Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury Recovery in California

Do I need to hire a lawyer? How long will it take to reach a settlement? How do I prove my loved one was abused in her nursing home? What if the driver who hit me does not have insurance? We tackle these questions and many more in our collection of frequently asked questions. If your question is not answered there, do not hesitate to call us.

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  • Can I afford to hire a motorcycle accident lawyer?

    motorcycle rider on coastal road at sunsetEveryone who rides a motorcycle knows the risks involved. While two wheels are not inherently more dangerous than four, motorcyclists are exposed to dangers most motorists scarcely consider. Even if you do everything right—getting a bike endorsement, wearing all the right gear, and taking safety classes—you are still at the mercy of other drivers’ sense of responsibility. When someone blasts through a red light or merges without checking their blind spot, what might be a minor-fender bender in a sedan or SUV can become a life-changing event for an unsuspecting motorcyclist.

    If you have been hurt in a motorcycle accident or lost a loved one to another driver’s negligence, you should not have to fight tooth and nail for a fair recovery. Our Orange County team of personal injury attorneys can help you get the compensation you deserve without breaking the bank.

    How You Can Afford a California Motorcycle Accident Attorney

    Most people think that the law is a big-money business and that hiring a lawyer is prohibitively expensive.

    However, personal injury law is different.

    Personal injury attorneys usually work on a contingency basis. In other words, you do not have to pay anything up-front: not for your initial consultation, not for your paperwork, not even for a trial. Instead, personal injury attorneys take their pay as a percentage of your settlement. Some firms will charge legal fees if they cannot reach a settlement or lose their case.

    While most firms take 45% of your end award, Case Barnett typically charges between 33.6% and 40%. And, because we are confident about the cases we take on, we never make our clients pay anything out-of-pocket. No hourly fees, no material costs—nothing. If we do not win your case, you will not owe Case Barnett anything.

    What You Risk by Not Hiring a Lawyer

    If you caught your accident on a helmet-mounted camera or have a reliable eyewitness, you may think you have a simple, open-and-shut case—one that will not benefit from an attorney’s involvement.

    Insurance companies love few things more than an injured person lacking representation. While you might think your adjuster is on your side, do not forget who the adjuster is working for: the insurance company.

    Since insurance companies are for-profit businesses, they will always try to minimize their losses by paying the smallest settlements possible. You can try to negotiate for a higher award, but unless you are an industry expert, you will not be able to argue against the adjuster’s math.

    That is assuming, of course, that your insurer even offers a settlement.

    Statistically, crash victims who retain legal counsel are much more likely to leave court with larger awards than crash victims who try to file cases without representation.

    Your personal injury attorney, after all, knows what insurance companies, courts, and juries need to see. We also know the math that goes into damages calculations and will fight to give you the maximum compensation to which you are entitled under California law.

    Potential Damages in a Motorcycle Crash Case

    Recovering after a motorcycle crash goes beyond fixing up your damaged bike and paying medical bills. California personal injury statutes allow injured people to claim both economic and non-economic damages following an accident:

    • Economic damages are objective financial damages with a set dollar amount. Economic damages include the cost to repair or replace your vehicle, medical bills, and any income you lost during recovery.
    • Non-economic damages are subjective damages without a set dollar value. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, disfigurement, and lost earning potential.

    California does not have a cap for compensatory damages, except in medical malpractice cases. Case Barnett will evaluate the extent of your damages to provide you with the recovery settlement you deserve.

    If we cannot reach a settlement with your insurer, we can take them to court, along with the driver responsible for your injuries.

    Contact Us Today

    Your first step toward recovery after an Orange County motorcycle accident is contacting a personal injury attorney. Case Barnett offers free initial consultations to discuss the details of your case. To get started, send Case Barnett Law a message online today.

  • Should I see a doctor after a car accident even if I don’t think I’m hurt?

    doctor finding car accident back injuryA fender-bender may not seem very serious. Oftentimes, we may walk away from a minor accident thinking we have suffered no greater loss than a damaged door or busted headlight. However, the shock of a car crash can mask serious, life-changing injuries. Even if you do not think you were hurt in an accident, you should always seek medical treatment immediately afterward.

