Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

Can I Receive Compensation If I’m Partially At-Fault for an Accident?

| Read Time: 3 minutes

If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you might be wondering who will pay for your damages. Pursuing a claim for compensation can be challenging. You can expect the other driver’s insurance to say you’re at fault for the collision. But what happens if you are both partially responsible? Can you get any money if you’re partially at fault for the accident? Your ability to collect money for your injuries depends on which state the accident occurred in.  If you have questions about compensation when you’re partially at fault for a car accident, contact the experienced car accident lawyers at Beliz Law Firm as soon as possible. Can You Still File a Car Accident Claim If You Were Found Partially At Fault? In California, yes, you can still file a car accident claim when you’re partially at fault. California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means you can file a claim even if you are primarily at fault for the accident. In some states, you cannot pursue compensation for your injuries if you are even one percent at fault. Other states won’t allow you to recover any money if you’re more than 50% at fault. In California, you can be up to 99% liable and still collect compensation. However, your recovery is limited by your own percentage of fault. For example, if you are 60% responsible, you would only receive 40% of your damages. It’s important to note the other driver can also collect compensation from your insurance company. For example, when you’re 60% at fault, the other driver can pursue 60% of their damages from you. That’s why working with an experienced lawyer to build a strong case is crucial. You need a legal advocate on your side. Otherwise, the defendant’s insurance company will allege you were primarily or solely at fault and prevent you from getting all of the compensation you are eligible to receive.    If I am Partially At Fault, Can I Sue for an Injury? Yes, you can file a personal injury lawsuit if you’re partially at fault for an accident. There are several scenarios where filing a lawsuit might be a good option in California: The defendant’s insurance won’t engage in meaningful settlement negotiations; You cannot reach an agreement on liability; or The statute of limitations is approaching. While most lawsuits settle before trial, taking your case to a jury may be necessary to decide fault percentages. Your attorney will explain whether filing a lawsuit is best for you based on the facts of your case. How to Strengthen Your Case To be eligible for compensation, you must have adequate proof demonstrating the other driver’s fault. One of the best ways to do this is by hiring a California car accident lawyer early on. When you retain Beliz Law Firm, we will conduct a thorough independent investigation and collect all available evidence to help strengthen your claim.   Having photos from the accident scene is very helpful. If you can do so safely and without further injuring yourself, get pictures of vehicle damage, skid marks, and the surrounding scene right after an accident occurs.  An attorney may also hire various types of experts to support your claim, including an accident reconstructionist. An accident reconstructionist is a recognized expert on recreating accidents and discussing who was most likely at fault based on multiple scientific parameters. Their report and testimony could become a crucial part of your case. Recoverable Compensation in a Car Accident Claim The compensation you’re eligible to receive will vary based on the facts and circumstances of your case. In general, recoverable compensation includes: Medical expenses to date, Future medical expenses, Lost wages, Future loss of earning capacity, Property damage, Pain and suffering, Mental anguish, and Loss of consortium and enjoyment of life.  Your percentage of legal liability has a significant impact on how much compensation you ultimately receive. If your damages are $100,000 and you’re 60% at fault, the maximum you can receive is $40,000. Don’t risk receiving less money than you deserve because you pursued a claim without a skilled attorney representing you. Contact Our California Car Accident Lawyers Today If you are searching online for answers to “what happens if I am partially at fault for a collision,” contact Beliz Law Firm. We have nearly two decades of experience assisting injured car accident victims in California. Our legal team has helped countless clients fight for the compensation they deserve. We know the strategies and tactics insurance companies use to lowball you. They will make you believe they are offering you the maximum compensation you deserve when it’s significantly less than your case is worth. No matter what the defendant’s insurance company tries to make you believe, they are not on your side. The insurance adjuster is looking out for the company’s bottom line, not your best interest.Schedule a free initial consultation with a lawyer at Beliz Law Firm today to learn more about compensation when you’re partially at fault in an accident.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

