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Our California Personal Injury Lawyers Answer Your Top Questions

Hiring a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer is a no-cost investment. Consultations are free, and you don't pay fees unless you win. That said, reviewing the information below may help you identify if you have a claim and assist with your understanding of personal injury and accident law in California. 

What is a personal injury case? 

A personal injury case is a legal case in which one party is seeking monetary compensation from the other for injuries caused by a third party. The individual bringing the case is termed the plaintiff, while the party from whom compensation is sought is the defendant. Personal injury cases are torts, which are cases in which a remedy is sought for a legal wrong. Usually personal injury cases are brought for injury accidents allegedly caused by the defendant’s negligence.

How do I know if I have a personal injury claim?

If you suffer an injury to your person -- physical, emotional or both -- that is legally recognized, and is due to the fault or negligence of another, you have a personal injury case. In some instances you don’t even have to be actually injured, as in assault, where the actions of another led you to an expectation of harm. You may also bring a wrongful death personal injury suit. This is not on behalf of the decedent, but for your loss of financial support as well as companionship.  Even if you may be at fault, always speak with a Personal Injury Attorney to discuss your rights. 

What determines how much my case is worth?

Until all of your medical costs and loss of income have been determined, it is very difficult to know precisely how much your case will be worth. Along with your treatment costs and lost wages, other factors which will weigh in the total worth may include future and continuing medical care, future lost wages, lost advancement opportunities at work, etc. In addition, your personal injury attorney will generally add damages for pain and suffering.

Why should I hire a personal injury attorney?

To assert your legal rights!  Do not represent yourself against an insurance company and their attorneys in your personal injury case.  You need to hire a personal injury attorney to represent your interests against tactics insurance companies have in place to pay you as little as possible.  Just like any other for-profit business, which most insurance companies are, an insurance company’s loyalty is to their shareholders, their goal is to increase profits, and it is common practice to undervalue your case.  Personal Injury Attorney Payum Ryan Banafshe of Banafshe Law Firm will protect your legal rights and obtain the best possible outcome in your case.  All personal injury cases are no compensation, no attorney fees.

How do contingency fees work for personal injury lawyers in California?

At Banafshe Law Firm, PC, all personal injury cases are retained on a contingency basis, with no upfront fees. After your case is resolved, our office charges a percentage of the settlement.  Once the settlement has been finalized and a check has been issued, the attorney collects his fee, along with other costs which the attorney has incurred in representing the clients.  If for whatever no compensation is obtained for the client, no attorney fees are charged.

How soon after I am injured do I have to file a lawsuit? What is the statute of limitation in California?

If you have suffered a personal injury in California, the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit is two years from the time the injury accident occurred. In some instances the statute of limitations is temporarily stopped. For instance, if the injury victim is a minor, she is not legally entitled to file suit until she turns 18. The two year limit then would begin on her 18th birthday.  If you have been involved in an accident call a Los Angeles injury attorney immediately.

How long will my personal injury lawsuit take?

It is difficult to know how long your lawsuit will take. There are many variables and each case is different.  However, it is very important that you don’t rush to settle. You do not know in the early stages after an accident how serious your injuries may be or how much future medical care you might require.  Do not ever sign any document from an insurance company without first speaking with a Personal Injury Attorney.

What is "negligence?"

Negligence in a legal sense means failure to use reasonable care. It involves failing to do something that a reasonably prudent person would do in a given circumstance or doing something a reasonable person wouldn't. It applies when an individual’s action or inaction directly leads or substantially contributes to the accident.

Can I still pursue compensation if I was partially at-fault for my injuries?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is as follows:

The legal term "comparative negligence" means that both the plaintiff and defendant share some culpability for the accident. Your settlement will be adjusted using a formula to determine compensation based on the percentage of fault that is applied to both parties. For example, if you are 25% at fault for the accident, the defendant will be liable for 75% of your damages.

If I don't have health insurance how can I get medical treatment for my injuries?

The party responsible for your injuries is liable for your medical costs. In personal injury cases the defendant’s insurance company will pay for your medical bills. In most cases you will likely have to wait until after your claim is settled to pay your medical bills.  Contact a personal injury attorney to discuss placing your medical expenses on liens, delaying the medical facilities payment until after you case settles. Make sure you keep good records of all your bills for this reason.

How will I pay all my medical bills?

