We Have the Answers.
Find answers to popular questions about accidents, your case, and related topics.
Hiring a Lawyer
I don't have money to hire an attorney. Can you still help me?
Yes. We don’t charge anything up front. We only get paid if we’re able to get you money for your case.
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
If you’re dealing with a relatively simple claim without much medical treatment, a lawyer might not be economically beneficial for you because their fee could significantly cut into your settlement money. However, for all other claims, a lawyer might add significant value.
Who’s responsible for handling my case?
A case manager will be assigned to you to oversee your medical treatment and keep you informed throughout the process, and a team of attorneys will handle the negotiations.
What percentage does your law firm take from the settlement?
We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we receive a percentage of the settlement as our fee. The exact percentage may vary depending on the specifics of the case, but it ranges from 20-45%.
After an Accident
Should I call 911 after an accident?
Yes. We always recommend that you call the police after an accident, but it’s not necessary. Note that some police departments won’t come out to the scene of an accident unless injuries are reported, or they’ll come out only to facilitate an exchange of information and won’t write a traffic collision report.
What is an SR-1 Form?
If you’re involved in a traffic accident in California that involves an injury, death, or property damage exceeding $1,000, you’re required to report it to the DMV within 10 days. The form can be found here.
How long do I have to report a car accident to my insurance?
The timeframe required to report an accident to your insurance will depend on the terms of your policy. Failure to timely report an accident to your insurance company could result in a denial of coverage.
Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?
No. You’re not required to give a recorded statement to the other driver’s insurance company and anything you say could be used against you in the future. If it’s your own insurance company, you may be required to. However, you have the right to postpone it until you consult a lawyer.
Will my insurance rates go up after an accident?
In California, filing a claim with your own insurance carrier or with the other driver’s insurance carrier should not increase your premium unless you’re placed 51 percent or more at fault for the accident.
What if I’m partly at fault for the accident?
California is a comparative liability state. That means the value of your case may be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you’re 50 percent at fault, then you would only be able to recover 50 percent of your damages.
What if I’m injured but I don’t have auto insurance?
If you were uninsured at the time of the accident, California Prop 213 prevents you from being compensated for your pain and suffering. However, you can still collect compensation for medical bills and expenses incurred.
What is collision coverage?
Collision coverage pays for the cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle after an accident with another vehicle or object, regardless of fault, minus your deductible. Collision coverage is typically required by lenders if you finance or lease your car.
What is a deductible?
A deductible is an amount of money you have to pay before your insurance company pays anything. Collision coverage and comprehensive coverage have deductibles.
Should I get my car out of the tow yard?
Yes. We always recommend that you remove your car from the tow yard as soon as possible because they charge daily for storing your car and the other driver might have insufficient coverage to pay for your repairs, towing, rental, and storage fees. You’re also required to mitigate your damages, which means you should remove your vehicle from a tow yard when you can. If you purchased collision coverage, your own insurance company may handle this for you. Before you remove your car, be sure to take pictures.
Can I get my car repaired at any body shop?
Yes, you can choose the repair shop unless your insurance policy says otherwise. You can also ask the insurance company for their preferred repair shop list.
Can I get a rental car while my car is being repaired?
Yes. Some insurance companies will coordinate a rental car for you and others will require you to pay for the rental upfront and reimburse you for it later. If you purchased rental car coverage, you could also get a rental car through your own insurance company.
What happens if my car is totaled?
If it costs more to repair your car than what it’s worth, insurance will pay you for the value of your car. If you have collision coverage and file a claim through your own insurance, you’ll have to pay your deductible first.
What if insurance offers me less than what I owe on my car?
Insurance only has to pay you for the value of your car, not for the amount you owe on your loan. For example, if you owe $10,000 and your car’s value is only $5,000, insurance will only pay you $5,000. If you purchased Gap Insurance, it would cover the difference.
The accident made a pre-existing injury worse. Do I still have a case?
Yes. California law recognizes that some people have pre-existing conditions that were aggravated by an accident. Under the eggshell plaintiff doctrine, a defendant can still be held liable for injuring someone who is more prone to injury compared to an average person.
Can I see a doctor if I don’t have health insurance?
