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.
Hi, this is Robert Mansour. I'm a personal injury lawyer, and today I want to spend a minute cautioning you not to get yourself into a financial hole if you've been involved in a car accident. Let's say you've been involved in a car accident and you're injured. Do not assume that because the other party's at fault that they're going to pay for everything.
So don't go accruing bills everywhere, going to different doctors, CT scans, x-rays, massage therapists, physical therapy, renting a car for three or four weeks. Don't just go nuts thinking that the other party is going to pay for it all. The truth of the matter is you don't know whether they're going to pay for it or not. Even if the responsible party tells you at the scene of the accdent, "Hey, it was all my fault, I'm really sorry" ... Just because that individual said that doesn't mean their insurance company is going to agree with that assessment. Reasonable minds may differ.
So all of a sudden, you might find yourself with all kinds of medical bills and you have no way to pay them because the other party has rescinded their position, changed their position, or they simply won't accept fault for the accident, and now here you are, holding all of these bills in your hand with no way to pay them.
Be very careful how you approach this when it comes to personal injury accidents. Find out all of the different resources that are available to you and which path might be the most prudent. If you have a case similar to this where you need that kind of assistance or guidance, please feel free to call my office. Thank you very much for watching this brief video.
You might think your personal injury medical bills are $50,000 or more. However, you might be surprised when the insurance company offers you $23,000 for your case.
You see, when it comes to presenting your damages in a personal injury case, it's not what you are billed that matters. It's what your health care provider accepted as payment in full. Therefore, even if a doctor bills you $1500 but accepts $250 from your health insurance company, all you get to present in your case is the $250 he or she accepted as payment in full.
Even if your doctor doesn't accept your insurance, you don't get to present whatever number you want and assume the insurance company is just going to accept what you send them. So if you send the $1500 bill to the adjuster, they might reject it. Remember, the insurance adjuster's job is to "adjust" your bill, so they will argue your doctor's bill is not "reasonable." In fact, if your doctor bills you $1500 but routinely accepts $250 for the same care provided, you might have a potential problem on your hands. The insurance company may argue his reasonable fee is actually $250 since he routinely accepts that amount for similar treatment.
Several important California court decisions have come down the pike in recent years. Each case continues to reinforce the basic fundamental issue that all plaintiffs must now accept - your bills are not what you think they are. You have to find out what your health care providers accepted as payment in full and that is what the adjuster will consider.
So if your hospital bill was $4000 but Medicare paid $900, then you're stuck asking for the $900. In many cases, you may find your "big" personal injury case isn't as "big" as you once thought. To complicate matters, your health insurance providers (including Medicare, Medi-Cal, etc) may insist on their right to reimbursement.
As such, more and more plaintiffs are finding that presenting a personal injury claim is much more difficult than they thought it would be. Medical bills are known as "economic" damages. More insurance companies are slashing these economic damages since medical providers are accepting a fraction of their bills as payment in full in most cases.
Therefore, it is becoming increasingly important to focus on your "general damages," often known as "pain and suffering" damages. These damages are not about bills - they are about HOW an accident affected your life. You must document how the accident affects your daily life activities, school activities, work etc. "General damages" are becoming more and more important as economic bills are being slashed and reduced. Don't lose sight of your general damages.
Make sure your attorney and doctors are well aware of HOW the accident has affected your life. Make sure these issues are documented in your medical records. As I always warn my clients - If something isn't in your medical records, it's like it never happened!
This was a rough month. We got a LOT of crazy calls, so I decided to make a list of clients we simply cannot help. If you fall into one of these categories, we are not the best law firm for you.
1) Clients who call my office and won't speak to my staff. I am often unable to come to the phone because I'm busy talking to insurance adjusters, other clients, etc. Also, I often have to shut my door and get busy doing the work my clients hired me to do. When I call my doctor, I don't expect him to drop everything he's doing and hop onto the phone to talk to me. When a prospective client calls my office, they will often be greeted by my paralegal who is instructed to obtain information about the potential case to see if we can assist the client. My staff is very experienced and they can often tell you if we can or cannot help. However, every so often, I get a call from someone who doesn't want to speak with my assistants. Getting information from them is like getting blood from a stone. They will ask, "Why do you want to know that? Why do you need my mailing address? I want to speak with the attorney right now!" Basically, they are demanding people. Here is what I've learned after over 20 years of practice - If a client is going to be difficult on the first day, they will be difficult on the second day, the third day, etc. I can't help clients who won't even talk with my staff.
2) Clients who have pre-existing medical problems who try to blame all their injuries on their car accident. This is known as boot-strapping. Pre-existing injuries and medical conditions should be disclosed to your lawyer so he/she can handle those issues appropriately. If a pre-existing injury was re-injured due to an accident, you still can't blame the entire injury on the car accident. If you've been involved in an accident, you can only claim injury to the areas of your body that were actually injured...not every medical condition you feel like relating to the accident.
