Well, yes and no. You may be surprised to learn the other party’s insurance company usually won’t pay your bills as they come due. Your health care providers won’t be too excited about that. Keep in mind, the other party’s insurance company doesn’t have a contract with you. Frankly, they don’t even have to return your calls in a timely manner – if at all! Even if they do eventually pay, don’t be surprised to learn they won’t pay for all your bills.
In California, the law employs the notion of “comparative negligence.” That means one party or another doesn’t necessarily have to be 100% at fault. In other words, California law recognizes that sometimes, both parties might share in the blame. Then it becomes a matter of how much fault each party shares. This is not a scientific matter. We won’t know “precisely” but we often have to estimate fault. For example one person might be 60% at fault and the other would be 40% at fault. It could be 70/30 or any other combination. If the plaintiff is at fault, his/her recovery would be reduced by the amount of fault they share. For example, if a case is worth $100,000, and the plaintiff is 50% at fault, his/her settlement (or verdict if in trial) would be $50,000.
Answer: If you’re calling me right after your accident, then I don’t know.
I got a call today from a client who got hurt about 3 days ago. His ankle was fractured, and he asked, “How much is an ankle worth?” Truth is, there is no open market for body parts so I couldn’t tell you how much an ankle is worth so early on in the case. We still don’t have all the facts. This is not like calling Walmart and asking, “How much for a basic toaster oven?” If a lawyer promises your case is worth a certain amount so early in the case, that lawyer is not giving you a fair or accurate evaluation of your case. My recommendation to the client was to keep visiting with his doctors and make sure his health was top priority. After he is done treating, he will be in a better position to approach valuation of his case.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,