Category: California Personal Injury

Seven Ways a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You After an Accident

If someone suffers an injury in an accident, they might have a legitimate claim to file a claim or lawsuit to recover compensation. However, getting money isn’t always easy and it’s not always swift. That’s where a personal injury lawyer can help to make a difference. Here are seven things a personal injury lawyer can do to help their client secure a meaningful financial award after an accident.

Help Injured Plaintiffs Understand Their Legal Rights and Options

Nothing an unexpected accident is easy or straightforward. That’s also true for the processes that are involved in recovering compensation through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. Procedures and rights vary from state to state.

For example, some states, like New York, have no-fault insurance laws, which require car accident victims to seek benefits from their own insurance provider first, regardless of who’s responsible for their injuries. Other states, like Texas, have at-fault insurance rules, which means whoever is at fault pays. 

Unless someone regularly handles injury claims or is fluent in the law, it’s fairly easy to get confused, overwhelmed, and stressed out during a pursuit of compensation.

That’s where an attorney can help. A personal injury lawyer knows the laws and procedures that will affect a plaintiff’s case. An attorney who specializes in personal injury law will be able to help guide an accident victim and help them through the processes that are involved in getting money. A lawyer can explain everything and make sure that the plaintiff understands what’s going on and what has to happen in order to get a financial recovery.

Make Sure The Accident is Subject to an Independent Investigation

Most personal injury cases involve an insurance company or two. Insurers will not want to pay more than they have to – or anything at all – after an accident. So, you can be certain that they’ll investigate to find any reason to deny a claim for benefits. This investigation will be thorough and likely aided by several experts. 

That’s a huge advantage for insurers, especially considering that the average person doesn’t have the same resources or connections. But, you know who does? A personal injury lawyer. An attorney can make sure that an accident is also subject to an investigation that’s independent of state agencies or insurance adjusters. This attorney-driven investigation can help to level the playing field.

Stop Insurance Companies From Taking Advantage of an Accident Victim

Insurance companies tend to have an upper hand and advantage when dealing directly with accident victims. These insurers handle thousands and thousands of claims every year. In fact, they designed the processes and know how to tip things in their favor. Insurers are also well-aware that the average person doesn’t have a comprehensive, in-depth understanding of the law, relevant procedures, or their legal rights. At the same time, accidents are quite stressful.

So, insurers will go to great lengths to take advantage of all of these things. A company might deny a claim altogether, hoping that a plaintiff gives up and walks away with nothing. Others might offer a quick settlement that’s attached to a clock, in an effort to scare them into accepting way less money than their case is really worth.

When a personal injury lawyer enters the picture, things change. Insurers aren’t able to rely on their old manipulative tricks and tactics. Instead, they’ll have to communicate and negotiate with someone who has extensive training and experience. 

Bring in Experts to Assist in the Valuation of a Claim

Again, insurance companies aren’t on an accident victim’s side. Their sole interest is in protecting their bottom line and increasing profits. That’s diametrically opposed to paying out cash to accident victims. So, insurers will put a lot of time and effort into assessing the value of a claim. You can be certain that they’ll do everything in their power to assess a value that’s as low as possible. 

So, the last thing an accident victim should do is allow insurance companies to unilaterally decide what their case is worth. This can be accomplished by hiring an attorney who has experience handling personal injury cases. Most lawyers work hard to establish professional relationships with experts in their local area, including:

  • Accident reconstructionists
  • Medical experts
  • Psychiatric experts
  • Property assessors and appraisers
  • Vocational experts
  • Engineering experts
  • Manufacturing experts, and more.

These professionals can review information and evidence related to a case and provide invaluable insight about:

  • Why an accident probably happened,
  • The victim’s injuries,
  • How those injuries will likely impact the victim’s life, today and in the future, and
  • What the victim’s damages are likely worth.

Attorneys can rely on expert testimony and input to support claims for compensation. This approach can help to ensure that all damages are calculated properly, increasing the odds of securing a fair settlement or award.

Negotiate a Fair Settlement Offer

Insurance companies would much rather negotiate a settlement with an accident victim than opposing counsel. When a plaintiff is represented by a lawyer, insurance companies have a much more challenging road ahead. They won’t be able to extend a lowball offer and hope the technique works. Instead, they’ll have to come up with a legitimate offer that will be given serious consideration.

