While it is often a good idea to consult with a personal injury lawyer about your accident case, it doesn't always make sense to hire a lawyer. The truth is you may not need a lawyer. Here are some top reasons why you might not need a lawyer to handle your injury case:
1) If your injuries are minor or non-existent, you shouldn't hire a personal injury lawyer. The inverse is true, if you have serious injuries (broken bones, herniated discs, surgery is required, major bruising...) then it might be a good idea to get a lawyer on board.
2) If all you care about is getting your car fixed, getting a lawyer is not going to make much difference. Remember, personal injury lawyers focus on "injury" cases...not property damage. Most injury attorneys will not handle a case that's only about property damage.
3) If you are upset with the insurance adjuster, or they are rude to you, getting a lawyer isn't going to make much difference. In other words, if you are getting a lawyer simply because you are trying get even with the insurance company, then it probably won't make much difference unless you have very serious injuries.
4) If the accident was your fault, getting a personal injury lawyer will be a waste of time. If you are afraid of getting sued for causing the accident, then inform your auto insurance company. In many cases, they will provide you with a lawyer to defend you if you are sued.
5) If the police report is against you, then a lawyer isn't going to do much good unless you have some compelling evidence the other party actually caused the accident. An independent witness may be helpful but they are rare. That being said, if you are partly responsible for the accident but the other party is also partly responsible, you might consider getting a lawyer if you have severe and dramatic injuries.
Getting a lawyer on board doesn't always make sense. Generally speaking, the more serious your injuries are, the more you should consider hiring a lawyer to help you with your case. From the attorney's perspective, my basic question to myself is this: "Can I bring value to this client's case?" If not, then I will let you know. Remember, some lawyers will take any case because they know they are going to have some kind of pay day, no matter how small. Whether it's a good idea or not is a secondary concern.
However, we are glad to offer clients advice, even if we cannot take their case. If you've been seriously injured in a bad accident, give us a call so we might be able to assist you. Call (661) 414-7100. We also encourage you to explore our site for answers to your questions.
Hello, everyone. This is Robert Mansour, and I want to make a brief video about an issue that comes up all the time - "Should I give a recorded statement to the other party's insurance company?" The answer is generally "no." You have no legal obligation to speak to the adjuster from the other party.
As a matter of fact, it is very curious - they generally call you the day of the accident or even the next day to get a recorded statement from you, and here's why: Generally speaking, they are trying to box you into a story. How do I know that? I used to work for an insurance company as a lawyer for them. They generally want to call you right away because they want to box you into that story. They might say, "Were you hurt in the accident?" You'll say, "Well, I'm kind of sore, but not too bad." Then a few days later, you are really sore. You can hardly move. Your muscles have really tightened up, or you've discovered an injury that you didn't even realize you had on day one.
See, the problem now is you've given the other party a recorded statement, and they have you saying, "I wasn't hurt. I'm fine. Not a big deal." That's why you don't want to give a statement so early on in the process. There's very little, if anything, to be gained by it. In fact, it's usually used against you in the future.
Also, giving a statement to your company, your own company, you want to be careful with that too. You have generally a legal obligation, a contractual obligation, to cooperate with your own insurance company, because otherwise they might pull the coverage from you and say, "Well, you didn't cooperate with us, and therefore we're not going to extend coverage to you." However, there's nothing wrong with telling the adjuster, "Listen, I'm not feeling very well right now. Can I get your name and number and I'll contact you in about a week's time to talk to you at that time?" Nothing unreasonable about that.
Even better, go talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer and say, "Here's what's going on. What do you think I should do? Should I give a statement? Should I not give a statement?"
Then, you also might have the issue of liability. By talking about what happened at the accident so early on, first you might want to see what that police report has to say about everything first. Remember, you don't have a legal obligation to speak to the adjuster from the other party. You may have an obligation to speak to your own adjuster, but either way, be very careful what you say and when you decide to give that statement. You may choose not to give a statement at all. There's nothing wrong with that. Again, you may have to cooperate with your own insurance company, but at the very least, talk to an experienced lawyer first to see what your options are. Thank you very much for watching this brief video.