    Not All Injuries Are Created Equal

    Personal injury attorneys frequently hear from people who walked away from a car accident feeling fine. Since they did not think they were hurt, they did not go to the doctor or seek any further treatment.

    Days, weeks, or months later, the same person may start experiencing new problems: neck stiffness, back pain, a throbbing headache, or worse.

    The truth is that some injuries take time to manifest. Internal bleeding, for instance, may not be immediately evident. But once its symptoms are recognized and diagnosed, it can be harder for doctors to treat than if it were caught earlier on.

    Similarly, traumatic brain injuries may present slowly, making themselves known only through feelings of general dizziness and confusion. However, these symptoms may escalate, turning what was once an easily treatable problem into a life-changing disorder.

    Why You Should Always Visit a Doctor After an Accident

    A physician can help you identify injuries you did not know you had. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, your doctor may ask you to submit to different tests, including X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. While these tests can be time-consuming, they are intended to ensure that you have not suffered serious harm.

    Beyond being able to diagnose physical disorders, your doctor’s visit serves another critically important purpose: if you ever do need to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, seeking prompt medical attention demonstrates a clear correlation between the accident and your injuries.

    If you wait too long to visit a doctor, the insurance company or the other motorist’s attorney may accuse you of fabricating complaints to secure a larger settlement.

    In fact, even if you have indisputable evidence that your injury is real, the opposing counsel may simply suggest that you were hurt sometime between the accident and the day you appear in court. While you may be certain there is no other way you could have been hurt, a skilled attorney’s argument may persuade a judge or jury otherwise.

    Keeping Track of Your Medical Records Is Key

    Even if you are not sure whether you will ever need to file an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit, you should always keep track of any and all medical records related to a car accident. You should preserve:

    • X-rays
    • CT scans
    • MRI scans
    • Medical bills
    • Physician’s notes and written diagnoses
    • Hospital intake and admission forms
    • Recommendations for corrective surgery or physical rehabilitation

    Your medical documents will assist your personal injury lawyer in creating a compelling case. By preserving, collecting, and later reviewing evidence, you may be able to argue for a higher settlement with the other driver or their insurance company.

    How a California Car Crash Attorney Can Help

    Taking a car accident case before a California court is not an easy feat. The other driver’s insurance company—or their attorney, if they have one—will undoubtedly do their best to save their client as much money as possible. They may ask you to provide a never-ending list of records, bills, or documents, hoping you will run out of time, money, or patience, and either drop your claim or agree to a lower settlement offer.

    When you have been injured by a negligent driver, you should never get into bully tactics. A California personal injury attorney knows just how to push back against aggressive insurance agents and will fight for the justice you deserve.

    Contact Us Today

    Case Barnett Law has years of experience fighting for Californians’ recovery in car accident cases. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash, do not let the statute of limitations run out—send us a message online to schedule your initial consultation today.

  • Who is going to pay for my lost income from missing work?

     

    Who is going to pay for my lost income when I miss work after an accident?

    Your attorney can help you file a claim for lost income. When someone was negligent and it caused you to be injured and miss work, you can include your lost income damages in your liability claim. 

    Need More Help? Get Our Accident Book for Free!

    If you want more information on having the strongest accident claim possible, download a FREE instant copy of our book The 7 Biggest Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Accident ClaimYou can also download our free guide, Ten Mistakes People Make When Dealing With Doctors After an Accident

    If you want to speak to someone at our office call us at (949) 861-2990. 

  • How do I get a rental car after a car accident in California?

    If you were injured in a car accident you have endless things to take care of. You may be wondering how to get to work after your car was damaged in an accident. Most personal injury law firms will not help you with things like arranging a rental car. At Case Barnett Law we always help our clients to make sure they are able to do the most important thing after an accident: heal. 

    Often times, the insurance company for the negligent driver will take a really long time to get you a rental car. Here, we discuss how to handle getting a rental car without waiting on the negligent driver's insurance for weeks.

    How Can You Get a Rental Car Using Your Own Insurance?

    In California, rental car coverage is an option that you can add to your policy. It is called "rental reimbursement" coverage and it pays for a car rental when your own car is being repaired after an accident. You must check your policy or call your insurance company to see if you have rental reimbursement coverage. If you do have this type of coverage you should investigate what the daily limit is on cost. This will insure that you select a rental car that is covered without having to pay the difference out of pocket. 

