First and foremost, you need to call a personal injury attorney if you suffered even minor injuries. Whether you are at the scene, or speaking over the phone to anyone, never admit fault and do not apologize. These admissions can be used against you to place you at fault, even if you weren’t.

Obtain a police report, if possible, and document the scene of the collision. Often in California, unless there is a “serious” injury, police will refuse to make a report in these circumstances, so it is important that you carefully document the collision with photographs of both vehicles, and the surrounding area. Locate any witnesses who may have seen the collision and get multiple forms of contact for them. Even if the other party admitted fault at the scene, they will often change their story later, not wanting their insurance rates to rise.

Be your own investigator. Take pictures and video of the damage to all the cars from as many angles as possible. Photograph and video the intersection, the road conditions, speed limits, traffic control devices and anything else that helps to reconstruct the scene. Be sure to take photos of the at fault party’s drivers’ license and insurance information.

If you feel even the slightly injured, go see your doctor or go to the ER immediately. Don’t wait. This may seem like obvious advice, but nothing will wreck your case, and your health, quicker than failing to get the appropriate medical treatment. If you are hurt, but don’t seek treatment immediately, insurance companies will argue you were never actually hurt at all. No treatment = no injury. Similarly, if you have gaps in treatment or you start missing appointments, the insurance company will use this as evidence that you were not injured. Get followup care and keep up with your appointments. Take photographs of any visible injuries and continue to photograph them as your injuries heal or change.

Begin documenting your damages and keep a journal that notes the effects your injury has on your day-to-day life (pain, suffering, & inconvenience). Begin collecting documents you will need to substantiate the harms and losses you have suffered, like wages loss and medical bills.

In reality, you should always talk to a personal injury attorney right away. If you’ve made it this far, it is time to speak to a car accident injury attorney. Handling a personal injury claim is not a simple task, and unless you are prepared to spend 40-70 hours working on your claim and educating yourself, you will likely make mistakes that can cost you money or wreck your personal injury case altogether. You are up against insurance companies who spend billions of dollars a year hiring personnel to minimize the amount of money they pay out for claims. You can get sideways in the personal injury claims process and legal system pretty fast if you are not careful.

If you have suffered from a personal injury in the San Francisco Bay Area, or anywhere in California, you may be entitled to recover monetary damages for 1) Past and future medical bills 2) Lost wages 3) Loss of earning capacity 4) Loss of consortium 5) Loss of household services (having to pay others to do things you were once able to do yourself) 6) Pain, suffering, inconvenience, and 6) Other incidental expenses caused by the injury. You are also entitled to recoup monetary damages for any damage to your property. Which of these damages you are entitled to recover depends on a detailed factual analysis of your case. Consult with an attorney to know what types of damages you are able to recover in your specific case.

You need to submit the bill to your medical insurance provider and pay any co-pays, or pay what is billed. Many people wonder, “Why should my insurance pay for it, I wasn’t at fault.” If you do not submit the bills to your insurance, do not pay the bills out of pocket, or fail to get the payments delayed pending the resolution of your personal injury action, you run the risk of marring your credit, with the bill being sent to collections. While many people understand that the at-fault party’s insurance is required to pay for medical bills related to a personal injury case, many do not understand that the defendant’s insurance is in an adversarial role and does not pay out claims like your own insurance would. The defendant’s insurance won’t pay your bills one at a time as they come in. The process is entirely different. You are responsible for paying all bills as they come in or they will go to collections and affect your credit.

After an accident you need to identify all the sources of insurance you own that will pay for the medical bills. The defendant’s insurance will not pay for anything until you are completely ready to settle your case, which will be months or years from the date of your accident when you have completed your medical treatment and your personal injury case is ripe for settlement and all of your damages, bills, wage, loss and suffering can be fully assessed and valued.

Moreover, even if your own medical insurance company pays for your bills, you are required to pay them back if you receive any compensation from the defendant’s insurance. It is critical that any settlement you obtain account for medical expenses that your insurance company paid, not just what you paid out of pocket. The defendant’s insurance company will never tell you this, and the bulk of your settlement will end up going back to your own medical insurance provider.

