Why should I hire a personal injury attorney (and why DBBWC)?
Unfortunately, insurance companies seek to offer and pay as little as they can to resolve cases – no matter what injuries people have. They are a business, first and foremost, and oftentimes put their bottom line above doing what is right. While exact statistics are hard to come by, injured people who have taken their cases to trial sometimes receive large verdicts when insurance companies previously offered amounts much lower than the trial verdict. Admittedly, huge court verdicts are not very common, but, unfortunately, people settling with insurance companies for pennies on the dollar is.
Once you contact an attorney and hire them to represent you, the insurance companies, adjusters, lien holders, medical billers, collection companies and any other attorneys are notified that you are represented by counsel. After that point, you should not be contacted by any of those individuals. Your attorney will handle most, if not all, of the paperwork from that point forward. Your attorney will investigate the facts, circumstances and evidence of your case and, if appropriate, put together a demand and attempt to settle with the insurance company. A settlement is often more efficient than going to trial and is frequently the appropriate approach.
While it’s not always advisable – or even desirable – to go to trial, it is a good idea to check with an attorney when you are injured. An attorney will be able to evaluate the facts and circumstances surrounding your case and tell you whether you have a viable claim. Experienced personal injury attorneys are able to evaluate cases and anticipate how a jury might perceive a case and, ultimately, value an injured party’s damages. Experienced attorneys, like those at Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, are able to do this by drawing on past experiences, dealing with similar fact patterns and similar injuries, and evaluating your case in the context of prior trial or settlement results.
While some injuries may seem clear-cut, others are not as evident and may not present themselves for some time after an initial event. It is these times, when the injury is not so obvious, that it can be difficult to understand the injury, the treatment necessary and the future prognosis for recovery. Once a case is settled, however, or an injured party tells the insurance company he or she is fine, that person’s chance of getting fair compensation is significantly reduced. If a case is settled without having a full and complete understanding of the injuries and damages and without taking these unknown or yet-to-be-addressed injuries into consideration, there is no ability to later make a claim for those other injuries and damages that are related to the case. It is important that you have knowledgeable and experienced legal representation to make sure that you are adequately compensated for all of your injuries and damages.
Personal injury attorneys are trained to assess these damages – including damages people might not think of, such as the impact on your emotional well-being, as well as the impact on your physical health, both past and future. When it comes to settlement, experienced and knowledgeable attorneys will take the total picture into account before even beginning to address a possible settlement.
Personal injury attorneys also know how insurance companies work; they know what insurance companies look for and what documentation they require. At Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, we deal with many different insurance companies every day and we are intimately familiar with how insurance companies operate and how they address, handle, evaluate and respond to cases.
The expert trial attorneys at Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, know what the current settlements and court awards are, primarily because we are responsible for trying many of those cases and have obtained many record-breaking verdicts in numerous counties throughout California.
Very few attorneys have trial experience today; even fewer have as much trial experience as the attorneys at Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP. Unfortunately, many firms handle cases with settlement as the end goal, whether that is the appropriate resolution or not. If an attorney is unwilling or unable to try your case, that could mean a substantial decrease in recovery. Having an experienced trial attorney on your side who stands ready, willing and able to try your case is invaluable. With more than 25 years of trial experience, the attorneys at Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, are so well-known in the field that the firm name alone carries with it a certain weight with insurance companies and defense attorneys in the community. During negotiations, the knowledge that we will go to trial, if necessary, can and does make a very big difference. The fact is: We at Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, try cases and insurance companies know that. Every case, no matter how big or small, is evaluated, prepared and handled as if it were going to trial.
When an insurance adjuster says, “You don’t really think a jury will award you that, do you?” and the attorney answers “I know they will” and means it, you know you have a valuable resource on your side.
Many people don’t realize the impact even a minor injury can have on their daily lives. There is added stress of not only the injury, but also the ensuing treatment, dealing with physicians, dealing with insurance companies, and dealing with medical providers and medical bills. An attorney can be your gatekeeper, take the helm and handle all of the bureaucracy of dealing with these individuals, which then allows the you to concentrate on what is most important – that is, getting the care and treatment necessary to address your injuries, getting better and getting back to your daily life as quickly as possible.
How do I hire DBBWC as my personal injury attorneys?
You have made the decision that you require representation in connection with your potential case. You have also made the decision that you would like the attorneys of Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, to be responsible for that representation. The first step is contacting the firm.
