The city of San Francisco sent a strong message to Uber last month: The ride-hailing service’s self-driving cars are not welcome on city streets and won’t be until they obtain the proper permits. The city threatened legal action if Uber persisted in its autonomous vehicle rollout, which was launched despite warnings by officials that Uber risked violating state and local laws. Uber claimed it was not subject to the regulations, although part of the disagreement appeared to stem from the company’s unwillingness to abide by rules that required it to publicly disclose any collisions the vehicles were involved in.
Sudden Appearance, Quick Withdrawal
San Francisco’s warning came within hours of Uber beginning its self-driving pilot in the city, which was immediately accompanied by reports of those vehicles running red lights. San Francisco had already complained that Uber—and the similar service Lyft—were causing problems in the city, including congestion and air pollution. As Uber’s pilot began, the city’s traffic enforcement officials appeared to be unaware that the vehicles had started operating on its streets.
Uber continued to insist that its vehicles were ready for use and that proper safeguards were in place. After the city’s warning, however, the company chose to abruptly pull the vehicles out of San Francisco and ship them to Arizona, where regulations are less strict and it already has a separate test underway. A test similar to the San Francisco pilot is also ongoing in Pittsburgh, another location with weaker regulation.
Within a week, the state of California revoked Uber’s permit to operate the vehicles there, citing the fact that Uber had put them on the streets without following the requirements of their existing agreement.
New Technology, New Questions
Self-driving vehicle programs have been underway for some time, with companies such as Ford and GM conducting tests. The most widely-known effort is the one run for several years by Google, whose vehicles had traveled a combined two million driverless miles by last October.
Self-driving vehicles have the potential to change the way transportation works, not only by slashing injury and fatality rates, but also in ways most people haven’t even considered. Fewer vehicles will be needed, as sharing becomes practical in real time, which can have major financial and environmental benefits. Fewer highways will be needed, because when all vehicles are aware of each other, they can use all lanes in all directions and collectively move in less space with fewer tie-ups. Even fewer streetlights will be needed, saving energy and reducing light pollution, as driverless vehicles will eventually have little or no need for nighttime illumination.
The safety of self-driving cars is still being debated, although they’ve performed well. Google’s vehicles have had numerous accidents, but all but one was the result of another driver hitting one of its autonomous cars. A self-driving Volvo made news when it accelerated into a crowd of reporters, but that later proved to have been the human driver’s fault. Tesla, meanwhile, saw a dramatic fatality last year, but its system is meant as a kind of enhanced cruise control, not a full-blown autopilot, so that crash has also been blamed on the driver.
Important unanswered questions focus on liability. When a self-driving car is in an accident, how is fault determined? Does blame reside with the owner of the vehicle—who is no longer the driver? Does it shift to the dealer who sold the car for selling a dangerous product? Or does responsibility lie with the manufacturer for producing and selling an item capable of causing harm when used as intended? Can some or even all of these parties be held accountable at the same time?
Uber was using Volvos in its pilot, a manufacturer which has stepped to the fore and promised that it will take responsibility for any damage or injury caused by one of its self-driving vehicles.
California Car Accident Lawyer
We don’t yet know the answers to many questions about self-driving cars. But we’re paying attention to them and following the issue carefully so that we’ll be ready when they are. At the Law Offices of J. Chrisp, we have helped many victims of auto accidents successfully pursue claims against those responsible for causing damage or injury. When it comes to the practice of automobile accident law, we understand that every case is unique, and we give every client our best effort.
Call us today at 1-877-JCHRISP (524-7477) or contact us online through the form on this page to schedule a free appointment to discuss the details of your case and learn what we can do for you.
A tragic fire in an Oakland, California, warehouse claimed the lives of thirty-six people, ranging from ages seventeen to sixty-one, making it one of the deadliest US conflagrations in a decade. Tragically, the building, known as the “Ghost Ship,” was an artist community, residence, performance space, and club. It has been referred to by those familiar with it as a “labyrinth,” “tinder box,” and “death trap.”
