Categories
Adjusters Auto Insurance Companies

Getting a fair offer from the insurance adjuster on your own

San Diego personal injury and car accident lawyer discusses obtaining a fair offer from the insurance adjuster

California freeway motor vehicles

I probably don’t even have to tell you that getting a reasonable offer from the insurance companies on your own is tough. The insurance companies aren’t in the business of paying out as much as they can.

On the contrary, they’re out to pay as little as they can. If they can get you to accept $1,000 when you might win $10,000 or more from a jury, that’s a huge win for them. They have endless amounts of data from many trials and settlements. They have a good idea what you would win in a jury trial (although there are always surprises). They also know that if they can get you to accept a lower amount in settlement, they’ll have great numbers to tell their supervisors and managers.

So if you’re in a car accident what can you do? You can be extra cautious when dealing with any insurance adjusters. That includes your own adjusters. They also have a job to do. And that job may include opposing you, if you end up filing an uninsured motorist claim! So they will look to add “arrows to their quiver.” This means if they come across any information that can be used against you, they will file it away and pull it out if necessary.

So be extra careful when any insurance adjuster contacts you. Don’t agree to give out a statement to the other driver. You may have to give your own insurance company a statement, depending on the terms of your policy. But you don’t have to give it right away. You can ask if a written statement or questions can be submitted instead. Finally, yes you’re on law firm website, so you are doing the right thing by seeking legal information and/or advice.

When can I handle this without a car accident lawyer?

On smaller cases, where total case value is $5,000-6,000, hiring a lawyer might not add value to the case. We are talking about cases where the property damage isn’t substantial, and there was minimal care, such as chiropractic and/or physical therapy only.

In that situation maybe you don’t need to hire a lawyer. If the adjuster offers you enough to satisfy you, then you don’t have to pay the lawyer a significant portion of your settlement.

But that situation is rare, and more often than not, they’re trying to reduce the settlement they’ll have to pay out.

Do I answer then the adjuster calls about my car accident?

Slow down. Don’t tell them much. Speak to a lawyer about your case. Most lawyers offer a free consultation so it doesn’t hurt to give one a call.

Categories
Personal Injury Lawyer

How do pre-existing injuries affect your San Diego personal injury case

Will prior injuries or preexisting injuries destroy or affect my injury claim?

Not necessarily. Having a preexisting injury isn’t going to destroy your case. When someone causes your injuries, due to their own negligence, they are responsible for the damage they cause.

So long as the most recent accident caused your injuries, and you can show this, you are entitled to full and fair compensation.

Now, your prior injuries and preexisting conditions are important to your case. You need to disclose all of your injuries to your attorney, whether they happened right before the most recent accident or 20 years ago.

Preexisting conditions need to be disclosed so that an analysis can be done. We need to determine if your present symptoms are caused by the most recent accident. Maybe it is a mix of existing symptoms that are made worse by the most recent accident.

Also, preexisting conditions can make your case better. Prior injuries make you more susceptible to injury to those sections of your body. If you already have back problems, and get hit by another car or fall down, your back might be in worse shape than someone else who didn’t have any existing injuries there.

It’s only fair to analyze your case in this manner. If the negligent person who caused your injuries was only responsible for 50% or 70% of your present injuries, then that is how much they should be responsible for. Also, if your prior injuries made it easier for you to suffer greater injuries, then the defendant should be responsible for that.

So, it is important that you are not afraid to tell your doctors and attorney about any prior injuries, accidents or conditions you have. If your pain or symptoms are worse after an accident than before, than it’ll be shown that the defendant caused you injury, and owes you full and fair compensation.

California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI)

California has two relevant jury instructions on pre-existing conditions.

3927. Aggravation of Preexisting Condition or Disability

[Name of plaintiff] is not entitled to damages for any physical or emotional condition that [he/she] had before [name of defendant]’s conduct occurred. However, if [name of plaintiff] had a physical or emotional condition that was made worse by [name of defendant]’s wrongful conduct, you must award damages that will reasonably and fairly compensate [him/her] for the effect on that condition.

Sources and Authority

A tortfeasor may be held responsible where the effect of his negligence is to aggravate a preexisting condition or disease.” (Hastie v. Handeland (1969) 274 Cal.App.2d 599, 604 [79 Cal.Rptr. 268], internal citations omitted.)

Plaintiff may recover to the full extent that his condition has worsened as a result of defendant’s tortious act.” (Ng v. Hudson (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 250, 255 [142 Cal.Rptr. 69], internal citations omitted, overruled on another ground in Soule v. General Motors (1994) 8 Cal.4th 548, 574 [34 Cal.Rptr.2d 607, 882 P.2d 298].)

It is by no means self-evident that an act which precipitates a flare-up of a pre-existing condition should be considered a ’cause which, in natural and continuous sequence, produces the injury.’ Thus, general instructions on proximate cause were not sufficient to inform the jury on the more specific issue of aggravation of pre-existing conditions.” (Ng, supra, 75 Cal.App.3d at p. 256.)

