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FAQ - Personal Injury


Can I pursue my claim without a lawyer?

Some people attempt to handle their own personal injury claim, but the process can be nerve wracking and difficult.  Insurance companies are notorious for denying claims or making “low-ball” offers, while assuring the accident victim that their offer is more than generous.  It’s been said that handling your own personal injury matter is analogous to trying to perform surgery on yourself.  You could probably do it, but the results will be less than desirable.

What am I entitled to?

If you suffered an injury, you’re entitled to your out-of-pocket costs, such as repairs to your vehicle.  If your vehicle is declared a total loss, you’re entitled to its fair market value.  You’re also entitled to either rental expenses or for the loss of use of your vehicle.

For injuries resulting from the accident, you are entitled to be paid your reasonable medical expenses.  If you're unable to work because of the accident, you may also be entitled to past, present and future loss of earnings.  Finally, you are entitled to damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress that the accident may have caused you.

Who pays my medical bill in the mean time?

Doctors will often agree to treat an accident victim on a "lien" basis, meaning that the doctor won’t require payment until the case has settled or judgment obtained.  If liability or cause of the accident is in question, it may be better to use your private medical insurance to cover your medical treatment.  However, your insurance provider will likely seek to be reimbursed from any settlement or judgment obtained by you.

What’s my case worth?

It’s nearly impossible to give an accurate value of a personal injury claim without first knowing all of the facts and seeing all of the evidence.  The value cannot be set until all medical records and photographs have been reviewed, liability determined, loss of earnings determined, and any future need for medical care and expenses are evaluated.  In other words, many components of a case must first be pieced together in order to form a clear, informed, and professional opinion of what your case is worth.

How will my attorney be paid?

Most attorneys handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you won’t be required to pay anything unless the case is settled or judgment obtained.  The attorney will be entitled to a percentage of the entire gross recovery for the bodily injury portion of the case.  Although the fees are negotiable, standard fees are usually 33% of the gross recoveries if the case is settled prior to filing a lawsuit, and 40% of the gross recoveries if a lawsuit must be filed.  However, if your attorney is unable to recover anything on your behalf, the attorney does not receive any attorney's fees.

I didn’t have auto insurance at the time of the accident.  How will this affect my case?

California law requires that all drivers carry liability insurance.  Unless the at-fault driver was convicted of driving under the influence, the uninsured driver will only be entitled to their out-of-pocket expenses.  No recovery for additional damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress can be had.

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