The cause of the fire, which broke out during an electronic music show, has not yet been determined, but arson has been ruled out. Multiple dangerous conditions in the warehouse could have led to the fire starting and spreading, and they also prevented more people from finding safety.
Negligent Conditions a Factor
The space and adjoining lot had racked up numerous safety concerns over the years. At least two property complaints were lodged in the month before the tragedy, citing excessive trash and improper building structure, while other records are being kept private due to an ongoing criminal investigation.
Negligence kills, and in the case of this building, the structure and condition of the Ghost Ship contributed to the fatalities. Ideally, commercial buildings should be inspected once a year, but no records have turned up for any inspections of the Ghost Ship in the past thirty years. These skipped inspections could have called to attention the very issues that led to so many deaths. Residential living would not have been permitted there, and the party that was in progress would have required a special permit.
Not Enough Exits, Unsafe Premises
The warehouse reportedly only had two exits, dangerous and insufficient wiring, a makeshift staircase made of pallets, and a winding layout that impeded escape. Victims were unable to find the exit when the blaze ripped through, although some tragically managed to text love ones and comfort each other before succumbing to smoke and fire.
The staircase between the first and second floors didn’t lead directly to an exit. Those trapped had to try to crawl around two pianos and several walls to make it outside. In the heat and smoke of the fire, it was very difficult to figure out how to get out. Some of those who made it were guided by people calling out the way to the exit from the faraway door.
Fire Risks Long Known
According to a former resident, there were also at least ten RVs and trailers inside, as well as makeshift sleeping lofts separated by windows, furniture, and more pallets. A fire prevention company, the Harrington Group, states, “Idle pallets present a serious fire hazard. Geometrically, a stack of idle pallets creates almost perfect conditions for an intense fire with ample air supply to many surfaces, allowing a fire to grow rapidly.” Scores of pianos and other wooden objects filled the space within the Ghost Ship warehouse. Added to this was improper wiring that often overloaded.
Lack of Building Inspections a Problem in Oakland
In determining who was responsible for the condition of the residence and who should’ve been ensuring visitors and residents were safe, investigators are also trying to ascertain why the warehouse fell through the cracks on the inspection rolls. Budget cutbacks have hampered the fire department, and a problematic database duplicates some inspections while leaving some buildings off. A 2014 report indicated that 4,000 out of 11,000 buildings in Oakland were going uninspected.
San Francisco Premises Liability Lawyer
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a property owner’s negligence, you can speak with an attorney today who can help you understand both your rights and how to go about seeking financial compensation. The Law Offices of J. Chrisp have extensive experience in personal injury law, including premises liability. To get started, simply give us a call at 1-877-JCHRISP (524-7477) or reach us through the online form on this page.
We should not have to fear walking across a street, but we should always be aware of what is going on around us. Sadly, our community has experienced yet another avoidable loss, and this one was alcohol-related.
In Petaluma, a pedestrian was hit by an allegedly speeding driver and pronounced dead at the hospital. The driver of the white Mercedes delivery van was arrested after a blood alcohol content (BAC) test showed that he was above the legal limit. Losing a loved one is bad enough without also knowing that it was caused by alcohol and recklessness, and our sincere condolences go out to the surviving family members.
Pedestrian Fatality Statistics
In 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes, and 49 percent of those involved alcohol in some way. This amounts to a death every two hours and an injury every eight minutes. Deaths and injuries in these accidents are almost always caused by a person driving under the influence rather than a pedestrian walking under the influence.
Pedestrians are even more at risk of getting hit by drunk drivers because they are hard to see even when a driver is not impaired. Pedestrians do not have as much protection as other DUI accident victims who are driving in their own vehicles at the time. This makes them much more vulnerable to serious injuries and death.
As cities re-embrace pedestrian-friendly traffic designs, we see two things: The total number of pedestrians rises overall, which will equal more accidents involving them, but at the same time, the new designs make some pedestrians safer while walking.
