It is the right of every client to change attorneys if he or she desires. If you do not believe that your attorney is the right attorney for you or your case; if you have a breakdown in the attorney client relationship that cannot be resolved; or if you do not have faith in your attorney, for any reason, you should change lawyers. Only you, the client, can discharge your attorney. However, before you do so, you would be well advised to find a new attorney first. If you discharge your lawyer in the middle of a case, and if you cannot quickly or easily fin a new attorney ready, willing and able to jump right into your case, you may be left without legal representation at a critical time which may damage your position in your case and possibly make matters worse for you because you would be expected to act as your own attorney and continue to meet all court and legally required deadlines until you retain your new lawyer.
Contingency Fees Are Split Between the Two AttorneysIn a personal injury case, where the attorneys fee is based upon a contingency, your new attorney is the one who will collect the attorney's fee. Your new attorney must share his fee with your former attorney, and that fee split will be based upon factors such as time spent on your case by each attorney, the relative value each attorney brought to the outcome of your case, and the terms of the retainer agreement you signed when you hired each attorney. You should not have to pay two attorneys fees. You only pay one fee and the attorneys must share in that one fee. When you discharge an attorney, you are entitled, under California law, to all of your case materials, at no charge to you. Your discharged attorney may not charge you for copying your file. He may not withhold your file from you, or make delivery of your file contingent upon any payment, or any other act on your part. If an attorney refuses to turn your file over to you, you should contact the California State Bar and file a complaint. Changing attorneys is important if you are unable to resolve your differences with your current attorney, but be aware that changing attorneys may have unintended consequences for you and your case. Those consequences could include delaying your case so that your new attorney can get up to speed on your legal problems.
Unfortunately, insurance companies regularly use investigators to spy on accident and injury victims. They fund this expensive effort with the profits they have made denying claims and under evaluating injury claims. This is called "sub rosa" investigation. Investigators will park down the street from your home in a van, equipped with video surveillance equipment. They will videotape you coming and going from your home. They will follow you to work and shopping. They will videotape you carrying your groceries, loading and unloading the trunk of your car, gardening in your front garden, turning your head left and right as you back your car out of your driveway. They will amass tens and sometimes hundreds of hours of video in the hope that they will get some footage of you doing something that appears to be inconsistent with your claimed injuries. They try to hide the fact that they have sub rosa video in the hope that they can spring it on you during trial. For those few and relatively rare claimants that do exaggerate or fake their injuries, getting caught is right and proper. But for the vast majority of accident victims who are merely doing their best to live and work and get by as best they can with painful or chronic injuries, this spying is an offensive invasion of privacy. You should be forewarned about this acitiviy and guide yourself accordingly. Experienced trial attorneys are aware of insurance company spying and they make efforts to uncover this information before trial, keep it out of the courtroom if it exists, and neutralize its effects in the event it is produced at trial.
It is typical in a personal injury case, whether it is a car accident, slip and fall, product liability claim or medical malpractice case, for the cost of the medical care to be high and often unavailable to injured victims; even those with medical insurance. Even if you have insurance, you may need care immediately from specialists who are not in your insurance company's network or your HMO may not be willing to provide access to those specialists. Attorneys who are experienced in handling personal injury cases are in a position to help their clients gain access to the best doctors and specialists, and if a case is meritorious, obtain the agreement from the doctor to provide medical care to the client in exchange for making sure that the doctor is paid when the case is resolved. This is done through a "lien" on the case. Medical Liens Help Patients Receive The Care They Need, When They Need It A lien is a contract between the client, the doctor or medical provider, and the lawyer promising to pay the provider out of the proceeds of the settlement. In that contract the medical providers agree to wait until the case is resolved before they are paid. It is important to note that payment to the provider is NOT contingent upon the success of the case. The doctor is owed his fee for medical services regardless of the outcome of the case. It does provide an incentive for the doctor to provide care in a case where the patient does not have insurance of money to pay medical bills as treatment is provided. In the hands of an experienced personal injury attorney, who is in a position to accurately evaluate the facts of the case, the likelihood of success, and the potential value of the case, a medical lien is very likely to be paid out of the settlement or trial proceeds. Medical providers who are familiar with experienced personal injury attorneys are willing to take a "lien" on cases handled by those attorneys because of the reputation of the attorney for success and their integrity in not only consistently obtaining good results, but also of honoring those liens. The best attorneys have established their reputations for success with the best providers who are then willing to treat those attorney's clients when needed. Liens can be arranged for with doctors and specialists of all kinds, surgical centers, and facilities that provide MRIs, CT scans, and testing of all types. With experienced attorneys, accident victims get the care they need from some of the best medical providers around. They get the treatment they need to recover from their injuries and get back to their lives. And the documentation from the treatment provided is used to prove the nature and extent of the injuries suffered, which is required in every personal injury case.
