1. How do I get my medical bills paid?
The California bodily injury liability (BI) is part of your mandatory auto insurance policy; this coverage pays for wage loss, medical bills, etc. from the at fault driver's Bodily Injury Liability auto insurance.
However, if you are at fault in the auto accident, your bodily injury liability coverage will not cover your own injuries. You will either need to open a personal injury protection (PIP) claim, if you chose this optional medical coverage, or you will need to use your own health insurance.
In California, the at fault driver's mandatory Bodily Injury Liability coverage of at least $15,000 will pay for your medical bills for the first $15,000. Any amount over this will be covered by your health care insurance, if you have that. If you purchased under-insured or uninsured motorist coverage, you will have additional coverage for your medical bills to rely on in the event that your medical bills exceed the other driver's Bodily Injury Liability (BI) coverage. If you purchased medical payments coverage with your own auto insurance policy, that will also be part of how you get your medical bills paid.
2. How do I get my lost wages paid?
The California bodily injury liability (BI) is part of your mandatory auto insurance policy by law and this coverage pays for wage loss from the at fault driver's insurance coverage.
If you were at fault, then your own medical payments coverage with your own auto insurance policy will also be available to help you regardless of fault.
In the event you were involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, if you purchased this type of coverage you may have additional help.
3. I have the California minimum auto insurance requirement coverage what coverages do I have after an auto accident?
Minimum liability auto insurance requirements for private passenger vehicles California Insurance Code§11580.1b
$15,000 for injury/death to one person.
$30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.
$5,000 for damage to property.
It is important to understand that California minimum auto insurance coverage is for liability insurance which compensates a person other than the policy holder for personal injury or property damage.
An auto insurance policy with the required minimum liability coverages will pay out in the event of an accident as follows:
- max limit for one person's injuries, medical expenses, etc. = $15,000 ( from the bodily injury liability, or, BI); or, if two or more people are injured, the max limit for the accident injuries, medical expenses, etc. = $30,000; max limit for damage to other people's property (their car, their fence, etc.) = $5,000.
4. How do I make an auto accident injury claim against the other driver's insurance? What is comparative negligence? Why does it matter for my auto accident claim?
California is an, "At Fault State," so your auto insurance company and the company for the other driver will pay damages for medical claims, wage loss and other expenses based on the degree of fault. In California, "fault," is based on what is sometimes called, "comparative negligence, or comparative fault." What this means is that an injured person can recover damages even if the injured person was held to be 99% at fault for the auto accident, but that recovery of damages will be reduced by the amount of fault, in this case 99% reduced.
This means that you can still recover money for damages and injury even if you are held to be partially at fault for the accident.
5. What is Medical Payments Coverage?
Medical Payments Coverage - Covers the medical costs (up to the specified limit) resulting from an auto accident for you, your family, or others in your car. This coverage pays regardless of fault. This is also referred to as Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
California does not require Medical Payments Coverage, under the minimum auto insurance requirement law. You may have not chosen to get the medical payments coverage when you purchased your auto insurance policy.
Unlike the bodily injury liability insurance, the medical bills coverage is no fault insurance, and it will pay for your medical bills even if you were at fault in the accident. With Personal Injury Protection medical bills coverage, you'll have a policy that helps pay for the treatment of you and your family even when you are on a bicycle, motorcycle, or pedestrian.
This medical payments - personal injury coverage extends to cover expenses beyond just medical bills, it also covers your loss of wages or services, and in some cases, funeral costs. Personal Injury Protection insurance also can extend to take care of your passengers' bills.
This coverage also covers you and your immediate family when you are on foot as a pedestrian or on a bicycle. This means that say you and your spouse were riding bicycles and hit by a hit and run driver, this no fault medical payments coverage will take care of both of your medicals bills and lost wages.
6. How do I know the other driver's insurance policy limits?
Auto insurance companies will rarely give out this information. You need to hire a personal injury attorney who will file a lawsuit. Once that lawsuit is filed the insurance company is required to provide your lawyer with a copy of the insured driver's policy limits.
7. What if the at fault driver is Uninsured OR does not have enough insurance to cover my personal injury claim or even pay for my medical bills?
Often, uninsured and under insured (UM / UIM) coverages are offered as a package in auto accident insurance additional coverage.
Uninsured or under insured motorist (UM / UIM) auto accident insurance coverage protects the policy holder involved in an accident with a driver who either does not have liability insurance or who does not have sufficient bodily injury liability limits to pay for the medical bills of the driver not at fault in the accident.
It is a California Law that very automobile insurance company must offer uninsured motorist coverage, and they are required to have a signed waiver on file if the coverage is rejected.
If you were seriously injured by an at fault driver doesn't have enough, "Bodily Injury Liability," coverage, you could get help from your own insurance policy if you purchased what is called, "under insured motorist," coverage. This is an additional auto insurance coverage beyond the minimum California state law.
For example, if you are involved in an auto accident and the at fault driver only had the minimum California Bodily Injury Liability coverage of $15,000 and your medical bills exceed $100,000, your own insurance, the underinsured motorist coverage part, will pay the remaining $85,000, depending on your policy limits that you purchased. There are additional complexities as to how these bills will get paid and by whom, but you should be provided for by the additional coverages that you added if you got this additional insurance.
Adding as much uninsured and under insured motorist coverage as you can afford to your auto insurance policy will help protect you and your family not only in the car, but also on bicycle or as a pedestrian or riding a motorcycle.
