FAQs

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  • Why do airbags sometimes fail to deploy in a crash?

    How Do I Know If My Airbags Were Supposed to Deploy

    After a car accident, determining liability for your injuries can help you decide how to best alleviate the financial burden associated with the incident. If your airbags did not deploy in the crash, this could potentially mean that you have the basis for a valid product liability claim as well as a personal injury case.

    Should the Airbag Have Deployed?

    It is a common misconception that airbags should deploy in every accident. The force of an airbag can cause traumatic brain injuries, loss of hearing, blindness, burns, or broken facial bones if it deploys when it is unnecessary. Therefore, airbags are intended to only deploy in serious crashes.

    If you've been in an accident and you are trying to determine if your airbags should have deployed, consider the following:

    • At the time of impact, you need to be traveling above 12-18 miles per hour for the airbag to deploy.
    • Passenger airbags will not inflate if the passenger is a child since they are intended for adult use.
    • Frontal airbags should deploy in head-on or near frontal crashes.
    • Side and side curtain airbags only deploy when you have been stuck from the side.
    • An angled front impact might not set off any airbags.

    Airbags are not intended as a substitute for seat belt use. To protect yourself, you should always buckle up before you start to drive.

    What Causes Airbag Failure?

    Airbags are monitored and controlled by computer network sensors that calculate the location and severity of the impact. Based on pre-programmed criteria, the sensors determine if the airbag should deploy. When the sensors fail, the airbag will not work.

    In addition to faulty sensors, airbag problems can sometimes be traced to faulty wiring and design or manufacturing defects. Unfortunately, these issues are often undetectable until an accident has occurred.

    Should I Be Concerned About the Takata Recall?

    Over the years, there have been multiple recalls associated with defective airbags. However, the largest and most recent recall involves vehicles from 19 different automakers made from 2002 to 2015. These vehicles have airbags made by Takata, which have been linked to 18 deaths and hundreds of injuries throughout the United States.

    The Takata airbags have defective inflators, which can ignite with explosive force. If the inflator ruptures, it can send metal shards flying throughout the vehicle. The risk appears highest in areas with both high-humidity and high-temperature cycling, but incidents have been reported in all climates. As the result of this defect, Takata has been named in multiple product liability lawsuits.

    Efforts have been made to notify vehicle owners if their cars are included in the Takata airbag recall, but drivers who move frequently or purchased used vehicles from a private party can prove difficult to contact. If you do not know what brand of airbags are installed in your vehicle, you can contact the car's manufacturer or take it to a nearby dealership for assistance.

    How Does a Faulty Airbag Affect My Eligibility for Compensation?

    Normally, when you are involved in a car accident, the at-fault driver is financially responsible for damages you have suffered. The equation becomes a bit more complicated if there is evidence to suggest your vehicle had faulty airbags.

    When the airbags failed to deploy and you suffered injuries that would likely have been prevented if the airbags were working correctly, the airbag manufacturer may be responsible for those additional injuries which could otherwise have been avoided. If the accident is one that shouldn't have triggered the airbags, there is no possible product liability claim.

    Due to the expense in bringing a product liability claim against a manufacturer of an airbag, the additional injuries must be substantial and valued at an amount greater than the available insurance or assets of the at fault driver.

    Regardless of who is responsible, your compensation can include the following types of damages:

    • Medical expenses, including emergency care, follow-up care, and any anticipated future medical needs for an accident-related disability
    • Loss of wages while you were unable to work due to your injuries and any applicable loss of future earning potential due to an accident-related disability.
    • Aid and assistance with daily living.  When one is severely injured they may need in home care, living assistance or yard care.
    • Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and emotional trauma from the accident.

    Meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine how to best proceed with your case. Call today at (909) 481-0100 or toll free at (888) MY-IELAW to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with the dedicated legal team at the Inland Empire Law Group. Appointments are available at either our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.

     

  • Can I recover damages if I was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident?

    Your Rights to Compensation After a Wreck When Not Wearing a Seat Belt

    California's seat belt law requires both drivers and passengers to buckle up when a vehicle is in motion.  Even if you violate this law, and you are involved in an auto accident while not wearing a seat belt, you still may be entitled to compensation for some of your injuries from the at-fault party.

    California's Seat Belt Law

    Under California law, the only people who do not have to wear seat belts are those with medical disabilities that prevent seat belt use or people engaging in occupations that make frequent stops, such as USPS, newspaper delivery persons, or waste collection personnel. Children who are too small to use a standard vehicle seat belt must be restrained in an appropriate car seat or booster seat. Also, if you occupy a vehicle that does not have a seatbelt provided, such as some public transportation, you are not required to wear a seatbelt.

    If you violate California's seat belt law, you can be ticketed for this violation.  Some tickets can be for a minimum fine of $162 for an adult violation, or $465 for a child under the age of 16.  Penalties are assessed against the parents of the minor, or the driver if the parents are not in the car.  

    How a Seat Belt Violation Affects Your Personal Injury Claim

    If you are involved in an accident and were not wearing your seatbelt at the time, you may receive a ticket from the law enforcement officer at the scene for failing to buckle up. However, the ticket does not prevent you from filing a personal injury claim.

    California is a comparative fault state but has specifically stated that failing to wear a seat belt does not bar you from seeking a claim for accident-related expenses.  The way the courts address this violation for purposes of civil responsibility of liability is that the Courts will look to see what injuries could have been avoided if a seatbelt was worn and those injuries can be excluded for recovery.  All other injuries are available to pursue.  The insurance company for the at-fault driver will try to argue that nearly all the injuries are related to your lack of seat belt use.  If they are successful, then they reduce the amount they are obligated to pay for the injuries.

    If your case goes to trial, the jury is instructed to consider how the failure to wear a seat belt affected the injuries. If a negligent driver tries to avoid paying accident-related expenses by using a seat belt defense, he will need to establish two key elements:

    • Normal or ordinary care would involve using the available seat belt
    • Wearing a seat belt would have prevented the injuries or made them less serious

    In this scenario, expert testimony from biomechanical and medical experts will become crucial. Your own attorney will need to locate experts who can provide testimony on your behalf to establish that your injuries are unrelated or only minimally related to your lack of seat belt use.

    Protecting Your Right to Compensation

    California has widely been considered a leader in seat belt use, with over 97 percent of drivers and passengers buckling up to protect themselves on the state's busy roads and highways. While it is always smart to be properly restrained before you start out on the road, there's no reason you should bear the brunt of all accident-related expenses due to one simple mistake.

    If you are determined to be partially responsible for the accident or for your injuries from not wearing your seatbelt, your settlement will be reduced by your assigned percentage of fault. For example, if you were determined to be 20 percent at fault for the accident and would otherwise be eligible for a $100,000 settlement, you would receive $80,000 or 80 percent of the original settlement total.

    After a California car accident, you have up to two years to file a personal injury claim.  The best way to protect your right to a fair settlement is to have an experienced attorney advocating for your interests throughout the process.

    Inland Empire Law Group's legal team is committed to assisting California residents to obtain the personal injury compensation they need to move forward with their lives following a car accident. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Appointments are available at either our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.

     

  • What happens if I am injured in an accident caused by an excluded driver?

    Excluded drivers are not covered by an auto insurance policy, even if they have permission to use the vehicle. If an excluded driver causes an accident, the accident is treated as if the driver had no insurance at all. This can create problems if you have been injured in an accident caused by an excluded driver and need to protect your right to compensation.