Damages for Wrongful Death in Pedestrian Crashes
In a wrongful death lawsuit, the hardest part is trying to place a dollar amount on the life that was lost. Part of you may feel that no amount is enough, while another part is embarrassed to be asking for money at all.
These are all natural and understandable feelings, but the truth is that you need to look towards your family’s future—and the loss of your loved one’s income is catastrophic in every regard. Your family will need to pay for the medical costs that failed to save your family member’s life and his or her funeral expenses.
You can seek damages for all of the following in a wrongful death suit:
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Lost future income
- Punitive damages
No matter the circumstances or how much trauma you think you have endured, you need to find unbiased outside help to determine what you have lost. An unattached eye will see what you may have lost and how it can affect you financially.
Free Legal Consultation with a San Francisco Wrongful Death Attorney
If someone you care about has been killed as a pedestrian in a drunk driving accident, you need to do everything you can to hold the driver responsible so that his or her recklessness cannot hurt anyone else. You will need professional legal advice, and a wrongful death lawyer at the Law Offices of J. Chrisp will be able to provide you with the best counsel available.
Please give us a call at 1-877-JCHRISP (524-7477) to schedule a free, no-obligation legal evaluation at a time convenient for you. You may also fill out the form below to have one of our associates call you at your leisure.
A tragic early morning bus crash on Interstate 10 near Palm Springs claimed the lives of thirteen people when the bus crashed into the back of a tractor trailer moving in the same direction. The cause of the accident is unknown, and so far none of the survivors have been able to provide any useful details to authorities, as there was no warning before the crash, and apparently many of the passengers were asleep at the time.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent federal agency that investigates major transportation accidents, has launched an investigation into the crash—one of the worst in California history.
Fatal End to a Night Out
The crash on I-10 happened early on the morning of October 23 as the tour bus returned from a Saturday night trip to a desert casino. At 5:17 a.m. that Sunday morning, the bus came upon slower-moving traffic where a highway crew had been doing overnight work. Traffic, including the truck that was struck, was moving at around 5 miles per hour. The bus did not slow at all before the crash. A California Highway Patrol spokesman told reporters that the only skid marks at the scene were from the truck, which was pushed forward by the force of the crash.
The bus hit the truck with enough force to jam nearly fifteen feet of the vehicle into the trailer of the truck. In addition to the bus driver and the twelve passengers who were killed, thirty-one people were injured, including the truck driver. Several are still in the hospital with severe injuries.
History of Misfortune
California, sadly, has a record of catastrophic bus crashes. A 1963 crash between a train and a truck full of workers killed thirty-two and injured twenty-five. In 1976, twenty-nine members of a high school choir were killed when the brakes on their bus failed and it flipped at an exit ramp.
More recently, 2014 saw a truck crash into a tour bus, killing ten. Less spectacular but no less tragic crashes have occurred, including one in Merced County in August (which we also discussed on our blog), that left four dead and more than twenty injured.
Bus Safety a National Concern
Most bus passengers don’t worry about the safety of the vehicles they’re riding in, but many basic safety features that are common in today’s cars aren’t included in buses. Individual airbags are nonexistent, and most buses don’t even include seat belts. New design requirements intended to protect passengers in the event of crashes, especially rollovers, were only recently proposed by the federal agency that oversees bus safety in 2014.
California Bus Accident Lawyers
Buses, like any other motor vehicle, can be involved in crashes. But the truth is that crashes are almost never really accidents. They happen because of carelessness or negligence, because maintenance is skipped, or because training was not complete. They happen because shortcuts are taken that decrease safety or because drivers don’t get enough sleep or choose to operate while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
When you or someone close to you has been the victim of a bus accident, you need professional legal help on your side to move your case forward and make sure that you receive compensation for injuries, medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any other damages related to the crash. At the Law Offices of J. Chrisp, let us put our experience with bus accident and truck accident law to work for you. Call us at 1-877-JCHRISP (524-7477) or reach us through the contact form below to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
An eighty-two-year-old minivan driver tragically died on Highway 101 in California when a baseball-sized metal object crashed through his windshield and struck him in the neck, causing him to veer into a median.
