What Sets Harris Personal Injury Lawyers Apart from Other Practices?
Most people who hire a personal injury attorney do so for the first time. Although the Internet has made it easier to access reviews from a law firm’s past clients, it’s not always clear whether a particular lawyer has the experience and competence to provide effective representation.
Just because a law firm is willing to take your case does not mean they have won claims that are similar to yours. At Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, we have a track record of success in a range of personal injury cases and the resources to prevail in even the most complex claims. Here are just a few of the qualities that set us apart from other legal practices in San Diego:
- Extensive Experience: More than 5,000 clients have trusted our law firm in their hour of need. Although we have become one of California's largest and most accomplished personal injury practices, we are still dedicated to providing personalized representation, as exemplified by our many 5-star reviews on Google.
- Track Record of Success in Litigation: Some attorneys are reluctant to enter litigation since it comes with added costs and takes more time. In other words, many lawyers will encourage their clients to accept a low settlement to avoid the hassle of litigation. At Harris Personal Injury Lawyers, we relish the opportunity to enter litigation when it is in our clients’ best interests to do so. This is one reason why California insurance companies respect our law firm—and why they think twice about refusing to cooperate with us.
- Accessibility: When you have questions about your case, your legal team will be just a phone call or email away. We know that being accessible to our clients can make this difficult chapter far less stressful, so we strive not only to return calls quickly but also to be available after office hours and on weekends.
- Personalized Representation: We will not treat you like just another number. From your free initial consultation to the resolution of your case, our legal team will give you personalized representation. That means we will be accessible when you have questions and that we will invest the time and resources needed to provide the best representation possible, regardless of the potential value of your claim.
- Access to well-credentialed Experts: Often, it is necessary to bring in medical, financial, vocational, and other experts to assist with building the claim and to provide deposition during discovery and testimony at trial. However, not all experts have exceptional credentials, and many do not have experience providing deposition in personal injury cases. Our attorneys have access to highly accomplished experts in various disciplines whose testimony can stand up to cross-examination.
What Factors Might Influence the Value of My Claim?
Several factors could impact the potential value of a personal injury case. Examples include:
- The Extent of Your Injuries: The severity of your injuries will affect the potential value of your claim. More severe and permanent injuries tend to warrant higher settlements and verdicts. If you sustained a catastrophic injury—such as brain trauma or a spinal cord injury—it is important that you turn to a law firm with experience handling similar cases. Our San Diego personal injury attorneys have a track record of success in cases involving long-term and permanent disability. We will use all the resources at our disposal—including medical, financial, and vocational experts—to approximate a fair settlement figure. If your case proceeds to discovery, we may depose expert witnesses to prove the extent of your damages.
- The Amount of Income Lost: The income you lost as a result of the accident can be included in your claim. If it is reasonably certain that you will incur lost wages after the conclusion of your case, you can include loss of future wages and benefits in the settlement calculations. As you might suspect, estimating the value of lost future income can involve complicated formulas since it may be necessary to account for salary raises, promotions, and inflation. Our personal injury lawyers in San Diego have extensive experience calculating loss of future income and can make sure your claim accounts for all the damages you may be owed.
- The Ongoing Effects of Your Injuries: Some accident victims never make a full recovery. They might require ongoing medical care, domestic assistance, home and vehicle modifications, and other services. Your claim can account for the damages that you are reasonably certain to incur in the future as a result of the tort.
- Whether You’ve Suffered Non-Economic Damages: Personal injury claimants have the right to seek compensation for non-economic damages, which are the intangible effects of a tort. Examples include pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, and emotional distress. Your lawyer can assess the facts of your case to determine if non-economic damages might be recoverable and approximate a fair monetary figure for such damages.
- The Nature of the Defendant’s Misconduct: Did the defendant act with malice, fraud, or oppression? If so, it may be possible to obtain a punitive award. These damages are not recoverable in most cases, but our legal team can investigate the accident to determine if punitive damages might be available. For example, such damages might be awarded to someone injured by a drunk driver or violent altercation. They might also be recoverable if the defendant tried to cover up evidence of negligence.
- The Role You Played in the Accident: The defendant will not have to pay for 100 percent of your damages if your own negligence contributed to the accident. Because California follows a pure comparative negligence system, you will not be barred from pursuing damages even if you were more than 51 percent liable for the accident; however, your award of damages will be reduced by your own percentage of fault. This is why you should not provide a recorded statement to the insurance company. You might be asked questions intended to coerce you into admitting fault, which would harm your case. You should instead let your attorney handle all such correspondence.
- Whether You’ve Neglected Your Medical Care: If your physician has instructed you to stay home from work or avoid strenuous activities, but you’ve ignored those instructions, you might not be able to collect compensation for 100 percent of your damages. The insurance company will not have to pay for any losses you incur due to your failure to mitigate damages. To avoid such a dispute, be sure to listen to your doctor’s orders, attend all scheduled follow-up appointments, fill your prescriptions, and take reasonable steps to facilitate your medical recovery.
- Your Statements to the Insurer: Have you given a recorded statement to the insurance company? If anything you said brings liability, causation, or the extent of your injuries into question, you might face a dispute. It is best to let your legal team handle this correspondence, so you don’t inadvertently jeopardize your case.
- Your Social Media Activity: Just like your statements to the insurance company, your social media posts might be used as evidence to challenge certain aspects of your case. They might indicate that you were partially liable, for instance, or demonstrate that you are not taking your medical care seriously. Try to avoid posting on social media while the case is pending. If possible, consider deactivating your accounts temporarily.
What Mistakes Should I Avoid Throughout the Proceedings?
Even if you played no role in causing the accident and did everything right while at the scene, it is still possible for you to make mistakes that would jeopardize your claim, below are a few errors and oversights to avoid throughout the proceedings:
- Waiting Too Long to Seek Medical Care: The longer you wait to seek medical care, the greater the chance may be that the insurer will dispute the cause of your injuries or argue that you have failed to mitigate the damages. You should undergo an evaluation immediately after leaving the scene.
- Ignoring Your Doctor’s Orders: The road to recovery can be long and arduous after a serious injury. Staying home from work, declining to attend social activities, and being sidelined from favorite hobbies can be unbearable. However, if your doctor instructs you to rest, it is important that you do so no matter how difficult it may seem. Otherwise, you might face a dispute over failing to mitigate damages.
- Giving a Recorded Statement: No matter how kind the insurance adjuster seems, they ultimately represent the insurance carrier. In other words, they have the incentive to find reasons to challenge your claim. One of the ways they might do this is by asking you to provide a recorded statement. What you say might be taken out of context to dispute your claim.
- Posting on Social Media: Writing about the accident, your injuries, or the case could harm your claim. You could also face a dispute if you post photos of you taken after the accident.
- Putting off Your Legal Consultation: One mistake early in the proceedings could seriously compromise your case down the road. The sooner you enlist the help of an attorney, the less likely you may be to make a costly error.
Should I Put off My Claim Until My Injuries Heal?
No. Even if your injuries seem as though they might heal without medical intervention, it is never a good idea to put off the clinical evaluation if you think there’s a chance that you might file a personal injury claim.
As the claimant, you have a duty to take reasonable steps to facilitate your recovery. This is called mitigating damages. Failing to seek adequate care could cause your medical condition to worsen and increase your total damages, which of course could motivate the insurance company to dispute your claim. Also, seeking care right away can ensure your medical team is able to deliver a diagnosis and treatment immediately, which might improve your treatment outcome depending on the circumstances. As such, you should undergo a medical evaluation as soon as possible and then contact a San Diego personal injury lawyer immediately afterward.