How to Find a Good Personal Injury Attorney California

Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury LawyerAfter an accident, you may need an attorney to help you get the money you deserve.

In this post, San Diego personal injury attorney Curtis Quay shares his tips on choosing a good accident lawyer in California. For the past 15 years, Mr. Quay has successfully handled thousands of personal injury cases. See his suggestions below.

Table of Contents

  1. Search Online
  2. Legal Directories
  3. Online Reviews
  4. California State Bar
  5. What To Ask During the Initial Consultation
  6. Preparing for the Initial Consultation
  7. Understand the Fee Structure
  8. Personality

1. Searching Online

Google

When choosing a personal injury lawyer, start by searching via a search engine like Google.

You can search by using terms like “good personal injury lawyers near me” or “personal injury attorney” followed by your City and State. So if you live in Pasadena, CA, you would simply type, “personal injury attorney Pasadena CA” into the search bar.

This type of search will usually give you a list of attorneys in your area and a list of legal (and non-legal) directories. See more about those below.

 

2. Legal Directories

Avvo

Legal directories are like mini-search engines of their own, but focus only on attorneys. We’ll go over the most popular ones and one non-legal directory, Yelp.

Avvo

Avvo is one of the more popular attorneys directories. Avvo offers a lot of great info including ratings, law school attended, and contact info. More importantly, Avvo tells you if the attorney has ever been disciplined by the California State Bar. Visit Avvo by clicking here.

FindLaw

FindLaw is another popular legal directory that may show up in the search results. FindLaw includes attorney contact info and a bio. FindLaw lacks the robust review system you’ll find in Avvo, but given FindLaw’s search engine placement, we included it in our list. Visit them by clicking here.

Lawyers.com

Lawyers.com is owned by Martindale-Hubble. They’ve been around for years providing info on attorneys. Lawyers.com provides contact info, client reviews, and peer reviews. You can see more by clicking here.

Yelp

Although not a legal directory, Yelp has established itself as a go-to location for those seeking an attorney. Yelp includes contact info, bio, and reviews. Visit Yelp them here.

 

3. Online Reviews

Yelp Reviews

Many of the online directories listed above include personal injury lawyers reviews. When looking at reviews, make sure you don’t just look at the amount of reviews or overall ratings.

Instead, take the time to read the reviews – especially the longer ones. A long review might give you more insight into an attorney.

Another way to find attorney reviews is by using Google Maps. Once you’re there, type “personal injury attorney” and you’ll see results below with reviews.

 

4. California State Bar Page

California State Bar

No attorney search is complete without visiting their profile on the California State Bar website. On this site you’ll see their official contact info, educational background, and further detail on their disciplinary history, if any.

You can lookup a lawyer by clicking here.

 

5. Asking the Right Questions During the Initial Consultation

People with with attorney

Most, if not all, personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation. This is a great time to ask a lot of questions regarding their practice and your case.

Here are a list of questions to ask a personal injury lawyer during the free consultation.

  • How many years have you been practicing?
  • Have you handled my type of case before?
  • Where did you attend law school?
  • Do you exclusively practice personal injury law?
  • How long have you exclusively practiced personal injury law?
  • Have you taken any cases to trial?
  • Have you been disciplined by the California State Bar?
  • Ask for a list of their previous victories – both verdicts and settlements
  • How much do you think my case is worth?

 

6. Be Prepared During Your Initial Consult

Prior to meeting with an attorney, take some time to learn a little about personal injury law in your state. For example, most personal injury attorneys will not take a car accident case which solely resulted in property damage.

Additionally, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with tort law and legal terms like negligence.

 

7. Understand the Fee Structure

Don’t sign a retainer agreement without making sure you understand the fee structure. We’ve all heard personal injury attorneys say, “I get nothing unless you win.” This means they work on a contingency basis. While that my be true, make sure you understand what they get in the even that you do win.

In California, an accident attorney will typically take somewhere between 25% – 40%. However, many attorneys will also require that you pay for any fees incurred throughout the process. Your attorney will charge these fees on top of the percentage. What you’ll want to know is exactly what these fees include. For example, it might include the cost for experts, private investigators, and depositions.

Make sure you don’t get blindsided, as these fees can significantly cut into your award settlement.

 

8. Personality

People meeting with an attorney

The last thing to consider is how well you got a long during the initial consultation. Did you find it easy to speak with the attorney? If not, you might want to consider continuing your search until you find someone who is a good personality fit for you.

