HOW DO YOU BILL?
We seek reasonable compensation for our services, and our goal is to settle cases if at all possible before litigation and trial. It isn’t always possible. Our billing practices are flexible. Typically, probate and contract matters are handled on an hourly basis, as is the standard in the industry.
- All personal injury cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. No attorney’s fees are paid unless a victory is achieved. We advance costs. Considering that your case may require numerous highly qualified (and expensive) experts, along with all other expenses of litigation, this is a major convenience to our clients and helps them focus on recovering. We only take fee and are reimbursed for costs if we win.
Arrange a free consultation and, if nothing else, receive advice on your file so you can be empowered to make a better decision.
I’VE BEEN INJURED IN AN ACCIDENT, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Below, you will find a series of guidelines, checklists, and general advice that founder Michael C. Bock has formulated throughout his career.
CHECKLIST FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TRAFFIC ACCIDENT/INJURY VICTIMS
- Contact experienced personal injury lawyers immediately following your injury or accident. Someone faced with a serious injury is in no state of mind to do web research.
- Document important information. Take photographs of your vehicle. For property issues that can’t be captured in photographs, take video. Get the names of witnesses. If you are unexpectedly fired, write down the names and contact information of co-workers before you forget, and make sure you keep all of your wage and termination documentation. You can NEVER document an issue too thoroughly. Save the bloody and shredded clothes you were wearing (you’d rather throw them out, we know). If you were bicycling, we need to document the damage to the bike before you repair it. Keep your shoes if you were involved in a trip and fall. If you were injured because of a dangerous condition on someone’s property, have someone photograph the area using a cell phone, before the property owner has a chance to repair or remove the problem.
- Save all pharmacy slips, keep receipts of anything you buy to help you get around, and make sure people take photographs of your injuries.
- Consider keeping a journal or diary of the events you missed or your symptoms on a day to day basis. Take note of every invitation you turn down or every family gathering you miss because you’re in pain.
- Don’t wait to see a doctor. Visit a medical facility promptly, be thorough in discussing your symptoms, and disclose any relevant past medical history. Don’t be macho.
- Avoid admitting to fault or offering opinions.
- Do not give a recorded statement.
- Do not agree to insurance company suggestions as to what should happen next.
- Follow your doctor’s advice. Do not miss appointments.
- Anyone who works for an insurance company is NOT your friend, and is out to destroy your claim.
- All an insurance company cares about is money; namely, paying you as little as possible and keeping as much as they can for themselves.
- Everything you say that reduces the value of your claim will be recorded and used to poison your case. Everything that supports you they will ignore.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT YOUR ALLY
- One photograph taken out of context, while you forced a smile, can ruin a meritorious claim.
- Assume that everything you put on twitter, facebook, instagram, or myspace (if anyone still uses myspace) will be used against you if at all possible.
- For larger cases, a private investigator will be sent to photograph you. We can teach you what to look out for.
If an attorney wants a fee for a first meeting, there’s a high likelihood that isn’t an attorney you want to meet.
The Law Offices of Michael C. Bock offers free initial, in-person consultations, guaranteed, no exceptions. That’s the standard in the industry.
BEWARE THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Every second you delay allowing someone to fight for your rights is precious time lost.
You deprive yourself of the benefit of legal counsel (I guarantee you, the other side has millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars invested in accumulated professional expertise assisting them.
California limits the amount of time personal injury victims have to seek compensation. Your pain and suffering, your medical bills, your lost income, your future expenses, they will not matter if you let important deadlines lapse. Many of these deadlines are (in the opinion of this law firm), unacceptably short. For example:
- To sue a California governmental entity you must follow certain procedural hurdles within the first 180 days.
- If you believe you have been injured by the employee of a governmental entity, you have a very short window of time in which to act.
Seek advice sooner rather than later.
