Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you were in a minor car accident and you were not injured, or your injuries are minor (just a few visits to the doctor were required), you probably don’t need a lawyer. But if the damage to your car was significant (e.g., over $3,000) and your injuries were more than minor, it’s a good idea to at least talk to a personal injury lawyer. Our firm provides free consultations, so there is nothing to lose. Also, because of how we’re paid, you can rest assured that we won’t take your case unless we are confident that we will be successful in getting more for you. That’s because we work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay us nothing upfront to hire us, and we only get paid if we win your case. You can read more about how we’re paid here.
Examples of “more than minor injuries” are:
- You went to the emergency room or urgent care.
- You suffered a concussion (possible symptoms: headaches, blacked out, dizziness, dazed, confusion, nausea, ringing in the ears, sensitivity to light or sound, difficulty finding the right word, memory loss, etc.).
- You have neck pain with radiating numbness and tingling down your arms, or low back pain with radiating numbness and tingling down your legs.
- It’s been a month since the accident and your pain is not getting better.
The reason you need a lawyer if your injuries were more than minor is that your claim has more value. Insurance companies don’t like to part with their money. The more value your case has, the more the insurance company will fight to pay you as little as possible. If your injuries were serious, there is more at stake, and you should have the protection of an experienced car accident attorney who will fight to get you maximum compensation.
After a car accident, you are entitled to compensation for:
- Property damage
- Rental car costs
- Medical bills (past and future)
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Pain and suffering
Our job is to get you as much money as possible. To maximize the value of your case, our attorneys will make sure you get the medical treatment you need so that all of your injuries are diagnosed. It’s also important that there are no delays or gaps in medical treatment. Delays or gaps will be used against you by the insurance company, which will argue that if your injuries are serious, you would have sought treatment right away.
You may think that you don’t need to hire an attorney because the other driver admitted fault. That is incorrect. Admitting fault is only half of the battle. The other half is getting full value for your case. Even if the other driver’s insurance company accepts liability, the adjuster will still try to shortchange you with a lowball settlement offer. Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you. Your injuries may affect you for the rest of your life. You may need future medical treatment. You should protect yourself by at least running your case by a car accident lawyer.
Our personal injury lawyers are available 24/7 for a free consultation. We’ll give you our honest assessment as to whether you need a lawyer. Even if your case is too small for us to take on, or you were at fault for the accident, we are happy to give you free advice.
I Can’t Afford Medical Treatment
You were injured in a car accident and can’t afford to see a doctor.
You may have questions about what to do now:
- Will the other driver’s insurance company pay for my medical treatment up-front? No. Only after you reach a settlement with the insurance company will they pay you for the medical bills you incurred.
- I have health insurance, but will health insurance cover medical treatment if it is related to an accident? Yes, your health insurance will apply, regardless of whether the treatment is related to a car accident. Some medical providers will incorrectly tell you that your health insurance won’t apply, but they are wrong. Know that if you receive a settlement from the other driver’s insurance carrier, your health insurance company will likely demand reimbursement for any accident-related medical treatment they paid for. If you receive no settlement, you do not have to reimburse your health insurance carrier.
- I have health insurance but can’t afford the co-pay or deductible. What should I do? If you hire a personal injury lawyer, your attorney can refer you to a medical provider who can treat you on a lien basis. A “lien” means that the doctor agrees to wait to be paid until the case settles.
- I have no health insurance and I need medical treatment due to a car accident. What should I do? A car accident attorney can set you up with a lien medical provider. That means you can get medical treatment right away, without paying for it now. When a doctor treats you on a “lien,” the doctor is agreeing to be paid out of the settlement.
- If I treat with an attorney-referred doctor on a lien, and then I lose my case, am I still on the hook for the lien doctor’s medical bill? Technically, yes. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer, before setting you up with a lien doctor, will first vet the case to make sure (1) that the attorney feels confident that liability on the other driver can be established, and (2) that there’s enough insurance to cover your medical bills. Thus, it is critical that you hire a lawyer who specializes in personal injury claims.