    Reasons Why Drivers Are Excluded

    Coverage for accidents with excluded drivers

    The most common reason why people opt to exclude drivers is to save money on their car insurance. California law requires good driver discounts of 20 percent or more for drivers with no accidents during the past three years. (Cal Ins Code §1861.02) This law has been on the books since 1988 and also requires that drivers who do not qualify for the discount due to a household member's poor driving record be given the opportunity to exclude the problem driver in exchange for lower rates.  If the driver is excluded, that driver should not be behind the wheel of a car for which they are an excluded driver.

    In addition to the money-saving aspect of excluding specific drivers, some people opt to take advantage of the excluded driver option to prevent a policy from being canceled altogether. This scenario is most likely when the problematic driver has a recent conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) or a related offense that would put a driver in a "high risk" category. Also, some parents or guardians opt to exclude teen drivers if they do not intend to allow driving privileges.

    Insurance Coverage After an Accident

    Permissive use is a concept that allows a vehicle owner to maintain coverage when a friend or family member borrows the vehicle for a short time. For example, permissive use would cover an accident caused by a friend who is allowed to use the car to drive the store to pick up a gallon of milk or to run errands while a vehicle is in the shop. Permissive use applies in most situations where the driver has a valid license and is not using the vehicle on a regular basis or for a commercial purpose.

    Excluded drivers do not qualify under permissive use because the auto insurer has been specifically told they are not allowed to drive the vehicle. When an excluded driver has an accident, the claim will be denied automatically. Even if there is a legitimate medical emergency that requires the excluded driver to operate the vehicle to take the policyholder to the hospital, there won't be any insurance coverage available to cover liability and property damage. Medical coverage may still be available, but this varies according to the terms of the specific policy.

    Collecting Damages From an Accident Involving an Excluded Driver

    If you are in an accident where an excluded driver is at fault, your Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UMC) /Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) can be used to help pay for damages. California law requires all auto insurance policies sold within the state to offer this coverage, unless you waive your rights in writing to UMC/UIM coverage.

    In addition to collecting from your own insurance, you can attempt to collect from the driver and/or vehicle owner's personal assets, however direct recovery may be very challenging. If you are seeking recovery from your uninsured motorist coverage or the responsible driver, you can seek compensation for:

    • The cost of fixing your vehicle
    • Medical expenses, including emergency care, diagnostic tests, follow-up visits, and physical therapy
    • Ongoing medical needs, if the accident results in a permanent disability
    • Lost wages from the time you were unable to work due to your injuries
    • Loss of future earning potential, if the accident has affected your ability to earn an income
    • Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and emotional stress associated with the accident

    Collecting damages from the liable party's personal assets can be challenging since it is not always readily apparent what assets are available for a settlement.  In cases involving accidents caused by excluded drivers, the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney can prove invaluable.

    If you have been injured in a car accident in California by a private individual or company, you have two years to file a personal injury claim for damages.  If you been injured by a government entity, you need to submit a government claim within six months from the date of the collision. Inland Empire Law Group's attorneys have extensive experience assisting California residents in receiving compensation for car accident injuries. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at either our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.  (909) 481-0100.

     

  • Will my car insurance cover drivers who are not listed on the policy?

    Although your car insurance will often cover drivers who are not listed on the policy if they had permission to borrow your vehicle, there are some important exceptions to this rule of which you should be aware. If you lend your car to someone who is not covered, both you and the borrower of the car can be held personally liable for all damages caused by the borrower.

    Coverage for Other Members of the Household

    Many policies require members of the household who are over driving age to be listed by name, while others offer more general coverage to all household members. However, household members are typically defined as people who live in the house and are related through marriage, blood, or adoption. If you are living with a roommate or partner, and you let them use your car, to assure they are covered by your insurance policy, you will need make sure they are listed by name on the policy.  If you do not, you may place yourself at risk that your vehicle is not insured while a roommate or partner are driving your vehicle.

    Coverage Under the Concept of Permissive UsePermissive use of vehicles and insurance

    When you allow someone who is not a member of your household, or who does not live with you, to borrow your vehicle, the concept of permissive use may provide coverage in the event of an accident. This coverage is not necessarily the same level as you would have for yourself when you are driving.  Many insurers apply a higher deductible or lower coverage payment limits to permissive user accidents.  You need to read your policy carefully to make sure you have the right coverage for permissive user accidents.

    Permissive use does not apply to people who drive your car on a regular basis or someone who will be borrowing your vehicle for an extended period of time. This type of coverage is intended for short, infrequent trips only.  For example, a relative comes to visit and you are going to let your relative use your car for the month long visit.  You should have his or her name included on the insurance policy.  However, if that same relative is only staying for a week or a few days and is going to use the car for running an errand or two while staying with you, there is no need to include them on the policy, they would most likely be covered.  You should check with your insurance agent or your policy to make sure coverage is provided.

    Business use on a non-commercial policy is generally not covered under permissive use.  This is true even if you are just letting a friend borrow your vehicle for a day to attend client meetings or make deliveries. Any type of commercial activity requires specific business insurance coverage.

    All drivers who qualify for permissive use coverage must have a valid driver's license. Allowing someone with no license, a suspended license, or a revoked license to drive your car will invalidate your coverage.  Check that the borrower has a current license before letting him or her use your car.

    Keep in mind that some insurance policies exclude permissive use altogether. Exclusion against permissive use are often found in low cost insurance policies.  If you have any doubts about your coverage, you should contact your insurance agent for details.

    Excluded Drivers

    Excluded drivers are people who are prohibited by name from driving a vehicle. This is most often because they have a record of unsafe driving behavior, such as a DUI conviction, reckless driving charge, they are a high risk driver, or have caused multiple accidents in a short timeframe. 

    Not all policies allow excluded drivers, but some will let you exclude a driver to save money or prevent the policy from being canceled entirely. If you exclude a driver by name, permissive use no longer applies. If you allow the excluded driver to drive your car, or you negligently allow the driver access to your vehicle, you will have no insurance coverage in the event of an accident.  In this case, you and the driver will be held personally liable for damages.

    Liability for Accident-Related Damages

    When a car is driven by someone other than the registered owner, the owner's policy is the first source of coverage. If the owner's policy does not apply, the driver's auto insurance may afford coverage. However, not all policies will pay for damage caused to borrowed vehicles.

    If no insurance coverage is available, the owner can be held personally liable for the damages, unless someone else is at least partially responsible for the accident. In this case, a personal injury claim would be reduced by another driver's percentage of fault. Claims can include compensation for medical care, lost wages or loss of future earning capacity, and pain and suffering.  Under some circumstances the financial liability of an owner of a vehicle used with permission can be limited by law.  California Vehicle Code §17151.

    An injured person has two years to file a personal injury claim for damages related to an auto accident. Contacting an attorney is strongly recommended, due to the complex liability issues involved in an accident where someone other than the policyholder was driving.

    The dedicated legal team at Inland Empire Law Group has extensive experience assisting California residents in receiving the personal injury compensation they need to move forward with their lives following a car collision. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at either our Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville offices.  (909) 481-0100 or (760) 243-9100.  Call now to preserve and enforce your rights.

     

  • Should I wait until I’ve reached Maximum Medical Improvement before I settle my case?

    When it comes to settling your personal injury claim, patience is a virtue. Insurance adjusters will commonly give a low settlement offer shortly after an injury.  They know that many people will be anxious to have the matter resolved and not get attorneys involved. However, waiting until you know the real nature and extent of your injuries, and even waiting to reach the point where you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI), your settlement results will generally be better than accepting a quick settlement.

