Frequently Asked QuestionsIf you were injured or if a loved one was involved in accident, you probably have a number of questions. Of course, your concerns are best addressed directly by an attorney who can give you answers based upon your individual situation, but we have included some frequently asked questions related to personal injury claims. We welcome you to review these and also welcome you to call our offices for a free, confidential consultation with a skilled lawyer.
1. What is a personal injury?
A personal injury is a physical or psychological injury that a person experiences as the result of another’s conduct, whether intentional or stemming from negligence. Some of the most common causes of personal injuries include car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, slip and falls, and dog bites.
2. Do I need a personal injury attorney?
If you want to seek fair compensation for your injuries by holding the responsible party accountable for their conduct, it is best to involve a legal professional. A personal injury attorney will understand how to properly approach your case in order to seek the best outcome in the shortest amount of time. This may prove invaluable as you face exorbitant medical bills and serious financial problems caused by lost wages. A lawyer can also help if the insurance company handling your case tries to unfairly deny or delay payment, or tries to settle your claim for less than it is worth.
3. What risks do I face if I choose to settle my claim without an attorney?
After a car accident, people often wonder whether or not they should try to work it out with the other person’s insurance company without a lawyer. The answer is a resounding “NO.” Pursing a claim alone is a “no win” situation for an individual.Insurance companies train people called insurance adjusters whose responsibility is to find a way to argue against paying you your auto accident claim. Anything you say, they can use against you. The more damages you seek (i.e. from serious injury or death of a loved one) the more aggressively insurance adjusters will fight to deny your claim, since the amount of money at stake is now higher. What you say matters. The wrong choice of words with regards to how the accident transpired, or even about the extent of your injuries, can create many problems for you later. Keep in mind that your statements are usually recorded by the insurance company. The law provides insurance agencies with many defenses from blaming you, the weather, or other people for the wreck. Under the law, evidence is used to value cases.If there is even a shred of evidence that suggests someone other than the person you feel caused the wreck was even partially to blame, your claim could be denied or reduced by the percentage of fault of the other party. If the evidence showed, for instance, that the person you say was at fault was only 50% at fault, and you were also 50% at fault, and the value of the case was $100,000, you could only collect $50,000. Therefore, it is a huge monetary incentive for the adjuster to try to blame anybody, even you, for the wreck. They will most likely attempt to do this during your case, so it’s very important that you don’t say anything that will give them a chance to use this defense. Also, remember that the more award money you seek for your claim, the more aggressively the adjuster will try to acquire a statement from you that would allow him or her to blame another person. In short, you are better off hiring The Law Offices of Daniel Kim to help with your claim.
4. What is strict liability?
Strict liability refers to a situation where an individual or company can be held liable (legally responsible) for one’s injuries regardless of specific negligence or intent. A good example would be a claim involving a dog bite. Under CA Civil Code §3342(a), the “Dog-Bite Statute,” the owner of a dog is strictly liable for the damages suffered by anyone who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the dog owner’s property, regardless of the prior viciousness of the dog or the owner’s knowledge of that viciousness.
5. What is negligence?
Negligence may be described as a failure to provide reasonable caution or care in the circumstances. A driver that is eating while driving and therefore runs a red light, striking a pedestrian, may be considered negligent. He did not act intentionally, but he did not act with reasonable care and may therefore be held accountable for the pedestrian’s injuries.
6. What happens if I was partially at fault?
It may occur that an injured party may be partially at fault for his or her injuries. In these cases, the victim’s financial compensation may be lessened by the percentage that he or she was at fault. If an injured bicyclist was found to be 10% at fault for an accident involving a motor vehicle, the driver of the motor vehicle may then pay 90% of the damages awarded to the bicyclist.
7. What is my claim worth?
Every single personal injury claim is different. The extent of physical injury, financial losses and emotional trauma that a person experiences may vary exponentially, and it is therefore impossible to say what a specific case may be worth without conducting a full analysis of the matter. However, there are several key factors that may influence the worth of your claim. We will review these here in order to offer you a better understanding of what your case may be worth.
Factors that Influence the Value of a Personal Injury CaseIn order to determine the fair and complete value of a personal injury case, it will be necessary to look at a few important factors. These may include:
- Liability. Your attorney will need to determine who should be held legally accountable for causing your injuries. Depending on who or what party is responsible, this may affect your ability to recover compensation. For example, some parties may have more insurance coverage than others or more potential sources to provide compensation. If liability cannot be determined, your own insurance policy may end up covering your injuries.
- The type and severity of injuries you sustained. This is perhaps the most important factor that will influence the value of your claim. Generally speaking, the more serious the injury, the higher the settlement or jury award. This is particularly relevant in cases where a person has suffered permanent injury or will have to live with a disability of some kind.
- The full impact that your injuries may have on your life now. In addition to seeking compensation for any and all medical bills, you may be able to recover compensation for wages that you have lost because you missed work. You may also be entitled to financial compensation for emotional trauma, such as pain and suffering. All of these issues should be reviewed carefully to determine the fair value of your claim.
- The future impact your injuries may have on various areas of your life. Future expenses, losses and emotional damages may also be compensable in a personal injury claim. For example, you may require ongoing medical treatment, living assistance, assistive devices, physical therapy or other continued care. You may also be unable to work for an extended period of time or may be unable to return to work at all. You may therefore be entitled to compensation for future medical care, lost earnings and emotional trauma.
- Your age, earning capabilities, lifestyle, etc. Key facts about your life, age, health and capabilities may influence the value of your claim. A child may be entitled to more compensation because he or she may require care for a longer period of time. A person who had an extremely high income (such as a business executive, professional athlete or actor) may be entitled to more compensation because of their high earning potential.
- The type of incident. In some cases, the type of incident itself may influence the value of a case. This may apply specifically in cases where punitive damages are awarded. A case involving malicious intent or extreme negligence may warrant the award of damages that exceed simple compensation, which are awarded to punish the wrongdoer.
8. Will I have to go to trial?
Most injury claims settle prior to trial. Statistically speaking, you will probably not have to go through a trial in civil court. However, our approach to each client’s case is tailored so we can seek the best possible result on their behalf, whether this is inside or outside of the courtroom. There is always the possibility that your case may need to go to trial if this will be in your best interests.
9. How long could it take for my personal injury case to conclude?
Unfortunately, there is no cookie-cutter answer to this question. The time frame for your case will all depend on how severe your injuries are and whether or not the liability is clear. The type of injury claim can also make a difference. If you are filing a simple auto accident claim and you sustained minimal injury, then your case could be wrapped up in just a few months. However, if you are seriously injured or the claim involved multiple parties, then it could take up to 1-2 years for your case to conclude.
10. If the insurance company wants my recorded statement of the accident, should I comply?
We highly discourage giving any sort of formal recorded statement or signing any medical releases with the insurance company. Their motive behind this gesture is so that they can get your version of the story on the record and then search for a crack in your story so they can flip the fault back onto you. If you contradict your previous statement at any time, they will bring it to light and try to weaken your credibility. The insurance companies will do everything in their power to delay, minimize or deny your claim, even if that means take a completely innocent statement and twisting it around to sound negligent. If the insurance company has asked for your formal statement, speak with your attorney at once.
11. How long do I have to file my personal injury claim?
If you are injured because of someone else’s negligence, the state only gives you a certain time frame from the date of your injury in which to file your claim. The statute of limitations in California for the typical personal injury claim is 2 years from the day of your accident. For wrongful death cases, there is also a two year period in which you are given to file.To schedule your FREE case evaluation, fill out a case evaluation form and contact us at 1-800-560-2139.