After an accident, many of my clients and prospective clients are worried about their insurance rates going up. That is a natural and common concern. Here is the short answer: I don't know!
Insurance companies use all kinds of data to rate you as a driver. Clients are often surprised to learn that every insurance company comes up with its own rating system. Some use driving records, your experience as a driver, your credit score, where you live, the length of your commute, your driving history, the number of accidents you've had, the number of claims you've made, and the list goes on. I generally tell my clients that if the accident was NOT their fault, their insurance rates would probably not go up, but of course, I also told them that I couldn't guarantee such an outcome because I don't make those decisions. Insurance company underwriters make those decisions.
However, there is now an emerging trend, as reported by the Consumer Federation of America, that major insurance companies are now raising insurance rates even if you were NOT at fault. This is a major shift and even more reason why you might want to shop around for a new insurance company. So even if you are not at fault, some companies are inclined to raise your rates anyway. Perhaps they consider you a larger risk. I can't tell you why, but it seems more an more insurance companies are implementing this approach.
Certain insurance companies were singled out in the report. For example, Progressive Insurance, Farmers, and Geico were among the most aggressive in raising rates against their insured clients, even if they weren't at fault. State Farm, on the other hand, never raised rates on their clients in such cases. The study also found that lower income drivers were incurring higher rate increases than higher income drivers. On average, it seems rates went up about 10%. The report also notes that 18 million Americans live in areas of the country where auto insurance is basically deemed affordable by the United States Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Office.
Certain states like Oklahoma and California don't allow such rate hikes (let's hope it stays that way). The study suggests people should complain to their insurance companies and should inquire if they raise rates even if you're not at fault. I tell my clients if they are not happy, they can take their business elsewhere. There is no shortage of auto insurance companies out there willing to insure you. It takes some time and effort, but using a good insurance broker who is knowledgeable about insurance can be very helpful. Also, a good insurance professional can better advise you about buying the right kind of coverage. Having insurance is great, but having the right insurance coverage is better.
To read the entire article, click here.
Hello, everyone. This is Robert Mansour, and I wanted to shoot a brief video today about the importance of making sure that your medical records accurately and fully reflect what you went through in your car accident, so not only should your medical records reflect all of your injuries, they should also reflect how the accident affected your daily life, so let's first start with the injuries. If you go to the hospital or the emergency room or the doctor or whoever, chiropractor, after an accident, you want to make sure that you walk in with a very detailed list of every single thing that was injured in the accident, no matter how minor. Here's why: An issue that may not seem significant on day 1 may become significant a few weeks later, so if you don't mention it on day 1 and then it comes up a few weeks later, an insurance adjuster might say, "Well, wait a minute. I think you fabricated that. That didn't really happen in the accident. That was something different."
You just want to make sure that you mention all of your injuries, because when the insurance adjuster is evaluating your case, they're going to look at your medical records very carefully, and they're going to see what did you complain of to the doctor, so you can't just say, "My neck." That doesn't really help. You've got to say, "My neck radiating into my shoulders, radiating into my upper back." You want to be very specific about what it is that your injury actually is, so make sure that you are very detailed about that. As a matter of fact, if the police officers come to the scene of an accident, it is very important to tell the police officer or the emergency personnel what your injuries were, because they will write that down in the police report, more often than not, and if your injuries are listed in the police report, it lends a lot more credibility to your claim that you were injured, and the consistency of those injuries across the board. Your injury complaints at the scene were the same at the hospital, were the same at the doctor, were the same at the physical therapist...
It's very important to be very complete about it. The next thing that you really need to make sure that you articulate is, what limitations are you having from the accident? When you go for physical therapy or you go to the doctor, and they say, "How are you doing? What's going on," and you say, "Well, not so good," or, "A little bit better," that doesn't really help paint a very good picture of what you're going through. So for example, you might say, "Well, I'm having trouble taking a shower. It hurts when I put my clothes on in the morning. I can't bend down to tie my shoes. I'm in excruciating pain on a daily basis. I can't even drive to work. I can't pick up my kids and play with them. I can't garden. I can't do X, Y, or Z. I'm having trouble doing chores at the house." I call that "putting ornaments on the tree," decorating the tree. The tree is the injuries, but the ornaments on the tree are how the injuries affected your daily life, your work, your schooling, your home life.