    About Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)

    Reaching MMI means you've recovered from your injuries as fully as doctors expect you will be able to recover. For minor injuries, this is generally full recovery so you have no remaining problems with your injuries. For more serious injuries, your MMI may be a point at which any existing pain or physical limitation have stabilized, but the injuries are expected to be permanent. Doctors can make an educated assumption as to what your ongoing care will involve, but they may not be able to forecast many years into the future.

    Your doctor will decide when you've reached MMI based on physical examinations and the results of any diagnostic tests applicable to your injuries. In some cases, a second opinion might be needed to decide if you've recovered as fully as can be expected.

    The Importance of Waiting to Reach MMI Before Settling Your Claim

    Once you've accepted a personal injury settlement, you're releasing the other party from any future liability for your injuries. You can't go back and ask for more money if your injuries turn out to be more serious than you thought. This can make settling before you reach MMI a risky gamble.  In some situations, settling early can be your best alternative.  Utilizing the skill of a good personal injury lawyer to judge the best time to settle is key to maximizing your best recovery.

    Although doctors can provide a general timeframe for your physical and emotional recovery from specific injuries, everyone's case is different. What first looks like a simple problem may turn out to be something more serious. For example, a small percentage of people who suffer a concussions experience what's known as post-concussion syndrome and remain bothered by headaches, dizziness, and mild cognitive deficits months or years after the initial injury. Another example would be broken bones that don't heal properly and require repair or surgery.

    Handling Expenses While You Wait for a Settlement

    Watching unpaid bills accumulate can be very stressful, but you have several different options for handling your finances while you wait for a settlement.

    • Utilize your own health insurance to pay your medical bills until you recover from the opposing party
    • Have your attorney negotiate a lien agreement with the medical care providers to wait for payment until you receive a settlement
    • Have your attorney negotiate reductions or payment plans on the amount owed on your medical bills, then pay cash from your personal savings until you get paid back when you finally reach a settlement
    • Borrow money from friends or family to be repaid from settlement proceeds
    • Temporary cut out unnecessary expenses such as restaurant meals or buying new clothes
    • Sell unwanted items to generate extra income

    While your claim is pending, you may be contacted by companies offering to loan you money now against a settlement you will receive in the future. This is known as a personal injury settlement loan, advance settlement funding, or lawsuit advance loan. When the loan is approved, the financing company will place a lien on the proceeds of the settlement. There is no credit check involved and only cases with a high likelihood of reaching a settlement will qualify. However, the interest rate and fees on this type of loan can often be more than what you'd pay with a credit card or personal loan. This type of loan is also not federally regulated, which means it's your responsibility to investigate the trustworthiness of the lender thoroughly before agreeing to the terms.

    Seeking Legal Representation

    Personal injury law is complex and insurance adjusters are often counting on you being anxious to settle your claim. The insurance adjusters are also hoping you will not go to an attorney who can assist you in protecting your rights of recovery.  Having an experienced attorney to advocate for your needs is the best way to maximize the size of your settlement.

    Personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency basis, which means legal fees are paid as a percentage of the settlement. There is no upfront payment required, so you're not pressured to settle early in order to reduce the fee for representation.

    Inland Empire Law Group's attorneys are committed to helping California residents who've been injured due to the negligence of others resolve their personal injury claims or to fight for them in court. Call today at (888) 694-3529 to schedule a consultation at our Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga offices.

     

  • Should I talk to my insurance company about my accident?

    Talking to insurance company after car accident

    You have a legal obligation to cooperate with your car insurance claims representative regarding the facts of your collision. However, it's vital that you understand the scope of what information you are required to provide so you don't inadvertently damage your case.

    Filing Your Claim

    Your first priority after an auto accident should be seeking medical attention for any serious or life-threatening injuries. After the immediate medical needs of all involved have been addressed, you will want to provide information to law enforcement officers on the scene regarding the facts of the collision and how it occured. When dealing with law enforcement, make sure you are honest and that you describe how the collision occurred to the best extent possible. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and secure contact information from any witnesses or from the other driver.

    Although you should file your claim promptly, it's not necessary to contact your insurance company the same day as your accident or while at the scene of the accident. It's fine to wait until you return home or until you've had a chance to rest and recover from the initial shock of the collision.

    If you're worried about the cost of the accident and how it will affect your future insurance premiums, you might be tempted to forgo making a report. However, you must report all accidents—even if you believe the other driver is 100 percent at fault. The terms of your policy most likely require full disclosure of every accident. It's also possible that you may be found partially at fault for the accident and you rinsurance company may need to defend you. Additionally, it is posbbile the other driver has insufficient insurance coverage to provide reimbursement for your damages and you may need to make an underinsured motorist claim against your own insurance company. If you have not been cooperative, you may compromise your own bility to protect yourself from claims or your right of recovery.

    Your Insurance Company’s Rights

    Policy terms vary, but most auto insurance companies require the following after an accident has been reported:

    • You must provide a basic factual account of the accident. This includes a general statement of what happened before and immediatly after the accident, identity of those involved and witness names to the collision. Your insurance comapny may ask about contact information for the doctors who are treating your injuries, but this information should be withheld until you speak with an attorney.
    • You must allow access to your medical and work records. Your insurance agent will likely ask you to sign a form authorizing the release of these records so your losses can be formally verified before a settlement offer is made.  I do not recommend that you provide the insurance company with an authorization to secure your medical records without first consulting an attorney.  Those are your private records and you control the distribution of those records.  However, at the time you are prepared to resolve your claim you will then be required to provide the medical record and billing information required to justify settlement of your claim.
    • You must allow the insurance company's representative to inspect your vehicle. Taking pictures of your vehicle damage at the scene of the accident is helpful, but the insurance company is entitled to request an in-person inspection before repairs are made.

    Understanding Subrogation

    The concept of subrogation rights may also factor into your car accident settlement. Subrogation is intended to prevent double recovery, which means you're not allowed to profit twice from a car accident settlement.

    Subrogation refers to the right of a third party to collect reimbursement for any payments they've already made on your behalf if another party is found liable for the incident and pays for those same losses. In a car accident case, this can happen when you use your own car insurance to pay for repairs to your car or your own health insurance to pay medical expenses. If you're covered by government assistance benefits such as Medicaid or Medicare, subrogation will apply as well.  The government requires a person using public healthcare benefits to repay that which has been expended by the government and then recovered by the injured party from another insurance company.

    Hiring an Attorney

    Unfortunately, your insurance company may not have your best interests in mind as they're working to process your claim. To protect yourself, it's best to obtain professional legal representation.

    A skilled personal injury attorney can guide you through every step of the settlement process. Your attorney can:

    • Review any release you sign to make sure you're not giving permission to the insurance company to look at irrelevant information such as your credit history, unrelated medical historical medical care or any medical condition not related to your current injuries.
    • Participate with you at any statement you may provide to make sure you're not providing information that could be misinterpreted or used against you.
    • If you're determined to be partially at fault for the accident, the attorney can negotiate on your behalf to lower your percentage of fault. Since there is no set formula for determining fault following an auto accident, a skilled attorney can increase your eligibility for compensation by showing that you are either not liable, or less liable for the collision than what the opposing side wants to attribute to you.
    • Locate experts to testify on your behalf and obtain evidence to support your case.
    • Make settlement demands and review settlement offers to make sure they adequately compensate you for your damages. 
    • If appropriate settlements are not received, the attorney will prepare the case for trial and then try the matter to secure a proper verdict for all the medical expenses, loss of earnings, other out of pocket losses as well as the pain and suffering from the injuries.

    The legal team at Inland Empire Law Group is committed to helping California residents who have been injured in auto, motorcycle and truck accidents receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Please call to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at either our Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga locations.  You can reach us at 909-481-0100 for the main Rancho Cucamonga office, 760-243-9100 for Victorville cases or (888) MY IE LAW for cases anywhere in Southern California.