How to Claim Lost Wages in a Car Accident

| Read Time: 3 minutes

When you sustain injuries in a car accident, it can affect your ability to work. If someone else’s actions caused the accident, you have the right to pursue a personal injury claim for compensation. Understandably, prospective clients want to know how to claim lost wages from a car accident. Don’t hesitate to contact the California car accident lawyers at Beliz Law Firm to learn how we can help you pursue a claim for lost earnings. Most lost wage claims also involve other damages, such as medical expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering. Our skilled legal team can help you determine the total value of your car accident claim.  Can I Claim Lost Wages from a Car Accident? In most situations, you can pursue lost wages in a car accident claim in California. However, you must have sufficient proof of your lost wages before making your claim. Otherwise, the other driver’s insurance company will deny your claim. For example, imagine you suffered whiplash in a car accident. A lost wages claim would require proof of the work you missed due to the whiplash.  You should be aware of two distinct components of personal injury wage claims: lost wages to date and future loss of earning capacity. Evidence Needed for a Lost Wages Claim After a Car Accident You need to provide evidence supporting your claim that you could not work due to your car accident injury. Some of the most common types of evidence include: Medical records that detail your injuries, including how they occurred and if you had a prior injury that was made worse in this accident; Pay stubs showing your earnings before the accident; Tax returns that confirm your prior earnings; Work records that show your missed days since the accident; and If you’re self-employed, you need invoices or other documentation that prove your losses. Include any letters or emails written to your supervisor that explain your absences. Your employer can also prepare a letter that details your missed time. The more documentation you have, the better. If you have future medical appointments requiring you to miss work, include those lost future earnings in your calculations.  When you retain an attorney at Beliz Law Firm, we will help compile all the evidence necessary to present a claim for lost wages. What Is Loss of Earning Capacity? Loss of earning capacity is the difference between what you are making and what you would be earning if not for your injury. For example, perhaps you were able to return to work after the accident, but you can’t do your former job.  Proving a future loss of earning capacity is more challenging than a standard lost wages claim. That’s because there’s a need to speculate about your future earnings.  The most challenging aspect of a loss of earning capacity claim is figuring out what you would have earned in the future if not for the debilitating injury. To calculate your damages, you would deduct what you might earn with your injury or disability from that amount. It’s typically necessary to hire a financial or economic expert who can help figure out these amounts. These experts can determine a range of what your loss of earning capacity claim is worth. Should your loss of earning potential claim go before a jury, the court grants the jury leeway to determine the amount you should be awarded. Jury members can use their common sense, which can be helpful or a hindrance, depending on the trial. How to Claim Lost Wages from a Car Accident Once you have all your evidence and documentation, you will present a demand package to the defendant’s insurance company. When you are represented by an attorney, your attorney will handle this step. All evidence is submitted to the insurance company to review, and you have to wait for a response. The demand package has a letter outlining everything about your case, including how you were injured, why the defendant is responsible, and what damages you sustained. Your attorney also includes a monetary amount you wish to resolve the case for. If the defendant’s insurance company refuses to talk about settlement values or if an adequate settlement offer is not made, your attorney may advise filing a lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. Contact Our Car Accident Lawyers When you have questions on how to claim lost wages from a car accident, Beliz Law Firm stands ready to help. We know how difficult proving damages can be in a car accident claim. We can help gather evidence and build the strongest case possible. If we need to hire experts for a loss of earning capacity claim, we have a network of reputable professionals we can call. If you pursue a claim independently, you might miss out on the valuable compensation you need. With nearly two decades of experience assisting injured car accident victims in California, we will fight for the maximum compensation in your lost wages claim. Contact us today to schedule a free case review.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

What Happens If an Uber Driver Causes an Accident?

| Read Time: 3 minutes

You have rights if you’re a passenger in an Uber vehicle that gets into an accident and you suffer injuries. You likely have many questions including, What happens if an Uber driver causes an accident? Pursuing a claim involving an Uber vehicle can be confusing and complicated. If you need assistance following an Uber accident, contact the California car accident lawyers at Beliz Law Firm. We can help you pursue a claim against the responsible parties and fight for the maximum compensation possible.  What If My Uber Driver Causes An Accident? As a passenger in an Uber, it’s highly unlikely you have any percentage of fault in the accident. You are an innocent party unless you did something that distracted the driver and caused them to lose control. That means you should not have to pay for your own injuries and time off work. However, you must prove who is at fault for the collision to collect compensation. If the Uber driver caused the collision, Uber’s coverage would likely be the primary insurance responsible for compensating you for your injuries.   Uber Insurance Coverage  Uber has several periods of coverage depending on what the Uber driver was doing at the time of the accident.  Period 1: The app is turned off, or the driver is offline.  During this period, the driver’s personal insurance should be the primary insurance and cover damages incurred by a passenger, another driver, pedestrian, or bicyclist.  Period 2: The app is turned on, and the driver is available or waiting for a ride request.  Uber has third-party liability coverage during this period if the driver’s insurance won’t extend coverage. Applicable limits are $50,000 in bodily injury per person or $100,000 for bodily injury in one accident, and $25,000 in property damage coverage per incident.  Period 3: The Uber driver is on their way to pick up a passenger or is transporting a passenger at the time of the accident.  If you’re a passenger in the Uber vehicle, you will fall under this section. Uber’s policy limit during this period is $1 million in third-party liability insurance. If the other driver is at fault and has no insurance, this Uber policy should allow you to access uninsured motorist coverage.  Whose Insurance Pays If My Uber Driver Got Into an Accident? Knowing who to pursue a claim against is crucial. The Uber driver’s own car insurance policy likely won’t pay for your injuries. That’s because personal auto insurance policies usually have exclusions when the car is used to hire. You likely have a claim against Uber and maybe the other vehicle’s driver depending on the circumstances.  California is a comparative negligence state. That means the Uber driver and the other party could both be responsible for the accident and collect compensation from each other’s insurance companies if they suffered injuries. Consider a situation where the Uber driver is 10% at fault, and the other driver is 90% at fault. If the Uber driver is injured, they could collect up to 90% of their damages from the other driver. As an innocent passenger, you are entitled to pursue a claim against all responsible parties. California has joint and several liability, which means you have the right to pursue compensation from any defendant, regardless of whether they were 100% at fault. Consider the example of the Uber driver being 10% liable. You can collect your entire settlement amount from Uber, and then Uber can pursue 90% reimbursement from the other driver’s insurance company.  Unfortunately, suing an Uber driver for the accident doesn’t mean Uber will automatically pay you for your injuries. You might be caught between two insurance companies fighting over which one will pay you. This situation is something we often see in car accident claims. Insurance companies always want the other company to pay rather than paying and seeking reimbursement after the fact.  This back-and-forth can be very frustrating for an innocent passenger. That’s one of the many reasons you should hire a lawyer if you’ve sustained injuries in an Uber accident. You deserve to have your injuries paid for and to not be caught in the middle of an argument between insurance companies over who will pay for your injuries.  Contact a California Uber Accident Lawyer  If you have questions about “what happens if an Uber causes an accident” and how to pursue compensation, Beliz Law Firm is here to help. With nearly two decades of experience assisting injured car accident victims, we know how to build a strong case. Uber-related accidents are more complicated than your average car accident. Not every law firm has the necessary experience with them to help you get the compensation you deserve. Beliz Law Firm does. We understand the nuances of these types of claims and how to navigate them.  Please contact our office today to schedule a free case review to learn more about how we can help you. 

