A car accident can happen at anytime or anywhere. In an automobile accident you can suffer personal injuries or at the very least in can leave you feeling disoriented and worried.  You are driving and traffic and without warning your are in a traffic accident.


Car Accident Can Happen Anytime or Anywhere

That’s why I am providing with some basic information to help you if you should be unlucky and have a car accident. Our Seven Step Guide can help you make good decisions after an accident. Help keep you and others safe.






Car Accident on Freeway. Exercise Caution

1. Stop your vehicle and get out, ONLY IF SAFE TO DO SO.
After a car accident, stop your vehicle, turn off the engine, put the car into park or if a manual transmission put the hand brake on. Take a few seconds to gather yourself. Put on your warning flashers. Before exiting your vehicle make sure it is safe to do so. Calmly and safely exit your vehicle.

2. Check on others involved, MAKE SURE NO ONE IS BADLY HURT
Makes sure that everyone involved in the car accident are safe and not badly hurt. Call 911 if anyone seems to be injured. Even a seemingly minor complaint such as dizziness may be sign of head trauma and the person should be looked at by a medical professional. If the collision is not too bad and no one is badly and you are in moving traffic, you are at risk for being involved in a second accident. So consider step 3.

3. Move Cars to A Safe Area, IF IT CAN BE DONE SAFELY
If your car is drivable and no one is seriously injured , move your car to a safe area. Such as the shoulder of the road or curb side. Many people get injured in “second accidents” because cars are left in dangerous locations. However, if moving your car is not possible then turn on your hazzard lights and if you have them put out flares or warning lanterns. That last thing you need is another car running into you or your vehicle.


Highway Patrol Investigating Car Accident

4. Call the Highway Patrol or Local Police to the Accident Scene, DON’T ARGUE WITH THEM
A official accident report is often invaluable when dealing with your or the other driver’s insurance company. Cooperate with the investigating officer, but you probably should avoid admitting fault or blaming others at the accident scene. The investigating officers gather facts and statements to determine who, if anyone, they believe is at fault in for the crash.

At times, the Highway Patrol or Police will decline to come to the scene of the accident, especially if it is a minor collision and no one is seriously hurt. Whether the police come to the scene of the accident or not, make sure you gather all the necessary information. Sometimes the police do not get all the information available. See step 5 and 6 below.

5. Photographs and Clips of the Accident Scene, ONLY IF IT CAN BE DONE SAFELY
Do not hesitate to use your cell phone to take photographs or clips of the accident scene, if safe to do so. Such evidence may be helpful later on to establish what happened and why. As well, photographs or clips can document many aspect of the accident. Including; vehicle identity (i.e. license plate numbers, color and type of car); vehicle damage; street layout and configuration. Often these photographs and clips help in resolving issues later on.


Cell phones Helpful in a Car Accident

6. Gather Information.
Try to get as much information as possible. Cell phones are great for taking pictures of not only the scene of the accident but also drivers licenses, insurance information, etc . . . as well as using the note features. If you do not have a cell phone write down as much info as possible. The information you should get following a car accident, includes:
Names addresses and telephone numbers for the other driver(s) and passenger(s)
Makes and models of all vehicles involved
License plate numbers of all vehicles involved
Insurance information for each vehicle involved
Names addresses and telephone numbers for any eyewitnesses.                                     Suumary of what witnesses saw
Location of the accident
The name and badge number of any responding police officers

7. Contact Your Insurance Company to Report the Car Accident.
Many insurance companies now provide their customers with toll free numbers to report accidents, even from the scene of the accident. Other companies have a process to file claims on line. Your insurance card should have contact information on it. Usually, your insurance company will guide you through the process of getting your car fixed and letting you know what coverages you have.

If you have any questions following a car accident or you have injured you may want to contact a personal injury attorney. Most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations you should avail yourself of this valuable and free service.

As an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney, I can assist you should you have any questions. Please feel free to call Richard M. Katz, Esq., am right here to address your concerns and offer you assistance. For a complimentary assessment, call me at 626-796-6333 or contact me through my website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.


Car Accident

Car Accident

You have just been involved in a car accident. You probably have a host of questions. Such as who is at fault? Who pays for damages to my automobile? Am I entitled to a rental car? If I need medical attention who will pay for my medical costs? Can I ask the insurance company to compensate me for lost wages? You probably have these and many more questions.

If you did not suffer any personal injury or only minor aches and pains that quickly resolve without the need for medical attention you probably do not need a personal injury attorney to represent you for your car accident.

But if you suffered personal injuries, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney and his office can be exceptionally helpful. An experienced personal injury will often be able to guide you through the often disorderly and often perplexing world of insurance claims. Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you after a car accident assures that you will have an expert working for you. It will help “level the playing field.” An experienced personal injury lawyer can probably provide recommendations and suggestions to help you recover from your injuries.

A personal injury lawyer will tell you about the appropriate statute of limitations for your claim, failing to sue timely, will prevent you from pursuing a claim against the at-fault motorist. For example, in many states you should submit your lawsuit within 2 years of your auto accident or be barred from pursuing your lawsuit. Some states require government claims be filed before filing a lawsuit and such government claims must be filed. In some states government claims statutes can be as short as 90 to 180 days and also applies to minor’s claims.

