Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do after an accident?
There are several things you should do if you are involved in a traffic accident. The most important thing to remember is to be safe and use caution so you do not make the situation worse. After an accident you should: 1. Stop and remain at the scene. 2. Call 911 to get police and any necessary medical personnel to the scene right away. You should also file a report with the police, sheriff or highway patrol immediately after an accident. 3. Help or get help for any injured people. The law requires you to give reasonable assistance to anyone injured, for example by calling an ambulance or giving first aid if you know how to do so. However, you must be careful not make the situation worse. You should not move a severely injured person if you are not properly trained because you may make their injuries more severe. There are some exceptions to this, for example if the person is at risk of being killed hurt even worse. 4. Warn other motorists by using flares or hazard lights. Again, use common sense to avoid making the situation worse, e.g. don’t use flares if there are flammable substances on the ground. 5. Get medical attention for any injuries right away. Not all injuries are readily apparent after an accident so it is important to watch out for symptoms that may develop later. 6. Get the name, contact information, driver’s license number, and insurance information from all other drivers as well as a description of their vehicles and license plate numbers. 7. Get the names, contact information and statements from any witnesses or passengers.
8. Gather as much information as possible about the accident, for example the exact location, time of day, conditions, etc. If it is safe to do so, take photographs of the accident scene and any damage to vehicles or other property and any visible injuries. 9. Cooperate fully with law enforcement officers but do not make statements to anyone regarding your potential fault in the accident without speaking to an attorney first. Statements made in an attempt to be helpful can easily be misinterpreted and used against you. Also, do not sign anything without consulting a lawyer. 10. Contact your own insurance company and report the accident but do not talk to anyone about the details of the accident or your injuries, except your doctor or lawyer. 11. Report the accident to the DMV within ten days if anyone was injured or killed, or if there was more than $750 worth of damage to any vehicle. 12. Contact a qualified, experienced California accident attorney as soon as possible
What are my rights as a client?
You have a number of rights as a client. It is your attorney’s job to represent you to the best of their ability and you have the right to fair, honest and competent legal representation. You have the right to make decisions concerning your case, including whether to accept or reject any offer of settlement. Your attorney must keep you informed of any significant developments in your case, keep the information you share confidential, and avoid any conflicts of interest. You have the right to a written fee agreement and to an accounting of all expenses and fees incurred in your case if you are awarded damages or receive a settlement. Your attorney must comply with all ethical and professional rules of conduct governing the practice of law in California and can be disciplined if they fail to do so. You have the right to change lawyers at any time. Hiring the right attorney to represent you will help protect your legal rights and the value of your claim. If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident, contact The Scranton Law Firm today for a free consultation.
Do I need an attorney if I am receiving workers’ compensation benefits?
Yes. Even if you are receiving Workers’ Compensation benefits after a work related injury, you should still consult with an attorney. The workers’ compensation claims process can be complicated and in order to fully understand the applicable rules, the benefits available, and your rights under the law, you will need the advice of a qualified attorney. In many cases, workers’ compensation only covers your actual damages, such as medical care and rehabilitation. While workers’ compensation laws may limit your ability to recover from your employer, other parties may be at fault in an accident and could provide an alternative source of compensation. For example, if you were injured in an Auto Accident while working, you may be able to file suit against another driver and receive money for your pain and suffering. Similarly, if you were injured in a Construction Accident that resulted from another person’s Negligence or your use of defective product, workers’ compensation laws would not prevent you from filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover additional damages. Under California law, all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance and you generally cannot file a civil lawsuit against them for injuries you suffer at work. However, if you have been injured on the job and your employer does not have the required insurance, you may file suit against them in civil court. In such cases, you may also be eligible to receive disability benefits from the California Uninsured Employers Fund. An attorney experienced in California accident cases can help protect your rights and get you the full compensation you deserve.
What is the value of my claim?
