There comes a time in many accident cases when you may be presented with an offer from the insurance company and you have to decide whether or not to accept it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
1) What are the chances of doing better at trial? If chances are not at least 75%, then you should entertain the offer.
2) Is the offer in the ballpark? If so, consider the offer. You could get more but you could get less. Is the gamble worth it?
3) Do the potential costs outweigh the potential benefit? Are you willing to spend $10,000 to obtain an additional $10,000?
4) Are you prepared to battle for more? Litigation can take a toll on you and your family. The toll is financial but also mental. Is it worth it?
5) Are you aware of the financial downside? Some attorney ads can lead one to believe there are no financial downsides....only upsides to an accident claim. Make sure your lawyer makes you aware of the possible downsides.
There are several factors that may affect the value of a personal injury case. That being said, there is no exact science to the evaluation of any accident case. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you analyze your case. This discussion assumes you were actually injured in an auto accident.
Here are some factors that might influence the evaluation:
1) The severity of the impact and the amount of property damage. If you have to squint to see the damage to your vehicle, you will have an uphill battle getting any sympathy from an insurance company - even if the impact felt huge! In short, if have minimal property damage, most insurance companies won't believe your injury. As a general rule, the more visible property damage you have, the more the insurance company will believe your injury.
2) The severity of the injury. Minor soft tissue sprains and strains don’t impress adjusters or juries. Therefore, if all you have is a minor soft tissue injury, you shouldn't expect a high valuation of your case. Of course, there are "degrees" of soft tissue injuries, but as a general rule, insurance companies are more likely to fight soft tissue cases. The inverse is true - the more serious your injuries (fractures, surgery performed, etc.), the more value your case will usually have. Also, how the accident affected your daily life may be considered by some insurance adjusters.
3) Your age. Simply put, the older you are, the more susceptible you are to injury. Younger people generally have a harder time convincing an adjuster they had appreciable injury. Most insurance companies believe that younger claimants are more resilient and therefore more resistant to injury.
4) Residual injury. If you have injuries that won’t resolve and are projected to last a long time (or indefinitely), it may affect the value of your case. Also, permanent injuries can affect the value of your accident case as will anything requiring surgical intervention. Injuries that appears on xrays, MRIs, CT scans, etc. may also affect the value of your case assuming they are indeed related to the accident. Pre-existing injuries to the same body parts may also affect the insurance company's opinion.
5) The Insurance Company/Adjuster - I hate to say this, but some insurance companies are notoriously stingy. Unless your head popped off your body and rolled down the street, they will almost always give you a hard time. Similarly, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case may factor into the valuation. Simply put, some adjusters are cynical and suspicious folks who think everyone is trying to scam the system while other adjusters can be more reasonable.
There are other factors, but in my experience, these are among the top considerations. If you would like an evaluation of your car accident case, give our office a call at (661) 414-7100.
California's basic speed law is governed by California Vehicle Code section 22350. What most people don't know is that the speed limit has little to do with the basic speed law.
Here is the text of Vehicle Code section 22350:
"No person shall drive a vehicle upon a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable or prudent having due regard for weather, visibility, the traffic on, and the surface and width of, the highway, and in no event at a speed which endangers the safety of persons or property."
The speed law essentially states one should not drive more than what is "reasonable" or "prudent" given the circumstances. Of course, driving above the posted speed limit is not a wise decision just because you think it's reasonable. However, if you cause an accident while driving, the fact you were driving the speed limit is not a defense, especially if circumstances were such that even the speed limit was too fast. Therefore, if you see all traffic coming to a stop, you can't simply drive 35 mph and hit a little kid crossing the street. The reasonable thing to do would be to slow down and perhaps come to a stop. Driving the speed limit in that situation is not a defense, even though the posted speed limit might indeed be 35 mph at that location.
When you have a car accident and make a claim, you just can't call the insurance company and say, "Hey, can you guys send me a check for $10,000?" First thing they will say is, "What the heck for?" When it comes to these cases, you need to have "evidence." Your word that you were hurt and deserve compensation will get you a cup of coffee at most. You need to provide documentary evidence. That means you need to get your medical records together along with any bills you incurred. Keep in mind, getting the bills means exactly that....not the EOB statements you get from your insurance company. What your health insurance paid is important, but you should still get your hands on the bills the health care providers actually generated. Sometimes, the billing is generated by another separate third party facility. Short story is that you can get your own records and bills relatively easily by asking for them. The health care providers are obligated to give them to you. After all, they are YOUR medical records and YOUR medical bills. Now you have the "evidence" you need. Now get ready for "argument!"
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,