3) Clients who don't want to disclose previous injuries and/or accidents. In some cases, the clients provide us with some select information and deliberately hide the rest. If you're not going to be completely honest with us, please don't call. On one of our cases, we recently found out the client had been involved in an accident TWO MONTHS prior to the accident we are handling. They told me they didn't see how the prior accident was relevant so they didn't tell us about it! I can't help clients who hide facts from me.
4) Clients who are more worried about their property damage than their physical injury. Every so often we have potential clients who what I describe as an unhealthy attachment to their vehicle. You'd think a loved one was killed when they talk about their car. While they claim they were injured, the only thing they are really concerned about is fixing their car. While we understand you might really like your car, if that is your main focus, we are not the best law firm for you. Also, if you expect the insurance company to buy you a new car due to the accident, we are not the best law firm for you. I have had some clients who are so focused on their car damage, that they totally ruin their injury case by missing doctors appointments, not following instructions, etc. If the insurance company is short a few hundred dollars on your property damage claim (and they almost always are), then you might make it up on your injury claim unless you sabotage your claim. In short, if your primary concern is your car damage and not your injuries, we are not going to be the best law firm for you.
5) Clients who have unreasonable expectations. If you've been involved in a car accident, you have NOT won the lottery. I don't care if your Aunt Bertha or friend Bob got $25,000 for a minor whiplash injury years ago. Those days are over. If your injuries are limited to soft tissue injuries (sprain/strain), you are not going to get tens of thousands of dollars. Also, keep in mind your settlement is used to pay your medical and legal bills. You will get the balance of the settlement. Some clients forget their settlement is the TOTAL amount, but that amount is used to pay bills. Some clients only focus on the net. "I only got $4000?" I explain, "No, you got $12,000, but we had to pay your medical and legal bills." If you expect too much from your personal injury case, you will most likely be disappointed every time.
6) Clients who try to direct everything we do. Every so often we get clients who try to run the entire show. They tell us, "First, I want you to do this, then I want you to do that, then I want you to say this..." If you want to tell us how to do everything, don't bother hiring a lawyer.
7) Clients who think the value of their case is tied the responsible party's behavior. Sometimes I get clients who think their case is worth more because the responsible party was texting while driving, or the responsible party was rude to them at the scene of the accident, or used foul language, etc. The truth is, if the responsible party admits fault, their behavior is of little consequence. It doesn't matter if the responsible party was on their way to rob a bank. In short, just because the other party is a jerk or a moron doesn't make your case more valuable.
8) Clients who ignore our advice or never get back to us. If you want to bring a personal injury claim, please cooperate with your lawyer and get back to him/her when they reach out to you. It takes "two to tango" as they say! I'm a lawyer....not a magician.
There....I feel much better. Thank you for allowing me to vent.
After a car accident, you have to be careful not to dig yourself into a financial hole by racking up all kinds for medical bills - and you have no idea how they are going to be paid. Even if you have an idea how they are going to be paid, you still must proceed with caution. You are not suddenly at a medical "buffet" where you can get unlimited medical care without question. Do not automatically assume the other party is going to pay all your bills.
Therefore, when clients contact my office, I always ask them if the other party has accepted liability. In other words, has the other party accepted fault for the accident? If they have not accepted liability or are "thinking about it," that is a warning sign. You can easily rack up medical bills, rental car bills, and other expenses simply hoping the other party is going to see things your way. In fact, I generally approach cases differently - I assume the responsible party is NOT going to pay anything unless I get a firm admission from the responsible party's insurance company that they are accepting fault.
Reasonable minds might differ about how an accident occurred. If the police report is in your favor, you need to make sure and obtain a copy of the police report so that you could use it when arguing your position to the insurance company.
If you don't have the police report, you cannot assume that it is in your favor even if you're 100% sure. I have seen too many cases where my clients are confident the police report is in their favor and then we find that it's not in their favor after reading the actual report.
Even if the responsible party accepts fault for the accident, their insurance company may have a differing opinion. The insurance company might take an opposite position from their own client - either because they have a legitimate argument or, in some cases, simply to avoid paying you and force the matter into litigation.
So what's the point of this blog post? Simply put, do not place yourself at financial risk after an auto accident. Do not got to countless doctors and health care providers, simply assuming the other party is going to pick up the tab! If you are going to incur bills, make sure there is a resource to pay for those bills. Then make sure there is a backup resource in case the first resource refuses to pay for some reason. Such resources might be your own auto insurance, your health care insurance, or some other resource. Do not simply assume the other party will accept fault and pay those bill.
If you need help with your personal injury matter, consider calling our office at (661) 414-7100 for more information.
