General

CAN I SETTLE MY AUTO DAMAGE CLAIM NOW?

You are entitled to have your car repaired and to settle your property damage claim before you settle your personal injury claim. However, we recommend that you never sign any release documents from an insurance company, even if you think that you are only settling your property damages claim. With the wrong language in the Release you could unwittingly release your injury claim as well.

HOW DO I FIND THE RIGHT LAWYER?

California has more than 150,000 practicing lawyers. You should be able to find the right one – if you know where to look. The best advice is to hire a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable.

Recommendations. Maybe you know a lawyer in a town where you used to live. Perhaps a lawyer who works for a corporation lives across the street. These lawyers may be able to refer you to other lawyers who have experience with your type of problem.

You also could ask your friends, co-workers and employers if they know any lawyers. Business owners or professionals such as bankers, ministers, doctors, social workers and teachers might be able to give you the name of a lawyer.

Certified lawyer referral services. You could call a local State Bar-certified lawyer referral service. This type of service refers potential clients to attorneys.

Attorney Organizations. Some lawyers belong to organizations for lawyers who practice certain types of law. The lawyers at Ernst Law Group, ALC belong to the State Bar of California, the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association, the Central Coast Trial Lawyers Association (Mr. Ernst and Mr. Whitehead are past presidents), the Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles and the Consumer Attorneys of California. Mr. Ernst has been elected by his peers to be the President of the Consumer Attorneys of California in 2008.

We invite you to review the resumes of our attorneys.

IS A LAWSUIT NECESSARY?

Not always. Sometimes claims can be resolved with a few phone calls or letters. In some cases a settlement can be reached after you retain a lawyer but before a lawsuit is filed. Many times, however, you will not obtain full compensation until you file a lawsuit. Even after you file a lawsuit many cases settle before trial

In order to maximize your chances of obtaining a fair settlement you should hire a lawyer with a proven track record of not only good settlements, but also of successful jury trial verdicts. Your chances of a fair settlement increase when a defendant knows that your lawyer is willing and able to take your case to trial. Insurance companies know our proven track record of winning jury trials.

WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS TO COMPENSATION?

That depends. If you have been injured by the negligent actions of a third party you generally are entitled to be compensated for past lost earnings, future lost earnings and earning capacity, past and future medical expenses and pain and suffering. In personal injury cases, with rare exceptions, you can not recover your attorney’s fees so it is important to find a lawyer who will take your injury case on a contingency fee basis.

When you have been injured by the intentional actions of a third party you might be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are assessed against the wrongdoer as a means of punishment. The amount of punitive damages you might get depends on the nature of the conduct and the financial condition of the wrongdoer.

If your insurance company is guilty of bad faith you may be entitled to your denied benefits, attorney’s fees, emotional distress damages and punitive damages.

A big part of your lawyer’s job is to thoroughly assess and prove your damages. Your lawsuit is your only chance to obtain fair compensation. It pays to hire an experienced and skilled attorney.

WHAT IF THE WRONGDOER HAS LITTLE OR NO INSURANCE?

If you have been injured by the negligent actions of an uninsured or underinsured driver you may still be able to obtain full compensation for your injuries. Most insurance policies in California include Uninsured Motorist coverage that will allow you to obtain compensation through your own insurance policy when you are injured by an uninsured driver. Uninsured Motorist coverage also operates as Underinsured Motorist coverage when the person who caused your injury does not have policy limits high enough to full compensate you. In this instance your Uninsured Motorist policy limits can be used to supplement the low limits carried by the responsible party.

It is very important to hire a lawyer who understands the rights and obligations of an insurance company in Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist cases. At Ernst Law Group, ALC we have handled hundreds of uninsured and underinsured motorist cases for our clients. We are happy to speak with you about your case.

HOW DO I OBTAIN MEDICAL CARE?