The law differs from state to state. The federal government has their own claim requirements. An experienced personal injury lawyer will educate you concerning these statutes of limitations. There may exist unique exceptions to the statute of limitations — for minors, as an example.  Your attorney can file a legal action for you if necessary. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how handle / address defenses raised by the insurance company / the opposite side. Additionally, if your matter is litigated, an attorney will be an indispensable guide in navigating the often contentious world of trial preparation. Having an experienced personal injury attorney on your side puts you on equal footing with the insurance company and their lawyers.

There is a great deal of work and preparation that goes into handling a personal injury claim and working with an insurance company or defense attorneys to resolve a personal injury claim. An experienced personal injury attorney will see that you get proper compensation for your personal injuries and other economic losses.

Crashed Car - Automobile Accident

Crashed Car – Automobile Accident

After you have been in a car accident, the last thing you want to do is to take on the time-consuming job in trying to handle the claim yourself. Most folks simply do not have the experience to handle their personal injury claims without the assistance of an attorney.

Since most personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingent fee basis and are paid upon a successful resolution of your claim, there is often little motivation to try to take care of these kinds of cases by yourself, especially if you suffered injuries.

However, most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations so it probably is a good idea to call a personal injury attorney to get some insight. Feel free to call the Law Offices of Richard M. Katz at 626-796-6333 for a free consultation. Or contact me through my website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com/

Personal Injury Costs $671 Billion Dollars In The United States

Personal Injury Costs

Personal Injury Costs In the U.S.

According to two new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWR) reports, for 2013 $671 billion were the total costs of personal injuries and violence in the United States. Fatal injury costs was $214 billion and nonfatal injury costs were over $457 billion

The numbers for the United States are staggering, injuries, including all causes of unintentional and violence-related injuries combined, accounted for 59% of all deaths among persons ages 1–44 years of age. To put that into perspective that is more deaths than non-communicable diseases and infectious diseases combined. About 27 million people are treated in emergency departments and released, over 3 million people are hospitalized and more than 192,000 die as a result of unintentional and violence related injuries each year.

Deb Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control is reported as stating “The magnitude of costs associated with injury underscores the need for effective prevention. It is crucial that communities and states increase efforts to implement evidence-based programs and policies to prevent injuries and violence to reduce not only the pain and suffering of victims, but also the considerable costs to society.”

The two studies include lifetime medical and work loss costs for injury related deaths and injuries treated and released in hospitals and emergency departments, and provide costs by age, gender, and injury intent. Other key findings include:

Men accounted for 78 percent of fatal injury costs ($166.7 billion) and 63 percent of nonfatal injury costs ( $287.5 billion).

More than 50 percent of the total medical costs and work loss costs related to personal injury were attributable unintentional injuries, which I interpret mean negligent acts or omissions ($129.7 billion). The other causes of death included suicide ($50.8 billion) and homicide ($26.4 billion).

Poisonings from drugs, including prescription drug overdoses, accounted for 27 percent of fatal injury costs, transportation caused / related deaths account accounted for 23 percent of the costs and deaths related to firearm use accounted for 22 percent of costs.

Costs, for personal injuries that required hospitalization in 2013, were $289.7 billion. The costs for injuries that were treated and released in hospital and emergency departments were $167.1 billion.

Slip and Fall / Trip and Fall

Slip and Fall / Trip Fall Can Cause Fatal Injuries

Slip and Falls and Trip and Falls account for 37 percent of costs associated with emergency room care. Transportation-related personal injuries, automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, public transportation accidents accounted for 21 percent of the costs associated with emergency department treatment for nonfatal injuries.

The chart below shows that personal injury is the #1 killer of children in the United States.

Personal Injury - Children

Personal Injury – Children

As you can see the economic toll associated with personal injuries is staggering. In addition to costs associated with accidents, the human toll is even greater, considering the pain and suffering the victims and their family goes through. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is important that we all act in way that helps reduce and prevent injuries whether the result of negligence, violence or unfortunate incidences.

As an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney, I know how accidents can cause severe personal injuries, for more than three decades, The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz has been her to help. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury or the loss of a loved one, for a complimentary assessment, kindly do not hesitate to provide me a call. 626-796-6333 or call me through my site http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com.



Personal injury claims consist of many different types of claims. Those claims included automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents.


Personal Injury Involving Ambulance Service

Generally, medical malpractice, elder abuse, defective drugs, train crashes and airplane crashes are handled differently then general personal injury claims. Personal injury claims such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims I have found common factors in the claims handling process.

Often clients feel it “takes too long” to get their cases settled and sometimes feel that the “offers are too low.” First you should know that no two claims are the same. Claims like people are individual and unique.

Why it often takes a long time to settle many personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims, is because the claims settlement process requires considerable documentation. An insurance company rarely if ever accepts an attorney’s representations without supporting documentation. Often the smaller the claim, the more difficult it is to settle, particularly when it comes to the “pain and suffering” aspects of the claim. As well, contested liability claims are very difficult to settle the insurance carrier takes the position “our insured did nothing wrong.”