    How Can You Get a Rental Car Using the At-Fault Driver's Insurance?

    If you don't have rental reimbursement coverage and the other driver was at fault, you can use the negligent driver's insurance company to provide you with a rental car. In order to do this you must first open a claim. Once a claim is open the adjuster will work with you to arrange a rental car. This option, although sometimes the only way to have a rental car paid for, can take days or weeks.  

    If your car is a total loss the at-fault insurance company may only let you stay in a rental car for a few days after they make you an offer on your car's fair market value. Be careful. Insurance companies are notorious at taking a rental car away from an injured person who is then left having no replacement vehicle lined up. 

    If you have no rental reimbursement coverage and the other drive is found not at-fault, you will need to make other arrangements to pay for your rental car. 

    Are you having problems getting a rental car following an accident? Do you need to file a claim for compensation with the negligent driver’s insurance company? Our experienced accident attorneys are here to explain your legal options, help you handle paying your medical bills, and negotiate your settlement with the insurance company for you. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation.

    Need More Help? Get Our Accident Book for Free!

    If you want more information on having the strongest accident claim possible, download a FREE instant copy of our book The 7 Biggest Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Accident ClaimYou can also download our free guide, Ten Mistakes People Make When Dealing With Doctors After an Accident

    If you want to speak to someone at our office call us at (949) 861-2990. 

     

  • How do I get my medical bills paid after an accident?

    If you were injured in a car accident, one of the most important first steps is to seek immediate medical care. Medical treatment for any injury can be expensive—leaving you with a stack of mounting medical bills to deal with. Unfortunately, the insurance company for the negligent driver will most likely not pay your ongoing medical bills while it is investigating and disputing your claim. Here, we discuss how to handle paying your medical bills while you are attempting to settle your claim.

    How Can You Pay Your Medical Bills While Your Accident Claim Is Being Settled?

    You are legally responsible for your medical bills, and your doctor and other healthcare providers do not have to wait until your claim with the insurance company is resolved to be paid. If you do not pay your bills, they could be turned over to a collection agency or you may be sued. Both options will hurt your credit, and you could face other legal consequences—such as having a judgment against you and garnishment of your wages.

    How do you pay your medical bills until you receive your settlement proceeds? Here are some options you may have:

    • Health insurance. If you have health insurance, this should be the main source of payment for your medical treatments. Be certain to provide the hospital and your doctor with your insurance company information. They may try to say that they cannot bill your health insurance company due to your accident. However, this is not true, and you should insist that they send your bills to your health insurance company.
       
    • Med-pay. If you purchased med-pay coverage as part of your automobile insurance policy, you can file a claim to have your medical bills paid through this coverage. It will pay 100 percent of your medical bills up to the policy limits regardless of who was at fault in causing the accident. If you do not have this coverage, you may be able to purchase it to pay for future medical expenses.
       
    • Medi-Cal or Medi-Care. If you qualify for Medi-Cal or Medi-Care—which has strict income and asset requirements—this insurance could pay for your medical care. However, some doctors in California do not accept Medi-Cal or Medi-Care payments.
       
    • Lien. Some doctors will continue to treat you and take a lien against the settlement of your claim. They would receive a payment from your settlement proceeds for the amount that you owe before you receive any money.
    If you have no health insurance and none of the other options are possible, you will need to make other arrangements to pay your medical bills. It is important to keep in contact with the billing department of your doctor and the hospital to keep them updated on the status of your claim. An experienced car accident attorney can contact your medical providers for you and arrange for a lien, a lump sum settlement, or a small payment plan until he can resolve your case.

    Are you having problems paying your medical bills following an accident? Do you need to file a claim for compensation with the negligent driver’s insurance company? Our experienced accident attorneys are here to explain your legal options, help you handle paying your medical bills, and negotiate your settlement with the insurance company for you. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation.

    Need More Help? Get Our Accident Book for Free!