If you were injured in a car accident and can’t afford to see a doctor, call our office for a free consultation. We will explain your options and guide you in the next steps. Don’t let critical time pass without getting your injuries treated and documented, or the value of your claim may be negatively affected.
What is My Case Worth?
Right after an accident happens, no lawyer can accurately predict the value of your case. That’s because the value depends on many things that may not immediately be known right after an accident.
Some of those unknowns are:
- Is liability clear or disputed?
- Extent of your injuries
- Whether you will suffer future pain and emotional distress due to the accident
- Amount of your medical bills
- Amount of your lost earnings
- At-fault party’s insurance policy limit
- Your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy limit
If you call a law firm right after an accident and the firm does give you a case value, it only means the law firm is saying what you want to hear so that you’ll hire them. Clients hire McGee, Lerer & Associates because they want lawyers they can trust. We will be honest with you about the strengths and weaknesses of your case. We’ll give you an honest appraisal of your case and a realistic timeline.
We know that after an accident, you can be scared, confused, and not know what to do. We’re here to help guide you through the process and get you maximum compensation for your injuries and losses. Call us 24/7 for a free consultation.
I Have a Lawyer, But I’m Not Happy with the Firm
You’ve already hired a personal injury law firm, but you are unhappy with the service they are providing. What now?
Do any of these complaints sound familiar?
- You never actually speak with the attorney; you only speak with case managers or assistants.
- You never get a call back.
- You never speak to the same person twice.
- When you do speak to someone, they know nothing about your case.
- You never get updates on your case.
- It’s been weeks and your car has still not been repaired.
- Your lawyer is providing no guidance on medical treatment.
- You’re not happy with the settlement offer the lawyer is trying to get you to take.
If these complaints sound familiar, you should seek a second opinion on your case. At McGee, Lerer & Associates, we provide free second opinions. We’ll ask you the questions we need to know, and then we’ll give you our honest assessment as to whether your lawyer is handling the case the way it should be handled. If we think the firm is not doing a good job for you, we’ll tell you that. If you do decide to change attorneys, it costs you nothing additional. You still only pay one attorney fee, when the case settles. That one fee is then divided between the first law firm and the second law firm, based on the work done by each firm. The attorneys work out that fee division.
If you suffered serious injuries in an accident, you’ve got one chance to get it right. Your settlement may need to last you and pay for medical treatment far into the future. You want the best attorney on your side. You want a lawyer that is experienced, trustworthy, and really cares about you. There’s a reason our law firm has great reviews. We know what we’re doing, and we do it well. Call McGee, Lerer and Associates for a free second opinion if you have lost confidence in your current attorney.
What If My Injuries Affect me for the Rest of My Life?
If you suffered serious injuries in an accident, you may have concerns about the future.
For example, you have probably asked these questions and more:
- Will I ever be able to go back to my old life?
- What if I need surgery years from now due to the accident?
- How will I pay for future medical treatment?
- What if I can’t go back to my job due to my injuries? What if I have to find a different type of job? Who will pay for the retraining, or the pay differential if the new job pays less than my current job?
A serious accident can cause significant and long-ranging consequences, some of which you may not even realize in the immediate aftermath of the accident. For that reason, you should consult with an attorney who focuses on personal injury cases. We will guide you through this difficult time and anticipate your future needs so that we can address and plan for those needs now.
The defendant who caused your accident is on the hook for past and future medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. It’s important to understand that once you settle your case, i.e., sign a settlement release, you can never go back to the defendant’s insurance company and ask for more money. You’ve got one shot to get this right.