That’s because personal injury lawyers are skilled in the art of negotiation. They know what steps must be taken to obtain a fair and meaningful settlement offer from an insurance company or at-fault party. A personal injury lawyer can ultimately be the difference between a meaningful recovery and little-to-no money, at all.

Litigate a Claim in Court, If Necessary

Most personal injury cases end with a private settlement between two parties.  However, there’s always a chance that the two sides won’t agree on a deal and a case might have to go to a judge and/or jury. That’s probably the last thing an insurance company wants, especially if the claimant is represented by an attorney. Insurance companies don’t fare particularly well in court. Juries are often reluctant to side with insurers when an accident victim is hurting and their lawyer makes a strong case. 

A personal injury lawyer knows that there’s always a chance that a case will go to trial. So, personal injury lawyers spend time honing skills and learning the rules that might apply, should they have to go to court. A skilled trial attorney knows how to explain complicated legal theories to a lay audience, paint a picture for the jurors, and get them on their injured client’s side.

Provide Emotional Support and Assistance

At the end of the day, personal injury lawsuits and insurance claims can be really stressful. That’s on top of the stress that accompanies the injuries and trauma of an unexpected accident. A personal injury lawyer can offer invaluable support and guidance at one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. A lawyer can handle every aspect of a legal case, giving the client the time they need to focus on themselves without distraction. Many times, that opportunity can make a world of difference – in the client’s financial, mental, physical recoveries.

Legal Resources

If Airbags Did Not Deploy in a Car Accident, Is the Car Company Liable?

Airbags are designed to keep drivers and passengers protected. Vehicles are heavily marketed for their safety features, which includes having effective airbags.

Crash test results are boasted about by manufacturers who use successful results to attract buyers because they are deemed the “safest” car on the market. However, sadly, not all airbags are safe and there can be catastrophic injuries or even death if one fails to deploy during an accident. 

If you were in an accident and your airbag did not deploy, you may have a personal injury claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle. You could also have a case against the manufacturer of the airbag or any company that inspected the vehicle for safety.

According to Michele Mirman, a car accident lawyer in New York City, “These companies have a duty to the consumer to make a safe product. If they violate that responsibility, they can be held accountable.”

How Do Airbags Deploy?

Cars and other automobiles are built with a number of safety measures, including airbags. Airbags can be both on the driver’s side and the passenger’s side. The purpose of an airbag is to reduce the physical effects of an automobile accident. More specifically, they are designed to reduce head injuries by cushioning the neck and head during the forward movement of a collision.

Airbags are most commonly located behind the steering wheel or the passenger side dashboard. They can also be located on the sides of the vehicle. Airbags rely on two things: timing and a small explosive charge. The airbag begins to inflate the second the vehicle begins to slow down as the result of a collision.

Each airbag has an accelerometer attached to it that detects the deacceleration of speed. If it is faster than a normal breaking pattern, the accelerometer will activate the airbag circuit.

The airbag circuit passes through a heated electrical current that ignites a slow chemical explosive. This explosion creates a harmless gas that fills the airbag when it deploys. The airbag begins to deflate the second it makes contact with the driver’s or passenger’s head. If functioning correctly, the airbag should be completely deflated by the time the automobile comes to a total stop.

What Causes Airbags to Not Deploy?

Speed or Type of Crash

Airbags do not deploy in every collision. One main reason they may not is the nature of the crash. The majority of airbags are most effective in moderate to severe crashes involving the front of the vehicle. Airbags generally deploy if the speed is at least 8 to 14 mph.

If the crash is minor or at a low speed, it may not trigger the circuit that deploys the airbag. Also, since most airbags are located at the front of the car, they may not deploy if the collision is to the back or side of the vehicle.    

Design or Manufacturing Defect

Defects in the manufacturing or design of the airbag may also be at fault. Types of defects include airbag sensor defects and defective electrical components. These defects are usually to blame when the airbag deploys early, late, or unexpectedly when there is no collision.

If the defect is great enough, the airbag could even explode. Additionally, there could be a defect in the design of the airbag itself which led to an injury because it did not deploy correctly.

Installation Errors

Finally, there may have been an issue with installation or safety check that caused the airbag to not deploy. A common example of this is car manufacturers cutting costs in the installation by making the location of the airbag ineffective because wires were routed through areas that were vulnerable to being severed or damaged.