    If you want more information on having the strongest accident claim possible, download a FREE instant copy of our book The 7 Biggest Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Accident ClaimYou can also download our free guide, Ten Mistakes People Make When Dealing With Doctors After an Accident

    If you want to speak to someone at our office call us at (949) 861-2990. 

  • What are the first steps I should take after an accident?

    When you are involved in a car collision, it is important that you immediately or as soon as possible have your car examined for any defects in the car. There might be something wrong with your car that you don't know about because of this collision that could create greater danger, greater exposure to your own safety.

    There are a couple different paths to take to get your car fixed. In any motor collision case, you have to inform your insurance company of the accident. It is easiest and cleanest to first go through your own insurance company, and they can do the heavy lifting of going after the other individual's insurance company to get reimbursed and to get your deductible reimbursed. Sometimes people have a problem paying their initial deductible. In that situation, we work very hard to try to get the other party to take responsibility and to pay the money as quickly as possible. So there are really two different routes depending on each individual potential client's situation and their desires.

    Typically in an auto accident, the car repair costs are going to get covered by either your own insurance company or the other parties' insurance company. It is really going to be driven by which insurance companies are you dealing with and what kind of insurance do you have and what your deductible is.

    If your car is totaled out, you end up being in a very difficult spot. You are never going to get full value for the value of your car when it gets totaled out. The insurance companies use blue book value, they will also pull some advertisements to show what different cars are selling, but it never properly reimburses you for the value of your car. You are not entitled to a jury trial over the value of your car, you are only entitled to arbitration. Arbitrations are very difficult to win. You just have an individual, one person making the decision on the value of your car and it is rarely worth the cost and time of fighting over that.

    An individual who has been injured in an auto accident is entitled to receive damages for both non-economic and economic injuries. The economic injuries would be things like medical bills, both past and future, lost wages. Anything that you can put a hard number that is a loss, a damage. The non-economic damages are more difficult to quantify because there is not a hard number that attaches to each one. This is where it is important to know the individual's story. Know who they were before the accident and how the accident has changed them after. And the non-economic damages are one of those things that are very difficult for people to articulate and difficult for people to understand and appreciate who haven't been involved in an injury case. But it is one of the things we work really hard on in learning the client's story and learning how this accident has affected them and explaining to a jury or an adjuster or whoever we have to, why this case is different than the other hundred cases they are dealing with. Why this case's non-economic value so high.

    When a person can get compensated after an auto accident is largely determined by how serious their injuries are. We don't want to resolve a case until we have a real good idea that the injuries someone has suffered are what we called permanent and stationary or at least we know what these injuries are going to look like when they are permanent and stationary. You can't properly evaluate a case until you know how bad the accident has affected the client. So it could be anywhere from four months to four years.

    If you are hit by an uninsured driver, don't panic. We take a look at your insurance policy, and when you look at your insurance policy, most policies carry a section that says uninsured or underinsured coverage. The first place you look is there to make sure that you have underinsured or uninsured coverage and to see what the amount is, to see if it is something that is actually going to help you or something that is just barely going to get you by.

    Need More Help? Get Our Accident Book for Free!

    If you want more information on having the strongest accident claim possible, download a FREE instant copy of our book The 7 Biggest Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Accident ClaimYou can also download our free guide, Ten Mistakes People Make When Dealing With Doctors After an Accident

    If you want to speak to someone at our office call us at (949) 861-2990. 

  • What happens when you take a case?

    What we do when we initially take a case, we have the potential client bring in all of their documents.  And hopefully if a client has signed a document that the other side, the defendants have given to the client, the client has it and we can take a look at it.  By looking at all the documents, we can advise you as to whether we think you have a viable case.  Just because you have signed a document doesn't mean the case goes away, that you have no case.  It depends on what the document is and it depends if there is a way to explain it or not.

    There is no benefit in talking to the insurance adjuster from the other side.  They are trained to drive down the value of the case by taking advantage of the fact that you might be unrepresented early.  Because one of the first things we are going to do when we take your case is we are going to go to those medical providers and get all your medical records to look at what you have been suffering through, what is the path of your recovery.  And to show the insurance adjusters, show the defense attorneys that you have been doing everything possible to get better, but your body just won't let you because of the defendant's negligence.

