Attorney Portrait Pedestrian Accidents

Three Tips on How to Deal with Insurance Companies

| Read Time: 4 minutes

Most personal injuries claim are handled by insurance companies. In the majority of states, even for car accidents, this is an adversarial process. You and the insurance are on opposite sides of the negotiation, and it is just that – a negotiation. It’s important to recognize that the insurance company has every incentive to pay you as little as possible for your claim and no incentive to honor the full value of your claim. On the one hand, this makes sense because it keeps both parties honest. On the other hand, if one party is at a supreme disadvantage, they generally get steamrolled by the other party. For that reason, the majority of those who are in serious car accidents or other personal injury suits request the aid of an attorney to manage their claim. As attorneys, we are in a position to give some advice on the issue. These are three tips for dealing with insurance companies. #1. Say Nothing to the Other Person’s Insurance Company Insurance adjusters often try to contact those who have just been in serious car accidents. They’ll tell you that they’re trying to help you and any information that you can give them will help your claim get processed quicker. The truth is that they have no intention of helping you and any information that you give them may be used against you to devalue your claim. It could be as subtle as asking loaded questions like “how are you feeling today”. This may sound innocuous, but you’re naturally reflex might be to say “much better”, “not bad” or something like that. There is a natural human instinct to put those who express concern at ease. But either of those answers could be taken as a sign that you are not entitled to extensive damages regardless of whether or not you are. #2. Disable Your Social Media Accounts Again, your grandmother from across the country may ask you how you’re feeling. How are you most likely to respond? You will respond in a way that sets her mind at ease. Meanwhile, insurance companies are building evidence against you. When you attempt to make a claim for emotional trauma or extensive injuries they’ll point to your conversation with your grandma that you are doing much better than you claim you are. On the one hand, that’s their job. On the other, it may affect negatively on your case. #3. Let Your Attorney Manage All Communication Once you retain legal counsel your attorney will manage all communication regarding your injuries and claim. Insurance companies will be forced to negotiate with them instead of you. While many folks successfully negotiate settlements with insurance companies, they don’t typically have serious injuries they need to be compensated for. The greater your injuries, the more important it is that you retain the services of a qualified personal injury attorney. Remember, you’ll only get one chance to receive compensation for your injuries. If you jump at a low offer you’re signing away your rights to further pursue damages. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney If you’ve suffered serious injuries due to another’s negligence, call the personal injury attorneys at Beliz Law Firm at (562) 452-3772 or contact us online and we can begin building your case right away. Common Injuries Faced by Pedestrians After a Car Accident When a pedestrian is hit by a car, they very seldom have the advantage. The car is larger and it’s moving faster. Even a car moving at the relatively slow speed of 10 mph can do serious irreversible damage to a defenseless pedestrian. While the pedestrian has a duty to obey traffic signals and traffic laws, so does the car. Furthermore, the car has a duty to attempt to avoid the pedestrian. That is the case even when the pedestrian is jaywalking or committing some other violation. In that event, the illegal actions of the pedestrian do not negate either the illegal actions of the driver nor their duty to avoid the pedestrian. Even pedestrians who are partially at fault for an accident can collect a major settlement or jury award. The reason for that is due to the fact that pedestrians suffer extensive injuries in collisions with cars. Some of those injuries can change a person’s life forever. Traumatic Brain Injury The term “traumatic brain injury” is generic enough to encompass a wide array of head injuries that vary in severity. But more often than not pedestrians will suffer from concussions at the very least. In very bad scenarios they can suffer permanent brain damage that compromises their ability to do their jobs, maintain employment, or experience a full range of emotions. Damage to certain parts of the brain can be fatal. In addition, the brain can suffer damage from swelling or bleed internally. Spine and Neck Injuries Depending on how a pedestrian is hit, the chances that they suffer serious damage to their spine or neck are not negligible. From these, permanent paralysis can result. This can force major changes to a person’s line of work. If they depended on their ability to stand in order to do their job, then they will need to find a new line of work. Not only would they be entitled to collect on their loss of income, but they could also collect on training necessary to enter a new field of employment. In the most severe cases, the paralysis is lifelong and leaves the injured party without the use of either their arms or legs. These individuals require 24-hour care. They are entitled to collect damages to pay for that care. Bone and Organ Damage Depending on the size of the vehicle that hits a pedestrian, extensive damage to various parts of the body can occur. Even smaller vehicles can cause serious damage to the arms, legs, and the “core”, like the ribs. This, in turn, can lead to potentially fatal internal bleeding or severe organ damage. In every case, the pedestrian may likely need multiple...