If you have been injured in an accident there are several ways that you can obtain medical care. Your own insurance policy probably contains as “Medical Payments” provision. This means that your insurance company will pay for your medical treatment regardless of fault, up to the limit you purchased. If you have your own health insurance policy you can also obtain medical services as provided by your policy. If you qualify, Medicare and Medi-Cal also provide coverage for accident injury treatment under certain circumstances.

You should also know that in California a hospital can not deny emergency medical care based on lack of insurance or inability to pay. As a last resort if you have no medical insurance available to you we can often obtain care for you on a “lien” basis. This means that we enter into an agreement with a health care provider whereby they will treat you in exchange for your promise to pay them from the proceeds of your lawsuit.

You should be aware that if you recover damages from the responsible party and you have obtained medical care for your injuries through public or private insurance you may have an obligation to repay your insurance company, or the government, to the extent of the benefits they paid for you. It is very important to work with your lawyer so that all efforts can be taken to minimize or even eliminate your repayment obligation.

We have extensive experience dealing with medical insurance issues and welcome your call to discuss your situation.

DO I NEED A LAWYER?

Anyone who tells you that you are required hire a lawyer to resolve your personal injury case is simply not being honest with you. The truth is that some matters can be resolved with a little common sense. However, if you have serious injuries or the other party will not take responsibility you need experienced and skilled legal representation. At Ernst Law Group, ALC we have over 95 years of legal experience representing injured people.

It is always a good idea to seek sound legal advice before making an important legal decision such as when you are faced with a family law, criminal law or bankruptcy matter. At Ernst Law Group, ALC our practice is limited to representing people who have been seriously injured. This experience allows us to help you protect your important legal rights when you or loved has been seriously injured. Getting good legal advice early on enables you to decide whether or not you need to hire a lawyer.

We are always willing to discuss your case with you without cost or obligation.

Insurance Dispute

WHAT DAMAGES CAN I RECOVER IF MY CLAIM IS DENIED?

Insurance companies are required to undertake a thorough and unbiased review of each claim. When an insurance company fails to fairly evaluate a claim, or requires the insured to take unreasonable steps to verify a claim, the company has breached its obligation of good faith and fair dealing which is implied in every insurance contract.

Damages for insurance bad faith include payment of the benefits due to you, and all consequential damages including attorney’s fees, emotional distress damages and even punitive damages in some cases.

CAN I GO TO COURT IF MY CLAIM IS DENIED?

That depends on the terms of your insurance policy. If your claim can not be resolved informally you may be able to file a lawsuit in the Superior Court provided that your insurance policy does not require that you submit your case to binding arbitration. Arbitration provisions in insurance contracts are complicated so it is important to retain a qualified lawyer to determine if your policy has an enforceable arbitration clause.

If your policy does require that you submit your case to arbitration your case will be decided by a neutral arbitrator. Your lawyer will gather the evidence and argue your case to the arbitrator who will issue a decision that is binding on you and the insurance company.

HOW DO I SELECT A LAWYER?

Experience matters. Claims against insurance companies are complicated and require skilled representation.

Recommendations. Maybe you know a lawyer in a town where you used to live. Perhaps a lawyer who works for a corporation lives across the street. These lawyers may be able to refer you to other lawyers who have experience with your type of problem.

You also could ask your friends, co-workers and employers if they know any lawyers. Business owners or professionals such as bankers, ministers, doctors, social workers and teachers might be able to give you the name of a lawyer.

Certified lawyer referral services. You could call a local State Bar-certified lawyer referral service. This type of service refers potential clients to attorneys.

Attorney Organizations. Some lawyers belong to organizations for lawyers who practice certain types of law. The lawyers at Ernst Law Group, ALC belong to the State Bar of California, the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association, the Central Coast Trial Lawyers Association (Mr. Ernst and Mr. Whitehead are past presidents), the Consumer Attorneys of Los Angeles and the Consumer Attorneys of California. In 2008 Mr. Ernst has been elected by his peers to be the President of the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Ernst Law Group, ALC has extensive experience representing policy holders in lawsuits against insurance companies. We invite you to call our office to discuss your case.

 

 
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