As to potential future medical bills, the defendant’s insurance company will argue that it is speculative that you will ever incur those bills, so they won’t pay for them. To counter this argument, it will be critical that your attorney get the medical documentation to support the need for future treatment. Your doctor may be telling you that in all likelihood, due to your injuries from the accident, you will need a future neck or back surgery, or knee replacement. Your lawyer will need to get the doctor’s prognosis and future treatment recommendations in writing, including all costs associated with the future medical care (surgeon’s cost, anesthesiologist’s cost, surgery center cost, post-surgery physical therapy cost, the estimated length of time you’ll be off work, etc.).
As your lawyers, our job is to get you maximum compensation. We will make sure that we have anticipated, documented, and calculated all of your past and future losses. The value of your case is only as strong as the attorney you hire to work-up your case. After a serious accident, you need to consult with an experienced lawyer who primarily focuses on personal injury cases. At McGee, Lerer & Associates, representing personal injury victims is all we do. Our accident lawyers are available 24/7 for a free consultation.
What’s the Process If I Hire You?
For most personal injury claims, the process will go like this:
- Call Us
You call and speak with one of our attorneys. We both decide if it’s the right fit. If it’s a go, we email you the retainer to sign electronically. Or you are welcome to come in and meet with us in-person.
- Handle Your Property Damage
As soon as possible after a car accident, you need your car repaired or you need to be paid if it was totaled. You may also need a rental car. We facilitate a quick turnaround on this process. We do not charge for assisting with property damage.
- Get You Medical Treatment
Depending on your medical needs, we connect you with the appropriate doctors near you who can treat you on a lien (which means they are paid when the case settles).
If applicable, we get the police report, and obtain witness statements and any video footage of the accident.
- Send Settlement Demand Letter
When you’re done treating, or sooner if we have sufficient medical documentation, we send a settlement demand letter to the insurance company, summarizing your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Negotiate Settlement with the Insurance Company
The insurance company responds with an offer. We negotiate to get the maximum for your case.
- Settle your Claim
If you accept the offer, you sign a settlement release. The settlement check arrives at our office about two weeks later. We deduct our fee and costs, pay your medical providers (after negotiating down your bills) and the balance goes to you. Read more about how our fee works here.
Should I Go to My Own Doctor?
You were injured in an accident and don’t know what to do about medical treatment.
Here are a few questions you’ve probably asked:
- Will the other driver’s insurance company help me get medical treatment? No. Do not let valuable time pass while waiting for the other driver’s insurance company to set you up with medical treatment. It will not happen.
- Should I go to my own doctor? Sure. If you have your own doctor and are comfortable with that doctor, and they can get you in, that’s a good option. Because the doctor’s practice is not focused on treating car accident victims, make sure that the doctor notes in your chart all symptoms you have experienced since the accident, even if they’ve gone away by the time of the visit. For example, if you had headaches, dizziness, or nausea right after the accident, it’s important that the doctor notes those symptoms in the chart. Why? Because you may have suffered a concussion, and if those details aren’t noted in your medical records early on, the insurance company may dispute that you suffered a concussion.
- Is it better to hire an attorney and go to a doctor that the attorney refers me to? Going to an attorney-referred medical provider after an accident is a great option that has many benefits:
- Generally, an attorney-referred doctor can get you in right away. Delays in getting medical treatment and documenting your injuries will hurt the value of your case.
- Your lawyer can find a doctor whose office is convenient for you.
- An attorney-referred doctor has experience treating car accident victims and will know how to write a medical report that will be helpful in your legal claim. They will also know the types of tests to order, which will document your injuries for your case. Identifying and diagnosing your injuries increases the value of your claim.
- An attorney-referred medical provider will work on a “lien” basis, which means the doctor agrees to wait to be paid until the case settles.
- Once your case settles, attorney-referred medical providers are usually willing to reduce their bills, which means more money in your pocket.
If you were injured in an accident and don’t know where to treat, call our law firm for a free consultation. Our lawyers are available 24/7. Even if you decide not to hire us, or if we can’t take your case, we will give you free advice.
How Long Will It Take?
