PERSONAL INJURY FACTS AND QUESTIONS
Q: I was a driver who was injured in an automobile accident with another car. The accident may not have entirely been the other driver’s fault. Can I still seek damage retribution?
A: Yes. The court will look at what portion of the fault was yours and reduce what damages you may be entitled to by that portion of fault. For example, if 100% represents total fault for the accident and it is determined from the facts that you were 25% at fault, your recovery would be reduced by 25%.
Q: I was a passenger in a car that was rear ended by another vehicle. I was injured and had to go to the doctor. I missed time from work because of my injuries and was not paid for the time I did not work. My doctor said I may need an operation in about six months. What damages can I recover?
A: You can recover the medical and doctor bills you are liable for because of the accident. You can also recover your loss of income that can be documented. Future medical expenses caused by the accident are also recoverable.
Q: I was injured in slip and fall accident at a store and I have been talking to the insurance claims person/adjuster for the store. The claims person is offering to only pay me for my medical expenses. Am I entitled to more?
A: Yes. You would be entitled to medical expenses, past or future, that are related to the slip and fall. You can also recover loss of income that can be documented. You may also qualify for compensation because of the pain and suffering you have experienced.
Q: I was injured by another driver who was at fault and who only has the California state minimum automobile insurance coverage of $15,000.00. The other driver’s insurance company wants me to accept payment of $15,000.00 even though my medical bills alone are more than $25,000.00. What should I do?
A: First of all, it appears that you claim is worth more than $15,000.00. While the other driver only has the required state minimum insurance, you are not required to settle your entire claim for that amount. The other driver may have other insurance, property, bank accounts or even income from a business or job that you may be entitled to. The Stone Haven Law Group can help you in these negotiations and you should schedule a free no cost consultation.
Q: When do I need to file a claim or lawsuit?
A: The court’s follow time limits set forth in California law. Generally a person injured in a California automobile accident has two years to file a lawsuit in court from the date of the accident. In some cases, there may be a shorter time to file a claim or lawsuit such as in cases where a city would be sued. Failure to timely file a lawsuit or claim could result in the court’s denying your claim. It is best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident, to make sure that you know when you have to file a claim or lawsuit in order to avoid losing your rights.
Q: I was driving in a construction area when my car fell into a hole that was not marked. My car was damaged. What should I do?
A: If you were injured, the first thing to do would be to seek medical help. Second, you or someone else should take pictures of the accident scene with a camera or your cell phone as soon as possible. Conditions at construction sites change quickly and the unmarked hole may not be there for long. Third, make a written report to the foreman at the construction site and also the local police. Get the accident documented in writing.
If the construction company did not make the area safe during construction or properly mark the hole, you would have a valid claim.
Q: I was driving a motorcycle when a car suddenly entered my lane of traffic. I swerved to avoid colliding with the car’s driver and sustained damage to my bike and clothes when I fell. Fortunately I was not hurt. The other driver said I overreacted and said the accident and my damages were not his fault.
A: The court’s will look at the facts of the accident to determine who was at fault. Witnesses and physical evidence will be considered. (see above.) In the case where the other driver suddenly came into your lane and to avoid a collision, you had to swerve, the facts would support the other driver being at fault and responsible for your damages.
Q: My neighbor owns a dog I have known for years. As I was petting it one day, as I have done before, it suddenly bit me. I was not doing anything to hurt the dog or get it upset. What should I do?
A: From your question, it appears that you had no reason to believe that the dog would bite you, unless the dog owner had warned you of the dog's history of biting. Even though this might have been the dog’s first bite, you can still seek compensation for your medical bills and other damages from the dog’s bite. You should also demand to see written proof from the owner that the dog’s shots are current and you should also make a written report to the local authorities.
Q: The claims handler for the driver that hit me while I was in a cross walk, wants me to settle my claim. I have stopped treating with my doctor but I still have aches and pains from the accident. What should I do?
A: I expect that the claims handler wants you to sign a release in exchange for any payment. If the language of the release states that you are settling all claims, or words to that effect, you would not have the right to seek additional compensation if your medical condition worsens. It is possible to enter in a partial release with the understanding that future medical conditions could still be claimed. You should consult with an attorney before signing any settlement documents.
Q: I was using a new power drill recently. The next thing I remember was the paramedics taking me to the hospital. What are my rights?
A: I am assuming that you were using a new power drill that appeared to be in good condition. You did not say that the cause of any injuries you sustained was due to a defect with the power drill. I am also assuming that you were using the power drill in an appropriate manner. To determine your rights, the cause of your injuries will need to be determined. The first thing you need to do is to preserve all evidence (power drill etc.) that was involved in the accident. If it can be shown that the power drill was defective, and this may require using experts, you would have a claim against the manufacturer and the store were you purchased it. Without the evidence, you may not be able to prove that the power drill was the cause of your injuries.