“[An instruction on preexisting condition] is proper only where the injured is the claimant seeking compensation for his injuries. That is not the case here in a wrongful death action.” (Vecchione v. Carlin (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 351, 358 [168 Cal.Rptr. 571].)

3928. Unusually Susceptible Plaintiff

You must decide the full amount of money that will reasonably and fairly compensate [name of plaintiff] for all damages caused by the wrongful conduct of [name of defendant], even if [name of plaintiff] was more susceptible to injury than a normally healthy person would have been, and even if a normally healthy person would not have suffered similar injury.

Sources and Authority

“That a plaintiff without such a [preexisting] condition would probably have suffered less injury or no injury does not exonerate a defendant from liability.” (Ng v. Hudson (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 250, 255 [142 Cal.Rptr. 69], internal citations omitted, overruled on another ground in Soule v. General Motors (1994) 8 Cal.4th 548, 574 [34 Cal.Rptr.2d 607, 882 P.2d 298].)

“The tortfeasor takes the person he injures as he finds him. If, by reason of some preexisting condition, his victim is more susceptible to injury, the tortfeasor is not thereby exonerated from liability.” (Rideau v. Los Angeles Transit Lines (1954) 124 Cal.App.2d 466, 471 [268 P.2d 772], internal citations omitted.)

Don’t hide pre-existing injuries from your injury and accident lawyer

As you see, even if you have pre-existing injuries, or you were more susceptible to injury, you can still recover fair compensation from the person who caused your injuries.

But your attorney needs to know about these issues before the defendants and their attorneys do. We can usually deal with pre-existing issues as long as we know about it.

So you must absolutely tell your personal injury attorney about any possible issues.

Categories
Traffic Safety

Seatbelt usage will reduce injury in car accidents

Seat belts are extremely effective in reducing injuries and the severity of those injuries passengers suffer in car accidents. Despite this, many people choose not to buckle up. There are many reasons that show why this is a terrible idea. First, the stats.

  • Seat beat usage reduces injury by up to 50%.
  • Airbags are not a replacent for a properly secured seat belt, but an airbag + seatbelt is the best protection
  • 2.3 million people are treated in emergency rooms each year due to car accidents
  • Younger passengers are less likely to wear a seatbelt
  • Men are less likely to wear one than women
  • People in rural areas are less likely to wear a seatbelt than those from urban areas.

So, the evidence shows, it’s a good idea to wear your seat belt.

How wearing a seatbelt can destroy your car accident case

But that’s not all. There is a legal reason to wear your seat belt – and I’m not talking about getting a ticket for not wearing your seat belt. If you are injured in an accident caused by someone else, and you were not wearing a seatbelt, the other side will try to use that against you.

In other words, they will claim that your injuries were partially caused by you. Yes, you were partially at fault for your injuries, because you did not wear a seat belt as is required by law. In California, this is known as the seatbelt defense. You can read about it here in California’s jury instructions. If they can prove:

  1. That a working seatbelt was available
  2. That a reasonably careful person in your situation would have worn one
  3. That you failed to wear a seat belt
  4. Your injuries would have been less severe or avoided altogether
  5. Then they may have an affirmative defense that will reduce or eliminate your award all together.

So you see, it isn’t just a good idea to wear a seat belt. It is imperative that you do so. You must wear a seatbelt on every trip, no matter how short. Even if you’re going across the street. Especially if you cross an intersection, where many serious accidents occur.

So you must wear a seatbelt on every trip, no matter how short. Also, require everyone in your car to wear one before you even put the car in gear.

Categories
Traffic Safety

Is your car recalled, or in need of repairs?

San Diego Car Accident Attorney Discusses Used Vehicles Under Recall

According to research conducted by Carfax, there were 2 million cars advertised in 2012 … that were under a product recall and in need of repairs.

And those were just from the cars sold online that Carfax was able to catalog. The real number is actually much higher.

So how does Carfax even know which cars have not been repaired? Because car manufacturers and dealers track the Vehicle Identification Number of each car that is repaired.

So is selling a car that is under recall but not repaired, a good thing or a bad thing for you?

Both.

It’s bad because vehicles with potential defects large enough to warrant a recall are not repaired, and you may end up driving yourself, family and friends in that car.

On the other hand, if you are aware of the recall, you can actually use that as a bargaining chip.

Either way, it’s a good idea to check whether cars you are looking to buy, or already own, are under a vehicle recall and needs to be fixed. You can start by using the following site:

http://recall.carfax.com

How can used-car dealers get away with selling vehicles currently under recall?

Federal laws prohibit sales of new cars with unfixed recalls. Rental car companies can’t rent unfixed cars. But used cars? There are no protections from unfixed recalled vehicles.

It’s known as the used-car loophole. Used cars with faulty Takata airbags and bad GM ignition switches can be sold on the used car lot with no repercussions from federal laws.