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Attorney Portrait Truck Accidents

What to Do After a Truck Accident in California

| Read Time: 3 minutes

A car accident with a semi-truck is different than one between two smaller vehicles, like a car, motorcycle, or standard pickup truck. In addition, there may be more parties involved since many semi-trucks are owned by companies rather than individuals. There may be different laws and regulations, and injuries tend to be more severe given the size difference between the vehicles involved. Steps after a Truck Accident The number one step, if necessary, is to seek medical treatment immediately for any injuries you may have sustained in the accident. In the event you don’t need emergency medical treatment at the scene, the next step is to collect as much evidence as you can. Get names, addresses, driver’s license number, insurance information, and commercial company name (if applicable). It’s important to get as much information about the commercial truck company as you can, since you may be up against a large corporation who has tons of resources. Photos are definitely helpful for an investigator to determine liability and prove what the road conditions were like at the time the accident occurred. Take photos of the damage, skid marks, physical surroundings, and weather can be important if it was raining heavily or snowing at the time. Be cautious what you say at the scene. Do not admit liability to anyone, including law enforcement, witnesses, family members, etc. Once you get home, you should contact your insurance company to report the loss. They can ensure the loss is reported with the other driver’s employer and insurance company as well. If the other insurance company contacts you, do not give them a recorded statement, as they may trick you into admitting liability or use other information against you during negotiations. Retaining a California truck accident attorney is highly recommended since commercial truck accident settlements tend to be more complex. There are multiple parties and companies that may be working on behalf of the driver. Average Semi-Truck Accident Settlement If you were hit by a semi-truck, settlement amounts are likely to be higher than if you were struck by a compact vehicle. However, there is no blanket value to name, as a liability, injuries, and damages will vary in each accident, and those are critical factors in determining a settlement amount. The main components in average semi-truck accident settlements include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are made up of medical expenses, ambulance fees, future medical treatments, loss of earnings, future loss of earnings, and your vehicle damages. Non-economic damages include pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages that are not as easily calculated. You can help your case by ensuring you seek immediate medical attention, as the longer you wait, the more the other side will argue your injuries were not that serious. Ensure you go to all your scheduled doctor visits and follow their instructions. If you skip a few appointments, the other party will be quick to point this out. When it comes to your doctor visits, be candid and tell them everything. Even if it seems like a minor complaint, it’s best to have it documented in your medical charts.  Retaining a California Truck Accident Attorney If you were injured in an accident with a semi-truck, a skilled personal injury attorney who is experienced litigating these types of commercial losses can be an invaluable resource during this difficult time. You need to concentrate on healing and getting back to work rather than taking on the added stress of dealing with the truck driver’s insurance company and/or attorney. The Beliz Law Firm can handle your claim and protect your rights so you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our office at 562-452-3772 to schedule a complimentary consultation.

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Attorney Portrait Bike Accidents

Do You Need a Helmet in California?