If you've been injured in a serious car accident, call (661) 414-7100 to see if we might be able to help you.
After a severe car accident, your vehicle may be stored at a "storage facility." Usually your car will end up at a tow yard (or an auto body shop). Tow yards (and similar storage locations like body shops) usually charge about $50 to $60 a day for the privilege of "storing" your car. Basically, it's an expensive parking lot! In short, storage fees can be a big pain!
So here are some things to keep in mind about storage fees:
First you have to ask yourself: "Who is going to pay for the storage fees?" If you have collision coverage (your insurance company covers your own property damage), then report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible - the same day of the accident if you can. Tell them where your vehicle is so they can examine it as soon as possible. Your company is keenly aware of storage fees (they want to avoid them as much as you do), so they might tow your vehicle to their own storage location in order to reduce storage fees. Many insurance companies have their own storage locations, so they often try to get your car out of the storage facility quickly in order to reduce storage costs.
Basically, by contacting your insurance company quickly (i.e., right after the accident), you are putting the ball in their court. If you wait a few days, they might try to hold you responsible for storage fees due to your delay. Some insurance companies do everything they can to save a dime. They might only pay for storage from the date you notified them moving forward.
If you have collision coverage, you can still present a property damage claim to the other party's insurance company. However, this can lead to the following frustrating scenario we see all the time. Here's how it unfolds:
You contact the other party's company, and they tell you they need to "contact their insured/client" and they need to "investigate" liability. The problem is this can take several days or sometimes several weeks. What if their client denies fault. What if they can't get a hold of their client? What if they can't get a hold of witnesses who supposedly support your version of the accident? What if they want to review the police report, but the report won't be available for at least 2 months (especially common with the LAPD)?
All this can lead to delays. In the meantime, your vehicle is stilling in storage and incurring fees. So let's say 4 weeks later, the insurance company for the responsible party finally accepts responsibility. Guess what? They probably won't pay your storage during those 4 weeks! Why not? They will argue they acted reasonably and your storage costs were too high, or you didn't move your vehicle to a "fee free" storage location (like your home). If you're lucky, they might offer you "reasonable" storage fees of about 10 days, even if your car was in storage for over a month while you waited for them to figure things out.
Basically, if they drag things out (whether it's reasonable or whether they are simply incompetent), that is usually going to be to your detriment. Is that fair? Is that "justice?" Probably not. However, while you're waiting for them to do the right thing and while you're waiting for "justice," you are only incurring additional storage fees. If they never pay your storage fees, then you're basically stuck and may have little recourse short of filing a lawsuit. Now if you are bringing an injury claim, you can try to raise the issue of storage fees later on, but even then, it's a frustrating endeavor. Many times, people get preoccupied with "what's right" or what is "just," and this preoccupation does nothing but make them more frustrated. There is the way the world "should work," and then there's the way the world DOES work. Being keenly aware of the latter is better for you in the long run.
Now if you don't have collision coverage on your car, then you are unfortunately beholden to the responsible party's insurance company. In other words, your options are severely limited. If they admit fault quickly and take care of your car, that's great. However, if they start telling you it's going to take a while before they determine what they are going to do, you need to make some decisions about your car as soon as possible. Try to get your car out of the tow yard (or wherever it is). Remember, the storage fees are only getting higher every day. If your neighborhood allows it, get your car to your property and put a cover on it so it's not an eye sore! Do whatever you can so you don't get stuck with ridiculous storage fees. That's one of the downsides of not having collision on your car.
What is my recommendation? If you have collision coverage, I usually recommend using your own insurance company. They have a contract with you and a duty to act in good faith. The opposing insurance company doesn't have the same duty. They don't even have to return your calls! If you simply cannot afford the potential deductible that will be imposed on you, then go through the other party's company. However, if things start getting delayed, then go back to your company and get things moving. Dealing with storage fees is often very frustrating, but if you understand what's going on, and if you're aware of this dangerous fee, then you will be better prepared to handle it.
