11/21/21 legal

Over the weekend, the news of the deadly truck crash on I-65 near Demotte, Indiana which took the lives of seven people brought to mind memories of another deadly crash on that same highway. In 2010, a family represented by my law firm was returning from a large family event in Georgia. In the dark of night, a speeding truck rammed our client’s van, killing two young family members and injuring many others. Following the I-65 crash last weekend, I spent much time thinking about how the fate of these two families is sadly similar.

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Use Compassion: Protect the Family

Any family that suffers the kind of loss that these two families suffered on I-65 in Indiana will struggle. They will struggle with the emotional impact in the days that follow the crash. They will struggle with the loss of their loved ones over time, knowing that they shall never see those family members again. They will struggle with the practical realities of carrying on without their best friend, spouse, girlfriend, children, grandchildren and the like.

Yet, in the days immediately following such a deadly and tragic crash, the family needs its rights protected. Without a doubt, the truck driver, the trucking company, the insurance carriers and the shipping company will be looking to protect themselves from liability. The victims and their families need a skilled and experienced truck accident lawyer that can ensure that their rights are protected and looked after.

Being a skilled truck accident lawyer is not enough, certainly not from the perspective of the families. The families’ attorney needs to understand and appreciate the sensitivities of their clients’ current situation. A brusque, insensitive lawyer focused only on the business of truck accident litigation will fail to deliver justice for his or her clients. That lawyer will fail to appreciate that clients are human beings, above and beyond any other considerations. Too often we have clients who come to us after having dealt with other lawyers and tell us that their previous lawyers didn’t see them as people – only as cases in a docket. And that’s wrong. Compassion and empathy are “must haves” for lawyers.

Protect the Evidence

While there is a real need to deal with the victims and their families in a sensitive and compassionate way, good truck accident and injury lawyers also need to pursue aggressively the truck driver and other parties who are liable for the wrongful harm, injury and damage they caused. Failing to work to quickly and thoroughly investigate the crash and secure the evidence would be a disservice to the victims. At Whiting Law Group, that’s why we have an on-call Emergency Response Truck Accident Investigation Team. This investigation team gets to work as soon as our firm is retained. The victim’s family can try to cope with the realities of their situation, while our lawyers, accident investigators and trucking experts handle their case.

A Thought for the Families

As a truck accident litigator, I make a consistent effort to never lose sight of the human side of my clients. They are real people, with real lives and real families. They have suffered truly devastating losses. It is my job to protect their rights in a compassionate and caring way, that gives them the space to adapt to and cope with their loss.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Lindsey Williams, the young mother killed last week.

Categories: Handling Trucking Accidents, Truck Accident Lawyers, Truck Crash News
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As a successful trial and truck accident attorney, I am often asked why I became an accident and injury lawyer and why I focus my practice on representing victims of trucking accidents. Over more than a decade of running my own practice, I have pondered the answers to these very questions in light of my dedication and fierce commitment to helping victims of the negligence of others.

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I cannot answer one question without answering the other. So, I’ll begin with the first question, which inevitably intertwines and will lead me into answering the second.

Why did I become an accident and injury lawyer?

I grew up in southeast Wisconsin, in a small, blue-collar town. My family is blue-collar. I am proud of that. I learned a lot about hard work and perseverance from my mother and father.

When I was lucky enough to head off to college – something neither of my parents had the opportunity to do – I knew that I had to make something of myself, to contribute to society in some positive way, to give back for the opportunity that I have been given. How to achieve that goal was not readily apparent to me. I spent a lot of time over many years considering that goal.

When I graduated law school, I joined a highly respected firm of defense attorneys, Hinshaw & Culbertson. Over the course of a couple of years, I worked to defend those who were sued for negligence and causing harm to victims of automobile and trucking accidents and through medical malpractice. While that experience certainly taught me about accident and injury law, I found that my heart was not in the defense side of litigation.

I grew up in a small town. I grew up as a blue-collar guy. I was a “little guy.” Slowly the path to achieving my goal became clearer to me: I needed to fight for the other “little guys” in the world. I had to fight for justice for those people who had been wronged or harmed by the negligence of others. I needed to make sure that those “little guys” without recourse to big law firms and expensive expert consultants were able to fight for and protect their own rights. It was with that goal in mind that I started my own personal injury and accident law firm, Whiting Law Group.

In the early days and years of the firm, I had more heart and energy than experience and knowledge. Over time, I gained the experience and knowledge I needed to deliver top-quality legal service to my clients – all without losing that passion and focus that drove me to fight for “little guys” in the first place.

Why did I become a truck accident lawyer?

Through more than a decade of fighting for the “little guy”, I have witnessed a lot of tragedy. I know how it can ruin lives and leave a lifetime of pain and suffering for victims and their families. Yet, I have also seen the power of the human spirit, and have experienced its incredible strength and determination. I have been humbled by the strength of character that many of my clients have shown during the course of our fight for justice.

Over the years, one area that has continued to astound, frustrate and anger me has been trucking accidents. Time and time again, truck drivers and commercial trucking companies show a blatant disregard for the safety of others on the road. An alarming number of the big tractor-trailers on the road are operating in violation of the federal safety guidelines – violating rules that should keep them off the road. Still further, many truck drivers ignore speed and other safety regulations that would help ensure the safe operation of their rigs. All too commonly, these trucking companies and truck drivers put their own interests and profits in front of our safety, in front of the safety of the “little guy” who share the roadways with them.

As a truck accident lawyer, I have committed myself to reduce the number of deadly and serious truck accidents on our roadways. I work with clients to pursue justice and compensation for wrongs done to them – to hold accountable truck drivers and trucking companies who have broken the law. Through my involvement with organizations like Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America and the Transportation Group of the American Association for Justice, I work with other leading legal experts to make the road a safer place through developing litigation strategies and legislation.

My firm has also assembled an emergency truck accident investigation team that can investigate a truck accident within hours of the collision. This quick response time is crucial in holding these careless truck drivers and truck companies responsible for the harm that they have caused our clients and their families.

For me, being an accident and injury trial lawyer, and concentrating on representing victims of trucking accidents, is about working for justice and truth to protect victims of these terrible accidents. Taking on that fight on a daily basis on behalf of the “little guy” is my life’s work and how I level the playing field for the “little guy.”

Categories: Handling Trucking Accidents, Recommended, Truck Accident LawyersTags: Truck Accident Attorney, Truck Accident Lawyer
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When reconstructing truck accidents, aerial photography can prove to be a highly persuasive measure to convince jurors of the plaintiff’s case in truck accident litigation. Aerial photographs provide very clear perspective on how a truck accident happened by showing an easily understood view of the crash scene. Moreover, aerial pictures can be prove pivotal in assisting experts in developing their opinions about the missteps of the truck driver and his truck that led to the tragic harm caused to the victims.

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What is Aerial Photography?

An aerial photo is, rather simply, a photo taken from the air, typically in a helicopter hovering above a crash scene. The photo is shot is taken directly over a key area, with a specialized camera. The aerial photo provides a birds-eye view of a truck crash. Aerial photos are sometimes referred to as vertical photos.

How Does Accident Mapping Work?

With aerial photographs, accident reconstruction experts can map an accident by overlaying the vertical (aerial) photos with the horizontal photos taken of the scene of the crash before the scene was cleaned up. This mapping enables the experts to digitize the scene layout for use in animation. This animation can be extremely impressive and demonstrative to any prospective jurors in a truck accident case.