     

  • MIST cases are special types of personal injury claims involving soft tissue injuries. Learn how this affects your right to compensation.

    Personal injury cases involving primarily minor property damage and soft tissue injuries are sometimes called MIST cases by those in the insurance industry. The term MIST is short for “Minor Impact Soft Tissue.”  If your case is considered a MIST case, there are a few different ways in which this will affect your right to compensation.

    Understanding MIST Cases

    Typically, a MIST case is a car accident occurring at relatively low speeds and resulting in less than $1,500 in property damage to the vehicles involved. Injuries are most often contusions, sprains, strains, and/or whiplash.

    • Contusions – When capillaries under the skin are ruptured, an accident victim ends up with discolored and painful bruises. Most contusions heal over time with no lasting damage. Some MIST cases can result still result in painful and long term damage to the muscle fibers and connective tissue under the skin.
    • Sprains – After a car accident, ligaments in the joints can stretch or tear. These sprains most often occur in the arm, wrist, knee, or ankle, resulting in pain and swelling. A brace or splint is typically used to immobilize the injured area while it heals, although victims are also advised to rest the area as much as possible by avoiding overly vigorous physical activities. Physical therapy, medication or corrective surgery may be needed to resolve these injuries. 
    • Strains – Injuries involving stretched or torn muscles or tendons are referred to as strains. These injuries are treated in a manner similar to a sprain, with braces and rest being the most common approach. However, the neck, mid-back and back are the most common location for a strain in a MIST case.  Chiropractic care, physical therapy, medication, imaging studies, and home health care are often used to address these injuries.  In some limited circumstances, surgery or special pain management care may be required.
    • Whiplash – When your neck jerks back and forth due to the impact of the car accident, whiplash can result. Also known as a cervical strain or sprain, whiplash gets its name because the motion causing the injury is similar to how you would crack a whip. Victims with whiplash may suffer from sleep disturbances, headaches, memory problems, chronic neck or back pain, and dizziness.

    Compensation for Car Accident MIST Cases

    The insurance company often discounts soft tissue injuries as not as serious as injuries such as broken bones.  However, in many instances the soft tissue injuries are much more difficult to treat and cure than a broken bone that is set and heals over six to eight weeks.  Soft tissue injuries can last a life time and only get worse with age.  Just because you were involved a collision which did not result in significant property damage, it does not mean you are not entitled to compensation.  If you were legitimately hurt, then you have a right to make a claim for damages.  Whether the insurance company will agree with you or not is the fight your lawyer will have to engage in to help secure compensation for you.  A MIST case can involve the following types of damages:

    • Medical expenses, such as an emergency room visit and any necessary follow up appointments.
    • Loss of wages, if you were unable to work while recovering from your injuries.
    • Pain and suffering, to reimburse you for the physical pain as well as the emotional trauma of your injuries.
    • Permanent injuries or disabilities, and their impact on your life.

    Medical expenses and lost wages are called economic damages, since an exact dollar value can be calculated based on your hospital bills and pay stubs. Pain and suffering is a category of non-economic damages, since it has no readily available dollar value. Insurance companies will often try to deny damages in MIST cases because they claim that harm could not have occurred to the occupants of the vehicle when there is little property damage.  However, there are many studies that have debunked this argument, but the insurance companies continue to deny the existence of injuries from these collisions. 

    The Challenge of Proving Your Case

    The primary challenge associated with a MIST case is that victims are often accused of faking or exaggerating their injuries. Here are some tips to help your attorney build the strongest possible case:

    • Follow your doctor's treatment recommendations exactly and keep all of your appointments.
    • Do not return to work until you've been cleared by your doctor. 
    • Get a doctor’s note excusing your absence from work.
    • Keep a journal detailing your ongoing symptoms and efforts to get better.
    • Take photos of your injuries as they heal.
    • Do not talk to anyone other than your attorney about your case.

    Letting Inland Empire Law Group Protect Your Rights

    Insurance companies are often eager to save money on MIST cases by offering lowball settlements, claiming a victim is partially responsible for his injuries, or accusing the victim of exaggerating the seriousness of his condition. Having someone to advocate for your interests throughout the settlement process ensures that you'll be treated fairly and have your case resolved as soon as possible.  If a pre-trial resolution is not possible there are some lower cost alternatives we can utilize to help take case to trial.


    The Inland Empire Law Group is dedicated to helping California residents who've been injured in accidents caused by negligent drivers receive the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. We cannot take all MIST cases, nor can we take all large cases.  We will evaluate your case to see how we can best serve you, an injured victim from a negligent driver.  Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at our Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga locations.

     

  • How will my pregnancy affect my personal injury claim?

    Every expectant mother dreams of giving birth to a healthy child, which is why car accidents occurring during pregnancy are so devastating. If you've been involved in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, it's vital you understand how to protect your right to compensation for both you and your unborn baby.

    How Common Are Car Accidents During Pregnancy?

    Unfortunately, accidents do not exempt pregnant women.  When on the road, an expectant mother involves assuming an element of risk—no matter how cautious you try to be. You can stay away from secondhand smoke, abstain from alcohol, and limit exposure to environmental toxins, but it's nearly impossible to avoid traveling in an automobile for nine months.

    Approximately 170,000 car crashes in the United States each year involve pregnant women. It's been estimated that between one and three percent of all infants born in the United States were subject to an in-utero motor vehicle crash, with auto accidents being the top cause of traumatic fetal death.

    Personal injury car accident as a pregnant womanWhat Pregnancy Complications Are Associated With Auto Accidents?

    Your womb offers some protection for your baby during impact, but a car crash can still cause several serious complications. Your seatbelt, while necessary when driving, can cause extra pressure or trauma across the womb if the seatbelt is not place low across the lap instead of across the womb. The following are a few examples of types of complications which can arise from an accident:

    • Miscarriage which is defines as the loss of a fetus prior to the 20th week of pregnancy. After 20 weeks, the absence of a fetal heartbeat is classified as a stillbirth.
    • Premature birth results when a serious car accident results in an early birth during the third trimester. A premature birth is classified as any birth prior to 37 weeks of pregnancy. The earlier a baby is born, the higher the probability that he or she will suffer some form of physical and/or intellectual disabilities.
    • Placental abruption occurs when the placenta separates from the uterus and is most common in auto accidents involving abdominal trauma. This can lead to preterm birth as well as significant blood loss for the mother.

    Seeking medical care following a car accident is always recommended, but it's crucial when you're an expectant mother. You need to be thoroughly evaluated to determine if the crash caused complications for you or your baby. Once you've been released from the hospital, you'll be asked to watch for signs of fetal distress. Some of these signs include:

    • Vaginal bleeding
    • Leaking fluid
    • Increased vaginal discharge
    • Contractions
    • Unexplained abdominal pain
    • Fainting or dizzy spells
    • Change in the strength or frequency of fetal movements
    • Vomiting unrelated to morning sickness
    • Chills or a fever
    • Reduced or no fetal movement

    Depending upon your health and how your pregnancy had previously been progressing, your healthcare provider may decide to classify your pregnancy as high risk due to the auto accident. This simply means you'll require extra monitoring and observation until you deliver. In some cases, bed rest may also be recommended as a precautionary measure.

    What About Emotional Trauma?

    The physical and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy can make an expectant mother prone to anxiety and depression, which intensifies the emotional trauma associated with being involved in an auto accident. There may be many sleepless nights spent wondering if the force of the crash has caused harm to your unborn baby.

