FAQs

Types of Accidents We Handle

Do I Need an Lawyer?

Attorney Fees

Timing

What’s My Case Worth?

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Medical Treatment and Compensation

Who’s at Fault?


Q: What types of personal injury and accident cases do you handle?
A: I handle all types of personal injury claims, including injuries caused by car accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, nursing home abuse, trucking accidents, boating accidents, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, motorcycle accidents, train accidents, and any other case where someone else causes you or your loved one personal injury.

Q: If the Clancey, Doyle & O’Donnell doesn’t handle my particular type of case, can you refer me to a competent attorney that does?
A: Yes. Although we handle most types of personal injury cases, there are several specialty areas that we don’t handle ourselves. Please contact us to discuss your particular case. If we can’t help you, we will try to find a lawyer for you who does handle your type of case.

Q: Do you handle bicycle injury accident cases?
A: Yes. I handle any type of case where people suffer an injury, including bicycle accidents. Often motorists will try to blame a cyclist just for being on a bike. You need to contact me and we can discuss your case. My consultation on a personal injury case is always free.

Q: How soon after personal injury accident should I call you?
A: Call me immediately. Do not give the other person’s insurance company a statement until you have consulted with a lawyer. I make a point of returning all calls and e-mails promptly. If you been in an accident and have suffered a personal injury, you need to know right away what insurance coverage is in place to cover your medical expenses and lost wages.

Q: What is the statute of limitation in California in a personal injury case?
A: For adults it is two years from the date of the injury. You have to either settle the case or file a lawsuit to protect the statute of limitations. People under 18 years old (minors) get until their 20th birthday. There are many exceptions to these rules. If the defendant in your case is a California governmental entity, you must file a claim for damages with that specific governmental entity within six months of the accident date. The governmental entity rule applies to both adults and minors. In uninsured motorist cases, the statute is two years for both adults and minors. These rules are for accidents that happen in California. Other states may have different rules. Also, different rules apply for cases involving malpractice and fraud. In almost every category of case there are exceptions to the usual rules. To be sure of the statute of limitations in your case, consult Clancey, Doyle & O’Donnell. We give free consultations. There is no obligation to you.

Q: Why is it so important to hire an experienced trial lawyer?
A: Most personal injury cases settle before trial, but you want to maximize your settlement. If you hire a personal injury attorney who has little trial experience, oftentimes they will be afraid to go to trial. Insurance companies know who these lawyers are, and they oftentimes offer them less than the case is worth.

Q: Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
A: In order to settle your personal injury or car accident case you will have to deal with insurance companies. Their goal is to pay you as little as you will take. It is tough for someone who is not familiar with personal injury cases to know what a fair settlement amount is. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you to determine that amount and reach a fair settlement.

Q: How do I pay your legal fees?
A: I handle all of my cases on a contingency fee basis. This means YOU DO NOT OWE ME A LEGAL FEE UNLESS I RECOVER MONEY FOR YOU. I do not ask for any attorney fees up front. If there is no recovery, there is no fee.

Q: If I have to pay a lawyer part of my settlement, does that mean I will get less for myself?
A: No. The job of your personal injury lawyer is to maximize the value of your particular case. It is no secret that an insurance company will seldom pay anywhere near full value to injured persons who are not represented by a lawyer. More often than not, after delays and broken promises, an insurance adjuster will offer only a token amount to injured persons who are not represented by a lawyer. Good lawyers like those at Clancey, Doyle & O’Donnell have their reputation, hard work and access to investigators and expert witnesses and are able to prove the facts of your case. We have access to doctors and hospitals for our clients that you cannot obtain on your own. We know how to prove an injury. For instance, how would you prove you have a headache or a backache? We know the law that governs your situation. A good lawyer can determine the jury verdict value of your injury. The combination of all of these things and our ability to take the responsible party to court if they don’t voluntarily pay you a fair settlement make it obvious that the only way to get treated fairly by an insurance company is to be represented by a good attorney. Insurance companies respect strength.

