need additional property damage coverage if the driver who collided with you is uninsured, or you may already have sufficient collision coverage.

UM and UIM auto insurance covers you if you’re injured by a negligent, at-fault driver who has insufficient coverage or no coverage at all.

WHY IS UM INSURANCE COVERAGE SO IMPORTANT?

Remember, one in seven California drivers has no automobile insurance of any kind, so UM and UIM insurance is one of the smartest purchases that any California motorist can make.

What makes UM coverage such a good idea? One reason is that suing an uninsured motorist is almost always an empty gesture. If someone’s broke, it doesn’t matter what a judge or a jury might order that person to pay you.

If you’re injured in California by a driver with no insurance, you’ll have to look elsewhere for compensation. With UM and UIM coverage, you can look to your own insurance company and policy.

After a California traffic crash, a victim will usually submit an injury claim to the negligent driver’s auto insurer, but if that driver has no coverage or not enough coverage, you can submit a claim based on your own policy – if you have UM and UIM coverage.

WHAT IF YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY MISHANDLES YOUR INJURY CLAIM?

But sometimes, and even if an injured driver has UM and UIM coverage, an insurance company will try to avoid paying an injury claim.

While most insurance professionals are candid and helpful, there are still some shady insurers in California who may try to deny your claim. The company might claim that you weren’t really injured, or that you were at fault, or even that “your check is in the mail” when it isn’t.

That’s one of several good reasons why an experienced injury lawyer should handle your injury claim – and any negotiations or discussions with any insurance company – from the very beginning.

WHAT AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE DOES CALIFORNIA LAW REQUIRE?

All California motorists should clearly understand that operating any uninsured motor vehicle is against the law in this state. The state compels every driver to carry these minimum insurance coverage amounts:

1. for one individual’s injury or death: $15,000
2. for multiple injuries or deaths in a single accident: $30,000
3. for property damage: $5,000

These are the minimum amounts set by state law, but drivers who can should carry additional coverage, particularly UM and UIM coverage.

IS THERE A PENALTY FOR DRIVING WITHOUT AUTO INSURANCE?

A California motorist must produce proof of legal insurance coverage if he or she is involved in a crash that results in injury, death, or property damage exceeding $750. Without proof of insurance, a California motorist:

1. may be fined
2. may receive a one-year driver’s license suspension
3. may have his or her vehicle impounded

A second California traffic accident without automobile insurance can trigger a four-year driver’s license suspension.

If you are driving without auto insurance in this state, stop reading, contact an auto insurance provider right now, and buy the insurance you need to be compliant with the law.

HOW CAN AN INJURY ATTORNEY HELP YOU?

If you are compliant, and if you’re injured by a negligent and uninsured driver, don’t even speak to your insurance company except to inform the company that you have been in an accident.

Don’t make any statement, sign any document, or agree to any settlement before you’ve consulted an auto accident attorney.

If you’ve been injured, you should speak to that attorney as soon as you’ve been seen by your doctor or another healthcare provider.

A skilled personal injury attorney can protect your rights, explain your options, and fight for justice on your behalf.

If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in California, compensation is your right. Exercise that right. A good accident attorney can help.

Passenger Rights In California Car Accidents

Posted on: April 17, 2018 by in Personal Injury
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Whether or not they are riding with the at-fault driver, passengers in traffic collisions sustain serious injuries every day on California’s streets and highways.

Almost everyone – at one time or another – is a passenger, so it is important to know what your rights and options are if you are injured in a traffic accident while another person is driving.

More than two million non-drivers – that is, passengers and pedestrians – are injured in traffic crashes every year in the United States. That’s far too many injuries.

In the state of California, passengers who are injured in traffic collisions are entitled by law to complete compensation for their injuries and related damages.

IF YOU’RE INJURED AS A PASSENGER, HOW CAN A LAWYER HELP?

Do not try to obtain that compensation on your own. You’ll need a lawyer.

If you are injured in traffic as a passenger in Southern California, you must put your case in the hands of an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney as soon as you’ve been examined by a doctor or by another healthcare professional.

Let your personal injury lawyer negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf – while you stay focused on recuperating and regaining your health.

When passengers are injured in California traffic crashes, the central question becomes: Who will be held accountable to compensate the injured passenger for his or her medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, and related damages?

If you’re injured as a passenger in a California traffic crash, you have the right to compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company, with one possible exception.

If the at-fault driver is a close relative you live with, you may be included in that driver’s auto insurance policy, and if so, you may be ineligible to file a claim against that policy.

HOW SHOULD INJURY VICTIMS DEAL WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES?

Your attorney can determine if, as an injured passenger, your own auto insurance policy or health insurance policy potentially offers you any compensation.

But don’t even speak directly to an insurance company or sign any settlement agreement or any other document. Let your attorney handle it all.

Injury victims without legal guidance might settle a claim for far less than the claim is actually worth. And if you agree to such a settlement, you may also be signing away your right to take further legal action.

So don’t sign anything, and don’t say anything to an insurance company. Simply refer the company to your injury attorney.

The overwhelming majority of personal injury cases arising from passenger injuries in California are settled privately and out-of-court, but if the insurance company fails to offer you a fair settlement in a reasonable period of time, your lawyer may recommend taking your case to trial.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO AT THE ACCIDENT SCENE?

The steps taken immediately after a traffic crash can be crucial to the success of your injury claim, and no attorney will be at the accident scene to advise you. If you are injured in a traffic accident in California, here’s what you need to do:

1. If anyone in the accident needs medical attention, call 911. That’s the top priority.

2. After obtaining medical help, summon the police. Find out how you can get a copy of their accident report. Be cooperative, but stick with the facts, and do not admit any fault.

3. Take photographs of the crash site, damage to the vehicles, and your own visible injuries.

4. Make sure that you get both drivers’ contact information and insurance details. If there were eyewitnesses to the crash, try to get their names and contact information.

5. Don’t talk about the accident with anyone – and that means anyone – except your attorney.

6. Don’t refuse medical treatment at the crash scene if it’s offered. Even if you feel fine, have a healthcare professional examine you within 24 hours. Latent and hard-to-detect injuries can quickly become serious medical conditions, so do not fail to have a check-up.

