When the insurance company offers to pay your medical expenses

It is not uncommon for the insurer of the driver at fault to send the injured party a letter denying liability, but at the same time offering or even encouraging the person who was hit by their insured to submit his medical records and bills, so that the insurance company can pay the same bills. Usually, these payments are made under the medical payments coverage in the insurance policy up to the stated limit.

When the insurer makes payments under the med-pay coverage, this doesn’t mean that they accept or deny liability, but any such payments will be offset against future recovery, should the injure case settle. If you are offered to have your medical bills paid by the other driver’s insurer, you should feel free to accept that coverage. However, you should also make sure that you don’t sign any release documents that would waiver your rights to proceed with your personal injury action later.

If you have any questions about your medical expenses incurred as a result of an injury accident in San Francisco Bay Area or Sacramento areas, contact experienced personal injury lawyer who will answer your questions competently and attentively at absolutely no charge or obligation.

San Francisco Injury Attorney: Car-Bicycle Accidents

In San Francisco – the city full of hills, busy people, extensive public transportation, roads that could use improvement, impatient drivers, distractions while driving, and a multitude of bicyclists (both recreational and workers of various messenger services), accidents involving bicyclists resulting in serious injuries and even fatalities are unfortunately more common than we hear on our local news.

The majority of the injury accidents involving bicycles arise out of incidents where a driver opens the door of his park car without looking back at the lane on his left carefully to make sure that the road is clear and safe for opening the door. This lead to a bicyclist running into the driver’s door and often flying over the door, hitting his body and head violently against the ground. Obviously, the faster the bicyclist goes, the harder the impact and the more serious injury will be sustained. The other common kind of accidents involving bicyclists is where a bicyclist in San Francisco is riding on the the right side of the road, near the sidewalk, and where the car in front of him, turns right at the intersection without seeing the bicyclist in the right mirror.

Even relatively slow-impact car-bicycle collisions result in serious injuries to the bicycle riders, the most common of which are concussion¬† (especially if the rider wasn’t wearing a helmet) and compression fracture injury to the riders back. I believe that while the drivers are usually found at fault and liable for injuries and damages of the bicyclist in both of the above situations, the rider of the bicycle has more power to prevent these common accidents and avoid the most serious injuries.

First, about hitting open doors of parked cars. Try to not ride to close to the parked cars. If the road behind you is clear (like it is at night) and there are no cars behind you, ride close to the middle of the lane and away from parked cars to avoid running into an open door. When you ride, look a little further forward and pay attention to the cars that are just pulling into the parking space, so that by the time you are near those vehicles, you are especially careful.

When you are about to go through an intersection, never assume that the driver sees you in the right mirror. If it’s obvious to you that the guy is about to turn right, yield, let him pass, let him complete the turn so that you are safe to proceed on your bicycle.

And if you end up in an accident while riding your bicycle in San Francisco, and you are need of legal advice, contact San Francisco injury lawyer for a free, no-obligation consultation, to discuss your concerns.

California Accident Injury Lawyer: Punitive Damages in an Accident Injury Claim in California

Punitive damages are awarded against a party to a wrongdoing, who committed the act with ill intent and malice. In other words, a party who intentionally causes harm and injury may be sued for, among other damages, punitive damages. These damages can constitute a significant portion of the recovery in an injury claim, in large part because the whole purpose of punitive damages is to punish the intentional wrongdoer or “teach a lesson”

Generally, however, a victim in an auto accident, motorcycle crash, or other injury accident, is not entitled to recover punitive damages because most the injury accidents are caused by ordinary negligence  Рfailure to act as a reasonable prudent person under the circumstances.

However, in some injury cases, claiming punitive damages would be appropriate. One of the accident injury claims I have recently handled in San Francisco involved a situation where my client “cut” in front of another driver after passing an intersection. The other driver then followed my client and crashed into his vehicle after my client was already parked, after which a verbal altrication which escalated to physical violence took place. It is obvious from the facts of the accident that the wrongdoer collided into my client on purpose. Thus, the award of punitive damages will be appropriate and will likely significantly increase my client’s recovery.

How to negotiate and settle your injury claim effectively

1. Preliminary considerations in settling an injury claim

Most accident injury and other bodily injury claims are settled before a lawsuit is filed, and thus before the insurance carrier of a liable party is required to retain an attorney to defend the party at fault. In all likelihood, therefore, initial settlement discussions will be with an insurance claims representative, also known as the claims adjuster. The adjuster is charged on behalf of the insurance carrier with investigating the facts and formulating a fair settlement value.

To evaluate the claimant’s first demand and make a settlement offer on the carrier’s behalf, the adjuster will need to review whatever reports and records are available regarding claimant’s injuries and damages. Indeed, copies of medical reports and bills, employer’s verification of lost earnings, benefits and other losses suffered as a result of being absent from workplace, property damage bills, photographs and estimates, and documentation of other, out-of-pocket losses, will be essential to support the adjusters request to his principals to extend a settlement offer. Thus, cooperating with the insurance company’s requests for the above records is generally a good practice that will likely expedite the settlement process. However, it is generally unwise to volunteer information about your earlier injuries or pre-existing medical condition, since the defense will use this as a basis to deny that the injury resulted from the present incident. However, there are a few instances in which the earlier medical history should be volunteered as where it will enhance the value of the claim – e.g., where the injury in question was a minor one, but aggravated a pre-existing condition, causing severe disability, as the party at fault cannot escape liability by arguing that the damages would not have been incurred but for the preexisting condition.

And, of course, if the adjuster has already found out about the prior medical history, it may be necessary to furnish the pertinent records and reports to show the prior condition was not the cause of claimant’s present disability.

2. Making an Initial Settlement Demand

Claims adjusters rarely make the first settlement offer. Instead, they expect the claimant’s attorney to make an initial settlement demand. It is important to have the “bottom line” figure in mind. Before making an initial demand, determine an absolutely minimum amount you believe the case should settle for. Once a bottom line figure is determined, it should be changed only if new information bearing on the claim’s value surfaces during the negotiation process.

3. Settlement Negotiations

The adjuster will assume that the first figure demanded is negotiable. Therefore, the initial demand should not be the “bottom line” but rather should start higher, leaving room for negotiation. It is important, however, to make sure that the initially offered settlement figure is reasonable to avoid turning off all negotiations.

A good approach for ascertaining a realistic high-low range is to relate the settlement value to recent jury verdicts returned in similar cases.