Q: If I hire an attorney instead of handling the case myself, will that delay my settlement?
A: No. That is, not unless you are willing to settle your case for far less than it is worth. Insurance companies will demand the same proof of facts regarding your injuries from you as they would from an attorney. Unless you are trained in this field, the insurance company will have a big advantage over you and usually will only offer you a token of what your case is worth.

Q: I am handling my case myself. The insurance company wants me to be examined by their doctor. Should I agree to this?
A: No! What they are really saying is “we don’t trust your doctor to tell us the truth”. If they have that attitude, it doesn’t take much imagination to know what will happen next.

Q: Will pursuing my personal injury case take up a lot of my time?
A: No. Oftentimes I only meet with clients for the initial interview and then we can just talk over the phone. If we do have to go to court, it will take more time. I realize your time is important, so I don’t waste it.

Q: How long does it take to settle most personal injury cases?
A: It depends on the nature of your personal injury claim. I have settled smaller personal injury claims for the full amount my client wanted within 10 days and I have settled policy limits cases in as little as a few weeks. All cases are resolved on a case by case basis. Each case has its own unique qualities and there is no standard length of time that is required to obtain a settlement or verdict.

Q: Will I have to go to trial?
A: The vast majority of personal injury cases don’t go to trial. However, I treat each case as if it is going to be a trial, as you have to be willing to go to trial to maximize your settlement.

Q: What determines how much my case is worth?
A: There’s no magic formula, but generally, the more serious the injury, the more the case is worth. Of course, the person or company that caused your accident has to have enough insurance and/or assets to pay that value. Our system is based on the principal that the person at fault has to pay for the damage they cause. The clearer the liability the better your case is. The value of a case is based on the combination of severity of the injury and the liability of the defendant along with that person’s ability to pay you have the value of the case.

Q: What is my insurance claim worth?
A: The value of your car accident or personal injury insurance claim depends on the severity and permanency of your injuries. Contact me now for a free consultation so I can assess your claim and tell you what I think it is worth.

Q: Should I accept the offer that the insurance company has given me?
A: Oftentimes I can get insurance companies to substantially increase the amount of their settlement offer. If you have already received an offer for your injuries, contact me and I will let you know if I think it is a fair offer. I will not charge you for this consultation. If I do not beat their original offer to you, I will not charge you an attorney fee.

Q: Should I give a statement to the other person’s insurance company?
A: Usually not. They have already heard their own insured’s version of the accident. If their insurer told them he or she was not at fault, you have no chance of convincing the claims adjuster that you were in the right and their insured was in the wrong. Usually the person at an insurance company who takes statements has been taught how to ask questions in a way that may omit facts important to your case and make your answers somewhat distorted. In addition, if you have to go to court, that statement you gave the insurance adjuster can be used to impeach you. For instance, if you give a statement on the day after the accident and say that only your neck hurts, and a few days later you realize your shoulder also hurts, that contradiction would be used against you when you try to prove your shoulder injury in court.

Q: If I don’t have health insurance how can I get medical treatment for my injuries?
A: Some health care providers including board certified medical specialists, hospitals, MRI centers, pharmacists, etc. are willing to provide health care services to our clients on a lien. They will wait until the conclusion of the case to get paid. Many of our clients choose this option even if they have health coverage with an HMO or PPO. An HMO or PPO is also entitled to be paid back from the proceeds of your case which means that obtaining private health care on a lien is an attractive option. Therefore, the choice of medical providers becomes what is most convenient for you and where you will get the best case.

Q: If I lose time from work, will the other person’s insurance company pay me for lost earnings even though I am collecting sick leave or disability?
A: Yes. If you have to dip into your sick leave or disability account the insurance company is not allowed to take credit or deduct that from your settlement.

Q: How do I know if I have a good car accident or personal injury case?
A: You need to contact me and we can discuss your case. My consultation on a personal injury case is always free.

Q: In a traffic accident where liability is clear, will the insurance company pay for my car repair before I finish my medical treatment?
A: Yes, that is almost always the case. You would also be entitled to a rental car until your car is repaired. If you don’t rent a car, you are entitled to a “loss of use” payment to you for the equivalent rental value of your car for the period of time you are deprived of its use.