    If you've been involved in a car accident while pregnant, you may want to speak with a psychiatrist or therapist to discuss how the accident has affected your outlook on parenting. Keeping a journal of your feelings can also be useful as both a therapeutic tool and as a way to preserve your memory and evidence to support your personal injury claim.

    How Can I Protect My Right to Compensation?

    medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, which includes emotional distress.  With a pregnancy, if the accident is proven to have caused damage to the fetus which resulted in the need for additional medical care in-utero or after birth, those damages may also be recovered from at fault driver if there is available assets or insurance.  There is no available recovery for the death of a fetus in an auto accident, but the mother, an possibly the father of that fetus may have a claim for their personal emotional distress due to the loss of their unborn child.

    California has a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims, so it's vital that you act before this deadline to preserve your right to compensation. The skilled attorneys at Inland Empire Law Group are committed to helping California mothers and their children receive the resources they need to move forward with their lives. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at either our Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga office locations.  (909) 481-0100 or (888) 694-3529 for all of Southern California or (760) 243-9100 specifically for the High Desert region of California.

  • How will the at-fault driver’s DUI conviction affect my personal injury claim?

    Accidents caused by drunk drivers often result in serious injuries for passengers, other motorists, and nearby pedestrians. A personal injury claim resulting from a drunk driving accident is processed separately from the criminal charges an intoxicated driver faces. However, the driving under the influence (DUI) charge can affect your case in several different ways.

    Understanding How the Driver's DUI Conviction Affects Your Personal Injury Claim

    California defines DUI charges based on the driver's age and type of vehicle that is being driven. For example:

    • Drivers age 21 or over must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher to be guilty of driving while intoxicated.  [Vehicle Code sec. 23152(b)]
    • For drivers under age 21, a BAC of 0.01 percent is enough to warrant a license suspension for one year.  (Vehicle Code sec. 23136)  Criminal conviction for DUI of a person under the age of 21 can occur with a BAC of as little as 0.05.  (Vehicle Code sec. 23140.)
    • For commercial drivers, the BAC for a DUI charge is 0.04 percent.  [Vehicle Code sec. 23152(d).]
    • Commencing July 1, 2018, drivers engaging in “passenger for hire” services such as Uber©, Lyft© or cab service, are guilty of DUI with a BAC of 0.04 percent or more.  [Vehicle Code sec. 23152(e).]

    Establishing fault for the accident is the first step in establishing financial liability for your injuries. If the driver was arrested and convicted of driving while under the influence, you have a higher probability of establishing fault for the collision, so long as the drunk driver was the one who caused the collision. This puts you in a strong negotiating position. Auto insurance companies are often willing to take their chances with a trial, but they are well aware that a convicted drunk driver will garner little sympathy in court and that it can turn ugly. This means in most instances the insurance company will be more likely work with your attorney to come to a settlement agreement and avoid putting on trial an unsympathetic defendant.

    A quick settlement offer may seem like a blessing, but you should keep in mind that accepting a settlement will prevent you from seeking further compensation down the road. You shouldn't settle your case until you're confident you know the nature and extent of your injuries and the offer represents fair reimbursement for your expenses and losses and a proper acknowledgment of your pain and suffering from your injuries.

    An at-fault driver is liable for:

    • Accident-related medical expenses, including emergency room care, follow-up appointments, physical therapy or other rehabilitative services, prescription medication, and any anticipated future medical expenses related to the incident.
    • Lost wages during your recovery period, as well as any applicable reduction in your future earning capacity due to your injuries.
    • Pain and suffering, including both physical pain and emotional trauma related to the accident.
    • Punitive Damages, are also potentially available in egregious cases.

    Potential Complications Relating to Intoxicated Drivers

    Although a DUI conviction can often make a personal injury claim easier to negotiate, other factors can complicate the case. For example:

    • Accidents involving multiple vehicles. If you were injured in a multi-vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver, you may run into problems if several people sustained severe injuries. Every auto insurance policy has specific limits as to how much it is obligated to pay per person or per accident. If the claims exceed the policy limits, you'll need find out if there are other available sources of recovery, such as other insurance, other responsible parties or personal assets.  If none of these are available, then the available policy may need to be appropriately allocated based upon the extent of the injuries.
    • Passenger injuries. If you were injured as a passenger in a car being driven by a drunk driver, seeking compensation is possible, but it can be complicated. The insurance company may try to deny coverage based upon your relationship to the driver because you are excluded as a possible insured.  The insurance company may also try to argue that you knew or should have known the driver was intoxicated and that it was unsafe to get in the car with the drunk driver. In this line of defense, it will be claimed that you assumed the risk when you voluntarily got into the car with an intoxicated driver and are thus partially responsible for your own injuries.
    • Uninsured and unlicensed drivers. Unfortunately, many people who are convicted of DUI are not first time offenders. Since repeat DUI offenders are subject to lengthy license suspensions and very high insurance rates, the driver responsible for your injuries may not have a valid license or insurance policy. In this case, you'll likely need to make a claim under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. However, if the driver was using someone else's vehicle, you may be able to seek compensation under the owner's policy, especially if the owner of the car knew the person was drunk when he took the car. Negligent entrustment of a vehicle to an unfit driver makes the owner liable for the resulting damages.
    •  
    • Passenger injuries. If you were injured as a passenger in a car being driven by a drunk driver, seeking compensation is possible, but it can be complicated. The insurance company may try to deny coverage based upon your relationship to the driver because you are excluded as a possible insured.  The insurance company may also try to argue that you knew or should have known the driver was intoxicated and that it was unsafe to get in the car with the drunk driver. In this line of defense, it will be claimed that you assumed the risk when you voluntarily got into the car with an intoxicated driver and are thus partially responsible for your own injuries.
    • Uninsured and unlicensed drivers. Unfortunately, many people who are convicted of DUI are not first time offenders. Since repeat DUI offenders are subject to lengthy license suspensions and very high insurance rates, the driver responsible for your injuries may not have a valid license or insurance policy. In this case, you'll likely need to make a claim under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. However, if the driver was using someone else's vehicle, you may be able to seek compensation under the owner's policy, especially if the owner of the car knew the person was drunk when he took the car. Negligent entrustment of a vehicle to an unfit driver makes the owner liable for the resulting damages.
    • One last note, if you were uninsured at the time of your accident you usually cannot recover pain and suffering damages.  However, one exception from that rule is when a drunk driver is criminally convicted of DUI, then an uninsured motorist may recover pain and suffering damages from the collision and from the drunk driver’s insurance company or defendant him or herself. 

    • Passenger injuries. If you were injured as a passenger in a car being driven by a drunk driver, seeking compensation is possible, but it can be complicated. The insurance company may try to deny coverage based upon your relationship to the driver because you are excluded as a possible insured.  The insurance company may also try to argue that you knew or should have known the driver was intoxicated and that it was unsafe to get in the car with the drunk driver. In this line of defense, it will be claimed that you assumed the risk when you voluntarily got into the car with an intoxicated driver and are thus partially responsible for your own injuries.
    • Uninsured and unlicensed drivers. Unfortunately, many people who are convicted of DUI are not first time offenders. Since repeat DUI offenders are subject to lengthy license suspensions and very high insurance rates, the driver responsible for your injuries may not have a valid license or insurance policy. In this case, you'll likely need to make a claim under your own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. However, if the driver was using someone else's vehicle, you may be able to seek compensation under the owner's policy, especially if the owner of the car knew the person was drunk when he took the car. Negligent entrustment of a vehicle to an unfit driver makes the owner liable for the resulting damages.

