Monthly Archives:' April 2018

7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Personal Injury Lawyer

Hiring the right personal injury lawyer is an important decision — one that can make or break the success of your claim.

Despite this, many people rush to hire the first lawyer they notice advertising in a newspaper, on local TV or on public transportation. And as a result, far too many people with legitimate claims end up settling for less than they deserve, or even nothing at all.

Just like a business owner wouldn’t hire an employee without first carrying out an interview, it’s important to ask yourself several key questions before choosing the right Costa Mesa personal injury lawyer to represent you.

As a top Costa Mesa area injury and accident law office, we help hundreds of clients deal with injuries, accidents and other stressful cases every year. In doing so, we think it’s important for clients to move forward with the confidence that they’ve picked the right person.

To do that, you can use the seven questions below to check that you’ve picked the right lawyer for your case. The more frequently you find yourself nodding “yes” to the questions below, the more confidence you should have that you’re working with a skilled and effective attorney.

Do they specialize in personal injury law?

When you have a personal injury case, you need a personal injury lawyer. Just like you wouldn’t hire an immigration lawyer to handle a bankruptcy case, you shouldn’t choose anyone except a specialist personal injury attorney to handle your personal injury or accident case.

Luckily, this is an easy question to answer. A quick browse of any lawyer’s website will show you which field of law they specialize in. If the lawyer you’re interested in working with is a specialist in personal injury and accident law, you’re definitely moving in the right direction.

Do they have a history of successful settlements and verdicts?

As the saying goes, “the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior.” If a personal injury attorney has a history of either winning cases for their clients or securing large settlements, it’s an extremely good sign that they know how to do their job.

This question is usually easy to answer. During your consultation with your attorney, simply ask them about the number of large-scale settlements or verdicts they’ve won. While some lawyers might be humble, most will be happy to inform you of their previous results.

Are they highly rated by previous clients?

In the world of social media and attorney review websites like Avvo, it’s harder than ever for low quality, poorly performing attorneys to stay in business.

One of the best ways to assess an attorney is by reading their ratings and reviews from previous clients. If a lawyer has a history of high ratings and positive feedback, it’s a clear indicator of an effective approach to settling or fighting cases.

If you’ve received a personal recommendation for an attorney from a friend, relative, colleague or business partner, it’s also a sign that they have a reputation for delivering results.

Are they a member of trial lawyer associations?

Great lawyers, both in personal injury and in other legal fields, almost always belong to a state or county legal associations and other professional bodies.

When you’re choosing a lawyer, look beyond their qualifications and bar admissions (although both of these are also important) and also check that they’re involved in a variety of local, state or county legal associations and groups.

This shows that they’re not only effective at representing their clients, but also active in the local legal professional community.

Have they taken previous personal injury cases to trial?

Has your desired attorney taken cases to trial in the past, or do they tend to settle the majority of cases outside of court?

Because insurance companies can be aggressive in negotiating cases, some personal injury lawyers suggest settling to the overwhelming majority of their clients, even when accepting a low settlement isn’t necessarily in their best interests.

While no personal injury attorney takes every case to trial, being willing to take a case to the courtroom when settlement offers are unrealistically low is a major sign that a personal injury lawyer is confident in their abilities and willing to fight for you.

Do they offer personalized, dedicated service?

Often, overly busy lawyers will assign the majority of your casework to a “case manager” or other employees, spending little of their own time managing your case and ensuring you get a reasonable settlement or verdict.

This can be a frustrating experience that leaves you at a disadvantage as a client, even if you only pay for results in the form of a contingency fee.

When you’re choosing an attorney to handle your case, check that they’re fully dedicated in helping you. Great lawyers might be busy, but they’ll always offer focused, dedicated service that shows you they take your case seriously.

Are they a good “match” for you as a client?

Finally, it’s important to choose an attorney that’s a good “match” for you as a client. After all, your relationship with your attorney is an important one, and as such your lawyer should treat you with a significant degree of respect, honesty, transparency, and professionalism.

This means keeping you informed of developments related to your case if and when they occur, answering your phone calls and emails promptly and giving you an honest assessment of your case as it moves forward.