When it comes to claims handling it is constantly entertaining to see how different companies choose individuals to manage its finances: in banks, the lowest paid staff members are usually tellers and count the cash; in a storehouse, the shipping clerk sends out and receives everything owned by the company; and in most accounting departments, a clerk prepares and issue checks giving only the most brief review of the invoice before mailing. Well, the truth is that insurance companies handle personal injury claims including automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims about the same way.

My experience has shown that the individual originally assigned to your case will not likely be the adjuster, who will ultimately be responsible for settling your claim. Often they assign a claim to an adjuster or clerk with little experience. In that last few years I have noticed a change with some personal injury insurance carriers and they assign your claim to a “team.” Unfortunately often the “team” has little experience. In any event, the first step in opening a personal injury claim requires the setting of an initial reserve. This requires assigning a value based upon the apparent seriousness of the loss, such as broken bones versus soft tissue only. Unless injuries are serious and self evident, initial claim evaluations made by the insurance company will be unrealistically low, which can lead to a problem settling your case down the road. We try to give the insurance company as much information known to us at the time of the incident but often the extent of personal injuries and other losses are unknown.

The days when these types of personal injury claims, such as automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability claims. ln would be initially reviewed by a claims supervisor no longer exists. Years ago it would be usual for a claims supervisor to review a claim and designate an adjuster with the experience and ability to handle the claim to its conclusion efficiently.


Auttomobile Accidents Between Bues and Cars Are Common and Often Cause Personal Injuries to Drivers and Passengers*

Today with computer programs such Colossus and team approaches I have found that are still “levels of claims” adjuster. An assignment of claim should be based upon the complexity of the claim and seriousness of the injuries, however, often they base claim assignment exclusively on the expected value of the claim, i.e., the reserve the insurance company has set on the claim. By way of example, perceived small claims involving $5,000 or less may all be assigned to a very inexperienced claims handler, and we will call him Bill. But claims that say fall into the $5, 000 to $20,000 range may be assigned to a more experience claims adjuster. claims would be designated to James and more senior claims handler Susan would take the $20,000 to $75,000 claims and a supervisor would take all the claims anticipated to exceed $75,000 in settlement value. These “assignments” are done at the time the claim is initially submitted.

So what happens when your more than $20,000 claim gets assigned to “wrong level?”The fact that they have assigned your claim to an adjuster without sufficient authority does not mean that the adjustor is incompetent or that her supervisor does not respect her/his opinions. Therefore, attorneys need to work with the adjuster to enable them to evaluate your claim properly. Frequently cases / claims get reassigned to a different adjuster. The “new” adjuster now has to get up to speed on your claim.

Keep in mind that many adjusters have caseloads of more than a 125 files often higher, much higher. In order to settle a case, the adjuster needs “documentation.” This includes medical documentation for injuries, documentation for medical expenses, documentation for loss of income. Depending upon whom you have seen for medical care obtaining medical reports and medical records can be very difficult to get because the doctor’s office does not cooperate. I have had cases in which we wait months and months to get such documentation. The same is true for loss of income or for self-employed individuals who cannot provide documentation regarding loss of income. The insurance companies will not accept and pay claims that are not properly documented. All of this takes time. Sometimes clients are unhappy with the delays.

My experience has shown in personal injury cases, involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents, it is common for insurance adjusters to begin negotiations by making a very low first offer. Sometimes, the adjuster will deny all liability for the claim. These negotiation tactics often work because some personal injury attorneys out there accept the first or second lowball offer. Because we must tell clients of all offers, an impatient attorney or client to get, some money will take any amount, I think this is a mistake.

I have had personal injury claims in my office for more than a year but over weeks and months the offers increase often dramatically. I recently settled a personal injury automobile accident claim for $27,500.00, and the original offer on the case was $7,000.00. This case took almost 18 months to settle and the client was very anxious to have his case settled. This case has been through three different adjusters. At one point the client was willing to accept a far lower offer to “get it over.” I told him that it was not a good idea and please follow my advice. He did and we settled his case fairly.

However, as a claimant you need to keep in mind that as a lawyer we need to work with the adjusters to settle a claim.  Some of your reading this may believe that “if only my case got in front of jury” they would award me a lot of money. YOU ARE WRONG. On some cases, particularly smaller “fender bender” cases, resorting to litigation / filing a lawsuit is often losing proposition FOR YOU.

The fact is that personal injury claims such as involving claims such as automobile accidents, car crashes, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents and general liability accidents (Tort cases, as they are called) have been on the decline for decades. According to the National Center for State Courts (NCSC), tort cases declined by 25 percent between 1999 and 2008 and are still on the decline. The belief that juries or judges award large amounts is wrong. The fact is that most lawsuits result in comparatively small verdicts.

Lawsuits are very expensive. No law firm can afford to accept weak or frivolous cases. In California I have found that jurors are usually fairly smart, not easily fooled and are not very sympathetic with soft tissue personal injury claims. It takes the average lawyer and law firm between 100-500 hours of time and thousands of dollars in court costs to prepare for a trial. The entire process often takes between 2 and 5 years – even a simple fender-bender case. The expense for even a simple jury trial begins at around $15,000.00. Unless your case is in limited jurisdiction you need live expert testimony concerning medical care, treatment and charges. If you have seen several physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers, most or all need to be called at the time of trial. Expert fees even for treating physicians, chiropractors or other healthcare providers can run into thousands of dollars.