Safety advocates say this loophole is putting lives at risk, while used car dealers argue the ban would reduce values of cars for owners. Some estimates are as high as $1,200.00 in reduced car value if the law was changed.

Stop-drive warnings

Most recalls do not involve a defect serious enough to ground the car. However, there are some recalls that receive a “stop-drive” notice, meaning the defect is so dangerous you need to stop driving. Regulators advise dealers and rental car companies not to sell or rent the vehicle, but they have no power to enforce this.

The NHTSA and NADA would like for all recalls on cars to be fixed before the car is sold, or rented. That is unlikely to happen even with a passed law.

Un-repaired vehicles can contribute to injuries sustained in car accidents

The FTC is being sued because it allows car dealers to advertise used cars as being safe even when there are potentially fatal defects with a recall on the vehicle.

So a vehicle can kill you, but the dealer can argue that the car is safe even if the repair is not complete. So how do you protect yourself?

Go to Safecar and see if the car you are looking to buy is under a potentially dangerous recall.

Categories
Traffic Safety

Turning left over double solid yellow lines in California

San Diego Car Accident lawyer discusses what happens when you turn left over double yellow lines

In California, what happens when the road has double yellow lines? Can you turn across them?

Yes, if there are two solid yellow lines, you can still turn left across them, as long as a few rules are followed. This is important because if you are in a car accident and your car or the other car crossed these double yellow lines, these rules can help determine who caused the accident.

Solid double yellow lines indicates the center of the road with two way traffic.

If there are solid double yellow lines dividing road, it means simply that you cannot pass a car in front of you by crossing these lines (and driving to the left of the lines).

On some roads there may be two yellow lines, but one will be solid while the other will be broken. If the broken line is on your side of the road, you can pass a slower car in front of you.

Car accidents involving solid double yellow lines in California

However if both lines are solid and are close together, you cannot cross those lines for any reason unless:

  • You are turning left at an intersection. Be sure not to turn too soon (before the actual intersection). You also must slow down, signal early, and move your car as far left in the lane as possible. If not, you might be cited for unsafe turn movements (Vehicle Code 22107)
  • You may turn into into or out of a private road or driveway.
  • Into carpool lanes
  • You have to because construction signs, or workers direct you to cross to the other side, around any construction happening.

Now, if there are two sets of solid double yellow lines at least 2 feet or more (4 total lines), this is considered a barrier and you cannot cross that to make any turn.

San Diego car accident attorneys is ready to help you

Were you injured in an accident involving solid double lines? If you’re in California, we are ready to help you. Give us a call immediately or fill out a contact form on this page.

Categories
Personal Injury Lawyer

Will hiring a personal injury lawyer increase the value of your case?

When does hiring a personal injury lawyer increase the value of the case?

Studies by the Insurance Research Council (an insurance organization) consistently show, injured victims who hire attorneys to represent them in their car accident cases recover 40% to 350% more than those who don’t.

Why? Because insurance companies hire adjusters to pay you as little as they can get away with. So if you don’t hire an attorney, they will often refuse to pay you reasonable value for your injuries. Without a reasonable threat of a lawsuit, they will offer unreasonably low amounts, hoping you get frustrated and settle.

Unfortunately this happens enough for them to keep with this strategy.

When hiring a personal injury lawyer doesn’t help

There are times when perhaps hiring a lawyer will not help. When the accident, injuries and medical costs are relatively minor, you might not gain a financial advantage by hiring an attorney. When the amounts are smaller, there is a better chance of getting a reasonable offer. Even if the amount they offer is lower than what you truly deserve, you won’t have to pay for a lawyer.

A lawyer’s fee is usually a percentage of the total settlement. If you don’t have to pay this fee, it makes up for the slightly lower settlement offer.

But be careful here. No matter how small the accident, I wouldn’t put it past the insurance company to try and cheat you out of your money anyway. Insurance adjusters have been known to participate in contests to see who can negotiate the lowest settlement offers. One adjuster boasting they obtained a $10 settlement!

So be aware of your rights, and try to figure out what a reasonable offer for your accident would be.

When hiring a lawyer does help

If you are involved in a serious accident, with significant damage to your car, visits to the emergency room, and extensive medical treatment lasting months or even years, then you need to speak to an attorney right away.

The higher your medical bills are, the more likely the insurance company is going to pull out every dirty trick in the book to keep from paying you fairly. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses. It is their sole purpose to take in as much money as possible, and pay out as little as possible. It’s their business model. So you have to fight for your just and fair compensation.

Too often I see victims trying to handle their case on their own and being tricked or forced to accept a lower settlement offer. It is your right to handle the case on your own. Just make sure you understand what a reasonable offer should be, and compare that number to the one offered you. If your medical bills total $20,000, $50,000 or more, then I highly recommend you contact my office to discuss your rights. If you suffered a lot of damages, it is imperative you tell your story. The stronger the story, the bigger the settlement or jury verdict.