Category: Insurance

Everything You Need to Know: Injury Car Accidents

 

air bag deployedby Will Daniels

You’ve been involved in an injury car accident. You don’t have obvious injuries — you’re alert and aware. But what should you do? The following offers tips of everything you need to know post car-accident. Being well-prepared can make your post- car accident experience less stressful and will ultimately make any claims clearer.

Injury car accidents can be stressful and usually happen at the most inconvenient time. You can significantly reduce this stress by being prepared. The following are a few tips to help prepare yourself in the unfortunate event you are involved in an injury automobile collision.

Be Prepared.

You should stock your car with a few essentials. One way to always ensure you have these essentials with you in one place is to keep a vehicle safety kit. This can take the form of either a premade or homemade safety kit.

At a very basic level a vehicle safety kit should include

:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Tow Strap
  • Reflective Emergency Triangle or Road Flares
  • Jumper Cables
  • Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Spare Batteries for Flashlight or Headlamp
  • Water / Food (Enough to last 2 days)

 

You also want to make sure you keep important information in your glovebox. This includes: vehicle insurance information, vehicle registration, emergency contacts, health insurance information, note pad and pencil or pen. (A disposable camera is a great addition to a glovebox if you don’t have a cellphone with a camera.)

If possible, try to keep your cell-phone charged and located in a place easily accessible in the event of an accident. (Never attempt to use a cell-phone while operating a motor vehicle!)


Don’t Panic!

When you experience an injury automobile collision, it is not uncommon to feel a variety of emotions ranging from anger to extreme anxiety. It is important, following a collision, to remain calm. Always flip on your “hazard” lights and, if possible, move to a safe area.

You should only attempt to move your car out of the collision location if there are no other threats in the vicinity. If you are unable to move your vehicle, ensure that you turn on your hazard lights and stay in the vehicle.

iphoneOnce in a safe location, check to see if there are any injured parties from the crash and call 911, even if the collision is minor. The police dispatcher will instruct you if an officer is required to view the scene and make a record.

DO NOT leave the scene of the collision without exchanging information. Leaving the scene of an automobile collision in which you were involved, without exchanging information, may result in civil or criminal liability.

Once you have ensured that all parties involved are all right, immediately contact your insurance agent or provider immediately.

Document, Document, Document.

After calling 911, document the damage to all cars involved in the collision. This generally involves making notes about the identities of the other driver(s) involved, taking photos of the damage to ALL vehicles and securing witness information. Any discrepancies in the vehicle’s insurance, registration or driver’s information should be noted.

Take notes  (Super helpful tip: most mobile phones have a “Notes” app — input/type the following, rather than using pieces of paper which can either be lost or later prove to be illegible, due to haste, anxiousness, nerves, or a proper surface on which to write).

Make sure to note

  • the time
  • the specific location of accident
  • description of all cars involved

Also list, for each car involved:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Year
  • License Plate Number
  • Damage(s)
  • description of all individuals involved in the injury car accident, including passengers.

Photo Op

If you can, try and take a picture of all the above. If there’s ever a time to be snapping mobile phone pics, this is it — take many photos of both cars from every angle possible.

Make sure to exchange information with the other driver(s), including:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Telephone Number
  • E-mail
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Insurance Company
  • Insured’s Policy Number

 

It’s Almost Over.

Generally, if you have only sustained minor property damage, your insurance company will take care of everything and you should not have to talk to a lawyer. If someone is injured, you may need to seek advice from a lawyer on how to resolve any issues that arise from the incident.

 

Will Daniels

Will Daniels is a law clerk with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA. A recent graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, Mr. Daniels is currently waiting on his bar results. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com

Confusing Auto Insurance Policies Confound Drivers

woman confused
Confused about your policy? You’re not the only one.

According to an online Harris Interactive poll, reported by Insurance Networking News, confusing insurance policy wording makes auto insurance policies incomprehensible to 36% of American drivers.

