Category Archives: Personal Injury

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Monday, June 17, 2019

Our Bakersfield personal injury law firm helps victims focus on getting back on their feet by holding the wrongdoer accountable. Helping victims of personal injury is what we do best. And over the years, we’ve had the privilege of helping many individuals and families get back on their feet.

If you’re one of the ones we’ve helped, we would appreciate it if you could leave us a review and feedback online. This helps more individuals and families find us, especially when they really need us.

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Posted by Lorrie Ross at 5:56 pm

Meet Kern County Personal Injury Attorney Danay Gonzalez

Monday, June 3, 2019

Attorney Danay Gonzalez has a powerful voice. She uses it to sing ballads in English and Spanish; as a personal injury lawyer, she uses it to advocate for those who need it the most.

Attorney Danay Gonzalez Bakersfield

Growing up in Lamont, CA, Danay observed many of her classmates were afraid to speak up for themselves out of fear of getting their families in trouble or deported. At the same time, she admired Daniel Rodriguez, a successful member of the Hispanic community and a prominent attorney, who advocated for her friends and neighbors. She knew that she wanted to help others too.

Pursuing her dream of becoming an attorney, Danay attended UCLA and received her undergraduate degree in Political Science. She went on to receive her JD from the Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University. During her years in law school, she worked in the summers as a law clerk at Rodriguez & Associates so it was only natural that she would come back to her community and work for our firm after successfully passing the bar exam on the first try. When Danay is at work, she is passionate about fighting for people’s rights and helping them find their own voice. If Danay is your attorney, you know that you are in good hands.

If you have been injured, let us help you put back together the pieces of your life. Schedule a no-charge consultation by calling 1-800-585-9262.

Posted by Lorrie Ross at 1:33 pm

What is Personal Injury Protection?

Friday, April 5, 2019

Every state in the U.S. has unique laws for handling car accidents. Most states follow fault-based systems that require drivers to determine fault for accidents and file claims for coverage against at-fault drivers’ auto insurance policies. However, several states use no-fault systems, and personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage is the standard for auto insurance coverage in these states.

In the 12 states requiring PIP coverage, state laws determine how and when drivers may pursue legal claims for auto accidents. For example, a no-fault state may require drivers to use their own PIP to cover damages after an accident. However, if an at-fault driver caused a catastrophic injury or the incident otherwise meets the criteria for legal action under state law, the injured driver may file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. Ultimately, states that uphold no-fault standards for car accidents do so to curb the number of lawsuits filed against at-fault drivers.

How Does PIP Work?

PIP coverage is an extension of auto insurance that can cover medical expenses and lost wages for the policyholder after an accident, and this type of coverage applies regardless of how the accident happened or who was at fault. In no-fault states, drivers must purchase and maintain auto insurance policies that include the state’s minimum PIP coverage. For example, one state may require $20,000 in minimum coverage while another may require $25,000 or $30,000. In most fault-based states, PIP is an optional form of coverage that may augment an auto liability policy.

Fault-based states usually require drivers to purchase auto insurance that includes bodily injury and death liability coverage for a single person in an accident caused by the policyholder, total accident liability coverage for a single accident caused by the policyholder, and property damage coverage. While a driver may legally drive with just a minimum policy, the coverage included in minimum auto insurance policies only covers damages the policyholder causes. If the policyholder sustains injuries and other losses, he or she may need additional coverage to pay for those expenses.

Purchasing Auto Insurance

Drivers with minimum coverage policies should strongly consider purchasing additional insurance coverage that allows for a decent buffer in the event of an accident. In fault-based states, this may mean adding comprehensive coverage, collision coverage, underinsured driver coverage, and/or PIP to a minimum policy. In no-fault states, PIP is mandatory, and each state determines how much a driver must carry and what types of medical treatment qualify for PIP coverage.