Aerial Photography to Document Truck Crash Scenes

In most instances, by the time your investigators arrive at a truck crash scene, that scene has been altered. Oftentimes, the evidence has be removed or lost, making the recreation of that crash sequence much more difficult. The use of aerial photography allows truck accident lawyers and their experts to recreate the entire scene, documenting the roads and the surrounding environment.

In most, if not all, fatal truck accidents, police officers with specialized are able to document very accurately the speed, location, and direction of travel of the vehicles at the time of the collision. These police officers look to the measurements of the skid marks and gouge marks to indicate the point of and the resting point of the vehicles after the truck crash. Based on this key evidence, aerial photographs can show — in a highly visual and comprehensible way — a host of key facts: the area of direction of travel of the truck, the direction of travel of the victim’s vehicle, the points of braking, the point of impact and point of rest of both vehicles.

When these crucial elements are clearly plotted on an aerial photograph, truck accident attorneys can easily walk jurors through the facts that clearly delineate the causes leading to the truck crash.

In summary, aerial photography provides a highly accurate basis for evidence recreation and documentation, scene analysis and reconstruction. Arial photographs make excellent demonstrative evidence for courtroom displays to show to the jury how the collision occurred and the truck driver’s fault in causing it.

Of course, I have used aerial photography in a number of my firm’s truck accident cases. If you’re an attorney with a truck case, I’d be more than willing to discuss how I used aerial photography successfully and how you might use it in your own case.

Categories: Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer, Truck Accident Investigation, Truck Accident Lawyers
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Within the wider scope of personal injury law, the investigation and litigation of truck accidents presents a host of complex issues and challenges. While even the most seasoned truck accident lawyer can struggle with truck accident cases, the inner workings of pursuing justice for those wrongly injured or killed in such crashes often prove beyond the skills of general practitioners.

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While there are not ready statistics to put a exact number on it, there are plenty of examples where bringing on a leading truck accident lawyer in a truck crash case can add significant value to your and your client’s case.

After almost 20 years of working as a personal injury lawyer, I have come to appreciate the value that an attorney who focuses on a particular area of litigation can bring to the legal arena. With respect to truck crash litigation, a skilled and experienced truck accident attorney should can the following resources:

  1. Experience with trucks and truck issues
  2. Thorough understanding of the various theories of liability, including the potential parties in the chain with responsibility for the truck accident
  3. In-depth knowledge of the complexity of truck safety rules, laws and guidelines that govern the trucking industry
  4. An existing team of trucking experts and investigators

Trucks Are Complicated Machines

Weighing upwards of 65,000 to 80,000 lbs., the massive tractor-trailers that rumble down our highways are complex machines, often with advanced onboard computer systems. While invaluable to the transport of goods and products, they present significant safety concerns in a variety of ways including design, manufacturing and the maintenance process.

A truck accident trial lawyer will have a solid knowledge and understanding of these machines, what their design shortcomings might be, how the manufacturing process should proceed and what recommended maintenance schedules should be. This familiarity with the trucks as machines is a “must have” when considering responsibility and fault in heavy truck accident litigation.

An Ocean of Trucking Laws and Guidelines

The Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the National Transportation Board and countless other federal, state and local governmental bodies issues laws, rules and guidelines covering the proper and safe operation and maintenance of trucks. These rules are regularly updated and refreshed in light of not only new technology, but also, sadly as a result of tragic crashes and incidents.

Any truck accident lawyer worth their salt will know these guidelines backwards and forwards. They will keep themselves abreast of the changes and will possess keen insight into what those changes will mean for truck drivers, trucking companies, truck maintenance providers and even for others on the road.

An experienced truck accident attorney can use this knowledge prove the truck drivers and truck company’s training in and knowledge of these rules. Experience truck accident attorneys can prove that a truck driver or trucking company “chose” to ignore these important rules, focusing on profit over public safety. These selfish and illegal “choices” can add significant value to any trucking crash case – and can even result in punitive damages.

On Call Truck Accident Investigators and Experts

As with any vehicle accident case, the quality of a case often hinges on the quality of the investigation. For truck accident cases, this is especially true. Getting experienced and skilled investigators on scene, collecting data and documenting evidence is of paramount importance to a successful case.

Once the evidence is collected, it needs to be reviewed and studied by trucking experts and accident reconstruction specialists. These experts and specialists provide key analysis into the causes of a truck crash, what happened during a crash and how a crash could have been avoided.

The assembly and maintenance of an emergency response truck accident investigation team takes years of handling serious trucking accidents and considerable resources – resources that a successful truck accident attorney can bring to a case.

A Firm of Truck Accident Lawyers

I take great pride in the success that my firm, Whiting Law Group, has delivered over the years. We’ve secured more than $100 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients in states across the US. We have delivered record-setting settlements for clients in very difficult cases. I invite you to contact me directly to discuss how Whiting Law Group might can value to your next truck crash case.

Categories: Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer, Truck Accident Lawyers, Trucking Crash Litigation, Trucking Rules and Regulations
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At 53 feet long and weighing as much as 80,000 pounds, the sheer size and weight of semi-tractor trailers pose inherent risks to the other vehicles on the road. For that reason, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has spent more than 20 years developing trucking regulations to promote the safe transportation of goods. These important rules require higher safety standards for trucking companies and driver because of the size and weight of those big rigs. It makes sense that such a massive vehicle would be closely regulated and monitored given the potential for tragedy resulting from the unsafe operation or handling of a truck, its maintenance or its load.

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Commercial truck drivers are trained on the FMCSA regulations. They are required to pass tests and certifications before being legally allowed to drive the big rigs. Trucking companies have a lengthy list of training, inspection and maintenance requirements in order to send their rigs onto the public roadways. Given the responsibility truck drivers and trucking companies have for the safe movement of those big trucks, it’s very important that there are strict guidelines in place to dictate the safe operation and maintenance of commercial trucks. Higher safety standards for trucking companies and truck drivers is very much in the interest of public safety.

Increasing Safety through Education and Legislation

As trucking lawyers, we have a number of avenues to push for higher safety standards for trucking companies and drivers. We join and support groups and organizations that promote trucking safety in a range of areas. At Whiting Law Group, we are proud to be active members of both the American Association for Justice’s Interstate Trucking Group and the Association of Plaintiff Interstate Trucking Lawyers of America (APITLA). Both organizations are committed to reducing the risk and dangers of the trucking industry through the dedicated pursuit of safety education and legislation.

While there are a number of legislative and national causes we’re working to support, there are two I want to flag up here:

  • We consistently call for the dedication of more federal funding for enforcement agents to inspect the trucks while on the roadway.
  • We are demanding an increase in insurance minimums for trucks that operate on public roadways; the current insurance levels have not been updated in over 30 years and often leave victims without adequate coverage of their medical bills and fair compensation for their loss.

The Power and Value of Litigation

There is another tool available to demand higher safety standards for trucking companies and lawyers: litigation. As lawyers, we work to hold negligent truck drivers and trucking companies accountable for their failure to follow the federal safety regulations. Making wrong-doers pay for their carelessness or selfish actions not only brings severe consequences for the immediate wrong-doers, but it also sends a message to the wider industry that such gross violations of the safety regulations will prove costly.

Yet, litigation is about much more than just obtaining financial compensation. In fact, final compensation is a poor replacement indeed for the loss of one’s father, mother, husband, wife or children. The primary aim of litigation against negligent wrong-doers is the pursuit of justice for the victims and their families. Holding the defendants to account, in a court of law, is a matter of great significance to victims and their families.

