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Frequently Asked Questions

Caveat.  These Frequently Asked Questions are intended to be a broad and general description of things to think about after something occurs.  It is not intended to be an exhaustive list of how to handle any given situation or even a general play list.  Every case is unique, and only after careful consideration of those particular facts and circumstances can meaningful advice be given by a knowledgeable and experienced attorney.  These statements are intended for general reference as to the nature of services this office can provide to a client upon initiation of legal representation.  Nothing stated herein is intended to initiate or create that legal attorney-client relationship and accordingly should not be relied upon.  If and when this office is retained and careful consideration of your case is given, then advice specifically tailored to your particular case will be provided.

What do I do if I’ve been in an accident?

If you are reading this, you are probably no longer at the scene of the crash.  However, if it there is a medical emergency, go to the nearest emergency room. Although commonly called “accidents”, motor vehicle collisions are usually the result of someone’s negligence, inattention or other inappropriate behavior.

It is helpful to take as many photos of the overall scene, vehicle location, vehicle damage and of any other relevant information as soon as is practical.  It is important to collect information.  Perhaps equally important is to understand that the “other guy’s” automobile insurance company will eventually be doing the very same thing.  That almost always includes the insurance carrier trying to get a recorded statement of what happened even while the traffic collision victim is in a lot of pain, or having to take pain killers because of the injuries, or perhaps exhausted and wiped out after working a job while in pain or under the effects of heavy pain medication, or just not prepared for an adversarial “gotcha” oriented conversation by a sophisticated insurance company whose purpose is to minimize the money value of bodily injury claims for a living. It is important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer immediately after a motor vehicle collision.  Whether the injuries are catastrophic, relatively minor or somewhere in between, car crash victims should protect their interests and their ability to hold the responsible person accountable.

Slip and falls, trip and falls, dog bites, car crashes, pedestrian injuries, bicycle collisions, motorcycle accidents, bus accidents, train accidents, boat accidents, uneven stairs, dangerous road conditions, assault, battery, sexual abuse, swimming pool accidents, food poisoning, defective tires, dangerous fireworks, elder abuse, and nursing home neglect.  When these things occur, it may seem obvious as to who is at fault.  However, when dealing with insurance companies, insurance adjusters, defense attorneys, and ultimately a jury, the burden of proof is generally on the person making the claim.  That is probably you.

It is important to investigate and evaluate the facts and circumstances of a given incident as soon as is practical.  Take as many photos of the overall scene, specifics of the location, any damage and of any other relevant information.  Things can change quickly.  So collect information soon. Consult with a skilled and experienced lawyer immediately after the incident happens.  Whether the injuries are catastrophic, relatively minor or somewhere in between, victims should protect their interests and their ability to hold the responsible person accountable.

Do I have a case?

Maybe… it depends.  Anyone promising a fantastic and flowery outcome at the very outset of a case is more concerned about getting your case than giving you realistic legal advice.  Don’t be shocked when such a salesperson at some later point in time gives excuse as to why the circumstances changed and why your expectations should be reduced. Technically, every case is a case though not necessarily viable.  Occasionally even viable cases do not result in economic recovery.  There are many variables, not the least of which is the solvency or ability to pay on any given claim.  Even liability insurance companies occasionally go out of business.  Value is added where all potential sources of recovery from all potentially responsible parties are exhausted.

But that puts the cart before the horse.  Establishing that someone else (who can pay) is at fault for causing bodily injury can sometimes be tricky.  Sometimes the owner of the roaming animal is unknown.  Or, sometimes it is necessary to prove with circumstantial evidence the length of time that a dangerous condition existed.  Every case is unique.  Only after careful evaluation of the particular facts and circumstances can there be a meaningful assessment of whether there is a case and whether it is worth pursuing. Consult with a skilled and experienced lawyer immediately after the incident happens.  That will permit an investigation and evaluation of the matter, thereby protecting your interests and ability to hold accountable the responsible party.

How long will it take to resolve my case?

There are many moving parts.  Sometimes this is influenced by the parties, sometimes it is controlled by the insurance companies and their claims handlers.  Typically, each case has its own rhythm and does not resolve before being ripe for settlement.  That can be a result of the length of time necessary to heal up an injury.  Or, if there is dispute as to liability or the amount of damages, then filing a lawsuit and litigating may be necessary.  Perhaps the insurance litigation adjuster re-evaluates after formal discovery such as witness depositions.  Additionally, sometimes healthcare or health insurance or workers compensation liens need be resolved.  The point is there are many factors which may or may not be readily appreciated at the outset of a claim. What can be said, however, is that an attorney working on a contingency basis does not get paid until the case resolves and money is collected.  Therefore, the attorney has every motivation to resolve the case expeditiously.

What do I do if I’m being been sued?

If you have insurance, you should give a copy of the papers you received to your insurance company.  If there is coverage, they should provide a defense. If you believe you were wrongfully denied coverage, then you should consult with a knowledgeable and competent attorney immediately.  That will permit an investigation and evaluation of the matter including both the underlying lawsuit against you and whether there may be a bad faith denial of insurance benefits.

Do I need a lawyer?

A competent, knowledgeable, skilled and experienced attorney can identify, anticipate and pursue issues that might not otherwise be readily observable by a non-lawyer.  The ability to interpret insurance policies, exclusions, coverage limits, and contractual duties owed to insureds can be invaluable. This also applies to other issues such as locating and establishing liability on not-so-obvious parties, or avoiding the perfection of, or having the knowhow to negotiate liens, whether potential or actual, and whether contractual or statutory.  Of course, none of this matters if admissible evidence, in light of the California Evidence Code, is not adequately and timely developed so as to meet the applicable burden of proof.  In short, having a savvy lawyer, with insight and established relations involving insurance companies, insurance adjusters, defense attorneys and judges can be the difference between no recovery or a modest recovery and a substantial or full-value recovery.

Will it cost me anything to consult with Braid Pezzaglia?

Braid Pezzaglia does not charge for an initial consultation.  This allows a potential client to speak with an attorney for determination as to whether the matter is something the attorney is able or willing to pursue.  Some inquiries can be evaluated promptly as with an expired statute of limitations, or with other applicable statutes effectively disposing of the case. Please call today for a free initial consultation!

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