San Diego Accident Victim – Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the insurance company keep calling me?
Once you have been involved in an accident, the insurance companies for both parties will try to get as much information from you as quickly as possible so that they can settle the case. Insurance adjusters will call you and ask to take recorded statements over the phone, and sometimes ask to meet with you in person. The adjusters will also send medical releases, and may attempt to settle the case by sending a check to you with a release.

Before you sign anything or provide a recorded statement to an insurance company, you should meet with an attorney to discuss your options. Rist Law Offices does not charge anything to meet with potential clients to discuss their case, no matter how long it takes. Even if you do not decide to hire our firm, we recommend that you at least talk to an attorney before you talk to an insurance company so that you can protect your rights.

Is it OK to let the insurance adjuster record a conversation about the case?
We do not recommend that accident victims provide a recorded statement to an insurance company. If you have to file a claim, the recorded statement that you provide could be used against you later. Even if your own insurance company calls you, providing a recorded statement is not a good idea. The insurance company records these statements on dated, tape-recorder devices that can be hard to understand when the recording is transcribed. Also, an insurance adjuster might ask “leading” questions (where the answer is suggested in the question), in order to get information. If you contact us as soon after an accident as possible, we can protect your rights in dealing with the insurance companies.

The insurance company is offering me a settlement, should I take it?
No. Do not accept the settlement and immediately contact an attorney. Insurance companies try to settle injury claims quickly for less than the full value of the case.

For example, in an automobile accident case, an insurance company may offer to “pay your medical bills.” The problem with this offer is that it does not include compensation like damages for pain and suffering, lost income, future lost income and future medical expenses.

What is my case worth?
It is impossible to use a formula to determine how much a case is worth. Generally speaking, the facts of each case and the amount of damages an injury victim has suffered determine the potential amount.

The initial meeting with a San Diego Injury Lawyer from Rist Law Office will include an evaluation of the value of your case.

What are damages?
Although the definition of “damages” can vary from case to case, in an accident case, the amount of damages is generally equal to the total amount of medical bills, lost income, expected medical costs, and expected lost income. Someone involved in an accident can also recover money for pain and suffering, which is determined by a jury.

Depending on the type of case and facts involved, punitive damages, which are damages assessed against a negligent party to punish them for their acts, can also be recovered.

When you come to your first meeting with an attorney from Rist Law Office, bring all medical bills and medical records that you have so we can discuss your treatment and assess the damages in your case. If you do not have any records, we will be happy to obtain them for you as a part of our service to you.

How long does a lawsuit last?
Once a lawsuit is filed, it can take anywhere from a few days to more than two years to resolve the case. An exact number is impossible to provide.

Do I need a lawyer?
We believe that anyone who has been injured should, at the very least, talk to a lawyer before dealing with an insurance company. You can sit down and discuss your case with an injury attorney from Rist Law Office for free. Once you settle a claim with an insurance company, you will not be able to make a claim later for the same accident, even if you discover that you need additional medical attention.

How much does an attorney cost?
Injury lawyers generally take cases on a contingency fee basis. What this means is that the lawyer is not paid a fee unless the injury victim receives compensation. This arrangement allows anyone to afford the best attorney for his or her case.

Rist Law Office takes all personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. We front all of the costs for the litigation, investigation, and if necessary, trial of your case. We do not recover any of these expenses unless we succeed in getting you compensation.

What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is the time period set by law for an injury victim to file a claim against a wrongdoer. This time limit can vary depending on the type of the case, so it is important to contact an experienced injury attorney at Rist Law Office so you know how much time you have to file a case.

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