If you've been involved in a serious auto accident in Santa Clarita, Newhall, Castaic, Stevenson Ranch, Valencia, Canyon Country, or surrounding communities, feel free to call our office at (661) 414-7100 to see if we can help you with your accident case.
After working for an insurance company for over 13 years as a defense lawyer, I opened my own practice, this time representing victims of car accidents.
One of the biggest questions I get all the time is this: “I’ve been involved in a car accident. What should I be doing?”
Here is a list of things to do after an auto accident.
1) If you are still at the scene of the accident, and if you believe that you’ve been injured (even in the slightest), insist on obtaining a police report. There are several reasons to ask for a police report from the investigating officer. First, it documents the event, making it less likely the other party will change their story later on. Second, a police report documents your injury (the officer will usually as if you are hurt. You must tell them if you are so they can document your injury in their report) which lends credibility to a subsequent injury claim. In my experience, when there is no police report, the other party changes their story in some way, sometimes drastically, about 50% of the time. If there are any witnesses who favor your version of the events, try to get their contact information.
2) Make sure you act quickly in getting medical attention for your injuries. Not only is it the smart thing to do for your health, but delays in treatment will be used against you by most insurance adjusters. They generally argue that delays in treatment are evidence that the injury wasn’t serious. In other words, if you had serious or appreciable injuries, you would have sought treatment. Therefore, by not getting treatment, you must not be injured!
3) Make sure you take extensive photographs of all vehicle damage, not only photos of your vehicle but also of the other vehicles involved in the accident. These days, most people have phones that are capable of taking photos. Therefore, you might even be able to take photos at the scene of the accident. Also, don’t just take one photos. Taking many photos of your car from several angles and distances will help document the extent of damage to your vehicle. Also, while your vehicle may not look so bad, the other vehicle might have extensive damage. A picture tells a thousand words. Describing the damage to your vehicle simply doesn’t have the same effect as showing someone. Remember, if you make a claim in the future, the insurance adjuster is going to make every effort to minimize your claim. Photos of extensive damage can help persuade an adjuster otherwise.
4) Take photos of any and all injuries you may have sustained (even if it is slight bruising, cuts or scrapes). Take them in different lighting situations and from different angles. Sometimes injuries don’t show up well in photographs, so you want to make sure the injury photos are decent.
5) Gather all insurance information, not only regarding the person who caused the accident, but also your policy. Get the other person’s policy number, insurance company, and vehicle information. Make sure you also get their address. Also, get your insurance information and a copy of your “Declarations Page” which has a summary of the coverage you have available. There is a 25% the party at fault either didn’t have insurance or didn’t have enough insurance. In that case, you want to make sure you have Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM Coverage).
6) Get a property damage estimate. An estimate will usually reveal all the parts of the care that were damages. Sometimes there can be extensive damage that isn’t easily visible, especially frame damage. When there isn’t a lot of cosmetic damage to a vehicle, a showing of frame damage can help persuade an insurance adjuster that an impact was relatively significant.
7) If you get treatment from any medical providers, mention every single thing that bothers you from the accident, even if it doesn’t bother you much anymore. Keep in mind insurance companies are using software to analyze your case. If something isn’t documented in your medical records (including any and all complaints), then it simply won’t be inputted into the computer by the insurance adjuster. Remember, if something isn’t in your medical records, it’s like it never happened. I tell clients to pretend the insurance adjuster is sitting on their shoulder like a parakeet during their doctor visits and therefore they need to be very aware of what they tell their health care providers.
Don't give recorded statements to insurance adjusters until you've spoken with a personal injury attorney. Make sure you know all your rights. A good personal injury lawyer can also educate you about your options. For example, while you might think you have a great case, the attorney may think differently. Also, in some cases, a good lawyer might explain that you are better off without an attorney’s help. A good lawyer will also tell you of strengths and weaknesses in your case. An initial consultation is usually free of charge. Call (661) 414-7100 to see if we can help with your case.
