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Automobile Accidents : Personal Service Law Firm, Bankruptcy, Family Law, Criminal Law, Personal Injury

Automobile Accidents


You Automobile Accident Attorney

Whether you were involved in a minor fender bender or a major collision, there are so many people and things to deal with – getting a rental vehicle, getting your car repaired, your insurance company, the other driver’s insurance company, paying your medical bills, and most importantly, getting the medical care you need. Selecting the right attorney to handle your auto accident case is critical.

The laws in California setting forth your rights and obligations after an automobile accident are complex. If you are concerned about your legal rights, contact our law firm to discuss your automobile accident case BEFORE you talk with a claims adjuster from the insurance company of the person at fault. These insurance adjusters have only one goal – to save THEIR insurance company as much money as possible. Insurance adjusters are specifically trained and are skilled at asking questions in such a way as to minimize your recovery. Giving a recorded statement or signing the wrong papers without seeking advice from an experienced attorney could mean you are giving away valuable legal rights.

If you, or someone you care about, has been injured in an automobile accident, contact our law firm for an “instant” FREE and CONFIDENTIAL case evaluation by completing our online consultation form or contact us to discuss any questions you may have about your rights after an auto accident.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Automobile Accident Cases

What can I do to protect my interests after an auto accident?

  • You should report the accident immediately to the police if you have not already done so.¬† The existence of a police report removes the potential for the other party changing his story later or coming up with a false witness.
  • Any and all witnesses to the accident should be identified by name, address and telephone number. Take photos or videos of the scene and vehicles from as many angles as possible. Photographs showing the damage to your vehicle can be invaluable in assisting us in maximizing your recovery.
  • If you require medical treatment, be clear and accurate in what you say about how the accident happened. Also, be sure to give your doctor a complete, accurate and truthful description of how the accident happened, what problems you are having as a result of the accident, and make sure to tell your doctor about all prior similar injuries you may have had.
  • You have a duty in California to be cooperative with your own insurance company. You have no such duty to cooperate or give a recorded statement to the insurance company for the driver who caused the accident.
  • If you have suffered lacerations, burns or bruising, take photographs of your injuries, reflecting the injury and any bandages or braces that may have been placed. Such photographs will become invaluable in establishing your injuries after your injuries have healed.
  • Gather all automobile insurance policies in your household for evaluation by an experienced attorney to determine the full extent of insurance available to you.

What are the typical issues that I will face in making a claim for my injuries?

A claim made against another driver or vehicle owner is called a “tort claim.” It is usually based upon the concept of carelessness or negligence, although it can also be based upon an intentional or reckless act. The person who is at fault for causing the accident is referred to as the “tortfeasor” or “defendant.”

Attorneys and insurance adjusters know that the three categories of issues that typically arise in a tort claim after an automobile accident are the following:

  • Liability;
  • Damages; and
  • Insurance Coverage

Liability refers to the question of who is at fault and to what degree. California is a comparative fault state, meaning that your recovery can be reduced by the percent of your own comparative fault. The insurance company representing the person who caused the accident obviously wants to minimize or eliminate the fault of its driver and maximize your degree of comparative fault.

Damages refers to the injuries or losses that were caused by the auto accident. Damages include past medical bills, future medical bills that you are reasonably certain to incur, past lost wages, future loss of earning capacity, and past and future amounts for the pain, mental suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other elements of damages.

Insurance coverage is frequently not as simple a determination as might be expected. Often there are disputes over which of several insurance policies are responsible for paying your damages. There are also efforts by the insurance companies to deny or defeat coverage. And, where uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM) is involved, there are multiple issues that must be resolved to assure maximum financial recovery. The entire area of insurance coverage is virtually a minefield that is best not entered without a competent and experienced attorney.

How is my attorney paid? What if I can’t afford a attorney?

The Spear Law Firm¬†handles all cases on what is called a “contingency fee” basis. This means that no fees or costs are charged unless we collect money damages for you. All of the consultations with our office are absolutely free. When you receive compensation, meaning we have successfully concluded your case, either by settlement or litigation, our fees are a percentage of the gross settlement. This percentage is agreed upon before we begin work, is in writing, signed by you and the attorneys, and is 33 1/3% prior to filing suit and 40% after the lawsuit is filed, up through trial.

