How to Handle an Insurance Company

Accidents happen, but sometimes even though you suffer an injury, whether it is from an automobile accident or an injury at work, your insurance company may refuse to pay your personal injury claim. If you were bit by a dog and have a claim against the homeowner’s insurance policy, their company may initially refuse to approve your claim. Below are a few ways to handle an insurance company refusing to pay a personal injury claim.

Filing a Claim

In California, insurance companies have 15 days to respond to claims involving home, automobile, and other related injuries. Insurance companies must acknowledge the claim within 15 days of receipt, and must make a determination and decision accepting or denying the claim within 40 days.  If your claim is approved, the insurance company has 15 days to provide payment of the agreed upon settlement amount once you sign a release, and 30 days in most other circumstances to pay you your settlement.

Insurance companies also have a requirement to exhibit good faith and to not make an unreasonably low settlement offer and to not unreasonably delay the adjudication and processing of your claim. The insurance company you are working with is legally required to be honest with you, complete a full investigation of your claim, and not enact any discriminatory practices.

Also, insurance companies must notify you in writing if there are delays in processing your claim and explain what those delays are. They must exercise good faith in the delay, and outline, specifically, what is delaying the claim. If they are missing documents or awaiting information from you or another party, they must tell you that information.

Insurance Company Tactics

Insurance companies occasionally use unsavory tactics to deny or delay your claim. Be careful with signing medical releases, because in many instances insurance companies can use the releases to obtain medical records that preceded your injury. You should avoid accepting an immediate settlement offer, especially if the company wants you to sign a release of claims. Insurance companies can attempt to

How to Handle a Denied Claim

Once you file a claim, it is wise to seek legal representation. Besides having to recover from a potentially life changing injury, it is extremely time consuming to argue with an insurance adjuster about your claim. A skilled attorney can directly negotiate a settlement with the insurance company and protect your interests. Many insurance adjusters and companies request that the claimant complete a recorded statement or interview, and many times use the context and content of the interaction as a means to devalue your claim. Also, insurance companies are inclined to delay your payout to discourage you from seeking compensation. Although not all insurance companies and adjusters use these tactics, making an improper statement to a claims adjustor could potentially lead to your claim being denied.

If you have an insurance claims issue, contact Rush Injury Law today for a free consultation from an industry leading expert.

Are Your Aches and Pains Related to a Recent Car Accident

You may have been hurt more than you initially suspected.

Whether it’s a head-on collision or a mere fender bender, a car accident is an unexpected and traumatic event. Even in cases where you’re hit by someone traveling at a low rate of speed, you’re most definitely going to feel the impact, which may result in you sustaining injuries. If you are hurt in an accident, it’s best to get medical attention immediately. If your injuries seem minor—or if you don’t notice any symptoms—you need to be looked at by a medical professional anyways.

Below are a few things you can do to identify whether or not aches and pains you’re feeling are related to a recent car accident. If, after completing this article, you’re convinced that your ailments are the result of a crash, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Your Body May Not Realize It’s Injured Right Away

There are times in sports when athletes will sustain injuries, but they will play on unaffected by the pain—Curt Schilling’s bloody sock during Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS is a great example of this. In such heightened circumstances like these, the human body will generate adrenaline and endorphins, two chemicals that amp up the body, sometimes to the point where it can no longer feel pain.

Individuals involved in a car accident will most likely feel something similar to what was just described above. However, because there will likely be a bunch of other things on your mind in the event of a crash—whether or not the other driver is okay, whether or not your car is totaled, etc.—you may not even realize that your body is in such a heightened state. This may cause you to pay little or no attention to the injuries you may have sustained during the crash, which means you’re most likely going to notice them later on.

Look for Soft Tissue Damage After an Accident

Soft tissues are what connect, support, and surround structures and organs inside the human body. Muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, nerves, fibrous tissues, fat, blood vessels, and synovial membranes are all examples of soft tissue.