I got a call today from a very frustrated caller. She was injured after another car ran a red light and t-boned her vehicle. Unfortunately, she fell into the same trap many fall into after an auto accident - she assumed the insurance company would "take care of everything." After all, that's what the adjuster told her over the phone.
She didn't have health insurance so she contacted the responsible party's insurance company to ask for help with her medical care. A few days later, she got a letter from the insurance company that stated she could go to "any doctor or health care provider of her choosing." She was also told to present her bills to the insurance company after she concluded her treatment. They said they would "be there for her." She didn't consult with a lawyer, so she simply assumed she could go get whatever medical care she wanted, and they'd kindly pay for it. Big mistake!
Just because an insurance company says you can choose any health care provider you want doesn't mean they are going to pay for that health care. Their letter was technically correct. She could indeed go to "any provider" she wanted. I asked her, "Does the letter say they will pay for all your bills - no questions asked?" Of course, they didn't say that.
So she went and incurred nearly $10,000 of medical care on a soft tissue case (sprains and strains). Now she owes $10,000 to various doctors, and the insurance company for the responsible party has offered her a whopping $500 for her case. They said her medical treatment was excessive and unwarranted. This of course was no shock to me, but she couldn't believe it.
Truth be told, her bills were probably far too high, but that's not the lesson here. Here is the lesson: Don't get medical treatment and simply assume the other party's insurance company is going to pay for it. Insurance adjusters rarely accept the medical bills you send them at face value. Remember, their job is to "adjust" your bills (that's why they're called insurance ADJUSTERS.) Here's the big surprise - they ALWAYS adjust your bills downward! Expect them to slash your bills by at least 33% to 50% (sometimes more). So don't go racking up $10,000 in bills and assume they will pay. In fact, you should assume the opposite - assume they WON'T pay.
Keep your bills low and reasonable. When in doubt, find other ways to pay for your care so you're not stuck with a stack of bills while fighting with an unreasonable insurance adjuster. If you have health insurance, consider using it. If you have medical payments coverage under your own auto policy, consider using that too. You need to be mindful of your bills. Keep track and periodically ask your health care providers how much your bills are. Don't let the bills get out of control. There is nothing rude or wrong in asking about your bills. Your health care is not an "all you can eat" buffet.
It's a good idea to contact a personal injury lawyer and run your questions by them. Don't assume the insurance company is going to pay your bills. You may dig yourself into a financial hole. Talk to an experienced attorney about your options. Feel free to call us at (661) 414-7100 to see if we can help you.
Hello everyone. My name is Robert Mansour. Today, I want to make a very brief video about whether or not it is financially a good to idea bring a claim in a personal injury case. Here's how this situation usually unfolds:
I'll get a call from a client and they'll say, "Look. I was involved in an accident, I was hurt etc, etc." I'll say, "Does the other party admit that they caused the accident? They say, "No. Actually, they don't agree that they caused the accident. They think I caused the accident." Or worse, they have a police report that puts them at fault, and the other party is not at fault. They come in and they want to fight, and they want to take them to court and all this other stuff. I said, "Okay. Well, what are your injuries?" "Oh, I got some sore neck and sore back."
I told them, "Listen, your case is not going to be worth very much. Even if it is, worth say $5000 or $6000. Are you prepared to spend anywhere between $5000 to $10,000 in an effort to recover $5000 to $10,000? It doesn't make any sense. Why would you spend as much as your case is worth, and spend two years in court, and all you're going to do, best case scenario is get that money back?"
Sometimes, even though you want to make your point and you want to prove the other party wrong, and you want to proceed on matters of "principle," you might be putting yourself in financial danger. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to decide not to proceed. Sometimes, that is financially the wisest decision that you can make.
I hope you find this video helpful. If you'd like, feel free to contact my office for further consultation. Also, visit our website valencialawyer.com for lots more information. Thank you.
There are several reasons you want to get medical attention as soon as possible if you've been injured in a serious auto accident. Here are just a few of the reasons:
1) If you wait too long before seeking care, the insurance company for the responsible party will argue that you aren't really injured or you wouldn't have waited so long.