Every driver should strive to secure an acceptable amount of coverage with a reasonable monthly premium. More extensive coverage will lead to higher premiums, but offer a better buffer for an injured driver in the event of an accident. For example, if a negligent driver without insurance causes an accident in a fault-based state, the injured driver would file a claim against the negligent driver’s auto insurance policy. Since the at-fault driver is uninsured, the injured driver would need to file a claim against his or her own policy but may only do so in most cases if the driver purchased underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.

PIP may be optional in fault-based states, but every driver should consider the potential value of purchasing this type of coverage. PIP does not consider fault, so an injured driver can secure coverage for medical expenses and other losses after an accident no matter how the accident happened.

Additional coverage on an auto insurance policy can help a driver by providing peace of mind when an accident happens, but more expensive coverage will cost more in monthly premiums. Drivers should try to strike a healthy balance of coverage and affordability. While other drivers may face mounting economic pressure from an accident due to lack of coverage, a driver with PIP can use this coverage for immediate medical bills and other expenses while he or she determines his or her next steps.




Posted by highrank at 10:46 pm

What Is Second Impact Syndrome?

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Concussions are common injuries from vehicle accidents, violence, and sports accidents. These injuries can range in severity and cause a host of unpredictable symptoms, some of which may impact the victim’s quality of life for months or even years.

A concussion occurs when an external force causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull. This may cause swelling or even bleeding, and the victim may experience unpleasant symptoms for several days, but most concussion victims make full recoveries within a few weeks.

Symptoms of a concussion can include short-term and long-term headaches, personality changes, symptoms of depression, and more symptoms that vary from person to person. One of the most dangerous symptoms is increased susceptibility to future concussions. A person who suffers a concussion can usually receive medical care to make a full recovery. However, Second Impact Syndrome (SIS), is a possibility after any concussion and this condition is almost always fatal.

What Is SIS?

SIS occurs when the brain swells from a concussion before the symptoms of the first concussion subside. For example, an athlete suffers a concussion during practice and receives doctor’s orders to avoid training for several weeks. A few days after his initial symptoms subside, he has a minor car accident that causes a second concussion. If the swelling and other symptoms of the first concussion had not yet subsided, he could experience SIS and die within minutes.

Anyone who suffers any kind of head injury faces a risk of concussion. If you find yourself in this situation and experience any symptoms of a concussion such as confusion, dizziness, nausea, or fall unconscious for any period, seek medical treatment immediately.

Concussion Treatment

The best treatment for a concussion is rest, though a doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to ease other symptoms. Rest serves two main functions: to allow the brain to physically heal from the concussion, and to keep the patient away from potentially dangerous situations that could lead to SIS.

A physician will usually recommend avoiding sports and strenuous activity for an extended time, and he or she may also recommend avoiding driving if possible. Patients should follow these instructions very carefully and use extreme caution during any activity that could lead to a head injury or they risk developing potentially fatal SIS.

Patients who fully recover from their concussions will still have an increased susceptibility to future concussions, so they must use care when deciding which activities to perform following concussion treatment. A second impact may show no visible signs at first and the victim may feel well enough to continue whatever he or she was doing only for symptoms to rapidly worsen within minutes, leading to the victim’s collapse and loss of consciousness.

Concussion and SIS Prevention

While a concussion may be treatable with swift medical attention, SIS can prove fatal within minutes of a secondary impact. Those who are lucky enough to survive SIS usually develop permanently disabling brain disorders. The best method to prevent this is to prevent a primary concussion whenever and however possible.

When playing sports, wear necessary protective headgear and only play in stride with your skill level. When driving, wear a seatbelt and follow the traffic laws to limit both the risk of an accident and your potential injuries in an unavoidable accident. After suffering a concussion, pay very close attention to your doctor’s orders and treatment advice.

Even after making a full recovery, use extra caution for several weeks to several months following the disappearance of your concussion symptoms. It is always best to limit your risk of a concussion at all times and use extreme caution during any activity that could potentially result in a head injury. For additional information regarding securing compensation to help with medical bills, pain and suffering, and the like, speak with a skilled brain injury lawyer in Bakersfield.