    One last note, if you were uninsured at the time of your accident you usually cannot recover pain and suffering damages.  However, one exception from that rule is when a drunk driver is criminally convicted of DUI, then an uninsured motorist may recover pain and suffering damages from the collision and from the drunk driver’s insurance company or defendant him or herself. 

     

    Protecting Your Legal RightsPersonal injury claim with DUI conviction

    Drunk drivers can present some unique challenges in proof and in evidence preservation.  It's vital that you seek representation from an experienced personal injury attorney. Inland Empire Law Group's dedicated legal team advocates for the needs of California residents who've been injured due to the negligence of others. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review at our Victorville or Rancho Cucamonga office locations. 

    DON’T BE VICTIMIZED TWICE BY THE DRUNK DRIVER AND AN INSURANCE COMPANY!

     

     

  • Can I switch lawyers during my case?

    Hiring the right lawyer for your legal representation in a personal injury case can be difficult.  There are many attorneys that will say they want to handle your case at the very beginning when they think a quick settlement is in the works. Many times, when a person is dealing with the pain and financial losses from an accident, they make quick or rash decisions about which attorney they hire. As time progresses, you realize that the promised services are not being fulfilled and you conclude you may have hired the wrong lawyer or law firm. It's important to keep in mind that you are not locked into your initial decision. You have a legal right to fire or change your lawyer if you are unhappy how he or she is handling your case. Ultimately, whether at the beginning of the case or later on, the process of hiring the right lawyer who will stick with you through the entire process is the single most important action you will take at the outset of your personal injury case.

    When Is it Appropriate to Find a New Lawyer?

    No lawyer can guarantee a specific outcome for your case, nor can an attorney assure you of a specific date your case will resolve. Thus, experiencing difficulties in obtaining a settlement isn't necessarily justification for new legal representation. You should explore with your attorney all that is being done to move your case towards its conclusion. Make sure you give your lawyer the opportunity to help you understand what has been done in handling your claim. On the other hand, the following issues indicate valid reasons for firing your personal injury lawyer:

    • Your lawyer is rude and doesn't answer your questions. Even though you didn't attend law school yourself, don't forget that your lawyer was hired to be your advocate.  The lawyer works for you. You and your concerns should be respected and you should have your questions answered. If your lawyer is rude, condescending, and dismissive, seeking other legal representation is a smart move.
    • Your lawyer doesn't seem interested in resolving your case. Although it's common for lawyers to be working on multiple cases simultaneously, there's an expectation your lawyer will work on your case in a timely fashion. If your lawyer doesn't seem to be making progress on your case and/or your requests for updates are continually ignored, it's time to find new representation.
    • You're questioning your lawyer's competence. Finding other representation should be a priority if you have serious doubts about your lawyer's competence. A recently admitted lawyer, unsupervised by an experienced attorney, often doesn't have the experience necessary to handle a complex personal injury case. Additionally, you may also have a cause for concern if your lawyer doesn't normally handle personal injury cases. A lawyer can be excellent at practicing criminal law, but personal injury law requires different knowledge and skills. Finally, if you are concerned your lawyer may be experiencing substance abuse or financial problems, change lawyers immediately.
    • Your lawyer is engaged in unethical behavior. A lawyer who advocates falsifying evidence or lying about the facts or the extent of injuries can't be trusted. Sexual harassment or other similar misconduct would be another example of grossly inappropriate conduct that justify finding another lawyer.

    How Do I Change Lawyers?

    If you've decided to change lawyers for your personal injury claim, start first by looking for another attorney with whom you are comfortable and who is willing to have your case transferred to him or her. If you are able to find the right attorney for your case, hire that attorney and he or she will send your current lawyer a written notice of your decision, to stop working on the case and to transfer the files to the new lawyer. If you have not found another attorney to handle your case, you may want to attempt to work with your current lawyer to see if he or she will be willing to refer your case to another attorney due to your unease with the current representation. As a last resort, send a letter to the lawyer clearly and objectively stating the reason or reasons why you feel your lawyer isn't qualified to represent you in your personal injury claim. Within the letter, provide instructions as to where to send your case file. Send the letter via certified mail so you have documentation of its delivery to the lawyer.

    If your case is currently pending before a court, additional paperwork is required to be filed with the court notifying the court and opposing counsel of the change of counsel. This form is called a Substitution of Attorney. Your new lawyer will prepare this form, or if you do not have an attorney at the time you terminate, your courts’ website should provide online access to the form.  

    Will I Owe Money?

    Since personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, you may find yourself wondering if there is a financial penalty involved in firing your lawyer before the case is completed.

    When you switch lawyers in the middle of a case, your initial lawyer will have a lien or claim against the settlement you receive. He or she won't be able to collect the full original percentage, but your former lawyer is still entitled to compensation for the reasonable time and costs spent preparing your case. This expense should not increase your cost for legal fees, but it does impact the amount of money your new attorney may receive for the services to be rendered on your behalf. Depending on the stage of the case, this fee division may make it challenging to get another lawyer to take over your case, because the greater the lien, the lower the compensation is for the new attorney to take over your case.

    Some contracts will have language stating that your lawyer is allowed to withhold case files until current charges are paid in full. However, under California law, your attorney cannot withhold your file, regardless of the terms of the legal services contract. The file belongs to you, not the lawyer. Under some limited circumstances, the need to pay your prior attorney may not be required at all. For example, if your lawyer was engaging in unethical conduct, was under suspension or failed to perform the required services, then a court may determine that you were justified in terminating the contract and you may not be fully responsible for the legal fees claimed by the prior attorney. Also, if your lawyer terminates you without cause, the lawyer may not collect fees which would have been paid if the lawyer completed the work.

    Why Should I Seek Representation From Inland Empire Law Group?

    The Inland Empire Law Group may consider taking on a case that was started or handled by another attorney. Once you meet with our staff, you will be able to see we are highly qualified and desire to meet or exceed your expectations. You may want to hire our firm at your initial meeting. However, in many instances, we advise individuals not to change attorneys because we see the work performed is within the standard of care for personal injury attorneys. We may make recommendations to perform certain acts to work with your current attorney before deciding to make a change. Unless your attorney is truly not doing his or her job, we often decline the transfer of an ongoing case. On the other hand, if there appears a real need for you to change counsel, we will help you with that process, and will if we agree with you, we will represent you and work hard for your benefit.

    Inland Empire Law Group’s attorneys have extensive experience assisting California residents in settling personal injury claims. Please call (888) MY IE LAW to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation at either our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.

     

  • Should I provide a recorded statement without first consulting an attorney?

    Hand Holding a Voice RecorderAfter an auto accident, it's natural to want to do everything in your power to get your claim resolved as soon as possible. However, providing a recorded statement in the hopes of speeding up the process can prove to be a very costly mistake later on in your case.

    Recorded Statements Can Only Harm Your Case

    A recorded statement isn't given under oath, but the contents of the statement can be used as evidence in a personal injury case. Here are some of the many reasons why giving a recorded statement is ill-advised until after you have hired an attorney.

    • The interviewer may ask misleading questions to get you to provide incriminating information.
    • The interviewer might encourage you to speculate as to the cause of the accident, possibly creating a scenario where they can argue you are at fault for your own injuries.
    • The interviewer might begin a line of questioning that casts doubt on the severity of your injuries or implies that your injuries were caused by something other than the auto accident.
    • You might get nervous and say something you didn't mean or get angry and provoke a confrontation.
    • Your answers might be subject to misinterpretation by the interviewer, especially if English is not your first language or you tend to struggle expressing yourself verbally.
    • Without an attorney present, you won't know if answering a question is in your best interests.