 

Did We Miss Anything?

We hope that this guide will help you find a reputable personal injury lawyer in your area. Did we miss something? If so, please comment below.

About the Author: Attorney Curtis Quay has over 15 years experience handling both plaintiff and defendant personal injury claims. Mr. Quay earned his J.D. at prestigious Temple Law School.

 

Reasons Why You Should Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer:

We put together this infographic dealing the benefits of hiring a personal injury lawyer after an accident. These reasons include:

  1. Medical Issues: A good attorney will work with a team of experts that can properly evaluate your injuries.
  2. Financial Issues: An attorney will help you with the financial issues that inevitably arise after an accident.
  3. Higher Settlements: An experienced attorney can often help you negotiate higher settlements with the negligent party’s insurance company.

 

Why Should I Hire A Personal Injury Lawyer?

What is Comparative Negligence?

Determining liability after a California car accident can be difficult. Fault and liability are often heavily disputed, requiring the need for thorough investigations into the crash. Why is it so important to find out who is responsible for causing an accident? In California, anyone who contributes to the cause of an accident can be on the hook for damages. If you’ve been injured in a crash, you’ll want to know everyone who can be held financially responsible for your injuries.

Contributory vs. Comparative Fault

There are two primary types of fault: contributory and comparative. Some states embrace the law of contributory fault, which bars anyone who is responsible for an accident from recovering compensation for their injuries. In contributory negligence states, you are only entitled to an award of damages if you played no role in your accident or injury. However, you could still be on the hook for damages if someone else was injured in your accident.

Some states, including California, embrace the rule of comparative fault, which is generally considered to be more lenient and victim-friendly. There are two important things you need to know about comparative fault:

  1. Anyone who contributes to the cause of an accident can be held financially responsible for damages, and
  2. You are not barred from recovering compensation for your injuries if you shoulder some of the blame for your injury.

Apportionment of Fault

What happens when more than one person is responsible for causing your accident and injury? California law explains that responsibility for damages will be apportioned between responsible parties. This basically means that 100 % of your damages will be divided between anyone who caused your accident. In order to determine how much each at-fault party will be responsible for paying, it is necessary to determine their role in causing the accident. The larger their role, the greater their share of responsibility for damages.

Example #1: A, B, and C are involved in a crash at a Los Angeles intersection. An investigation shows that B was texting at the time of the crash, while C attempted to speed through a yellow light. A sustained serious injuries in the crash and has suffered $100,000 in damages. It’s determined that B and C were equally responsible for causing the accident. As a result, B and C will both be responsible for paying half of A’s damages (or $50,000 each).

Example #2: A, B, and C are involved in a Los Angeles car accident. A suffers extensive injuries in the crash and has damages of $100,000. An investigation finds that B was drunk at the time of the crash and C was driving on a suspended license. As a result, B is assigned 90% of the fault, while B assumes the other 10% of the blame. B would be responsible for 90% of A’s damages ($90,000) and B would be responsible for 10% of A’s damages ($10,000).

Fault of Victim

Victims who contribute to their own accident are barred from recovering compensation in states that embrace the rule of contributory negligence. In California, however, a victim is not barred from recovering compensation as long as they share the blame with another person. In other words, victims are only prohibited from recovering damages if they are 100% responsible for their own harm.

While victims are not barred from recovering damages, the amount they can get is reduced by their own degree of fault. This can apply to circumstances that (a) contribute to the accident or (b) aggravate the severity of their injuries. The more responsibility they shoulder, the less they’ll be able to recover.

Example #1: A, B, and C are involved in an accident. A suffers significant injuries in the crash and has damages of $100,000. The investigation finds that A, B, and C were all speeding at the time of the crash. A’s ability to recover compensation will be reduced by her own degree of fault. As a result, she will only be able to get 66.6 percent of her accident-related damages. B and C will share equal responsibility in paying these damages.

Example #2: A and B are involved in an accident, and both suffer extensive injuries in the crash. Each has damages of $100,000. An investigation finds that A is 70% responsible for causing the accident. As a result, A will only be able to recover $30,000 in damages ($100,000 reduced by 70 percent fault) from B. At the same time, B will be able to recover $70,000 in damages ($100,000 reduced by 30 percent fault) from A.

Do You Need More Info?