On the same road that day, a Caltrans water truck traveling between jobs blew out a tire, and when the rig was examined, a brass water-tank cap was missing. Although the two vehicles were traveling in different directions, and the piece would have had to fly across several traffic lanes to hit the oncoming minivan driver, someone made the connection that this might be the missing piece. It was later found under the driver’s seat of the minivan.
Commercial Truck Debris Can Be Dangerous
While riding on highways, most of us have noticed debris falling from the back of dump trucks and other large vehicles. Even if they seem like small bits and even if they don’t crash through a windshield, they can certainly take a person by surprise and force them into swerving suddenly and hitting another vehicle, rolling over, or crashing into a fixed object. If the load is liquid, it can make the road slippery, especially with oil. Industrial chemicals can even release hazardous toxins and flammable gasses into the air.
Federal laws mandate that trucks have secured loads, but what if human error or a faulty part that does not stay attached end up harming someone? Who is to blame in these accidents?
Someone Was at Fault
In assessing whether to bring a personal injury or wrongful death case, some of the things that should be considered are as follows: Was this a freak accident, or did someone’s actions or failure to act cause this tragedy?
At the center of every personal injury and wrongful death lawsuit is the issue of liability (also called fault). For example, potential defendants in the accident described above could include: Caltrans, the driver, the part manufacturer, a mechanic, an inspector, the water company, or anyone else involved in the operation, maintenance, or inspection of this vehicle. All could be eyed as potentially guilty parties if they did not exercise the care that a reasonable person would.
Close family members of a victim can usually sue for damages. The financial compensation they might seek is a difficult subject, because it’s heartbreaking to put a price on human life.
However, sometimes the financial contribution the deceased made to the family is needed or the family wants to send a message that the dangerous behavior exhibited by the defendant was unacceptable.
What one may seek in terms of compensation, according to California Code 377.34, are as follows: “damages recoverable are limited to the loss or damage that the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages that the decedent would have been entitled to recover had the decedent lived, and do not include damages for pain, suffering, or disfigurement.”
Contact a San Francisco Car Wreck Attorney
The Law Offices of J. Chrisp have extensive experience practicing law in car accident and personal injury cases. If you or your loved one were harmed in a highway incident or by someone else’s wrongdoing, call us today to discuss your options for free at 1-877-JCHRISP (524-7477). We’re here to help you understand your rights and represent you at this difficult time.
An eighty-five-year-old man was struck and killed in Beverly Hills in December 2015 by an Uber driver. His surviving wife and children believed that the driver was guilty of distracted driving—that he crashed because he was using an electronic device required by his job while behind the wheel. Because of this, they decided to sue for wrongful death.
That begs the question of how the law deals with for-hire drivers and their parent rideshare companies when car crashes happen. Who is responsible? The driver, Uber, or both? And whose insurance, commercial or personal, covers the crash?
Uber’s ride-sharing platform matches passengers with nearby for-hire drivers through the Uber app, eliminating the need to hail or fish for money at ride’s end as credit card info is stored. It’s basically a tech-savvy taxi service. While it makes finding a ride easier, in the event of an accident, things can get tricky.
Since Uber drivers use electronic reporting devices, either their cellphone or another device to communicate with the Uber network and find passengers, they often do this while driving. This, in turn, leads to collisions.
Not only is distracted driving a scourge today due to our reliance on and borderline obsession with cell phones, tablets, social media, and the Internet in general, more and more accidents are caused by engaging with technology on the road. Needing to log in as part of the job is certainly not going to help this situation.
Uber terms its drivers “driver-partners,” possibly in a bid to make drivers feel more autonomous. However, it’s Uber that sets rates, although drivers do have the ability to charge less. Some drivers feel that in conflicts, the Uber higher ups side with passengers more often than with drivers. This has led to some drivers setting up their own dash-cams and alternative apps, so if a dispute arises, they have other evidence to use in their defense against the passenger. This can lead to even more ways to get distracted on the road!