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

What To Do If You’re Hit by a Drunk Driver in California

| Read Time: 3 minutes

You must contact 911 immediately following an accident involving a drunk driver. The police need to respond to the scene. If it appears the drunk driver is trying to leave the scene, get photos if possible, and take down their license plate number.  If your injuries are severe, you might need emergency medical assistance at the scene. Do not downplay your injuries or refuse medical help. You might be injured worse than you realize. Internal injuries are common in severe collisions, and adrenaline can prevent you from immediately feeling pain.  Cooperate with law enforcement when they arrive, but be cautious about what you say at the scene. Do not say anything that could lead the officer to conclude you are partially responsible for the accident. While the other driver might appear drunk, you won’t know they are intoxicated until tests confirm that.    The other driver’s insurance company will try to convince you to give a recorded statement about the accident. You should not give a statement without legal representation. The insurance adjuster is looking for any statement or evidence they can use to deny your claim. Even if the insured driver was drunk, the insurance company wants to reduce or eliminate their financial liability.  California Legal Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits The blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in California can vary depending on the circumstances. Here’s a look at the various limits:  Adult in a non-commercial vehicle—0.08% or higher; Driver under 21—0.01% or higher; Vehicle requiring a commercial driver’s license—0.04% or higher;  A driver who is on DUI probation—0.01% or higher; and Passenger for hire in the vehicle at the time—0.04% or higher. Even someone whose BAC is under the legal limit can be impaired. People who consume alcohol and get behind the wheel can have impaired judgment and slower reaction times, even if they are legally allowed to drive.   Can I Sue if I Was Hit by a Drunk Driver in California? Yes, you can file a lawsuit against the drunk driver if their insurance company doesn’t adequately resolve your injury claim. In some instances, the drunk driver’s insurance company might deny coverage. If that happens, you can present a claim to your own insurance company, provided you have uninsured/underinsured coverage.  Even if the state files criminal charges, you still have the right to pursue a civil claim. These are two separate actions in two different court systems with unique burdens of proof. A criminal case against the drunk driver involves a loss of freedom, while a civil case involves financial compensation.  Like other types of personal injury cases, you only have a limited amount of time to file a drunk driving lawsuit in California. If you miss the deadline, the court will likely dismiss your entire case. That means you’ll collect no compensation for your injuries, no matter how solid your case is. In most cases, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Some situations can alter the filing deadline, but it’s not guaranteed you will have additional time.  When you hire a lawyer to represent you, they will help you meet important filing deadlines. Your attorney at Beliz Law Firm will be the one calculating filing deadlines, not you.  Types of Recoverable Compensation  A car accident victim can recover compensation for economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages compensate you for financial losses such as medical bills or lost wages. Noneconomic damages compensate you for emotional or psychological harm caused by an accident. Every case is different, but there are a few types of injuries plaintiffs commonly seek compensation for in car accident claims, including:  Medical expenses to date, Future expected medical costs, Lost wages, Future loss of earning capacity, Pain and suffering, Mental anguish, Loss of consortium, and Property damage.  Cases involving a drunk driver may be eligible for a unique type of compensation called punitive damages. The law reserves punitive damages for only select cases that involve intentional acts or egregious behavior. Drunk driving can qualify as an intentional or egregious act. Punitive damages are meant to punish the wrongdoer rather than compensate the victim for their injuries. An experienced attorney can help determine if you qualify for punitive damages.  Contact Our California Car Accident Lawyers  If you were hit by a drunk driver in California, you have rights. The legal team at Beliz Law Firm can help. We know how terrifying an accident with a drunk driver can be. You deserve to receive the maximum compensation possible. With nearly two decades of experience assisting injured car accident victims, we know how to build a strong case. We’ve helped numerous victims of drunk drivers get the justice they deserve. To learn more about how we can assist you, contact Beliz Law Firm today to schedule a free case review.