In the event of a car accident—even a low-speed one—drivers and passengers will, in most cases, come to a sudden stop after the initial impact; if not, they will be thrown around in the passenger section; in very severe cases, they may be ejected from the vehicle. In any event, your joints and other vulnerable areas are going to be at risk of being damaged.

Get a Concussion Screening

If you bump or jerk your head at all during the accident (which is quite likely), you’re going to want to get yourself screened for a concussion. Concussions are very serious, and sometimes you won’t exhibit symptoms until later on. A medical professional will be able to tell whether or not you suffered a concussion because of an accident.

What to Do If You Are Injured From a Dog Bite

In 2017, 1 in every 72 Americans was bitten by a dog. 20% of people bitten by dogs experienced their dog bite wound become infection. Sadly, 39 people died as a result of dog bites in 2017. Injuries caused by dog bites can become very costly for the victim. Victims may have significant medical bills and be unable to work. In 2015, California accounted for more dog bite related personal injury claims than any other state.

What to Do After Being Bit By a Dog

Seek immediate medical attention if you or a loved one is bit by a dog. Make sure to keep all documentation involving the injuries and medical bills. Follow all medical recommendations and document the exact nature of your injuries and their impact. File a police report or a report with your local county health office and give a detailed description of the incident. The dog may be quarantined to ensure the dog doesn’t have rabies. Try to remember if the dog was on a leash or roaming unsupervised.

It’s also important to locate any witnesses who were present when you were bitten.

Liability

In California, the dog owner is liable for damages if the dog bite causes injuries and the victim was in a public place or lawfully present in a private place. You do not have to prove that the dog’s owner knew the dog was aggressive or was negligent in supervising their dog.

The dog owner can escape liability if the victim was trespassing, if the dog was lawfully defending its owner, or if the dog was provoked. However, if the victim is under the age of 5, the provocation defense can’t be used.

You also have the right to sue the person handling the dog when you were bit, even if the handler is not the dog’s lawful owner. You would have the burden to prove that the handler reasonably knew the dog was aggressive or had a history of biting.

If you are bitten by a dog on the owner’s property, the dog’s owner may have renters or homeowner’s insurance that may cover some or all of your expenses.

If you sustained injuries from a dog attack that were not caused by a bite, you still have the right to pursue damages, but not under California’s dog bite statute.

Damages

You can claim compensatory damages for medical bills, physical therapy, lost earning capacity, lost wages, and scarring. Additionally, you can pursue punitive damages for things like pain and suffering.

If you are uninsured or underinsured and can’t afford out of pocket medical expenses, you can obtain a medical lien. Some medical providers will agree to extend you credit for medical treatment in exchange for becoming the first party paid if you reach an out of court settlement or obtain a judgement.

In California, there is a two-year statute of limitation to pursue damages for injuries related to a dog bite. If you have been injured from a dog bite, contact Rush Injury Law for a free consultation.

Social Media and Personal Injury Cases

77% of Americans have at least one social media account. During a personal injury case, opposing attorneys can, and will, conduct backgrounds of litigants by looking through their social media profiles. In some instances, social media posts and data can be subpoenaed or admitted as evidence. Individuals have even lost personal injury cases because of social media posts.

Managing Your Social Media Accounts

Before, during, and after litigation, ensure that your social media accounts are respectable and mature. Also use common sense. If you are suing for a personal injury and claiming physical injuries, posting material of you engaging in activities like skiing or working out is unwise. Likewise, sharing images of you dancing at a bar may be damaging if you are claiming emotional distress.

Social media content can be used by opposing counsel to attack your reputation. Videos, posts, or pictures of you engaging in reckless or illegal activities can give opposing attorneys evidence that you behave in a careless or negligent manner.

Social Media Accounts as Evidence

Several court cases have allowed social media accounts to be subpoenaed and admitted as evidence in civil cases.  In California, publicly posted material like Facebook posts can to be subpoenaed in a civil lawsuit.