| Read Time: 2 minutes

If you ride a motorcycle in California, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the applicable California helmet law and obey all of the rules that apply to you. You also have the right to stand up for yourself in the event you are following applicable rules and you are in an accident that was not your fault. California Helmet Laws California motorcycle helmet law is covered under Vehicle Code Section 27803. California is one of a handful of states that requires all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. All drivers and passengers must wear a helmet that meets federal safety standards, regardless of age. This law applies to riders on highways as well as rural roads. The helmet law in California does not apply to anyone on a fully enclosed three-wheeled motor vehicle that is over seven feet long and four feet wide. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS), helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing death and 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. Purchasing a Helmet that Meets Federal Standards When purchasing a helmet, you must get one that meets federal standards, and it should fit snugly on your head. One helpful tip is to look for a DOT, Department of Transportation, sticker, which is a sign that the helmet manufacturer followed federal safety standards. Having someone help fit you in a helmet is good because they can ensure the helmet doesn’t move excessively and is properly fastened with the straps. Approved helmets meet minimum requirements such as: Inner liner at least one inch thick and made of polystyrene foam Nothing protruding more than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet shell Sturdy chin straps that are attached to the helmet shell with solid rivets Approved helmets typically weigh around three pounds or more. Penalties for Not Wearing a Helmet Both motorcyclists and their passengers can be subject to fines and other penalties if they fail to wear a DOT approved helmet in California. Law enforcement officers are entitled to charge an offender with an equipment violation or something greater. Equipment violations carry a minimal fine per the California Vehicle Code, but the California Highway Patrol states any violation of the helmet law is not just an equipment violation as it is an immediate safety hazard. If a California Highway Patrol (CHP) stops you, it could be a $250 fine and a year of probation, versus the $10 equipment violation. The courts tend to side with the CHP position, so it’s best you always wear your helmet as it will likely save you money in addition to potentially saving your life in the case of an accident. If you sustained a head injury in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet, there may be comparative negligence of your actions.  This means you may be somewhat at fault for your injuries. Retaining a California Motorcycle Attorney If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, a California motorcycle attorney can assist in answering any questions and addressing your concerns. Depending on the facts surrounding the accident, you may be entitled to compensation for injuries and property damage. Call the Beliz Law Firm at 562-452-3772 to schedule a consultation.

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Attorney Portrait Personal Injury

Why Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

| Read Time: 3 minutes

Hiring a personal injury lawyer after an accident is an important decision. For many people, being involved in an accident is an emotional and overwhelming event. Hiring a skilled California personal injury attorney can be a wise decision to help bring you peace of mind and ensure you have someone who will represent your interests. Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer? This is a highly personal decision, but one of the main benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney is the ability to have someone who is objective and can negotiate with the other side’s insurance adjuster and/or attorney. Here are some other reasons you should hire a personal injury attorney: Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations to start. You are not obligated to sign a contingency agreement before leaving the office. A contingency agreement means you are not paying for the time of the attorney but for the attorney’s results.  Take time to meet with additional attorneys if you don’t mesh well with the first one. Your attorney will handle your first party coverages, such as uninsured or underinsured motorist claims as well. These are claims made against your own policy that will maximize recovery on a motor vehicle accident. A personal injury attorney will ensure the statute of limitations is protected. The statute of limitations is the cut off period that can bar recovery on your claim. If the cut-off date passes without a complaint being filed with the court, there is no obligation for the other side to continue negotiations. Personal injury attorneys are familiar with the various insurance laws and have the ability to negotiate. They do this for a living, so they are better equipped to anticipate the other side’s next move. Your attorney can give you a realistic picture of what compensation you’re entitled to. Just because your friend or family member received a huge settlement for their car accident doesn’t mean your claim is worth the same. Every case is unique onto itself .  Cases values are based on its particular facts and injuries. Tips for Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer You need to start by locating an attorney first. You can start your search by asking your close friends and family if they have a recommendation for a personal injury attorney. Doing an Internet search for “personal injury attorneys near me” is another option. Look for independent law firms rather than opting for a directory because there is no way to know where or whom the directory will lead you to. Look at the attorneys’s reviews and his or her reputation. Having experience in the type of personal injury matter you have is key. Read their biography, any testimonials, past results, and blog posts on the types of cases they handle.  Experience is important because you want an attorney who has a proven record of success. Finding Personal injury attorneys near me Finding a California personal injury attorney near you is recommended because you may need to make multiple office visits and attend meetings like depositions. Having an attorney that is convenient to your home or work can help reduce travel time. If you need a personal injury attorney near Long Beach, California, the Beliz Law Firm has over a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, including car accidents, dog bites, slip and falls, wrongful death, and more. Our firm services clients throughout the Southern California area, including Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties. Contact our office at 562-452-3772 for a free consultation.