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Attorney Portrait Motorcycle Accidents

How Long Do I Have to File a Motorcycle Accident Claim in California?

| Read Time: 3 minutes

When you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident, you might have the legal right to pursue compensation. When someone else’s actions caused your injuries, California law allows you to pursue a personal injury claim against them. However, there are legal deadlines you must adhere to. Otherwise, the court might dismiss your case entirely. Understandably, we receive numerous questions regarding these types of claims, including questions like, How long do I have to file a motorcycle accident claim in California? In most scenarios, you have two years from the accident date to file a lawsuit in the proper court. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations. However, that two-year deadline is not set in stone. Some situations could increase your allotted filing time or decrease it to less than two years. These complexities are one of the many reasons you should consider hiring a California motorcycle accident lawyer to represent you. Do not count on California’s motorcycle accident statute of limitations to always be two years without first speaking with a qualified attorney.  What Happens When You Miss the Statute of Limitations? Judges are not very forgiving when you miss legal deadlines, especially the statute of limitations. In most situations, the judge assigned to your case will dismiss it entirely when the defendants show you missed the filing deadline. Unfortunately, whether the other driver’s insurance company previously made a settlement offer does not matter.  If you were in the middle of negotiations when the deadline passed, the defendant’s insurance company is under no legal obligation to continue settlement talks without proof of filing. You would need to have accepted their offer and signed the release of all claims to move forward after the filing deadline has passed. You can’t go back and suddenly say you want to accept an earlier offer because the statute of limitations has now expired.   Examples of Exceptions to the California Statute of Limitations for Motorcycle Accidents  Understanding what some of the exceptions to the two-year rule are can help show why it’s crucial to hire a California motorcycle accident lawyer. There’s no guarantee that any of the exceptions apply to you. Don’t wait to speak with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer, or you might inadvertently jeopardize your entire case.  Delayed Discovery Rule  The delayed discovery rule essentially gives you additional time beyond the normal statute of limitations because an injury was not discovered until long after the accident. In motorcycle accident claims, this is not as likely to happen. Delayed discovery of injuries is more applicable to medical malpractice claims and product liability lawsuits for toxic chemical exposure.  Wrongful Death  When a victim dies from their motorcycle accident-related injuries, certain surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The statute of limitations becomes two years from the date of death rather than two years from the date of the accident. Wrongful death claims also involve damages that are different from damages that would be available in a personal injury lawsuit for motorcycle accident injuries.  Defendant Leaves the State or Is Incarcerated Sometimes a defendant temporarily leaves the state and doesn’t return for several years. That means you cannot file a lawsuit and serve them in California. Your deadline to file might be extended to account for the defendant’s absence from California’s jurisdiction. In other scenarios, the defendant might be incarcerated for their role in the accident or due to another unrelated criminal act. The law considers this when calculating the motorcycle accident statute of limitations.  Victim Is a Minor or Lacks Mental Capacity  If the plaintiff is under 18 or lacks the mental capacity to make legal decisions, the court will extend the deadline. Someone who suffers severe brain damage in an accident might not have the mental capacity to sue for several years while they recover.  The Other Party Is a Government Entity  If the defendant was driving a vehicle owned by a city or county agency, legal deadlines change dramatically. You could have as little as six months to file a claim against that government agency. That’s why you shouldn’t wait to contact an attorney. Six months can fly by as you undergo treatment and work on your recovery.   Hiring a California Motorcycle Accident Lawyer  You need a legal advocate to protect your rights when you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident. If you have questions about “how long do I have to file a motorcycle accident claim” in California, contact Beliz Law Firm. We have nearly two decades of experience assisting injured victims in motorcycle accident claims. Our legal team understands what’s at stake and the importance of not missing legal deadlines. You should be concentrating on your recovery and not worried about how much time you have to file a claim. Don’t risk your potential settlement by trying to handle a motorcycle accident injury claim by yourself. Contact Beliz Law Firm to schedule an initial consultation to learn how we can help you.

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Attorney Portrait Motorcycle Accidents