Current studies show that personal injury claims involving back and neck strains in California have a median verdict of $10,885 ! ! ! So a jury trial can cost more than you are likely to recover. Now some of you may be thinking that does not happen often, YES IT DOES. Here are some examples:

2012 Corbin v. Pascarella $10,400 Verdict. The defendant hits plaintiffs’ vehicle in an intersection. Plaintiff’s 13-year-old daughter claimed lower back, necks, and shoulder pain because of the collision. Plaintiff (mother) settles her claim before trial. A Los Angeles County jury awards $10,400 to the daughter

2012 Messina v. Bayne $11,430 Verdict. Plaintiff is stopped with traffic when his vehicle is hit from behind. Initially plaintiff only took one day off and returned to his work at a supermarket. Shortly after the incident he sees a chiropractor for four visits. Plaintiff claims a “10 out of 10” on the pain scale. He changes chiropractors and gets additional treatment and he later takes an additional 11 days off of work. He receives physical therapy for about 8 months from February 2010 to November 2010. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company contests the need for the “second” chiropractor visits and treatments. Defendant / Farmers Insurance Company denies that the plaintiff’s claim for lost wages beyond the first day were unreasonable. The jury award likely shows what the jury thought of the claim. .

2013 – Reveles v. O’Neal $5,000 Verdict. Defendant driver crossed double yellow line and collided into oncoming car. The plaintiff suffered injuries. Plaintiff had medical bills of about $70,000, but the medical expenses were not allowed to go to the jury because a medical expert was not called. The injuries appeared to be mainly soft tissue. A San Diego County jury awarded $5,000, which is paid by defendant’s insurance, Commerce West Group.


Be patient, and patience is a truly a virtue in settlement negotiations. Although you may “need” the money now, it is rarely to your advantage to “hurry through the process.” Allow your attorney to their job. Most attorney’s will give you good advice on these types of claims.

Believe me, claims adjusters are pretty good at sensing anxiety. If your attorney shows anxiousness, the adjuster will likely change her/his focus away from the settlement, and on the sense of desperation. The adjuster will likely then base further settlement discussions on that sense of anxiety, rather than the facts of the claim.

Does the adjuster have to treat you / your claim fairly? The simple answer is no. Under California law on third party claims, law does not bind the adjuster to treat you fairly. California does not recognize third party bad faith claims.

My advice is simple, stay calm. If you have trust and faith in your attorney allow him or her to do their job. If you do not have confidence in your attorney, well that is another story for another day.

In the event you have suffered or a loved one has suffered a personal injury from any type of incident (automobile accidents; car crashes; motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, trip and fall accidents, defective products, medical malpractice and many other types and kinds of accidents) you should contact a personal injury attorney.

Richard M. Katz, Esq.,  is a Pasadena personal injury lawyer. We handle personal injury claims we specialize in accident, medical malpractice and Kaiser Permanente malpractice claims.

I am here to answer your questions and give you help. For a free consultation, please feel free to give me a call. 626-796-6333. My office is located at 1122 East Green Street, Pasadena, California, 91106

*The Bus New Flyer Accident, public domain, by Daniel Ramirez



What you need to know about how insurance companies settle bodily injury claims caused by car accidents.

Did you know that many automobile insurance companies use “personal injury” software programs to “evaluate” your claim ?


Basically, the program requires the adjuster to provide data into the software program and the program spits out a “settlement range.” The adjuster than purportedly after evaluating your claim makes a “fair offer.”

The program relies mainly on the contents of your medical records. “Severity points” are assigned for your injuries, it also considers the history of your lawyer involved (if any), the location of your accident, i.e., state, city etc . . . is also taken into consideration and some other factors (liability, comparative negligence) and then a settlement range is “calculated.”

Different insurance companies give different weight to the “calculation.” Some insurance companies follow it closely and direct their adjusters to follow the “calculation.” Other insurance companies use it as a guide to assist the adjuster who makes the ultimate call on what to offer.

There is more than one “personal injury” software program which is believed to be used by most of the top auto insurance companies to “calculate” the settlement value of minor to moderate car accident injury claims. Insurance companies believed to use such software programs include Aetna, Allstate, CNA, Erie, Farmers, Metropolitan, Ohio Casualty, The Hartford, MetLife, Travelers, USAA and Zurich. (Many other insurance companies use other form of injury valuation software.)

Neither the insurance companies that use these software evaluation programs nor the designers of such software will reveal their criteria / algorithm. Not much precise information about the software is available.

Some general information has been disclosed through security leaks, mainly through former adjusters. According to a report in the Chicago Tribune a former Allstate Insurance Company claims manager offered insight into computerized auto injury payouts. The Chicago Tribune reports that a former Allstate Insurance Company claims manager Mark Romano stated the computerized auto injury system can be manipulated. Mr. Ramo criticized the injury settlement software that he worked on while at Allstate Insurance Company.

Basically the software program considers various factors, assuming they enter the data correctly. First is the type of injury. Higher values are given to objective, easy-to-verify car accident injuries such as broken bones and herniated discs. Soft tissue injuries (aches, sprains and strains) are given lower values. Some medical findings can increase the evaluation of a claim.

