Sunnyvale Car Accident FAQs

Why Should I Hire An Injury Attorney?

Simply put, the numerous benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney far outweigh any advantages to handling your case alone. Even if you are comfortable dealing with an insurance company on your own, insurance companies often use stall tactics and hardline negotiating when settling cases and only an experienced attorney will be truly prepared to properly respond and ensure maximum monetary compensation. Receiving a settlement offer from an insurance company can be simple enough without representation, but obtaining the maximum settlement allowed by law is often a difficult and arduous process, one where the skill of an experienced lawyer is essential.

In almost all cases, a party injured from a crash has only one shot at attaining compensation for his or her injuries. Going about the process alone without at least first consulting with a personal injury attorney is ill-advised and risks a result where minimal, unfair, or zero compensation is obtained. If your claim is with an insurance company, you should be aware that ultimately, the insurance company has its own interest at heart and those interests are usually in direct conflict with your interests. An insurance company will certainly pay you something for your legitimate claim but, in protecting its own interests and the interests of its client (the wrongdoer), it will do everything possible to pay you the smallest amount allowed. Furthermore, once a settlement has been entered into, the claim can almost never be revisited. If you settle your claim without representation, you may be left with a settlement that not only didn't fairly compensate you for all damages, but one which cannot be reopened. An experienced lawyer at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP will fight for you and ensure all your damages are addressed and that you are properly compensated.

If you have been injured in a car crash, contact our firm today for a free consultation. We work on a contingency fee basis and are thus happy to offer free consultations to those seeking representation for their auto accident case. We take pride in giving honest, straight-forward feedback and if, after examining the details of your case, we determine that retaining an attorney would not be worth your time or money, we will simply inform you that handling your case alone is your best option. However, it is always in your best interest to at least consult with an experienced attorney before committing to a course of action or accepting a settlement agreement. Doing so will give you the peace of mind to know you made an informed and educated decision about how to handle your case.

How Much Is A Car Accident Case Worth?

The value of your case is very much dependent upon the circumstances of your accident and the extent of your injury and damages. An important threshold issue to most car accident cases is negligence. If another party caused the accident through negligent action - conduct which falls below the standard of care expected of a reasonable person - then, generally speaking, that party is liable for the accident. The circumstances of your case, however, have an important bearing on exactly who can be held responsible for your damages. In many cases, liability can be attributed to more than one party. For example, if an individual is involved in a car accident caused by a city worker on the job, then the city department or organization that employs the worker may be held liable for damages on vicarious liability grounds. An experienced attorney will examine the circumstances of your accident and will look for and apply all theories of liability to your case, thereby making sure all negligent and liable parties are held accountable in a court of law.

Another important factor in evaluating a case is the severity of injuries sustained. It is important to keep in mind that even minor injuries are legally compensable by law. A common misconception in auto accident cases is that minor or even moderate injuries should not or cannot be pursued for damages. At Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP, we believe that the negligent or reckless party should bear the cost of injuries they cause, regardless of severity. Your injury, whether large or small, may entitle you to compensation and you should contact our office today to discuss your case. It is true, however, that if the injuries sustained are life-altering or permanent, then the compensation associated with that injury will be substantially more than what can be expected for a minor injury or one that is projected to fully heal.

According to California law, auto accident victims are entitled to compensation for all damages that they suffered due to the recklessness or negligence of another party. The most common types of damages in auto accidents are property damage and bodily injury. A bodily injury claim can include compensation for everything from medical bills and lost wages to pain and suffering. The claims that may be available, however, are numerous and if an injured party's life has been negatively affected, this detriment will form the basis for legal compensation.

There are many different aspects and issues to auto accident cases and no two cases are ever the same. Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP believes in an up-front approach where the strengths and weaknesses of a particular case are explained to our clients and potential clients. We strive to give plaintiffs a clear idea of what kind of evidence must be compiled and the type of work required in order to obtain a favorable settlement or successfully litigate the case.

Following A Car Accident, Who Pays Medical Bills?

There is both a simple and complicated answer to this question. The negligent driver who caused the accident is ultimately responsible for your medical bills but just how bills get paid becomes complicated considering there may be several insurance companies and multiple parties involved.

First, the negligent party has a legal obligation to pay for your medical costs associated with the accident. These medical costs include emergency bills, doctor visits, co-pays, medication, rehabilitation, future bills, and any other costs related to the accident. If there is a dispute as to whether a medical cost is related to or "associated" with the accident, a court of law has the ultimate say. Usually the negligent party's auto or umbrella insurance company - not the party himself - pays for medical bills and other compensatory damages. The matter of payment becomes complicated when an accident victim has his own health insurance covering medical bills in addition to the insurance of the person who caused the accident.