    It is important to be able to tell the story of how bad your suffering was.  It is one thing to say "oh my back hurt".  It is something else to say that for six years I have been going to my son's opening day baseball game, but because of this accident I wasn't able to go to the game.  You forget things like that and it is important to journal those stories so they can be told later, either at your deposition or to a jury in order to get you full compensation.

    You should not provide your medical records to the other side.  It is something your attorney needs to go through and look at.  Just because you are in a legal case, just because you are in a personal injury action doesn't open the door to everything you have had to go through your entire life.  We all have things in our lives that affect who we are today.  Just because you have been hurt by someone else's negligence doesn't open the door to that all of that other suffering. 

    If your case goes to trial, it is our position that in all likelihood you are going to be sitting with us throughout the whole trial and that is the way you should want it to be.  Because while you are sitting there you are going to see everything develop and you can help us better represent you.  The jury is going to want to see you and they are going to want to be there with their eyes on you to see what you have been through and to see how you are reacting to this and quite frankly see you fighting for yourself.

  • How long do I have to file a car accident case in California?

    The most common causes of car accidents in California are not paying attention, people doing distracted driving because they are on their cell phones and the few times a year when it actually rains, people don't know what to do.  That causes a lot of hysteria on Southern California freeways when all of a sudden two or three raindrops fall out of the air.

    California does have statutes of limitations that can kick you out of court and not allow you file a case if you have waited to long.  Cases are different and so depending on your injury and how you were injured and who injured you.  It is very important that you seek legal advice immediately to determine what the statute of limitations is.

    Generally, in personal injury cases, it is two years from the date of the incident.  If the defendant, potential defendant, is a municipality, a government agency, you have six months to file a proof of claim.  But again this is a situation that you need to talk to an attorney as soon as possible to look at the specific facts of your case.

    Need More Help? Get Our Accident Book for Free!

    If you want more information on having the strongest accident claim possible, download a FREE instant copy of our book The 7 Biggest Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Accident ClaimYou can also download our free guide, Ten Mistakes People Make When Dealing With Doctors After an Accident

    If you want to speak to someone at our office call us at (949) 861-2990. 

  • How do I know if I need an attorney after an accident?

    experienced trial attorneyIf you are trying to determine whether you need an attorney or not, there are certain things to look for.  Really what you are looking for is were you or a loved one injured because of someone elses negligence.  Was someone speeding or not taking care of their property or just not doing what they are supposed to do to keep other people safe and you got hurt because of it. 

    If you come to us and talk to us we are going to analyze your case and we are going to look at the severity of the injury, the seriousness of the negligence on the other side.  We are going to talk to you honestly and plainly about whether or not you should pursue a case, what the likelihood of a recovery is and what the amount of that recovery might be.   This is so you can make an informed decision on:

    1. Do you want to pursue the case?
    2. Do you want to pursue the case with us as your representation?

    We wrote a book to try and help people, at least at the very beginning, handle the case on their own and see if they can work their way through the labryinth that is a personal injury case.  At some point, if you really want to maximize value, you are going to need someone like myself, a law firm like our law firm because the insurance adjusters and the defendants prey on unsuspecting victims.  They know that you aren't going to try the case on your own and they know that you are unlikely to file a case on your own.  So they have all the leverage because that big hammer of a case getting filed and big exposure trial is not there.  So can a person handle a case on their own? Yes.  Do I recommend it? No.

    Need More Help? Get Our Accident Book for Free!

    If you want more information on having the strongest accident claim possible, download a FREE instant copy of our book The 7 Biggest Mistakes that Can Ruin Your Accident ClaimYou can also download our free guide, Ten Mistakes People Make When Dealing With Doctors After an Accident

    If you want to speak to someone at our office call us at (949) 861-2990. 

  • What makes your firm want to take a case?

    There are three things you need in any personal injury case.  That is:

    • Liability
    • Damages
    • Collectability

    We look for those three things and if all those things are present, the real thing that drives whether or not we are going to take a case is the client.  We want cases where we can fall in love with our client.  Where we can work well together with our client.  Life is hard enough as it is working with people who aren't great, so we want to work with people who are great people, we want clients who are great people.  And when you are invested in their story, juries can feeel that, they can sense that and that makes a huge difference.