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Attorney Portrait Wrongful Death

Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California

| Read Time: 3 minutes

The Code of Civil Procedure, Sect. 335.1 sets forth the statute of limitations for bringing a wrongful death suit in California as two years from the date of injury or death. This is the case with most wrongful death claims, but there are several other situations where a different statute of limitations could apply. Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California In addition to the standard two-year cut off from the date of injury or death, there are two other scenarios that may apply to wrongful death claims in California. The first involves medical malpractice, or health care provider negligence. In these matters, the wrongful death statute of limitations is either three years from the date of injury; or one year after the plaintiff discovers the problem or should have discovered the injury — whichever comes first. If the wrongful death claim is based on government tort liability, like a motor vehicle accident with a county or city vehicle, then any claim against the government must be filed within six months of the injury. What is the California Wrongful Death Statute? Under the California statute, there is a wrongful death if the following elements are present: Negligence or wrongful act Resulting death Damages, consisting of pecuniary loss sustained by the heirs This law allows certain people to bring a claim for compensation for their financial losses that resulted from someone else’s untimely death. It is a civil lawsuit and it can be brought against the person or people who were responsible for the person’s death.  Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim? Under the California wrongful death statute, only certain people can lawfully bring a claim for wrongful death. Some of these include: Surviving spouse if married at the time of death Children of the deceased Surviving registered domestic partner If the deceased did not have any of the aforementioned relatives, then an heir could be anyone who would be entitled to the deceased’s property, as if he or she died intestate (without a will). If there were other people who were dependent on the deceased, like a putative spouse or the putative spouse’s children, or parents or stepparents of the deceased, they could also be eligible to file in this situation. Additionally, any minor, provided they resided with the deceased for at least 180 days and were financially dependent on the deceased for at least 50 percent of their support. If there are multiple claimants to a wrongful death claim, they must be joined together in one single court action. There cannot be multiple claims filed against the responsible party. California follows the “one action rule,” which means all claimants must be on one lawsuit. There is a good reason for this rule, which protects the defendant from defense costs on more than one lawsuit, and it helps prevent an inconsistent ruling resulting from having more than one case. Claimants who are not joined on the original wrongful death lawsuit could be barred from bringing their own action against the responsible person or party. This would be unfair, which is why the heirs have a mandatory responsibility to include any known heirs. If an heir intentionally leaves off a claimant, the heir may be responsible to the other claimant. Types of Compensation in a California Wrongful Death Claim Plaintiffs who bring a wrongful death action on behalf of a loved one seek compensation for a variety of damages. Some of the more common ones include: Medical expenses and vehicle damages (pursued under survival action) Burial and funeral expenses Loss of companionship Loss of financial support Other economic losses Emotional distress of parent or sibling who witnessed the incident Out of pocket expenses Valuing a Wrongful Death Claim Putting a value on certain aspects of wrongful death can be extremely complex. It is not easy to determine how deep the expected loss of financial support might run, sexual relationship, or supposal support around the household services. There needs to be an analysis of the person’s past and future expected earnings, his or her employment background, capabilities, and special talents, as well as determining the needs of surviving heirs. Proving life expectancy can be difficult and may require the expertise of an expert who can consider important factors like the person’s age, activities, health, lifestyle, past medical problems, current health habits and exercise, and other related information. Determining a monetary value regarding the loss of care, comfort, and moral support by the heirs is a sensitive area. This is why it’s important to retain a California wrongful death attorney who specializes in these matters. Only an attorney who has ample experience evaluating wrongful death claims can present a figure to the other side that is quantifiable but also takes the emotional aspects into account. If you’ve lost a loved one in a wrongful death accident, call the Beliz Law Firm for a complimentary consultation.