How Do I Prove Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident

| Read Time: 4 minutes

Pursuing compensation in a California motorcycle accident can be complicated. Before the defendant’s insurance company offers you any money, you must show the other driver was responsible for your injuries. To prove negligence in a motorcycle accident, you need a skilled legal advocate on your side. Failure to meet all the required elements of negligence means you will not have a successful claim. Contact the California motorcycle accident lawyers at Beliz Law Firm today to learn more about your legal options.  How Negligence Is Established in a Motorcycle Accident There are four main elements of negligence. Building a solid case can help prove the other driver was at fault. In California, you don’t have to prove the other driver was 100% at fault for the accident. You only have to prove they were at least partially responsible. That’s because California is a pure comparative negligence state. That means you can be partially at fault for the accident and still collect some of your damages. However, your percentage of liability reduces your overall compensation. That means if you’re 20% at fault, your maximum compensation will be 80% of your damages.  To better understand the personal injury claims process, read on to learn more about the elements necessary for proving negligence in a motorcycle accident.  Duty of Care  The first element of negligence is the duty of care. The defendant must have owed you some type of legal duty when the accident occurred. With motorcycle accidents, establishing duty is relatively simple. All motorists have a duty to follow traffic regulations and laws and avoid harming other motorists. Breach of Duty  The defendant must have breached their duty of care. Did the defendant run a red light, speed, or engage in distracted driving? Were they drinking and driving or driving recklessly? Any action that violates the rules of the road can be a breach of duty.  You might think this is all relatively straightforward. However, the defendant’s insurance company may push back against your claim and argue your actions led to the collision. Comparative negligence means your insurance could be paying out money too. That’s why building a strong case is crucial to getting the compensation you deserve.  Causation  The third element of negligence is causation. You must show the defendant’s breach of duty is what led to your injuries. Someone can clearly break the law or breach a duty, but you must be able to show how that conduct resulted in the accident and your injuries. Proving causation is key to recovering compensation. If you cannot prove causation, you might not receive reimbursement for your injuries. Photos of property damage and injuries are one of the ways to prove causation. Another is through medical records and treatment.    Damages  The fourth element is damages. There are two basic types of damages you can receive in a motorcycle accident. Ones you can prove with a receipt like property damage estimates, medical bills, and loss of earnings. The second type of damage is not through a receipts like pain and suffering and loss of consortium,  Tips to Prove Negligence in a Motorcycle Accident  Compiling evidence and proving negligence in a motorcycle accident should start immediately after the accident. Your actions following the crash can significantly impact your claim. Be very cautious with what you say at the accident scene. Do not say “sorry” or “I didn’t see you” or anything else that can be construed as you taking responsibility for the crash.  Depending on the severity of your injuries, take photos of the scene if possible. Get pictures of your motorcycle damage, the other driver’s damage, skid marks, and the surrounding scene. These photos can prove valuable as the liability investigation proceeds.  If there is a witness at the scene, get their contact information. Sometimes a witness leaves before the police arrive because they cannot wait that long. You don’t want to miss out on a witness statement that proves your version of the events.  Keep copies of all your records, receipts, and bills. You need evidence of your damages for the claim. Consider taking notes or keeping an accident journal to document your symptoms and how your injury is impacting you. This record-keeping will also help you if your case takes a year or two to resolve because it shows a progression of how the accident impacted your life. If you have to give a deposition a year later, you can review your notes to ensure you don’t forget important details.  Don’t delay seeing a doctor even if you think your injuries are minor. What you may consider minor may actually be a serious injury. The doctor will make notes documenting your injuries and can spot injuries that you would not have noticed. If the doctor gives you a treatment plan, you should follow it. Doctor’s notes, medical records, and bills can provide evidence of your injuries and your damages.  Contact Our California Motorcycle Accident Attorneys One of the best things you can do after an accident is to contact our California motorcycle accident lawyers at Beliz Law Firm. The other driver’s insurance will likely encourage you to resolve your claim independently and without hiring a lawyer. However, they are not looking out for your best interests. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner we can start protecting your rights. At Beliz Law Firm, we know how to prove negligence in a motorcycle accident and can help you build a strong case. We have almost two decades of experience assisting injured motorcycle accident victims. We know the stigma motorcycle riders face, and we’re here to help you pursue the maximum compensation possible. Contact us today to schedule a free case review.

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Attorney Portrait Brain Injury Lawyer

What Can I Expect from My Traumatic Brain Injury Settlement in California?