Need a personal injury attorney? We’re here to help

The Law Offices of Daniel Kim is one of Southern California’s top personal injury and accident law firms, specializing in helping people of all backgrounds receive fair legal treatment after an automotive accident or other personal injury situation.

If you need legal advice or assistance related to an injury case, we’re here to help. For more information, please schedule a free consultation using our online case evaluation form or call our team now on 1-800-560-2139.

Pedestrian Accidents: Understanding Responsibility, Settlements and Outcomes

From parking lots and driveways to crosswalks and local roads, accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians can occur in a variety of settings.

Because of this huge weight difference between a vehicle and a pedestrian, combined with the lack of protection that pedestrians have from impact, the injuries from pedestrian accidents can often be devastating.

In lucky situations, pedestrians may walk away from an accident with minor cuts and bruises. In severe accidents, however, impacts between cars or motorcycles and pedestrians can result in serious, lifelong injuries or death.

As a leading Costa Mesa pedestrian accident lawyer’s office, we’ve represented a diverse range of people injured in pedestrian accidents. As such, our team has an expert understanding of the responsibilities of pedestrian accidents and the factors that can determine most settlements.

In this post, we’ll look at both aspects of pedestrian accident cases — the way most settlements are calculated, as well as the party that’s ultimately held responsible for paying compensation to the victim.

How are pedestrian settlements reached?

Most of the time, settlements in pedestrian accident cases (in addition to many other accident types, such as motor vehicle or bicycle accidents) are reached by considering several different factors.

The first factor is the cost of medical care and treatment. Pedestrian accidents often result in significant injuries — injuries that can require extensive, ongoing medical care. The cost of this care is typically factored into a settlement or compensation in a pedestrian accident case.

The second factor that’s considered in reaching a pedestrian accident settlement is the extent of the injuries sustained by the pedestrian. The more seriously someone is injured, the greater the damages are likely to be, compared to an accident that only produces minor injuries.

In determining the severity of injuries, medical experts will generally look at factors such as the permanence of (for example, whether or not the injuries have a lifelong effect) and the specific type of injuries that are sustained in the accident.

The third factor that goes into reaching a pedestrian accident settlement is the long-term effect of the accident on the victim’s life. Injuries sustained in a serious accident can prevent someone from working or enjoying life to the fullest — a variable that can influence the total settlement.

Finally, liability is considered when reaching a settlement. Settlements tend to be higher when the defendant is completely liable for the accident, while settlements are usually lower in cases where persons are considered jointly liable for the accident.

All four of these factors play a role in determining the total amount you can expect to receive in a personal injury settlement. Because every case is unique, it’s impossible to say which factor will have the biggest impact — most of the time, all four factors contribute to the final outcome.

In a pedestrian accident, who pays the settlement?

In the vast majority of pedestrian accidents, the defendant’s automotive insurance provider will provide the settlement.

Collecting a settlement from an insurance company is an involved, complex process that often requires negotiation. As a personal injury law office, we work attentively and aggressive in this stage of the process to ensure you receive the full settlement to which you’re entitled.

If the pedestrian accident involved a commercial vehicle, the settlement is typically paid either by the responsible company or by the company’s insurance provider.

However, in some cases, the motorist responsible for the accident may not have any insurance coverage and thus won’t have an insurance company to accept responsibility for the settlement.

In this case, things can become more challenging. If the motorist that caused the accident does not have sufficient funds to pay the settlement, collecting the amount of money to which you’re entitled under the law can lead to an arduous, often ineffective litigation process.

However, if your auto insurance policy includes an uninsured motorist clause, your insurance provider may pay out either the entire sum owed to you or the difference between the amount payable by the uninsured driver responsible for your injuries.

Have you been injured in a pedestrian accident?

Pedestrian accidents can be devastating experiences, both from a physical and psychological perspective. Often, the injuries from a pedestrian accident are lifelong, restricting your ability to work and enjoy a high quality of life.

Our Costa Mesa pedestrian accident attorney’s office specializes in helping people affected by pedestrian accidents seek justice. If you’ve been injured in an accident, we can provide expert advice, assistance and representation to ensure you receive a fair settlement.

