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Frequently Asked Questions

Pasadena Personal Injury Lawyer

If I have been injured in an accident, when should I contact a lawyer?

First and foremost, you should seek medical attention for any injuries you have sustained in an accident. In addition to any visibly obvious injuries you have, there may be internal injuries which can only be located and treated by a medical professional.

Following that, you should contact a Pasadena personal injury lawyer as soon as possible, as they will be able to assist you in seeking injury compensation from those who were responsible for causing
your accident.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Not every car accident is severe enough to warrant the use of a lawyer’s legal services. If you were not injured, your injuries can be treated in just a couple of trips to the doctor, or your car’s damage hardly passes your deductible amount, then you probably don’t need to hire an attorney.

However, when your car is significantly damaged and/or you have serious injuries that will likely need medical attention for a while, then you will probably benefit from hiring a lawyer for your claim. At the least, chatting with an attorney is a good idea, which is why we offer free consultations to inquiring clients. To make starting a claim an even smaller cost-risk than it already is, we offer contingency fee agreements that make it so we don’t get paid upfront and we only get paid at all if we end your claim successfully.

How do you know if your injuries are not minor?

  • You were taken to the ER or an urgent care facility after your crash.
  • You suffered a head injury or concussion, which can cause symptoms like a blackout, migraine, confusion, nausea, memory loss, and light sensitivity.
  • You have neck or back pain, especially such pain that is accompanied by a tingling sensation, which could be indicative of nerve damage.
  • Your injuries have not healed even after weeks or a month of rest.

Suffering a moderate to severe injury is a big deal because the insurance company sees it as such. Insurers want to give you as little money as possible, so if they hear that you were seriously injured and need more money than a typical claim, then they will double-down their efforts to defeat your claim. Hiring our attorneys will allow you to pursue the compensation you are owed without worrying about the insurer bullying you.

We can help you seek compensation for:

  • Vehicle repairs, replacements, and rentals
  • Medical bills, including past and future
  • Lost wages, including past and future
  • Pain, suffering, and hardship

When we get the chance to represent you, our focus becomes securing as much compensation from the auto insurance company as possible. We also want to be certain that you do not miss any necessary medical attention. Not only does this preserve your health, but it also increases the value of your claim. Don’t miss any doctor’s appointments, though! The briefest gap in your treatment will be magnified by the insurer and become a focal point of their argument as to why you are exaggerating your injuries, even if they know that isn’t true.

You should also know that you still should hire a car accident lawyer after the other driver admitted fault and their insurer agreed. Why? The insurance company will still try to make you sign a settlement offer that is much less than what you need. Again, our attorneys can be hired to represent you with insurance company interactions, so you are not tricked into signing a bad offer.

To get your car accident case started, you can call us at any hour – really. We take calls 24/7 for client emergencies and offer free consultations. We will give an honest answer to the question of whether or not you need a lawyer based on what you tell us during the consultation.

How Long Will It Take If I Hire Your Firm?

There is no hard and fast rule. Every case is unique. Here is the general timeline: When you are released from treatment, we will obtain all of your medical records and bills and submit them to the insurance company. The adjuster will respond with a settlement offer, on average, approximately one month later.

We will negotiate back and forth and get the adjuster to their highest offer. If it is reasonable and you want to accept the offer, your case is settled. If the offer is unreasonable and you reject the offer, we will file a lawsuit against the negligent party. Your case could then settle at any point between the time that a lawsuit is filed up until the trial date. If it does not settle, your case goes to trial. You should know that there is a very slim chance that your case will go to trial, as the vast majority of personal injury cases (approximately 98%) settle without going to trial.

What Happens If I Was Hit By An Uninsured Motorist?

While every driver is required to have car insurance, not all of them due. When a driver negligent or refuse to pay for the proper coverage, they are a threat to other individuals on the road. Many insurance companies offer underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage, meaning you are safe up to a certain dollar amount. In some cases, even if you have the uninsured motorist coverage, your insurance company won't cover all of your damages. You may need to take the irresponsible motorist or your insurance company to court. Our personal injury lawyers may be able to help you recover lost damages in an uninsured motorist accident.

I Can’t Afford Medical Treatment

Were you injured in a car accident and think you can’t afford to see a doctor for a medical exam? You might still have some options.