    When settling a claim, the insurance company's goal is to pay as little as possible, not what is fair and appropriate. Never forget that the company's real interest is making a profit, not ensuring that you have the money you need to pay all of your accident-related expenses.

    Laws Regarding Recorded Statements in Personal Injury Cases

    You have a duty to cooperate with the investigation by your own insurance company. Your insurance company will conduct an investigation into the accident if they may have to pay something for the accident. You should provide the basic information and does not require providing a recorded statement. In most cases, your obligation to your insurer is explicitly outlined in the terms of your policy. If you fail to cooperate, the processing of your claim could be denied. This would be especially problematic if it's later found that the at-fault driver has no insurance or insufficient insurance and your expenses must be paid under your own uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage.

    There is no law that requires you to provide a recorded statement to the other driver's insurance company. The insurance company is allowed to ask for your statement, but you have no obligation to accommodate the request. In fact, it's generally better to obtain a personal injury attorney and direct all communication from the other driver's insurance company to your attorney.

    Using Written Statements to Provide Your Side of the Story

    If you're being asked to provide a statement or wish to tell your side of the story, a written statement is a better alternative to a recorded statement. A written statement lets you provide key details about the accident without the risk of being thrown off track by an interviewer who asks inappropriate questions.

    In your written statement, you should provide:

    • Your identifying information
    • Names and contact information for witnesses
    • The date and time of the accident
    • The name of the road you were driving on
    • What direction you were traveling
    • What, if any, actions the other driver took before the collision
    • What, if any, action you took before the collision
    • Any immediate injury symptoms you noticed

    A written statement that clearly and objectively presents the facts surrounding the accident without offering irrelevant information or speculating as to fault will be an asset in resolving your personal injury claim. Your attorney can review the statement to make sure you're not providing unnecessary or potentially damaging information that could harm your case.

    Inland Empire Law Group Can Help

    Don’t fall for the insurance company tricks in demanding record statement. Consider an attorney before allowing your statement to be taken. The legal team at Inland Empire Law Group can help with personal injury cases. Our attorneys have extensive experience assisting California residents in obtaining the compensation they need to move forward with their lives. Please call (888) MY IE LAW to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville.

     

  • Why Do People in the Same Accident Often Suffer Different Injuries?

    Have you ever wondered why people occupying the same car in an accident can have different injuries, or no injuries at all while, someone else in the car suffers life altering injuries?

    An example of this is an accident which happened in Pomona, California on Saturday night, January 23, 2016.  This accident happened at the intersection of Mission Boulevard and East End Avenue.  From this car crash, there were ten people injured, one of which sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to an emergency room, while the others in the cars had only minor injuries.  At the time of this post, there was no available information about how the accident happened, so I use that accident to merely show the basis for the idea that people can respond differently when in the same accident.

    Here are some of the reasons why people can have different injuries in the same accident:

        1)    The Location of the Impact.  A person sitting nearest to the impact point may suffer greater injuries due to the magnitude of the force on that person.  In some instances, the impact crushes into the occupant at the impact point, resulting in far more serious injuries than those suffered by others in the car.  

        2)    The Position of the Body.  A person’s body position at the moment of impact is critical to the degree of injury.  Most car seats are designed to reduce injury in certain collisions when a person is sitting perfectly straight and proper in their seat.  Unfortunately, passengers and even drivers are not always sitting perfectly straight.  As a result turned hips, shoulders, neck or head, can significantly alter the bodily injury of one passenger over another.

        3)    Seatbelt Use.  Using a seatbelt generally reduces injuries, especially in serious collisions.  Those who are restrained in a serious collision, while they may suffer injuries, routinely will avoid ejection from the vehicle and death as a result of their body being catapulted within, or without, the car.

        4)    Physical Condition of the Occupants.  An older person or a person with a pre-existing injury is more likely to suffer injuries in a smaller accident than a healthy individual.  Also, the recovery time for an older or previously injured person tends to be longer than one who was healthy before the accident.  

        5)    Impact With Objects.  Sometimes, one person will hit their head against the interior of the car, or a side window, and that impact is experienced by only one person in the accident.  So that person’s experience is different from the other occupants, and the injuries differ.

    These are just five of many reasons for people to suffer differently when involved in the same accident as others.  If you have any experiences with multiple people having different injuries in the same accident, share your experience with others so they do not feel like they are going through this experience alone.

    If you need assistance with an injury claim due to the negligence of another, call the experienced law firm of the Inland Empire Law Group to get the legal help you need to obtain the financial recovery you need from your accident. Call 909-481-0100 for a fair and honest review of your injury claim.  

  • How Do I Know I am Hiring The Right Lawyer?

    There are the right lawyers, and there are those who pretend to be the right lawyers. If you are looking for a California lawyer, there is a hierarchy of things you should do to find the right lawyer for your matter. First, identify the type of lawyer you need, and the locality where you nee

    d that lawyer. If you had an injury accident in the Inland Empire, find an experienced Inland Empire personal injury lawyer.  Maybe you are dealing with a divorce, a breach of business contract or a probate matter, then locate a lawyer close to you who specifically works in your area of need.  A local divorce attorney for a divorce, a nearby business litigation lawyer for a breach of contract, etc. 

    Next research lawyer web sites and their online presence.  Read as much as is provided by the lawyers’ websites. Educate yourself from these websites.  Ask yourself, is this attorney interested in me and my education, or is he/she more about self glory.  Watch any available videos the lawyer has.  Ask yourself, is this the person you would like standing by you advocating your case before a jury?  If yes, keep him/her on your list.  If no, drop them.

    Once you have identified several possible candidates, check with the California State Bar website, www.calbar.ca.gov to make sure they are active with the State Bar and to see if they have any history of violations. Eliminate those who concern you. 

    Finally, visit their office to meet the lawyer or his/her staff.  It is important you go to their office for the interview. You want to make sure they appear stable and will be around when you need them the most. During the interview, was your confidence raised by them?  Were all questions answered? Did they seem to understand your needs?  Did you feel comfortable with trusting your legal matter to them? Is the agreement fair and reasonable? If the answer to these questions are “yes,” and you are ready to start, hire that lawyer and trust you will be properly represented. 

     

  • What Financial Recovery Rights Does an Injured Hit and Run Victim Have?

    The answer to this question really depends on whether the driver who caused the accident can be found following the accident. If the driver can be found, then an injury victim can attempt to make a claim against the hit and run driver’s liability insurance company, or make a claim directly against the hit and run driver if there is no insurance available. However, if the hit and run driver or vehicle cannot be found following the accident, (or the driver/vehicle was uninsured) then the injury victim needs to seek compensation for his or her uninsured motorist coverage, assuming uninsured motorist coverage was purchased by the injury victim before the accident occurred.

    For more detailed information on this topic, Uninsured Motorist Coverage Protects Injury Victims in Hit and Run Accidents.

  • Why is Everyone’s Injury Case Worth Different Amounts?

    There are so many times when someone says something to me about their friend settling her accident case ten years previously for a certain amount. Then they tell me that if she got that much for her case, they feel entitled to at least that sum for their claim. Is that a proper measure of value for a case? It is not. A person should really look to the details of their own case to identify the key issues which determine the value for their case. Thereafter, case comparisons in a broader sense, over multiple cases, and over an extended period of time can provide some direction.

    Each case is individualized making it impossible to do one-to- one comparisons between cases. Each injury will be unique such that one person may suffer a long-term lower back injury, while another, in the same accident, was minimally injured. Even though these two people were involved in the same accident, the value of their claims will be significantly different. So one factor in determining the value of a person’s claim is the severity of the injury.

