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.

Slip and Falls on Icy Roads and Walkways

February is one of the coldest months of the year and with it comes snow, ice, and other nasty weather that can make outdoor trips treacherous. Slip and fall accidents (obviously) increase this time of year and business owners have an obligation to keep walkways and stairs clear of ice and snow. Personal injury claims in slip and fall accidents do have to meet several criteria for a settlement to be issued in the state of California. The experts at Rush Injury Law can help determine if your fall is the fault of someone else and collect the compensation you deserve.

Slip and Fall Law in California

California Civil Code 1714 (a) states:

“Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts, but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself.

What does this mean? Property owners must make sure to prevent injuries to passersby by taking care of their surroundings in a reasonable manner. This means clearing ice and snow, laying down salt to prevent slips, and cleaning up wet areas. Most people think of ice and snow, but moisture tracked indoors to supermarkets or other places with tile floors are also hazardous.

The word “reasonable” appears in the law for a specific cause – slip and fall victims must prove they were injured as a result of negligence on the part of the property owner and not because of their own actions.

Comparative Negligence

Slip and fall claims will be denied if the person who fell did so because of their own actions. If the person slipping was inebriated, ignored warning signs, entered a blocked off area, or was distracted by their phone, insurance companies aren’t going to bend over backward to pay you.

In California, comparative negligence is a concept where blame is divvied up between the two conflicting parties. A percentage of fault is placed on the head of both plaintiff and defendant. For example, say a person slips on an icy walkway, but they were distracted watching a video on their phone. The property owner is at fault for not clearing the walkway, but the victim will also share some blame due to their own carelessness. In this case, the property owner might be hit with $20,000 in damages, but only have to pay $15,000 if it’s deemed the accident was 25% the fault of the person who slipped.

Rush Injury Law handles all sorts of personal injury and slip and fall claims, whether it’s from an icy walkway in front of a business or a slippery floor in a movie theater. Our attorneys will help maximize your compensation so that you can account for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.