Posted by highrank at 6:09 pm

Can I Sue a Doctor for Emotional Distress?

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Doctors and other medical professionals have a moral and legal obligation to do no harm to their patients. They must refer to the appropriate standard of care for a patient’s condition and meet that standard with their treatment and medical advice. Some patients may develop additional medical complications due to a negligent medical professional’s actions, or they may suffer tremendous pain and psychological suffering due to negligent medical treatment. Some victims may wonder if they have grounds for legal recourse after experiencing emotional distress.

How to File a Lawsuit for Emotional Distress

If you suffered a physical injury or illness due to negligent medical treatment you would likely qualify for a medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical professional responsible for causing the damage. The emotional distress you experienced from developing a permanent disability would be related to your physical injury, so you could expect compensation for your emotional distress in addition to your other damages in the lawsuit. However, it would be very difficult to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit solely for emotional distress.

Most states place specific restrictions for civil claims based on emotional distress. Generally, an individual can only sue solely for emotional distress damages if he or she witnessed the wrongful death of a close blood relative, was present in the immediate danger zone of a witnessed fatal incident or following any mishandling of a deceased loved one’s body.

The court may also allow emotional distress claims more leniently for claimants who qualify as “eggshell plaintiffs,” or especially vulnerable individuals such as children who witness the death of a parent, elderly individuals who suffer from various medical complications and diminished resilience, and pregnant women.

Intentional Torts and Actual Malice

The rare instance of a physician or other medical professional intentionally inflicting emotional distress on a patient knowingly, willingly, and/or for personal gain would likely qualify the plaintiff for emotional distress damages. For example, imagine a specialist tells a patient he has a certain medical condition requiring careful treatment at risk of the patient’s life, and the doctor attempts to keep the patient billed for unnecessary medical treatments in a pattern of exploitation.

Upon discovery of this or any similar type of deception, the patient would likely experience severe emotional distress in addition to the distress experienced from the doctor’s false diagnosis. This may be an extreme example, but generally emotional distress in and of itself does not constitute grounds for legal action unless the defendant acted with actual malice or intent to cause emotional distress or other harm.

To succeed with a lawsuit against a medical professional for emotional distress, the plaintiff and his or her lawyer would need to prove the defendant’s conduct was extreme, outrageous, or intentionally harmful or exploitative. The plaintiff would also have to prove the extent of his or her emotional distress, including producing proof the plaintiff sought mental health counseling or other support services due to his or her traumatic experience, prescriptions for any required psychiatric medications, and testimony from coworkers, friends, and family members attesting to the changes in the plaintiff’s mental health following the conduct in question.

Types of Emotional Distress Claims

Different types of emotional distress claims fall under different rules state by state.

  • Negligent infliction of emotional distress pertains to emotional distress as the result of the defendant’s lack of care, such as a mistake in a diagnostic procedure or incorrect prescription.
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress pertains to direct, knowing, and willful abuse.
  • Parasitic emotional distress refers to emotional suffering related to other damages, such as the emotional stress resulting after developing a permanent disability.

If you recently experienced emotional distress as a result of a medical professional’s conduct, consulting with a medical malpractice lawyer in Bakersfield can help you determine your best options for legal recourse. An attorney can determine whether the doctor’s conduct was reasonable and foreseeable given the circumstances in question and weigh his or her actions against the typical standard of care for the patient’s condition.

Posted by highrank at 5:59 pm

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Traumatic Brain Injury?

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Traumatic brain injuries are some of the most severe injuries a human being can sustain, and these injuries can have unpredictable long-term and permanent effects. Anyone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury should pay very close attention to his or her doctor’s instructions and treatment plan and report any new symptoms or changes in symptoms immediately.

Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries

Concussions are one of the most common traumatic brain injuries seen in the U.S., commonly resulting from car accidents, sports injuries, and interpersonal violence. A concussion occurs when an external force causes the brain to strike the inside surface of the skull. The human brain sits in the cranial cavity with a cushion of fluid surrounding it to protect it from the jagged surface of the inside of the skull. When a strong blow causes the brain to hit the inside of the skull, the damage may be minor or cause life-altering problems for the victim.

Most people who suffer mild concussions recover within a week or two with lots of rest and avoiding strenuous activities. However, some people may experience persistent uncomfortable or painful symptoms for months or even years following concussions. Additionally, suffering a concussion increases the victim’s vulnerability to future concussions. The symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome or persistent concussion symptoms include nausea, confusion, severe headaches, personality changes, and more.

Severe Traumatic Brain Injuries

The brain is incredibly complex and powerful, but it is still vulnerable to injury. A penetrating head wound like a gunshot, knife wound, or impact wound from debris could cause fatal damage to the human brain. However, a victim who survives such an injury may experience a wide range of possible symptoms of various levels of severity.

Some people who experience severe traumatic brain injuries may develop personality changes, suffer cognitive difficulties, or experience memory loss or trouble making new memories. Others may only experience slight discomfort such as recurring mild headaches or changes in sensory perception. For others, the changes can be more dramatic. They may suffer amnesia, experience complete personality shifts, or develop secondary medical conditions related to their head injuries that severely diminish quality of life.

Permanent Disabilities

Many traumatic brain injuries cause long-term or permanent damage. A victim who enters a comatose or vegetative state following a traumatic brain injury may sustain further brain damage, potentially resulting in permanent neurological, behavioral, or cognitive impairment. These individuals may then require constant supervision and 24-hour daily care at home or an assisted living facility or hospital.

The effects of a traumatic brain injury are unpredictable. The type, size, and severity of the injury are only a few factors that determine the long-term effects. The victim’s overall medical status, age, preexisting medical conditions, and environmental factors may all influence his or her future prognosis. However, many severe brain injuries often result in life-changing disabilities, permanent mental deficiencies, and require long-term or permanent medical care and supervision.

Worsening Symptoms Over Time

Unfortunately, many of the long-term negative symptoms resulting from a traumatic brain injury will worsen over time. Some victims may experience progressively worsening headaches while others develop more extensive memory or sensory difficulties after their injuries. Others may develop disabilities that lead to depression, anxiety, anger, and secondary medical complications.

A brain injury victim should follow all physician instructions carefully and make all necessary medical appointments. If he or she requires ongoing care following a traumatic brain injury, his or her primary caregiver must stay alert for any sudden changes in the patient’s behavior or symptoms. Some traumatic brain injuries can damage the structure of the brain and cause it to deteriorate over time, and vigilance can help prevent potentially fatal complications from these issues. For more information on how to recover compensation for a TBI, speak with a brain injury attorney in Bakersfield.

Posted by highrank at 9:33 pm

Can Doctors Legally Lie to Patients?

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

When we visit our doctors, we trust them with some of the most sensitive and personal situations we encounter. However, some doctors can breach our trust and lie about certain treatments, conditions, and outcomes. This act can lead to painful consequences, such as delayed or improper treatment and emotional trauma.

Why Do Doctors Lie to Patients?

Many doctors admit to telling lies to their patients. However, not all of these lies lead to harm to the patients. A 2012 nationwide survey from Harvard Medical School revealed the following statistics about physician honesty:

  • One-third of surveyed physicians said that they do not share serious medical errors with patients.
  • Two-fifths of physicians said that they did not disclose financial conflicts of interests with pharmaceutical and device companies to patients.
  • Over 55% of physicians often described their patients’ condition in a more positive light than they should have.

Technically, doctors can lie to patients – as long as these lies do not result in harm to the patient in question. However, lies that lead to improper medications, unnecessary treatment, additional health complications, and other injuries could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Proving Medical Malpractice in California

When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit against a doctor, surgeon, or other medical professional in California, your attorney will have to satisfy a number of factors.