As a member of the National Advisory Board of APITLA, I have joined forces with other trucking lawyers to share resources, expertise and trucking experts to help victims obtain full justice against the truck company and driver who chose to ignore safety regulations – a choice which caused significant harm to the victims and their families.

A Personal Commitment to Higher Safety Standards for Trucking Companies

I have been representing victims of truck crashes for over 10 years now. I have seen too many families torn apart by death or permanent injury to sit back and allow these truck companies and drivers to choose to ignore safety regulations designed to prevent collisions for profit motivated reasons and lack of enforcement resources.

I have had enough and have committed myself to be the best trucking lawyer in the country so that truck companies and drivers either know they will be severely punished if they see me on the other side of a case or because of our expertise in holding them accountable when their choices to ignore these regulations leads to a tragic truck crash.

I have committed my practice to defend victims of trucking crashes and holding trucks accountable when they cause harm to others when it could have been avoided by a simple choice to follow the safety minded regulations designed to prevent such crashes.

Categories: Chicago Truck Accident Lawyer, Trucking Crash Litigation, Trucking Rules and RegulationsTags: American Association for Justice, APITLA, Truck Accident Lawyer, Truck Safety Legislation
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The“whiplash” injury is a frequently used non-medical term for what is the most common neck injury suffered in an automobile, car, motorcycle, or bicycle accident. Insurance industry lies, as well as false and deceitful advertising and information published by automobile insurance companies have made this type of personal injury to be one often perceived by the public as exaggerated, or even faked. Insurance companies try to prevent people who suffer this pain from putting in a claim by demeaning the injury and the person feeling it. They use false medical studies and information, and even use “paid for experts”, to diminish and deny payments they owe people.

Insurance companies have well-developed schemes to deceive and cheat car accident victims. Do not be fooled by the apparently kind and trustworthy injury adjuster! They are trained to “con” the injured accident victim into trusting them and after the insurance company has gained the trust of the injured person, they then reduce or deny payment!

They use many different types of pretexts to deny payment to an injured person. They may claim to have hired a so-called biomechanical engineer who determines they were not hurt. For a few hundred dollars, these fake scientists will send out a false “canned” report, dismissing the injury as not having occurred. Insurance companies even hire doctors and pay them thousands of dollars to write reports stating a person is not injured. Some of these reports are made by doctors who have never even examined the person! A competent car accident lawyer can and will spot these tricks, and warn his or her client, and take steps to stop the insurance company’s schemes.

Getting proper medical care and regaining your health should be the most important concern if you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident. Do not let insurance company schemes alter or stop you from getting proper medical care.

An injured person should never feel embarrassed or afraid to tell their doctor and to seek immediate treatment for a “whiplash” injury. These injuries can be very devastating, and if untreated, can become permanent. The insurance industry has spent millions of dollars over the years in spreading false information to convince the public that these types of injuries are not real, not because such injuries are in fact faked, but because they want to pocket the money they owe injured people. The automobile insurance companies reap undeserved windfall profits by not having to pay injured auto accident victims who have suffered these sometimes devastating whiplash injuries. Anyone who has suffered a neck strain or sprain injury, i.e., whiplash, knows that not only are such injuries very real, but they have a tremendously harmful impact on a person’s ability to perform their every day life activities.

Even a short delay in seeking legal advice can cause a “whiplash” injured person to fall prey to the sophisticated tactics of the insurance company. Waiting to seek legal advice can mean the insurance company will have already gained the upper hand by the time an attorney recognizes and informs you of the tactics being used against you.

A personal injury lawyer should always be willing to give a free consultation so delay in seeking legal advice makes no sense.

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Have you (or your loved one) suffered a brain injury?

In the field of personal injury law, the proof and recovery of damages for a brain injury many consider to be the most difficult case of all. This is due to a variety of reasons, sometimes from the failure of the emergency room doctor to initially recognize the injury, or even for the failure of the subsequent treating physician to fully appreciate the nature and extent of the injury. To compound this problem insurance companies have become very sophisticated in the tactics that they utilize to minimize the actual impact of a brain injury on a person through the use of paid company doctors who are often experts at confusing not only the onset of the symptoms, but the actual nature and extent of the symptoms.

Brain injuries can often be very subtle and even though they may be termed “mild”, recent medical developments have shown that there really is no such thing as a “mild” brain injury. Even so-called “mild” brain injuries, such as concussions, can have prolonged and devastating effects on a person’s life, it can change their personality, their family life, their ability to work, or even perform their jobs.

Often times individuals with brain injuries are not able to remember many of the events of the accident or the onset of symptoms, they frequently even deny the existence of problems, and family members are left to wonder what has happened to their loved one. They may become angry or frustrated, lethargic, clumsy, headaches (even mild ones), sensitive to light, nauseous (even vomiting), and often times do not have any specific complaint, but only recognize a general feeling of illness, not feeling well, and/or that something is wrong. Some or all of these things are common results of what has previously been called a “mild” brain injury.

Many times, an emergency room physician or a primary care physician will only do what is called a “gross neurological exam”. While this exam may be sufficient to disclose and deal with the emergency situation (moderate, severe, or acute bleeding into the cranial cavity), such exams are not designed to diagnose and find more subtle and less obvious neurological injuries or deficits. A more detailed or so-called “fine neurological examination” needs to be done by a qualified physician in neurology to discover these more subtle neurological problems. While the gross neurological exam will often diagnose the immediate life threatening neurological problem, the more subtle, life-altering fine neurological deficits will often not be apparent with just a gross neurological examination, and medical science is learning more with its modern studies that these previously undocumented, missed, and/or ignored fine neurological deficits can have tremendously adverse consequences on a person’s quality of life. The more time that passes between the injury causing accident and the actual assessment of these injuries, the more difficult it is to prove their relationship to the motor vehicle accident, and the easier it is for the responsible insurance company to avoid paying what it owes.

Of course, a so-called “moderate” or “severe” brain injury is more obvious. If you or your loved one you have been told by a physician that you have a “moderate” or “severe” brain injury you need to take immediate action. Such injuries are devastating by their very nature, and delay in treating any brain injury, even a so-called “mild” brain injury, can result in symptoms that were otherwise treatable becoming permanent. Insurance companies love any delay in an injured victim seeking treatment, since it allows them a multitude of nefarious tactics that become available to them to employ. In a situation of a brain injury where it may become less treatable with the passage of time, it would be particularly despicable for an insurance company to cause or encourage delay, but unfortunately the legal advantage they gain by the delay can outweigh the common human decency that should prevail.

The early diagnosis, treatment, and assessment of a brain injury is crucial to the successful prosecution of the case and the recovery of fair compensation and the damages that are owed to the injured victim. If you have suffered any sort of head injury or trauma in a motor vehicle accident, you, or your loved one, needs to be seen by trained neurologists and specialists in the field of traumatic head injuries. Furthermore, you should not delay consulting with an attorney who has substantial experience in handling brain injury cases. While an inexperienced doctor can cause you to have a less successful recovery from a head trauma, it is certainly true that an inexperienced lawyer who does not recognize not only the legal issues and tactics employed to defeat your claim, but is unfamiliar with the medical aspects of the case, can have a very detrimental impact on your successful prosecution of your case. In choosing an attorney to represent you, or your loved one, concerning a brain injury, not only is it important that you retain counsel at the earliest possible moment, but you need to make sure that the lawyer you retain has sufficient expertise and not just personal injury law, but in the actual prosecution of brain injury cases.