MORE ABOUT INSURANCE COMPANIES
- The insurance industry throughout the United States has fought tirelessly (and spent millions lobbying politicians and running deceptive attack ads) to convince us that most claims are fraudulent, that premiums are “sky high” because of fraud, and that the court system is rife with abuse.
- In fact, meritorious claimants have to struggle to get any amount of fairness from a system stacked against them.
Most victims fight tooth and nail, against an organized multi-billion dollar industry, to achieve some measure of justice. Give yourself a fighting chance. Hire an experienced, skilled attorney.
YOUR EXPECTATIONS OF AN ATTORNEY
- Your attorney should guide you through every step of the process, medically, legally, economically, and emotionally. Your attorney should be an effective and honest representative for you.
- You should feel that your attorney is going to war so you don’t have to. He should be interested, he should be caring, and most of all, if you have a question he should have the answer, or have a good explanation why he doesn’t have the answer.
CAN MY HUSBAND/WIFE SUE EVEN THOUGH I WAS THE ONE WHO WAS HURT?
One of the advantages of seeking professional advice early is so you can learn what sources of recovery might exist that aren’t particularly intuitive.
For example, did you know that the spouse of an injured individual can sue for what’s known as “loss of consortium,” for past and future harm to the marital relationship (you must have been married on the date of the accident)?
In addition to past and future medical expenses, mileage and costs incurred with seeking medical care, wage loss (past and future), reduced earning capacity, pain and suffering, damage to property, and “loss of use” of your vehicle, an injured party’s husband or wife should also consider bringing a claim.
Clients hate delays. So do we. Sometimes, however, delay is necessary. It would be terrible legal advice to tell a client who is still experiencing significant symptoms to settle a case until he or she has been fully diagnosed and examined. Doctors need to wait and see if you will recover, if inflammation will go down, if surgery is warranted. With serious accidents, it isn’t uncommon for six to twelve months to pass before the doctors can determine if your condition is stable. We can’t recommend a settlement amount until we have some idea of your permanent injuries.
Cases are now more bitterly fought by insurance companies than ever. Most serious cases will require a lawsuit.
- Typically, six to nine months from the accident date if no lawsuit is required.
- If a lawsuit is required, twelve to twenty-four months from the accident date.
There are various stages to a claim.
- First, the necessary documents must be gathered and appropriate medical advice and treatment rendered.
- We will have you sign authorizations so we can conduct the background work without bothering you during this healing period.
- Occasionally cases will be mediated in an attempt to settle without the need of a lawsuit.
- We prepare all demand letters, tabulate damages, and ensure that a comprehensive claim is presented at the first realistic opportunity (typically when your medical condition has become “permanent and stationary”).
- If a lawsuit is filed, we will take care of all legal paperwork (of course), prepare you your deposition (you sit down and answer questions under oath), and if necessary will guide you through the trial process.
- In life, accepting responsibility is an admirable quality. With accidents, wait until you’ve talked to an attorney.
- People involved in serious accidents are generally in no position to accurately assess fault. Leave that to the professionals.
SETTLEMENTS ARE ALMOST ALWAYS FINAL
Once you settle your case, it’s over (with rare exceptions). Don’t make a permanent decision before consulting with a professional. Your injuries may last far longer than you hope, or the damage to your business may be far deeper than you expect. Don’t settle for quick cash until you fully understand your claim.
Whenever a facility rendering medical care discovers the existence of a lawsuit, they typically ask for what’s called a medical “lien.” This gives them a right of recovery from the settlement of your suit.
Be extremely cautious of signing these liens without receiving legal advice first. It can be a terrible mistake.
Many providers are not entitled to liens. Sadly, some will over treat or render unnecessary procedures. If you already know of a doctor, physical therapist, or chiropractor you are comfortable with, you should treat with them.
- If you don’t know of the appropriate provider in your area, ask your attorney for a referral. Remember, you should be the one asking, an attorney should never order you to go to a particular facility.
- Your family physician is usually the best one to direct your care.