7. Again, and this is important, do not talk to a claims adjuster or to any other insurance company representative. Refer all insurance company questions to your personal injury attorney.

WHAT IF THE DRIVER WHO INJURED YOU WAS UNINSURED?

If you are injured by a driver who has no automobile insurance, and you have uninsured motorist coverage of your own, you will have to submit your injury claim against your own insurance company.

In some of these cases, some auto insurance companies will try to avoid paying you – partially or entirely.

If you’ve been injured and you are entitled to compensation, an injury attorney will see to it that an insurance company meets its obligation to you.

There’s not much you can do about your own safety as a car, truck, bus, SUV, or motorcycle passenger. Vehicle safety is primarily the driver’s responsibility.

WHAT CAN PASSENGERS DO TO ENHANCE THEIR SAFETY?

Nevertheless, here are several ways that you can improve your chances of avoiding injury as a passenger:

1. Never ride with a driver who is impaired or intoxicated.
2. Wear your safety belt.
3. Offer to help the driver with maps or the GPS system, air and heat, and the sound system.
4. Don’t be a distraction to the driver.
5. If you see a hazard and the driver doesn’t see it, say something.

Buckling up is imperative. The Insurance Information Institute tells us that seatbelts saved an estimated 14,668 lives in 2016. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that seat belt use reduces the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent.

IS THERE A TIME LIMIT FOR INJURY VICTIMS TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION?

If you’re injured in California traffic while you’re a passenger, you must act at once. Over time, evidence deteriorates, and witnesses forget. It’s critical to put a personal injury lawyer on your case as quickly as you can.

The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in California is two years from the date of the injury, or – if the injury was latent or hard-to-detect – two years from the date of the injury’s discovery.

Don’t wait two years and scramble to file a last-minute lawsuit. Don’t even wait two weeks before speaking to a personal injury lawyer.

If you’ve been injured, your health and your future may be at risk, so you must stand up for your rights, make the call to a good personal injury lawyer, and get the legal help you need.

Slip And Fall Shopping Injuries

Posted on: March 18, 2018 by in Personal Injury
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You might not think that you’re at risk when you shop, but thousands of injuries are suffered by shoppers at retail locations every year in the U.S. If you do any shopping – and who doesn’t?

Shopping injuries happen when a store’s manager or owner fails to keep the store and premises safe or fails to warn employees, shoppers, and other visitors about known hazards.

As you might imagine, the number of shopping injuries tends to rise in heavy shopping periods like “Black Friday” and the days leading up to Christmas.

Of course, “shopping injuries” is a generic phrase that describes the variety of personal injuries that can occur when shopping.

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON SHOPPING INJURIES?

Admittedly, many of these injuries are minor, but shopping injuries also include head, neck, and spinal injuries, sprains, broken bones, and in some cases, catastrophic and disabling injuries.

The specific shopping-related injuries that may occur on a retailer’s premises include but are not limited to:

1. slipping or tripping and falling on wet floors or torn carpets, or due to poor lighting, or due to escalator malfunctions

2. head and other injuries caused by falling items, falling retail displays, trying to reach out-of-reach objects, and similar mishaps

3. injuries caused by falling shopping carts or collisions with shopping carts

4. injuries caused by overcrowding such as trampling and broken feet, toes, and legs

5. parking lot injuries caused by cracks and potholes in pavement, failure to remove snow or ice, poor storm drainage, or a poor parking lot design

WHAT ARE THE OBLIGATIONS OF PROPERTY OWNERS?

California law requires the owners of commercial properties to use reasonable care to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe from hazardous conditions.

Spills must be cleaned up immediately. Broken stairs and railings must be repaired as soon as possible. Dimmed bulbs must be replaced. In general, adequate security must be provided.

If you are injured on a commercial property because of an owner’s or manager’s negligence, in most cases you will be able to seek compensation by filing a personal injury claim.

In southern California, you’ll need to discuss your injury and claim – as quickly as possible after you’ve been injured – with an experienced Pasadena premises liability lawyer.

WHAT MUST YOU PROVE TO WIN A PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIM?

To prevail with a premises liability claim against a retailer, an injury victim and his or her attorney must prove:

1. The property owner was aware (or should have been aware) of a hazardous condition.

2. The property owner failed to inspect the property for hazards or to provide adequate maintenance.

3. The hazardous condition was a direct cause of the victim’s injury.

4. The victim sustained actual quantifiable damages as a result of the incident.

Retail property owners faced with a premises liability claim may insist that no hazardous condition existed, that the owner had no prior knowledge of a hazard, or that the hazard was so obvious that no warning was needed.

Sometimes a property owner’s defense in a premises liability case is to blame the victim.

A property owner may argue that the injury didn’t really happen on his or her property as alleged, or that it happened in or on a part of the property where no customers are permitted.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU ARE INJURED WHILE SHOPPING?

If you are injured while shopping, seek or summon medical attention immediately. The moment you are injured, that is the only priority.

Some injuries can be tough to detect or identify; others can stay latent, sometimes for weeks, and then develop into a dangerous medical condition. After any accident, you must be examined by a healthcare professional.

If you don’t seek treatment at once, and you file a lawsuit later, the property owner may claim that you weren’t very injured if you didn’t need medical attention, and a jury might agree.

After you’ve been examined and/or treated, report the injury to the property owner or store manager. Many restaurants, hotels, and retailers have pre-printed accident report forms.

When you make an accident report this way, stick to the facts, keep it brief, and don’t say anything that may be used against you.

By seeking medical attention first and then reporting the incident, you’re doing everything by the book, creating documentation, and establishing your credibility in case a legal action is needed.

Make and keep copies of the medical paperwork, the accident report, and any other documents arising from the accident and injury.

HOW CAN AN ATTORNEY HELP?

Your next step – and take it as quickly as you can – is to put your case in the hands of an experienced Pasadena premises liability lawyer.

A good liability lawyer can determine whether a store was at fault for your injury. If so, your attorney may be able to help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and more.

After a commercial property injury, the property owner’s insurance company may try to contact you. Make no statement – instead, refer the company to your lawyer.

Premises liability attorneys in California are trained negotiators who routinely negotiate with insurance companies and know what it takes to prevail.

WILL YOUR CASE BECOME A COURTROOM TRIAL?