Here is a typical scenario: Party A is at-fault for an auto accident and causes Party B to incur medical bills. Party B has her medical bills paid by her own health insurance company but Party A's insurance is ultimately on the hook for these bills. California law has considered this scenario but the law is changing and unsettled. There are three possibilities as to what California may allow:

  1. It is possible, although very unlikely, that the law would allow Party B's health insurance to disclaim all responsibility for covering medical costs associated with the accident because Party A's insurance company is ultimately responsible. This scenario will almost never apply and there is a widespread misconception that victims of auto accidents should not or cannot use their own health insurance following an accident. The most important aspect to any accident is ensuring the safety and well-being of the involved parties through use of medical treatment. The use of one's own health insurance will almost always result in quick and inexpensive treatment. Following an auto accident, you should always seek the medical attention you need and use of your own health insurance is usually the best option to pay for medical costs. Let a skilled traffic accident attorney sort out the details of who needs to pay for the medical bills so you can focus on your recovery and treatment.
  2. Often times, Party B's health insurance will pay the bills up front. Because Party A is at fault, however, Party A's insurance company is liable for the medical bills. Thus, when a settlement is reached, Party B's medical bills are included in the settlement amount. An insurance company may attempt to reduce the settlement to Party B by the amount of medical bills already paid. By law, insurance companies are not allowed to take this benefit; it would be like rewarding them because the victim was responsible and had her own health insurance. Depending on the situation, the victim may be required to reimburse her health insurance company out of the settlement for bills that have been paid.
  3. The collateral source rule prevents insurance companies from reducing settlements by the amount of medical bills already paid. If Party B had her own health insurance and, through no fault of her own, becomes the victim of a car accident, she should receive the benefit of having two separate insurance companies (her own and Party A's) obligated to cover her medical expenses. The collateral source rule ensures this is the case: Party A's insurance company is responsible for paying the medical bills irrespective of Party B's health insurance. And because Party B's health insurance has already paid the bills directly to the health provider, Party A's insurance must include the amount of medical bills in the settlement directly to Party B (and not to the provider who does not need to be double paid), providing additional compensation for the injured victim. In addition, depending on the circumstances, Party B may not be required to reimburse her health insurance company for the medical bills included in the settlement.

If you would like more information surrounding this complex issue in your case, please don't hesitate to contact Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP today for a free initial case evaluation. Our skilled lawyers will give you an honest assessment of your case and can help give you the best way to work through insurance issues. Don't risk receiving less than full or fair compensation for your injuries and medical bills - call us today at (800) 900-0863.

When should I speak to or contact the insurance company after a crash?

The involved insurance companies will need to have notice of the accident and have claims filed but if you choose to talk to insurance before consulting with an attorney, you risk saying or representing something which could negatively affect your case or settlement amount. Regardless of whether your claim is being handled by your own insurance company or the other party's, insurance companies are for-profit enterprises in the business of making money. They will try and pay out claims for as little as reasonably possible and to accomplish this, will use any tidbit of information you provide against you when it comes to settlement. To ensure that your rights are protected and not infringed upon by insurance companies following an accident, it is in your best interest to retain the services of a skilled attorney at Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP.

How do I file an insurance claim after a car accident?

Filing a claim with the insurance is a relatively straightforward process - you can call your insurance agent or the insurance company and give them notice of the accident and claim. If you are involved in an accident and the other party is at fault, most insurance companies will allow you to file a claim on behalf of the at fault party.

If the other party is at fault, do I still need to file an insurance claim with my insurance company?

Depending on the circumstances, you may want to file a claim with your insurance company even if you are not at fault. As long as your policy is valid, your insurance company is obligated to provide coverage to you based on the coverages you have regardless of fault. If there is a liability dispute, your insurance company may be able to cover vehicle repairs and medical bills that the other driver's insurance will refuse to address until the dispute is resolved.

Should I Sign The Paperwork The Insurance Company Sends Me After My Auto Accident?

In order to keep your best interests protected, you should not sign any paperwork sent to you by an insurance company without first allowing an experienced auto accident attorney to review it. Insurance documents - especially settlement agreements - often have a lot of fine print that is difficult to understand and they can be misleading. By signing paperwork without having it carefully scrutinized with an attorney, you open yourself up to making damaging representations or to even possible mistreatment by the insurance company. Don't risk negatively affecting your claim or settlement by signing something provided to you by an insurance company. An experienced lawyer will fight to ensure your best interests are represented and asserted in the claims process.

Should I Settle My Case?

If you have been involved in an auto accident, the decision to settle your case may be the most important one you make. Getting the compensation you are legally entitled to can be difficult and offers from the insurance company often do not account for extenuating circumstances or the full amount of damages. An unfortunate misconception is that accident victims who decide not to settle are being greedy or just want more money - this is usually far from the truth. An insurance company will bank on victims being in difficult situations and needing money for medical bills and other expenses related to the accident, thus offering to settle for less than full or fair compensation. At Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP, our skilled Sunnyvale personal injury attorneys will not back down to such strong-arm tactics and will take your accident to trial to get you proper compensation and that all the circumstances surrounding your case are brought to light in a court of law.

Ultimately, the decision whether to settle rests with you, the client. Our experienced law firm examines all the details surrounding a case and takes all injuries, medical conditions, and potential claims into full consideration when helping clients decide the best course of action for a case, whether that be settling or going to trial. We are skilled in personal injury and insurance law and will put our considerable resources, resolve, and skill to work for your case. We are prepared to fight for our clients' rights both inside and out of the court room and will counsel you when faced with the difficult decision of whether to settle.

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