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Attorney Portrait Bike Accidents

California Bicycle Laws Every Cyclist Should Know

| Read Time: 3 minutes

California bike laws are included in the California Vehicle Code (CVC), which contains the state laws that determine how and where bicycles can legally ride. In general, bicyclists have many of the same responsibilities and rights as those driving a motor vehicle. Important Bicycle Laws in California There are a number of important bicycle laws in California you should familiarize yourself with. These include: Use a Bike Lane: If there is a bike lane and you are moving slower than traffic, you must use the bike lane. Ride with Traffic: Bicycle riders in California must ride in the same direction as the flow of traffic. If you need to travel in the opposite direction on a one-way street, you will need to walk your bicycle on the sidewalk. Ride on the Right Side of the Road: In the event you are riding as fast as traffic, you are allowed to ride in the traffic lane itself. However, most people are traveling slower than traffic which means you must ride as close as possible to the curb. Exceptions to the rule include preparing to make a left turn, when necessary to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to ride along the edge or right-hand curb, and when you are overtaking or passing another bicyclist. Helmet Required for Under 18: Anyone riding a bike who is under 18 years of age must wear an approved helmet. It’s important to note that some areas like Chico, Bidwell Park, and El Cerrito require anyone riding a bicycle to have a helmet, no matter how old they are. No Stopping in a Crosswalk: Bicycles cannot stop in a crosswalk, as they are for pedestrians, not bicycles or cars. Yield to Pedestrians: Even if a pedestrian is not using a marked crosswalk when crossing the street or roadway, bicycles must exercise due care. Have Working Brakes: Although it should be obvious, it’s important to have working brakes, and they needs to be ones that allow you to make a one-braked wheel skid on level, clean, dry road or pavement. One Ear Uncovered: If you like to wear headphones or ear plugs while riding, the California bike law mandates you must have one ear uncovered at all times while riding. Lights Required for Nighttime: If you are riding after dark, there needs to be a white light that is visible from at least 300 feet in front. The light can be equipped on the bicycle or on your person as well. Nighttime Reflectors: There are several different requirements regarding different color reflectors required for riding at night. CVC 21201(d) covers specifics on which reflectors are required and how far away they must be visible from. Parked Vehicles: Bicyclists need to keep a safe distance from parked vehicles to avoid being hit by someone opening the door. Obey Traffic Signals and Signs: Bicyclists must obey all traffic signals and stop signs and follow fundamental right-of-way rules. You should not attempt to cross an intersection on a yellow signal if you cannot make it across before the light changes to red. How Do You Properly Make a Left Turn on a Bicycle? The DMV’s section on California bike law and safety rules explains how to make a proper left turn. It can safely be done in one of two ways. When you approach an intersection, a bicyclist needs to look over his or her left shoulder. If it is clear, signal to make a turn and move to the left side of the lane or use the designated left turn lane or center turn late. The other option is to stop and cross like a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Yield to pedestrians and wait for a green light or WALK sign if there is a signal at the crossing. You should never make a left turn on a bicycle from the right side of the roadway, even if you are traveling in a designated bike lane. Is it illegal to ride a bike on the sidewalk in California? The ability to legally ride a bicycle on the sidewalk is determined by individual cities and counties that determine whether or not they allow a bike on the sidewalk in California. Retaining a California Personal Injury Attorney In the event you’ve been in an accident on a bicycle, it’s important to get in touch with a California bike accident attorney as soon as possible. The Beliz Law Firm has years of experience handling all types of personal injury losses. Contact us at 562-452-3772 to schedule a consultation.