The Cooper Law Firm has successfully handled, prosecuted, and recovered millions of dollars for head trauma victims, and upon evaluating your individual case will be able to promptly advise you of the necessary case strategies that need to be under taken.

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Neck injuries are probably the most common type of injury that occurs in a truck, car, automobile, bicycle, or motorcycle accident. Unfortunately, such injuries are often very difficult to treat and can produce very devastating consequences.

Of course, any fracture to the neck has the potential for catastrophic consequences. Depending upon the level of the cervical spine that is broken, any involvement of the spinal cord or nerves at any cervical (neck) level has the potential for death, and paralysis. It is crucial that the best medical advice be utilized by any injured accident victim who has suffered such an injury, since there is very little room for error, and any mistake can literally ruin the person’s life. A competent personal injury or accident attorney will be able to assess whether or not an injured person is receiving the best care, and if you, as an injured person, have to ask your attorney for that assessment, you should have immediate concerns about the attorney’s own competence, or at the very least, commitment to helping the injured client. A personal injury lawyer should always be involved in determining whether or not his or her injured client is receiving proper and personal attention for the injury from the treating doctors and hospitals.

It is also common for health insurance companies to interfere in the treatment of an injured automobile accident victim, and try to save money for itself by limiting the care given by hospitals and treating doctors. Health insurance companies often try to stop or discourage doctors from prescribing needed physical therapy, CT and MRI Scans, and will even deny needed surgery or paliatative treatment, leaving the injured car accident victim to suffer, perhaps permanently.

The neck strain/sprain, commonly referred to as a “whiplash” injury, is the most common neck injury suffered in an automobile, bicycle accident, or bicycle accident. Propaganda and outright false and deceitful advertising and information publicized by the automobile insurance industry has stigmatized and made this type of personal injury to be one often perceived as unreal, exaggerated, or faked by someone suffering from it. This is the injury that the insurance companies most commonly fight and reduce payments owed to injured auto accident victims because insurance companies have well-developed schemes to deceive and cheat car accident victims. Do not be fooled by the apparently kind and trustworthy injury adjuster! They are trained to “con” the injured accident victim into trusting them and after the insurance company has tricked or deceived the injured person, they reduce or deny payment! A competent lawyer can and will spot these tricks, and warn his or her client, and take steps to stop the insurance company’s schemes.

An injured person should never feel embarrassed or afraid to tell their doctor and to seek immediate treatment for a “whiplash” neck injury. These injuries can be very devastating in themselves, and if untreated, can become chronic and life long. The insurance industry has spent millions of dollars over the years in spreading false information to convince the public that these types of injuries are not real, not because such injuries are in fact unreal or faked, but because of the difficulty in diagnosing them, especially with a delay in treatment. The automobile and truck insurance companies then pocket undeserved windfall profits by not having to pay injured car and truck accident victims who have suffered these neck injuries. Anyone who has suffered a neck strain or sprain injury, i.e., whiplash, knows that not only are such injuries very real, but they have a tremendous harmful impact on a person’s ability to perform their every day life activities.

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Many attorneys who handle plaintiffs’ personal injury cases consider a motorcycle accident as just another car accident case. Because they do not recognize or understand the differences between automobile accidents and automobile/motorcycle accidents, they can make serious mistakes in the prosecution and handling of motorcycle injury cases.

It is important for any lawyer handling a motorcycle accident case to be aware of the special rules and regulations which apply to the operation of motorcycles. For example, there are attorneys, and even judges, that are unaware of the legal right of motorcycles to “lane split”. If you are a motorcyclist reading this article, then you will remember the special study you had to do, training you had to receive, and the specialized license that you receive from the Department of Motor Vehicles for the operation of a motorcycle in California. (If you were injured in a motorcycle accident and did not have a motorcycle operator’s license, that does not prevent you from recovering from the party responsible for the accident. You should contact a lawyer immediately, though, to assess and protect your rights.) It is the actual negligence of the parties that the law looks at, not whether you had a driver’s license. Obviously, an attorney who does not understand the unique aspects concerning the operation of a motorcycle is ill prepared to handle a case on behalf of an injured motorcyclist.

Insurance companies are well aware of the differences between an automobile verses automobile accident and an automobile verses motorcycle accident. Unfortunately, there are many biases against motorcyclists. The automobile driving public has stereotyped biases against motorcyclists, and even more unfairly, police officers often entertain the same biases and will improperly assign blame or fault to a motorcyclist and protect the automobile driver.

There are many issues that are very unique to a motorcycle injury case. It is common to erroneously assign a high speed to a motorcyclist simply because an uninformed person or witness may hear the changing of gears, or the engine, and they will assume a high rate of speed when in fact the motorcycle is being operated at normal speeds, and even speeds under the speed limit. There are also issues involving calculations of time, distance, and speed which differ for motorcycles compared to cars. Visibility is a key issue that needs to be assessed.

Insurance companies, being aware of these differences, will often find ways to blame the motorcyclist for an accident when in fact the motorcyclist is blameless. They have many deceptive practices and allegations that they use to deny claims to injured motorcyclists, and unfortunately an inexperienced lawyer will often not recognize these tactics for what they are, and may give poor advice, or miss crucial issues in a motorcycle injury case.

Because of the nature of the collision, it is often true that the only one injured is the motorcyclist. Moreover, because the motorcyclist is being hit by a several thousand pound vehicle the injuries are frequently severe and devastating. Despite what may be suggested to you as a motorcyclist, the fact that you may have been riding a motorcycle, instead of being an occupant in a car, does not mean you deserve your injuries, or that you are entitled to less compensation than what is owed for such injuries. A motorcyclist has every right to operate that motorcycle on the roads in the state of California, and a car driver who negligently operates their motor vehicle and causes injury to that motorcyclist, owes the motorcyclist full compensation for all injuries the motorcyclist suffered as a result of the car driver’s actions. In summary, if you are a motorcyclist who has been injured in a collision, you are not a second class citizen, and you should not let the responsible insurance company treat you like one, nor hire an attorney who considers you as one.

Insurance companies often go to great lengths to try to obtain tape recorded statements from motorcyclists in order to give them some excuse to deny payment of the claim. It is very easy for a motorcyclist to make an innocent mistake in a statement because of the differences in speed and distance capabilities between the vehicles, and under no circumstances should you, as a motorcyclist consent to any recorded statement. In fact, you should not even discuss the facts of the accident with the other side’s insurance company without first having obtained a free consultation from an experienced personal injury attorney who handles motorcycle accident cases.

Our law firm has over 30 years of experience in successfully resolving motorcycle accident injury claims. Call us today to schedule your FREE consultation! Why wait? Delaying the matter could cost you everything!

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Insurance companies employ a variety of tricks and schemes to avoid or reduce payments owed to an injured person. It is impossible to list or fully explain each and every one of their tactics. The intention of the following list, however, is to provide you with some warning when you see the following schemes being implemented in your case.