Consider these questions first:

  • Does the other insurance company pay your medical bills if the other driver admits fault right away? No. The other driver might apologize 20 times and admit fault twice as much, but their insurance company won’t give you a dime until they have to. You shouldn’t expect any payments until a settlement is reached.
  • Does health insurance work for accident-related injuries? Yes. You can use your own health insurance coverage to help pay for medical bills incurred following an accident. Do not let a medical provider tell you otherwise. However, health insurance companies usually reserve the right to claim a portion of your settlement or verdict to repay the treatment costs they already covered for you. If your accident claim is unsuccessful, then you should not owe reimbursement to your health insurance provider.
  • Can you get treatments if you have insurance but can’t afford the deductible? Yes. By teaming up with a personal injury attorney, you can find a medical provider who uses liens for payment. Essentially, a medical lien states the doctor will not get paid for their services until the case settles, at which point, they will get their fees from the settlement.
  • Can you get medical treatments if you have no insurance at all? Again, your personal injury attorney probably knows a medical provider who agrees to treat patients on a lien basis. This system allows you to get necessary medical care right away, regardless of your insurance coverage.
  • Do you have to repay a medical lien even if you lose your case? Yes. Medical liens are not excused just because your injury claim ends out of your favor. However, if you work with our attorneys, we will do our best to make certain you do not get stuck with an expensive medical lien. We will thoroughly examine your case before we recommend you to a lien doctor. We won’t make this recommendation if we think your case will more than likely end out of your favor or if there is not enough insurance coverage from the opposition to pay for your medical bills.

Please call our law firm in Pasadena to set up a free consultation with our car accident attorneys. We would be pleased to get the chance to tell you all about what sort of medical treatment options you have based on your insurance coverage, injuries, and so forth. The sooner you talk with us, the sooner we can help ensure you are receiving proper medical treatments, so do not delay.

What If I Can't Afford A Personal Injury Attorney?

Many personal injury lawyers charge high attorney fees, costing individuals more than they get out of a settlement. Sadly, many people are not able to pursue compensation for their injuries because of this. At our firm, we offer contingency based services. This means that you don't pay any fees until and unless you win. We understand that you are suffering from your accident, which is why our legal services are free of charge until your case has been won. Our paycheck rests on your cases verdict, meaning we are even more motivated to prove your case. If you are intimidated by the expensive attorney fees and rates, talk with our firm about our contingency fees.

Should I Go to My Own Doctor?

After a serious accident that leaves you injured, should you go to your own doctor? You can, but there are a few options that might be available, so let’s consider them all.

Ask yourself these questions before you choose to see one doctor or another, assuming you do not need emergency care:

  • Does the other driver’s insurance company arrange your medical care? No, not at all. The other insurance company would rather pretend you are completely unharmed, so they won’t help you find a doctor.
  • Should you go to your own doctor? If you have the option to see your own doctor, then it is certainly worth considering. Your doctor should know you well, so they can notice the differences your new injuries have caused. However, be certain that your doctor understands that you were in a car accident and writes that down, which they might not think to do if they are not a car accident injury specialist. Don’t forget to tell your doctor about all of your symptoms after your accident, too, even the symptoms that have since alleviated.
  • Would it be better to see a doctor referred by your attorney? We will usually encourage our clients to see a doctor that we refer and trust. The doctors in our circles keep open schedules, so they can see our clients the same day in most cases. They are also specialists for car accident injuries, so they know what to carefully record in their evaluation and how to word it in a way that suits your pending injury claim. We also refer our clients to doctors who agree to use medical liens. Under a medical lien, a doctor performs treatments without payment, but they will be repaid once the case settles. Lastly, in many cases, an attorney-referred medical provider will agree to perform services at a reduced cost as a professional courtesy to the attorney and their client. The less you spend on medical treatments, the more compensation you can keep after your case ends.

When you are not sure which doctor you should see after a car accident, let our firm help you make that decision. Our initial consultations are free for inquiring clients, and we try to answer the phone 24/7. On the chance that you decide to hire a different law firm, or we find out we aren’t the right fit for your case, we would still be happy to give you some legal advice free of charge.

If I Get Hurt On The Job, Can I Recover Damages?

Most companies offer worker's compensation, which covers basic expenses, such as medical bills and wages. It is important to alter your supervisor or human resources department right away. If you wait an extended period of time before reporting any injury, they may deny you benefits. You may need legal counsel when filing worker's compensation documents, especially if your company has strict guidelines. If you have been denied or turned down for company benefits, you may need to bring your case before the courts. In some cases, your injuries or emotional trauma is may require more restitution that worker's compensation covers. If you want to seek further damages for your on the job injury, we are prepared to help.

What is My Case Worth?

After being in a bad car accident, you are going to want to know what your case might be worth. But this is not a value that can be known right away. There are far too many factors that can increase or decrease a car accident claim’s value, and time is required to figure all of those factors out.

Your case’s value can be changed by:

  • How liable you are for your own injuries
  • Severity of your injuries
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms
  • Total medical bills
  • Total lost or missing wages
  • Insurance policy limits, including your own UM/UIM insurance

Each factor needs an investigation to figure out the correct and true value of the claim. If you speak with a law firm that says your case is worth a specific amount, watch out! The truth is that there is no way they could confidently make that guess without working on your case. That law firm is probably saying whatever they can to get you to retain their services.

