HOW MUCH IS YOUR ACCIDENT WORTH?
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California Accident Lawyers Helping Victims Recover The Right Compensation
If you’ve suffered injuries in a car crash, you need legal advice from experienced California accident lawyers. The other driver’s insurance company is not on your side. Their job is to pay you as little as possible.
They will try to say that your claim isn’t worth very much, pressure you to settle quickly, or question your medical bills. They might even try to say that you were at fault for the accident. You don’t have to fight these tactics alone.
Remember, the insurance company has an entire team of lawyers trying to reduce your payment. You need your injury attorney to protect your legal rights.
At Arash Law, our skilled California accident lawyers have years of experience handling all types of accident claims. Let us handle your paperwork and protect your legal rights so that you can focus on your recovery.
Do I Have a Claim?
You might feel uncertain about whether you even have a personal injury claim after a car accident. The only way to know for sure is to consult with reputable California accident lawyers who are on your side – not the other driver’s. Each unique situation’s facts and circumstances will determine if you have an injury claim and how much it is worth. There are several elements that your attorney will have to prove to bring a successful personal injury claim:
The law requires all drivers to operate their vehicles with due care. Drivers who fail to meet this obligation can be found legally at fault (“liable”) for causing an accident. This fact means that they also have a legal obligation to compensate accident victims for their injuries.
So how do you know if a driver was operating his or her vehicle with “due care”? The standard that the law uses is that of the “reasonably prudent driver.” Speeding, drunk driving, drugged driving, and distracted driving are all examples of something that the “reasonably prudent driver” would not do while on the road. Traffic infractions (such as running a red light, failing to yield to pedestrians or other vehicles, or making an improper lane change) can also be evidence that the driver breached the duty of care. This is known as negligence.
An injury victim must prove that the driver’s negligence caused his or her injuries and losses. In some cases, it is obvious which bills were caused by the crash. An ambulance bill from the scene to the hospital was obviously a direct result of being involved in the accident. So is the bill for care rendered in the emergency department.
But what if the emergency room doctor finds that you also have an underlying medical condition that is unrelated to the accident? The driver’s negligence did not cause the medical bills for this underlying condition. Your attorney will have to sort out which costs were caused by your accident and which are unrelated.
Causation also becomes an issue if the injury victim has an underlying medical condition that is made worse because of the accident. Imagine, for example, that a person has chronic pain that is usually mild. But after being involved in a car crash, the condition escalates to chronic severe pain. The negligent driver caused this escalation and is responsible for compensating the victim as a result.
Not all of the victim’s pain was caused by the driver, but the driver did cause mild pain to escalate into severe pain. The victim must be compensated for this escalation. As you can imagine, this creates challenges when it comes to compensation. It is difficult to value the mild pain, then value the severe pain, then find the difference between the two. Insurance companies will take advantage of this confusion to try to get out of paying you the compensation you deserve. This is why it is so important to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who has experience with challenging causation issues.
Your damages are the losses that were caused by the negligent driver. There are many different losses you might suffer as a result of a car accident. Some of these (like auto repair bills) are easy to value. Others (like pain and suffering) are more difficult. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to devalue the losses that are hard to value. Here, too, it is important to take advice from a lawyer on your side who knows what your claim is actually worth.
What Are My Damages in an Auto Accident Case?
So, what compensation are you owed after a car crash? There are several different areas of compensation, and it is important to understand each one. Each area must be valued fairly to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve for your personal injury claim.
If you had any property that was damaged in the accident, the driver who caused the accident must pay for the damage. The most common example is repair bills for a damaged car. But other property can also be damaged in an accident, so be sure that you know the fair value of all your property damage. Perhaps your cell phone was broken. If you were on a bike, your bicycle might be ruined, or you might need a new helmet. These items are also property, and if the driver damaged them, you are entitled to fair compensation for this property damage.
Many injury victims miss some time from work as a result of being injured. You are entitled to compensation for these lost wages. In many cases, your employer can provide a simple statement showing what your hourly rate is and how many hours you missed. But lost wages can be more complicated than this.
If, for example, you lost out on overtime or a bonus because of the accident, these too are lost wages that must be compensated. If your injuries are permanent and you are unable to work as much as you did before the accident, you might suffer a permanent decrease in your earning capacity. This, too, is a form of lost wages that must be compensated in a personal injury case. These types of lost wages are more difficult to prove. They can also be costly, however, so be sure to work with an injury lawyer who is skilled in proving these complicated wage loss issues.
Compensation for medical bills might seem straightforward. After all, you get an invoice from the doctor, so why shouldn’t the insurance company pay for it? But insurance companies have many, many tactics these use to try to get out of paying for your medical bills. They might claim that your injuries were unrelated to your accident. They might claim that you got too much treatment – especially if you are seeing a chiropractor. They might claim that you didn’t get enough treatment, and now you have additional medical bills through your own fault.
