Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can’t I handle my traffic accident claim without a lawyer?
A: You can, but it isn’t always the best choice. Claims involving substantial property damage or any injury at all to a person can get very expensive, which raises your chances of trouble with the insurance company. And studies have shown that people represented by a lawyer recover more money than people working by themselves, even if they never file a San Bernardino car accident lawsuit.

Q: What should I do if I think the insurance company isn’t handling my claim fairly?
A: If you feel that you’re being mistreated or your claim was unfairly denied, you should talk to a San Bernardino auto accident lawyer right away. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit, and paying a claim reduces their profits. Insurance companies have been known to simply deny claims, delay them endlessly or pressure victims into accepting a smaller claim than they’re entitled to. Our firm would be happy to review your policy and explain your rights at a free consultation.

Q: If I was partially responsible for the accident, or forgot to use a seat belt, can I still recover money?
A: Yes. Under California law, people who are partly at fault for their own injuries -- as determined by a jury -- may still claim compensation for those injuries. However, that compensation will be reduced according to the amount of fault they bear. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 but you were 25% at fault, you will collect only $75,000. A personal injury lawyer in San Bernardino can explain how this might affect your own case.

Q: How long will my accident case last? Will I have to go to court?
A: It is impossible to say how long any particular case will last. At our law firm, we’ve handled cases that settled right away and cases that took years to resolve. However, we are pleased to say that thanks to our policy of aggressive negations with insurance companies, 90% of our cases settle before trial. Even if we do go to court, however, clients may not have to testify.

Q: What damages can I claim in an injury lawsuit?
A: Damages are compensation for your losses, so the ones you can claim depend on the circumstances of your case. But generally California law allows injury victims to claim financial damages for the costs the accident caused, and any financial costs you expect in the future. This could include medical bills, a new car or even the cost of hiring a baby-sitter during your visits to the doctor. It also includes all of the wages or salary lost because the injury took you out of work. You may also claim non-financial damages for your injuries, pain, suffering, and any wrongful death or permanent disability you suffered.

Q: Can I afford an attorney?
A: At our law firm, you can. Everyone can afford to hire us as their law firm, because we work for a type of fee called a contingency fee. Under this arrangement, we are paid with a percentage of your winnings -- if you win your case. If you do not, we will not ask for legal fees. This allows us to represent everyone who has a worthy case, no matter what their income or background.

Q: Are there special legal issues in truck accidents?
A: Yes. Semi truck accidents are more likely than ordinary car crashes to cause death or very serious injuries. This makes victims’ damages more complex and difficult to prove. Tractor-trailer accidents also typically pose complicated insurance issues, since the trucker and the trucking company may each have their own insurance. And because they know how expensive your claim may be, they are especially likely to threaten your rights. That’s why you should talk to a San Bernardino trucking accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.

Q: Who is responsible in most motorcycle accidents?
A: In single-vehicle motorcycle accidents, studies show mistakes by riders are the most common cause -- although aggressive drivers, equipment defects and other problems may also cause accidents. But in multi-vehicle accidents, research shows that other motorists, usually drivers, cause two-thirds of accidents by violating the motorcyclist’s right of way. This makes them legally liable in any San Bernardino motorcycle accident lawsuit victims may file.

Q: If the victim of a train accident crossed the tracks even though there was a train coming, can the railroad still be liable?
A: Yes. Drivers and pedestrians have a legal obligation to get out of the way when they know a train is coming -- but they have to know. At some crossings, railroad warning signs and gates are malfunctioning, hidden or aren’t there at all. In that case, the railroad responsible for maintaining and erecting those signs can be held responsible for its failure to prevent a serious train accident.

Q: What causes most train accidents?
A: According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the most common cause of train accidents is “human error.” That term covers a variety of problems, including inattention by railroad employees, pedestrians or cars on the tracks and poor maintenance of equipment. The second most common cause of train accidents is defects in the tracks -- a problem that can often be traced to bad maintenance by the railroads.