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Attorney Portrait Slip and Falls

What is the Average Settlement from a Slip and Fall Case in Long Beach?

| Read Time: 2 minutes

Many of our clients come to us after slipping and falling. Some of them had to go to the hospital to deal with various injuries like concussions, torn ligaments, or broken bones. Nevertheless, many clients are worried that they shouldn’t even pursue a lawsuit because they won’t receive enough money. This belief is misguided. Below, we will outline some of the considerations that go into determining how much your injuries are worth. How Severe are Your Injuries? Personal injury settlements are meant to make you “whole.” This means that you should be in the same position financially that you would have been in had your slip and fall never happened. For example, you can receive compensation for the following economic losses: The cost of medical treatment. This includes the cost of transportation to the hospital, surgery, doctor’s visits, equipment, rehabilitation, and prescription drugs. If your injuries are serious, you can receive future medical expenses as well. Lost wages. Were your injuries so bad you couldn’t go to work? If so, you can receive compensation to make up for lost income. You can also receive lost future wages if your injuries are so serious you can’t return to your job. Property damage. You might have broken your eyeglasses or smartphone after falling. You can receive money to replace these items. Hold onto medical bills and pay stubs that show how much money you have lost. Your personal injury lawyer will rely on this information to help determine the amount you can receive. Calculate Intangible Injuries In a successful slip-and-fall case, you can also receive compensation for injuries like pain and suffering or emotional distress. It’s harder to put a price tag on these injuries, but they are very real nevertheless. In general, clients often receive 1.5-5 times the amount of their economic losses in pain and suffering damages. In settlement negotiations regarding damages, most of the dispute centers around these non-economic injuries. There really isn’t a dispute about the amount of medical bills or lost wages, but non-economic injuries don’t have a bill or receipt attached to them. An experienced personal injury lawyer can maximize your settlement by convincing an insurance adjuster to take your pain and suffering seriously. In one case, our firm settled a case for $34,000 although medical expenses were less than $3,400! Speak with a Long Beach Slip and Fall Lawyer The road to recovery begins with obtaining the necessary compensation for your injuries. At the Beliz Law Firm, we have experience in handling slip-and-fall clients. Reach out today to schedule a free case review.

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Attorney Portrait Personal Injury

Average Personal Injury Settlement Amounts

| Read Time: 4 minutes

No one really knows the “average” amount of compensation injured victims receive in a personal injury settlement. Many different factors are in play that no two cases are exactly alike. Rather than worry about the “average” amount of money available, you should strive to better understand what factors go into determining how much compensation our clients receive. Calculate Your Economic Damages Economic damages are damages you can prove with a bill or a receipt. Medical Treatment   For example, many of our clients need medical treatment to deal with their injuries, such as: Surgery Doctor’s visits Rehabilitation Transportation to the hospital Prescription drugs Over-the-counter drugs Equipment, such as crutches, wheelchairs, braces, etc. Injured victims can receive compensation for all of the medical treatment that is related to the personal injury accident. If the injuries are serious, you can receive a payout for future medical care as well. For example, clients who have been paralyzed or suffered a traumatic brain injury might need at-home care for the rest of their lives. Loss Wages   Additionally, loss wages is another form of economic damages. If your injuries have kept you out of work, you can receive money to replace the amounts lost. In addition to past loss wages, you can be compensated for future loss wages.  Keep any proof of your income, such as: Paystubs 1099/W-2 forms from employer Tax returns Other proof of self-employment income You can also make a claim for loss of earning capacity.  This is where you could have made more salary in a different profession if not for the injuries from the accident.  For example if you just passed the board exams to become a doctor and received a brain injury from an accident, you may have a claim for loss of earning capacity for years of not being paid like a medical doctor. Property Damage   Also, you can receive compensation to replace any property damage, such as damage to your car involved in a collision.  Further you may recover rental car charges, towing bills, storage costs, and loss of use.  Hold onto repair estimates, charges, or bills that show how much it cost to repair or replace the vehicle and anything else related to the vehicle. Estimate Your Non-Economic Losses California allows injured victims to receive a sum of money for intangible harms like pain and suffering. These injuries are harder to measure in dollars and cents because there is no receipt or bill attached to them. However, you can still receive compensation for these harms, such as: Physical pain Emotional distress Loss of enjoyment of life Disfigurement In some situations, your spouse might also have a claim for “loss of consortium,” meaning negative changes to your marriage caused by the accident. For example, they might have suffered loss of companionship, sexual intimacy, or services of the household as a result of the accident. Estimating the amount of non-economic losses is tricky. Clients may receive some multiple of their economic losses in non-economic damages or the cost of the daily loss of enjoyment spread out for the rest of their life. You can maximize your non-economic damages by carefully documenting your pain and suffering. For example, keep a pain journal where you note the location of pain every day and its intensity. Also explain how the injury has affected your mental health and whether it has prevented you from enjoying your favorite hobbies. Identify Whether You Were Partially at Fault for the Accident California law recognizes that victims sometimes contribute to their injuries by being negligent themselves. For example, you might have been reading a text message while driving when another car slammed into you. Or you might not have been paying attention to where you were walking when you tripped over a hazard and injured yourself. A victim’s own negligence is called “contributory negligence” and it can affect the amount of money you receive. Fortunately, personal injury victims can still pursue settlement or a lawsuit if someone else is at least 1% responsible for the accident. However, your settlement will be reduced by your proportion of fault. For example, your injuries might be worth $100,000, but you were 50% responsible for the accident. In this case, you will only receive $50,000 in compensation. If you were 80% responsible, then you would receive only $20,000. During settlement negotiations, your lawyer will try to minimize your proportion of fault.  The larger percentage you can place on the other party, the greater likelihood the other party will will negotiate.  Therefore before your lawyer can advocate effectively, however, he needs to know what you were doing right before the accident, so always be honest with your lawyer. Analyze the Defendant’s Assets To receive compensation, the other side must have some assets so that they can pay you.  California law states that every driver on the roadways and highways must have automobile liability insurance.  Even though another person caused the accident, the insurance company will be the one compensating you for your damages. If you were injured by a business employee, then you may be able to hold their employer responsible for your injuries. This concept is called “respondeat superior” and it holds companies liable when their employees injure someone in the scope of their employment. Often, suing a business is better than suing an individual because a business has deeper pockets, but everything depends on the circumstances. If your injuries happened at someone home like from a dog bite, the person’s homeowners policy may contribute to your compensation.  A business general liability insurance for may cover you when an accident occurs on the business property like a slip and fall. If someone without insurance hits you in traffic or does not have a homeowners policy, you might not receive anything in a settlement or judgment, especially if the driver/homeowner has no income, savings, or other assets.  Therefore, it is especially important to investigate if the negligent party has insurance. Our Results No lawyer can promise a result, and...