If you’ve been involved in a car accident you should contact an attorney. Determining fault and liability can be difficult, but an attorney can help to make sure that your case is handled properly. Visit our guide on how to find a good personal injury attorney for more information.

Car Accident with an Uninsured Motorists in California

Have you been involved in a California car accident with an uninsured driver? You may be entitled to compensation. However, it can be difficult to recover the full amount of money to which you are entitled. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney to handle your case will help to ensure you are properly compensated for your accident-related injuries. See our guide on how to find a good personal injury lawyer in California for more information.

Minimally-Acceptable Car Insurance Coverage in California

California law requires all drivers to purchase and maintain minimally-acceptable car insurance coverage for all vehicles registered with the state. Minimally-acceptable coverage requires:

  • $15,000 (death or injury of one person)
  • $30,000 (death or injury of multiple people), and
  • $5,000 (property damage).

When a driver is involved in an accident, their car insurance policy can be used to cover the cost of bodily injury and property damage, up the amount of their policy limit. Drivers who do not carry 15/30/5 coverage are in violation of the law.

Uninsured vs. Underinsured Drivers

Even though all California drivers are required to purchase and maintain minimally-acceptable car insurance coverage, not everyone does. In fact, approximately 13 percent of all drivers on the road are “uninsured.” This means that they have no car insurance coverage to protect them or others in the event of an accident.

Other drivers have some insurance, but not enough to satisfy California’s legal requirement for what is acceptable. These drivers are considered “underinsured.”

When you are involved in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver, things can be complicated.

What Can I Do If I’m Injured By an Uninsured Driver?

If you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, there are two main options for recovering damages. First, if you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurer for benefits. Second, you have the right to file a personal injury claim for damages.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UMC)

California state law requires all insurance companies to offer uninsured motorist coverage (UMC) to all policyholders. The purpose of UMC is to cover the cost of your injuries and property damage if you happen to be in a crash with an underinsured or uninsured driver.

While you are not legally obligated to purchase UMC, it can be incredibly beneficial if you are in a crash and subsequently faced with expensive medical bills, lost wages, and costly car repairs.

How does UMC work? It depends on whether the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured:

Uninsured: If the at-fault driver is uninsured, your UMC benefits will essentially take the place of the insurance policy that the other driver should have had. The UMC benefits will be capped at whatever your standard policy coverage amount is. So, if you carry minimally-acceptable 15/30/5 coverage, your UMC will be capped at 15/30/5.

Underinsured: If the at-fault driver is underinsured, your UMC benefits will be used to supplement the at-fault driver’s policy. If the driver only had $10,000 in bodily injury coverage, your UMC would kick in to cover the $5,000 the other driver did not have.

It is important to understand that even though you have UMC, your insurance company will want to limit any benefits that you are awarded. They will try to undervalue your claim and pay out as little as possible. You do have the right to contest their decision by requesting an arbitration hearing. Hiring an attorney to help you navigate your uninsured motorist claim will help you get the money you deserve. Call Injury Trial Lawyers, APC for help today.

Personal Injury Lawsuit

If you do not have uninsured motorist coverage, or if you do not think your UMC benefits will cover the full extent of your damages, you have the right to pursue a civil legal claim. However,  if the uninsured driver could not afford insurance, they may not have the assets or resources to pay monetary damages awarded in a lawsuit.

Does this mean you should not consider a personal injury lawsuit? No. Other at-fault parties with deeper pocket may be able to get you the money you need. In California, more than one person can be liable for an accident. Each person is simply held accountable to the degree they contributed to the accident and/or injury.

Potentially liable parties, in addition to the uninsured driver, include:

It is important to thoroughly investigate your accident to determine all potentially liable parties. Call to speak with an experienced San Diego personal injury attorney at Injury Trial Lawyers, APC today.

I’ve Been Injured By an Uninsured Driver. What Should I Do?

It is important to treat an accident involving an uninsured driver as you would any other type of crash. The things you do immediately after your accident will affect any future legal claims you decide to pursue.

Report the Accident: Reporting the accident is crucial. Make sure that police are dispatched to the scene and complete a Traffic Collision Report. This report may not be admissible as evidence in court, but it can be incredibly helpful to your attorney. It will contain information about your accident that will likely be lost or forgotten over time (e.g., weather conditions, traffic, eye-witnesses).

