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Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

The statute of limitations, or time limit, for filing a personal injury claim varies based on the nature of the accident. In most cases, however, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in California is two years. However, certain things may extend or shorten the statute of limitations – for example, medical malpractice cases involving minor children can have a statute of limitations of two years after the minor’s 18th birthday. On the other hand, claims involving the government could have a statute of limitations as short as six months and a notice of claim period of only 30 days, depending on the circumstances.

In short, it’s in your best interest to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following an accident. If you’re struggling with the effects of medical malpractice, don’t assume the timeline already passed – contact us and schedule a consultation today.

How Can I Afford an Attorney?

The Law Offices of Howard Kitay offers its legal services on a contingency-fee basis. This means we do not require payment of attorney’s fees upfront. In fact, we will cover the cost of your legal proceeding. Under a contingency-fee plan, you’ll only owe attorney’s fees if we win a settlement or court judgment on your behalf. We’ll discuss attorney’s fees, if applicable, in your contingency-fee agreement for legal services. Our initial consultation is always free – contact us and schedule a review of your legal options if you suspect your injuries are someone else’s fault.

What Should I Do After an Accident?

We always recommend seeking immediate medical treatment after an accident. Focus on treating your injuries and beginning the healing process – not how you’ll pay for it. Don’t make treatment choices based on your perceived inability to pay. This is why personal injury claims exist – to compensate for the costs of medical bills, lost wages, and other economic and non-economic harms. Do whatever your health care provider deems medically necessary to make a full recovery, and talk to a personal injury attorney about your legal options following an accident.

Should I Call My Insurance Company After an Accident?

It’s always a good idea to call your insurance company after an accident. Following an accident, however, an insurance company might ask you for information or to sign documents. We recommend the following:

  • Never agree to recorded statements unless a personal injury lawyer is present. Claims adjusters can use your words against you in order to settle for less than you deserve.
  • Don’t sign any medical releases unless an attorney says it’s okay. You’ll want to wait until your medical records show the full extent of your injuries before allowing any insurance company access to them.
  • Don’t sign any settlement offers from an insurance company. Often, initial offers do not adequately represent the degree of your injuries, pain, and suffering. Instead, they offer a starting point for negotiations.

What Kinds of Damages Can I Receive From a Personal Injury Claim?

Personal injury claims compensate for both economic and non-economic losses you may suffer as the result of an accident or injury. Examples of these damages include:

  • Medical bills
  • The cost of future medical care
  • Lost wages
  • A loss in earning capacity, if applicable
  • Cost of accommodations to a home, in the event of permanently disabling injury
  • Therapy and rehabilitation costs
  • Physical pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Suffering
  • A loss in life quality

The extent of your settlement will depend on the nature of your injuries, severity of the accident, and other circumstances. A personal injury attorney can help you recover damages for the full extent of your economic and non-economic damages.

Can I Get a Rental Car Following an Accident?

It depends. Rental reimbursement is an optional coverage under California insurance law. If you or an at-fault driver have rental reimbursement coverage, you may be able to use it to obtain a vehicle while your car gets necessary repairs.

Can My Car Accident Claim Cover the Property Damage?

Yes. California is an “at-fault” state when it comes to car accident insurance. If you’re at fault for an accident, your liability insurance will compensate for property damage according to the limits of your policy. If another driver is at fault for your property damage, you will file a liability claim against their insurance company to pay for repairs.

What Evidence Should I Document After a Car Accident?

Working with a car accident attorney can remove the burden of proof from your shoulders. However, it’s still important to document your accident and injuries yourself, if possible. The more evidence you gather after your crash, the stronger your car insurance claim or personal injury case will be. Try to obtain the following information:

  • Other driver’s name and insurance information
  • Descriptions of all vehicles involved
  • Photographs of property damage, injuries, and the scene of the accident
  • Names and contact information of eyewitnesses
  • A detailed description of how the crash occurred
  • Police report number and a copy of the report
  • Medical records and treatment plans

Organize all of your crash-related evidence and information into a file or folder. Then, bring this folder with you to a free consultation with our law firm. We’ll go over the facts you know and help you understand your rights. If you cannot collect anything from your accident, don’t worry. We’ll take care of evidence preservation and collection.

What If the Other Driver Won’t Admit Fault for a Car Accident?

It’s normal for the other driver not to admit fault for the accident, even if you know he or she is to blame. All insurance companies recommend to their policyholders not to admit fault for an accident. Instead of getting angry or defensive, keep your cool and be polite to the at-fault driver. Call the police and report the accident. When police arrive, be sure to give them your version of events so the other driver’s version isn’t the only one on record. An investigation can determine fault for the accident even if the other driver won’t admit anything.

Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

A personal injury attorney can take care of virtually all aspects of your personal injury claim. While you focus on family time and your recovery, the lawyers of Howard Kitay can take care of paperwork, strategizing, claim filing, deadlines, proving negligence, and more. We can deal with insurance claim negotiations and even take your case to trial on your behalf if that’s what it takes for maximum compensation. Trusting our lawyers instead of representing yourself can make all the difference in the results of your case.

Can I Get Money for My Missed Time at Work?

Yes. If your personal injury accident forced you to take time away from work to get treatment or recover, you could list these unpaid days off as damages in your civil claim. Your settlement or judgment award can include compensation for your full lost wages during recovery, missed work opportunities (such as promotions), temporary or permanent disabilities, and the difference between your old and new salaries if your injuries forced you to take a lesser position.

I Lost a Loved One in an Accident. What Can I Do?

You may have the right to file a wrongful death claim. California laws permit a deceased person’s surviving spouse, children, domestic partner, or anyone entitled to the property to file a wrongful death claim if someone else’s negligence or intent to harm caused the death. A wrongful death claim could result in payment for you and your family’s mental anguish, pain and suffering, medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, the lost inheritance, and loss of consortium. The courts may award compensation to surviving dependents and/or the decedent’s estate depending on the circumstances. You must bring a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the date of death.

How Much Might My Case Be Worth?

No two personal injury accident claims are worth exactly the same amount. The value of your case will depend on a variety of factors unique to your situation. In general, the more serious your injuries and losses, the greater the value of your case. You can receive restitution for the exact amounts of your past and future economic losses, including medical expenses and property damages, as well as the estimated amount of your non-economic damages. Your ability to prove your losses will help determine the amount you receive, as will the strength of your negotiating abilities. See what kinds of results our lawyers have achieved for past clients.

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