The survey revealed that 87% of drivers who currently have auto insurance said they had read at least some of their auto insurance policies, but that 36% of those drivers complained that their auto insurance policies were somewhat or very difficult to understand.

Despite the fact that more than 30 states have enacted laws intended to simplify policy language, the online quote aggregator says that many consumers are confused by how their policies are written, and struggle to determine what’s covered and what’s not.

California Flag The irony with all this is, in California and many states, the law presumes that a consumer has read their insurance policy and understands its terms. I advise all my clients to read their policies as carefully as they can and then ask their broker/agent questions about the parts they don’t understand.

Not that this always helps. I have one case right now where the insured read their policy and thought they understood it, only to find out when their claim for a defense was denied that there was some case law the insurance company thought meant that the policy didn’t cover anything.

The truth is, right now the law favors insurance companies over consumers, so people need to watch their step and be very careful in buying and maintaining insurance.

And, yes, I read my own insurance policies and, no, I don’t understand everything I read, even though I litigate insurance disputes for a living.

What a world.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

Understanding Your Rights After an Auto Accident

firefighters fighting fireFor police, fire fighters and ambulance personnel trained to handle emergencies on a daily basis, car accidents are a daily occurrence; for them—and for personal injury attorneys— accidents are just another day at the office. For the rest of us it’s not that easy. There are some things you should remember that might not have been included in the driver’s manual you studied before getting your license. Here are some of your rights, as a victim, after an auto accident and what they mean:

smashed carYou always have the right to hire an attorney after an accident. Your insurance company has attorneys and their insurance company has attorneys. You have a right to consult with an attorney to better explain your rights after an accident. He or she can advise you as to whether or not you have a case, exactly who and what you can sue for as well as give you an idea of what kind of settlement you can expect. An attorney can also advise you as to time limits to file your case and possibly keep you from losing before you have even gone to court. In particular, if you are injured due to someone else’s negligence you have the right to sue for things such as:

  • Bodily injuries
  • Past pain and suffering
  • Future pain and suffering
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Mental anguish
  • Hospitalization expenses
  • Loss of ability to earn future money
  • Inconvenience
  • Property damage

You may also have the right to sue not only the driver of the other vehicle, but anyone else who may have been responsible for the accident. For example, if there was some defect to your car’s design or operation that caused the accident you may be able to sue the manufacturer.

You have the right to demand the other driver’s contact information such as driver’s license and insurance card, email address, and home, work, and cell phone numbers. This information is vital since not only will it allow you to be able to contact this person and his/her insurance company, but it will also be helpful if the other party is hiding the fact that he/she does not have insurance.

You have the right to take as many photos as you can. These days everyone has a camera within reach at nearly all times. Take pictures of the damage done to both cars and the area around the accident as well as any physical injuries. These photos can serve as invaluable tools in any future legal action.

You have the right to obtain the police report of the incident. Before the officer leaves the scene ask for his/her contact information such as badge number, name and department. Also ask for the reference or service number of the report. It should be made available to you after a few days.

You have a right to not make incriminating statements to the other party’s insurance company such as “It was my fault” or “I’m sorry.” The other party’s insurance is not your advocate. They are looking for admissions of guilt/liability and for reasons to deny your claim. You could end up saying something that could damage your case. A serious personal injury attorney in Los Angeles such as Daniels Law can communicate with the other party’s insurance.

For most of us accidents are a confusing time that tests our abilities at crisis management and also test our common sense and judgment.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

The Bible, Personal Injury and California Justice

Will Daniels
Will Daniels

Now that my oldest child is out in the working world beyond my protection, I worry even more about what might happen if he suffers a hard life blow such as a serious accident. Also, thinking like I do, I wonder what my remedies are if someone, through carelessness or intent, causes bodily harm to this young man I love.