  • He or she must prove that you and the doctor had a doctor-patient relationship and the doctor therefore owed you a duty of care. If you ask advice from a friend who is a doctor, for example, you cannot hold him or her liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • Your attorney must prove that the doctor breached the standard of care when he or she administered care to you.
  • Your attorney must prove that a similarly trained and educated doctor would not have breached the standard of care in the same circumstances.
  • Your attorney must prove that the breach of care led to your injuries.
  • Your attorney must prove that your injuries led to economic or non-economic losses, such as additional medical expenses and pain and suffering.

Only in certain circumstances can a doctor’s lie be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. If you can prove that the lie led to your injuries and damages, and that you can collect financial compensation for these damages, you could file a claim against the doctor in question.

The Importance of Informed Consent

One of the most central elements to medical practice is obtaining informed consent from a patient. You must consent to your medical treatment after the doctor provides you with information on the treatment. You should receive the following information from your doctor:

  • A complete diagnosis
  • The purpose and process of potential treatments
  • The benefits and risks of potential treatments
  • The benefits and risks of not receiving treatments

If your doctor lies or withholds vital information during this process, or fails to obtain informed consent at all, you cannot consent to medical treatment. If you receive treatment anyway, you could hold your doctor liable for not obtaining your informed consent and file a medical malpractice claim against him or her.

Possible Damages in California Medical Malpractice Cases

Under California law, you can collect compensation for economic and non-economic damages from medical malpractice lawsuits. California caps non-economic damages at $250,000, while economic damages remain uncapped. If you can prove that your doctor’s lie led to any of the following losses, you can collect damages:

  • Additional medical expenses, not including the conditions present prior to the lie
  • Lost wages due to recovery time from an injury or illness caused by the lie
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Permanent disability
  • Punitive damages for intentional, reckless, and/or especially negligent behavior

A Bakersfield medical malpractice attorney at Rodriguez & Associates can help you determine if you have grounds for a medical malpractice case. Contact a lawyer to discuss the circumstances of your case and learn about your legal options.

Posted by highrank at 7:08 pm

What Is Anesthesia Awareness?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

When you go to a hospital for surgery, you expect the highest standard of care and for doctors to follow standard procedure. One of the elements of standard procedure for surgery includes full anesthesia to put you to sleep before the surgery.  However, in very rare cases, you do not completely fall asleep during your surgery, recall your surroundings, and/or experience pressure or pain – a phenomenon known as anesthesia awareness.

Definition of Anesthesia Awareness

When you visit a hospital for a surgery, you receive medications to help you fall asleep and reduce pain during the surgery. Some anesthesia also induces paralysis so that the patient does not move during the operation. However, this medication can fail to induce unconsciousness in very rare circumstances. You wake up, become aware of certain events during the surgery, and may even feel pain.

Different people have different levels of awareness. Some may recall brief memories, others may remember specific moments. Others feel a sense of pressure, while others can feel pain. In very rare cases, some patients can experience paralysis but remain awake and feel pain during the surgery. This instance can lead to lasting damage.

Why Does Anesthesia Awareness Occur?

Researchers do not know the exact cause of anesthesia awareness. Causes of anesthesia awareness can range from preexisting conditions to doctor error and medical equipment malfunction. Surgeries that do not use general anesthesia also have higher instances of anesthesia awareness. However, the condition is most common in patients with multiple medical conditions or who are receiving a certain surgery.

Surgeries with high anesthesia awareness rates include emergency C-sections, surgery for traumatic injuries, and certain heart surgeries. In these cases, doctors cannot safely administer the appropriate amount of anesthesia and patients do not completely fall asleep. In addition, anesthesia awareness can occur if the doctors do not administer anesthesia properly. Sometimes, the equipment meant to monitor anesthesia levels fails.