If you have been injured in an accident, you are likely wondering how long it will take until your case resolves. You may need money to buy a replacement car because the money you received from the insurance company is not enough. You may be unable to work due to your injuries, and don’t know when you can return to work. You have medical bills to pay, and do not want your credit affected. You need to feed your family and pay the rent.
We understand the financial pressure an injury victim suffers after an accident. An important part of our role as your attorneys is to move your case forward as expeditiously as possible, towards settlement.
The length of time between the date you hire us and the date of settlement depends on many factors. The general timeline is this: you get all the medical treatment you need. When you’re done treating, we collect your medical records and bills. If you missed time from work, we also get documentation of your lost wages. We then submit a settlement demand package to the defendant’s insurance company. They respond with an offer in about 30 days.
Some of the factors which will affect the timeline include:
- How long you treat with doctors.
- The severity of your injury. If you suffered serious injuries (broken bones, bulging disks in your spine, brain injury, surgery required, etc.), then the timeline may be longer. We don’t want to settle your case until we have a good handle on what your long-term prognosis is and what the cost of any future medical care you will be.
- Whether there is a dispute about fault. If the other side is blaming you for all or a percentage of the accident, then a lawsuit may need to be filed, which means that the timeline will be lengthened.
- The defendant’s insurance policy limit. If your injuries are serious and the other driver has a minimal policy ($15,000 per person is the lowest it can be in California), then we may demand and receive a policy limit offer right away.
- Whether you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, and the amount.
- The total number of injury claimants. If it was a multi-car accident, and all the claimants are making a claim on one driver’s policy, that could lengthen the timeline. The defendant’s insurance company will likely wait until all settlement demand letters have been received before the insurance company will make offers to any one individual.
The timeline is also framed by our client’s needs. If you tell us that you need money as soon as possible, then we will prioritize that goal as we move your case forward. If a quick settlement is not imperative, and you are more concerned about getting all of the medical treatment that you need and not being on the hook for medical treatment you may need in the future, then we will prioritize getting you to the proper specialists.
From the outset, it’s important that you share with us your needs and concerns, as they will help guide decisions we make in working up your case. Our goal is to get you the medical treatment you need and get you the maximum amount of money in your pocket.
Our lawyers are available 24/7 for a free consultation. In our initial phone call, we want to hear about your needs and concerns, and we’ll do our best to ballpark the length of time until settlement. If there are too many unknowns to even ballpark a time length, we’ll be honest with you and tell you so.
The Police Report Isn’t Ready
If the police came to the scene of a car accident and took a report, the officer may have separated the drivers, preventing you from getting the other driver’s information.
For many reasons, you want the police report as soon as possible after an accident, including to:
- Get the identity of the other driver and their insurance information
- Learn who the police officer put at fault for the accident
- Obtain a witness’s contact information
Do any of these situations apply to you?
- My car is at an impound yard and I have no collision coverage under my own policy.
- I need the other driver’s insurance information because I can’t afford my deductible.
- I need a rental car and have no rental coverage, so I need the other driver’s insurance information.
- I have no health insurance and need medical treatment. I need to see who the officer put at fault and whether the other driver has insurance.
- The officer separated us at the scene. I have no information about the other driver.
- The other driver claimed I was at fault. My auto insurance company says they need the traffic collision report to determine fault.
- I drive for Lyft and can’t afford Lyft’s $2,500 deductible, so I need the other driver’s insurance information.
How Long Will It Take Until the Police Report is Ready?
The timing of when the traffic collision report will be ready depends on the reporting agency. Most agencies take approximately 10 days, though some can take less time, and some can take much longer.
Average lengths of time it takes to get a crash report from these law enforcement groups:
- Los Angeles Police Department: LAPD police reports take approximately 45 days. If the accident involved a fatality, however, it could take 12 months.