Contact The Firm The firm can be contacted using the information on the Contact Us page. You can fill out a form outlining the basic facts and circumstances of your case, or you can call us at 916-379-3500 and speak with someone who can assist you. The initial contact will be with someone from the firm who will gather your contact information and a basic overview of the facts, so that the attorney who meets with you can do so with as much information as possible. Once you have contacted the firm, the next step would be to schedule a time to come in and meet with an attorney.
Schedule A Time To Meet With An Attorney After the initial contact, you will come in and sit down with an attorney who will take the time to explain the litigation process, go over any potential issues that may be present in your case, and field any questions you may have. This initial consultation is entirely free of charge and is simply a time for you to get to know the attorney and the firm and for them to get to know you and the facts and circumstances of your case. It is also a time for you and the attorney to make a decision relative to representation.
Make A Decision Relative To Retaining The Firm Once you have met with an attorney, the time will come for you to make a decision relative to representation. If both you and the attorney feel it is appropriate, you sign a contingency fee contract and you have retained the services of the firm to represent you. From the date the contract is signed, the firm will act on your behalf and represent you in your case.
When should I hire an attorney after an accident?
Getting an attorney involved as early as possible is crucial for many reasons. From the time of the accident, the clock starts ticking. From that date, you only have so long to file a complaint. By the time the statute of limitations runs out, you should have either settled your case or filed a complaint to preserve your right to recover. Depending on the type of case, you have from six months to two years to do that. If you have not settled your case or filed a lawsuit prior to the applicable statute of limitations, you lose your ability to pursue your claim. Therefore, seeing an attorney right away is the best course and here are a few reasons why:
- Your car will be evaluated, before it’s repaired, by a knowledgeable investigator. This can make a big difference to the case. The primary evidence for fault in an accident often is the vehicle itself. Experts can tell from physical damage how the car was hit, how fast the car was going, etc. They also can photograph the evidence for future use.
- People forget. Details become less sharp as time goes by. You want your witnesses to remember as much as possible when they talk to your attorney.
- If you have a slip-and-fall accident that is recorded on a surveillance camera, the video usually is erased and re-used after 30 days.
- You will have an expert on your side who can meet with you, explain the legal process in detail, collect the facts and figure out the best strategy.
- You will not have to deal with your insurance company and the paperwork associated with an accident. The attorney will handle everything, including dealing with medical bills.
What do I have to pay?
The bottom line is this: When you retain a personal injury lawyer, there is no upfront payment. In fact, the first consultation is completely free. There are, however, fees and various costs associated with litigating a case.
Most personal injury cases are handled on what is called a contingency fee basis, which means the attorney doesn’t get paid unless you do. The firm will front all costs necessary to litigate your case, with the understanding that these costs are reimbursed at the time the case is resolved. The firm also earns a fee, which is a percentage of the final verdict or settlement of your case. Stated another way, after obtaining a successful settlement or judgment, the firm is reimbursed for the costs that were spent in obtaining that verdict or settlement and is also paid a fee, which was earned as a result of time and effort expended while litigating your case.
Since the personal injury attorney is paid on a percentage basis at the end of the case, they usually are not able to take a case unless there is a good chance of obtaining a successful result for the client. This part of the legal system helps make sure justice is done by allowing people who have legitimate injuries, but not much money, to file a claim and be adequately reimbursed for their injuries and damages.
One of the advantages of a large personal injury law firm such as Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, is that they can take on more cases with a higher degree of risk than smaller firms can. The firm has the ability to litigate any case, be it a fairly simple, straightforward auto accident, to more complex cases such as products defects or roadway design.
Many cases can be very expensive and time-consuming to litigate; DBBWC has the experience, ability and resources to handle them. Therefore, anyone who has a legitimate claim could benefit from retaining the firm’s services, regardless of the time, challenge or expense presented by the case.
If you decide to retain the services of DBBWC, then you will have an attorney helping you through the confusing maze of personal injury claims and cases – while not worrying about coming up with the funds necessary to litigate your case.
What do I do about my medical bills?
The stress of dealing with medical bills is another aspect of being injured that many people do not take into consideration. Whether someone has health insurance or not, medical providers seek to be repaid for any treatment they provide to an injured person.
Sometimes people have coverage through multiple avenues. For example, if you have a medical payments provision on your insurance policy and have health insurance, and there is another person responsible for causing your injuries, it can be difficult to know who should be responsible for paying your medical bills and to whom you should submit those bills. This is another area where the experience and abilities of a good attorney come in handy.
If you do have health insurance, that insurer should and most likely will be paying for your medical bills. However, the health insurer will likely seek to be reimbursed for those payments at the end of your case. We will contact your health care insurer(s) and deal with it directly on your behalf, meaning you can focus on what is important: getting the medical care necessary to treat your injuries, without having to worry about who is paying what.