Insurance coverage for Uber drivers is quite granular. The stages of coverage are as follows:
- When the app is off, the driver may be covered by their own liability insurance.
- The time between the app being off and the new job being accepted.
- The period between when the new ride becomes available to the driver and the time when he or she picks the fare up.
- The duration of the fare.
Uber’s website states that for ridesharing it maintains “$1 million of commercial automobile liability insurance coverage and uninsured and underinsured motorist bodily injury coverage from the time a trip is accepted until it’s completed,” as with item number four above.
But in the other levels, coverage is different, and in the first, you have to hope that your driver is covered and is not disqualified due to something like not having informed the insurance company that he or she was a for-hire driver, or by some particular law pertaining to the state of residence.
There will be cases where conditions are met for whichever level of coverage the driver did have, but the coverage amount may not be enough to pay for your catastrophic damages. And then there are other factors like partial fault if a badly maintained road or third driver plays a part in the accident. In the event of a wrongful death case, a victim’s family may need to seek compensation beyond Uber’s coverage just to keep their family together. Paying for the unforeseen damages that come from losing a principal breadwinner in addition to property damage, emotional hardship, and other by-products of such a tragic loss can be overwhelming for the survivors.
An Experienced California Car Accident Attorney Can Help
All of the question discussed above can be sorted through with the help of a knowledgeable attorney.
To find out more about Uber accidents and traffic accident representation, call the Law Offices of J. Chrisp for a free consultation. Our number is 1-877-JCHRISP (524-7477) or you can contact us by completing the form below. We can make sense of the challenges of lawsuits involving the latest technology—including Uber and other rideshare companies.
Most of us have taken one form of public transportation or another, whether riding a bus, train, airplane, or taxi. As passengers, we usually don’t think twice about how capable the driver is or how well the vehicle has been maintained. We simply expect drivers to have great driving records and for them to be operating well-maintained vehicles. Although we so often trust that we’ll arrive at our destination unscathed, how safe are we really when traveling by public transportation?
Accidents involving mass transit vehicles happen on a daily basis. The news is filled with devastating crashes of all kinds, such as the horrific bus crash that recently happened in our own Merced County on August 2. A journey to Seattle that began in Mexico ended in tragedy with four people killed and several more severely injured. As the bus was traveling on Highway 99 near Livingston, it veered off course and crashed straight into a freeway sign, almost splitting the bus in half while the pole sheared through a row of seats filled with passengers.
One Crash, Many Possible Causes
There could be several possibilities for what actually caused the bus to leave its lane and swerve off-road. Was the driver overworked, exhausted, or intoxicated? Did he have any previous driving violations that might indicate dangerous driving habits? Was the bus properly maintained and inspected, passing all required safety laws and regulations? There were reports that a witness heard the bus making clinking sounds, leading many to assume it may have had a mechanical issue that led to the crash.
The company that owns the tour bus, Autobuses Coordinados USA, has had several violations in the past that concerned many of their buses, including the bus involved in the crash. According to the NBC Bay Area news station, federal records show the company has been guilty of twenty-three vehicle violations since 2014. The driver, Mario Vasquez, also had multiple past violations according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, including driving a bus while his license was suspended, improper lane changes, and driving fifteen miles over the speed limit.
Who Is at Fault?
Depending on what the cause of the accident is eventually determined to be, there may be several parties that could be held accountable for the bus crash. The driver, the owner of the vehicle, the owner of the company that operates the vehicles, and the maintenance company could all eventually be found to have some measure of liability for what happened. For example, the driver may have fallen asleep at the wheel or been distracted somehow, or the bus may have malfunctioned due to faulty brakes or a tire blowout.