- California Highway Patrol: A traffic collision report from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is generally ready within 5 to 7 days. You can pick up the report at any CHP office. Usually, within a day of the accident, you can pick up the “face page” of the CHP report, i.e., page one. The face page will provide the other driver’s contact information and insurance information, but it will not tell you who the officer put at fault. You’ll need to wait for the full report to learn who the officer put at fault.
- Long Beach Police Department: Police reports from the LBPD take approximately 10 days.
- Santa Monica Police Department: Police reports from the SMPD take approximately 10 days.
- Pasadena Police Department: Traffic collision reports from the PPD take approximately 10 days.
Will the Police Report State Who Was At Fault for an Accident?
Usually, the police report will include the officer’s opinion about who was at fault for the accident. You should know, however, that sometimes the report will state that the officer was unable to determine fault due to conflicting statements. In other words, it was a “he-said/she-said” with no independent witnesses to clear the air.
What Do I Do About My Car If the Police Report Isn’t Ready Yet?
If the traffic collision report isn’t ready, then how you should deal with your car depends on whether you have collision coverage under your auto insurance policy.
If you have collision coverage under your own auto insurance policy, you should go through your insurance. The downside is that you will have to pay your deductible to the shop, or, if your car is totaled, your insurance carrier will deduct your deductible from their total loss payment to you or the finance company. Later, you will be reimbursed on your deductible if the other driver has insurance and was at fault for the accident. Going through your own insurance on your property damage claim will not impact your premiums or policy renewability whatsoever, as long as you weren’t at fault for the accident.
If you don’t have collision coverage under your auto insurance policy, and your car was towed to an impound yard, incurring daily storage fees, you can pay to get the vehicle out of impound, or you can leave it there and hope the other driver has insurance. The impound facility is likely charging about $50/day to store the vehicle. To get it out of impound, you may have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars (to cover the administrative fee, towing fee, daily storage fees, and more). If you leave the vehicle at the impound yard, they will eventually lien sell the vehicle to pay off the impound fees.
What Do I Do About Medical Treatment If the Police Report Isn’t Ready Yet?
If you were injured in a car accident, don’t delay seeking medical treatment while you wait for the police report. You should know that if you pursue an injury claim against the other driver, that driver’s insurance company will use it against you if you delay seeking treatment. They will contend that if you were really hurt, you would have treated right away.
Once you get the police report, if you learn that the other driver had no insurance, you can make an injury claim under your own auto insurance policy if you have uninsured motorist coverage. Making such a claim will have no impact on your premiums or renewability.
What if the other driver had no auto insurance and you have no uninsured motorist coverage? Unfortunately, in that situation, it’s unlikely you’ll be compensated for any medical bills you incur. Legally, the at-fault driver is liable for those bills. But the reality is that if the at-fault driver had no auto insurance, then there’s a good chance that the driver does not have assets to pay you, and it is unlikely a lawyer will take your case.
Bottom line: If you’ve been injured in a car accident, we suggest you reach out to a personal injury attorney. You probably have many questions and concerns. We’re here to help. Straight-talk. No pressure. Hire us if you like. Or just get some free advice while you’re figuring out the next steps. If you decide to hire our law firm, and it turns out that the other driver had no auto insurance and you have no uninsured motorist coverage, then it is unlikely that we will be able to move forward with your claim, in which case you pay us nothing. That is our “No Fee Promise.”
What if my Claim's Value Exceeds The Defendant's Policy limit?
Serious injuries. My claim’s value exceeds defendant’s policy limit. They’ll just pay it. Why hire you?
The most common policy limit that drivers have is $15,000. If you were seriously injured, $15,000 is not enough.
You may already know the defendant’s policy limit. Maybe the driver told you at the scene, or the driver’s adjuster has already disclosed the limit to you.
If your claim is worth substantially in excess of the defendant’s policy limit, then under certain circumstances, our firm will waive a fee entirely, so that all of the money goes to you. Why would we do that? Because it’s the right thing to do. We put our clients’ interests first.
Call our firm to find out more. Consultations are free.