Commonly Asked Questions
1. Ever since our accident the insurance company has been calling. Should I give a statement?
Answer: If your own company is calling, you have a duty to cooperate by explaining the facts of the accident. If the insurance for the other car is calling, you should not return their calls until you have the benefit of legal advice.
2. The police report blames us for the accident, what can we do?
Answer: The police officer's opinion as to liability is inadmissible in court and is often based on first impressions. A thorough legal and engineering review will determine who was truly at fault. Most accidents involve fault on each side.
3. Are animal owners responsible for the actions of their pets or livestock?
Answer: The general rule is one of liability if your pet bites another or your cattle escape to the roadway. If an animal causes you loss, note the location precisely and identify marks on the animal; we will find the owner.
4. I have heard that if you trip and fall in a store, they have to pay you, is that true?
Answer: This can be false. Strict liability or liability without fault does not apply. However, if the store created the dangerous condition or had a chance to fix it and did not, then there may be liability and you could be entitled to damages. Please let us investigate the history of prior accidents at that location, the security videotapes, store policy manuals, etc.
5. I think an intersection is unsafe, who tracks these things?
Answer: Once an accident occurs, we have access to "statewide accident data for all locations. This is known as a SWITTRS report. Further, Cities and Counties keep files on most locations and newspaper archives can fill in the rest."
6. Do cars really have black box data recorders the same as airplanes?
Answer: The quick answer is yes. Most late model vehicles do have data recorders which provide retrievable information after a catastrophic collision. The data includes the speed of the impact, whether seat belts were in use and a wealth of similar information. Specialized equipment "operated only by engineering professionals is required to access this information. It is typically accessed only after the vehicle has been towed to a secure yard and with representatives of both sides of the case present."
7. I am worried about the care my Aunt is receiving in a nursing home. Are there any extra laws which protect her?
Answer: Again, the quick answer is yes. Extensive legislation has been enacted in California and on the Federal level to protect the elderly, children in daycare or others who cannot care for themselves. Our office has handled such cases including one
particular matter involving the death of an escapee from a Porterville nursing home. His security bracelet alarm had an expired battery and he wandered down the street until he fell in a ditch and died 3 days later.
8. If I win my case, do I have to pay back my medical bills?
Answer: Your health insurance and even Medi-Cal have a lien on your recovery and generally they must be repaid. However, since you will be incurring attorneys fees to recover their money they will take this into consideration, and we can usually negotiate a substantial reduction on your behalf.
9. How long before the police report will be ready?
Answer: Most local police departments and even the CHP will complete a standard report within 10 days and a complex report within 30 days. However, if a CHP Major accident team is involved the time frame expands to perhaps 3 months and as long as a year for chain reaction fog or dust storm accidents. If you have been hurt in an accident, do not wait for the report to be completed before calling us. We need to preserve evidence such as photos of skid marks, black box data, and witness statements. It would not be wise to rely solely on the outcome of the police report.
10. Should I take my own photos even if I'm not certain our case is good?
Answer: Absolutely. A picture is worth a thousand words. Photographs of facial wounds before and after stitching tell a vivid story. Photographs of seatbelt bruises prove the seatbelt was in use. Vehicle photos showing damaged car parts relate easily to explain damaged body parts.
11. What if I hire your firm and we lose our case?
Answer: We work on a contingency basis and we earn nothing until you recover money. If you lose, then I lose too and you will not be charged for our time. Further, your initial appointment with our firm will be at no charge and quite often results in pushing you in the right direction should you elect to handle the matter yourself or to seek other advice. Please be assured that I will screen your case and if we take it, we have full confidence in prevailing as we have done in the vast majority of cases.
12. My car was towed away, what now?
Answer: After a major accident your car needs to be preserved for multiple inspections. We hire an engineer to do our inspections and generally your car will be towed to his location for long-term storage. It is important to act quickly and avoid the high daily fees at the police tow yards. If we handle your personal injury claim, then we will help to negotiate your property damage claim at no extra charge so you will have the money you need to buy a replacement vehicle.
13. The police report says my son had been drinking when he ran the stop sign and was hit by a truck. What can I do?
Answer: For your future peace of mind, please let us spend some of our money to determine if you have a valid claim. We have been successful in the past in demonstrating the multiple causes for such accidents. Was the other vehicle speeding? Was the stop sign visible? Did road conditions play a part in the accident? All of these answers should be available to us.
14. A family member died in an accident, who has a claim?
Answer: Wrongful death claimants generally include the surviving spouse, members of your household, parents being supported, any other minor dependants, and all of the children even if grown and living away.
If you would like to schedule a free initial consultation, call my office today at 559-713-0159 or contact me online. If you are incapacitated or unable to visit our offices, I would be glad to stop by your home on my way home from work.