1. A TELEPHONE CALL WITH THE INSURANCE COMPANY IN WHICH THEY INFORM YOU THAT THE CALL IS BEING MONITORED FOR SO-CALLED “TRAINING OR QUALITY CONTROL PURPOSES”. This is nothing more than a clever way to violate your privacy rights and they are in fact recording your phone call. The law requires that you consent to the recording of the call, however, they get around this requirement by informing you of the “monitoring” and if you do not object, they will claim that you impliedly consented to the recording. Why are they recording your phone call? They alleged reason is to train or maintain “quality control”, but the actual reason is that in these phone calls they will often ask you what appear to be innocent questions, but in fact are designed to trap you into making a mistake which they can exploit in defending your claim. When they ask you to describe the accident, it is not to educate them concerning the facts of the case. They have contact with their insured, and if there has been a police report, they have the report to review. What information are you going to add to make them pay a claim that they would other wise deny? If their insured has admitted fault to them, the only reason that they would want a statement from you is to see if you say something inadvertently that can allow them to evade payment. If their insured has not admitted responsibility, it is rather naive to expect that your different version is going to encourage the insurance company to pay a claim which their insured has conveniently given them an excuse to deny. In summary, there is no advantage to you whatsoever to give any recorded statements to any insurance company, unless you are represented by counsel at the time of the recording. It should also be pointed out that having recorded your statement, they will almost always refuse to provide you with a copy of the statement. They will certainly refuse to provide you with a copy of their insured’s statement. Since you do not have access to the statement, you should also consider the possibility that your statement, since it is completely within the control of the company that owes you payment, can be altered and/or edited, or perhaps conveniently “lost”, in the event that it is to their advantage. Never give a recorded statement when you do not have simultaneous access to the recording to guarantee that it is not altered or edited to your disadvantage.

2. THE INSURANCE COMPANY SPECIFICALLY ASKS YOU TO DESCRIBE THE ACCIDENT AND GIVE THEM A TAPE RECORDED STATEMENT. Item number one is where they are surreptitiously recording you and most people do not recognize that such is taking place. This is a different situation, i.e., the insurance company is specifically informing you that they “need” to take a recorded statement. They like to use the word “need” or sometimes tell you that a statement is “required”. This is absolutely untrue. You are under no obligation nor legally required to provide a recorded statement to an insurance company. Most significantly, though, the fact that they are formally requesting a statement from you is the clearest possible indication to you that they are looking for a way to get out of paying your claim. There is really nothing you can say that’s going to make an insurance company change its mind and go against its insureds, or its belief that it can get out of paying your claim. The request for the statement is actually part of the implementation of a plan or decision to not pay your claim. It is a clear warning sign that you are looking at future problems to obtain the fair payment of your claim from the insurance company. Giving the statement can hurt your case and the chances of it providing any help are almost non-existent.

3. THE POLICE REFUSED TO RESPOND TO THE ACCIDENT AND WOULD NOT MAKE A POLICE REPORT. If you have been in an accident and the police refuse to come out and prepare a report, you are at substantial risk of having the insurance company for the party that caused the accident delay the processing of your claim and eventually deny payment. Without a properly prepared police report, insurance companies will often work with their insureds to create a situation of it being your word against the word of their insured. Even if the other party apologized and admitted fault for the accident, with no police report an insurance company will often work with their insured to later deny such statements, and then contend that you, or someone other than their insured, is responsible for the accident, thereby evading the payment to you which is due. This is sadly a very common occurrence, and in this office alone we will review in a years time literally dozens of cases in which this takes place. IF THE POLICE DID NOT MAKE A REPORT FOR YOUR ACCIDENT IT IS IMPERATIVE THAT YOU SEEK LEGAL COUNSEL IMMEDIATELY AND DO NOT DELAY OR WAIT FOR THE OTHER INSURANCE CARRIER TO ACT!

4. THE INSURANCE COMPANY ASKED YOU TO DISCLOSE YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE NOT A MEDICARE BENEFICIARY. Many insurance companies are openly lying to people and telling them that because of a recent change in the Medicare law they are required to obtain Social Security Numbers from all accident victims. This is absolutely untrue! The recent change to the Medicare law only requires you to disclose your Social Security Number in the event that you are, or have been, a Medicare beneficiary. There is a specific form for this disclosure published by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services which specifically states that you are not required to provide your Social Security Number if you are not now, or have never been a Medicare beneficiary. Incredibly, many insurance companies are altering this form to delete this information, and are instead fraudulently obtaining Social Security Numbers to which they are not entitled. You should only disclose your Social Security Number to an insurance company after you have consulted with counsel and made an informed decision concerning such. In this age of identity theft it can be very risky to disclose your Social Security Number, especially to a company that has made no guarantees regarding the safeguarding of that information, nor specified what use they will make of that information.

5. YOU HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT THE INSURANCE COMPANY IS “INVESTIGATING” YOUR CLAIM. This is not really a warning sign, rather, it is a direct statement that they are actively seeking to find ways to not pay you the compensation you are due. If you are verbally told or receive a letter stating that they are still investigating your claim, you should immediately seek the advice of counsel.

6. AS PART OF THE PROCESSING OF YOUR PROPERTY DAMAGE CLAIM THE INSURANCE COMPANY IS WORKING WITH THE BODY SHOP TO USE REPLACEMENT PARTS WHICH ARE NOT MANUFACTURED BY YOUR SPECIFIC CAR MANUFACTURER, AND INSTEAD, THEY ARE USING SO-CALLED “AFTER MARKET” PARTS. The use of such parts on your automobile will not be warrantied by the automobile manufacturer and they often do not meet manufacturer specifications. Accordingly, the part can fail at some time in the future, and you will have little or no practical recourse against the insurance company or the body shop, and frequently the after market manufacturer’s warranty is of such a short duration that it is practically meaningless. If you are dealing with an insurance company that cuts corners by using such parts, it is an obvious warning that they will do everything they can to minimize your bodily injury claim, as well.

7. IF YOUR CAR WAS A TOTAL LOSS AND INSTEAD OF USING THE KELLY BLUE BOOK TO DETERMINE VALUE, THE INSURANCE COMPANY USED A SO-CALLED “INDEPENDENT” APPRAISAL COMPANY TO DETERMINE THE VALUE OF YOUR CAR. THIS IS A CLEAR INDICATION THAT YOU ARE DEALING WITH AN INSURANCE COMPANY THAT IS WILLING TO ENGAGE IN QUESTIONABLE PRACTICES. These so-called “independent” appraisal companies are not as independent as they may appear. First of all, these “independent” appraisal companies only provide services to insurance companies. The services that they provide involve telling the insurance company how much money they owe you for your car. Their motivation is obviously to provide their client, the insurance company, the lowest possible valuation on your vehicle so as to give the insurance company the excuse to under pay you for your vehicle. If the appraisal on you car was done, or is going to be done, by one of these so-called “independent” appraisal companies, you should regard this as a clear indication that they will use similar tricks to deny or minimize the payment they owe you for your injuries. An experienced lawyer can often look at these appraisals and show you some of the short cuts and tricks that were used to undervalue your vehicle, and most personal injury lawyers will perform this service for you free of charge when you are consulting them on your injury case.