It is also possible that a negligent safety check was performed that could have found the defect. However, the defect went unnoticed because the check was not done correctly or to the company standard.  

Do You Have a Personal Injury Case?

You may have a personal injury case if you have an injury that was caused by an airbag malfunction. Usually, these injuries are caused by the airbag not deploying or deploying at an incorrect time.

Examples of these types of injuries include neck whiplash, face lacerations, hearing damage, broken bones, soft tissue damage, brain injuries, concussions, organ damage, or even death. 

To prove that an airbag or automobile manufacturer is to blame for the injuries caused by a defective airbag, the law of strict liability applies. Automobile and airbag manufacturers have a responsibility for providing a product that is properly designed and tested to ensure customer safety.

To be successful in a personal injury claim, you will need to prove two things:

  1. The airbag had an unreasonably dangerous defect and, 
  2. The specific defect caused injury or harm.

If you can prove these things, you may be able to recover monetary compensation to help recover from your injury. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options.

Can I Sue the Government If I Trip and Fall On the Sidewalk?

The short answer is yes. You can sue the government if you trip and fall on a sidewalk. The long answer is it depends on several factors that determine if you will be successful in a claim against the government for an injury sustained from falling on a sidewalk. These factors include what type of case it is, what evidence you have to prove the government’s fault, and if you have standing to sue.  

What Type of Case Is It?

A trip and fall on a sidewalk is a personal injury claim. In legal terms, these types of accidents are called slip and falls. You and your attorney will need to research the appropriate defendant. Remember that the government will only be responsible for injuries that happen on public walkways and sidewalks. If your injury occurred on a private walkway, you will not be able to sue the government.

Once you know the appropriate local government entity to sue, you will need to file your claim in civil court. There are several things that you and your attorney will need to prove to show that your injuries were caused by the government entity and that they should compensate you because of it.

What Do You Need to Prove to Sue the Government?

In most personal injury claims, including slip and falls, you will need to be able to prove negligence on behalf of the person you are suing. Negligence is a failure of a person or entity to behave to a certain level of care that another person or entity would usually perform at. In basic terms, this means that the entity did not act as a comparable entity would act in the same circumstances.

To prove negligence, you will need to show that there was both a duty of care and that there was a breach of that care. Duty of care means that someone has a responsibility to not cause harm to another. This can also mean that an entity has a responsibility to make sure harm is not caused by their action or inaction on a matter. In a slip and fall on a sidewalk, the duty of care would be what type of responsibility the government has to make the sidewalk safe for individuals.

A breach of that care means that you have established a duty of care and the level of care was not met. The person or entity responsible for that care has then breached their duty. In a sidewalk slip and fall, this could be for a number of reasons including not maintaining the sidewalk or having hazards on the walkway that make it dangerous for pedestrians. Additionally, there could be a defect in the way and manner that it was built.

When Can You Sue the Government?

First, there must be negligence by the government that caused your slip and fall on the sidewalk. If there is no negligence, you will not be successful in your lawsuit. Second, you must have standing to sue. This means that you are the person who was injured, there was an actual measurable injury, and the entity you are suing is responsible for your injury.

Even if you can prove that there is negligence, there are still issues that you may encounter that make suing the government impossible. For example, many state and local governments have specific rules about suing them for a personal injury. These are usually strict procedural steps that must be followed to be able to get any damages for your injury. Government entities usually also have limits on how much money you can recover and on the time you have to make a claim.  

The most common reason for a slip and fall on a public sidewalk is weather conditions like ice, snow, or rain. In general, a state or local government is not responsible for keeping sidewalks clear in front of private residences. They are however usually responsible for clearing sidewalks in commercial areas. This means that where you got injured also matters on whether you can sue or not.

Why Sue the Government For a Slip and Fall Injury?

Most people make the decision to sue someone or an entity for an injury for two main reasons. One, they suffered an injury and they want compensation to help pay for medical bills and other things like lost wages they couldn’t make while they were recovering. Another reason is that people want to make sure that the unsafe condition that led to their injury won’t reoccur and hurt anyone else.

 Regardless of why they sue, it is possible to make a claim against the government for a slip and fall on a sidewalk if all of these conditions are met.