Courtroom trials arising from premises liability claims are in fact rare. In the vast majority of these cases, attorneys for both parties negotiate an out-of-court settlement that’s acceptable to everyone involved.

Many businesses, for example, want to avoid the publicity of a trial, so quick and reasonable settlements are not uncommon in these cases.

WHY DO YOU NEED TO ACT AT ONCE?

The statute of limitations for premises liability cases in this state gives an injury victim two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit against those who may be liable. After two years, you cannot file a premises liability lawsuit.

But don’t wait two years – or even two weeks – to seek legal help if you’ve been injured because someone else was negligent. Take your case to the right attorney at once.

Most injury attorneys offer a free first consultation, so it costs you nothing as an injury victim to learn more about your rights and where you stand legally.

Nothing’s more important than your health and your future. If you’ve been injured because a property owner was negligent, get an attorney’s help, and exercise your rights.

If you’ve been injured by negligence, help is here, and it costs you nothing, but you must take the first step and make the call.

Can An Uninsured Driver File A Claim Against An Insured Driver?

Posted on: February 18, 2018 by in Personal Injury
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If you drive with no auto insurance, and if you injure someone, you’ll be in big legal trouble. But what if you have no insurance, and you are the one who’s injured? Will you have any recourse?

Driving without automobile insurance is not a good idea. It’s against the law in California. This state requires every driver to carry the following minimum automobile insurance coverages:

1. $5,000 for property damage
2. $15,000 for one person’s injury or death
3. $30,000 total for the injuries or deaths of more than one person in a single accident

These are merely the minimum coverage amounts set by California law. Motorists can – and probably should – carry more coverage, particularly uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.

CAN YOU COMPLY WITH THE LAW WITHOUT BUYING AUTO INSURANCE?

However, the state of California also allows vehicle owners to choose from three other options for compliance with the state’s financial responsibility laws.

Instead of buying a regular commercial auto insurance policy, vehicle owners in California may:

1. make a $35,000 cash deposit with California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
2. obtain a self-insurance certificate from the California DMV
3. obtain a $35,000 surety bond

California is an automobile insurance “fault” state rather than a “no-fault” state.

IF YOU ARE INJURED, WHERE SHOULD YOU SEEK LEGAL ADVICE?

If you are injured in a traffic accident in southern California and you are not the at-fault driver, seek advice at once from an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.

Your lawyer may – or may not – recommend filing a personal injury claim.

A number of factors must be considered before making that decision, but your future and your health are too important to risk. You must have the advice of a good personal injury attorney.

Do not agree to any settlement offer from an insurance company until you’ve consulted a good injury lawyer, and do not sign anything – you might be waiving your right to take legal action.

HOW ARE MOST CALIFORNIA PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS RESOLVED?

If you eventually file a personal injury claim, your claim will probably be settled out of court. That’s how more than ninety percent of personal injury matters are resolved in California.

But if an acceptable settlement is not offered, your lawyer may recommend taking the case to trial. If you can prove your claim in court, you can be awarded the compensation you need.

Nevertheless, an uninsured driver – even one who is injured by a negligent-but-insured driver – may face some serious consequences for driving without auto insurance.

WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO UNINSURED CALIFORNIA DRIVERS?

If a California traffic crash results in any injury, death, or property damage exceeding $750, both drivers must present evidence of “financial responsibility” to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Financial responsibility” means legally sufficient auto insurance coverage or one of the three self-insurance options (listed above) which California allows in lieu of auto insurance coverage.

If you do not have proof of financial responsibility at the time of an accident, you will be fined, your driver’s license will be suspended for one-year, and your vehicle may be impounded.

After a year, if you can show proof of financial responsibility, you may apply to have your driver’s license reinstated.

But a second accident without insurance can result in a four-year driver’s license suspension.

Some states like Hawaii have different laws, so it is advised to consult with a Wailuku personal injury attorney.

APART FROM THE LAW, WHY IS HAVING AUTO INSURANCE SO IMPERATIVE?

If you drive without insurance, and you are involved in an accident that injures both drivers, the other driver may seek to claim damages against you – whether or not you file your own claim.

It is in every California driver’s best interests to make certain that you have adequate automobile insurance coverage. If you don’t, you must obtain it as swiftly as possible.

WHAT IF YOU GENUINELY CANNOT AFFORD AUTO INSURANCE?

If you cannot afford vehicle liability insurance, you may qualify for the California Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program.

You can learn more about this program at the California Department of Insurance website, http://www.insurance.ca.gov/.

The program provides affordable automobile liability insurance to eligible California drivers who demonstrate financial need, provided that they satisfy the program’s other requirements.

WHAT IF YOU ARE THE ONE WHO’S INJURED – BY AN UNINSURED DRIVER?

If you are involved in an accident as an uninsured driver, you could be held personally liable for property damages, personal injuries, and even wrongful death in the worst-case scenario.

But what if you are in compliance with California’s auto insurance regulations, and you are injured in southern California by a driver who is both at-fault and uninsured?

Except to notify your own insurance company that an accident has happened, do not make any statement to an insurance company.

As mentioned previously – and this is key – if you’ve been injured, do not sign any document provided by an auto insurance company before you’ve obtained legal representation and advice.

HOW CAN A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER HELP?

Instead, after you’ve been examined by a healthcare professional, discuss the accident and injury immediately with a good personal injury lawyer.

You’ll need to learn where you stand legally, and most personal injury lawyers will review your case for free. Your attorney will sort out the details and explain your rights and legal options.

If you file a personal injury claim, let your lawyer negotiate with the insurance company – while you focus on recovering your health.

SHOULD YOU CONSIDER UNINSURED MOTORIST COVERAGE?

California does not require motorists to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance.

But when you consider that one out of every seven California drivers has no auto insurance coverage, uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance can provide genuine protection.

Uninsured motorist insurance kicks in if you are injured by a negligent driver who has no auto insurance coverage. It’s coverage that your own insurer provides when the other driver has none.

Why is having uninsured motorist coverage so important, especially in California?

Because drivers with no auto insurance are – as you would predict – drivers with no resources, so pursuing a personal injury lawsuit in such cases is almost always futile.

WHAT ARE THE VICTIMS OF NEGLIGENCE ENTITLED TO IN CALIFORNIA?