8. IS THE INSURANCE COMPANY GOING TO USE A COMPUTER TO CALCULATE THE AMOUNT THEY OWE YOU FOR YOUR INJURIES? If the answer to this question is yes, it is a very clear indication that the insurance company is looking to minimize the payment of your claim. If you ask the insurance company if a computer is being used to value your claim, they may well lie and tell you “no”, or they may provide an evasive answer. In order to pin down the insurance company you need to get a clear, unequivocal statement from them, in writing, that a computer is not being used in any fashion to calculate any portion of what is owed, even in an advisory capacity. Some insurance companies, in order to avoid potential legal problems, will state that they only use a computer as part of an advisory process, or as some sort of a tool, as part of an over all evaluation. This is a complete evasion of the truth, and you should not deal with any insurance company once you have any suspicion that instead of a complete evaluation of your individual situation, they will be submitting it in any fashion to a computer. The obvious problem with having a computer being used in the valuation of your claim is that the insurance company then has complete control over the payment. They can program their computer to produce any valuation or advice that the corporate higherarchy wants, thereby controlling the payment that is offered on your claim, even though the individuals controlling such payment have never specifically reviewed or considered your information. This is a despicable practice, yet it is very common, and any use of the computer in your claims process by the insurance company other than to store information is a clear warning sign that you have an insurance company that is willing to engage in a very nefarious practice and should not be trusted.

9. YOU HAVE BEEN ASKED TO SIGN FORMS AUTHORIZING THE INSURANCE COMPANY TO OBTAIN YOUR PRIVATE MEDICAL RECORDS, EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION, OR OTHER PRIVATE RECORDS. Insurance companies often offer to obtain this information, or they claim to have a “need” for it. Such a request should be viewed by you at all times with suspicion. First of all, you should in detail read exactly what you are authorizing them to obtain from your personal, private records. Often the so-called simple authorization and information requests by the insurance company are in fact carefully crafted, lengthy documents designed by the insurance company’s corporate lawyers to delve into areas of your life in which they have no business, but which they might later hope to utilize against you. Even if they tell you verbally what they are going to use the documents for, it is the documents themselves which control their usage, and there is no guarantee that they will not use the documents in any fashion that they think may help their cause. It is very important to know what time period you are authorizing them to utilize these documents, and are they able to use the documents to obtain information from your past to which they are not entitled, and/or how far into the future are they allowed to use the documents. In summary, if the insurance company sends you documents authorizing them to obtain information you should be very careful and suspicious, and understand that signing those documents and returning them to the insurance company may be a serious mistake. Insurance companies are not entitled to invade your privacy, unless you give them permission. These documents are designed by the insurance company’s lawyers to let them invade your privacy, all under the guise that you have given them permission to do so. It is very dangerous to sign these pre-printed authorizations from the insurance company without being certain that you understand what they mean, what their effect is, and what is the scope and duration of their usage. Any reputable personal injury attorney will examine these documents and give you advice concerning their usage as part of an initial consultation with you concerning your claim. There should be no charge for this consultation.

10. HAS THE INSURANCE COMPANY REFUSED TO ISSUE AN ADVANCE PAYMENT FOR YOUR MEDICAL BILLS AND/OR LOST WAGES? If the insurance company refuses to issue an immediate check to pay for a medical bill that you have already incurred, or lost wages that you have already suffered, this is a very clear sign that they intend to look for ways to avoid paying your claim. If you offer to give them the medical billing, but they refuse to send you a check to pay for that billing, what this can suggest is that they are in the process of preparing to fight the payment of that bill, and potentially other bills. Additionally, if you have lost time from work and they will not give you prompt payment for those lost wages, you should certainly interpret this to mean that you are going to have your wage loss questioned in the future. If there is going to be a problem concerning payment for your bills, it is important that you seek legal counsel immediately because there are certain tricks that insurance companies use to avoid paying medical bills and lost wages and an experienced attorney can often stop these tactics before the insurance company has a chance to implement them. It is important to note that some insurance companies will tell you that they are “not allowed” to pay for medical bills or lost wages in advance. They may provide you with some suggestion that the law does not permit it. Others may tell you that it is against policy (meaning the insurance company’s own internal policy), or that they “need” or “require” something before payment can be issued. The idea that they “need” or “require” something other than the medical billing or wage loss verification before issuing payment, to the extent that it suggests that there is such a legal requirement is absolutely false. There is no law that prohibits an insurance company from immediately paying your medical bill and/or compensating you for your lost wages. If the insurance company has a “policy” where it will not issue such payment, or you get the run around that they “need” or “require” some additional information or documentation, this is nothing more than an excuse to delay, and perhaps eventually deny payment to you. They do not “need” or “require” anything once you have shown them your medical bill or paystub or similar document showing your lost wages. What they really mean by “need” or “require” is that they “want” something else, and this want is part of an ongoing strategy of delaying payment so that they may retain the money as long as possible, drawing interest and income off of it at your expense. If the insurance company refuses to issue any advance payment to you, it is an immediate warning sign that you need to consult with an attorney, and depending upon what is determined in your consultation with that attorney, you may need to immediately retain a lawyer.

11. HAS THE INSURANCE COMPANY REFUSED TO IMMEDIATELY APPROVE MEDICAL TREATMENT FOR YOU, AND CONTACT YOUR TREATING DOCTOR TO SET UP A DIRECT BILLING AND PAYMENT SYSTEM TO THE DOCTOR? If the insurance company will not contact your doctor and set up an agreement whereby the doctor may bill them directly, and have your doctor receive immediate payment upon such billing during the course of your treatment, this is yet another warning sign that the insurance company is looking for a way to delay, deny, or minimize the compensation due you. There is no law that prevents an insurance company from setting up a direct billing and payment with an injured victim’s hospital and/or doctors. If they tell you that they cannot do that, or it is against the rules to do that, or it is against their policy to do that, they are not accurately stating to you any law. The law prevents no such thing. They are really just telling you what their company rule is, which should inform you that such a company is in the business of avoiding payment of claims to injured victims to whom it knows it owes payment. This is another warning sign that you should at least consult with an attorney concerning your particular situation, and then you can decide whether or not to retain a lawyer at that time.

12.  BE VERY CAREFUL IF YOU CHOOSE TO GET A RENTAL CAR! There are a number of ways and schemes that insurance companies use to avoid paying all or part of your rental car charges. Furthermore, many insurance companies enter into agreements with rental car companies which are designed to allow the insurance company to avoid payment of everything that is owed to you, yet the rental car company will still look to you and obtain payment from you for the rental car. There are also issues concerning what insurance coverage you may need to have if you rent a vehicle. All of these problems still exist, even if the insurance company is supposedly on a direct billing from the rental car company! Even in cases where the rental car company is directly billing the insurance company, there are situations in which you may be forced into paying the rental car bill. Every case has to be individually analyzed and it is impossible in this forum to provide the individualized advice that you need to know concerning renting a car following a motor vehicle accident. Our law firm, and most law firms, will provide a free legal analysis of your rental car situation at the time of your free consultation concerning your bodily injury claim. Often times, even if you are already in the midst of driving a rental car the situation can be fixed by the attorney, and the insurance company’s schemes stopped if it is handled promptly and before fully implemented. The rental car companies get a lot of business referred to them by insurance companies so they are very willing to work with the insurance companies to the disadvantage of you, their one time customer. The watch word is to be very careful in dealing with both the insurance company and the rental car company.

ADDITIONAL WARNING SIGNS. The foregoing list of warning signs that an insurance company is potentially in the midst of a scheme to deny payment to you for what you are owed is not a complete list. It is impossible to list all of the many tactics and schemes that insurance companies have learned and implemented over the years in the training of their adjusters. You may well be subjected to a scheme that is not described in the foregoing list. If you have already been cheated we would appreciate knowing your story, and if it is a scheme that we have not seen over the years you can help other consumers by telling us about it, and letting it be added to the list. If the insurance company is in the midst of a scheme with you presently, it is possible that simply consulting with an attorney will raise an alert to the attorney about the problem and sometimes the attorney can fix the problem or stop the scheme. Again, any reputable attorney will provide you with a free consultation for your bodily injury claim and as part of that consultation should be more than willing to discuss with you any other issues that are part of your injury claim.