2) Seeking medical attention right away is strong evidence that you were actually injured.
3) Going through your own health care channels, at least initially, is often persuasive that you are injured.
4) Seeking medical attention early helps document your injuries. Making sure you mention ALL your injuries during your first appointment is persuasive to an insurance company. Contrast that with NOT mentioning all your injuries and trying to introduce a new injury a few weeks later. That certainly looks suspicious.
5) Finally, seeking medical attention is more important than who is going to fix your car, or who said what to who at the accident scene. Don't get stuck on issues that don't matter as much as your health care. Keep your "eye on the ball." Your health is arguably one of your most important assets. It's simply a wise thing to do regardless of whether or not you choose to bring a claim against anyone.
If you've been injured, you should also seek medical attention right away. It may seem obvious but many folks wait too long or don't get any care at all.
Hello everyone. This is Robert Mansour. I wanted to make a brief video today about all the different kinds of insurance adjusters you're going to be dealing with. Not personality wise, I'm talking about the different types of people that you're going to talk to, the different jobs that they have. The first person that you call at the insurance company is generally an intake person. They're not really an insurance adjuster. You might think that they are, but they're not. They're just, they're to take the initial call and to make sure that the matter is routed to the appropriate individual.
Then, there is somebody called a property damage adjuster. The property damage adjuster is the person who handles your property damage claim. That's all they do. They handle car rentals, fixing of cars, totaling a vehicle if it's a total loss. Sometimes frankly, the property damage department will have two separate components, people who handle only total losses and people who handle repairs.
Then, there is the adjuster who comes out, the field adjuster, who comes out and he'll takes a look at your car and examines it, and gives you an idea of whether this is something they can repair, roughly how much it would cost, et cetera. If you're making a case for injury, then the matter gets transferred to somebody else. That person is called the bodily injury Adjuster. That person's job is all about claims for injury, you know, whether it's hospital bills, medical bills, physical therapy, all of that stuff. That's their job. Now, sometimes this people will be dealing with your attorney and not so much with you. You should still understand that there are different players in the game. Also, on a bodily injury claim, if the case is filed with a lawsuit (because you're unable to settle your claim) in many cases, the same adjuster will stay on the case. A lot of times, they will transfer it to yet another adjuster who is a litigation specialist. Those adjusters work with the attorneys, the defense attorneys for the insurance company, as well as your lawyer, et cetera.
You'll see that you might think that there's just one person at the insurance company who's going to handle everything. What usually happens is, there's many different people you're going to run into, and each of them has a special task or a special job; from the bodily injury tester to the property damage adjuster, to the person you speak to the very first time you call. Then sometimes, some of the insurance companies will hire an investigator to come and take a statement in the "field" as they say. They'll come and take a recorded statement of you sometimes in person, sometimes over the phone. That might be yet another individual that you have to deal with. Please understand, they're not passing the buck. They just all have different jobs to do.
My name again is Robert Mansour. I hope you found this video helpful. Thanks for watching.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello everyone, this is Robert Mansour and today I wanted to make a brief video about why it's a good idea to talk to a lawyer after an automobile accident in which you may have been injured. The reason that you want to do that is you want to talk to somebody whose going to lay out all your options for you and you don't' want somebody whose just going to tell you what you want to hear.
You want somebody whose going to tell you the truth, somebody whose going to tell you things candidly. I've worked for both sides of the fence, I've worked for the insurance companies as a defense attorney and I've also represented victims of auto accidents. I try to tell my clients all the good stuff about their case and perhaps the not so good stuff about their case.
I want them to walk into the matter with their eyes wide open. I also want my clients to avoid any traps, so for example, they might be talking to the insurance adjuster and learning a thing or two, but the things that they hear from the insurance adjuster may be good for the insurance company and not so good for the client. I always think it's a good idea and it can't hurt for you to go to a lawyer whose not going to be pushy, who's just going to explain the facts to you.
The lawyer will explain whether or not they can bring value to your case. I will have to tell you about half the cases that come through my office, we turn away only because we can't bring any value to that case.