- How serious or life changing are the injuries?
- Was surgery required, or will surgery be needed in the future?
- How much are the medical bills?
- Did the accident victim recover fully, or will he or she suffer for years into the future?
- Were the inuries permanently diabling or temporarily disabling?
- How much is the loss of income, both for the past and the future?
- Are there any liability issues that would allow a defendant to shift blame for the accident to the plaintiff or someone else?
- How did the injuries affect the accident victim in his or her daily work and leisure activities?
A very common question asked by almost all new clients is will my case go to trial? Statistically, the answer is no. Less than 5% of all cases go to trial. So, the odds are any given case is likely to settle without going to trial. This then begs the questions: why do some cases go to trial, and do you have any control over whether your case goes to trial or not? You should understand that you, as the accident victim, have a say in whether your case goes to trial or not. Your attorney needs to prepare your case to obtain the highest possible value, and take the steps to get that value, whether by settlement or trial. Part of that preparation is to give the defendant, whether it is an insurance company, a business or governmental entity, an opportunity to settle your case without going to trial. You should be given the option to consider all settlement offers, and to consider whether an offer is high enough, how much more could your case be worth, how much time and money would be required to go to trial, and what are the chances of getting more and the risk of getting less by going to trial. In other words, with the right information, you will make an infomed choice about what is best for you in your case. As to why some cases go to trial, the answer to that is universally, because the plaintiff wants more money than what is being offered and the plaintiff believes he or she can do better at trial. Conversely, it also means that the defense beieves that the case is not worth what the plaintiff has demanded, and the defendant believes that it can do better at trial. Those are the questions that all parties face in deciding whether to go to trial or not. What is your tolerance for risk and what are the chances of getting a better result at trial are the questions that you will need to answer.
Serious Injuries Can Result From Even Minor AccidentsThe truth is there is little relationship between the amount of property damage to the car and injuries suffered by passengers. A person can be in what looks like a catastrophic roll over wreck and get out of the car with little more than a scratch. By the same token, a person can be in a low speed collison and sustain an injury to his or her neck that causes a cervical disc herniation and requires surgery and fusion of the spine. It is not the car you are in that determines whether you are injured; it is your body that determines what kind of injury you suffer. Your age, gender, musculature, strength, position at the time of impact and whether you have had any prior injuries or conditions that have left your body more susceptible to injury that determine whether you are injured and if so, how badly. Too many people, including lawyers, have bought into this insurance company propaganda and believe that if there is little damage to the car, there is no way to prove that the accident caused a serious injury. It is true that a connection between low speed collision and an injury is more difficult to prove, especially when jurors may come into court already believing the myth propagated by the insurance industry. But difficult does not mean that it cannot be done, or that it should not be tried. As in all injury claims, each case is unique. Each plaintiff is unique. It is the attorney's job to find those facts that prove your injuries came from the accident, regardless of how the car looks in photographs or what was the cost of the repairs.
