Archive for February, 2013
“I’m fine, just give me forty bucks for my wheel…”
A colleague of mine received a call from a potential client who told a sad story the other day. As his “personal injury” colleague, he told me about the situation and it brought up an interesting point.
The gentlemen who called (let’s call him “Joe”) was riding his bicycle down a hill in a metropolitan area, where he approached an intersection. He was suddenly struck by a motorist who failed to stop at a stop sign (let’s call the driver “Bob”). Joe, an athlete and avid cyclist, spoke with the driver, and stated that he thought he was okay, save for his dented front bicycle wheel. Bob quickly inquired on Joe’s condition, asking him if he was hurt. Joe said he was fine, not wanting to look “weak”, and said “just give me $40 to fix my bike.” Bob quickly reached into his wallet, paid Joe the requested amount, and left the scene. (The illegality of leaving the scene of an accident without exchanging information is not being addressed here, but is certainly an issue).
A week later, Joe called a colleague of mine saying that he could barely move, has missed multiple days of work, and doesn’t know what to do. What’s next for him?
As you can guess, pursuing any claim against Bob would be difficult, as Joe unfortunately did not get any identification information from Bob (license plate number, name, address, insurance information, etc.). So it begs the question: what should Joe have done?
It’s important to note that in cases where you may not be visibly injured, including sprains, ligament tears, whiplash and other non-fracture injuries often take several days to appear. It’s common for a victim in a car accident to feel their worst up to 72 hours after impact.
Whenever someone is in a traffic accident or is injured at the fault of a third-party, they have a potential bodily injury claim against the injury-causing party (subject to multiple factors to be assessed by an injury attorney). That claim is based off of the identification information gathered at the scene of the injury and thereafter. However, since Joe failed to get any information from Bob after the accident, it is virtually impossible to open a claim against an unidentified person. There are instances where Joe would be able to open a claim through his own insurance, but he would have to have the appropriate coverage prior to the injury.
The moral of the story? It’s always better to be safe than sorry. If an injury occurs, make sure to get all the information you can prior to leaving the scene. Use your camera phone to get some quick photos of the location, evidence or even injuries. Just as King Stallman continues to remind us, it’s better to have the information and not need it, then be Joe injured by Bob.
The author, Josh Bonnici, is the managing attorney at BONNICI LAW GROUP, who helps injured individuals with their claims. Questions? Concerns? Contact him today, at: www.bonnicilawgroup.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What questions people SHOULD be asking!
With all the choices available for attorneys in Southern California, it’s often quite difficult to decide who to work with. The hard truth is that you often really don’t know if you’ve chose a good lawyer until after you’ve signed on the dotted line.
So, we’ve created a list of ten questions to ask when hiring a personal injury lawyer that hopefully will make that decision easier.
Don’t be afraid to ask. It’s your right, and your choice.
Some lawyers can be intimidating and pushy, but be brave. This is YOUR case, and they are working for you. Ask them as many questions as you like, but don’t leave the meeting without asking the following:
1. Does your firm mainly handle personal injury claims?
It’s best to find a law firm that knows personal injury inside and out. That way you know they truly are the best to hand your claim.
2. What types of personal injury cases have you filed?
There are lots of different types of personal injury law cases such as:
- Motor accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Pedestrian injuries
- Medical negligence
- Public liability
- Product liability
- Serious injury
- Workers’ compensation
Be sure your lawyer has had actual experience (and success) with your particular type of personal injury case.
3. What is your role within the law firm?
If you work with a big corporate law firm, you might find you’re actually meeting with a paralegal or intake assistant. It’s important that your case is managed from start to finish by a senior lawyer experienced in your particular area of Plaintiff Litigation.
Did you know: At Bonnici Law Group, Principle Joshua Bonnici is involved in managing EVERY case from start to finish.
4. Will you be handling my case or will another lawyer from your firm be handling it?
Some of the larger firms palm off smaller cases to third-party law firms. They might not be 100% upfront about this, so be sure to check that the lawyers you’re meeting are the actual lawyers who are going to work on your case.
5. How long has your firm been in practice and how long have you personally been in practice?
Personal injury law is an ever popular area of law in Southern California. Check that your law firm has several years’ experience and an excellent reputation before you sign on the dotted line. Ask for a reference or for reviews from peers and past clients to make sure you’re getting the quality you deserve.
Did you know: Joshua M. Bonnici has been helping San Diegans with their Personal Injury cases for close to 4 years in the area of Plaintiff Litigation?
6. What fees do you charge and how do you charge for services?
Check the small print. Although many law firms claim a No win, no fee promise, there’s a catch. This ‘promise’ only applies if your case settles out of court. Should your case go to court and lose, you could be liable for thousands of dollars in charges.
Did you know?: The fees with Bonnici Law Group should never hinder someone from access to quality representation. Our fees are consistently competitive, and always negotiable.
7. Do I need to speak directly to the insurance company or will you handle this?
You should not speak to the insurance company directly if you can avoid it as every conversation the insurer has with you will be designed to save them money at your expense. We are experts at handling insurance companies on your behalf.
8. What information do you need from me to file my claim?
We need only very basic information to get the ball rolling on the claim and everything else we will gather in the months after the claim commences. As your case continues, you and your attorney should work closely together to make sure your cases runs smoothly.
9. What compensation am I entitled to?
Compensation you are entitled to will depend very much on the effect that your injuries have on your ability to earn income. People are surprised to learn that in these types of claims you do not get much money for the pain and suffering you have been through. The bulk of the compensation in most claims comes from the effect the accident has on your life, ability to return to your pre-injury state and earn a living.
10. How long will it take to settle my personal injury case?
On average it takes 12-18 months to resolve a claim and Bonnici Law Group finds that about 80% of claims are resolved at a settlement conference. mediation or by negotiation between us and the insurer. Less than 1% of claims ever end up in a courtroom.
Joshua Bonnici is the managing attorney at Bonnici Law Group, and he can be contacted at: www.bonnicilawgroup.com