Seeking Fairness, Fair Compensation and Justice for Accident Victims – Pasadena Auto Accident Attorney
Pasadena car accidents can result in catastrophic injuries that affect every aspect of life, including your ability to support yourself and your family. Some injuries may result in months of recovery, and some catastrophic injuries caused by auto accidents will prevent working at the same capacity again, severely limiting the prospects of financially supporting your family in the future. Beyond the financial difficulties they cause, they can take away quality of life. The stress caused by the accident – physical, mental, and emotional – is amplified by the cost of recovery time away from work.
No matter where you live in the United States, car accidents are a major concern for those of us who drive, including those who work and live in Pasadena. Drivers and their passengers risk being involved in an accident and suffering catastrophic injury each time they find themselves on the road. Almost 33,000 fatalities have resulted from traffic accidents in 2010 – a decrease from 2009. However, the number of injuries caused by accidents increased to over 1.5 million people.
Knowing the risk of getting into a car accident in Pasadena, it is important to understand the challenges of dealing with auto insurance companies. While they may appear as though they are acting in your best interest, insurance companies attempt to deny claims or use a variety of tactics to persuade victims to accept settlements that are smaller than what is deserved. Profit is the top priority of an industry that banks billions of dollars every year.
Dealing with the Insurance Company after a Pasadena Auto Accident
The vast resources and experience of insurance companies makes it very difficult to get the appropriate compensation that is owed. If you have been involved in an auto accident in Pasadena and have been contacted by the other driver’s insurance company, it is in your best interest to seek legal representation before speaking to a claims adjuster. Dealing with your own insurance company is usually slightly less frustrating, as they want to retain good clients.
A common mistake made by those involved in car accidents is that they believe they will come out ahead without an attorney, reasoning that paying attorneys’ fees will cost more than the difference in a settlement. This mistake can result in damaging the claim or settling for less money than one’s total medical bills. The auto insurance industry has the upper hand in all stages of a claim, as it has continual access to lawyers and experts who deal with thousands of cases annually. To maximize their own profits, insurance companies work to provide as little compensation as they can.
There are a number of tactics used by the insurance industry to keep payouts as low as possible. First, you should remember that you are not on an equal foundation, and that you cannot trust the claims adjuster to look out for your best interest. The adjuster is there to represent the insurance company, which means that your interest is in direct opposition. Remember that adjusters are not your friends, even if they appear to be friendly, helpful, and empathetic.
Keep the following things in mind when dealing with an adjuster:
- Do not sign a broad confidentiality waver that allows the insurance company to obtain any personal documents, including medical, legal, or employment records.
- Do not sign any sort of Release of Liability. This may waive future claims regarding injuries that you are not yet aware exist.
- Do not be pressured to settle the insurance claim before medical treatment has been completed.
- Do not be pressured to settle for less than the full value of the claim due to financial hardship caused by the intentional delay of payment.
- Do not accept less than you are entitled to because the insurance company suggests that minor property damage justifies a low settlement offer.
- Do not sign anything that may waive rights in exchange for payment on the claim.
- Do not give any statements that could be perceived as shifting all or part of the fault to you.
- You should also be aware that the insurance company could try to obtain statements from others that accuse you of full or partial fault.
- With or without supporting evidence, the insurance company may attempt to deny the claim by disputing who is at fault.
- Never listen to an adjuster who tries to convince you not to retain a Pasadena car accident attorney. Their job is to provide the lowest financial compensation, even when you are clearly not at fault. Your position is strengthened significantly when you have the knowledge and resources of a Pasadena car accident attorney to assist you.
Proving Fault in Pasadena Car Accidents
The extent to which fault is clear and the magnitude of damages greatly influence the value of an auto accident claim. Incidents, such as rear-ending a vehicle that was stopped at a red light typically present less of an issue in terms of determining fault so they may have a higher value than more ambiguous cases that involve slightly more damages. Even when fault seems clear, the insurance company generally will vigorously defend its client to reduce the total damages it pays on the claim. To defend this stance, the insurance company may scrutinize medical records for pre-existing injuries to lessen their responsibility for medical bills, or it may try to prove some unreasonably unsafe behavior on the part of the driver. The legal term for this is “comparative negligence.”
It is good to know what is considered negligent ahead of time, so you can avoid being lured into a false admission that could greatly impact your claim. Examples of negligent conduct include:
- Collisions caused by driving in the wrong lane or the wrong way on a one-way street
- Driver fatigue, including trucking collisions when the driver has violated hours of service rules
- Impaired driving, whether caused by alcohol, illegal narcotics, prescription drugs, or other substances that could affect cognitive function (such as over-the-counter medications that could cause drowsiness)
- Driving at an excessive speed, which includes driving over the speed limit or exceeding safe driving speeds in inclement weather, such as rain, snow, or heavy fog
- Following a car with less than a two-second stopping distance
- Accidents that result in vehicles being run off the road as well as SUV rollovers.
- Accidents caused by backing up, particularly those caused by drivers not checking for children or traffic
- Bicycle and motorcycle collisions in which the driver fails to accommodate for small vehicles, such as failing to check blind spots, opening car doors before looking, and not providing enough space
- Distractions to the driver, especially those talking or texting on cell phones at the time of the accident
Determination of fault is a crucial part of the claim process because it has a huge impact on settlements. Police, highway patrol, and accident reconstruction experts may be called upon to investigate the collision when fault isn’t clear.
If you are considered fully or partially at-fault in an auto accident, your compensation for the injury may be reduced by your percentage of fault determined by a judge or jury. For example, if the damages you suffered were determined to total $100,000, and you were assigned 50 percent of fault for the accident, you would only recover $50,000 from the other driver’s insurance company.
Fair Financial Recovery for Your Pasadena Auto Collision Claim
Fair financial compensation does not mean trying to “make things better” by giving money to those who have suffered injuries or the loss of a loved one. Monetary recovery is a way to provide financial support that was lost due to severe injuries or wrongful death of a family breadwinner, not to mention costs incurred from the accident. Recovery can provide the means to pay the bills – mortgage, car payments, utilities, and other obligations – when you cannot work as a result of the collision. It is also often the only way to obtain justice against negligent drivers who are responsible for injury and loss.
Many things are considered when determining damages. Losses in wages, hospital bills, medical expenses, the cost in vehicle or property damage, funeral expenditure, and other quantifiable expenses should all be taken into account. An attorney may be able to assist you in properly calculating these, as well as helping you understand what other types of damages are available to you. Be aware that compensation may be rewarded for pain and suffering, disfigurement, wrongful death, diminished quality of life, the adverse impact on marital relationships, and punitive damages.
Hiring an experienced and skilled Pasadena personal injury lawyer is important to ensure that you are able to successfully deal with insurance companies and the court to receive the most favorable settlement. An experienced Most Pasadena car accident lawyers will offer a free initial consultation so that they can evaluate your claim and advise you regarding your rights and remedies.