    Another factor in determining the financial value of a claim has to do with the nature of the accident itself. Some accidents are extremely severe, leaving no question the individual suffered a serious injury. Other accidents are less serious and the injuries from these accidents are challenged by the opposing party.

    A third factor has to do with the responsibility for the accident. If an injured person was partially responsible for the accident, then her fault will proportionately reduce the value of the case.

    Fourth, is the amount of available insurance or assets to cover the claim. If available insurance is minimal, even with a serious accident, there may be limited funds to pay for the injuries suffered.

    Don’t compare your case with anyone who has had an accident. Facts differ and each case will vary the financial value

  • Can I Use a Paralegal for My California Personal Injury Claim?

    The short answer is yes you may. But you must understand the many limitations associated with using a paralegal. First, in California, not everyone who calls themself a paralegal actually are allowed to use that title. Any independent individual, that means a person not working for a lawyer, government or corporation, cannot use the term paralegal. These individuals are legal document assistants. They may not provide legal advice. They may not help you make legal decisions or anything else which may be deemed legal services.

    Read more about the dangers of using a paralegal or legal document assistant.

  • Why are Medical Malpractice Claims so Hard to Win?

    I receive phone calls nearly daily from people who indicate that they suffered from the negligence of a doctor. Many of these stories do support the allegation of medical negligence, but there is nothing I can do to help them receive compensation for their injuries. Why is that? Let’s start with the costs associated with a medical negligence claim. These cases require costly expert witnesses and medical records, etc. So by the time a case is ready to settle or go to trial, the costs of the claim can exceeded the possible value of any recovery. As a result, only significant injury claims can justifiably to be brought to court.

    The next challenge has to do with a natural bias held by jurors who want to believe in the doctor and his/her integrity. We naturally hate to believe that those we trust, such as doctors, police officers, etc., can do wrong. Unfortunately, even good people make mistakes. These mistakes can cause injuries to others. There is a saying that a patient in a lawsuit starts with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, behind by two runs. It’s a tough place to start. Statistics show that 80% of all malpractice cases which reach trial, are lost by the patient.

    The third challenge has to do with the malpractice caps of $250,000.00 and the way these claims interact with medical insurance, etc. The laws, the jury instructions and the reimbursement requirements all seem to favor the doctors and hospitals over the injury victim’s rights.

    So how does a viable malpractice claim get through these challenges and results in an award of damages? It starts with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. If the lawyer understands the issues, and whether negligence exists, then good cases rise to the top (so to speak) and those which can’t be pursued are turned away. Understanding the interplay between mere negligence for which no claim can be made and actionable negligence will result in good cases succeeding.

  • What Happens if the Defendant (The Person Who Caused Your Accident) Dies Before Your Lawsuit or Settlement is Over?

    Accident Attorney Because lawsuits can often take years to reach trial, or before they get resolved, sometimes parties to a lawsuit can pass away. In other situations, in an accident, a responsible party might die from injuries suffered in an accident. An example of this occurred in Victorville on September 1, 2014, when the driver of a Honda Civic recklessly drove his car at a high rate of speed, near 90 mph, into the rear of another car. The driver of the Honda died from his injuries in the collision and sent two victims to the hospital with injuries of their own. These two victims have a claim against the 32-year-old deceased driver for his negligent and reckless conduct. But the driver is dead, so what happens?

    With the death of the person who caused this accident where do these victims turn to recover damages for their losses and injuries?

    A Claim Can Proceed Against the Deceased Party's Insurance Policy

    The answer to this question may be multifaceted. If the deceased driver has an insurance policy to cover him for his negligent or reckless activities, such as causing an accident, then a claim would start with the available insurance policy. Depending on the nature and scope of the injuries, as well as the amount of insurance available for the claim, a demand to the insurance company may fully resolve the dispute and provide proper compensation to the injury victims. If the available liability policy does not have enough money to pay for all the injuries, then the injury victims might be able to turn to their own uninsured motorist insurance coverage for additional compensation. All this depends on the availability and amount of the insurance purchased prior to the accident by both the deceased and the injury victims.

    It's Also Possible to Seek Compensation from the Estate of the Deceased

    If there is not enough insurance provided by the at-fault driver, and there is not enough uninsured motorist coverage, or none at all, to pay for the injuries, then the injury victims could try and recover damages from the estate of the deceased. When someone dies, they leave their worldly possessions behind. For some, that "estate" may be substantial, for others it may be nothing at all. If the deceased driver has a substantial estate, then a claim can be made against the estate itself to seek compensation, or additional compensation, to pay for the injuries inflicted on the innocent accident victims. There are procedural steps which have to be followed to make a claim against an estate or the claim can be lost. The ironic thing is that in most instances, when a person has a large estate, they tend to have larger insurance policies and there is a lesser need to pursue the estate directly. For those with small or no estates, they routinely have little or no insurance coverage because of the cost of that coverage, thereby requiring you to either suffer from the injuries without compensation or rely upon your own uninsured motorist coverage.

    Unfortunately, when there is no insurance and no available estate, there is little hope for recovery, absent unusual circumstances or other possible sources of recovery beyond the dead driver. All options must be explored to help the injury victims secure the best and proper compensation.

    Let Our Car Accident Lawyers Help You Through This Unique Legal Situation

    Ultimately, the best protection you have from the damages caused by a negligent driver, who dies in the accident or sometime thereafter, is to make sure you have an ample uninsured motorist insurance policy of your own. By so doing, your future does not depend on the at-fault’s preparedness, or lack thereof, in purchasing a sizeable insurance policy. If you're involved in a similar situation, or have more questions about the claims process involving a deceased party, we urge you to call us today at 909-481-0100 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our car accident attorneys. We have offices in Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville, conveniently positioned to serve all of the Inland Empire and High Desert regions.

     

     

  • Why is it Difficult to Settle a Personal Injury Case Without a Lawyer?

    Personal Injury lawyerThere are some situations when you can settle your injury case without a lawyer.  However, it is my personal belief that insurance companies use tactics to low ball a claim to frustrate a claimant and encourage him or her to give up and accept the paltry offer.  I believe that insurance companies have conducted many studies to come up with a strategy to reduce their settlement payouts and increase the profitability of the company.  If kindness and general fairness would make more money for the insurance company, then they would utilize that method of claims resolution.  Since that is not the way most claims are settled, I believe that insurance companies have designed their negotiation strategies to financially favor them over all other means or methods.

    Know this, certain adjusters are assigned to deal with unrepresented individuals, while others are trained to deal with attorneys.  Those assigned to deal directly with an injury victim are taught of ways to get people to release their claims prematurely or to prey upon the financial needs after an accident.  They are trained to frustrate and discourage people from asserting a legitimate right.  Those tactics are ineffective with a good personal injury lawyer.  In fact, those tactics are rarely used with attorneys the insurance companies know are capable, competent and willing to fight for the rights of their clients. 

    For information on When to Hire an Attorney.

  • When Should You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer for an Injury Claim?

    Personal Injury Lawyer for car accident If a Victorville traffic accident caused your serious injuries or the death of a loved one, you should seek help from an experienced injury lawyer right away.  Having an attorney early following an accident helps you avoid mistakes which are made by inexperienced accident victims dealing with highly trained insurance adjusters.  If the injury is clearly not serious, and your pain goes away within a few days or even a month, you probably don’t need a lawyer to help you with your claim.  These injuries are generally resolved effectively by simple negotiations between the injury victim and the insurance adjuster.  They are generally resolved for small amounts of money.  But remember, if you are still hurt, don’t settle your case until you are better.  If you don’t improve quickly with reasonable medical care, contact a lawyer for help.  For more detailed information.