Very often bicycle, pedestrian, or motorcycle riders find themselves the victims of a hit and run driver. Statistically, uninsured drivers are the most dangerous on the roads; they tend to be involved in more accidents, as well as more serious injury accidents, and driving older more dangerous vehicles.
If you purchased this uninsured motorist coverage and your medical bills exceed the limits of your UM / UIM coverage limit, you can still be covered by your own auto insurance medical bills coverage (personal injury protection - PIP). Together, these additional coverages, beyond the minimum insurance coverage required by California law, can greatly help you and give you peace of mind.
8. What is my claim worth?
The value of your accident injury claim depends on the amount of your incurred and future medical expenses, your loss of income, and the severity of your injuries. Contact me for a free consultation so I can assess your claim and tell you what to expect.
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9. How can I get medical treatment if I don't have medical insurance?
If you don't have medical insurance, we will immediately find you a doctor who will help you.
10. What can I do if the other driver was uninsured?
If you have uninsured/underinsurance motorist coverage, you can recover your damages from your insurance company. You will be able to recover for your medical bills, loss of income and pain and suffering even if the other driver had no insurance.
11. The doctors are coming after me for unpaid bills, can you help?
I will contact the health care providers and I can usually get them to wait until the case is settled to get paid. When there is not enough insurance coverage to pay all of the medical bills, I can usually get healthcare providers to substantially reduce their bills so my clients maximize their net recovery. I am very skilled at getting health care providers to reduce their bills, frequently by more than 50%.
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12. Will I get to talk to an experienced California personal injury attorney if I call?
Yes. If you want some answers right now call because everyone who calls for a free consultation gets to talk to me, Dean Goetz, right away or later the same day.
13. What if I can't get to your office for a consultation?
I will make arrangements to come to the hospital, your home or your office.
14. Why should I hire Dean Goetz?
Because Dean Goetz is an excellent experienced lawyer who will personally fight for you every step of the way. He understands how traumatic it is to be injured in an accident that was caused by another person's negligence. He and his staff will treat you like family and do everything they can to make sure you are compensated for the damages you have suffered.
15. Should I call even if I am not sure if I need a lawyer or if I think I may be able to handle my claim on my own?
Yes. I can answer your questions and advise you on the best course of action. I can frequently give you an estimate of what the insurance company may offer to settle your claim. If your best choice is to settle without an attorney, I will tell you.
16. What type of accident cases do you handle?
I handle motorcycle injury accidents, bicycle injury accidents, auto injury accidents, construction accidents, dog bites, boating injury accidents, slip and fall injury accidents and any other case where someone else causes a personal injury.
17. How soon after my accident should I call an attorney?
Call me immediately at 858-481-8844. Do not give the insurance company a statement until you have consulted with a lawyer. I return all calls and e-mails as soon as possible. If you have suffered a personal injury, you need to know right away what to do, how to do it and what you can expect. You need to know how much insurance coverage is available to cover your medical expenses and lost wages. You need answers so call 858-481-8844.
18. How long will it take to settle my California personal injury case?
It depends on the nature of your personal injury claim. Some cases settle within a few weeks or months. Larger personal injury cases typically take longer to settle.
19. Will pursuing my California personal injury case take up a lot of my time?
Probably not, since we will be the ones spending time on your case. We may only need to meet for the initial interview and then we can just talk over the phone or just meet when you want to. If the other side takes your deposition or we have to go to court, it will take more of your time.
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20. Will I have to go to trial?
The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled before trial. However, I treat each case as if it is going to go to trial so you have to be willing to go to trial to maximize your settlement.
21. Do I need a California personal injury attorney?
If you want to maximize your recovery in a significant injury case, you do need an experienced personal injury attorney. If you are not represented by a lawyer you will have to deal with the insurance companies. Their goal is to pay you as little as possible. You are not experienced so you are at a severe disadvantage. You have no ideas what your claim is worth so you can't know what a fair settlement amount is. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine that amount and reach a fair settlement.
22. How do I pay your legal fees?
You will not pay a retainer or a fee up front. I handle California personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This means YOU DO NOT OWE ME A LEGAL FEE UNLESS I OBTAIN A RECOVERY FOR YOU. I do not ask for any attorney fees up front. If there is no recovery, you will not pay a fee.
23. Will I have to pay any money up front for filing fees, court costs, expert witness fees, or any other costs?
No, I will advance all of the costs including investigative costs, filing fees, court costs, deposition costs, and expert witness costs. I know that most people cannot afford these costs up front, so I forward these costs up front. I am willing to pay the costs and expenses required to make sure you maximize your recovery. Spending a few thousand dollars on a good expert witness can make the difference between obtaining no settlement and getting thousands of dollars for your claim. Before you hire a lawyer, make sure that the attorney is willing to advance the monies needed to adequately pursue your personal injury case. Otherwise, you may be forced into taking a minimal settlement.
24. Do you handle work related injuries?
Yes, if a third-party (someone other than your employer, a co-employee or yourself) negligently caused your injury. In other words if your injuries are caused by someone other than your employer, such as another driver, faulty equipment, general contractor, owner, or subcontractor, I will handle your case. If you only have a first-party workers compensation claim, I can refer you to a lawyer who specializes in these claims.
Dean Goetz is a top California trial lawyer and San Diego car accident attorney.
Learn more about hiring your personal injury attorney and the process of recovering after an unexpected injury.