LET YOUR ATTORNEY WORRY ABOUT THE CASE, YOU WORRY ABOUT GETTING HEALTHY
Once you hire an attorney, focus on your medical care. Attorneys have to gather police reports, medical documents, wage loss documentation, and deal with adjusters. You focus on making your appointments, accurately reporting your symptoms and any relevant past medical issues, and documenting your damages.
- If you or a loved one are significantly injured, you are likely distracted and in no state to attempt to negotiate and settle a case.
- If you are too injured to work, take care of your kids, or enjoy your favorite hobbies, you are too injured to deal with insurance companies.
SPOLIATION OF EVIDENCE
A properly drafted “spoliation” letter is a must in significant cases involving complex factual scenarios. Whether you consult with our office or any other office, ensure that the attorney is well versed in the appropriate way to preserve crucial evidence.
TYPES OF INSURANCE
- Collision Insurance pays for damage to your car regardless of who was at fault.
- Comprehensive Insurance pays for fire, theft or vandalism of your car and contents.
- Medical Payment Insurance covers medical expenses for you, or any other persons in your car, regardless of fault.
- Uninsured Motorist Insurance provides coverage for all damages you would be legally entitled to recover from an uninsured motorist. Because of the high cost of automobile insurance, it is extremely important that all individuals have adequate uninsured motorist coverage.
- Underinsured Motorist Insurance provides coverage for all damages you are legally entitled to recover above the insurance limits of another motorist whose liability coverage is less than the amount of your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits.
Many clients helped by founder Michael C. Bock over the years have come from other law firms (occasionally, from several other past law firms).
We consult with people considering an attorney transfer confidentially and will never disclose your visit without your permission.
However, don’t be hasty. Sometimes a face to face meeting with an attorney you are thinking about dismissing can do wonders. Delay is the number one reason for client discontent (not returning phone calls promptly is the second), but most of the time delays are not the fault of the attorney.
Changing horses mid-race is not usually advisable, but you need to have representation you feel comfortable with.
HOW AM I GOING TO PROVE THAT MY HEAD, NECK, OR BACK HURTS?
Unlike broken bones, cuts, and bruises, damage to the brain and spine is difficult to diagnose, understand, and locate. Below are some of the common injuries we see on a regular basis from our client.
The brain can take a beating in an accident, even when there are no visible signs of injury (get ready for the adjuster and defense attorney to claim the victim is faking, we’ve seen it time and time again).
- A concussion is the brain slamming into the interior of the skull.
- Concussions can cause a loss of consciousness, and a cascading, series of symptoms such as inattention, sensitivity to light, inability to concentrate, slurred speech, or memory problems.
Multiple head blows are significantly more dangerous than single blows. Concussions can lead to various bleeds in the brain, some of which are deadly if not promptly treated. DO NOT DELAY IN SEEKING TREATMENT FOR ANY SIGNIFICANT HEAD INJURY.
Skull fractures: A skull fracture is a break in the skull bone. There are various types.
- A linear skull fracture, does not result in movement.
- A basilar skull fracture is in the bone from the base of the skull
- A depressed skull fracture “caves in” a portion of the skull.
- A diastatic skull fracture is along the suture lines in the skull.
If you hit your head and lose consciousness, vomit, are sensitive to light, are falling asleep, or have any difficulty communicating or walking, seek emergency care.
SPINAL CORD INJURIES
Back and neck injuries cause untold pain and suffering, and what’s worse, they tend to linger for years (if not permanently). They are also difficult to prove. Adequate medical and legal expertise is essentially. If after several months no improvement is seen, diagnostic testing to determine herniation size and spinal cord involvement is necessary, and surgery is sometimes warranted.
Severe neck and back injuries can cause paralysis and are life altering events.
The spinal cord is a complex system of bone and nerves, and unfortunately it is not designed to withstand the forces generated in a typical auto accident. A bulging disk, herniation, or nerve root involvement of only a few millimeters can lead to constant agony.