| Read Time: 4 minutes

Traumatic brain injuries can uproot lives. Depending on the severity of the injury, they can result in days, weeks, months, or, in severe cases, years of rehab or hospital stays. Accident victims must wrestle with the financial, social, and psychological cost of the event. While they juggle medical bills and presenting to various medical providers, they must also heal physically and mentally.  For those wondering, What can I expect from my traumatic brain injury settlement in California? contacting an experienced attorney is your best bet for understanding your legal options. Because California personal injury claims can have a short statute of limitations, involving an attorney early on is critical. If you file your claim after the legal deadline passes, you may be barred from bringing the claim at all, but exceptions may apply. An experienced brain injury lawyer can help you find out if you have a valid claim. They can also help you meet your deadline by filing a claim or lawsuit on your behalf.  How Can I Get a Fair Traumatic Brain Injury Settlement in California? Filing a traumatic brain injury lawsuit may sound daunting, but it can be necessary for victims and their families to get the compensation they deserve.  A fair settlement for a traumatic brain injury takes into consideration the past, current, and future costs of the accident and your injury. Compensation might include reimbursement for medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation services for both past and future costs. Additionally, you may be eligible to receive money for your pain and suffering. While nothing can turn back the clock, a financial award can help to alleviate your burden, so you can continue on your healing journey.  Often, insurance companies contact victims to try to persuade them to accept quick-fix traumatic brain injury settlement offers. The insurance company may even tell the victim that this is the best offer that they can give. Oftentimes, this is not the case. The insurance companies’ goals are to resolve the case as quickly as possible and for as low as possible.  At the end of the day, their bottom line is top of their mind.  Your best defense against these tactics is having an experienced lawyer that you trust. Your TBI lawyer performs many vital functions. They serve as your advocate, protector, and legal counselor. They work for you and your best interests—not for the insurance company.  Michael Beliz at The Beliz Law Firm has helped hundreds of clients successfully maximize their personal injury settlement. Michael founded The Beliz Law Firm with the express purpose of enriching the community and helping personal injury victims recover. A fierce legal advocate, he’s who you want on your side. What Happens During Settlement Negotiations? Settlement negotiations typically begin with your attorney sending a demand to the at-fault party’s insurance company outlining the liability, your damages, and the details of your brain injury. The insurance company may then send you an offer. Many insurance companies also perform their own investigation into what happened. Investigators and insurance adjusters review the evidence, check the policy limits, and calculate their estimate of the accident and your injuries. Based on this, they submit to you an amount of money that they say is fair under the circumstances.  Best practice after receiving an offer from an insurance company is to talk to an attorney. The attorney can review your case, the evidence, and the law to decide what they believe a fair settlement offer is. From there, they talk to you about your legal options and work with you to propose a counteroffer.  Ideally, the back and forth continues until everyone agrees on a settlement offer. In some cases, however, the parties can’t reach an agreement out of court. In that situation, filing a traumatic brain injury lawsuit and going to trial may be your best option. A brain injury lawyer can file the lawsuit on your behalf and gather additional evidence needed to prove your case.  What Happens If My Case Goes to Trial? If your case goes to trial, then a brain injury lawyer can represent you in court. In the months—or, sometimes, years—before trial, the parties engage in activities like discovery. During discovery, both sides ask the other side for key information about the accident, such as medical records, financial statements, and other important documentation. The parties use this information to prove their case (or disprove the opposing party’s case).  During discovery, the parties may also interview witnesses outside of court (called a deposition). Discovery is a long but crucial process, paving the way to trial. In some cases, parties agree to settle the case after they complete the discovery process.  At trial, both parties present their case to the jury (if a jury trial) or the judge (if a bench trial). They may call their witnesses to the stand and question the opponent’s witnesses. After both sides present evidence at trial, they give a closing argument. After this occurs, the jury (or judge, if a bench trial) considers the evidence, law, and arguments for each side. Then, they issue a decision.  If the losing party does not agree with the decision that the jury or judge made, then they may be able to appeal.   The Beliz Law Firm Understands Your Hurt and Wants to Help Suffering from a traumatic brain injury can take an immense toll on you and your family. At The Beliz Law Firm, we understand the pain endured by TBI victims and their families. We live to serve our clients—to help them heal and recover the compensation they need to move on. Michael Beliz lives and serves the public in Long Beach, California. For over a decade, The Beliz Law Firm has provided clients with small firm attention and big firm results. We take pride in treating our clients like people, not dollar signs. We regularly give back to the community because we care and want to make it a better place. Contact us today for a free case review.

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

Can an Auto Accident Settlement Exceed the Policy Limit in California?

