Frequently Asked Questions
There are several good reasons to hire a personal injury attorney. The main reason is that I know the law, which defines the situations under which you may recover compensation. An individual has the right to represent him or herself, but they may miss an important issue. As example, if an accident results in permanent disability, not only can you possibly recover medical expenses, but also lost future earnings and, if married, something called loss of consortium (your spouse’s loss of your pre-injury companionship). Additionally, there are certain filing requirements and deadlines that, if not handled properly, may result in you losing your right to pursue your claim.
I understand how insurance companies work too. Often, they’ll settle for the value of your case if it’s under a certain amount, typically an amount that would make it a small claims court case. However, despite logic, insurance companies will just as often fight higher-value claims or offer settlement amounts that are much lower than you deserve.
Generally speaking, California law requires that claims for all accidents occurring after January 2003 must be filed within two years or you will most likely lose all of your legal rights to file the claim. There are certain exceptions, such as when the injury involves a government entity (public transportation, etc.). However, even these exceptions don’t guarantee your rights. There are specific filing requirements when dealing with government entities that, if handled improperly, eliminate your chance of recovery. I understand these intricacies and work to ensure that your rights are protected.
There is no set formula for the time needed for the resolution of a personal injury case. If the case settles quickly, it could be just weeks. However, if the case proceeds to trial, it may take a few years. I have decades of experience in negotiating with insurance companies and opposing counsel; I’ll work to resolve your case in the best possible time frame.
The law in California states that you can recover all damages that arise from a personal injury that was caused by another person’s negligence. There are two types of damages involved: economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, and a reasonable amount for any home health care services you may have received at no charge. Non-economic, or general, damages include loss of consortium, loss of enjoyment of activities and of your profession, loss of range of motion, and pain and suffering.
Economic damages are easier to prove given that these items are easily quantifiable. Non-economic damages are more difficult due to their very nature. There are many resources which an experienced personal injury can use to help quantify non-economic damages for recovery. I have over twenty years of experience handling cases of this nature.
Yes and no. California requires drivers to have a minimum of $15,000 in automobile liability insurance. If you didn’t have this minimum when you had your accident, Proposition 213 severely limits your right to recover. Prop 213 eliminates your right to recover non-economic damages (pain and suffering, etc.) if you are a fleeing felon, drunk driver or uninsured motorist. Even if the accident is entirely the fault of another driver, if you’re uninsured, you lose the right to recover non-economic damages. One significant item to note is that the Prop 213 limitation does NOT apply to passengers.
There is a popular misconception that if you are hit by an uninsured motorist you have no hope of recovery. This is simply not the case. If the person who hit you is uninsured and is at least partially at fault, you can file an Uninsured Motorist (UM) claim with your own insurance company. Of course, you can always proceed in litigation against the person responsible for your injuries, but as long as your policy has adequate UM limits, it’s far easier to file the UM claim. Your insurance rates should not increase if the accident was not your fault.
Over the past two decades, I’ve successfully represented hundreds of personal injury clients. The total in awards and settlements I’ve achieved for them exceeds $20 million. I represent each and every client to the fullest extent allowed by law and the California Rules of Professional Conduct. I, Gary A. Peterson, zealously work toward the best possible results for all of my clients.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Although I have achieved outstanding results for clients in the past, each case is unique. Pursuant to California Rule of Professional Conduct 1-400, I must make you aware that these successes do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction of the success of your case.