Seek Medical Treatment: Your health and safety should be your first priority. A doctor will make sure that all of your injuries are properly diagnosed and treated, reducing the risk of life-threatening complications. The medical report will be useful in establishing a link between your accident and injuries.

Notify Your Insurance Company: Make sure that you tell your insurance company that you have been involved in an accident right away. They will do everything they can to minimize the benefits you recover. Hesitating to report the accident may negatively affect your recovery.

Hire an Attorney: While you should notify your insurance company about the crash, it is important to limit any further communication. The insurance company will try to get you to accept an early offer to prevent you from retaining an attorney. They know that your chances of maximizing the benefits you receive are greatest when you have an attorney at your side.

Find a Personal Injury Attorney in Your Area

Have you been involved in a California car accident? Was the other driver underinsured or uninsured? The sooner you act, the better your chances of getting the money you deserve. Call an attorney in your jurisdiction today to request a free consultation.

Understanding Pedestrian Accidents in California

Walking is one of the healthiest and most enjoyable ways to see the beautiful state of California. Over the past few decades, the number of people who choose to walk in California has steadily risen. Unfortunately, pedestrians are not always safe on the road and are at risk of suffering serious and fatal injuries. Pedestrians who are injured in a California traffic accident may have the right to receive compensation for their injuries. With the assistance of an experienced California personal injury attorney, these pedestrians can recover the money they need and deserve in the aftermath of an accident. See our guide on how to find a good personal injury attorney in California for more help.

Pedestrian Accidents in California

With more pedestrians and cars sharing the road than ever before, serious and deadly accidents are inevitable. Over the past decade, the total number of fatal pedestrian accidents in California has increased. At the same time, the number of injury-causing pedestrian accidents in California has actually decreased slightly. This means that while the overall number of pedestrian accidents are declining, the harm caused by the accidents that do occur is much greater.

Causes of Pedestrian Accidents

Accidents involving pedestrians in California can be caused for a variety of reasons. Some of the most frequently cited causes of pedestrian accidents include:

  • Walking at night
  • Drinking and walking
  • Failing to wear reflective materials
  • Jaywalking
  • Distracted drivers
  • Drunk drivers
  • Failing to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Speeding
  • Dangerous road and/or sidewalk conditions, and
  • Defective vehicles.

Common Pedestrian Accident Injuries

Unlike motorists on the road, pedestrians have nothing to protect themselves in the event of a crash. This puts pedestrians at an extremely increased risk of suffering a catastrophic injury and/or death. Pedestrians who are injured in a California traffic accident may be entitled to recover compensation for injuries including:

  • Fractures and broken bones
  • Burn injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Concussion
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Paralysis
  • Amputation, and/or
  • Wrongful death.

Liability for California Pedestrian Accidents

Injured pedestrians may be able to recover compensation for their injuries, but who is responsible for paying these damages? In California, any person whose negligence contributes to the cause of an injury-causing accident can be held financially responsible for harms that result. Each responsible party will be held liable to the degree they contributed to the crash. If the injured pedestrian contributed to the accident, his or her ability to recover compensation will be limited. Potentially liable parties for pedestrian accident injuries include:

  • Pedestrians
  • Drivers of vehicles on the road
  • Motorcyclists
  • Bicyclists
  • Government entity responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the road and sidewalks, and
  • Manufacturers of defective vehicles and equipment.

Damages for Pedestrian Accident Injuries

What kind of damages can an injured pedestrian accident victim recover? California generally allows injured accident victims to recover economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages help to compensate victims for the financial out-of-pocket losses they have because of an unexpected accident. These damages can compensate for medical expenses, lost wages, and/or a reduced earning capacity. Non-economic damages help to compensate victims for the subject and hard-to-value losses they suffer as the result of an accident. These damages can compensate for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of life. The specific amount(s) they can receive will depend on the extent and seriousness of their injuries.

Hiring an Attorney Will Maximize Your Recovery

If you have been injured in a California pedestrian accident you may be entitled to compensation from the person responsible for your accident. The two-year statute of limitations began to run the moment you were injured, so it is important to speak with an experienced California personal injury attorney as soon as you can. Hiring an attorney will not only make sure that your claim is filed on time, but also help to ensure that you will be fairly compensated for your injuries. Insurance companies may be quick to offer you a settlement, but this money will not be enough to cover the full extent and cost of your injuries. An attorney will know how to leverage insurers and at-fault parties into fully compensating you for the unexpected harms you have suffered.