| Read Time: 4 minutes

Even though, as a whole, people drove less in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, auto accidents were unfortunately widespread. Distracted driving accounted for approximately 14% of all car accidents resulting in injuries in 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration (NHTSA). Also in 2020, over 1,100 people lost their lives due to alcohol-related car accidents in California. NHTSA estimates that in 2021, over 4,000 lost their lives in a traffic accident. Car insurance serves to help make sure that a crash victim receives a minimum amount of compensation for their injuries and damages. But what if the damages are more than the insurance policy limit? Can an auto accident settlement exceed the policy limit in California?  California Insurance Policies and Limits California has special laws when it comes to car insurance. By law, individuals can carry traditional motor vehicle insurance or provide proof of financial responsibility in lieu of insurance. This allows individuals flexibility to choose how they would like to cover car accident liability. Additionally, it protects the public by requiring individuals to secure a method to compensate car accident victims for losses.  Types of California Insurance Policies California allows drivers to carry the following types of liability policies:  Car insurance from a licensed insurance provider;  Self-insurance certificate issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV);  Evidence of a $35,000 deposit with the DMV; or $35,000 surety bond issued by a business licensed to operate in California. Some individuals may qualify for a low-cost insurance program. This program improves access to insurance coverage to individuals who can’t afford traditional car insurance. In return, however, the policy limits and coverage are less than those of traditional insurance.  California Insurance Policy Limits California’s drivers must provide evidence of the following minimum amounts of financial responsibility in case of an accident: $15,000 minimum coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident;  $30,000 minimum coverage for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in an accident; and  $5,000 minimum coverage for damage to the property belonging to others in the accident.  If the individual carries a low-cost automobile insurance policy, the following limits apply: $10,000 minimum coverage for bodily injury or death of one person in an accident;  $20,000 minimum coverage for bodily injury or death of two or more persons in an accident; and  $3,000 minimum coverage for damage to the property belonging to others in the accident.  These are the minimum amounts of coverage that California’s drivers must carry or bear responsibility for. But drivers can opt to take out policies with higher coverage amounts.  Can an Auto Accident Settlement Exceed the Policy Limit in California? It depends. Part of the insurance contract is that the driver agrees to pay the insurance company X amount in exchange for the insurance covering losses totaling X amount or less.  Typically, insurance policies and limits represent the highest amounts that the insurance company may agree to pay if there’s an accident.  In California, you have to give the at-fault insurance company one opportunity to resolve the claim within their limits by sending over enough information to show the limit amount should be tendered. If the insurance company disagrees and does not pay, then the insurance policy limit is open.    You can still negotiate with the insurance company and at-fault parties to reach a settlement agreement that works for everyone. Additionally, if you have underinsured motorist coverage, your insurance company may cover some of your damages.  Having an experienced auto accident lawyer to help you increases your chances of recovering. The Beliz Law Firm helps people like you negotiate with the insurance company. We’re not afraid to go to court to help victims and their families get the compensation they need and deserve.  What Are My Options If My Damages Exceed the Insurance Policy Limits? Some car accident injuries like traumatic brain injury can incur a lifetime cost for medical treatment of thousands to over $1 million dollars. Aside from medical costs, you or your loved one may be missing out on wages, enduring pain and suffering, and going through other hardships because of the accident. Do you have options?  If you’re unable to negotiate a suitable settlement outside of court, filing a lawsuit may be your best option. If you go to court, the money award you receive isn’t limited by the insurance policy limits. California’s personal injury damages laws set how much you can receive from the at-fault party or parties.  Under California law, you may be entitled to full, fair, and reasonable compensation for the damages that the at-fault party caused. This includes direct damages, like to your car and your body during the accident. Additionally, you may receive compensation for the harm to you, your life, and your family because of the accident. In other words, compensation for your pain and suffering and lost wages. Unfortunately, just because a court may award you damages does not mean you will be able to collect them. Underinsured drivers often lack the resources to pay a judgment. Your attorney can investigate to help you determine whether filing a lawsuit will be worthwhile. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy, you can make a claim with your own insurance company up to the limits of that policy. A lawyer can help you navigate claims with both the at-fault driver’s insurance company and your own insurance company. Hiring a knowledgeable and trustworthy auto accident lawyer helps you maximize the recovery you receive.  The Beliz Law Firm—Trusted By Southern California Since 2011 Car accident victims need someone they can trust on their side. After all, insurance companies want to save money and at-fault parties aim to pay as little as possible. Meanwhile, car accident victims and their families must pay the price of an accident that wasn’t their fault.  Without an attorney in their corner fighting for them, victims may unknowingly sign away their rights to compensation and accept a car accident settlement...

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Attorney Portrait Truck Accidents

What Should I Do If I Was Hit By a Company Vehicle?

| Read Time: 4 minutes

Pursuing a personal injury claim for compensation following a car accident can be complicated, especially one involving a company vehicle. A company vehicle is any vehicle owned by a business and driven by an employee or other “agent” of the business. The vehicle could transport equipment or goods or be an employee’s assigned company car. Understandably, prospective clients come to us to find out, “What should I do if I was hit by a company vehicle?” If you suffered injuries due to another driver’s negligence, don’t hesitate to contact the Beliz Law Firm. We can help you determine the best course of legal action when a negligent driver in a company vehicle causes an accident. What To Do Immediately Following the Accident The steps you take immediately following an accident can impact your injury claim later. Here are some helpful things to remember following an accident with a company-owned vehicle in California. Contact the Police It’s crucial to contact the police following an accident with injuries, especially when a company vehicle is involved. In a traffic collision report, it usually states the driver’s name and the owner’s name. An officer may determine that the vehicle being driven was a company vehicle. In addition, the report will state the insurance information like company and policy number.  This insurance information may also lead to the finding of the vehicle and/or the insurance being with a company.   Exchange Contact Information Be sure to exchange all information with the other driver. Exchanging information will get you details on insurance and the owner of the vehicle. The insurance information will lead to the value of the policy limits. If the other driver was in the course and scope of employment and driving under their employer’s insurance plan, the policy limits may be higher. Most company insurance is higher than the average personal auto insurance limits.    Further, remember to gather information on independent witnesses. Witnesses are essential in these collisions because the insurance adjuster will strongly argue that the company representative was not at fault. Take Scene Photos If you can do so safely and not further injure yourself, take photos of the damage and surrounding scene. You don’t need a professional camera; cell phone images are fine. Try to get pictures of all vehicle damage, debris on the ground, skid marks, or any element of the scene that might be important to your claim. Most importantly take photos of the other vehicles. There may be a decal that shows it was a company vehicle. Don’t forget other factors like weather conditions, road hazards, a broken or blocked traffic sign, or any other relevant detail. Seek Medical Treatment Right Away If you do not require emergency medical transport from the scene, you still need to seek medical treatment right away. Even if you do not think you are severely injured, it’s crucial to get checked out. You could have internal injuries or soft tissue injuries that are not visible. If you delay treatment, the defendant’s representatives will likely use that fact to say that you weren’t that injured. Or they might suggest that another intervening event—that happened after the crash but before seeking treatment—caused your injuries. Contact an Attorney The other driver’s insurance will try to dissuade you, but it’s best to hire a lawyer right away. The sooner you have legal representation, the more your rights are protected. Having a legal advocate from the start will allow your attorney to do your talking for you, thereby keeping you from saying something that could harm your case. Determining Liability in a California Car Accident California follows the rule of pure comparative negligence. This means that you can still collect compensation if you share fault for the accident. However, your award or settlement will be reduced by your percentage of fault. So someone who is 20% liable would not receive more than 80% of their total damages. Claims involving company vehicles differ from other common accidents in several ways. Company vehicles can be commercial vehicles, but it doesn’t only mean 18-wheeler trucks. It could be a delivery van, shuttle, courier, etc. The driver could also drive a company car because they do outside sales, conduct inspections, attend meetings, and more.   If the other driver was acting within the course and scope of their employment at the time of the crash, the company would likely be responsible for the driver’s actions. Company vehicles typically have commercial insurance policies with higher limits than a personal auto insurance policy. That could be important if you sustained severe injuries. However, if the driver was on personal time, their personal insurance policy might be responsible for your damages.     Speak with Our Lawyer at the Beliz Law Firm You might be thinking, What should I do if I was hit by a company vehicle? If so, contact the Beliz Law Firm to discuss your case and your options. No two accidents involving a company-owned vehicle are alike, so it’s best to speak with a car accident lawyer to help you make sense of the confusing legal process in California. The legal team at the Beliz Law Firm has years of experience assisting injured victims just like you. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how we can help.