If you do not have health insurance, you may still have a few options available to get your medical bills paid and still get the treatment you need. One option is to contact your medical providers and attempt to set up a lien. A lien, in this context, is an agreement between you and your medical provider that it will not send your account to collections in exchange for a promise that it will be reimbursed for treatment provided to you out of any judgment, settlement or verdict.
Another option is to look into some of the government assistance programs that are available to see if you qualify for medical coverage through one of them. These are programs such as Medicare, Medi-Cal or County Medical Services Program (CMSP). If you are eligible, these types of programs can be invaluable.
These are just a few of the approaches one can take towards getting some medical coverage. We at Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, LLP, have helped many clients navigate the tumultuous waters of dealing with medical bills and medical providers. By hiring us, you will not be forced to deal with this alone and can draw on our significant experience to figure out the best approach to addressing your medical bills and getting the medical care you need to treat your injuries.
What is the legal process?
The legal process begins as soon as your case is signed up and the insurance companies involved are notified of your intention to seek recovery for any damages you have sustained as a result of the conduct of another. Once DBBWC is retained to represent you in connection with your case, we undertake an investigation of the facts surrounding your accident. Initial investigation helps preserve evidence, better understand the facts and circumstances surrounding an incident and determine who is at fault, and puts the attorney in a position where he or she can begin to negotiate the case. There are a number of phases to the litigation process. Often cases resolve in what is called the pre-litigation phase. This means that the case has resolved before having to file a complaint with the courts. Many cases resolve at this phase.
However, the position of the insurance companies or conduct of other parties, or even the amount of time that has passed may require that a lawsuit be filed. Once that happens, the case is in litigation, and that triggers the discovery phase. The discovery phase is the initial information-gathering time, wherein the parties have an opportunity to ask written or verbal questions of the other parties, request documentation and take depositions. It is during this phase that the parties are able to put together case strategy, form opinions, gather evidence and prepare the case to go to trial.
How long will my case last?
This is a common question that, unfortunately, does not have a standard answer. In fact, before knowing all the facts, it is almost impossible to predict. There are many factors that can affect the length of a case, including things such as your own medical care, treatment and progress, as well as the actions of other parties involved. It is not unusual for a case to be resolved as much as three years or more from the date of the initial injury.
How much is my case worth?
Another very common question without a universal answer. The law does not require a party to state a specific dollar amount when a lawsuit is filed, and typically a specific amount is not declared. There are many factors that can and will affect the recovery in a case. If someone else is responsible for at least a portion of your accident, the law allows you to recover damages. Damages are broken up into two distinct categories: economic damages such as medical expenses, time off work and other out-of-pocket expenses, and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. There is no formula or standard for calculating non-economic damages, which makes predicting a case value exceedingly difficult (almost impossible), especially in the early stages of litigation. When enough information is obtained, however, the attorneys at DBBWC are able to evaluate the potential value of the case and communicate that with our clients. It is at this time we are able to give our opinions regarding settlement.
Other issues can affect case value, as well, such as when there is more than one party that caused or contributed to your injuries or damages, or when an injured party has done something that may have caused or contributed to his or her injuries and damages. If a percentage of fault is assigned to an injured person, both the economic and non-economic damages are reduced by the percentage that person is found to be at fault. If there is more than one defendant, however, each defendant is jointly responsible for your economic damages, but is only responsible for your non-economic damages to the extent they are found to be at fault. Having to parse through these issues often results in taking longer for cases to resolve.
What happens before, during and at trial in litigation?
If the insurance company has not taken your case seriously, won’t agree to a reasonable settlement or refuses to act reasonably, the legal process begins. Your attorney will file an initial complaint that is very specific and lets the insurance company know what’s at stake.
During the discovery phase, both sides start gathering information – from medical records and bills, proof of time off work, accident reports, witness statements, from questioning the parties and witness in writing or verbally, to hiring experts to consult on various areas of the case. During this time, the opposing parties will also try to determine the facts, clarify certain issues and get as much agreement on what happened and what is at stake as they can. Once all parties have a thorough understanding of the facts, issues and damages, they are in a better position to reach an agreement.
Then, formal settlement negotiations begin through informal negotiations or through alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation or arbitration. Arbitration is akin to a mini trial; each side presents its case, its evidence and its testimony and an arbitrator will declare a value for the damages. Mediation is more like a guided attempt to resolve a case. An impartial mediator, that has been selected by the parties, will attempt to negotiate a value that all parties agree with. If informal negotiation is unsuccessful, the next step is to try the case.