Still, if you are injured by another California driver’s negligence, and without regard to who is or is not insured or how much insurance either driver has, you are entitled to full compensation for your damages.

Those damages include all of your accident-related medical expenses, your lost wages and any future lost earnings capacity, pain, suffering, and all other related damages and losses.

The right lawyer will use every appropriate legal tool and strategy to help you win that compensation.

You are also entitled to justice. If you’ve been injured by a negligent driver in southern California, let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney help you obtain it.

Employer Liability In California Car Accident Cases

Posted on: January 22, 2018 by in Personal Injury
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If you’re injured by a negligent driver in a traffic accident in southern California, you are entitled by law to compensation.

But if the driver who crashed into you was working and “on the clock” when the accident happened, is the driver’s employer also liable?

How is liability determined in these cases, and how can that determination impact your legal rights and your compensation?

You need to know, because anyone could be injured in our congested southern California traffic.

Where does legal responsibility fall if an employee, while on the clock, drives negligently and injures you in a traffic collision?

Employers can be held liable in two different ways for an accident and injuries.

Employers can be held directly accountable if they make poor hiring decisions or if the employees and/or the business itself is supervised negligently.

Employers can also be held indirectly liable for the negligence of employees who are on the clock.

When employers hire drivers, those employers have a “duty of care” to investigate a prospective driver’s past driving record.

To drive a company-owned vehicle, the employer should also verify that the driver has a valid commercial driver’s license.

Employers must also enforce reasonable safety practices, ensure that company-owned vehicles are properly maintained, and monitor the performance of their drivers.

WHAT IS “VICARIOUS” LIABILITY?

In some cases, employers who are negligent about these duties may be found directly liable when an accident with injuries takes place.

An employer’s liability may also be “vicarious” when an employee’s negligence is assigned indirectly or “imputed” to the employer under the legal concept known as “respondeat superior,” a term from Latin meaning “let the superior respond.”

However, employers may be vicariously liable for employee negligence only when an employee’s negligence was unintentional and when it took place within the “scope” of the employee’s job performance.

In any particular accident involving an on-the-clock driver, a number of questions must be asked and answered to determine if an employer has vicarious liability, such as:

– Was the negligent driver legally an employee, or was the driver instead working for the employer as an independent contractor?
– Was the driver’s negligence unintentional or intentional?
– When the accident took place, was the driver acting within the “scope” of his or her job duties?

WHEN IS VICARIOUS LIABILITY APPLICABLE?

“Respondeat superior” only applies to an employer if a driver is an employee, not a contractor, and was actually working on the employer’s behalf when the collision took place.

For instance, if an office worker is sent out to purchase office supplies, and that worker crashes into you while on the way to the office supply store, the employer in such a case potentially could be held liable.

But if instead of returning directly to work, that same office worker decides to stop in for some coffee at Starbucks, and that employee crashes into you and injures you in the Starbucks’ parking lot, because the worker was not acting at that moment on the employer’s behalf, in that instance, the employer should not and probably will not be held liable for the accident and injury.

Employers are not considered responsible for intentional acts of harm committed by employees.

For example, if you cut off that same office worker in traffic as he or she is leaving Starbucks, and he or she intentionally chooses to retaliate by running you off the road or by crashing into your vehicle, the driver’s employer has no liability for that kind of wrongful intentional behavior by an employee.

WHO IS AN EMPLOYEE AND WHO IS AN INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR?

An injured accident victim seeking compensation from a negligent driver’s employer will have to prove that the driver was an employee and was not working as a contractor.

If a driver who injured you was operating his or her personal vehicle, using his or her own gas, oil, and insurance, and if no taxes are withheld from the driver’s pay, the driver is probably a contractor, and responsibility for accidents caused by the driver will probably be the driver’s alone.

In California, the majority of injury claims are settled out-of-court. If you are injured by a negligent driver in Pasadena or the greater Los Angeles area, a personal injury attorney can review the details of the accident and your injury, determine who may be liable, and negotiate for your compensation.

You must have an attorney’s help.

California personal injury law is complex, and vicarious liability cases are particularly complicated.

Personal injury lawyers are experienced negotiators who regularly handle negotiations for their injured clients.

If an acceptable settlement amount is not offered during out-of-court negotiations, a personal injury attorney will take your case to trial and advocate aggressively for the compensation you need. But you must put your attorney on the case quickly if you have been injured by a negligent driver.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU’RE INJURED IN A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT?

After an accident with injuries, you must notify your insurance company that you’ve been in an accident, but do not make any statement, sign any insurance forms, or agree to a settlement offer before consulting a personal injury lawyer.

If your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company contacts you, refer the company to your attorney.

A personal injury attorney will handle all of the legal aspects of your case while you focus on regaining your health.

In the state of California, anyone who has been injured by another driver’s carelessness or negligence is entitled to complete compensation for his or her medical care, for wages lost due to being injured, for pain and suffering, and for all other losses and damages arising from the accident.

When an injury is catastrophic – such as a spinal cord injury or a traumatic brain injury, an injury resulting in amputation, or any injury leading to paralysis or permanent disability – that injury victim will require the maximum amount of compensation that is available.

An experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney can help.

Your health must be your highest priority.

If you are injured in the greater Los Angeles area or anywhere in southern California by another person’s negligence, a California personal injury lawyer will protect your rights and fight for the compensation – and for the justice – that you need and deserve.

How Are Car Accident Settlement Amounts Determined?

Posted on: November 19, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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It’s probably happened to you or to someone you know. You file an auto insurance claim after a collision, but what the insurance company wants to pay you is far less than the cost of the auto repairs. How can this happen? If an insurance company will not meet its responsibility to you, do you have legal recourse? Keep reading, and you’ll learn what every California driver needs to know about negotiating an auto insurance claim.

Because every accident is different, when auto insurance companies calculate settlement amounts, there’s no precise or reliable formula that can be routinely applied. Instead, auto insurance companies must take a variety of factors into account including the determination of fault, the property damage in a collision, any personal injuries that are sustained, and the limits of the drivers’ insurance policies.

HOW ARE VEHICLE DAMAGES AND INJURIES TYPICALLY HANDLED?