Q: In a traffic accident, who gets to choose the body shop where my car is repaired? Me or the insurance company?
A: You do.

Q: In a traffic accident case, how can I get paid if the responsible party didn’t have insurance?
A: You can collect for your own bodily injuries through your own insurance policy if you have what is called “uninsured motorist” coverage. You can get your vehicle fixed under your collision coverage. You can get your medical bills paid by your Med Pay coverage or your health insurance. Your lost earnings may be paid by State Disability Insurance. All motor vehicle liability insurance policies sold in California are required to include uninsured motorist coverage unless you sign a waiver deleting it. Making a claim under the uninsured motorist coverage is tricky and you should have a lawyer represent you.

Q: In a traffic accident, can I collect full value for my injuries if I didn’t have “liability insurance”?
A: In California, the answer is complicated. If you were a passenger and not the owner of the vehicle, the answer is yes. If you were injured as a pedestrian, the answer is yes. If the driver that caused the accident was convicted of drunk driving, the answer is yes. In most other cases, where you are the owner or the driver of a car without liability insurance you will only be able to collect the actual value of your loss and will not be able to collect anything for “pain and suffering”. These rules are based on Proposition 213 passed by the voters a few years ago. Because there are many exceptions to the rule, you should call us for a free consultation.

Q: What happens if I have a severe injury and the person who caused my accident does not have enough insurance coverage to pay all of my damages?
A: After you have exhausted the insurance coverage you next look to the responsible person’s assets. However, most people who don’t have enough insurance usually don’t have enough assets either. If the responsible person was in the course and scope of their employment when the accident happened, their employer would also be responsible. Most employers have high limit insurance policies. We also look for excess or umbrella insurance policies. There may also be other defendants and other theories of recovery. Serious injury cases allow us to investigate unusual or obscure theories of law in order to recover full value for our injured client.

Q: Does my car insurance cover accidents when I am on my bike?
A: Many car insurance policies will cover you if you are injured in a bicycle accident or as a pedestrian on foot.

Q: Can I make a claim for injuries if the accident was partly my fault?
A: Yes, in California you can.

Q: If I caused the accident can I still collect for my injuries?
A: California has comparative negligence. That means if you were 25% at fault for an accident, you can still collect 75% of the value of your case. Therefore, the answer is yes, you can collect for your injuries even if the accident was partly your fault.

Q: Who determines how the accident happened?
A: Usually this is accomplished through witnesses (including the parties to the accident) and an analysis of the physical evidence. In motor vehicle cases, there are usually police reports. Other situations are sometimes videotaped from surveillance cameras. Each case will present a different set of circumstances. As a general rule, collect as much information at the scene of the accident as you possibly can. Get names and other information from witnesses. If you have a camera take pictures if you think they will help you.

Q: If I fall and hurt myself on someone else’s property, do they have to pay me for my injuries?
A: It depends on why you fell. To collect money damages, you will have to prove that the property owner was negligent. Common situations involve retailers allowing spills to remain on the sales floor after they learn about them. Other common slip/trip and fall situations usually involve uneven sidewalks, stairs, missing or detached hand rails, leaking refrigerated cases in supermarkets, and countless other unique situations. Each slip and fall has to be evaluated based on its individual facts. Call us to discuss the facts in your case. As in most cases, it always helps to get witnesses and to take photographs if possible.

Q: I already had a bad back for years before the accident. Now, because of this accident, my doctor says I need back surgery. Does the responsible party have to pay for this?
A: Yes. The law is the other party has to take you as they find you. If you are more susceptible to any injury because of your previous back (or other medical) condition the insurance company is not allowed to decrease your settlement because of that pre-existing condition.

Please note that the above answers to these FAQ’s should not be construed as legal advice as all situations differ and you should always consult the advice of an lawyer before making any decisions regarding injury claims or other legal matters referred to herein. These answers are intended to provide general information only.

Sacramento Legal Agencies