In software programs keyword injuries such as:

muscle spasms
radiating pain
restriction of movement
vision impairment

The use of these key words can increase the “evaluation” of a claim. It is important these symptoms are documented and included in your medical report.

Apparently the software programs essentially ignore whatever you say, i.e., initial questionnaire that you fill out for your doctor. The software will recognize your medical records and their content as authoritative.

The software scoring systems generally give higher evaluation if you were taken from the scene to the hospital and whether you were hospitalized. As well, the type of treatment is important. The software programs will generally only recognizes certain diagnoses from chiropractors, such as sprains and strains of the neck and back. Other chiropractic diagnosis are ignored. Often the software will ignore or devalue more than 20 or 25 chiropractic visits. Physical therapy is considered but must be accurately documented. The software ascribes a value to physical therapy. Generally accepts 90 days of physical therapy is considered “up to three months of treatment,” while 91 days of treatment is considered “three to six months of treatment,” the latter is often given a higher value by the software.

Delays and gaps in treatment unless explained and documented in your medical records can cause a serious devaluation of your claim by the software. If a delay or gap in treatment occurs it must be addressed in your medical records.

The software also considers medications that you were on and for how long and whether you have suffered any permanent impairment per guidelines set forth in the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.

I hope the above gives you an understanding of what hurdles we face in handling a personal injury claim caused by a car accident. You need to know about the evaluation software because most insurance companies are using it. That is why it can often take months or years to settle a personal injury claim fairly. The adjustor is often given “marching orders” by his/her superior and the computer. Offers will start unrealistically low and over time weeks, months, years will increase. Patience is the key word.

These software programs do not know you. The software program is not given many of the specifics of your claim. Of course a software program cannot feel the pain you suffered and cannot understand the harm and losses you have.

In the event the car accident caused you or someone you love personal injuries or worse, you should contact a personal injury attorney.

Do not be afraid to contact a personal injury attorney for advice. I, Richard M. Katz, Esq., am here to answer your questions and give you help. For a free consultation, please feel free to give me a call. 626-796-6333 or contact me through my website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com/

Personal Injury : Jury Awards $21 Million For Injuries Suffered by Family in Car Accident

People suffer severe personal injuries in traffic accidents and car accidents every day. Here is an example of one recent car accident case that was tried before a jury.

In June of this year (2015) a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded $21 Million to three family members after a 2011 DUI car crash caused them serious injuries that will affect them for the rest of their lives. The incident occurred when a drunk driver of a Ford Explorer crossed a double yellow line and struck the family’s Ford Taurus head-on. Head-on collision can be the most serious. The injured suffered severe fractures and lacerations.

The family was on a trip Palmdale to Los Angeles to take their son to college. The drunk driver apparently lost control of his vehicle, crossed over into opposing traffic and slammed the family’s vehicle head on. Paramedics rushed all three family members to Antelope Valley Hospital from the scene of the crash, where they received emergency medical care.

The trial lasted 13 days. During the trial treating physicians, family members, friends of the family, and expert witnesses were called to testify on behalf of the injured. The evidence showed that each victim had suffered loss of income / damage to earning capacity, incurred substantial medical expenses and would suffer significant pain and suffering. The jury deliberated for two days, before arriving at their verdict.

While such verdicts, $21 million are not common, this jury verdict shows what a jury may do in a serious personal injury case. The fact that the defendant was intoxicated possibly had an influence on the juries deliberations.

Most car accidents do not cause such serious injuries as this family suffered. Nevertheless, even in a less significant traffic accident consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is usually a good idea. Experience personal injury attorneys will have experience working with insurance providers to get the highest possible settlement amounts for clients. If you have been injured or you have lost any type of personal or business property due to an accident, don’t wait to get the help you need and deserve.

If you or a loved one suffers a personal injury arising from a car accident  / traffic accident, please feel free to contact me. Richard M. Katz at The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz, Pasadena, California. 626-796-63333. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and will differ from state to state because of different laws. For specific technical or legal advice on your situation you should, without delay contact an attorney of your choice.




Rain in California, Southern California has come, thank goodness. But with rain comes more automobile accidents. You have just been involved in car accident, now what?

The scene can be chaotic immediately after a car crash, but following some basic steps can make things a little less stressful. You should always think about your safety and the safety of others. If someone has been injured, call 911 for assistance. Stay calm, being in a car accident is stressful and upsetting but failing to remain calm will only make things worse.

Stay at the Scene of the Accident
In an auto accident, California law says you must stop— if you drive away from the scene of an accident you can be charged with hit and run even if the accident was not your fault. Whether the accident involved a moving car, parked car, a pedestrian or someone’s property you must stop and identify yourself. Hit-and-run penalties are severe. Depending on the damage or injuries, you may be fined, sent to jail or both. You also could lose your driver’s license.

In addition to stopping you must also exchange information with the other driver or party —you must give your name and driver’s license number, the vehicle identification number of the car you are driving, the name and address of the car’s owner, the name and address of your insurance company and your insurance policy number.

If your accident involves other property or a parked car, you should attempt to locate the driver or owner. If you cannot locate the driver or owner, California law indicates that you may leave the scene of the incident only after you leave behind, in a conspicuous place, your name, address and an explanation of the accident, and the name and address of your car’s owner (if other than yourself). Also you are required to notify the local police or California Highway Patrol either by telephone or in person as soon as possible.