Possible Damages From Anesthesia Awareness

In the most severe cases of anesthesia awareness, patients can leave with lasting psychological damage due to their experiences. You may develop post-traumatic stress disorder due to your experience. You can also develop other mental illnesses, such as anxiety and an unavoidable preoccupation with death. Repetitive nightmares and irritability are also common damages from anesthesia awareness.

Can You File a Lawsuit for Anesthesia Awareness?

In certain circumstances, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit in California civil court for anesthesia awareness. To do so, your attorney must prove the following factors:

  • He or she must prove that you and the surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other people involved in your case had a doctor-patient relationship. Visiting a hospital for surgery can establish this factor.
  • Your attorney must prove that your surgeon breached a standard of care, and that this breach led to the anesthesia awareness. In these cases, this breach can include improperly setting up equipment, ignoring signs of distress during surgery, or not administering anesthesia properly.
  • Your attorney must prove that a similarly trained and educated doctor would not have made the same mistake and you would have not suffered damages due to anesthesia awareness.
  • Your attorney must prove that you suffered damages because of the anesthesia awareness. In these cases, the damages are likely non-economic such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of quality of life. In California, you can claim up to $250,000 in non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.

Proving a medical malpractice case for anesthesia awareness can be difficult due to the irregular nature of the injury. Many different factors can contribute to this phenomenon, and not all of them involve medical malpractice. To determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit for your anesthesia awareness case, contact a medical malpractice attorney in Bakersfield.

Posted by highrank at 6:47 pm

Can You Sue for Misdiagnosis of Cancer?

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be one of the most traumatic experiences a patient can encounter. In addition, cancer treatments are notoriously harsh and lead to painful side effects. After months of chemo and emotional trauma, learning that your doctor misdiagnosed your condition can add additional pain on top of your experience – and in California, you can pursue legal action against your doctor for the misdiagnosis.

Your Legal Options for Cancer Misdiagnosis

Depending on the circumstances of your diagnosis, you could file a medical malpractice lawsuit against your doctor for misdiagnosis of cancer. If your doctor breached the professional standard of care during misdiagnosis and you suffered losses as a result, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. Contact a Bakersfield medical malpractice attorney to discuss the facts of your case.

With a medical malpractice lawsuit, you can claim the following compensation for damages due to the misdiagnosis:

  • Medical expenses incurred due to the false diagnosis
  • Future medical expenses due to injuries incurred during the course of treatment
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional trauma
  • Lost wages due to cancer treatment
  • Punitive damages for reckless, intentional, or especially negligent behavior

How Do Doctors Misdiagnose Cancer?

With training and a proper educational background, you would think that doctors would be able to tell the difference between cancer and other medical conditions. However, many factors can lead to the misdiagnosis of cancer:

  • Unqualified medical staff. When you receive a cancer-screening test, specialists interpret the findings. However, certain hospitals may assign a doctor who does not have a background in cancer screening to analyze the results. This act can lead to cancer misdiagnosis.
  • Oversensitive or malfunctioning screening tools. Screening technology can make significant errors when reading cancer test samples. You may receive a false positive from this equipment and your doctor can misdiagnose you with cancer.
  • Intentional misdiagnosis. While these cases are very rare, certain lawsuits have involved doctors who intentionally misdiagnosed patients with cancer. Usually, the motive for this act is financial. The more treatments a patient receives, the more money the doctor gets from the insurance companies.