If you aren’t injured in a collision, and if your claim is strictly for the damage to your vehicle, you’ll be seeking to repair or replace the damaged vehicle part(s) or the entire vehicle. When the replacement or repair cost exceeds the value of the vehicle, the vehicle is deemed a total loss, and you should be fully compensated for that loss. Too often, however, the compensation amount that a claimant is offered is not sufficient to repair a vehicle or to buy a replacement.

But if you are injured in a California traffic collision, a personal injury claim is negotiated separately from the property damage claim. Your injury compensation from the insurance company is supposed to cover all of your medical expenses and lost wages. The medical records documenting your injuries will be scrutinized and will have considerable influence on the final compensation amount that the insurance company offers you.

If you are not injured in an accident, and you’re up to the task, there’s no reason why you can’t negotiate directly and on your own with the auto insurance company. But if you are injured in a traffic accident here in southern California, before you submit any claim, sign any insurance document, or make any statement to an auto insurance company, consult first with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.

DO YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR AUTO INSURANCE POLICY?

It’s imperative for all California motorists to understand their auto insurance. After you file a claim, if you are not pleased with a company’s settlement offer – let’s say that your car was a total loss, and you believe that your vehicle was worth more than the amount being offered – you can accept the offer anyway, negotiate on your own or through an attorney for a better offer, or retain an attorney to argue your insurance claim in civil court.

If you are negotiating with a claims adjuster, and the offer you receive is insufficient, you must provide some kind of evidence to support your position. That evidence might be photographs of the vehicle both before and after the crash, receipts for previous enhancements and repairs to the vehicle, and/or estimates from qualified appraisers.

Don’t simply accept a claims adjuster’s estimate of your damages and repair costs. When you file a damage claim after an accident, you have the right to obtain your own repair estimates and the right to have your vehicle examined and repaired by any mechanic who is certified in the state of California.

WHAT ARE A CLAIMS ADJUSTER’S RESPONSIBILITIES?

Remember – a claims adjuster answers to a company and a boss. According to Wikipedia, a claims adjuster “investigates insurance claims by interviewing the claimant and witnesses, consulting police and hospital records, and inspecting property damage to determine the extent of the company’s liability.”

Claims adjusters identify the damages that an insurance policy covers, and they negotiate settlements on the company’s behalf for property damages and personal injuries. Adjusters answer to senior adjusters and to supervisors who make the important liability, coverage, and negotiating determinations.

If an adjuster insists that a particular amount is all that the company can or will pay you, that’s probably not actually true. If your evidence proves that your vehicle was worth more than the settlement offer amount you are being offered, an adjuster can ask a company manager to approve a higher amount – provided, of course, that you’re dealing with honest insurance professionals.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SEEK AN ATTORNEY’S ADVICE?

Negotiating on your own can genuinely pay off when the auto insurance company operates ethically and legally, but if you are not treated fairly and forthrightly by a claims adjuster – or if you’re simply being ignored by the company – get an attorney’s help. In extreme cases, your attorney may recommend filing a bad faith lawsuit against an insurance firm that will not meet its obligation to you.

If you are injured by a negligent driver in southern California, you are obligated to notify your auto insurance company about the accident, but don’t make a statement or file a claim at that time. Instead, take your case directly and immediately to an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney who routinely represents the injured victims of negligent drivers.

HOW CAN INJURY VICTIMS OBTAIN THE COMPENSATION THEY DESERVE?

In California, if you are injured by another driver’s negligence, the law entitles you to complete compensation for all of your medical care and lost wages. However, you’ll have to prove that you are entitled to the compensation, which means proving that you were injured and proving that the other driver’s negligence is the reason why. That will require an experienced California injury lawyer’s help.

Insurance companies, like all other companies, have to make a profit, but they must also meet their responsibilities. When a property damage claim or a personal injury claim is rejected, undervalued, or delayed for no good reason, those making legitimate claims can suffer financial hardships.

If you’ve suffered physical injuries in southern California because another motorist was negligent, consult first with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney. If you agree to a quick settlement or sign insurance papers before you discuss your case with an injury attorney, you might be signing away legal rights that you’ll need if you are severely injured.

Instead, have an experienced California injury attorney negotiate your insurance claim. If an insurance company’s final settlement offer is insufficient, your attorney may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit and seeking compensation in the courts. Adhere to your attorney’s advice, because after a serious accident, your health and your future are too important to risk.

Proving Fault In Slip And Fall Accidents

Posted on: October 19, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Did you know that falls – not traffic crashes – are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries? That’s right. Slip-and-fall accidents cause 41.5 percent of spinal cord injuries, and falls also cause traumatic brain injuries, head, back, and neck injuries, broken bones, and even internal injuries. If you are hurt in a fall on someone else’s property, do you have legal recourse? Can you be compensated? Keep reading, because a serious fall can happen to anyone.

Every year, thousands of people in California are injured, often seriously, from slipping or tripping and falling on a floor, stairs, or even on pavement that is – for whatever reason – slippery and hazardous. A cracked sidewalk or potholes in a parking lot can cause serious injuries. So can a rug, carpet, or floor mat that curls up over time. As you might guess, the elderly suffer the greatest number of slip-and-fall injuries.

In California, if you’re injured slipping and falling on someone else’s property, and if you can prove that the accident happened because the owner of the property was negligent, you are entitled to compensation for your medical costs arising from the injury, your lost wages due to your injury, and all other injury-related losses and damages.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO PREVAIL WITH A PREMISES LIABILITY CLAIM?

Winning that compensation is not always easy, however. You are not simply handed reimbursement, even when you are legally entitled to it. In Southern California, you’ll need to have an experienced Pasadena premises liability attorney representing you and advocating on your behalf. You’re about to learn what it takes to prevail with a premises liability claim arising from a slip-and-fall injury.

A premises liability case arising from a slip-and-fall injury, in effect, asks and answers this basic question: If the owner of the property had been more careful, would the accident have happened anyway? Obviously, a property owner is not necessarily liable for every injury that might happen on his or her premises. We are all obligated to be alert and aware of our surroundings.

Every premises liability case, of course, is different, but generally speaking, the law requires property owners to take “reasonable” steps to keep their properties free of hazardous conditions. The law seeks to balance the property owner’s general and reasonable obligation to keep a property safe with an injury victim’s own responsibility to be alert and aware.