Yes. If you don’t have health insurance, you can pay for treatment out-of-pocket or see a doctor on a lien basis where you’re not charged upfront. A personal injury lien gives a doctor the right to receive payment out of your settlement.
Can I get compensated for my injuries after a hit-and-run accident?
Possibly if you purchased Uninsured Motorist coverage or Medical Payments coverage. Uninsured Motorist coverage may cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering if you were injured by a hit-and-run driver. Medical Payments coverage, also known as Med Pay, may cover your medical expenses even if you were at fault.
I was injured and the person who struck me has no insurance. Can I still get compensated?
Possibly if you purchased Uninsured Motorist coverage or Medical Payments coverage. Uninsured Motorist coverage may cover your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering if you were injured by an uninsured driver. Medical Payments coverage, also known as Med Pay, may cover your medical expenses even if you were at fault. In the alternative, you may file a lawsuit against the other driver directly.
What types of damages will a settlement cover?
A car accident settlement is typically made up of economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and other financial losses. Non-economic damages account for subjective harm such as pain and suffering, mental distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and other intangible losses.
Can I be compensated for lost wages?
Yes. In order to be compensated for lost wages or loss of earning capacity, the car accident must be the direct cause of the injury that resulted in your inability to work.
How much money can I get from a settlement?
It depends. Some factors to consider include: whether liability is being disputed, how much insurance coverage there is, the types of injuries you sustained, the permanency of your injuries, the type of medical treatment you underwent, the length of time you were treated, the cost of your medical bills, whether you missed time from work, etc.
What should I do if the insurance company is lowballing me?
Unrepresented claimants tend to receive lowball offers from insurance companies because they assume they’re unaware of the true value of their claim, want a quick settlement, or lack negotiation skills. However, you don’t have to accept a low offer and we recommend not accepting the first offer that’s made.
How long will my case take?
It depends. Some cases can be resolved within a few months while others may take several years depending on the circumstances, such as: whether liability is being disputed, how long it takes you to recover, and how much the defendant is insured for, among many other factors. Generally, once you’re released from your doctor’s care, we’ll collect your records and bills and start negotiations.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after an accident?
In California, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of the injury. However, the statute of limitations may be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances, such as when a government entity is involved or a minor, so it’s advisable that you consult with an attorney right away. You have three years to file a lawsuit for a property damage claim.
After my case settles, what happens next?
After a release is signed in exchange for the insurance company issuing a settlement check that will be sent to our office, your case will be handled by our liens department.
This is the process:
1. We’ll confirm whether there are any outstanding balances with medical providers (e.g., copay, deductible, etc).
2. If you were seen by a medical provider under a personal injury lien, we’ll attempt to negotiate a reduction of the bill.
3. We’ll attempt to get all other liens reduced or waived (e.g., health insurance, child support, workers’ compensation). Note that there is no guarantee a bill or lien can be reduced.
Once we finish the liens process, we’ll disburse your net recovery to you.
Do I have to pay back my health insurance after my case is settled?
In many cases, yes. This process is called "subrogation" and may apply to various types of healthcare providers, including private health insurance companies and government healthcare programs like Medi-Cal, Medicare, and Tricare. Essentially, if a third party is responsible for your injuries, your healthcare provider may seek reimbursement for the medical bills they paid on your behalf. This is because, if not for the third party's negligence, your healthcare provider would not have had to pay for your medical care.
After the case settles, how long will it take until I receive my portion?
It takes about 90 days on average and depends on several factors (e.g., how many medical providers or creditors there are, which medical providers or creditors are involved, how responsive they are, and their willingness to negotiate). Government liens in particular can be time-consuming to resolve because they’re notoriously slow at responding. For example, Medi-Cal may take as long as 8 months post-settlement in some cases to provide us with its lien—120 days to collect claims information from medical providers and then another 120 days to create an itemized lien.
How will you disburse my net recovery to me?
You’ll receive a check that will either be mailed via UPS with tracking, or can be picked up in person.
Who else gets paid from the settlement besides me?
Our law firm, medical providers, and/or creditors are all paid from your settlement proceeds. The residual represents your net recovery.
Will I receive a breakdown of where the settlement money is going?
Yes, a statement will be prepared that itemizes who is being paid and how much.