The law also requires that you call the local police or the California Highway Patrol if the accident caused a death or injury. An officer who comes to the scene of the accident will conduct an investigation. If an officer doesn’t show up, you must make a written report on a form available at the police department or CHP office as soon as possible.

Check on All Pedestrians, Drivers and Passengers
Immediately following an accident make sure everyone involved in the accident is basically okay, no broken bones or other emergency conditions. If someone is unconscious or has neck or back pain, don’t move them until qualified medical help arrives. The only exception to this suggestions is if a hazard is present that requires moving the person. Call 911 for emergency assistance. Check on all parties before assessing property damage,

Call the California Highway Patrol or local Police
If there is a death, physical injury or significant property damage you need to call the highway patrol or police. The appropriate authority will come to the scene of the accident and most likely prepare a report. It situations where officers do arrive at the accident scene, you should obtain the name and badge numbers of those responding.

Exchange Information
Even if officers come to the scene of the accident, you should get the names, numbers, addresses, drivers’ license numbers, license plate numbers from the other drivers involved. As well, you should get the basic insurance information. A good idea is if you have a smart phone and conditions allow, take a photograph of the other driver’s insurance card (front and back). If there are pedestrians or passengers, also obtain their names, numbers, and addresses

Talk to Witnesses
If there are witnesses present. You probably should ask each witness what he or she saw and take some notes concerning their observations. As well if possible, get their names, telephone numbers, and or addresses, if possible. If the accident happened on a surface street you might want to ask if accidents have frequently occurred at the location.

You Have a Cell Phone, Use It, Take Pictures and Other Tips
If safe to do so, it is a good idea to take photographs of the scene of the accident and any damage to the vehicles. It is also a good idea to take pictures of your vehicle as soon as possible after the accident. Photographs can help establish fault and document property damage. As well, pictures of your car after the accident help show the severity of the collision in the event you or a passenger suffered personal injuries.

A simple diagram of the accident scene is often helpful later on. If you have paper or a smart phone draw the positions of both cars before, during and after the accident. If there are skid marks on the road and it is safe to do you may wish to pace them off and jot down your findings on your diagram. Be sure to point the skid marks out to investigation officers. Mark the positions of any crosswalks, stop signs, traffic lights or streetlights..

Also take notes, about weather and road conditions. If the accident happened after dark, note whether the streetlights were on. Note if any stop signs or traffic lights were missing, out or covered, take a picture if such problems exist.

Again, do not place yourself in a position of danger in order to complete an accident diagram or other “investigation.” Be aware of traffic conditions and skip any suggestions that could place you in a position of possible danger or harm

Who’s at Fault
It is rarely a good idea to discuss fault at the scene of an accident. If the other driver is obviously at fault, i.e. unsafe lane change or other obvious circumstances. Stating the same to the other driver in my opinion is OK, however, when talking to other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, or witnesses always try to be pleasant and cooperative. DO NOT BE COME ARGUMENTATIVE.

It is probably not a good idea to apologize for anything at the scene. For example, if you say, “I did not see the stop sign! Is everyone all right?” Your statement may be considered an admission of fault. However, immediately after an accident, it might not be clear who was at fault for accident. For instance, may the stop sign was covered by a low hanging tree branch. Therefore, I suggest you do not accept responsibility for an accident at the scene of the accident. You will have plenty of time to consider what happened and ultimately decide whether or not you were responsible for accident.

Report the Car Accident to Your Insurance Company
Most insurance policies require that you promptly report the accident to your insurance company. Your insurance policy and common sense requires you to cooperate with your insurance carrier. They will interview you and you should tell them the truth about what occurred. When questioned clearly explain the facts as you believe them to be. Lying is very problematic, indeed if your insurance carrier finds out that you have been untruthful you can have serious problems including possible denial of your coverage for the accident or even insurance fraud.

Get Medical Attention and Keep Track of Your Medical Care
If you are concerned about possible personal injuries at the scene of the accident tell the investigating officers about your injuries. If you were hurt in the car crash seek medical attention as soon as possible. A checkup may be a good idea for both you and any of your passengers if any of you have concerns about having suffered injury. If you are concerned about possible personal injuries at the scene of the accident tell the investigating officers about your injuries. It is very a good idea to tell officers or the other party “I am fine.” Often one could be injured and not know it right away

If your personal injuries are troubling at the scene of the accident, you may wish to be taken to an emergency room by the ambulance. Often the day following an accident one is in more pain, if that is the case you may wish to call your doctor or another health care provider for advice. Keep in mind the your automobile insurance may pay some or all of your medical bills if you have medical payments coverage. You should consult your policy or agent for details on what is covered and for what amounts.

If you did suffer personal injuries you should keep a list of any facilities, doctors, chiropractors, or other medical professionals that you received treatment from.

Get a Property Damage Estimate
Depending upon your insurance company, you may wish to obtain an independent property damage estimate. Particularly, if you are unhappy or not satisfied with how your insurance company has evaluated your car. If you are unhappy, tell your adjuster about your concerns. If you have a reasonable position most adjustor will try and reach an amiable compromise. If your car is totaled and you can’t agree on automobile’s value, most policies provide for a mediation process to review the matter or you may wish to consult an attorney.