WHAT MUST YOU PROVE FOR YOUR OWN CLAIM TO PREVAIL?

How is that balance achieved by the courts, and how are slip-and-fall cases resolved? Again, every case will have its own particulars and details, but to prevail with a premises liability claim, an injury victim – legally called the “plaintiff” – must show that at least one of the following three conditions existed at the time the injury occurred:

– The property owner or the owner’s employee should have known of the hazard, because a “reasonable” owner in the same circumstance would have known of the condition and repaired it.
– The property owner or the owner’s employee did, in fact, know of the hazard but did not repair it.
– The property owner or the owner’s employee caused the hazard.

In some instances, a property owner may not allow a Fair Housing Act emotional support animal which is against the law. They may not know the legal details, but most property owners generally understand that they are obligated by the law to keep their properties free of dangerous conditions. Thus, most premises liability claims are concerned with what a property owner “should have known” and what “reasonable” action the property owner did or did not take.

Frequently, the two key questions in these cases are:

– How long was the dangerous condition present before the injury occurred?
– Was that a reasonable amount of time for the owner the repair the condition?

Even when a property owner learns about a plumbing leak, a cracked sidewalk, or a creaking stairwell, it may take several days to repair the condition or to arrange for contractors to repair it. In the interim, a property owner should post warning signs or find another way to inform anyone who may be affected.

WHAT DEFENSES DO PROPERTY OWNERS USE AGAINST LIABILITY CLAIMS?

If you are injured and you accuse a property owner of negligence in a premises liability claim, in many cases that property owner will try to throw the blame back on you, the victim.

The defenses that property owners may offer against premises liability claims include:

– The victim was distracted and was not paying attention to his or her surroundings.
– The victim was in an area where the public is not allowed or expected.
– The victim was wearing improper or unsafe footwear.
– The hazardous area was marked by yellow cones and warning signs.
– The hazard should have been obvious to a normal, average person.

If you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident and your premises liability case goes to trial, California’s “pure comparative negligence” rule kicks in to determine the amount of compensation an injury victim can receive. Under pure comparative negligence, whatever damages a victim receives will be reduced by the percentage of the victim’s own fault.

Thus, if a jury determines that you were thirty percent at fault for your slip-and-fall injuries, and your total damages amount to $100,000, the property owner will only be liable for $70,000 – representing seventy percent of the fault for the accident and injury.

Although most premises liability cases are, in fact, settled out of court before a trial can begin, if you are injured in a slip-and-fall accident and your case cannot be settled out of court, a jury or judge will determine if the property owner should have known (or did know) about the hazardous condition that caused your fall and injury and if the property owner had or did not have a “reasonable” opportunity to repair it.

WHAT PROPERTY CONDITIONS CAN CAUSE SLIP-AND-FALL INJURIES?

If you own rental property, retail property, or any other private property accessible to the public, you need to make sure routinely that pavements and sidewalks are unobstructed and even, that rugs and carpets are flat, and that spills, leaks, and rainwater are cleaned up at once.

Slip-and-fall accidents can be caused by dangerous property conditions that include:

– wet, slippery, or newly-waxed floors
– rainwater that accumulates in doorways and walkways
– clutter and objects that obstruct walkways, hallways, and aisles
– doormats, floor mats, or rugs that are torn or curled
– aging, uneven, or damaged stairs, particularly wooden stairs
– craters, potholes, or cracks in sidewalks or pavement
– poorly lit or unlit parking areas and walkways

When you sustain an injury in any kind of accident in Southern California, seek medical attention at once, and understand that some injuries may be hard to detect at first. If you believe that another person’s negligence might be in any way responsible for your injury or injuries, after obtaining medical attention, discuss the case – promptly – with an experienced Pasadena premises liability attorney.

California’s statute of limitations for premises liability lawsuits is two years. If you don’t file your lawsuit within two years of the slip-and-fall injury, you will not be able to recover damages. At any rate, you don’t want to delay for two years after a slip-and-fall injury and then scurry to file a lawsuit before the deadline. Once you’ve been checked out medically, have your legal options explained to you right away by an experienced California premises liability attorney.

How To Claim Insurance For A Car Accident In California

Posted on: September 19, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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According to the National Safety Council, approximately 15,000 traffic collisions happen daily in this country. When you’re involved in a crash in California, you’ll need to take some steps at the crash site, and you’ll need to take some other steps as quickly as you can. There are also some things that may seem like the right thing to do but must be avoided. The following “do’s and “don’ts” are some tips to guide you through the claims process.

After a vehicle accident in California, filing your own claim and negotiating directly with an insurance company is usually not a problem – that is, if you’ve only sustained vehicle and property damage or minor scrapes and bruises – but if you’ve been genuinely injured by a negligent driver in southern California, it’s best to put your case immediately in the hands of an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.

WHAT ARE “THE DO’S” AFTER A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT?

1. At the accident scene, summon medical attention first and at once if it’s needed for yourself or for others. If you don’t think you have been injured, have a doctor look at you anyway, and within 24 hours if at all possible. Call the police – you’ll eventually need a copy of the accident report. Trade your personal contact and insurance information with the other driver, take photos of the damages and the general accident scene, and try to get the names and contact information of any eyewitnesses.

2. Notify your auto insurance company that you’ve been in an accident. You’ll need to make that call immediately after the accident or immediately after receiving medical attention. Later, but before you speak with your agent or with an insurance adjuster, review your automobile insurance policy and make certain that you understand its provisions. Take notes regarding each discussion you have with an insurance agent or an adjuster, and get the names, titles, and phone numbers of everyone you speak to about the accident.

3. If you’ve been injured, go ahead and notify the insurer that you’ve been involved in a collision, but before you speak about the accident with an agent or an adjuster, consult with a reliable and experienced personal injury attorney who can explain your legal rights and options as a victim of negligence in this state.

4. Determine if you have applicable coverage under another insurance policy. Several types of policies might cover an injury claim. Check into the provisions of your homeowner’s policy, any umbrella policies you may have, and even your credit cards, which sometimes offer several types of insurance provisions.

5. If you choose to negotiate personally with your own insurance company or with the other driver’s insurance company, be completely and absolutely forthcoming and honest during all discussions and negotiations. A failure to be entirely honest might void your auto insurance policy or become a barrier to obtaining affordable auto insurance coverage in the future. Intentionally misrepresenting the facts to an insurance company could constitute insurance fraud.