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Attorney Portrait Car Accidents

What is the Average Settlement for a Wrongful Death Car Accident?

| Read Time: 3 minutes

When a loved one is taken from us, especially by a senseless accident, we may be filled with feelings like rage and sadness at our sense of loss. There’s no way to replace the loved one and nothing you do will ever bring them back, but the law allows us to get justice in the only way it can. That is by filing a lawsuit against the negligent party. While money can never replace your loved one, it’s one of the few ways that the law allows us to get compensation for our loss. Understanding Wrongful Death Lawsuits Wrongful death lawsuits are an extension of personal injury law. Different states have different rules concerning how wrongful death lawsuits are litigated. Typically, they are brought on behalf of those surviving the deceased or the deceased’s estate. In California, certain surviving members of the deceased’s family may bring a lawsuit against a negligent party. However, the statute of limitations on wrongful death lawsuits is 2 years. Any lawsuits brought forth after two years are almost always dismissed without ever seeing a jury. Factors Involved in Calculating Losses Surviving loved ones are allowed to collect on any of the following damages: Loss of companionship and emotional distress, Loss of services to the household which includes damages for loss of income. This is calculated based on the age of the deceased minus that average life expectancy and their anticipated earning power Loss of sexual relationship with the deceased, Burial and funeral expenses, Medical bills related to the defendant’s negligence, In certain instances, individual plaintiffs can collect for individual injuries to them suffered because of the loss of the deceased, like the loss of consortium in the case of a spouse. Who is At-Fault for the Accident? When you sue an individual who responsible for the death of a loved one, especially in a situation as common as a car accident, they are typically carrying auto insurance that pays out damages to the victim. In this case, auto insurance has minimum policies in California of $15,000 for bodily injuries or the death of an individual. This is extremely low compared to the life of your loved one.  Therefore your attorney will look at all avenues for compensation.  This includes looking at the third party driver but the possibility of the driver working at the time of the accident. Uninsured/underinsured motorist’s coverage may be sought from the deceased’s insurance company if the negligent driver does not have or has low insurance limits.  Finally, your attorney will investigate whether there could be a governmental claim. This could be for design defect in the road construction or lack of appropriate traffic devices.   If there is a governmental claim, the statute of limitations is 6 months to bring a claim against the proper city, county, or state agency. In other words, how much you can collect depends entirely on who caused the accident and why. Contact a California Wrongful Death Attorney If a loved one has been taken from you due to the negligence of another person, call the personal injury attorneys at Beliz Law Firm. We will fight tirelessly to ensure that you are compensated for your loss. Give us a call at (562) 452-3772 or contact us online and we can begin discussing your case immediately.