Use Caution in Posting or Discussing the Accident
It is not a good idea to post or discuss your car crash. I strongly recommend that you only talk to your lawyer, your insurance company, and the police about the accident. I suggest you do not talk to a representative of another insurance company, without the express knowledge and consent of your attorney or insurer. If contacted by the other driver’s insurance company, be polite, do not discuss the accident and ask him or her to call insurance company or your attorney to discuss. Be sure to get the name, address and telephone number of the adjustor so you can provide it your insurance company or attorney. Also, inform your lawyer and/or insurer about the call and provide them with the contact information.

The Danger of An Early Settlement Offer
Be careful if shortly after the accident you are contacted by an adjustor offering you a nominal settlement. Under California law you can settle your claim for personal injuries at anytime. Once a personal injury claim is settled you cannot re-open the matter even if your personal injuries are more severe then you originally believed. Before any settlement offer should be considered you must be certain that physical injuries have been treated and you have recovered from them. The truth is some injuries do not reveal themselves for days, weeks, months or even years later. Attempting to settle a claim in which you suffered moderate to significant personal injuries is a bad idea, in my opinion. At a bare minium consult a personal n attorney before settling any personal injury claim.

Consult or Hire a Personal Injury Attorney, The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz
If you or someone you know has been injured in an automobile accident, it’s best to consult an experienced personal injury attorney. A well qualified personal injury attorney can help you obtain proper compensation for your injuries and related damages. As well, as assisting in your defense if you are claimed to have been partially at fault. Our office works on a contingency fee basis. This means that we only receive a fee if we recover compensation for you. We offer free consultations – so don’t delay call me, Richard M. Katz at 626-796-6333. I look forward to talking to you soon. You can learn more about The Law Offices of Richard M. Katz at http://lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

Car Accident Lawyer:Do I Need to Hire One or Can I Settle Myself ?

This may come as surprise but in fender bender car accidents, you often do not need a car accident lawyer to represent you. However, it is important that you are educated about the claims process and to understand the pros and cons of attempting settle a claim yourself, and those types of claim which require a personal injury lawyer.

There are four major factors that I consider important, they are:

1. Did you suffer injury?

If you suffered a serious personal injury such as facial injuries, broken bones or back injuries (i.e. herniated disk) you should seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer. You likely have a permanent injury that will likely affect you for the rest of your life, you have a potentially large claim and should hire a personal injury attorney to present you in your car collision claim.

If you suffered significant soft tissue injuries for which you feel you need medical attention for you should at least consult and probably hire a personal injury lawyer.

If you suffered no injuries or just a few aches and pain you may wish to consult with a car accident lawyer / personal injury attorney, consultations are free and you can educate yourself on your rights.

Based upon my experience generally speaking the larger a claimant’s case for injuries the stronger the insurance carrier fights the claim.

2. Who is at fault for the car crash? Is fault contested in your matter or does insurance carrier for the other driver accept fault / responsibility for the car accident?

Where fault for a car accident is contested, you must prove that the other driver was negligent and caused the accident. If you cannot carry your burden of proof you will lose and will not be entitled to recover your damages. If your only damage is property damage and you have collision coverage your own insurance company will take care of the loss and you will only be responsible for your deductible.

However, if you suffered injuries and there is a dispute over fault then there is too much at stake for you to try and handle the matter on your own, you need a automobile accident lawyer’s help.

3. How much is your claim worth?

You might feel confident settling your own claim if you have minor injuries and minor out-of-pocket expenses. Perhaps you have a few hundred dollars for medical expenses and some loss of income. Perhaps under those circumstance you would feel a $1,000 or $2,000 is a reasonable settlement.

However if you suffered injuries and incurred medical expenses of a few thousand dollars and suffered loss of income then you probably not want to handle your own claim.

Ultimately you have to decide at what level your case is too big to handle yourself, and your personal comfort level may be higher or lower than these figures.

However, keep in mind that when you are trying to settle your own car collision claim with an insurance company you are at distinct disadvantage. The carrier and its agents have experience and will likely take advantage of your ignorance.

4. Do you really want to handle your car collision claim yourself?

If you are going to handle your claim yourself you will need to educate yourself that will probably take a good 10 to 20 hours learning how to settle car accident claims. There are many “self help” books available and you should read at least one before you take any steps toward evaluating your claim. Then you must present your claim to the insurance company a well drafted letter covering all aspects of your claim should take a couple of hours to prepare. Then you will need to negotiate with the insurance company which can be a frustrating and nearly endless process depending upon the issues involved. If you cannot settle your case then you need to file a lawsuit. Depending upon the size of your claim small claims court may be appropriate.. Keep in mind that representing yourself in a personal injury claim in the Superior Court of California is not easy and one generally needs a lawyer who knows how to litigate a case. Keep in mind that you have represented yourself many lawyers will decline your matter because you have “poisoned the well.”

While not always true the proverb is based on the opinion, probably first expressed by a lawyer, that self-representation in court is likely to end badly. As with many proverbs, it is difficult to determine a precise origin but this expression first began appearing in print in the early 19th century. Henry Kett (1814) an eminent lawyer of the period observed “I hestitate not to pronounce, that every man who is his own lawyer, has a fool for a client.” Abraham Lincoln has been credited with stating “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Keep the foregoing in mind when choosing to represent yourself.