6. Understand the distinction between “actual cash value” and “replacement cost coverage.” With replacement cost coverage, you may have to pay out-of-pocket for property damages before you receive reimbursement. California entitles property damage victims to the amount of the vehicle’s repairs, or if the vehicle is deemed a total loss, to its “fair market” (or “actual cash”) value.

WHAT ARE “THE DON’TS” AFTER A TRAFFIC ACCIDENT?

1. Until you are certain that you understand your automobile insurance policy’s provisions, don’t make any written or verbal statement to the insurance company. Again, if you’ve been injured, it’s always best to consult an experienced personal injury lawyer first.

2. Do not blindly accept the insurance company’s estimate of your damages. Some companies will ask you to agree to their own estimates, which may not, in fact, cover all of your costs. You have the right to have your vehicle examined and repaired by any mechanic who is certified in California. If the cost of repairs exceeds the insurance company’s offer, a repair shop will have to work with the insurer to ensure full payment. For this reason, it may be expedient to work with the company’s approved shop, which regularly deals with such circumstances.

3. This is absolutely imperative. Unless you are certain that you have been treated and compensated fairly and sufficiently, do not sign any waivers, releases, or any other insurance documents before consulting an attorney. If you agree to a settlement amount that is less than the actual worth of your damage claim, you will not be able to take any further legal action.

4. Do not overlook deadlines and time limits. Most auto insurance policies require you to file a claim within a specified period of time unless you can obtain a waiver – in writing – from the company. Many auto insurance policies also give you only a year to bring a lawsuit if you believe the claim hasn’t been handled properly. In any event, California’s statute of limitations gives you only two years to file a personal injury lawsuit and three years to file a property damage lawsuit.

5. Do not forget that your insurance company has a contract with you and a legal responsibility to provide the insurance coverage specified by its policies. When a claim has been undervalued, entirely denied, or unreasonably delayed, some accident victims may face serious financial hardship. Do not overlook an insurance company’s bad faith practices. Instead, discuss your options, which may include pursuing a bad faith lawsuit against the insurance company, with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.

WHAT IF YOU HAVE BEEN SERIOUSLY INJURED?

Traffic accidents involving negligent drivers who cause injuries generate thousands of personal injury lawsuits every year. Minor collisions are usually resolved quickly, and most insurance company employees are honest and hard-working professionals. Still, accidents in this state that result in serious injuries – or wrongful death – should be handled only by a reliable California personal injury attorney.

Whenever you travel on California’s streets and highways, wear your seat belt. Make sure that your tires, brakes, and lights work properly every time you get behind the wheel. Negligent drivers ruin innocent people’s lives, so if you are injured in this state by a negligent motorist, reach out to an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney, and put a skilled, committed advocate on your side from the very beginning.

Who Is Liable For Truck Accidents In California?

Posted on: August 15, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Transportation, every day in this nation, more than ten people are killed in a commercial trucking accident. Of those fatalities, about 83 percent are not the occupants of the commercial truck – they’re passengers in other vehicles or they’re pedestrians.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the annual cost to the economy of truck and bus collisions in the U.S. is $99 billion. Can these figures be reduced? What causes so many truck accidents, and who is liable for these collisions?

If you’re injured in a collision with a large commercial truck, the law – and the questions about what caused the crash and who is responsible – quickly gets complicated. Unlike most car accidents, many parties can be involved in a trucking accident – not just the driver of the truck but also the owner, the leasing company, contractors, subcontractors, and possibly other parties as well. If you are hurt in a truck crash and you need to seek compensation for your injuries, you will need to be represented by an attorney who knows the trucking industry and routinely represents truck accident victims.

Trucks by the thousands roll in and out of Southern California every day. Understanding how truck crashes happen and how the various parties involved are related can help an injury victim decide whether or not to file a personal injury lawsuit after a truck accident. This is a general overview of liability issues in truck accidents, but if you’ve been injured in an actual collision with a truck in Southern California, it is best to obtain detailed legal advice about any particular case by speaking with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.

HOW IS LIABILITY DECIDED AFTER A TRUCK ACCIDENT?

Can a truck’s owner or another party ever be deemed responsible for a truck driver’s negligent driving? Under California law, sometimes the answer is yes. If a truck driver’s negligence was unintentional and occurred within the “scope” of the driver’s duties, an age-old legal principle called “respondeat superior” (a Latin phrase meaning “let the superior answer”) can be applied, and the truck’s owner or owners can be held liable for injuries caused by a truck driver’s negligence.

Respondeat superior legally “imputes” a worker’s liability to the worker’s employer, as if the employer had personally committed the negligence. But applying respondeat superior to any specific trucking accident will hinge on the answers to these questions: Was the negligent driver an employee or an independent contractor? Was the negligence unintentional or intended? Did the carelessness and the subsequent accident occur within the scope of the driver’s duties?

An accident victim seeking compensation from a trucking company will have to prove the negligent driver is a company employee and not an independent contractor, because employers usually are not liable for the negligent actions of contractors. If a trucker was driving his or her own truck with his or her own insurance, and if a company does not withhold taxes from the driver’s pay, that truck driver is likely to be an independent contractor.

WHAT IS THE “SCOPE” OF A TRUCK DRIVER’S EMPLOYMENT?

Defining who is and who is not a legal employee usually isn’t difficult, but accurately defining what is and what is not within a truck driver’s “scope of employment” can be more problematic. Courts use a variety of elements to determine the parameters of a “scope” of employment, including an employee’s intention at the time of a negligent behavior, the nature, time, and location of that behavior, and the amount of independence typically allowed to the employee while performing his or her job duties.

How does all of this apply to a real truck accident? Let’s say that a trucker making a delivery rear-ends another vehicle. Because the crash happened while a delivery was being made, the trucker was acting within the scope of his or her employment.

However, if that same truck driver goes a mile out of his or her way to drive through a Starbucks or a McDonald’s before making the delivery, and if an accident happens as a result of driving that extra distance, the truck owner or company may not be liable since the accident happened “outside” the “scope” of the driver’s employment.

