When the Kansas City Chiefs played the Philadelphia Eagles, that meant lots of partying……..Pizza, Wings and lot of Beer and Booze. That combination meant the police had to deal with lots of Auto Accidents. If you were the cause, then you need a DUI lawyer. However, if you were the victim you are inundated with ads on TV for PI Lawyers.
How do you know who to retain? How do you not get run over by an Attorney and the Insurance Company? Most importantly, you have to understand that NATIONWIDE IS NOT ON YOUR SIDE; YOU ARE NOT IN GOOD HANDS and YOUR FRIENDLY NEIGHBOR WILL NOT GIVE YOU A PIECE OF THE ROCK.
Insurance Companies are able to build large high-rise buildings because they are in business to make money. Adjusters are taught to Deny and Delay. If hundreds of thousands of cases can delay payment for a month, they make interest on many millions of dollars that should have been sent to victims…who need it.
So, now the question is How Much Is Your Case Worth? Everyone that has been in any kind of accident, Auto, Motorcycle, Slip and Fall, Truck, Dog Bite, Train, Boat etc., wants to know, what their case is worth. If a lawyer is honest with the client, s/he will say… it depends! It depends on a lot of factors…..liability, medicals, timeliness of treatment, length of treatment, future medicals, past medical history; type of injury, who is the doctor, who is insurance company, age of victim, loss of earnings etc etc.
All Accident/PI cases require Proof of Liability (Negligence or Who is at Fault) and Damages (Monetary Damages for Pain and Suffering and Loss of Earnings). Who is at fault, is the first of this 2 part test that requires Liability and Damages, which together prove Negligence damages.
If you rear-end someone, I would think liability on the other driver, would be hard to prove. However, if someone rear-ends you, that is usually indicative of good liability. If you are rear ended and don’t seek med treatment, the damages are minimal and you would not expect to receive much money, if any, for your pain and suffering. Likewise, if you rear-end someone, and then have major injuries such as a loss of limb or vision, the damages would be good. However, why should anyone pay you for an accident that you arguably caused and thus, for which you are liable?
A good case demands on both Liability and Damages, and without both, lawyers usually reject a case. That does not mean there is no case, but rather that a lawyer doesn’t feel the value of the case is worth pursuing.
The age of the Victim is an issue. The older the victim, the more likely the insurance company will deny and delay. This is because, if the V passes before the case is settled, the heirs can only recover for the med bills and NOT pain and suffering.
In addition, if a V is rear ended, and delays seeing a doctor for 1-2 months, most PI lawyers would question the value of the case. Adjusters will argue the driver was not injured from the accident. If a month later the V started treatment, the defense could argue to a jury, that maybe the V slipped and fell in the shower and thought, “I was just in an accident 2 months ago, I will say it is from that?” If there is a 50% chance a jury would believe it, then a case worth $100,000 has its value reduced to $50,000.
Of course, you must prove whatever you allege! You can’t just say I have a Concussion or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It has to be medically diagnosed and treated. In addition, the claim must be filed within the Statute of Limitations. For an accident it is 2 years…..(for an Oral Contract 2 years, a Written contract 4 years and then 6 month notice for a Government claim). You can also file in Small Claims (up to $10k) using forms at the Judicial Council Website……….(form SC100).
No matter where the case is filed, you have the same challenge of proving who was at fault, and then the value of the damages. Only an experienced PI lawyer knows how to maximize your recovery. To find a well credentialed Accident lawyer, look for a lawyer who has an AVVO “Peer” rating of 10.0; a 5 Star Rating; a Martindale Hubbell AV rating (A for legal ability and V for very high ethics) and one who has been awarded TOP LAWYER OR BEST LAWYER.
In the weeks to follow I will expand on this topic in my 4 part series.
Ideas for future columns contact Dale Gribow 760-837-7500 or email@example.com.
REPRESENTING THE INJURED AND CRIMINALLY ACCUSED
“TOP LAWYER” – Inland Empire Magazine
PERFECT 10.0 AVVO Peer Rating