It is critical to discuss your case early with a personal injury attorney who can assist you with identifying the sources of medical insurance that may be available to you, or who can help you find medical are without insurance, and who can help negotiate the amounts you are responsible for paying your own medical insurer after the conclusion of your case. Or one of your medical insurance providers.

The settlement value of California personal injury claims is based upon too many factors to be able to adequately discuss in an FAQ. If you’ve suffered only minor soft tissue injuries, you may be surprised to learn your case may only garner a $5,000 – $10,000 settlement. Factors which influence the value of your personal injury case are both factual and legal. The following list provides many of the factors the attorneys will consider when valuing your personal injury matter. 1) Facts that affect who is at fault or who can be proved to be at fault 2) Whether the conduct causing your personal injury was intentional, reckless, or merely negligent 3) The nature and extent of your injuries and the costs of treatment 4) The type of medical treatment you receive (doctor visits, physical therapy, chiropractic, surgery, etc.) 5) Objective finds to support your complaints of physical pain 6) Your medical history and prior injuries, especially if you are claiming injury to the same or similar body part 7) your age 8) your occupation and earning capacity 8) the types of physical activities your regularly participate in and which were limited by your injury.

There are also several other x-factors that come into play including 1) your “likeability” and ability to advocate on your behalf if you were to testify in front of a jury or judge 2) the limits of the insurance available to you and the assets of the defendant 3) who the defendant is 4) and the location of the trial, as some jury pools are more “plaintiff friendly” than others toward personal injury victims.

While this presents a partial list of the factors involved, it is not helpful to give you an idea of what your claim is actually “worth.” Only an in depth consultation with an attorney after the full extent and nature of your injuries are determined can a reasonable estimate as to your case value be made. However, a simple “calculation” is to look at the total medical payments made by you or your insurance company and multiply that by 2 or 3, and you may be “in the ball park” on the simplest of cases. However, this will often both over-value and undervalue any particular case. It is best to consult a lawyer immediately so you can take the appropriate steps to evaluate and maximize the value of your personal injury case.

Many factors affect how long it will take your lawyer to resolve your personal injury case. Gruber Law Group resolved a case in as little as two weeks, but such a settlement occurred under exceptional circumstances. Much more common is for cases to be resolved within 1-3 years from the time you retain an attorney, less if you have already completed your medical treatment. Your personal injury case shouldn’t be settled until after you have finished your medical treatment. Following the conclusion of your treatment, your medical records must be ordered and the documentation needs to be fully acquired that supports your personal injury claim. This takes a significant amount of your time and your lawyer’s time.

Once your case is ready to settle, the documents and arguments need to be submitted to the insurance company for evaluation. This can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months or more. If resolution and a settlement agreement can be reached, your attorney will then need to negotiate your outstanding medical bills and the amounts you owe back to your insurance company. Again, this can take days or months, depending on the complexity of your case and who your insurance carrier is. Once all of these negotiations are completed, your lawyer will deposit your settlement check in a trust account and disburse the funds to all parties who have any interest in the proceeds from your case.

In some circumstances, it will be necessary to file a lawsuit and begin court proceedings. Once this happens, it is likely your case will go for at least another 1-2 years. In any case, Gruber Law Group’s policy is to resolve your case as promptly as possible. If you have any questions about how long it will take to complete your personal injury case, call GLG for a free consultation.

Gruber Law Group charges clients based on a contingency fee. In other words, whether you pay GLG or not is contingent on whether we obtain any monetary recovery for you. We will never charge you an attorney’s fee unless a monetary recovery is made on your behalf in your personal injury matter. Gruber Law Group also advances all the costs associated with your case, including filing fees, expert fees, investigative fees, and medical records request fees. If GLG is unsuccessful in winning your case and obtaining a monetary award on your behalf, you will not be responsible for reimbursing us for these costs. Gruber Law Group also guarantees that our attorney’s fee will never exceed the amount of money you put in your own pocket following the conclusion of your case.

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