We are all looking to have the best deal on the products and services we purchase for obvious reasons. The insurance companies are aware of this. They know that what catches the typical consumer's attention is such terms as "sale" and "discount." All you have to do is look at their advertisements and the insurance agents' attempts to beat any other quote that you have received.
Before you run out to find the cheapest insurance policy that will get you out on the road, think about why you should spend a little more money on a better policy.
Here are 4 key reasons.
1. You Get What You Pay For. Welcome to the oldest truth there is. Like most things, cheap insurance is cheap because you're not buying much coverage and protection. In fact, in many cases, you're buying just enough insurance to get you out on the road without violating the mandatory liability insurance law but not enough to truly protect you.
In all states, insurance is required to drive a car on the road and those policies must meet minimum standards, called minimum policy limits. These limits vary from state to state, but in California, those limits are $15,000/$30,000/$5,000.
What do those limits mean? The amounts--in sequence--reference the maximum coverage for bodily injury damage per person, bodily injury damage per accident, and property damage coverage per accident. These amounts only pertain to your liability to another person for damages caused when you are at fault.
While $15,000 may have been adequate 10 or even 20 years ago to pay for the bodily injury in many cases, it is increasingly becoming an inadequate amount with rising health care costs and inflation. Also, many car accidents exceed $5,000 in property damage. Remember that if your liability insurance is not enough to pay for the injuries covered by your negligence, the injury victim will start looking toward your house, your paycheck, and your assets to pay for their injuries. So do not rely on minimum policy limits to protect you and your assets, especially if you have significant assets, such as multiple vehicles, real property, etc.
2. Cheap Insurance Policies Often Do Not Provide Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. The absolutemost insurance coverage, other than liability coverage, is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). UM/UIM provides you with protection when you are hit by one of the drivers who are not insured and in many hit-and-run accidents, where you simply are unable to obtain the other party's insurance information as they flee from the scene.
But cheap policies do not include UM/UIM coverage. It is not required by law. But it should be, and it is certainly in your best interest to have this kind of coverage.
It is not uncommon for uninsured motorists or "hit and run" drivers to inflict a serious property and bodily damage to the other driver. And as you may expect, people who don't have the respect and responsibility to have liability insurance and/or to stop at the scene of the incident instead of running away, also tend to be the most reckless drivers who put themselves and others in dangerous situations on the road.
So, be sure to add UM/UIM coverage to your car insurance policy.
3. Cheap Insurance Policies Do Not Provide for Med-Pay. Another useful additional coverage not included in cheap insurance policies is med-pay benefits. These benefits are paid to anyone injured in an accident, regardless of fault. With many people living without health insurance, this benefit is extremely valuable. But it is not included in the cheap insurance policies. The best part about this coverage, that it provides important coverage for minimum extra-cost.
4. Cheap Insurance Policies Do Not Provide Rental Reimbursement. Rental reimbursement coverages covers your expenses associated with renting a vehicle when your care is being repaired after an accident. Usually, this kind of coverage is limited to 30 days, but this is usually long enough to repair the damage to a car. This coverage is especially important if you live in a suburban area and no convenient access to public transportation. In this case, you will often be forced to rent a car, and paying a daily rental fee without the expectation of being reimbursed can amount to a significant expense, which can be easily avoiding by including this coverage in your insurance policy for a small fee.
There are hundreds or even thousands of injury lawyers in any given area in California and the rest of the country. However, the reality is that few of them provide good service and legal representation.
While some lawyers are simply not competent to handle your injury case, competence, experience, and proven track record of success do not mean that this is the right lawyer for you. Successful lawyers are often very busy, too busy, and handle more work than they can or should be handling. The wonderful skills and qualities of a very successful lawyer will have little use and benefit to you and your case if it takes that lawyer weeks or even months to handle a matter or return your phone call. While it is impossible to assess the prospective quality of representation that you are going to receive when you contact an injury lawyer or any other attorney, there are at least "red flags" that you should be paying special attention to and which indicate that he might just not be the right lawyer for you:
1. It takes the lawyer longer than one week to return your call even though he is not at trial and not taking depositions. If the lawyer is not eager to have your business before you even enter into an agreement, imagine how hard he will be to get a hold of once he starts representing you.
2. The lawyer tells you exactly how much he is going to recover for your injury. It is great to be confident in your skill and knowledge. However, every competent lawyer knows that the law is by nature unpredictable, and so many unexpected circumstances arise during representation which may substantially increase or reduce the value of any case. Thus, you should be very skeptical of an attorney who makes absolutely statements about something that no one can ever be sure of. The most any lawyer should guarantee is that he will do the best job he can for you and that he will work hard to obtain a fair recovery for you.