In automobile crash claims there are many claims you can handle yourself if you learn how, but it would be foolish to handle large claims yourself. You should hire a personal injury lawyer if you suffered injuries that is.

In my practice I have handled hundreds of car accidents. If you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident, please contact me, Richard M. Katz, Esq. at 626-796-6333 so that my office can help protect you or your loved ones legal rights. Visit us at our website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com

ATV (all-terrain vehicles) Accidents – What You Need To Know

A car accident also known as a traffic collision, automobile accident, road traffic collision or car crash can be a terrible event. In the same vein, ATV (all-terrain vehicles)accidents can be devastating.

When a ATV collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree or utility pole or overturns the resulting collisions may cause injury, death, vehicle damage, and property damage.

A number of factors contribute to the risk of collision, including vehicle design, speed of operation, road design, road environment, driver skill and/or impairment, and driver behavior.

Vehicular collisions lead to death and disability as well as financial costs to both society and the individuals involved.

Since ATVs were introduced in the early 1970s, they have become increasingly popular. Many families use ATVs for weekend activities. But with increased use accidents and injuries have also increased. As reported by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, as of 2012 over 100,000 ATV injuries were recorded. It is estimated that 25,000 of these ATV related were to children younger than 16 years of age. Over 2,900 children died from ATV-related accidents between 1982 and 2012, .

ATVs especially older ones are so dangerous because of their design. As the result of safety concerns expressed by the federal government almost 30 years ago ATV manufacturers entered into a consent decree in 1988. In the consent decree, manufactures agreed to halt production of three-wheeled ATVs, to provide safety training for new owners, to place warning labels on their products, and to make recommendations about what size of ATV is appropriate for different age groups. In 1998 the consent decree expired but ATV manufacturers have pledged to continue to follow most of its provisions.

Nevertheless because ATVs generally get far less use the cars or trucks many older ATVs are still in use and very dangerous.

Whether an ATV was made before or after 1988, they still all have common safety issues. Including many have no frame protecting the operator in the event of an accident. ATVs tend to ride on large, low-pressure tires that can have difficulty gripping the rough terrain over which they travel. Many have hand-operated brakes, which operated incorrectly can cause an ATV to overturn as one attempts to bring them to a stop.

As well ATVs have relatively large engines for their size and weight. Some ATVs are capable of speeds as high as 70 mph. At that speed while often going across broken and uneven terrain an accident is likely. Many ATVs are not designed for passengers but folks allow others to ride on the ATV again creating a potentially dangerous situation that can lead to death or injury.

Pre 1998 three-wheeled ATVs are less stable than the current four-wheeled ATVs, but even the four-wheeled models can be top-heavy and prone to serious rollover accidents causing death and injury.

Notwithstanding design changes the number of injuries and deaths per year attributable to ATV accidents continues to rise. The problem is twofold. One reason the number of injuries and deaths continue to rise is because the use of ATVs is increasing, it is a popular activity. AS well, ATV makers are building more powerful ATVs and marketing them to younger and younger children. Parents often and wrongfully believe these ATVs are “toys.”

One recent slick marketing tool is the “transitional” ATV. This ATV is sized between the smaller ATVs intended for children and a full-sized adult ATV. These “transitional” ATVs are marketed to generally teenage boys in the 14 to 15 year-old age group. And we all know how safety cautious 13 to 16 year-olds are. Kids in this age generally have no fear and without proper training, guidance and supervision there is an increasing likelihood of serious injuries or death.

As a group ATV manufacturers have fought any attempt to impose regulations on ATV ownership or use (such as age limits and mandatory helmet laws).

In my practice I have handled claims against various manufacturers of vehicles, including ATV and Motorcycles. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed while riding an ATV, please contact me, Richard M. Katz, Esq. at 626-796-6333 so that my office can help protect your legal rights. Visit us at our website http://www.lawyer-personal-injury-law.com



Sympathy Does Not Work at Trial! I Dare You to Watch “Le poids des apparences | The importance of appearances”

I always tell my clients sympathy does not work at trial.  Although an initial reaction of a judge or jury may be sympathy, the sympathy does not last long. When is the last time you saw a “homeless person?” Perhaps initially you felt some sorrow or sympathy but did you give them money, food or even the time of day? A shocking video proves what I have learned in over 35 years of practice.

In a staged event by a French comic, who goes by the name Norni Tube (at least on Youtube) in a short clip, entitled ‘Le poids des apparences | The importance of appearances.’ The video shows two scenarios. In the first “experiment” an actor is shabbily dressed.  His call for help are ignored by people walking by, you will actually see people looking over and “sneak” a look in his direction. Ultimately, the actor gets up and leaves. Later in the video, the same actor dressed as a business man, wearing a suit and tie again collapses at the  same location, this time people come to assist almost immediately.

Norni Tube stated in his description of the video (translated from French) ” I’ve never been so sad and shocked while filming as I was for this experience.
I hope this video will make you want to help anyone. regardless of its appearance.” 




Please take the time to watch the ‘Le poids des apparences | The importance of appearances.’

Sympathy? What sympathy?

What would you have done?



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