Hello everyone. This is Robert Mansour and I wanted to make a brief video today about keeping your lawyer in the loop. This is something that happens to me on many cases even though I tell my clients this over and over again. If you receive anything in the mail that is related to your case from anybody - an insurance company, a doctor, a billing company, an ambulance service, anyone at all - make sure you make a copy of it and send it to your attorney's office. Fax it to them, email it to them.
Always assume that your lawyer is not getting copies of these things because it is very common for clients to receive correspondence in the mail and they just assume that the lawyer's office must be getting these things. It's not true. Many times these things are sent to the client and the lawyer's office has no idea that the client is getting these things in the mail. You have to always make sure that your lawyer's office is in the loop on everything that you receive from anyone regarding your accident case.
Also if you receive a phone call from anybody - an insurance adjuster, a doctor's office, a billing company, a collection agency - you have to notify your attorney's office. They have to know about those things because otherwise we don't just have dreams about these thing that will come to me in a vision. I have to be made aware. The best thing to do is to routinely make copies of everything and send it to the lawyer's office.
This dovetails with something I've spoken about before. If you receive bills from a hospital or from a doctor or from another healthcare provider, an ambulance service, a collection agency, you can't just ignore those bills. You must take action on those bills. Do something, at the very least talk to your lawyer's officer about it. Ask them if you need to pay this. Ask them if it needs to be sent to the health insurance company. There are many things that you can do but do not assume that your lawyer's office is getting all these stuff in the mail just because you are.
Thank you very much for watching this video. I hope you found it helpful. Call (661) 414-7100 if you need help with your personal injury case.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello everyone. This is Robert Mansour. I'm a personal injury lawyer in the Los Angeles area. Today I want to talk about something that I've talked about before but I think it deserves some more more attention. That is the issue of taking very good photographs of the damage to your vehicle after a car accident.
I'm talking about when I say good photographs, these photographs have to be designed to illustrate the severity of the impact. Let me repeat that. The photographs that you take should be designed to illustrate the severity of the impact. Let me give you an example. I had a client that came to my office and they showed me the back of their car and there was some damage to it. I said, "Okay, that's fine." But it really didn't look all that bad.
I told them, I said, "To be honest with you this doesn't look all that bad and an insurance adjuster is really not going to think much of it." They said, "Oh, well if you look at the trunk inside, the floor is crumpled. And also where the lock sits in the trunk, it's all bent inward." I said, "Did you take pictures of that?" They said, "No we didn't think that we had to." Well the answer is that you have to.
The insurance adjuster's job is to adjust your claim. By adjusting your claim that means usually that they take your claim and they make it smaller. After more than 21 years of practice I have not really seen a lot of adjusters take your claim and make it bigger. Usually their inclination is to make it smaller.
I tell my clients, I say listen, tell me about the damage. They say well the trunk wasn't sitting right or it was misaligned and it was misshapen and there was a gap between the rear quarter panel and the side door. I said did you take pictures of any of this? No, we just took this one picture of the back of the car.
So when I tell clients that initial thing that I just said which is when you take photos take photos designed to show somebody that this was more than just a minor impact. The pictures have to tell a story. Sometimes clients don't take pictures at all. When you do take pictures, and you should, always imagine the insurance adjuster sitting on your shoulder doubting your case, thinking that it was a minor accident. You know, their client, the one who hit you is most likely going to say well it wasn't that big of a deal; it wasn't all that bad.
When you take your photos you have to take them with that in mind. You have to take them with the idea that you are going to need those to persuade the other side that there was more to this than meets the eye. You see when I look at my clients photographs I'm the lawyer and I'm supposed to help them and I look at the photograph and I'm like well it doesn't look so bad to me. Then they had to explain to me that it was worse than it actually was and then we learned that there was a lot of things that they didn't take the picture of.
The purpose of today's video is to understand that when you do take photographs, and you should, of the damage to your vehicle, take photographs designed to persuade the adjuster that this was more than a minor fender bender. Now in some cases that's not going to be a problem, there's so much damage all the windshield is broken and it's really not a big deal. But in the more subtle cases where there was a strong impact, but it's hard to tell, one of the ways that you can do that is by taking very good photographs of the damage to your vehicle. I hope you found this video helpful. My name is Robert Mansour. Thank you very much for visiting.
Today I wanted to write a blog entry about medical bills that you might incur during your personal injury case. If you incurred medical bills from the hospital, an emergency room, urgent care, or other facility, you are responsible for those bills. Don't ignore them.
Yes, theoretically, the responsible party should be paying for those bills. However, what you need to understand is that the responsible party is NOT going to pay for these bills as they are incurred. You can't just mail them to the responsible party and expect them to pay. For example, if you go to the hospital, you will get a bill from the hospital. They don't provide free medical care. They don't care that somebody else is responsible or if you were in the hospital because of someone else's negligence. All they want to do is get paid.
