Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve been in a car accident or otherwise hurt by the negligence of another party, you might have questions about what you are supposed to do next to get your claim started, how to pay for your doctor’s bills, and what your claim is worth. Our attorney practices statewide throughout California, South Carolina, and Texas, and is available to assist you anywhere within those states. We frequently hear questions like these as we help injury victims from coast to coast from our offices in southern California (Los Angeles, Santa Ana, and San Diego) and Charleston, South Carolina. Below we’ve provided answers to some of the questions we get most often, which hopefully will provide you with some of the basic information you are looking for. For questions specific to your case or immediate assistance with an accident or injury claim, call Yanni Law for a free consultation.
What can I say to the other driver after a crash?
Even if you’ve been in an accident before, it can still be awkward and confusing to know what to say and do, and what not to say and do, at the scene of the accident while you wait for the police to arrive. You should always call the police after any crash with injury or significant property damage ($1,000 or more). It’s required by law and probably by the insurance company as well, plus having a police report can be very important for your claim.
State law requires you to exchange information with the other driver. This should include contact information such as your name, address, phone number, and email address. You should also share your driver’s license number and insurance information, limited to the name of the company, their address or phone number, and your policy number. Depending on state law, you might be required to show a copy of your driver’s license or proof of insurance to the other driver should they ask to see it. Exchanging information is easy these days as each person can take pictures with their phone of the other’s information.
Beyond the exchange of information, your conversation with the other driver should be limited to asking if they need medical assistance, including an ambulance or a ride to the hospital. Regarding your insurance, you need not share any details about your coverage or policy limits, and you should avoid making statements such as, “I have good insurance” or “I’m fully covered.” Similarly, it’s important to refrain from saying things like, “I’m sorry.” Statements like these can be misconstrued as admissions of fault when that’s not what you meant at all. You also shouldn’t discuss how you are feeling (“I feel fine,” “I’ll be all right”). It’s natural to say things like this to put other people at ease, but the other driver or the insurance company can use statements like these to limit their liability to you or make you appear liable for the accident.
Can I talk to the insurance company?
You might think it’s important to call the insurance company right away to get your claim started, but it’s more important to talk to a lawyer first. From their first contact with you, insurance companies are looking for anything that will help them limit their payout or avoid liability. For instance, they might ask you how you are doing or how you are feeling. It’s natural to answer “How are you?” with “Fine” or to downplay if you are in pain or feeling bad, but insurers will use these statements against you to argue you weren’t hurt very bad. They will also ask numerous questions in different ways to generate inconsistent responses or anything that makes you look at fault for the accident and not their insured. By talking to a lawyer first, your lawyer can prepare you for how to talk with the insurance company or even handle the call on your behalf.
Even if you don’t call the insurance company, they might call you; they have your number since you exchanged information with the other driver. They are likely to call you soon after the accident hoping you haven’t talked to a lawyer yet, so they can get statements from you to use against you or settle your case quickly before you’ve had a chance to find out what your damages from the accident are. Insurance companies will typically want to record the phone conversation as well so they can go over it in detail and generate evidence against you. In California, they need your consent to record the call, but that is not necessarily the case in South Carolina. This is another reason to keep your answers very brief and wait to talk to a lawyer before you talk to the insurance company.
You still need to notify the insurance company promptly, so it’s important to call a lawyer as soon as you can after the crash.
Why should I hire Yanni Law for my accident or injury case?
We know what you are going through because we have been through it ourselves (see Yanni’s bio page). This personal experience helps us relate to you, anticipate your needs, guide you and answer your questions. We offer personal attention and access to your attorney whenever you need to talk with him. Our firm is focused on getting the best results we can for every client, and we have a record of success you can count on.
Do I get charged for phone calls if I have questions or want an update on the status of my case?
All your calls and communications with our office are part of our service to you, including your initial consultation before you even become a client of the firm. We are a boutique, service-oriented law firm that invites you to call whenever you have a question or concern. Our lawyer, Yanni Bohren, even shares his cellphone number with his clients. The only time we charge you is at the conclusion of the case. Your fee is based on a percentage of what we recover for you, and if we aren’t successful, then we don’t charge you anything.
What if I can’t afford to see a doctor?
Getting the right medical care promptly is crucial to your health and the success of your case. We realize that some people don’t have medical insurance, while others are limited by their policy regarding which doctors they can see. We work with a network of providers and can help find the right doctors to see you and treat you. We can arrange for doctors to treat you without charging you upfront and instead receive their payment after the conclusion of your case. We’ll even handle their payment out of the settlement or judgment so you don’t have to deal with it, and we’ll review their bills to make sure they are reasonable and related to your injury and the services provided to you.
How much money will I receive on my case?
Compensation in a personal injury case is a combination of economic and noneconomic damages. Economic damages are your actual present and future costs for medical care, missed work or disability, property damage, etc. These damages are fairly straightforward to calculate or project. Noneconomic damages are compensation for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of quality of life, etc. These damages are usually calculated as a multiple of your economic damages. They typically range from 1.5 times to five times your economic damages, depending on the severity of the injury. The worse the injury, the higher the noneconomic damages.
How much you receive depends on whether your case settles without a lawsuit, after a lawsuit is filed, or if your case goes to trial. Factors influencing a settlement can include the nature of the injury and its impact on your life, the strength of the evidence in the case supporting your claim, the strength of any defenses the defense might have, any evidence of comparative fault, and any applicable caps on damages. Both California and South Carolina have limits on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases but not in other personal injury cases such as car accidents. Your lawyer’s fees and possibly doctor’s bills will also be paid out of the settlement or judgment.
What are punitive damages?
Economic and noneconomic damages, described above, are called compensatory damages because they are meant to compensate you for the harm you suffered. Punitive damages, on the other hand, are intended to punish the defendant for their misconduct, and also to serve as an example and deter future bad conduct from the defendant and others. Punitive damages are not available in most cases and are harder to achieve even when available. The standard of proof is higher for punitive damages than compensatory damages; “clear and convincing evidence” is required to show the defendant’s actions were “willful, wanton or reckless” (South Carolina) or involved “oppression, fraud, or malice”) California. A driver with an excessively high blood alcohol content or who caused a crash at an excessive rate of speed might be a candidate for punitive damages. A doctor or hospital that purposely alters or conceals medical records and evidence of malpractice might also justify having a punitive damages award entered against them, for example. Although they require more time and effort, we put in the extra work to obtain punitive damages in appropriate cases to maximize justice, accountability, and compensation for you.