3. When you ask the lawyer what areas of law he practices in, he says that he runs "general practice" or he does "everything." This is a first glaring sign of a lawyer's potential incompetence. Every area of law is complex - more complex than most people think, and it requires in-depth focus, knowledge and specialization. A lawyer who "dabbles" into the injury law not only doesn't know some of the essential aspects of representing injured persons, but he is likely to not even be aware of what he doesn't know. This will likely adversely affect an injured person's ability to recover fair settlement.
The crucial element in proving a slip-and-fall case is demonstrating that the owner or other entity responsible for maintaining the property on which you slipped and fell was negligent in maintaining his/her property in a reasonably safe way.
Generally, if you are a customer on a property (for instance, if you are shopping at a store), the owner of that business has a higher duty to protect you not only from the conditions that the owner knew of but also the ones that he had a reason to know of. In other words, if a reasonable business owner would have known of a certain dangerous condition and would have taken steps to prevent it or fix it, but the property owner in your incident failed to do so, you are likely to be entitled to a recovery.
Let’s compare and contrast two different slip-and-fall scenarios, one of which is likely to give rise to the property owner’s liability for an injury, while in the other case the injured person is unlikely to prevail in his/her case against the property owner:
1. John goes into a pharmacy store in San Francisco and while trying to pick out a shampoo in the hair-products isle, he slips and falls on a spilled hair lotion. The investigation shows that the lotion was spilled when the store’s employee was unpacking and placing the hair product on the shelf and that employee didn’t thoroughly clean the area before leaving and didn’t put a warning sign in that area as often required. Under these circumstances, John has a good chance to win his slip-and-fall case against the store, because it was ultimately the store’s responsibility to maintain the shopping area in a safe manner and the store’s employee was negligent by failing to maintain the safe conditions in the store or warn customers against a dangerous condition.
2. Brad goes into a grocery store and while walking through the magazines isle, slips and falls on blueberry jam that was spilled by a customer 5 minutes before the incident. The investigation reveals that the store has a strict policy of having its employee walk through the store and inspect the floor and the shelves every hour. Under this circumstances, Brad will have a hard time to recover for his slip-and-fall injuries. First, the store owner didn’t create the dangerous condition; one of the customers did. Secondly and even more importantly, the store was probably not negligent because it did what a reasonable person would have done to maintain its property by requiring frequent and periodic inspections throughout the store. Arkady Itkin, Esq.
Here are some of the most common mistakes that can significantly reduce or even jeopardize the value of your personal injury case:
1. Waiting for too long to treat after your injury incident. Few things cast more doubt on the severity of your injuries in the eyes of the insurance companies / opposing counsel than large gaps in treatment. This makes sense. After all, the other side is only entitled to doubt how much pain you are suffering from if you were not eager to get help soon after sustaining the injury or if you didn’t treat consistently. Thus, it's probably not a good idea to be "tough" after serious accident and decline ambulance services and emergency room treatment if you experience pain.
2. Telling the insurance company adjuster that you weren't seriously injured. It is almost always the case that the person who is injured in an accident does not experience pain immediately after the impact due to adrenaline rush and other factors. Much of the pain and discomfort in neck, back and other parts of the body appears 24 hour after the accident or even later. Some of the serious symptoms are not noticed until several days after the incident or even longer. Thus, you should not rush to inform your insurance company about what your exact injuries were shortly after the accident because you might just not know it. You are much better of generally describing the pain that you are experiencing and reminding the adjuster that you are not sure what your injuries are as you didn't undergo a full medical evaluation yet.
3. Lying to your attorney. I met clients who would hide the fact that they had prior injuries and accidents until the other side found out about their medical past. I have been sent video tapes that captured my client working at a physically demanding job while claiming that he was severally injured, unable to perform any work and was unemployed. To say the least, it is an uncomfortable situation for an lawyer to find out a certain fact about his client from the opposing counsel. At a minimum, an inconsistent verbal or written statement can be clarified as a misunderstanding or some kind of inadvertent omission. In many cases, however, an untruthful material statement by a client will cast serious doubt on that client’s credibility and can seriously hurt his / her chances to recover the settlement or the judgment that he / she deserves because it can be used to impeach the client at subsequent trial proceedings. Thus, lying on a deposition under oath can be fatal to your case.
The bottom line is this - be as truthful with your lawyer as you can. And if you don’t remember something, just say so. There is no harm in saying “I don’t remember” especially if that’s truly the case. Arkady Itkin, Esq.