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.

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.

What To Do If You Are Injured at Work

Between 1992 and 2011, the most common months for workplace fatalities were July and August. 11,168 workplace fatalities occurred during July, and 11,155 fatalities occurred during August, making the summer months more dangerous for workers. Increased temperatures and more outdoor work help contribute to the spike in work-related fatalities during the summer. In 2016, 21.1% of all work-related fatalities occurred in the construction field. Construction work is far more common during the summer months, and hot temperatures can lead to complications such as severe dehydration.

Work Related Injuries

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers an injury work-related if “an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a pre-existing injury or illness. Work-relatedness is presumed for injuries and illnesses resulting from events or exposures occurring in the work environment.”

It is important to know that a work-related injury includes an event or accident that aggravated a pre-existing condition and doesn’t have to be a new injury.

Workplace related injuries can also occur if you work from home. If you are doing any paid work-related activities at home and suffer an injury related to your job, your injury is considered work-related. For example, if you drop a box of work documents and injure your foot, the injury is work-related. If the injury is related to a non-work function or your home environment, such as an injury caused by faulty electrical wiring, your injury would not be considered work-related.

Work-related injuries include a single event that caused the injury, as well as injuries caused by long-term or continuous exposure to certain activities or conditions.

How to Address a Work-Related Injury

If you are injured at work, immediately report the event to your supervisor. Seek appropriate medical treatment. Keep in mind that it is illegal for your employer to fire you for being injured at work or for filing a workers compensation claim. In California, the employer is responsible for providing you with a worker’s compensation claim form within one working day of your injury.

Document your injury with your doctor and follow the treatment recommendations. Some employers may direct you to see a specific doctor or medical practice.

You should consider filing a workers compensation claim. Part-time and seasonal employees typically qualify for workers compensation. In California, non-citizens may be eligible for worker’s compensation benefits. While independent contractors, in most cases, are not entitled to workers compensation benefits, employers commonly misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid paying workers compensation and payroll taxes. If your employer tells you that you are not covered because you are an independent contractor, review the guidelines of your position to ensure that you meet the definition of an independent contractor.

Workers compensation claims may not always cover all of your losses. The main benefits of workers compensation include medical expenses, temporary and permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits, and death benefits.

Accepting workers compensation does not nullify your right to pursue damages or other disability benefits. If you have been injured on the job, contact Rush Injury Law for a free consultation.

What to Do If You’re Bitten by A Dog

Dogs are a staple in many American households and not just as pets, but beloved family members. Dogs are trained around the world for emotional support and therapy, providing comfort to grieving and injured people. Man’s best friend is a very appropriate statement, but untrained dogs with poor or inattentive owners have risks. Over 4 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year and most of the bites happen to young children. We don’t like to think about dogs biting people, but it does occur, and California happens to have some the strictest laws in the country regarding these incidents. If you’ve been bitten by a dog, or if your own dog has acted up and hurt someone, Rush Injury Law can answer any questions you may have.

California Civil Code section 3342 covers dog attacks. States in America have two policies regarding dog bites – strict liability or negligence. California is a strict liability state, meaning owners of dogs who bite rarely escape liability. The law says that a dog’s owner is responsible for any person’s injuries inflicted by the dog in public space or while the person was lawfully on private property. “Lawfully on private property” refers to postal workers, firefighters, police, or emergency personnel. If a police officer chases a suspect into your backyard and your dog bites the officer, you could be on the hook for damages and more. Same goes for anyone invited into your home or property – if they get bit, it’s on you.

The law has protections in place for police or military animals. If a police dog bites someone during the pursuit of a suspect or if the dog was agitated or bothered, a lawsuit won’t fly. These laws aren’t absolute though – a police dog can still get in trouble if it bites in a setting where police are not doing work.

Dog owners aren’t helpless against fraudulent or suspect claims. If the owner can prove that the victim was unlawfully on their property, they may escape blame for dog bites. If the owner can prove that the dog was provoked to the point of being in pain, the victim may lose their case as well.

If you’re bitten by a dog, be sure to immediately sterilize the wounds with soap and water and then apply an antibiotic ointment daily to prevent infection. If bleeding, be sure to elevate the affected area and apply pressure to the area with a clean towel to stop the flow. Be sure to seek medical attention immediately if the bleeding doesn’t subside or if an infection is feared. Your first call should always be to medical personnel, not your attorney. Only discuss legal options once the immediate danger of the injury subsides.

Dog bite victims are often entitled to payment of the medical expenses, lost wages, and personal pain and suffering. Rush Injury Law has attorneys that specialize in getting dog bite victims the compensation they deserve. Contact them today to see if you have a legitimate claim.

How to Handle a Teenage Driver

For a teenager, getting a driver’s license is one of the most exciting times of their lives. For a parent, it’s a white-knuckled, hair-raising experience fraught with perils real and imagined. Teenage drivers have high accident rates and car crashes are the leading cause of death for people aged 16-19. Your teenager views getting a driver’s license as a sign of responsibility and adulthood, but no one on the road is more dangerous than the 16-year old with their first license. Rush Injury Laws knows the concerns parents have about their kids getting into car accidents.

Make Firm, But Fair Rules For The Road

It’s important to set some rules for the road when your teenager gets behind the driver’s seat. The state of California has several restrictions on teen driving, such as no driving between 11 pm and 5 am and the banning of passengers under 20 years of age (unless accompanied by an adult). This is a good start, but parents would be wise to implement a few more.

Limit the number of passengers

The more people in the car, the more distractions for the driver. Friends want to tag along for the ride when a new driver gets on the road, but limit the number of friend pickups to 1 or 2.

Set driving boundaries  

The state of California doesn’t limit where teens can drive, but it’s not a bad idea to set a limit on how many miles away from home they can go. A novice drivers on a road they aren’t familiar with is a recipe for trouble. Only letting your teen driver go 20-30 miles away from the house is a good way to get peace of mind without restricting your child’s freedom.

No texting and driving

This rule might be difficult to enforce when your teen is on the road, but it’s a topic that needs to be discussed. According to the Center for Disease Control, you’re 23 times more likely to get in an accident while texting and driving. Talk openly about this policy and set a good example when your the driver and the teen is the passenger.

What Do If Your Teen Is In An Accident?

First of all, don’t panic. Teen crashes are common, but only 0.003% are fatal according to the United States Department of Transportation. A car is just a hunk of metal that can be replaced. But remember, the state of California made you put your John Hancock on your child’s license. This means their accident is your accident. Most accidents will be fully covered by insurance, but if your child as a history of reckless, you might be on the hook for the full damages.

Make sure the police are contacted. A police report is often the only thing preventing the case from becoming a ‘he-said-she-said’ argument. Take pictures of the damage on both cars for the insurance companies. An accident often puts great emotional stress on a teenager, so don’t immediately reprimand them. If your child was at fault, punishment can come later.

If your child was injured in a car accident in the San Francisco area, be sure to contact Rush Injury Law. Our lawyers are experts in car accidents involving teens and we’ll fight to get the compensation you deserve.

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