Q: What is the difference between a wrongful death claim and a murder case?
A: A murder case is a criminal case that seeks to put its defendant in jail. A San Bernardino wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case that seeks to penalize the defendant by requiring a financial payment. You may pursue a wrongful death claim regardless of whether the government has chosen to pursue a criminal murder case.

Q: Who may file a wrongful death lawsuit in California?
A: California law actually allows two kinds of legal claims after a wrongful death. The estate of the deceased person, through its personal representative, may sue for the victim’s loss of life and for the cost of medical bills incurred before the death. Immediate family members may file a wrongful death lawsuit to claim compensation for their own losses (such as the loss of a parent’s love and care) and for costs such as funeral bills. Family members who may sue are spouses or domestic partners, children, parents, and siblings of the deceased. Others who relied on the deceased for financial support may also have a claim.

Q: What makes an injury catastrophic?
A: A catastrophic injury is an injury that will stay with the victim in some form for the rest of his or her life. This could be an injury that causes a permanent disability, loss of a limb or an ability, or one that causes lifelong chronic pain. A San Bernardino catastrophic injury lawyer can help you decide whether your injury is catastrophic.

Q: Why are catastrophic injury cases so much more complex than other personal injury cases?
A: Because catastrophic injuries will affect their victims for a lifetime, a San Bernardino accident lawyer must calculate a lifetime’s worth of damages. For example, if you expect to need specialized medical care, our firm would want to calculate the cost of that care over your lifetime. We might also need to calculate the loss of income you would otherwise have earned, including any raises. To prove this, we sometimes use outside expert witnesses to show the extent of your losses.

Q: Can I file a nursing home negligence lawsuit in San Bernardino if I’ve already complained to the California Department of Public Health?
A: Yes. A formal complaint about an abusive nursing home is always a good idea, but it cannot compensate you for the expenses the nursing home negligence may have caused. Those expenses can be very high -- thousands of dollars for the shoddy care itself, high hospital bills, plus the cost of suddenly moving a loved one to a facility without abuse or neglect. A lawsuit can also help compensate your family for the horror of discovering abuse of a helpless loved one.

Q: Do I need to prove that the nursing home breached its contract in order to sue?
A: No. Nursing homes guilty of neglect or abuse are liable regardless of whether there is a contract, although our San Bernardino nursing home negligence lawyers would also be interested in any breach of contract. Everybody in California owes each other a duty of reasonable care, and neglect and abuse of the elderly certainly breaches that duty, regardless of formal contract.

Q: What are my rights after an attack by a dog?
A: San Bernardino County and California state law both make dog owners responsible for their dogs’ actions and whereabouts. Victims of an attack by a vicious dog can hold the owner financially responsible for the attack, even if the dog has never bitten before. Depending on the circumstances and the severity of the attack, the county may also choose to euthanize the dog.

Q: Can we really recover any money in a San Bernardino dog bite lawsuit? The dog’s owner isn’t wealthy.
A: Our San Bernardino dog bite lawyers like to tell clients that you don’t really sue a dog’s owner; you sue that person’s insurance company. Homeowners’ insurance usually covers a dog bite incident, so it doesn’t matter how wealthy the individual dog owner is. Under some circumstances, landlords’ insurance may even be liable for attacks by their tenants’ dogs.

Q: What sort of property owners and operators could be liable in a San Bernardino premises liability lawsuit?
A: Any property that invites people to visit may be held liable for a slip and fall accident. That includes all types of businesses open to the public; government-owned public places; workplaces and offices; and even private homes, as long as you are an invited guest. Trespassers are usually not able to sue, but an exception may be made for children.

Q: Can property owners be held responsible for failing to prevent a crime on their premises?
A: Yes. Premises liability law includes a relatively new theory called negligent security, which makes property owners liable for foreseeable violent crimes they failed to prevent. Not every property owner is necessarily liable. There must be a reasonably foreseeable risk of violent crime at the property, either because of the nature of the business or the character of the neighborhood. You must also show that the owner or operator failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the crime. This could mean as little as a landlord fixing the intercom system in an apartment building located in a bad neighborhood. If you’re not sure whether this applies to your case, you should talk to a San Bernardino premises liability lawyer.

We have offices in Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and Las Vegas.