Questions from readers on accidents
Thank you all for you letters and emails. Today I have again bunched together emails and letters that I have received on related topics. Many of you have asked questions about civil lawsuits, finding a lawyer and why lawyers will not take your case on a contingency. Here are answers to several of your related questions.
Q. I had an auto accident and I have taken the case to 3 lawyers who all rejected the case. Why?
A. In today's climate accident cases do not settle as easily as they did when I was a young lawyer. There is no longer bad faith because the insurance companies spend millions of dollars in advertising to confuse the public who innocently voted on propositions put on the ballot by the insurance companies that were against the best interest of the public. In the past a lawyer could threaten to sue for Bad Faith if an insurance co did not settle the case quickly and fairly... that is no longer the case with the removal of bad faith. Thus insurance companies DELAY and DENY coverage. Insurance companies know that many clients and lawyers will just drop the case knowing the amount that would have to be invested in the case could easily be more than the value of the case.
Q. I have read in your columns that a victim of an accident should seek medical treatment right away. Why?
A. If you did not go to the hospital by ambulance or be driven there by a friend within 24 hours the value of the case is arguably reduced... at least according to the insurance company. If you call your own doctor who says I cannot see you for 2-3 weeks and you then wait and see him/her it is the kiss of death for your case. The lapse of treatment will be used by the insurance company who will argue if you were really hurt you would have gone to the ER or Urgent Care before the two week wait to see YOUR doctor. Most lawyers do not want their clients to see a doctor they have treated with before because we all have skeletons in our closet. These can be notes about drug or alcohol problems, a venereal disease, an abortion a previous accident or a referral to a psychologist etc. In addition some doctors are great at treating you but not as skilled in preparing a medical/legal report. For several years I lectured at medical conventions on How to Write a Medical Legal Report. In other words you do not want the doctor to say "There is a 50% chance the patient will make a full recovery." Doesn't it sound better to say "There is a 50% chance the patient will not make a full recovery?" Doctors not trained in preparing a medical legal report put things in the report that will hurt your case such as a mention of prior injuries when you slipped running around the pool or in the shower or they mention a prior accident. I do not suggest lying to the insurance company but why flag it for them?
Meanwhile a personal injury lawyer knows they will have to pay out a lot of money for investigations/court fees etc. In our office if a client does not contact us within3 days of the accident we usually will not accept the case. The exception is when there are very serious injuries.
Q. I had a slip and fall. Why is it so hard to find an accident lawyer to accept my case?
A. Insurance companies do not readily settle slip and fall accidents. They ask the victim in a deposition or trial, were you looking where you were walking? If so why didn't you see the water on the floor or hole in the ground? If you were not looking where you were walking they argue why should we pay you if you did not look where you were walking? They argue the victim is at fault.
Most slip and falls happen in markets around the produce or frozen food sections where water is dripping to the floor. The law on Slip and Fall cases started with the old "gritty banana peel case". Courts determined if the banana peel was fresh and green it is reasonable to assume it was just dropped and the market cannot be held liable for this. If however the banana peel was black and gritty with shopping cart tracks over it then it is reasonable to assume it had been there a while and the market is presume to have known or should have known about it.
Markets keep sweep sheets showing when little Johnny swept that aisle. If it had not been swept regularly then there is a better chance of holding the market liable. The opposite is true if the aisles were swept regularly. California does not have STRICT LIABILITY for Slip and Falls the way they do for DOG BITES accidents.
Dale Gribow has been "Rated" TOP LAWYER by Palm Springs Life Magazine from 2011-2019 and has a Superb Avvo Legal Rating. Dale Gribow has been Man of the Year 7 times including the City of Palm Desert and the City of Hope and Dale Gribow Day has been declared 4 times. If you have any questions regarding this column or ideas for future columns please contact Dale Gribow Attorney at Law at his NEW number 760-565-0533.