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Personal Injury FAQ: Santa Monica Injury Cases

Have you recently been injured in an accident that was caused by someone else's carelessness? We know you probably have a lot of questions regarding how an attorney can help and what you can do to receive the maximum amount of monetary compensation from the person or company at fault. Our Santa Monica personal injury lawyers created a frequently asked questions page so potential clients may discover answers to common inquiries regarding personal injury cases. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact a Santa Monica personal injury attorney at McGee, Lerer & Associates! We are also more than happy to answer questions you may have during a free consultation.

Answers to Common Personal Injury Questions

What is personal injury?

Personal injury is an area of law that deals with damage done to a person's property, body, rights, or reputation. Personal injuries can occur in traffic accidents, at a workplace, during medical treatment, while using a faulty product, or when a person slips and falls due to wet or uneven surfaces. Injuries must be caused by someone else's negligence or unsafe actions for a case to be considered personal injury.

What is financial compensation?

Financial compensation is described as money paid by an at-fault party to the injured party or representative of the injured party. It is used to compensate the plaintiff for emotional, physical, and any other types of losses and injuries the defendant caused.

How much is my case worth?

Right after an accident, it is impossible to predict the value an injury claim will have. Any attorney who tells you what your case is worth right after an accident is only trying to dazzle you with numbers to ensure that you retain him. You would be better served by a lawyer who is honest with you. We believe it is irresponsible for an attorney to guess the value of a claim right after an accident. No attorney knows for sure how much monetary compensation a claim can receive immediately, so a lawyer who gives you numbers is just guessing. A guess won't help you, and will probably only let you down later.

The true value of your case cannot be known until:

  • The full extent of your injuries is known
  • Your future medical prognosis and any anticipated residual problems are known
  • The amount of your medical bills is known
  • The amount of any accident-related future medical bills anticipated to be incurred is known
  • The amount of your lost wages is known
  • The extent of the pain and suffering you endured as a result of the accident has been explored

Isn't it expensive to hire a lawyer?

No. You pay us nothing up front. We handle all of our cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that our fee is paid for out of the money we recover for you. If we collect nothing, we are paid nothing.

Can't I deal directly with the insurance company and avoid losing money to an attorney?

It is a well-established fact that those who have legal representation recover far higher settlements. They are on an average 3 ½ times higher in dollar amount than those who try to negotiate the claim themselves. Even when the percentage is paid to your attorney when the case is settled, your settlement amount is likely to be much, much higher with our help.

Should I accept a check from the at-fault person or their insurance company?

The moment you accept a check or any form of monetary compensation from the person at fault or their insurance company means that you are accepting a settlement. This may prohibit you from receiving any further amounts of monetary compensation from the person at fault or their insurance company. Simply stated—no, you should not accept a check or money from anyone prior to seeking a Santa Monica personal injury attorney’s assistance. Our firm may only encourage you to accept a check or money from the party at fault after you have been cleared by a doctor, so you know just how much your medical and other bills relating to the accident may be. If the check covers the necessary amount, then we may tell you to accept it. However, we often have the ability to help you receive an even bigger monetary compensation amount from the guilty party or their insurance company.

How soon should I hire a Santa Monica personal injury lawyer?

You should speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Injury victims only have a short amount of time to file a claim against the person or company who caused your injury. Failure to file a claim within the designated time period, which is referred to as the statute of limitations, may mean that you can never recover monetary compensation for your injuries.

How long will I have to wait for a settlement, or will there be a trial?

Most insurance companies want to avoid a trial. 98% of our cases settle prior to trial. About 50% of our cases settle within 6 months. Of the remaining 50%, about half will settle within the next 6 months, and half will settle within the next year.

What types of injury cases does your firm handle?

We provide legal representation in all types of serious injury cases, including car accidents, drunk driving accidents, truck accidents, bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, dog bites, swimming pool accidents, nursing home negligence, premises liability, product liability, wrongful death and hit and run accident cases, among others.

Do you have a specialty?

Yes. We specialize in serious injury cases. Based on our years of experience handling exclusively personal injury cases, and based on the relationships we have established with some of the best doctors and experts in the community, we believe our clients are best served by our firm's focus on serious injury claims.

Should I allow the insurance company access to my medical records?

In a word: No! Never do so. This can seriously affect your opportunity to get the settlement to which you are entitled. We will carefully manage each part of the claims process, including the other side's access to your medical records. That is your personal, private information and should be protected from unnecessary disclosure. The other side wants access to your medical records, including your prior medical history, so that they can use it against you to pay you as little as possible. Your unrelated prior medical history is none of their business. You want an attorney who will protect your constitutional right to privacy in unrelated prior medical records.

Can I still file a claim if my medical bills were paid by insurance?

Under the Collateral Source Rule in California, yes, you can still receive compensation for your medical bills, regardless of whether or not your health insurance company agrees to cover said bills. The same rule applies to lost wages—if you miss work and your work agrees to pay for the time you missed, you can still file a claim. Oftentimes when a person files a personal injury claim, a large portion of the monetary compensation won goes towards pain and suffering damages.

What happens if I’ve been hit by an uninsured driver?

If you have been hit by a driver who does not have car insurance, you still may be able to get your insurance company or the other party to pay bills relating to the accident. It is important that you get the driver’s information, regardless of whether or not they have insurance, call your insurance company and report the accident, and call an experienced Santa Monica personal injury lawyer. Even if your insurance company offers to pay for the damages caused by the accident, they may not give you the monetary compensation you deserve. Contact McGee, Lerer & Associates to learn how we can help.

Contact a Santa Monica personal injury lawyer from our firm to discuss your case and get the answers you need.