Your attorney can defend your claim against these arguments. It is, however, important that you get medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident. It is also important to follow through on all treatment recommendations from your doctor.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering are often the largest components of a personal injury award. It is also the most subjective, so you can be sure that the defendant’s insurance company will try to attack your pain and suffering in order to reduce the amount they must pay. Insurance companies often try to value pain and suffering based on a simple calculation of your medical bills. But this does not take into account your unique situation.
What if a pregnant woman could not take pain medication or receive chiropractic care because of the risk to her baby? This could increase her pain and suffering. What if you missed your own graduation because you were in the hospital? This is a very real form of suffering, but it will not be accounted for by examining your medical bills. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to prove the fair amount of all the pain and suffering you have endured due to the accident.
How Will My Claim Progress?
Your personal injury claim starts by opening a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. If you choose to do this before hiring an attorney, be careful: the insurance company will likely ask you to make a recorded statement about how the accident occurred. This can be used against you later.
If you have an attorney, all communication must go through his or her office. This protects you from hurting your own claim. You might also need to open a claim with your own insurance company. This applies if you have medical payments coverage or if you need to file a claim under your uninsured and underinsured motorist converge. Your injury lawyer will be able to determine if you need to open a claim with your own insurance company.
Once the claim has been opened, the insurance company (or companies) will conduct their own investigations to determine who was at fault for causing the accident. In some cases, such as rear-end accidents, it is clear which driver caused the accidents. Other cases are more complex. The insurance company might send its own investigator to view the accident scene or assess the damage to the involved vehicles.
In these cases, it might take a long time to get the insurance company to accept liability, and you could be left without a vehicle in the meantime. Here, too, it is helpful to have an experienced injury lawyer fighting on your side. Your attorney can help prove liability and prevent unnecessary delays.
After the insurance company accepts liability, the next step is to assess the value of your claim. A fair compensation value must cover your pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages. Your attorney will assess jury verdicts in similar cases to determine what your case might be worth at trial. This can require some negotiations back and forth between your lawyer and the other driver’s insurance company. If the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer that is at or near this amount, your attorney may recommend that you file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.
Will I Have to Go to Court?
The vast majority of personal injury cases throughout the United States are settled out of court. Even if a lawsuit is filed on your behalf, the case can still be settled without a trial. (In fact, in many cases, the mere act of filing a lawsuit is enough incentive for the insurance company to increase its settlement offer.) All of this makes it unlikely that you will ever have to go to court. But if you do, your attorney will prepare you for what to expect.
If you file a lawsuit against the negligent driver, the defense attorney has the right to take your deposition. This does not actually occur in court. Depositions usually take place in a conference room at one of the attorney’s offices. You will be asked questions under oath, and a court reported will be present to record your testimony.
The defense attorney will likely ask questions about the accident, your injuries, any pertinent medical history that has affected your injuries, and your work and lost wages. Your attorney will have the opportunity to object to any questions as necessary. Your lawyer will prepare you for your deposition before it occurs and be by your side during the entire process, so you don’t have to worry about your legal rights being protected.
If the case proceeds through the court system, there will likely be status conferences before a judge. These are administrative conferences where the attorneys report to the judge on settlement negotiations, scheduling, and any legal disputes that have come up (such as whether evidence should be admissible). Your case might be settled before a status conference ever occurs. Even if there is a status conference, you might not be required to attend. If you do attend, no evidence will be taken, and you will not have to testify. Your attorney will prepare you for what to expect.
If your case proceeds through depositions and status conferences, and other pretrial matters without reaching a fair settlement, it might be necessary to take your case to trial. This gives your attorney the opportunity to present your case to a jury and let your peers decide what your case is really worth. Your lawyer will discuss the pros and cons of the trial with you before you make the decision to proceed. While your attorney can make recommendations and give you advice, it is ultimately up to you to decide whether to go to trial or not. A full trial can feel overwhelming.
Again, your attorney will thoroughly prepare you for what to expect, so the process is less confusing. A trial can be a physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding process, so it is not a decision to be made lightly. In some cases, however, it is the only way to get fair compensation for your injuries. This is your legal right. It is important to enforce this right, not only for you and your family but also to discourage negligent driving throughout the state. Personal injury verdicts make the roads of California safer for everyone.
Call Arash Law Today for a Consultation with a California Injury Lawyer
You don’t have to face the other driver’s insurance company on your own. At Arash Law, we fight hard for injury victims. Our experienced injury attorneys serve clients in San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. We have collected over 200 million dollars for clients across the state.
Our California auto accident lawyers have decades of experience, and they know how to stop insurance company tactics that reduce compensation to injury victims. Call (888) 488-1391 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.