This brief video was developed to give my personal injury clients some sense of what they can expect with their accident case. By understanding what to expect and how the typical case unfolds, my clients will more fully appreciate how their case might develop and the different stages involved. Every case is different, but the steps outlined in this video are very common and provide a good framework. If you have suffered a serious car accident in the Santa Clarita, CA area, give my office a call for a free consultation so you can learn more about your options. For a complete transcript of this video regarding the personal injury timeline, click here.
After a car accident, you will probably get a call from the responsible party's insurance company. They will assign an "adjuster" to investigate your claim. In some cases, they will call you the same day or within a few days of the accident. You are under no obligation to speak to them, and I usually advise against it. They are calling you for several reasons. First, it's their job. That's what insurance adjusters do all day. They call people and interview them about accidents.
Second, they evaluate claims and make decisions regarding liability. Some do so in a very fair manner. Others are looking for any reason to deny your claim. Some will threaten you by saying they will "close their file" if you don't return their call (Don't worry about that....they can close their file, and it has nothing to do with your rights to bring a claim or a lawsuit).
They might call you frequently at the beginning because they are busy "investigating" the case. In most cases, they will probably call you every 30 days. In most cases, adjusters need to check on each file every 30 days and eventually report to their supervisors regarding all cases assigned to them. They are often evaluated on how they "move the cases forward" so they may grow impatient with you if you don't return their call. If you hire a lawyer, they aren't supposed to call you anymore. They deal directly with the attorney's office. Therefore, the reason they call you all the time is because they have to do so. You don't have to talk to them. Be polite and civil to them at all times. Remember, at some point in the future, that very same adjuster might make you an offer on your case. You don't want to strain the relationship.
If you need help with your personal injury case or you want to discuss what's going on with the insurance adjuster, feel free to call us at (661) 414-7100.
I got a call from a potential client who said, "The insurance adjuster says I have a duty to mitigate my damages. What does that mean?" Simply put, that means you just can't sit around after an accident and let your damages get out of control. Your damages include your rental bills, your lost earnings, your doctor bills, etc. You have to "mitigate" your damages which means you have to make sure you do what you can to keep your damages reasonable.
For example, if the insurance company pays you for the total loss of your car, you can't just keep renting a car forever and expecting the other party to pay for it. At some point, you have to go buy another car or make other arrangements. If you don't have a car, you just can't stay home from work and say, "Oh well, I don't have a car so I won't go to work for 3 months. I guess they'll pay me for my lost earnings." You need to get to work by making other arrangements when available. If you truly cannot get to work any other way, then I suppose you will make your argument when the time comes. However, you need to make an effort to keep your damages in check.
If a doctor tells you to rest and not do anything strenuous, you should not go to the gym and reinjure yourself! You can't hold the other party responsible for things they cannot control or for mistakes in judgment on your part. Therefore, generally speaking, you have to do what you can to keep your bills reasonable. Of course, certain things are out of your control, but don't be surprised if the other party asserts you need to mitigate your damages.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,