If I hire Kottler and Kottler, who will pay the expenses of my legal case?
Kottler and Kottler’s policy is to advance expenses if we accept your case. We get our costs back when your case settles or we obtain a verdict. There are some exceptions to this rule. By hiring Kottler & Kottler you get over 44 years of experience serving the local community.
If Kottler and Kottler doesn’t handle my particular type of case, can you refer me to a competent attorney that does?
Yes. Although we handle most types of personal injury cases, there are several specialty areas that we don’t handle ourselves. Please contact us to discuss your particular case.
If I want to look up the law myself, how can I do that?
There are websites that give you free access to California law, laws of other states, and all law. See the links below for web sites which allow you to do your own research.
Google Scholar: http://scholar.google.com/schhp?hl=en&as_sdt=4,5
Law Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov/law/index.php
Law Guru: http://www.lawguru.com/
Public Library of Law: http://www.plol.org/Pages/Search.aspx
What is the statute of limitation in California for a personal injury case?
For adults it is two years from the date of the injury. You have to either settle the case or file a lawsuit to protect the statute of limitations. People under 18 years old (minors) receive an extension until their 20th birthday. There are many exceptions to these rules. If the defendant in your case is a California governmental entity, you must file a claim for damages with that specific governmental entity within six months of the accident date. The governmental entity rule applies to both adults and minors. In uninsured motorist cases, the statute is two years for both adults and minors. These rules are for accidents that happen in California. Other states may have different rules. Also, different rules apply for cases involving malpractice and fraud. In almost every category of case there are exceptions to the usual rules. To be sure of the statute of limitations in your case, consult Kottler and Kottler. We give free consultations. There is no obligation to you.
What happens if I have a severe injury and the person who caused my accident does not have enough insurance coverage to pay all of my damages?
After you have exhausted the insurance coverage you next look to the responsible person’s assets. However, most people who don’t have enough insurance usually don’t have enough assets either. If the responsible person was in the course and scope of their employment when the accident happened, their employer would also be responsible. Most employers have high-limit insurance policies. We also look for excess or umbrella insurance policies. There may also be other defendants and other theories of recovery. Serious injury cases allow us to investigate unusual or obscure theories of law in order to recover full value for our injured client. Recently we collected a $4.2 million dollar jury verdict from an insurance company on a $300,000 insurance policy. Not many lawyers are able to get more than policy limits from an insurance company, but we collect more than policy limits several times per year for our clients because we know the law, and work hard for our clients.
If I have to pay a lawyer part of my settlement, does that mean I will get less for myself?
No. The job of your personal injury lawyer is to maximize the value of your particular case. It is no secret that an insurance company will seldom pay anywhere near full value to injured persons who are not represented by a lawyer. More often than not, after delays and broken promises, an insurance adjuster will offer only a token amount to injured persons who do not have legal representation. Good lawyers like Kottler and Kottler have their reputation, hard work, and access to investigators and expert witnesses, and are able to prove the facts of your case. We have access to doctors and hospitals for our clients that you cannot obtain on your own. We know how to prove an injury. For instance, how would you prove you have a headache or a backache? We know the law that governs your situation. A good lawyer can determine the jury verdict value of your injury. The combination of all of these factors, and our ability to take the responsible party to court if they don’t voluntarily pay you a fair settlement, make it obvious that the only way to get treated fairly by an insurance company is to be represented by a good attorney. Insurance companies respect strength.
What determines how much my case is worth?
There’s no magic formula, but as a general rule the more serious the injury is, the more the case is worth. Of course, the person or company that caused your accident has to have enough insurance and/or assets to pay that value. Our system is based on the principal that the person at fault has to pay for the damage they cause. The clearer the liability the better your case is. The value of a case is based on the combination of severity of the injury, the liability of the defendant, and that person’s ability to pay you the value of the case.
If I don’t have health insurance how can I get medical treatment for my injuries?
Some health care providers, including board certified medical specialists, hospitals, MRI centers, pharmacists, etc. are willing to provide health care services to our clients on a lien. They will wait until the conclusion of the case to get paid. Many of our clients choose this option even if they have health coverage with an HMO or PPO. An HMO or PPO is also entitled to be paid back from the proceeds of your case which means that obtaining private health care on a lien is an attractive option. Therefore, the choice of medical providers becomes what is most convenient for you, and where you will get the best results.
How long does an injury case take from the time of the accident until it is concluded?
In general, the more serious the injury and the more complicated the facts, the longer the case takes. Simple rear-end traffic accidents with minimal injuries usually take only a few months to resolve. Multi-party cases with serious injuries usually take between one and two years to complete.
In a traffic accident where liability is clear, will the insurance company pay for my car repair before I finish my medical treatment?
Yes, that is almost always the case. You would also be entitled to a rental car until your car is repaired. If you don’t rent a car, you are entitled to a “loss of use” payment to you for the equivalent rental value of your car, for the period of time you are deprived of its use.
If I fall and hurt myself on someone else’s property, do they have to pay me for my injuries?
It depends on why you fell. In order to collect monetary damages you will have to prove that the property owner was negligent. Common situations involve retailers allowing spills to remain on the sales floor after they are made aware of them. Other common slip/trip and fall situations typically involve uneven sidewalks, stairs, missing or detached hand rails, leaking refrigerated cases in supermarkets, and countless other unique situations. Each slip and fall has to be evaluated based on its individual facts. Call us to discuss the facts in your case. As in most cases it always helps to get witnesses, and to take photographs if possible.