Because every case is different, the best approach is to contact our team to learn more about your legal options. To begin the process, please fill out our free online case evaluation form or call us directly on 1-800-560-2139 to speak to a member of our team.

Can You Make a Personal Injury Claim Without a Lawyer?

You’ve been involved in a car accident that wasn’t any fault of your own, but it’s left your car damaged beyond repair.

Or, you’ve slipped and fallen in a retail store due to unsafe design, or a wet floor that wasn’t properly marked with a warning sign.

Or, you’ve been left with a serious injury as a result of another person’s negligence that will make it impossible for you to work for the next three to six months.

All of the above situations are common occurrences in which you, as an individual, have the right to pursue an accident or personal injury case against an individual, a business or their insurance provider.

In all of these cases, you have two options to choose from: you can represent yourself, and potentially keep the entire settlement instead of having to deduct a lawyer’s fees (typically a third of the settlement amount).

Or, you can work with a personal injury attorney and pay a contingency fee only if you receive damages or a settlement.

At first glance, the decision seems simple. If you have a slam dunk case, why wouldn’t you opt to represent yourself? The reality is that while you can make a personal injury claim without an attorney, there are numerous reasons not to do so.

Large damages typically mean extensive opposition

In the event that you suffer significant losses as a result of an accident (for example, lost income or quality of life due to a major injury), the compensation you receive from the responsible party (or, more frequently, their insurance provider) could be a large sum of money.

This also means that you’ll likely face significant legal opposition in recovering damages. Large companies, for example, often have highly effective in-house legal teams dedicated only to the settlement of personal injury and accident cases.

As an individual representing yourself, this means that you’re at a significant disadvantage. With an experienced personal injury or accident attorney on your side, the playing field is leveled and your chances of a successful claim are much higher.

You might be entitled to more than you initially think

In many personal injury cases, victims incorrectly assume that they’re entitled to a far smaller amount of compensation than the reality. Because of this, many self-represented victims take the first amount they’re offered by an insurance company — often, a relatively small amount.

Experienced personal injury attorneys understand not only the process of making a successful personal injury claim but also the average sums that are awarded in court or typically provided as settlements.

As a personal injury victim, it’s easy to underestimate the true cost of an injury. From lost wages to emotional distress, the scope of damages from an injury can often extend beyond your initial assumptions.

Because of this, it’s always best to work with an experienced personal injury attorney that can assess the true costs of your injuries and their relevance to a fair settlement.

Representing yourself is complex and stressful

While television shows and movies may make the process of representing yourself in a lawsuit or personal injury claim seem simple, the reality is that the process is fraught with difficulties for people without legal qualifications and experience.

From calculating damages to preparing a demand letter, negotiating a settlement and more, the process of making a personal injury claim is extremely challenging. Add a hostile opposition into the equation and it’s easy for even a “certain” claim to crumble without the right assistance.

It’s also important to remember that this process takes place in the wake of an accident that has left you injured and seriously affected — a situation that’s already difficult, even without the extra stress of legal proceedings.

As a result, making a personal injury claim yourself is rarely the best approach, no matter how confident you are in the strength and validity of your claim.

Hiring a personal injury attorney is always the best option

If you’ve been injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, whether on the road or on private property, the best option is always to seek the services of a personal injury attorney.

An experienced attorney will be able to review the evidence surrounding your injury and inform you of whether or not you have a case. If you have a valid claim, they will be able to fight your case on your behalf, maximizing your likelihood of a satisfactory settlement.

For our clients, we offer a no-recovery, no-fee contingency arrangement that means you won’t have to pay anything unless you receive a favorable verdict or settlement.

In closing, yes, you can make a personal injury claim by yourself. However, as with many things in life, you’ll have the best chances of a successful claim by retaining a personal injury attorney to work on your behalf.

As a premier Costa Mesa personal injury attorney’s office, we’ve helped hundreds of people successfully receive settlements or favorable verdicts. Our experienced team can help you learn more about your rights and legal options in the event that you’re injured in an accident.

For more information, please fill out our free online case evaluation form or contact us now on 1-800-560-2139 to speak to a member of our team.