The attorneys’ fee is separate from the “costs” that the firm advances on behalf of the client. “Costs” include expenses for obtaining copies of medical records from your doctors, expert witness fees, accident reconstruction experts, filing fees at the courthouse, costs of taking depositions of the parties involved, all witnesses, doctors and other experts, etc. We advance all costs related to your case. Only upon obtaining a recovery for a client, are we reimbursed the costs advanced by our law firm.

How long will my case take?

The answer to this question depends on the complexity of the case. In other words, the last thing we want to do is resolve a case while our client is still healing or does not have a good understanding on what their future medical condition and expenses or losses will be. With that being said, typically the average automobile accident claim is resolved within 6 to 12 months after an accident. Once your treating physician places you at MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement), which is usually 4 to 6 months after the injuries occur, we then prepare and send out a demand letter for settlement, subject to your approval, to the insurance company, and negotiate the highest possible settlement you are entitled to. Naturally, the estimate of time is subject to fluctuation depending on the facts of the case.

What does MMI mean?

MMI means Maximum Medical Improvement. Simply stated, it is a term used by doctors to describe that your injuries and condition have improved as much as they ever will, or, in other words, you are as good as you are ever going to get.

How much is my case worth?

This is one of the most difficult questions we are often asked. The evaluation of your case is based on many factors, which include, among other things, the following:

  • how the accident happened
  • the extent of damage to the vehicles involved
  • the type and extent of your injuries and medical treatment
  • whether you sustained permanent injuries or significant scarring
  • the amount of your past medical bills
  • the expected amount of your future medical bills
  • the lost wages you have incurred
  • the future loss of earning capacity

The adverse party’s insurance company has advised me that there is no Bodily Injury coverage on their insurer’s policy. Can I still sue?

There is no requirement in the State of California that a registered owner of an automobile carry bodily injury liability coverage to pay for your injuries. Your chances of recovering a substantial settlement against an uninsured driver are slim, unless that person has substantial assets to pay any judgment rendered against him. Uninsured motorist coverage, if you carry it on your own automobile, will be available to you in the event that you sustain a serious injury caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Why do we have to use my insurance company if I did nothing wrong to cause this accident?

This is because California is a “no fault” insurance state. Based upon California law, even when you are in an auto accident that was caused by someone else, you are required by law to submit your own medical expenses to your own automobile insurance company under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. The person who caused the accident, and/or his insurance company , is responsible for paying your medical bills and lost wages that exceed your PIP policy, and for your pain and suffering if you have sustained a permanent injury.

What is Personal Injury Protection?

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is sometimes referred to as “no-fault” insurance. PIP insurance covers you and relatives residing in your household for injuries sustained in an automobile accident regardless of who is at fault. This coverage pays 80% of reasonable and necessary medical bills, 60% of lost wages, and 100% of household services, up to a limit of $10,000. California law requires every owner of a motor vehicle required to be registered in California carry PIP to protect themselves in the event of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. For injuries sustained in an automobile accident, PIP coverage is primary over any health insurance.

An adjuster from an insurance company wants to settle with me and says I don’t need a lawyer. What should I do?

Adjusters who work for insurance companies, and no matter how sympathetic they may seem, have one goal and only one goal in mind when they offer to settle your case . . . to do it with the least amount of money possible. The job of insurance companies is to take your premiums/money in – not to pay money out. Studies have shown accident victims recover more money through the use of a lawyer even after taking into account the attorney’s fees. Always consult with a lawyer before accepting any offer made to you by an adjuster.

FREE CONSULTATION FOR YOUR AUTO ACCIDENT CASE

If you, or someone you care about, has suffered injuries in an automobile accident in California, contact our law firm for an “instant” FREE and CONFIDENTIAL evaluation of your automobile accident case. Attorney Bradley H. Spear will personally provide detailed and comprehensive answers to your important questions by reviewing your completed questionnaire, evaluating your claim and responding to you, either by e-mail or telephone, within 24 hours. Or, if you prefer, call Bradley H. Spear at (877) 327-5291 / 8-SPEARLAW-1.¬† We will answer your questions, without charge, and there is no obligation to use our services.

For more information, or to discuss your specific case, contact The Spear Law Firm of the San Fernando Valley in Tarzana today.