The same goes for the emergency room, the ER physicians, the ambulance, and anybody else who assisted you with your injuries. They just want to get paid. Therefore, you need to find a way to pay them.
First, you can pay out of your own pocket. Second, you can submit your bills to your health insurance company or have the healthcare providers bill your health insurance directly. In many cases, you may also be able to get your bills paid by your automobile insurance if you have medical payments coverage on your policy. You will also probably owe a balance even after those resources have been used. That balance is your responsibility, and you must pay it. If you can't pay the entire amount, try to arrange for a payment plan. Just call the provider and work something out or they might send you to collections.
Remember, even though the other party is indeed legally "responsible" for those bills, you need to pay them to keep yourself out of collections and to make sure you don't get into any financial trouble. Ultimately, your attorney will present all of those bills as part of your settlement demand. Also, just because you incur bills doesn't mean the responsible party is going to agree to all of them.
One of the biggest mistakes I see is when clients get accident-related health care bills in the mail and simply ignore them. Sometimes they don't even open the envelope. They mistakenly assume they are not responsible for those bills and simply send them to my office or ignore them altogether. If you get bills or collections notices in the mail, you need to forward those to your attorney. Your attorney is not automatically getting copies of the collection notices or any of your bills for that matter. That being said, giving your bills or collection notices to your lawyer doesn't mean you don't have to pay them. Your lawyer needs to be aware of your bills, but that won't absolve you from responsibility. Remember, the health care providers don't care who was responsible. They provided a service, and they want to be compensated.
Is it fair? Is this how things should work? Probably not. However it is the way the personal injury world works, and we have to work within those realities. So here is the lesson: Make sure your bills get paid and are not ignored. Find resources to pay them whenever possible. You lawyer can help you figure this out. Ultimately, the lawyer will include all of those bills as part of your settlement demand of the defendant.
If you need help with your personal injury case or have any questions, please feel free to contact our office at (661) 414-7100.
Over the past 21 years, I've worked for both sides - the insurance companies and now for the victims of serious car accidents. Here is a "somewhat" tongue-in-cheek translation of statements made by insurance companies and what the statements ACTUALLY mean in the real world. Hope this helps:
WHAT THEY SAY:
"Just send us all your medical records and bills and we will evaluate your claim."
WHAT THEY ACTUALLY MEAN:
"Just send us all your medical records and bills. We will then slash your bills by 50% if you're lucky!"
WHAT THEY SAY:
"Just go ahead and rent a car. Then send us your rental bill and we will take care of everything."
WHAT THEY ACTUALLY MEAN:
"Go ahead a rent a car. When you submit your bill, we might entertain paying a fraction of it. You either paid too much or rented for too long. Perhaps both!"
WHAT THEY SAY:
"Go to whatever doctors you want. Have them submit their bills to us. We will take care of it."
WHAT THEY ACTUALLY MEAN:
"Go to whatever doctors you want. Good luck getting us to pay those bills. We will either argue you treated too much, were charged too much, or both."
WHAT THEY SAY:
"We would like to take your recorded statement to learn more about the accident, your version of the events, and your injuries."
WHAT THEY ACTUALLY MEAN:
"We would like to record you in an effort to box you into a story and use your words against you at a later date. Just FYI, a recorded statement has rarely benefited the person giving the statement."
WHAT THEY SAY:
"We would like to meet with you to discuss the accident and learn more about your injuries and damages."
WHAT THEY ACTUALLY MEAN:
"We would like to meet with you to feign interest in your matter. After we do so, we will dangle a check in front of you for $500 along with a general release so you can never bother us again."
WHAT THEY SAY:
"We need to investigate this matter before we can assist you with your claim."
WHAT THEY ACTUALLY MEAN:
"Although liability is clear, we want to "investigate" for weeks while we delay your claim and try to avoid responsibility. Then we will argue we are not responsible for any damages you incurred while we were investigating/stalling."
WHAT THEY SAY:
"We are very sorry to hear about your accident. Our client was definitely at fault. We will guide you every step of the way."
WHAT THEY ACTUALLY MEAN:
"We are employees of the opposing insurance company. We don't work for you, so be prepared to be disappointed."
WHAT THEY SAY:
"We are going to use an independent third party company to evaluate the value of your vehicle."
WHAT THEY ACTUALLY MEAN:
"We are going to offer you about 85% of the value of your vehicle because an independent company (who we hire over and over again....REALLY they are independent) said your car is worth less than every other resource you found."
Again, this was a tongue-in-cheek look at what insurance companies say and what they actually mean. While there are always adjusters who are exceptional at what they do, there are unfortunately others who continue to make the list above less fictional.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.