In Mailhot v Home Depot U.S.A., the Central District Court of California allowed the defendant to subpoena particularized requests. The Defendant could obtain all social media communications between the Plaintiff and their co-workers that discussed the lawsuit. The Defendant was not afforded the right to access the Plaintiff’s entire social media accounts.

Additionally, California has also held that social media accounts that are publicly viewable can be admitted as evidence in civil cases.

As social media becomes more widely used, attorneys are more frequently requesting account information to help prosecute and defend personal injury cases.

Defamation and Social Media

California law also allows individuals to sue for libel and slander for defamatory comments and posts on social media accounts.

Although free speech protections allow you to freely express your opinions on social media, you can’t make knowingly false and defamatory comments online. While leaving an opinion on a website like Yelp sharing a negative experience at a restaurant is lawful, posting knowingly false information on a social networking site affords the victim the right to pursue legal damages.

The standards for libel and slander in California state that defamation has five elements, including that the statement must be published as a fact, that the statement is false, the statement is not privileged information, the statement reasonably causes special damages, and the person who published the statement was at least negligent. In certain instances, a plaintiff doesn’t need to show that the statement resulted in special damages to pursue a defamation claim.

If someone publicly posts a defamatory statement involving you on social media, the action can be considered defamation.

The popularity of social media impacts all phases of litigation and can create a claim for personal injuries. If you have questions about whether your social media accounts are protected, or are a victim of online defamation, contact Rush Injury Law.

What to Do if You Are Injured from a Recalled Product

Product recalls are common, and many times can result in serious illness and injuries by impacted consumers. The majority of recalls occur after an individual has already been injured by the product, and consumers retain the right to seek damages even if they are injured after a product recall is announced.

Product Recalls

The four most common product recalls are sporting goods, home fixtures and furnishings, personal use items (jewelry, clothing, electric razors, etc.) and children’s toys and products. Products are recalled due to safety concerns to protect consumers and limit claims of negligence against companies.

What is especially difficult about product recalls is that it is hard to quickly inform all impacted consumers. 18 of the 68 children’s products recalled in 2015 were nursery items that caused choking and strangulation hazards, making children product defects especially dangerous. 66% of Americans in 2016 responded that they believe a recalled product resulted in illness or injury.

Product recalls can also include food products, and 456 food items and products were recalled in 2017 for health concerns. SIx different government agencies in the United States can issue product recalls. Additionally, manufacturers and companies can voluntarily recall their products.

How to Check for Product Recalls

Consumers can find a comprehensive and updated list of product recalls on Recalls.gov. The website lists all recalls issued through six different government agencies, covering consumer products, boats, cars, food, medicine, cosmetics, and environmental products.

What to Do If You Were Injured by a Recalled Product

If you have a product or item that has been recalled, don’t use it. Some products like microwaves can easily be unplugged and set aside, but in the case of installed items, it may be impossible to remove the product. In such instances, mitigate the risks as much as possible. If a food item is recalled after you ate it, monitor your health for several days. Many illnesses related to recalled for items may take several days to become noticeable. Check to see what illnesses are related to the food item and ask your doctor how long it would take for symptoms to present.

If you still have the products packing and label, make sure to keep it. Likewise, keep any receipts you may have for the product. Document any potential injuries you suffered and keep itemized bills that are related to injuries you suffered.

Many food related recalls occur because of health risks that can cause illness, so make sure to immediately see your doctor if you become ill from a food product. Document your diagnosis.

Manufactures and governmental agencies issue different types of recalls. Sometimes a part of the product needs replaced, and in other instances the product needs replaced.

Beyond documenting the injury, report the defect to the product manufacturer. If you were injured or became ill after a recall was announced, you still have the legal right to recoup damages. Many product recalls fail to reach all impacted consumers, and many times injuries occur after recalls because consumers are not aware that the product was recalled.

If you want legal advice on a product recall related injury, contact Rush Injury Firm today for a free consultation.

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