After the accident investigation is complete, the victims or their families will be able to sue the negligent parties for their medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages and future income, and for the wrongful death of a family member who passed away as a result of the crash. Accidents such as this can result not only in physical trauma, but emotional trauma as well—and both elements will need to be accurately factored into their settlements.
An Experienced California Public Transportation Lawyer
This leads us back to the question of just how safe are we really when traveling by public transportation? We may want to think twice when getting onto that bus, train, or taxi. We put our lives into their hands every time we do.
The Law Offices of J. Chrisp are available to help if you have been injured in an accident involving mass transportation caused by someone’s negligence. We are here to fight for your legal rights and to help you seek just compensation for your injury or the wrongful death of a loved one. Please contact us at 1-877-524-7477 or fill out the form below for a free consultation. We are dedicated to helping you in your recovery.
It’s only been out for a month, but the new augmented reality game “Pokémon Go” has been a smash hit. It broke records for smartphone apps, seeing more than 75 million downloads in the first few weeks, and it’s already estimated to have more than 20 million daily users in the United States alone. The latest installment of the popular twenty-year-old Pokémon video and card game franchise, the app has been applauded for the way it gets players out into the world. By cleverly overlaying game locations and characters onto a real-world map and requiring players to visit or find them to advance in the game, Niantic, the game’s designer, seems to have come up with a winner.
However, because of the way the game mixes the real world with its virtual one, many people worry that “Pokémon Go” poses a risk to its players and others. Players might not watch where they’re going: They might walk into objects or other people, step into the street without looking, or trespass and find themselves reported to police. The greatest fear has been that some might play while driving, leading to distracted driving crashes.
Unfortunately, that’s already happened.
Gotta Crash ‘em All?
We’re watching these developments very carefully. The first documented “Pokémon Go” car crash took place less than a week after the game was released, when an upstate New York man crashed into a tree (he was not seriously injured). Two separate crashes in Wisconsin (also into trees) followed, as well as one in Vermont. In each of those crashes, no other cars were involved (and all of the drivers were also suspected of drunk driving).
When a Washington State man rear-ended another car, it became the first confirmed case of a Pokémon player crashing into another vehicle. No one was injured in that crash either, but a near-miss caught on video in Baltimore highlighted just how dangerous playing while behind the wheel can be: That driver struck a parked police car while driving and simultaneously playing the game.
Distracted Driving Kills
Most players will play safely, but the dangers of injury and law-breaking will continue to be real. Here in California, two men fell off a cliff near San Diego; their injuries were not life threatening. Numerous reports of players becoming the victims of crime have also been in the news.
We’re most concerned about the distracted driving aspect. Distracted driving is already a huge problem on our roads, leading to crashes that were estimated to have injured more than 430,000 and killed over 3,100 in 2014. Cell phones and other mobile devices are blamed for a large and growing share of these types of incidents. If this was already the state of driving safety, what will the addition of an app like “Pokémon Go” mean?
Distracted Driving Lawyer in California
It can happen anywhere, and it can happen to you. At least one crash is believed to have been caused by a Pokémon-playing driver here in our region. Last week, a teen temporarily blacked out part of Napa when she crashed into a power pole.
At the Law Offices of J. Chrisp, we understand the practice of automobile accident law. If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by another driver, whether distracted driving or some other cause was behind it, we can help you reach the settlement you’re entitled to. Give us a call at 1-877-JCHRISP (524-7477) or complete the form below to set up a free consultation. The meeting is free, but its value in helping you get your life back on track might just be priceless.
Will I Get a Ticket if I Am in a Car Accident?
As an attorney, I am regularly asked about traffic tickets and whether getting one will influence the outcome of a case. This is a complicated situation, so here are the answers to some frequently asked questions related to tickets and accident cases:
Am I going to get a ticket after being in an accident?
Potentially. There is no real way to say for certain because this depends on the type of accident, the circumstances surrounding it, the severity of the crash, and the officer’s interpretation of the events leading up to it. If the police think you had some responsibility for the crash, they may issue you a ticket, although some officers issue one to each driver involved regardless.