If I am hurt while participating in a sport, can I get paid for my injuries?
Usually not. In the State of California we have a rule of law called “assumption of the risk” which usually, but not always, prohibits recovery from the party that caused your injury in a sport accident. There are many exceptions to this rule, and especially if you have a serious sports injury, you should always consult an attorney to advise you as to whether you are one of the exceptions.
In a traffic accident, who gets to choose the body shop where my car is repaired? Me or the insurance company?
Should I give a statement to the other person’s insurance company?
Usually not. They have already heard their own insured’s version of the accident. If their insured told them he or she was not at fault, then you have no chance of convincing the claims adjuster that you were in the right and their insured was in the wrong. Usually the person at an insurance company who takes statements has been taught how to ask questions in a way that may omit facts important to your case, and make your answers somewhat distorted. In addition, if you have to go to court, that statement you gave the insurance adjuster can be used to impeach you. For instance, if you give a statement on the day after the accident and say that only your neck hurts, and a few days later you realize your shoulder also hurts, that contradiction would be used against you when you try to prove your shoulder injury in court.
Why I should I choose Kottler & Kottler to represent me?
We have been practicing law exclusively in the personal injury field on behalf of injured people since 1969. We are members of the California Consumer Lawyers Association, the Los Angeles Consumer Lawyers Association, and the American Trial Lawyers Association. We attend their seminars to keep up on the law. We support these organizations, both financially, and by participating as lecturers in seminars and as authors of articles in law journals. We care about our clients, and pride ourselves in keeping our clients informed about their cases and being available to them to answer questions. We have an excellent record of top-notch results on a variety of types of cases. We understand that choosing an attorney to represent you for your injury can be difficult and confusing. We are willing to spend the time necessary with you in a free consultation to discuss the merits of your case, so you can make an intelligent choice. Our jury verdict results have been as high as $40.525,000.00 in one case. We have had many verdicts and settlements in excess of a million dollars.
In a traffic accident, can I collect full value for my injuries if I didn’t have “liability insurance”?
In California, the answer is complicated. If you were a passenger, and not the owner of the vehicle, the answer is yes. If you were injured as a pedestrian, the answer is yes. If the driver that caused the accident was convicted of drunk driving, the answer is yes. In most other cases, where you are the owner or the driver of a car without liability insurance you will only be able to collect the actual value of your loss, and will not be able to collect anything for “pain and suffering”. These rules are based on Proposition 213 passed by the voters a few years ago. Because there are many exceptions to the rule, you should call us for a free consultation.
If I caused the accident can I still collect for my injuries?
California has comparative negligence. That means if you were 25% at fault for an accident, you can still collect 75% of the value of your case. Therefore, the answer is yes, you can collect for your injuries even if the accident was partly your fault.
If I hire an attorney instead of handling the case myself, will that delay my settlement?
No. That is, not unless you are willing to settle your case for far less than it is worth. Insurance companies will demand the same proof of facts regarding your injuries from you as they would from an attorney. Unless you are trained in this field, the insurance company will have a big advantage over you, and usually will only offer you a token of what your case is worth.
I am handling my case myself, and the insurance company wants me to be examined by their doctor. Should I agree to this?
No! What they are really saying is, “we don’t trust your doctor to tell us the truth.” If they have that attitude, it doesn’t take much imagination to know what will happen next.
If I lose time from work, will the other person’s insurance company pay me for lost earnings even though I am collecting sick leave or disability?
Yes. If you have to dip into your sick leave or disability account, then the insurance company is not allowed to take credit or deduct that from your settlement.
Can I make a claim for injuries if the accident was partly my fault?
Yes, in California you can.
In a traffic accident case, how can I get paid if the responsible party didn’t have insurance?
You can collect for your own bodily injuries through your own insurance policy if you have what is called “uninsured motorist” coverage. You can get your vehicle fixed under your collision coverage. You can get your medical bills paid by your Med Pay coverage or your health insurance. Your lost earnings may be paid by State Disability Insurance. All motor vehicle liability insurance policies sold in California are required to include uninsured motorist coverage unless you sign a waiver deleting it. Making a claim under the uninsured motorist coverage is tricky, and you should have a lawyer represent you.
I already had a bad back for years before the accident. Now, because of this accident, my doctor says I need back surgery. Does the responsible party have to pay for this?
Yes. The law is the other party has to take you as they find you. If you are more susceptible to any injury because of your previous back (or other medical) condition, the insurance company is not allowed to decrease your settlement because of that pre-existing condition.
If I hire a lawyer do I have to file reports myself with my own insurance company?
If you hire Kottler and Kottler, we will report the accident to your own insurance company (if appropriate) and handle all the paperwork.
Who determines how the accident happened?
Usually this is accomplished through witnesses (including the parties to the accident) and an analysis of the physical evidence. In motor vehicle cases there are usually police reports. Other situations are sometimes videotaped from surveillance cameras. Each case will present a different set of circumstances. As a general rule you should collect as much information at the scene of the accident as you possibly can. Get names and other information from witnesses, and if you have a camera take pictures if you think they will help you.