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Attorney Portrait Truck Accidents

What Should I Do if I am Rear-Ended by a Semi-Truck

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Getting Rear-Ended by a Semi-Truck Often Leads to Serious Injuries Settling with the insurance company after an accident like this is usually a big mistake. An experienced truck accident lawyer can make sure you aren’t stuck with unfair bills and worries after the crash. With Michael Beliz, consultations are free, so call today. Learn more about what you should do after a crash: Semi-trucks, also called tractor-trailers or big rigs, can cause devastating injuries when they collide with passenger vehicles. These trucks can weight 50,000-80,000 pounds when fully loaded, up to 40 times the weight of a passenger vehicle. Unfortunately, crashes involving semis seem to be on the rise. According to statistics kept by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, there were over 4,000 large trucks involved in fatal accidents in 2015, almost a 10% increase over the year before. Furthermore, there were 87,000 large trucks in accidents that caused bodily injuries. If you have been rear-ended by a semi-truck, remember the following tips. Call the Police If you don’t call the police, you are making things harder for yourself. Once the police arrive, they will make a police report identifying the parties involved in the collision and any witnesses. The officer also might identify who is at fault for the accident. A police report is a great way to jumpstart the evidence-gathering process. If you are too hurt to call the police, ask someone else to call for you. Seek Medical Treatment There is no way around it—semi trucks can cause catastrophic injuries to those involved. In addition to death, they cause the following serious injuries: Broken bones Crushed limbs Amputations Head injuries Back injuries Spinal cord injuries Pinched nerves Paralysis Even if the injuries are not apparent immediately after the collision, you should seek medical attention immediately. Many types of injuries, like traumatic brain injuries and internal bleeding, may not be visible or felt at the accident site. It may take days for the pains to appear, which may be too late. Therefore you should go to a medical provider to get a thorough physical examination. Do Not Talk to the Semi Truck Insurance Insurance Do not talk and admit that you did something wrong that led to the crash. Anything you say can be used against you later, so always stay quiet. There is no law that says you must talk to the insurance company regarding the facts or injuries of the claim. If an insurance adjuster wants to speak to you, have them contact your lawyer first. Collect Evidence In order to receive compensation, you need to show that the semi-truck driver was responsible for the crash. And to prove who was at fault, you will need evidence. Remember to gather the following: Take pictures of the final resting place of the semi-truck and any vehicles involved. Use your smartphone and ask a bystander to take pictures if you can’t move around. Get the name of the driver of the semi-truck plus get the insurance information. Take photos of the semi-truck both of the cab and the cargo area. Get a copy of the police report. Identify witnesses if they are not identified in the police report. Your lawyer will find this information helpful when analyzing whether you can have a case and the determination of the value of the case. Hire a Long Beach Truck Accident Lawyer To make a claim against the trucking company’s insurer, you need a seasoned advocate in your corner. Insurance companies play tough, trying to settle claims for as little as possible. Instead of negotiating with the insurance agent on your own, you should hire a truck accident lawyer who will fight for your rights. At the Beliz Law Firm, we have over a decade of experience in personal injury law and have helped numerous clients reach favorable results in their cases. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today.

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