Does receiving a ticket make me guilty or to blame for the car crash?
No, it does not. You can contest the ticket in court, and, as an attorney, I can help you do so. In fact, I encourage you to work with an attorney before ever pleading guilty to a ticket, especially after a crash as doing so could impact your civil case (http://www.chrisplaw.com/product-liability/defective-drugs/).
If I am not to blame, do I have to sign the ticket?
Yes, you do. Even if you are planning on contesting the ticket, you are going to have to sign it initially. Otherwise, you could be arrested, and there is no benefit to putting yourself in that situation.
Why would I get a ticket after my crash?
As a car accident attorney, I have seen people get a ticket for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common include speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, driving while intoxicated, and not having an insurance card or registration on hand. If you were ticketed for not having your registration or insurance card, it is easy to fight the ticket by simply proving that you do have it. If you were ticketed for speeding, this is something that you should probably contest.
How do I contest a ticket?
There will be instructions on your ticket for what to do, or you can call my office to discuss your accident and your ticket at the same time (http://www.chrisplaw.com/san-francisco/car-accidents/).
Do I still have to file an accident report?
Yes, you are required to file a report within ten days in any accident where someone was injured, someone died, or there was over $750 in damage. A ticket does not replace the actual report.
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Were you ever ticketed after an accident? What was the reason and did you fight it?
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When Should I Settle with the Insurance Company?
If you have been in a car wreck, you probably have a lot of questions regarding your claim. As a car accident attorney in San Francisco, I meet with clients that often ask if and when they should settle. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers to help you make this important decision:
What insurance company will I be working with after my accident?
This is a good question because while another driver may be responsible for your accident, you will still begin by working with your own insurance company. They will give you a claim number that can be used by your doctor and the auto body shop repairing your car. On the backend, your and the other driver’s insurance companies will work out who is actually responsible for paying these bills.
Do I have to deal with the insurance company on my own?
No, as a car accident attorney, I work with the insurance companies on behalf of my clients in order to negotiate fair settlement offers. I have found that most people are incredibly stressed after getting into a crash, and by handling the insurance and legal processes, I make it possible for my clients to focus on their health.
How do I know if I am getting a fair offer from the insurance company?
Unfortunately, it is incredibly difficult to know whether you are getting a fair deal. Most settlements are private, so it is not like shopping for a low insurance policy premium where you can compare different offers. You will also need to watch out for whether they are offering you enough money to pay for the bills that you have already incurred along with time missed from work. As an attorney, I know what the industry standards are and can give you an honest opinion at any time.
I don’t like their offer because it does not include my lost wages. What do I do?
If the insurance company does not want to pay for money lost while being unable to work due to the accident, you may need to sue them for financial damages. The court process is in place to give you options for recourse, so while you may want to begin with the negotiations process, it does sometimes escalate to an actual court case.
If I don’t take their offer will I lose out entirely?
Not if you are working with an attorney. You should not have to settle for less than what you deserve, nor should an insurance company pressure you into doing so by threatening total loss. If this is happening to you, call and schedule a consultation right away (http://www.chrisplaw.com/san-francisco/car-accidents/).
If I settle now can I go back and ask for more money later?
No. Once the case is closed, you cannot request it be opened up again, except in very special and unique circumstances. The vast majority of the time, what you settle for is what you get—period. This makes it important to have both your current and future medical bills paid for along with the wages you have already and are likely to lose. For example, if you can no longer perform the same job duties due to your injury, any money you could lose due to that should be taken into consideration when arriving at your final settlement amount. Simultaneously, if your doctor thinks that you may need ten years of physical therapy, the settlement needs to pay enough to cover those costs so that you do not end up with massive medical bills down the road.
Can you review my settlement offer?
Absolutely. As a car accident attorney, I can review any offer that the insurance company gives you and make a recommendation regarding how to proceed (http://www.chrisplaw.com/product-liability/defective-drugs/).
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