How to Respond After a Truck Accident

Vehicular accidents can be terrifying experiences. When you’re involved in an accident that also involves a truck — whether it’s a mid-sized delivery truck or a large 18-wheeler — the scale of the damage can be even greater.

As one of the Costa Mesa area’s leading truck accident attorney’s offices, we’ve helped a large range of motorists successfully make insurance claims after being involved in driving accidents with trucks and other commercial vehicles.

As such, we can help you make the right decisions after you’ve been in an accident, particularly if the accident wasn’t your fault.

Below, we’ve put together a simple checklist for you to follow in the event that you’re involved in an accident with a truck or other commercial vehicle. From taking photos to making sure you get the driver’s employer, all of these steps can strengthen your case as an accident victim.

Respond to injuries and medical emergencies

Truck accidents often involve injuries, including significant injuries that may need urgent medical attention. Before you take any steps to protect yourself legally after an accident, assess whether or not any of the people involved in the accident are injured.

If people have been injured in the accident, call 911 and provide all of the necessary information to help emergency services make their way to the accident site. If your car is in the way of traffic and still operational, you can move it out of the way of the road if doing so is safe.

In a crash situation, it’s often possible for adrenaline to prevent you from properly assessing the extent of your injuries. Even if you feel like an injury is “just a scratch” or another minor issue, it’s still important that you contact emergency services.  

Inform the police about the accident

After you’ve checked that all of the individuals involved in the accident are okay, you should call the police. This is important as having a complete, factual and accurate police report of the truck accident is a key part of the insurance claim process.

After the police arrive at the scene, they will prepare an accident report. Make sure you ask the police for a copy of the accident report, as it’s an important document for the insurance claim or legal action process.

Identify the truck, driver and employer

Although some commercial vehicles are owned by their operator, most trucks are the property of a specific company. This means you’ll need to identify both the driver and their employer, even if the driver — rather than the company — is at fault for the accident.

If possible, use your smartphone to take a photograph of the truck’s license plate, as well as any visible branding on the vehicle. You should also ask the driver for information on the tractor (this is the front section of the truck or cab) and the type of trailer (or trailers) attached to the cab.

Of course, you should also carry out the typical post-accident process of asking for the driver’s name and contact information. You can also ask any witnesses to the accident for their names and contact information.

Finally, you should ask for information about the type of cargo onboard the truck. In many cases, these items are insured separately or subject to different insurance conditions, making it helpful to have information on all of the separate vehicle components involved in the accident.

Photograph the scene and surrounding area

In a truck accident claim, the more evidence you have, the stronger your chance of success. To strengthen your insurance claim, use your smartphone to photograph the accident scene, both (or all) of the vehicles involved in the accident and any other objects that are damaged.

If the truck skidded before colliding with your vehicle, take photos of both the skid marks and the tires of the truck and its trailer. Photograph all relevant road signs at the accident scene, as well as factors that could have contributed to the crash, such as barriers or embankment.

Finally, use your smartphone to take photographs of damage to your vehicle. If you’re injured (but not in need of urgent medical care), you can also use your smartphone to record the state of your injuries at the time of the accident.

Contact an experienced truck accident attorney

Truck accidents are a relatively common occurrence. Because of this, many trucking companies have representatives hired for the sole purpose of responding rapidly to accidents and reducing the cost of such accidents for the trucking company.

Often, these representatives will offer you a settlement that’s only a small fraction of the amount to which you’re entitled under the law.

As the victim of a trucking accident, you should not talk to these people. Instead, you should get in touch with an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible.

A truck accident attorney will be able to accurately assess the amount of compensation to which you’re entitled as a result of the accident. They will fight on your behalf to ensure you receive a complete level of compensation for vehicular damage and both mental and physical injuries.

If you’ve been involved in a truck accident, we’re here to help. As a specialist Costa Mesa truck accident attorney’s office, we can help you receive the full compensation to which you’re entitled as the victim of a truck or commercial vehicle accident.

For more information, please schedule a free case evaluation using our online case evaluation form or contact us by phone at 1-800-560-2139.