Employers generally are not responsible for intentionally wrong actions committed by employees – like an assault or a battery, for example. That’s because the principle of respondeat superior does not come into play in such cases, because such cases have nothing to do with the scope of employment or the cost of doing business. If a trucker crashes intentionally into a vehicle that cut him or her off in traffic, for example, an employer usually will not be held liable.

HOW IS THE TRUCKING INDUSTRY REGULATED?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulates the trucking industry, along with a variety of federal and state laws that regulate and govern independent truck drivers as well as truck companies. The weight trucks may carry, the hours that drivers can work, and the training a truck driver must receive are just a few of the items regulated by law.

If you or someone you love is hurt by a trucker driving negligently, any violation of a federal or state trucking rule or regulation by either the truck driver or the company will be considered evidence that favors the victim and increases the likelihood that a victim’s personal injury claim will succeed.

Sometimes more than a single party will be liable for damages sustained in a truck crash. Leasing companies, contractors, and subcontractors are all part of the trucking business. If a truck’s brakes or tires were defectively manufactured, if cargo wasn’t properly loaded, or if a truck is improperly maintained, several defendants may share a percentage of the liability for causing a collision with injuries.

Personal injury cases are almost always settled outside of court, but if you are injured by a negligent truck driver and you file an injury claim, that claim may be harder to settle if multiple defendants cannot agree among themselves regarding who pays what.

Only a brief introduction to truck collisions and liability can be made here. If you or your loved one is hurt in a truck collision in Southern California, you’ll need frank and easy-to-grasp advice about your rights, your options, and your legal recourse. Let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney offer the trustworthy legal advice that a truck collision victim in the Los Angeles area will need.

How The Insurance Company Will Try To Minimize Your Claim

Posted on: July 24, 2017 by in Personal Injury
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Insurance companies often try to reduce the amount they will pay for an injury claim – or reject the claim entirely – by using the same dubious and predictable tactics that some insurance companies been using for years. If you’re like most people – meaning you have little if any experience dealing directly with insurance companies – you might become frustrated and decide to just forget the whole business of seeking compensation, even if you’ve been seriously injured.

Insurance companies count on a certain percentage of people walking away from legitimate claims out of exasperation. Don’t be one of those people. If you are having trouble with an insurance company that is refusing to honor an injury claim, an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney can help. Below is a brief discussion of the most common ploys used by insurance companies to avoid paying injury victims who have legitimate injury claims.

HOW DO INSURANCE COMPANIES TRY TO AVOID PAYING CLAIMS?

1. By denying fault or liability: The immediate response of some insurance companies to any injury claim is a denial that any of their policyholders could be at fault. If you are injured, and the insurance company tells you that no coverage is available, have the insurance adjuster explain why – in writing. A letter of explanation should refer to the exact provisions that limit the policy’s coverage.

When an adjuster informs you that there is no coverage for your claim “according to the company’s attorneys,” don’t think you are defeated. You might even be sent a letter from a lawyer working for the insurance company. Don’t let yourself be bullied. One lawyer’s opinion is only one lawyer’s opinion. If the insurance company refuses to offer an acceptable settlement and your claim goes to court, the court alone will decide.

Alternatively, an insurance company might tell you to try collecting against a different policy – and from a different company – if several parties were involved in the accident. If you are injured by negligence in a traffic collision or in any other kind of accident, it’s usually best to speak first with an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights – and avoid speaking to the insurance company entirely. In Southern California, let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.

2. By using delaying tactics: An insurance company should process an injury claim within a reasonable length of time. Stalling is a typical tactic because if the company stalls long enough, some people will give up and the company pays out nothing. The company might claim that an investigation is “ongoing” or “still pending.” Some companies will even tell claimants that they are at fault for a delay because they missed a deadline, failed to send a notification, or some other technicality.

3. By alleging that your injury was pre-existing: An insurance company will sometimes make the charge that you weren’t really injured as you claim, but instead, you were already injured, and you saw the accident as a chance to take advantage of your pre-existing condition. This is why you must seek medical attention immediately after an accident, whether or not you think or feel that you’ve been injured. If you need to file an injury claim later, you’ll need to have complete medical documentation that confirms your claim.

4. By minimizing the payment of a claim: When an insurance company cannot entirely deny a legitimate claim, it may try to pay as little as possible. The company may try to reduce what it should pay by claiming that the injury victim was – himself or herself – at least partly at fault for the accident and injury. If you had vacation days or sick days due from your employer, an insurance company might try to avoid paying for the wages you lost while you were injured by saying those wages were already covered. In such cases, if you are the injury victim making the injury claim, let an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney advise and represent you.

WHAT IS BAD FAITH?

When a consumer in California purchases an automobile insurance policy, the insurance company becomes legally obligated to provide the coverage spelled out in the policy and to settle legitimate injury claims against the policy promptly and professionally. An auto insurance company that fails to meet their legal obligation may be operating in “bad faith” under California law.

A California injury victim whose bad faith lawsuit prevails against an insurance company may also in some cases be awarded part of his or her attorney fees along with the damages for the original, underlying personal injury claim. How can an injury victim know if an insurance company’s actions constitute bad faith? A personal injury attorney can probably tell you upon examining the details of your injury claim.

WHAT IF THERE REALLY IS NO COVERAGE?

In some cases, once you’ve read the provisions of the insurance policy and you’ve met with an insurance adjuster and a personal injury attorney, you might find that the company is right and the insurance policy, in fact, provides no coverage. In such cases, your injury attorney may be able to suggest other sources of compensation.

If a defective vehicle or vehicle part or a badly-maintained roadway played any part in the accident that injured you, you may be able to file a claim against the vehicle manufacturer or the entity responsible for road maintenance. If a crash involves a large commercial truck, a number of parties could share liability.

Candidly, if you have been seriously injured by someone else’s negligence in a southern California traffic accident – or any other kind of accident – dealing directly and personally with the insurance company is probably not something you should be doing. “Going it alone” might be fine if your only injuries were scratches, but when your health and future may be at stake, get legal help right away.

If a negligent Southern California driver has seriously injured you, speak to an experienced personal attorney before you sign any document, accept any settlement, or even make a statement to an insurance company. When you are recovering from severe injuries, an experienced personal injury lawyer can handle the legal work on your behalf while you concentrate on something even more important – getting your health back.