It’s interesting to me that the Bible has strong rules about personal injury that we as a society really don’t look to as a standard. Take Chapter 21, verse 12 of the Book of Exodus, which proclaims: “Whoever strikes a man a mortal blow must be put to death.” Simple and straightforward, don’t you think? The penalty is fixed no matter if the killing resulted from an accident, some simple negligence or with malice aforethought. Harsh, huh?

book openSo, I got to thinking about how California measures up to that old Biblical standard. Seems there should be some clamor to tighten our standards, seeing as how there is a fair amount of the population who still haven’t forgiven Charles Darwin for drawing conclusions about how evolution works.

Actually, though, as a society, we go completely the other way from the Bible’s strong message about the value of human life.

Oh sure, murder, is still punished criminally, or at least it’s supposed to. On the other hand, our civil justice system often seems value human life at less than the cost of a luxury sedan or a new Ferrari. How can that be?

Take my son, for example. If he is killed on the job as the result of a workplace injury, his life is worth a $5,000 burial expense and that’s pretty much it, since he has no dependents. If a doctor kills him through malpractice, then the cap is $250,000 plus whatever expenses he might have incurred in dying, such as medical bills, etc.

A jury of his peers, on the other hand, might value his life as high as the 9/11 panels did in New York where the families of terror victims were compensated by the government for their loss. Those values always fell in the multi-millions. That was the Bush administration too, not a bunch of wild-eyed liberals. The problem is, as a society, we are letting juries decide these questions less and less, because we don’t trust common people to make decisions about value. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather trust my neighbors to decide how much my son’s life is worth than some single stranger who doesn’t know me, my life or my community. Yet, that is the way we’re drifting, my friends.

At the end of the day, there is no way to equate money with loss of human life. Maybe that’s why the old testament is so rigid in it’s approach.

Still, if we are trying to give justice to families who have lost a loved one because of someone else’s negligence and the only remedy we have is to award money damages, don’t you think justice demands that the value be fair?

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

23004.1 Recovery for care and treatment provided person injured or diseased by‏….

California Government Code section 23004.1 (see below) creates a sort of “super-lien” in personal injury cases.  It pops up when a county provides medical services, so watch out for this if that is your situation.

If there are county provided medical services in connection with a personal injury case, then the county has a lien against any settlement or judgment proceeds that may not even require it to reduce its claim in proportion to the attorneys fees and costs incurred to recover the money (what we call the “common fund doctrine”).

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

23004.1. (a) Subject to the provisions of Section 23004.3, in any case in which the county is authorized or required by law to furnish hospital, medical, surgical, or dental care and treatment, including prostheses and medical appliances, to a person who is injured or suffers a disease, under circumstances creating a tort liability upon some third person to pay damages therefor, the county shall have a right to recover from said third person the reasonable value of the care and treatment so furnished or to be furnished, or shall, as to this right, be subrogated to any right or claim that the injured or diseased person, his guardian, personal representative, estate, or survivors has against such third person to the extent of the reasonable value of the care and treatment so furnished or to be furnished.

(b) The county may, to enforce such rights, institute and prosecute legal proceedings against the third person who is liable for the injury or disease in the appropriate court, either in its own name or in the name of the injured person, his guardian, personal representative, estate, or survivors. Such action shall be commenced within the period prescribed in Section 340 of the Code of Civil Procedure. In the event that the injured person, his guardian, personal representative, estate, survivors, or either of them brings an action for damages against the third person who is liable for the injury or disease, the county s right of action shall abate during the pendency of such action, and continue as a first lien against any judgment recovered by the injured or diseased person, his guardian, personal representative, estate, or survivors, against the third person who is liable for the injury or disease, to the extent of the reasonable value of the care and treatment so furnished or to be furnished. When the third person who is liable is insured, the county shall notify the third person s insurer, when known to the county, in writing of the lien within 30 days following the filing of the action by the injured or diseased person, his guardian, personal representative, estate, or survivors, against the third person who is liable for the injury or disease; provided, however, that failure to so notify the insurer shall not prejudice the claim or cause of action of the injured or diseased person, his guardian, personal representative, estate, or survivors, or the county.

(Added by Stats. 1967, Ch. 1495.)

