Auto & Motorcycle Accident Information
I HAVE BEEN IN AN ACCIDENT, NOW WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Obviously, automobile or motorcycle accidents can be a frightening and painful experience. The confusion and stress following an accident may delay people from taking the first steps toward fixing the situation.
First and foremost, make sure your medical needs are attended to. Too frequently people assume that pain they experience after an accident is only temporary and if just given a few days it will go away. From a legal standpoint, promptly seeing a doctor after an accident serves two important purposes: It shows that you suffered an injury in the accident, and it documents your complaints at the time you were experiencing them. This can be very important months or years later when you are trying to "prove" you were hurting in the hours and days after the accident. In sum, if you're on the fence about seeking medical help - go see a doctor.
If the accident will cause you to lose time off work, or result in some other type of economic loss, make sure that you document it. Make sure you document and keep records any financial losses the injury may have caused, and keep receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses. These damages are recoverable, but you will need proof of your losses.
If you have questions about your specific situation, feel free to call us for a free and confidential consultation. We would be happy to guide you through the process of resolving your accident claim.
MY ACCIDENT WAS MINOR; DO I EVEN NEED A LAWYER?
Whether you need a lawyer after an automobile or motorcycle accident really depends on the severity of your injuries, and the complexity of the case. If the accident is minor and the injuries small, then a lawyer may not be necessary. What are minor accidents and small injuries? Typically an accident with minor impact (property damage under $2,000.00), and one visit to a doctor (without the need for follow-up) is a minor accident. A minor accident of this type probably doesn't require the involvement of an attorney. Sure, you can find attorneys who will take these cases, but remember, because of the typical 33% contingency fee, you'll have to collect at least 33% more with an attorney than you could collect on your own. In very small cases you're usually better off handling the claims by yourself.
If you do decide to go it alone, remember this: If the accident was not your fault and you were injured, you are entitled as a matter of law to be reimbursed for all the medical bills you incur, any lost wages from work, and a "reasonable sum" for the pain, suffering, inconvenience, etc.
SHOULD I TALK TO THE INSURANCE ADJUSTER?
If you intend to pursue the claim on your own, then you'll have no choice. The insurance adjuster is the person with the money who will be making you an offer to settle (or not). If you do speak with the adjuster we recommend that you do not agree to a recorded statement. You can always offer to provide a statement in writing and the adjuster must accept it.
WHEN SHOULD I TALK TO A LAWYER?
If the accident you were involved in caused injuries that require more than one visit to a medical doctor, or caused you to miss several days of work, then you should probably consult with an attorney. If you were taken to the hospital in an ambulance, or if you suffered any of the following injuries, you would be well served to involve a lawyer, and as soon as possible. It's always helpful to start shaping the case as close to the date of the accident as possible.
- Spinal Injury
- Head Injury
- Surgery (of any type)
- Loss of Consciousness
- Severe Back Strain
Whatever you decide, it is important that you do not wait to long to consult with a lawyer. Remember, as soon as the insurance company for the adverse driver becomes aware you will be making a claim - which is usually the day of the accident - it will be taking action to minimize what it has to pay you.
If you have questions, please don't hesitate to give us a call. We do not charge a fee to discuss a case, and we'll give you an honest assessment of your case.
IF I HIRE A LAWYER DOES THAT MEAN I'LL BE GOING TO COURT?
Maybe. A lawyer's job is to represent the client's interests, and to do so zealously. Most automobile and motorcycle accident cases we handle are settled without the need for litigation. That said, our firm will not hesitate to file a lawsuit on your behalf and pursue your recovery in the courts if that's what takes. We will only file suit, of course, with your permission.
HOW MUCH IS MY CASE WORTH?
Injury awards and settlements are based on the totality of your losses, both economic and non-economic. Assuming there are no issues related to liability, the calculation of damages is usually all of your wage losses, past and future, your medical bills, past and future, and a reasonable sum for your non-economic losses (pain, suffering, etc.). Non-economic damages are usually the most difficult to calculate, and can only be evaluated on a case by case basis.
WHAT ARE "PAIN AND SUFFERING" DAMAGES?
In California courts, "pain and suffering" damages are usually referred to as "general" or "non-economic" damages. These damages are considered non-monetary losses, including, but not limited to pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental suffering, emotional distress, loss of society and companionship. We refer to them as the impact damages. Setting aside any monetary losses from work or medical treatment, what kind impact has the accident had on your life? There is no fixed way to calculate these damages, and it is based on a case by case basis.
WHAT ABOUT MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS?
In most ways, the anatomy of a motorcycle accident case is similar as one involving automobiles, and the similar analysis applies.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO RESOLVE MY CASE?
The length of a case depends on many factors. If your injuries have healed, or your condition is permanent and stationary, then cases can often be settled within 60 to 90 days. If the case is in litigation, then you can typically expect a resolution within one year of the date the case is filed with the court. A complex case of liability or with catastrophic injuries or wrongful death may take longer.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS?
In California, cases arising from an automobile or motorcycle accident, and most other accident cases, must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. If the negligent party is a public entity (city vehicle, school district, injury on public property, trash truck, etc.), then a claim must be filed with the appropriate government entity within six months of the injury-causing accident. Failing to act within the six-month period may bar a recovery.
For this reason, it is vitally important to carry uninsured (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage.
For UM or UIM motorist coverage to kick in, the claimant must exhaust the available insurance before he/she can look to the UM or UIM policy for recovery. For example, if you have a case worth $50,000 and the negligent driver only has $15,000 of insurance, you must collect that $15,000 before you can look to your insurance company for more. In addition, you can only invoke your UM or UIM policy if, under these facts, your policy is greater than the negligent drivers. In other words, you must have at least a $30,000 UM or UIM policy to seek benefits after receiving the policy of someone carrying $15,000 of coverage. That is why it is important to buy as much coverage as you can afford.
If you are unable to settle with your UM or UIM carrier, you can't sue them in court. Instead, you must demand arbitration, which proceeds in a manner very similar to a lawsuit.
If you have any questions about UM or UIM coverage or you'd like to discuss a claim, please do not hesitate to contact Walton Law Firm for a free and confidential consultation.
WHY SHOULD I CONTACT WALTON LAW FIRM?
Randy Walton has handled numerous auto and motorcycle accident cases, from minor injury cases to accidents causing fatalities. He fully understand the serious nature of auto and motorcycle accidents, and the dramatic impact they can have on a person's life. For that reason, Randy takes a personal interest in all of his cases, and assure clients that all telephone calls and emails will be returned in a timely manner. Randy and his staff understand that it's the lawyer who works for the client, not the other way around!
If you have questions about any automobile or motorcycle accident, please submit your confidential question online, or call Walton Law Firm for a free and private consultation. We can be reached toll free at 866-607-1325 or locally at 760-571-5500. You may also contact us online.