It is very important to articulate all of that to your doctors, because it's going to end up in the medical records, and that's what the insurance adjuster's going to be looking at. So the medical records are your opportunity to tell the adjuster the complete story of how the accident affected you. Not just the injuries, but the effects of those injuries. I always tell my clients, "When you go in for treatment after a car accident, whether it's for an evaluation, physical therapy, or anything like that, I want you to imagine the insurance adjuster sitting on your shoulder with a tablet, writing everything down that you say. They've got their clipboard right there, and they're writing everything down that you say to the doctor, so if you can imagine that, you're going to be more complete about it, because the adjuster's sitting there on your shoulder, basically being very skeptical that you were injured at all, as most of them often are. So this is your chance to be very complete about your injuries and how the accident affected you." I hope you found this video helpful. Thank you very much for watching.
Please call (661) 414-7100 if you've been injured in a serious car accident. Personal injury lawyer Robert Mansour helps clients involved in serious auto accidents in Santa Clarita, California and its surrounding communities.
A new study reveals that seven major intersections in the Santa Clarita Valley are among the state's most dangerous intersections. The accidents involve pedestrian and auto accidents. Santa Clarita was found to have a "higher than average" amount of accidents. (The city disputes these findings - see link below). The study found that the most dangerous roads in Santa Clarita were Newhall Ranch Rd, Bouquet Canyon Rd, Seco Canyon Rd, Sierra Highway, Soledad Canyon Rd, McBean Parkway, Langside Avenue and Whites Canyon Rd.
The most dangerous intersection in Santa Clarita was Sierra Highway and Soledad Canyon Rd. The second most dangerous intersection was McBean Parkway and Newhall Ranch Rd. The third most dangerous intersection in SCV was found to be Bouquet Canyon Rd and Seco Canyon Rd. The next most dangerous was Langside Avenue and Soledad Canyon Rd. In fifth place was Soledad Canyon Rd and Whites Canyon Rd.
Finally, rounding out the most dangerous intersection in the Santa Clarita Valley were Bouquet Canyon Rd and Soledad Canyon Rd, and Bouquet Canyon Rd and Newhall Ranch Rd.
Here is a link to the article in The Signal which cites the study.
If you've had a serious car accident in Santa Clarita, and you need guidance, call (661) 414-7100 to see if we can assist you with your accident case.
* UPDATE 11-28-16 Santa Clarita disputes findings of the study. Click here to read more.
Hello everyone. This is Robert Mansour, and today I wanted to shoot a brief video on the importance of taking photographs of your injuries. I recently had a client who was involved in a head-on collision. He's a 21 year-old gentleman, and he had some bruising to his knees and some bruising to his chest and to his hands, both in the palms of his hands and on his knuckles. He told me all about this bruising, and he explained it to me and it sounded really bad, but I told him, I said, "Did you take any photographs of your injuries?" He said, "Oh no, I forgot to do that."
Now, by the time he came to see me, all the bruising was gone. Now, why is it important to do that? Here is why. When you are dealing with an insurance adjuster, who is working for the other party in your case, you want to be able to tell the story as best you can. Now, you can tell somebody about your bruising, and you can point to some medical records that indicate bruising, but that's not quite as effective as showing someone. Show me, as the phrase goes. Show me, so I can believe it.
The truth of the matter is, many of the insurance adjusters are skeptical. There's a lot of people out there trying to game the system, trying to embellish their case, but if you can show somebody visually the injuries that you had, it is much more compelling that simply pointing to a notation in a medical record somewhere.
If you are injured in an automobile accident, make sure not to just take pictures of the vehicle. The vehicle is important, but you also want to document any and all physical manifestations of injury, bruising, scratches, redness. No matter how minor, take a picture. Have somebody in your family take a picture from several different angles as well and different lighting conditions. Sometimes a bruise may not show in a particular lighting condition, but perhaps from another angle or a different lighting condition, it does show better.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of taking pictures of your physical injuries after an automobile accident. Thank you very much for watching. Please call (661) 414-7100 to see if we can help with your injury case.
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.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.