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Attorney Portrait Pedestrian Accidents

I Was Hit by a Car in the Crosswalk. Now What?

| Read Time: 3 minutes

As a pedestrian, you should feel safe crossing the street while walking in the crosswalk. Drivers must wait for a pedestrian to finish crossing before they continue driving. However, some drivers do not pay attention and strike a pedestrian who is lawfully crossing the street. If you were hit by a car in the crosswalk, you have legal rights in California. Contact the Long Beach car accident lawyers at the Beliz Law Firm today to learn more. What Should You Do Following a Pedestrian-Car Accident Immediately following an accident, the steps you take are essential and can impact your injury claim for compensation. Try to remain calm, so you remember everything you need to do. Contact the Police Start by contacting the police if no one else already has. It’s important to let the 911 dispatcher know a driver struck you as a pedestrian in the crosswalk. You want medical personnel to respond and assess your injuries. Be very cautious about what you say at the scene of the accident. The driver might take something you say out of context, and the insurance adjuster might use these statements against you in a liability investigation. Exchange Contact Information Hopefully, the driver of the vehicle did not flee the scene. You will need to exchange contact information and get their insurance information. Did anyone else witness the accident? If so, you will need to obtain contact information for each witness. Don’t assume that the witnesses will still be there when the police arrive. Someone may not be able to wait, so get their information before they have a chance to drive away. Take Photos If you are physically able, you can also try to take photos of the accident scene. Include pictures of the driver’s vehicle and any debris on the ground. Are there skid marks before the crosswalk? Is it raining? Be sure to capture this information as well. If you can get photos of your injuries, that’s also helpful evidence.  Seek Medical Treatment If you do not require transport to the emergency room following the accident, be sure to visit a doctor as soon as possible. Insurance adjusters will use any delay in treatment to their advantage. They could allege you were not seriously injured or that another event after the accident caused your pain. Contact an Attorney Pursuing a pedestrian accident claim is complicated, and you will need an advocate on your side who can help you navigate the legal challenges. Anything you say to the insurance company can be used against you, so it’s best to get an attorney right away. Let them talk to the insurance adjuster for you so you don’t accidentally say something you regret later. Determining Liability in a Pedestrian Accident The driver’s insurance company will be looking for any option possible to place some liability onto you—thereby lessening their exposure. California follows the legal theory of negligence known as pure comparative negligence. With pure comparative negligence, you could be partially responsible for the accident and still collect compensation for your injuries. However, your percentage of liability would reduce your overall award or settlement. For instance, if a court found you to be 20% at fault and your total damages were $100,000, you would likely end up getting $80,000 in compensation. Who Pays for Your Injuries? Determining who pays for your injuries and damages depends on who is legally responsible. Potentially liable defendants include: The driver of the vehicle, The vehicle owner if different than the driver, A company if the driver was in a company-owned vehicle, or A government agency if the person was driving a city or county vehicle. The driver might allege a vehicle defect contributed to the accident, such as brake failure. If there is a verifiable defect, an additional defendant could be an auto manufacturer or mechanic. Hire Our Lawyer Working with an attorney after a pedestrian accident is crucial. It is best to have a legal advocate on your side who will protect your rights after being hit by a car in the crosswalk. Your lawyer will help you determine all liable parties and handle communication and settlement negotiations with the defendants and their legal representatives. Getting the maximum compensation for your injuries requires strong evidence and an understanding of insurance company tactics aimed at lowering your recovery. At the Beliz Law Firm, we know every trick the insurance companies will try to use to avoid paying you the money you deserve—and we know how to hold their feet to the fire until they make a reasonable offer. Don’t risk getting less money than you should receive. Contact the Beliz Law Firm today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us help you hold the liable parties responsible for the harm they caused you.

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