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Choosing the right personal injury attorney may be the most important decision an injured person makes in the presentation of a bodily injury claim following an automobile accident, or any other personal or bodily injury claim, such as motorcycle, pedestrian, truck or bike accidents.

Unfortunately, there are very little legal rules in place to guarantee that a lawyer holding themselves out as an expert in personal injury litigation is in fact qualified in the field. California does not have a specialization requirement for personal injury attorneys, and sadly, the law permits any licensed attorney to accept and handle cases for personal injuries, no matter how complex or involved!

This is true even if they have never handled, or only occasionally have handled, an accident injury case previously.

Incredibly, it is also true even if the attorney has had a historic lack of success in settling or winning at trial liability injury lawsuits! The success of the lawyer in handling prior cases is not monitored at all, and even an attorney who has poorly handled or unsuccessfully handled prior personal injury cases is still able to hold themselves out as qualified or an expert in the personal injury field. There are huge differences in the knowledge needed to handle different types of accidents. An accident involving two or more automobiles, compared to an accident involving a truck, bicycle, or a pedestrian involve very different types of investigation and legal analysis! Proving liability or responsibility for accidents involving big rig trucks is quite different than proving liability in a more common car or motor vehicle accident. A pedestrian case creates different and significant issues.

There are several questions that you should ask of the attorney you are considering hiring to handle your personal injury case. Some of these questions are as follows:

1. How many personal injury cases has the attorney actually handled?

2. How many personal injury cases has the lawyer actually taken to trial? How many of these cases did the attorney actually win?

3. How does the attorney evaluate the case for the purposes of arriving at a dollar value?

4. Is the attorney familiar with what the insurance company on the other side does in terms of handling a bodily injury claim? Insurance companies have some very unique characteristics in how they handle claims, and an experienced injury lawyer will be able to predict some of the tactics and schemes that the insurance company will use against the injured client. This knowledge on the part of the attorney should always be true for the major insurance companies and almost always true for even the smaller, substandard insurance companies if the attorney is really experienced and an expert in the field. The level of knowledge the attorney has in this area is a very good indication of how much experience the attorney actually has, since a lawyer with experience in a large number of cases will have developed knowledge about each insurance company’s habits and ways to get out of paying what it owes.

Perhaps the most important admonition for an injured person to be concerned with is the attorney who inflates the value of the case in the first interview, and who assures the client that there is little to be concerned about with the case. This is an all too common practice on the part of attorneys because they think that inflating the value of the case will make the client want to hire them, and then later when there are problems, it is often perceived too late for the client to make a different choice. Insurance companies have a wide range of sophisticated tactics and schemes to minimize or defeat the most valid of cases, and unfortunately, because the judges and courts, as well as the politicians, have been heavily influenced by insurance companies, the laws have changed in the last couple of decades to take away the rights of the injured victim, and give insurance companies many legal advantages, all to the detriment of the injured victim.
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Many clients, and even many lawyers, consider a car accident case as the easiest, most basic, and most clear cut type of case to handle. This is a misperception, and failing to recognize the inherent complexities of an auto case can cost an injured victim dearly. This misperception is created by confusing commonality with difficulty. While it is understandable that an injured victim may misunderstand, it is inexcusable for a licensed attorney to not be aware of the inherent difficulties in proving up an car accident case.

Because of the frequency of car accidents, insurance companies target injured victims on a routine basis because reducing the payment by even small percentages on the most frequently presented claim to an insurance company can result in millions of dollars of savings. An insurance company with one thousand pending car insurance claims has a tremendous incentive on each of those claims to cheat the victim out of even just a few hundred dollars. The resultant profit to the insurance company can run into the millions of dollars, so the motive of the insurance industry to fight these claims and discount the payment is quite obvious. They employ a number of tricks which are inherently dishonest but because of legal protections that the courts and the law makers have given to the insurance industry over the years they are able to frequently get away with these tactics. A few examples follow.

CLAIMING COMPARATIVE FAULT (NEGLIGENCE):

An insurance company who is able to assign a percentage of fault to the injured victim is permitted under the law to reduce the payment to that person by that percentage. In other words, and by way of example, an insurance company who contends that the injured victim is 25% at fault for the accident is going to reduce the payment of medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and damages for pain and suffering by 25% from what they owe. For example, if an injured victim has a $10,000.00 hospital bill, and the insurance company asserts that the injured victim is 25% at fault, the injured victim will be on the hook for $2,500.00 of that hospital bill. The same mathematical calculation applies to any and all damages suffered by the injured victim. The most common tactic used to place blame upon the injured victim is to allege they were speeding, were not paying attention to road conditions, failed to signal and/or had inoperable lights on the car, or perhaps failed to take proper evasive actions. The Cooper Law Firm has personally handled cases involving rear end automobile accidents in which the insurance company claimed an injured victim who was stopped at a red light was negligent for failing to get out of the way of a 55 mile an hour vehicle speeding up and hitting her from behind. They will sometimes hire disreputable physicists or scientists to engage in false physics calculations to give them a reason to deny full payment. Sometimes an injured victim, in an honest mistake, will give wrong estimates concerning times, distances, and speeds involved, which the insurance companies will then jump on to dispute the claim. An injured victim NEVER give a recorded statement to an insurance company without first consulting with counsel since the insurance industry is expert at enticing innocent victims into giving statements which the insurance company can twist or distort into use against the injured victim.

DENYING FULL PAYMENT FOR THE INJURED VICTIMS MEDICAL BILLS:

Many injured people are misled after having received a letter from the insurance company informing them that the insurance company has accepted responsibility for payment of the medical bills incurred by the injured person as a result of the motor vehicle accident. What the insurance company does not tell you, however, is that this is not a guarantee that any and all bills that you incur will be paid by them. They will review every bill to see if they can get out of paying it through a variety of tactics. The most common tactic is to claim that the bill is not “reasonable”. Put another way, the insurance company will contend that the doctor charged too much, and the insurance company will only pay what they deem “reasonable”, and you will be left having to pay the doctor or hospital the balance. Frequently, the insurance company will hire a so called “independent” medical review company who issues a report stating that the doctor’s charges were not reasonable and the insurance company is not responsible for payment. Though the insurance companies claim these medical review are “independent” from them, this is far from an accurate or fair statement. Medical review companies are in the business of issuing reports to insurance companies concerning whether or not the insurance company owes payment for a medical bill, and if so, how much they should pay for the bill. These companies have an inherent motive to issue a report telling the insurance company that the bills are inflated and that the company is only responsible for a much smaller payment. These companies know that they will not get repeat business from the insurance companies if they issue with any frequency reports that tell the insurance company that they owe full payment of the billing. They know that such reports can cause the insurance company to stop using their services, or to transfer to another medical billing review service. In fact, it is this competitiveness between the medical review companies that is even more damaging to the consumer, since each one has a motive to “out bid” the others in terms of pricing at the lowest possible rate bills to be paid by the insurance company. This unfair and dishonest tactic results in millions of dollars of profit to the insurance industry.