Wildfires and Personal Injury

Wildfires are a very dangerous and real problem in California. In such a dry state wildfires can start for a number of reasons. Some wildfires are caused by lightning striking in the wrong place at the wrong time, some are caused by problems with utility company equipment, some are caused by controlled fires burning out of control and some are caused by human error or some act of negligence. Regardless of the cause, the bottom line is this: Wildfires can and do happen; and when they strike, the fallout can be devastating.

Wildfires that burn in or near populated areas can cause some extensive damage; if you live in one of these areas you are at risk of potential property damage, personal injury (such as smoke inhalation or severe burns) or even death. For those affected by such fires, the aftermath can be absolutely heartbreaking. This is why when dealing with the negative impacts caused by wildfires—such as the one that burned near Shaver Lake earlier this year—it should be handled with the utmost care and respect.

If you and/or your loved ones find yourselves trying to figure out how to deal with the fallout after losing your home or being injured in a California Wildfire, Daniels Law is here to help. We are very invested in the wellbeing of those who have been negatively affected by the wildfires that have raged here in California recently, so at Daniels Law you’ll be sure to find the best Los Angeles personal injury lawyer to handle your case. Give us a call today to discuss all of your options.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

How Lawsuits Can Help Solve Problems

One of the great things about living in America, is we have something called “the rule of law.”

So, just what is that?

Well, in the U.S., instead of having a king sitting on a throne, we believe “the law is king.” That means that we believe we are ruled by laws, not other men and women. “The rule of law.” It’s precious stuff, friends.

So, what does any of that have to do with lawsuits.

Well, it turns out, that people just living their daily lives, are going to have problems that come up in dealing with other people.

There’s two ways to solve problems having to do with money, property or your person, what we call “civil” problems.

One is something called “self help.” In other words, if your neighbor built a high fence and you don’t like it, self help is taking a saw and cutting it down without permission.

Only we learned a long time ago that self help causes all kinds of problems. If you don’t believe me, try cutting down your neighbor’s fence and report back to me what happens. No, just kidding. Don’t do that. Self-help isn’t really all that helpful.

The other way to solve civil problems is something called a civil justice system.

When someone wants to solve a problem using the civil justice system, they file papers asking for some kind of relief. That’s basically what a lawsuit is. Pretty simple, huh?

Now, there is plenty of debate these days about whether there are too many lawsuits, or too few, and all that kind of stuff that I know you hear about all the time.

But, the truth is, when you have a civil problem, it become real important to you that someone can help you solve that problem in the fairest, least expensive and quickest way.

Now, I’m not here to give you legal advice and there are differences in how courts work in each state and in the federal system. Still, spend a little time with me and I think I can tell you some things that you didn’t know before and, hopefully, will help you with whatever problem you need to fix.

 

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

 

Defective Product Litigation and Injury Lawsuits

On the surface, product liability would seem to be a pretty cut and dry area of the law and being a litigation attorney may not seem super exciting. I mean it all seems like common sense. Some manufacturer or seller creates or distributes a product, a consumer purchases it and is injured, or perhaps even dies as a result of using it and naturally the manufacturer is automatically responsible for said injury and attempts to make things right. However, this area of law has many pitfalls that await consumers who have been harmed and for the inexperienced personal injury attorneys who try these cases.

Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit

According to some estimates, injuries, deaths and property damage from defective and recalled products cost the public more than $500 billion each year. Recently, a man in San Jose was awarded a $9.8 million judgment in a product liability case involving a surgical stapler that caused him grave bodily harm. Thus, product liability cases, unfortunately, are not an insignificant part of the legal system. In this case, without the proper legal counsel as to the circumstances, criteria and time limits involved in filing suit in a personal injury claim for product liability,it could have ended even more tragically for this person. Knowing when to file a case is one of the first steps to succeeding in personal injury cases involving product liability. In the state of California, for example, an action must be brought within two years from the time when the injury occurred. Here are some other things to know when filing a personal injury claim involving a defective product:

Establishing liability in personal injury cases involving a defective product

There are four legal means for establishing liability in personal injury cases involving a defective product:

  • Negligence: This is when expected, reasonable care is not taken and an obligation to do so exists. Negligence can occur when defective partsor improper assembly result in some injury.
  • Breach of Warranty: This is when a seller fails to uphold a claim or promise regarding their product.
  • False Advertising: This is when a consumer is misled into believing that a product is safer than it actually is.
  • Strict Liability: This is when the manufacturer or seller of a defective product is responsible for all injuries occurring from the use of the product. This also means that everyone involved in the making of a consumer product is potentially liable for any personal injury that results from using the product.