At McGee, Lerer & Associates, we never mislead our clients or the people who call us for legal questions. We won’t tell you what we think your case is worth until we have done enough research into your various damages, liability, injuries, and so on. We are completely honest with our clients at all times, which also means we sometimes have to tell people that they have a case with weaknesses that need to be addressed. Honesty is the best policy – period.

If you want to work with an honest law firm to figure out the value of your personal injury or car accident claim, then choose our team. You can call us at any hour of any day and get a free consultation.

How Long Will It Take?

It is totally understandable if you want to know how long your personal injury or car accident claim will take to reach a settlement. After all, you are probably feeling the weight of the bills for your medical treatments and car repair. Ending your case would mean being able to pay those bills without hurting your bank accounts.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to predict how long a case will take to reach its conclusion once it starts. Every case is different, so they all have different timelines.

What is certain is how soon we can file your claim or submit a demand letter to the right insurance companies. Once you are finished with the necessary medical treatments, our attorneys can take those documents and any related to your lost wages and various damages to calculate a fair amount of compensation to demand. The insurance company will need to respond within 30 days of receiving our letter, which kickstarts the rest of your claim.

What can alter a case’s timeline?

  • How long you need to receive medical treatments: For example, you might need physical therapy for years due to a back injury.
  • Insurance policy caps: If your injuries are severe and your car was totaled, then it might be clear that you are owed every cent of the liable driver’s insurance policy. The insurer could be tempted to offer a maximized settlement quickly to close the case and move on.
  • Your uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy cap: If you have purchased UM/UIM coverage through your own insurer, then you will need to deal with that company, too. Negotiating a fair amount of coverage in a separate policy adds time to your overall claim.
  • Multiple claimants: Insurance companies need to split coverage among all claimants, so multivehicle crashes or those that cause injuries to numerous people can get complicated. Oftentimes, an insurer will postpone any payments until every claimant has finished with their expected medical treatments.
  • Liability challenges: Of course, an insurance company or driver that disputes liability is going to slow the case down for everyone as those disputes will need to be settled.

One policy we hold at McGee, Lerer & Associates is that we never rush our clients. If you are still in a relatively comfortable financial situation after your accident, then we will recommend that we allow your case as much time as it needs to get a full picture of your current and future damages. But if you are hurting for money, then let us know, and we can discuss ways to move towards a settlement earlier without risking the fair value of your case.

Let us know how you want us to handle your case and what sort of goal you have for it, and we can tell you how long it might take to get there. For more information, please call and schedule your free consultation with our attorneys.

Why Should I Hire A Lawyer?

Recovering damages after an accident is rarely an easy proposition. If you are attempting to obtain compensation from the at-fault party themselves, you may have little success. In addition, seeking compensation from the at-fault party's insurance company may prove equally difficult, as insurance companies, more often than not, offer settlements that are woefully inadequate to cover the costs of one's accident expenses. In hiring an experienced lawyer, you will benefit from their skill and knowledge of personal injury law. They will be able to more effectively pursue the compensation you require and will decrease your chances of a receiving a settlement that leaves you struggling to make ends meet while recovering from your injuries.

What Types Of Compensation Can I Get After My Accident?

This depends on the circumstances surrounding your specific case. A lawyer may be able to assist you in recovering damages related to:

  • Lost profits
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering (both physical and emotional)
  • Medical expenses
  • Potential future expenses for medical care/therapy

How Do I File A Claim For Wrongful Death?

When one person dies due to the negligent or wrongful actions of another individual, you may have a wrongful death case. When a person loses their life unexpectedly, many family members and loved ones are left suffering. Funeral costs, medical bills, and other debts are all expenses you will have to deal with. During this emotionally difficult time, handling financial burdens can be a challenge. If you or dependent loved ones have no means of income, there may be a stronger case.

This type of lawsuit holds the responsible party accountable for their actions and can help ease the financial stress of family members. You may be able to recover compensation for emotional suffering, lost income, and other expenses.

I Have a Lawyer, But I’m Not Happy with the Firm

There is no guarantee you will be happy with the way your lawyer is handling your case after you hire them. You are not stuck with them, though, and you might want to switch to another law firm for the rest of your case.

Ask yourself if your lawyer or their law firm has any of these issues:

  • When you call, you only get to talk to a staff member and never your lawyer.
  • You rarely get your calls returned on time.
  • You have spoken to probably everyone at the law office because someone new always answers the phone.
  • Your case raises eyebrows because your attorney doesn’t seem to remember anything about it.
  • It has been weeks or months since you last got a case update.
  • Your car is still damaged and there is no sign that you will get money to repair it soon.
  • You have to see your doctor without getting any input from your attorney.
  • Your lawyer is pushing you to take a settlement offer that seems low.