The defendant’s insurance company will compensate you for the cost of your medical care once your case is settled. In the meantime, you may use your own health insurance, or personal assets to cover your bills. In some cases the defendant’s insurer will front money to the plaintiff to cover bills, but you should not count on this.  If you do not have insurance or access to medical care, our office can assist you with getting you the medical care your need on a lien basis, meaning your treating physicians will get paid from your settlement.

The insurance company sent me some paperwork and asked me to sign and return it, what should I do?

DO NOT SIGN any document from an insurance company without first speaking with a personal injury attorney.  This includes documentation from your own insurance company.  A personal injury attorney must first read the document, explain what you are legally singing, and then under the direction of an attorney make a decision if it is in your best interests to sign the document.  An often used tactic by insurance companies is to mail you a Release of All Claims relinquishing all your rights for less than the actual worth of your case.

I signed a release without knowing what it was and now I have learned that my injuries are a lot worse that I first suspected, what can I do?

Immediately call our office and speak with a personal injury attorney.  Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to help you cancel the release you signed and obtain just compensation for you. 

The defendant’s insurance company says I don’t need an personal injury attorney. How can I tell if I'm being treated fairly?

The insurance company doesn’t want you to retain an attorney because they know it is very likely, if not definite, that they will pay you less if you are not represented by an attorney.   They will make you a low ball offer, lie to you that this is the best they can offer, and will do so early in your case before you have an opportunity to determine the severity of your injuries.  Their goal is to pay you as little money as possible.  You need an experienced Personal Injury Attorney to obtain the best possible settlement or verdict on your behalf.

The other party’s insurance company has offered me a settlement, should I accept it?

Not until you speak with a personal injury attorney.  Insurance companies will offer you significantly less than the actual value of your case to make the case go away before you have the opportunity to treat your injuries, which you may later find to be more serious.  Only under very limited circumstances should you settle your case with an insurance carrier prior to being released from your treating physicians care.

What happens if I have a severe injury and the person who caused my accident does not have any or enough insurance coverage to pay all of my damages?

If you encounter this situation, you need to call a personal injury attorney immediately.  A personal injury attorney will review your policy to determine if you have uninsured motorist coverage and assist you in hopefully locating another insurance policy or other persons who may be liable for your injuries. 

If my car is declared a total loss, how is the value of the vehicle determined?

Your car may be declared a total loss even if it is salvageable. This occurs when the insurance company weighs the cost of repair with the car’s value. If the repairs costs are high enough, say 70% of the value, then your car will be deemed a total loss. The car’s value is determined much as it would be if you were placing it up for sale. An insurance representative inspects the wreck to determine the mileage, modifications made to the car, and its apparent condition before the accident. The insurer will then refer to actual sales figures of comparable vehicles, and price guides like the Kelly Blue Book to arrive at a figure. You should do your own research to avoid being low-balled by the insurer.

What are uninsured insurance and underinsurance insurance coverage?

Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage protects the policyholder from being unable to recover damages in an accident where the liable party has no insurance, or not enough coverage to pay for expenses. It is useful to purchase such insurance, especially considering that in California an estimated 20% of drivers have no insurance.  It is very important to purchase UM and UIM coverage with your insurance.  A good rule of thumb is to carry the same UIM and UM coverage as you have in your regular policy.  If you do not have or unsure if you have sufficient UM or UIM coverage contact your insurance broker.

If I make a claim with my uninsured insurance coverage or underinsurance insurance coverage will my rates with my insurance carrier increase?

Your insurance rate only increases if you are “at-fault” in the car accident.  Making a claim for benefits under your uninsured insurance coverage (UM) or underinsurance insurance coverage (UIM) should not increase your rates if you are not at fault for the accident.  UM and UIM coverage is something you pay for and you should use, with the assistance of a personal injury attorney, if the unfortunate circumstance arises

I fell in a store, is the store liable?

If an unsafe condition or failure to warn caused your fall, the store may be liable for the costs of your medical care, loss of income, and other damages resulting from the accident. The question of fault in such injuries develops out of the legal definition of negligence.

It is very difficult for me to travel to your office, what can I do?

If you are unable to travel to our office, we will meet with you at your home, office, or other location that is convenient for you.

Personal injury accidents can leave a victim with pain, suffering, and medical costs that are devastating. If you have injured in an accident due to the fault or negligence of another, contact the Banafshe Law Firm, PC for a free consultation.


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