Obviously, manufacturers and sellers never mean to harm consumers with the products they create or distribute. However, intent is irrelevant when you suffer an injury and are required to pay hospital bills or when a loved one is struck down through no fault of his or her own. How can you be made whole after you are harmed by faulty—even deadly—products? We are Daniels Law, a Hollywood law firm that specializes in all areas of personal injury including the very complicated area of product liability. We are familiar with all aspects of product liability and can inform you as to your time limits to file and the types of product defects (design, manufacturing errors and false advertising) there are. We know that the cost to life and limb in these cases can be inestimable.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Watch out if your employer health plan pays for your accident injuries

Many employer provided health plans are covered by a federal law called ERISA (Employment Retirement Income Security Act).  This Nixon-era law was originally meant to keep union plans from being stripped by unscrupulous institutions.

Important fact:  If your employer provided health plan paid for your accident injury medical care, ERISA may cause problems in your personal injury claim if you aren’t prepared up front.

Many ERISA health plans have language that require reimbursing the insurance company for any money they paid out for accident injuries if there is recovery from a third person.

In other words, if you settle your claim for $100,000 and the medical expenses are $110,000, you could wind up owing the insurance company $10,000 more than you settled for.  Depending on the language in your health plan, you might not even get to deduct the money you paid your attorneys or the costs of settling the claim.

That might sound unfair, but it’s the law according the the U.S. Supreme Court.  US Airways v. McCutchen, 113 S.Ct. 1537 (2013).

We’ve had these cases and the trick is to get with the insurance company at the very beginning and try to negotiate a fair deal.  You have leverage before you settle your claim that you don’t have once the money is in the bank.

The takeaway?  Hire an attorney who is familiar with the ins and outs of ERISA.  If you’re interviewing a lawyer, have an employer-provided group health plan and your prospective attorney doesn’t know about US Airways, you might want to think about looking elsewhere.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.

Poor economy means more drivers are dropping their car insurance, which is bad news if you have a personal injury accident

In the news today, word that a rise in the unemployment rate is leading to a rise in uninsured drivers as people try to save money.  In California, roughly 25% of drivers aren’t insured.  That means if you stand on a street corner, one out of every four cars passing you has absolutely no insurance if they injure you in an accident.

Your best protection is to make sure you have adequate uninsured motorist coverage on your own policy.  This is something many people don’t pay attention to, or try to save money on by buying the lowest possible limits.

You need to be proactive in making sure you have enough uninsured motorist coverage on your policy.  Check your insurance policy declarations page and then ask your carrier how much extra they will charge for limits equal to what they would pay another driver if your were responsible for their personal injuries.

On the bright side, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is reporting that small cars are faring better in crashes than they used to, though they still show some weakness in side-impact collisions.

Top safety picks are the Scion xB, Honda Civic, Mitsubishi Lancer, Volkswagen Rabbit, Toyota Corolla and Honda Fit.

Bill Daniels is a trial lawyer and shareholder with the law firm of DANIELS LAW in Sherman Oaks, CA.  A graduate of Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, he is a former member of the Consumer Attorneys Association of Los Angeles Board of Governors, a founding member of Loyola’s Civil Justice Program and a past president of the Encino Lawyers Association.  Since 2007, he has been named a Southern California “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine.  Mr. Daniels focuses his practice on serious personal injury, insurance and employment. For information, visit our website at www.daniels.legal or contact us through e-mail: Info@danielslaw.com.