DENYING PAYMENT OF YOUR BILL BECAUSE IT WAS NOT “MEDICALLY NECESSARY”:

Another common tactic that insurance companies use to pay bills which an injured victim has incurred is to claim that the treatment rendered by the doctor was not “medically necessary”, or not related to the treatment for the motor vehicle accident. Insurance companies, again, will often obtain reports stating that the injured person did not really need this treatment, and therefore payment of the entire billing will be denied by the insurance company. Simply relying on your doctor’s advice in recommending the treatment will not protect the injured victim, since the insurance companies simply claim that the doctor was giving wrong advice, and they will often back this up with reports from their “medical reviewers”. Like denying payment under an allegation that billing is “unreasonable”, denying payment due to a claim that a service and billing was not “medically necessary”, is a practice that benefits the insurance industry in terms of profits of millions of dollars on an annual basis.

REDUCING YOUR INJURY CLAIM PAYMENT:

It is impossible in this forum to detail all of the nefarious tactics that insurance companies use to deny injured people full and fair compensation for injuries they have received in an auto accident. One glaring example, and perhaps the most despicable, is their use of computer software systems to place a value on a claim. For example, one such software system is called “Collosus”. What the Collosus, and similar software systems do is place a value on your claim by virtue of data which is input into the computer by the adjuster. The evil aspect of such a system is that it is subject to terrible abuse. The insurance company is able to program the system so that it will produce any value that the insurance company wishes to produce. If the insurance company programs the computer to say that having your leg chopped off is worth $5.00, then the computer will only authorize the adjuster to pay $5.00 on such a claim. While this is obviously extreme and absurd, it nevertheless illustrates the problems and abuses inherent in such a system. Unfortunately, the system can be abused on both ends. An adjuster can deliberately, or even negligently, put in wrong information, thereby producing a lower claim payment. Failing or refusing to input all relevant injury data can seriously lower the claim payment.

Insurance companies often claim that they only use these computer programs as a “tool” or a “piece of information” prior to assigning a claim payment. If it were true that these computer programs play a minor part of the evaluation of your claim, why do the insurance companies use them, and more importantly, why do they pay so much for them?

The foregoing discussion is but a brief analysis of the complexities of handling an auto insurance claim. Recognizing the abusive tactics of an insurance company early in a case can sometimes stop it, or at least minimize its impact upon you. Attorneys who practice in the field of personal injury almost always do so on a contingency basis. This means they will not charge you for unless and until there is a recovery. Most importantly, they will not charge you for an initial consultation to discuss your case. In fact, you should never consult with a personal injury attorney who charges you for simply meeting with you to discuss the merits of your case. Since an initial consultation with an attorney does not cost anything, the sooner you speak with an experienced attorney following your motor vehicle accident, the greater your ability to protect yourself from the insurance companies tactics.

THERE ARE MANY HIDDEN PITFALLS IN HANDLING THE AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENT CASE:

Every automobile accident case is unique. Is the injured victim without health insurance? If the injured victim does have health insurance, is it Medicare, Medi Cal, private insurance, or an employer-sponsored health plan? Was there a police report? If the police did not respond, what is the state of the evidence and the ability to prove the case? Are there witnesses to the accident? What was the nature and the extent of the property damage to all of the vehicles involved in the accident? Will a physicist, accident reconstructionist, or biomechanical engineer be needed? Who is the insurance company for the responsible party? What are the tactics that they usually employ to avoid paying claims? All of these things, and many more, need to be analyzed, and at the earliest possible moment. Sometimes, delay can make it impossible to properly fight off an insurance companies denial tactics.

Do not let the insurance company discount your injury! Let The Cooper Personal Injury Law Firm worry about dealing with the insurance company! We have over 30 years of experience in successfully resolving car accident claims. Call us today to schedule your FREE consultation, why wait?

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A common error made by individuals, and even attorneys, is to evaluate a motor vehicle versus bike accident as if it involved a pedestrian. A bicyclist who is riding their bicycle is not a pedestrian; for most purposes the bicyclist is under the same traffic rules and regulations as is the automobile.

The importance of this fact is that the operating behavior of the automobile and bicyclist, needs to be considered on basically an equal footing as if the accident involved two automobiles. While in some cases this will work against the bicyclist (such as if the bicyclist is riding against traffic), it more often than not works to protect the bicyclists because the bicyclist has the right of away to the road in most cases just as if the situation were if the bicyclist were operating a motor vehicle. A bicyclist hit from behind by a motor vehicle is tantamount to a rear end type motor vehicle accident. An automobile passing a bicyclist must obey the law just as if it were passing another car. Similar rules and applications apply in terms of stop signs, yield signs, signal lights, lane right of way, and other roadway controls and conditions.

Automobile drivers have a tendency to usurp the right of way owned by bicyclists and this is the cause of many accidents, including very serious ones involving injuries to the bicyclist because the bicyclist is clearly unprotected, the collision with the motor vehicle often results in devastating injuries.

While insurance companies like to blame bicyclists for collisions, thereby evading the payment that the insurance company owes to the injured bicyclist, they often do so without a reasonable or factual basis, and ignore very clear traffic laws.

A unique aspect to handling a bicycle case is the difference in speed, both actually and in capability, between an automobile and the bicyclist. It is all too easy for an insurance company to use false calculations of speed and distance to try to blame a bicyclist for an accident really caused by their insured automobile driver. There are also significant issues to be assessed concerning visibility and it is not a proper defense by an insurance company to deny a claim payable to an injured bicyclist because of a contention that the driver did not or could not see the bicyclist because the automobile driver was looking for cars and not bicyclists. It is the duty of every car driver to keep a proper look out, and that proper look out, i.e., paying proper attention to the roadway and conditions, means that the driver should operate the vehicle at such a speed and paying such attention so as to be able to observe not only other automobiles, but bicyclists and pedestrians.

Riding a bicycle is not an invitation to a car driver to hit you because you may be harder to observe, rather, the legal operation of a bicycle imposes a duty on a car driver to carefully and properly operate their vehicle in an undistracted, attentive manner, and at a proper speed, while yielding all right of ways to which the bicyclist is entitled. Though many motorists consider bicyclists as “intruders” onto the roadway, this attitude is completely wrong under the law, and is the unfortunate cause of many accidents involving cars and bicyclists, with often very serious injuries as the result.

If you have operated a bicycle and been injured as a result of a collision with a motor vehicle, you should not be apologetic in any fashion for choosing to operate your bicycle. The car that was operated negligently is the one who should be apologizing, not you. The insurance company that suggests to you otherwise, belittles you, or someone suggests or implies that you have less rights to the roadway by virtue of riding your bicycle, is really engaged in a campaign of deceit, and the obvious purpose is to evade payment to the injured bicyclist which is owed by the insurance company.

Insurance companies often go to great lengths to try to obtain tape recorded statements from bicyclists in order to give them some excuse to deny payment of the claim. It is very easy for a bicyclist to make an innocent mistake in a statement because of the differences in speed and distance capabilities between the vehicle and bicycle, and under no circumstances should you consent to any recorded statement. In fact, you should not even discuss the facts of the accident with the other side’s insurance company without first having obtained a free consultation from an experienced personal injury attorney who handles bicycle accident cases.

Our law firm has over 30 years of experience in successfully resolving bicycle accident injury claims in the Stockton area. Call us today to schedule your FREE consultation! Why wait? The initial consultation costs you nothing! Delay can cost you everything!!

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