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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS REGARDING AUTO ACCIDENTS

How do I know if I have a Personal Injury Claim? If you have been injured due to the negligence or wrongful conduct of another person you may have a claim for bodily injury and property damage. Negligence is generally defined as “failing to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances”. Generally, in personal injury claims an individual has been injured as the result of violations of the California Vehicle Code, resulting in an auto accident. If you have received bodily injuries, incurred medical bills and sustained damage to your vehicle as a result of an auto accident contact the Law Offices of Barbara M. Rodriguez for a free consultation and analysis of your particular situation. You may be entitled to: Payment of: medical expenses, loss of earnings, property damage, loss of use of your vehicle and compensation for your pain and suffering. In these types of cases time is of the essence. If you were injured in an auto accident immediately contact the Law Offices of Barbara M. Rodriguez; our office will help you document your injuries in a timely fashion and help you seek the medical attention you need.

Do I need to hire an attorney? The honest answer is NO! You do not necessarily have to hire an attorney to handle your personal injury claim. However, it is recommended, especially if you have significant injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney can advise you on your claim to make sure that your rights are protected and that you maximize your recovery. Insurance companies have developed systems, programs and strategies for responding to your personal injury claims. They will not look at your claim in the light most favorable to you; instead they will attempt to minimize your injuries and claim in an effort to minimize the amount they pay. An experienced attorney will know the best way to document your injuries along with facts proving your pain and suffering and present the evidence to the insurance company in the light most favorable to you in an effort to maximize your compensation.

Can I recover lost wages or lost income? In a personal injury claim you are entitled to seek recovery of damages in the form of lost wages or lost income. If you were unable to perform your job duties as a direct result of injuries you sustained in the auto accident you may include evidence of this loss in your claim. Your employer will be required to provide documentation of the time lost and verification of your wages at the time. It is crucial that any time lost was authorized by your physician and many carriers will refuse to pay lost wages or lost income claims if they were not approved by your doctor. In other words, your doctor must have recommended that you take the time off from work. If you are self-employed this issue becomes a bit more complicated in that you will have to establish your average income through invoices or taxes.

How long after I am injured do I have to file a lawsuit? A personal injury lawsuit is subject to a time limit known as the “Statute of Limitations”. This statute governs the time you have to file a lawsuit for your personal injuries. In the State of California the statute of limitations is two years from the date of accident for bodily injury claims. For property damage the statute of limitations is three years. If a lawsuit is not filed within this time period, you will be barred from bringing a claim. Therefore it is critical that you seek legal consultation if you were injured or sustained damages as the result of an auto accident. The statute of limitations for minors is different and you should contact the Law Offices of Barbara M. Rodriguez to discuss any claims for minors.

How long will it take to resolve my personal injury claim? Every individual claim is unique. Depending on the severity of your injuries and the duration and nature of your treatment along with the complexity of your case, it may take anywhere from a few months to a year to resolve your claim. At the Law Offices of Barbara M. Rodriguez we pride ourselves in attending to each individual case efficiently and work as diligent as possible to gather all medical documentation and other pertinent evidence in a timely fashion to present to the insurance company. Every effort is made to expedite your claim. In the interim we will maintain you informed every step of the way.

How much will it cost to retain a personal injury attorney? Personal Injury claims are handled on a “contingency fee basis”. What this means is that the lawyer gets paid out of your settlement and will wait until such time to be compensated. This compensation is based on a percentage of the gross settlement before costs are deducted. At the Law Offices of Barbara M. Rodriguez if you do not receive a settlement offer, you will not have to pay any attorney fees.

The Insurance Company for the At-Fault Party wants me to sign some documents, should I? You should never sign any documents from the insurance company for the at-fault party without having an experienced personal injury attorney reviewing said documents. There is always a possibility that you are agreeing to either accept fault for the accident or you may be releasing the responsible party and carrier for any damages incurred in the accident. You have the right to refuse to sign any documents until you have had an opportunity to receive legal advise. If it is your insurance company making the request, you do have an obligation to cooperate with them; however, you also have the right to request an opportunity to have the documents reviewed by an attorney.

The Insurance Company for the At-Fault Party wants to take a recorded statement, should I? You are not under any obligation to speak to the other party’s carrier or to agree to give a recorded statement either over the phone or in person. Generally it is not recommended; however, at times, in order to expedite the investigation of the claim it is helpful to give your statement to clarify the facts of the incident and explain the injuries and damages incurred. At the Law Offices of Barbara M. Rodriguez we will never allow our clients to give such a statement without a representative from our office present in order to ensure that the questions are reasonable, fair and necessary and that the answers given are clear and non-prejudicial. You should never speak with any representative from the at-fault party’s carrier without the consent and presence of your legal team.

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