Many people injured in car accidents have never had to deal with the legal system a day in their lives. Because of this, it is not uncommon for those seeking damages to wonder what exactly is going to happen when they file their California auto accident personal injury claim. Once you're injured in a car accident and you realize you need legal representation, here's a basic outline of what you can usually expect: You'll probably meet with a few different lawyers and then ultimately choose the one that you feel is best for your case. Nearly every lawyer offers a Personalized Consultation, so beware if you encounter one who wants to charge you money just to meet with you. Once you've entered into an agreement with a Los Angeles auto accident attorney that you trust, your lawyer will go to work for you. He will look into the details of your accident, obtain medical records related to your injuries, speak with witnesses, and negotiate with the negligent party's insurance company. Your attorney should keep the lines of communication open with you and keep you updated about everything he is doing and how your case is progressing. Ideally, your attorney will be able to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. He will let you know what the offer is and whether or not he thinks this is fair for you. If you both agree, your case will be settled outside of court. If you cannot reach an agreement, a lawsuit will need to be filed and your case will go to court. This isn't very common for auto accident cases unless it is impossible for all parties involved to reach an agreement. Every auto accident case is different, so it's important to schedule a Personalized consultation with the Law Office of John P. Rosenberg to discuss your options. Call us today at (818) 530-1770 and feel free to request a copy of our complimentary book, The 5 Worst Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Injury Claim
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Motorcycle helmet laws vary from state to state, but when you're in California, you are required to wear a helmet. The law in California is referred to as a universal helmet law because it requires all motorcycle riders and passengers of all ages to wear helmets whenever riding. Some states have partial helmet laws that only require specific groups of people to wear helmets. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after the universal helmet law took effect in 1992, the number of motorcyclist deaths in California decreased by 37 percent. Under the state helmet law, there is only one exception to the rule. The helmet law does not apply to a person operating (or riding as a passenger in) a fully enclosed three-wheeled motor vehicle that is not less than seven feet in length and not less than four feet in width, and has an unladen weight of 900 pounds or more. It is important to remember that although helmets can prevent severe head injuries, they do not fully protect a motorcyclist from injury or death. A helmet is not an invitation to ride recklessly or make foolish decisions. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a report that shows that for the same per-mile exposure, motorcyclists are roughly 28 times more likely to die than occupant of other vehicles. If you were the victim of a California motorcycle accident caused by another person's negligence in the Los Angeles area, contact the Law Offices of John P. Rosenberg, located in Woodland Hills.
Q: I purchased a defective product, but it did not hurt me or anyone else. Can I still file a claim?
If someone purchased a defective product, it is certainly not uncommon for her to wonder if she may have a product liability case in California. However, things really boil down to whether someone was hurt by the defective product. If nobody was injured by the defective product that you purchased, it is pretty much guaranteed that you aren't going to have a product liability case. Product liability cases center around obtaining compensation for damages, which would generally include things like medical bills, pain and suffering, or lost wages. If the defective product simply gave you a good scare, there's not much there to pursue. Every once in a while someone may be able to base her case simply around the emotional stress or trauma they sustained because of the product, but that is not a normal everyday occurrence. You may not have a product liability case, but you should still report the defect to the company who made the product as soon as possible. The company may not be aware of a serious design or manufacturing flaw that could ultimately end up injuring many of people. By reporting the defect, you could potentially save others—and hopefully, get your money back for the trouble the product has caused you. If you have been injured by a defective product in Los Angeles County, contact the California product liability attorneys at the Law Office of John P. Rosenberg today for a personalized consultation. Call us today at (818) 530-1770 and request a FREE copy of our book, The 5 Worst Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Injury Claim.
Slip and Fall
Before we delve into the slip and fall compensation side of things, there's one very important thing you need to remember: you can't recover damages if there weren't any. This means that if you slipped and fell in a clothing store, but you were not injured, it is highly unlikely that you'll be able to pursue a case. Yes, it may have been the store's fault that you fell, but if that fall did not negatively impact you in any way, you'll have a tough time pursuing a claim. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident and the defendant is held liable, you could be entitled to compensation for various reasons, including:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages—past, present and future
- Pain and suffering
- Rehabilitation, physical therapy, and any other specialists you may be required to see
- Cost for wheelchairs, walkers, and other assistive equipment
- Travel expenses for appointments
- Scars or disfigurement
People who have never been in a truck accident assume that it must be fairly similar to being in a car accident. It's two or more vehicles crashing into each other—case closed, right? Wrong. Yes, the basic physics behind truck and car accidents is the same, but that's where the similarities end. The trucker who caused the accident also comes with a trucking company behind him and an insurance company that handles situations like this all the time. Big rigs are also exponentially larger than basic passenger vehicles, which means anything that happens as a result of the accident is usually bigger and more problematic as well. The three biggest differences between California truck accidents and car accidents are:
- Injuries. When you get into an accident with an 18-wheeler, your chances of being seriously injured are much greater. On the highway, these trucks are essentially eight-ton speeding weapons and when they cause an accident, severe injuries are almost inevitable.
- Accident causes. Due to the size of trucks, certain accident causes are more likely to be issues. Big rigs can roll over very easily when there are unfavorable road conditions, the driver makes a mistake, or there's an equipment malfunction. Trucks can also jack-knife when there's a delay in reaction time and disabled front brakes. Of course, such accidents only increase the odds of additional vehicle collisions along the highway.
- Insurance company drama. Insurance settlement agents for trucking companies can be ruthless. They do this all the time, so they know exactly what to look for and how to manipulate the situation in their favor. They will probably try to convince you to settle for an amount of money that is far smaller than you deserve.