All accidents are different and as a result the value of your claim is not a simple question to answer. In general, personal injury claims involve two major elements: the actual damages and damages for pain and suffering. Actual damages include items like past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and damage to property. Actual damages are determined by reviewing documentation such as receipts or bills, and calculating the time you missed from work or potentially the reduction in your future earning capacity. Pain and suffering is much more difficult to determine and will largely depend on the severity of your injuries. Insurance companies use a variety of methods to calculate pain and suffering including using formulas which multiply your actual damages by a pre-determined amount. Insurance companies will always try to resolve a claim for as little money as possible, whether it is a reasonable amount or not. That is why in order to protect your rights and maximize the value of your claim you need an experienced attorney on your side.
What factors may lower the value of my claim?
There are many things that could potentially lower the value of a claim, ten of which are listed below. The existence of one or more of these factors in your case does not mean you should not proceed with a claim. However, you should openly and honestly discuss all of the facts of your accident with a qualified attorney so they may properly advise you of your rights and protect your interests. 1. Not wearing seat belts. 2. Equipment problems (bald tires, worn breaks). 3. Use of drugs or legal medications. 4. Not wearing proper glasses. 5. Traveling too fast for the conditions. 6. Talking on a cell phone or being distracted by passengers. 7. You had a previous injury to the same body part. 8. Damage to your vehicle does not support the amount of injury claimed. 9. Delay in getting treatment for injuries. 10. The other driver had no injury.
What if I was in an accident with an uninsured driver?
All drivers are required to carry auto insurance to cover liability in the event of an accident. An uninsured driver who is responsible for causing an accident can still be held liable for any damages that result, but actually recovering those damages may be difficult, e.g. if the person has no ability to pay. In such cases it may be possible for the injured driver to receive compensation from their own insurance company in the form of Uninsured Motorist benefits. If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist or been the victim of a hit and run, you should inform your insurance company, get copies of any police reports, and contact an attorney right away. A qualified California accident attorney can explain your rights and help you determine what your options are.
How much will a lawsuit cost me?
It often takes substantial money to prove liability and damages in a personal injury case. If you choose the wrong lawyer, a lawsuit could cost you plenty – both in terms of collecting less and incurring more expenses. At The Scranton Law Firm, we work on a Contingency Fee basis. In other words, our fees and costs are contingent on the outcome of the case. You pay us nothing up front and we advance all the costs required to prepare the case. If we successfully resolve the case we receive a percentage of the recovery and reimbursement of the costs we advanced. If the case results in no recovery, we get paid nothing and you owe us nothing. (Click here to learn more about Contingency Fees in general or about The Scranton Law Firm Fees.)
Why should I use The Scranton Law Firm to handle my case?
The Scranton Law Firm has been helping injured people in California for over thirty-five years. We have the experience, knowledge and financial resources to get you the compensation you deserve. We care about our clients’ welfare and we fight aggressively to protect their rights and the value of their claims. We have handled thousands of California Accident cases and recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients. Our consultations are always free so call us today and find out how we can help you. (Click here to see the Top 20 Reasons To Hire The Scranton Law Firm.)
What questions should I ask the other driver’s insurance adjuster?
You should always seek the advice of an attorney after an accident. A qualified accident attorney can assist you in many ways, including negotiating and dealing with insurance company representatives. Here are a few of the key questions that need to be asked of the other driver’s insurance adjuster. 1. How much insurance is available for your claim? 2. Get a copy of any statements made by their insured (the other driver). 3. Can you get an advance to pay medical bills? 4. Will they provide you a rental car while your car is being fixed? 5. What certifications does the adjuster have to handle accident claims?
What are some of the worst mistakes an accident victim can make?
Accident victims generally need the assistance of an experienced attorney to help protect their rights and the value of their claim. Accident claims can be very complicated and it is easy to make a mistake which could cost you dearly. Here are a few of the most common mistakes we see: 1. Give statements to an insurance adjuster regarding how the accident happened. 2. Sign an authorization for the release of medical records. 3. Delay getting medical treatment promptly after an accident. 4. Failing to get photographs of damage to all vehicles. 5. Failing to follow doctor’s orders to stay off work. 6. Talking to neighbors about the accident or injuries. 7. Failing to get Uninsured Motorist benefits. 8. Failing to keep medical appointments. 9. Failing to correct errors in a police report. 10. Failing to retain the proper experts to prove a claim.