Potential Injuries Suffered by Cancer Misdiagnosis

Although receiving word that you do not have cancer may be a relief for many people, you likely already suffered harm as a result of cancer treatment. In addition, you may have an underlying condition that worsened as a result of delayed treatment. You can suffer significantly painful side effects from unnecessary cancer treatments:

  • Appetite loss
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of fertility and sexual function
  • Nerve problems
  • Lymphedema, or fluid buildup in the lymph nodes
  • Anemia and fatigue
  • Chronic pain
  • Infection, including urinary and bladder problems
  • Mouth and throat problems
  • Skin and nail changes
  • Delirium and confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Memory and concentration issues
  • Constipation and diarrhea

Proving a Medical Malpractice Case in California

To prove a medical malpractice case in California, you will need to satisfy the following factors:

  • Your attorney must prove that you and your doctor had an established doctor-patient relationship and therefore, your doctor owed you a standard of care.
  • Your attorney must prove that your doctor breached this standard of care through misdiagnosis.
  • Your attorney must prove that a similarly educated and trained doctor would not have made the same misdiagnosis in the same situation.
  • Your attorney must prove that you suffered injuries because of the misdiagnosis.
  • Your attorney must prove that your injuries led to losses, such as medical bills and pain and suffering.

Proving a case of medical malpractice can be difficult. Hiring a medical malpractice attorney is the key to proving these cases. Your attorney can consult with medical experts, gather necessary evidence, and craft a compelling case on your behalf. If you discover a cancer misdiagnosis and need compensation for your losses, contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Posted by highrank at 6:37 pm

How to Find a Personal Injury Lawyer

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Dealing with a personal injury lawsuit becomes much easier with help from a skilled personal injury attorney in Bakersfield. A personal injury lawyer can take care of complex legal processes on your behalf, and help you fight for full and fair compensation for damages. With a number of advertisements for lawyers on local television and online, however, it can be difficult to find the best personal injury attorney for you. Finding the right one will take establishing your goals, meeting with one or two, and using recommendations.

Identify Your Criteria

Different things may be more important to different clients. One car accident victim may prioritize a law firm that is physically close by, for example, while another could be more open to hiring a national firm from farther away. List your top priorities you would like to find in an attorney. Then, add a few general things every personal injury victim should look for in a lawyer.

  • Experience in the practice area
  • Proven case results
  • Positive client testimonials
  • License in your state
  • Affordable fees

Create a list that will help guide your search for the perfect lawyer. Identify your goals for your case, as this can help you choose. Do you want to achieve a settlement as quickly as possible, or would you be willing to take a case to trial for maximum recovery? If you believe a trial might be an option, you will want a lawyer with courtroom experience.

Get a Referral

Referrals can point you in the direction of a lawyer with an established, reputable history in the community who fits your criteria list. They can come from trusted sources of information, such as friends or family members who have used the attorney or an online lawyer database such as NOLO’s law firm directory. In a directory, you can find detailed information about each attorney suitable for your needs, including the lawyer’s education, philosophy, and experience.

You may also be able to get a referral to a firm from a different lawyer – perhaps one that you have worked with before, but who does not accept cases in the practice area you need. Check with your county bar association for a referral service that may make the names of local lawyers available to you by practice area. Find a referral source the state bar association has approved. Otherwise, you may not be able to trust the information you find, or it may have biases.

Pick Three to Five to Shortlist

Using referrals or an online search, select three to five law firms that fit your criteria. Do this using information on their websites, attorney bios, and firm reviews or testimonials. Then, call each law office and get a feel for the firm. If the person who answers the phone is friendly and agrees that your case is one the lawyer may be able to help with, schedule a consultation. Initial consultations should be free and come at no obligation to hire the firm.

Meet with Lawyers

A lawyer may look great on paper, but might not be the right fit for you or your case. Sometimes, it takes meeting the lawyer in person to ascertain whether he or she is the top choice. Use your free consultations to meet with lawyers and conduct interviews. Come to your meetings prepared, with documents and information about your case and several questions to ask.

Questions can include: “How much experience do you have in my practice area?” “How long do you think my case will take?” and “What is my case worth?” Also ask about fees and processes. Once you decide an attorney is a perfect fit, you will need to create a written fee agreement and sign a contract. You may also need to pay a retainer, or an upfront fee to retain the lawyer. No matter what attorney you choose, he or she should keep you updated as your case progresses.

Posted by highrank at 11:00 pm