Sometimes we will also tell the client about how to represent themselves, how to go about doing things on their own. In fact, on the videos page of my website, there is a video about how to present your own personal injury case. Again, visiting with a lawyer after an auto accident case is often a very good idea, especially so you can learn all about your options and what your rights are. Thank you very much for watching this brief video.
Call our office today to see if we can help you with your personal injury case. Call (661) 414-7100.
Do not simply rent a vehicle assuming the responsible party is going to pay for it. There is no guarantee the responsible party or their insurance company is going to pay for a vehicle you decide to rent. Even if they admit fault, make sure the rental occurs without your involvement. In other words, try to keep things between the insurance company and the rental car agency. All you need to do is pick up the car and return the car.
Some insurance companies make this difficult. They will argue that they are a "reimbursement only" policy. That means you have to go rent a car on your own dime and then present a receipt for reimbursement. If they insist on this "reimbursement" approach, either do not rent a car, or rent one for no more than $25/day. Most insurance companies won't tell you this, but they generally won't pay more than $25/day. So if you go rent a vehicle for $50/day (and that's the going rate at many rental companies), you're going to be unpleasantly surprised when the insurance company fails to reimburse you the whole amount. For some reason, they only tell you AFTER the fact that they consider $25/day reasonable, regardless of the fact it usually costs more to rent a comparable vehicle.
Just because they said they are going to reimburse you doesn't mean they will concede to whatever you present to them. You should ask the rental car company to offer you the same daily rate they offer to the insurance company - which is often much less than the average person pays. Therefore, you might get the $50 car for $25/day. Explain to them that the insurance company likely will not reimburse you for any more than $25 per day. Before you rent the car, call the insurance company property damage adjuster to make sure the rate and extent of rental will meet with their approval. That way you minimize your potential downside. You can also forget about renting a car and simply asking for "loss of use" which is payment for the time you expect to be without a car. You don't actually have to rent a car to ask for loss of use. More on this a little later.
If your car is a total loss, the insurance company will probably offer you an amount based on a supposed "third-party" "independent" appraisal. While these third parties are supposedly "independent," everyone knows they get most of their business from the insurance companies. As such, it stands to reason their appraisals will generally be lower than what you expect. You don't have to accept whatever they offer you. If you have other research showing your vehicle is worth more, do not be afraid to present that to the insurance adjuster. The problem is it may require hiring our own appraiser and that could cost you hundreds of dollars. It doesn't hurt to negotiate although the property damage insurance adjusters rarely have that much leeway. They are very much married to the appraisals they get and the software they use.
Once you get an offer for your vehicle, you can't simply keep renting a car for weeks on end. Generally speaking, once they make you an offer, they will allow you to rent the vehicle for a few more days, usually not exceeding an additional week at the most. If you rent for longer than that, you will probably be on the hook for the additional rental period. Make sure you check with the insurance company what kind of leeway they will provide. Never assume they will be generous with you. On the contrary, assume they will be stingy.
Also, if you are renting a car while your car is being fixed, you will generally have to return the car rental almost immediately after taking delivery of your repaired vehicle. Once your vehicle is repaired, you can simply leave it at the shop and continue renting the rental.
Finally, as noted earlier, you don't actually have to rent a car to get reimbursement. If you are without a vehicle for two or three weeks while it is being repaired, you can ask for something called "loss of use." Generally speaking, the insurance company for the responsible party (doesn't work with your own company) will pay you between $25 and $30 a day for being without a car. You don't actually have to rent a car to ask for this. Insurance companies don't like you to know about this little secret. After all, insurance companies hate to part with their money. However, this is a reasonable request and in most cases, insurance companies will pay you about $25 a day for up to 30 days. Anything above and beyond that will be a challenge. Therefore, if your car was in the shop for 10 days, you should ask the responsible party's insurance company for $300 for loss of use (10 days times $30/day).
The general point is this: Don't be hasty about rental car decisions. Think through all your options and make a wise decision. Talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer who may be able to give you more guidance on this potentially thorny issue.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.