Are there too many issues on this list that match what your legal representative has done? It might be time to get a second opinion for FREE at McGee, Lerer & Associates. You can call us at any time to discuss your case and let us know why you aren’t enjoying the services from your current attorney. If we think we could do things in a different way that would benefit your case, and we think we are the right fit for your case, then we will let you know and offer our services instead.

Changing law firms in the middle of the case does not cost you anything. You are still only bound to pay attorney fees if your case ends with a successful settlement or verdict. You only pay one attorney fee to whatever firm concluded your case, which then fairly splits that fee with the previous firm or firms. At no point are you responsible for deciding a fair payment amount for each law firm.

When you are worried that your lawyer is not handling your case correctly, you need to explore your options with other law firms. Otherwise, you could be jeopardizing your injury claim and your chances of recovering from your injuries without going bankrupt. Contact McGee, Lerer & Associates in Pasadena at any time for a second opinion about your case.

What If My Injuries Affect Me for the Rest of My Life?

Your future wellbeing, financial stability, and comfort can all be shaken up after an accident leaves you seriously injured.

Understandably, you might be wondering:

  • Will your life get back to normal?
  • How long will you need to get medical treatments and undergo therapy?
  • Who will pay for your future medical care if you can’t?
  • What happens to your job and wages if you’re too injured to return to work in a normal capacity or at all?

Answering these questions will not be easy, especially if some of the answers are not what you want to hear. We recommend you work with a personal injury attorney to figure out what needs to happen next to answer these questions sooner than later because sometimes wondering is worse than knowing.

To start, you should know that the party liable for your injuries can and should be held accountable for all related damages you have already incurred and those that will happen months or years into the future. Getting future damages is a matter of bringing forth a powerful case that the insurance company can’t ignore or defeat. Of course, insurers don’t want to pay for future damages, so they are going to try to throw a lowball settlement offer at you that only reflects some of the past damages. If you sign a settlement offer, your case is done forever, and you can never demand more money from the insurer again for the same injuries.

Our attorneys can fight to hold the insurer accountable for the future damages you are owed by using convincing, tangible evidence of liability. Medical records from the doctors who have treated you are extremely useful in showing the extent of your injuries and why they will require so much future care, like additional surgeries or rehabilitative therapy sessions. We will work closely with your doctor to get a written and thorough explanation of their prognosis, including the estimated cost of necessary future care. Everything from surgery costs and aftercare expenses to prescription medication costs needs to be recorded.

When you let us act on your behalf, you can trust our personal injury attorneys to seek the most compensation available for your claim as possible. So much is on the line when considering future losses and damages, you cannot leave it up to an inexperienced or inattentive legal team. Count on McGee, Lerer & Associates to provide both real-world legal experience and genuine compassion as your case progresses. You can contact us at any time you want because we usually answer the phone 24/7!

The Police Report Isn’t Ready

The police report created after a car accident can be incredibly useful when making your claim. But there is nothing that guarantees it will be ready when you need it, which can create some serious frustrations.

Why would you want the police report?

  • It should contain the identity and insurance information of the other driver in case you were unable to get that information yourself.
  • Police officers will usually note who they think is at fault for an accident.
  • Eyewitness contact information might be listed in the report that you otherwise would not have known about.

Getting a copy of that report and the identity of the other driver can be instrumental if your car has been impounded and you have no collision coverage, if you can’t afford your deductible or the deductible imposed by your rideshare company, if you can’t get a rental car because you lack coverage, and/or you need medical treatment but don’t have health insurance. It is also a must-have if the other driver is trying to blame you for the crash and now your insurance company wants a traffic collision report before they will do anything else.

How Long Will It Take Until the Police Report is Ready?

Police departments will take a varying amount of time to prepare a traffic collision report, but most will take at least a week. From our experience working within the greater Pasadena area for years, we can give you a pretty good estimation about how long it will take different local police departments to get you a copy of the police report.

We have found that these departments usually take these amounts of time:

  • LAPD: 45 days for nonfatal accidents but 12 months for fatal accidents
  • California Highway Patrol: Up to 7 days for a full report but just 1 day for the “face page” or first page of the report
  • Long Beach PD: 10 days
  • Santa Monica PD: 10 days
  • Pasadena PD: 10 days
Will the Police Report State Who Was At Fault for an Accident?

Yes, the typical police report will note who the police officer thinks is at fault for an auto accident. They might mark them as Party 1 to make this indication. The face page you get from the CHP will not mention liability, though.

If the police officer is uncertain about liability, then they won’t try to mark who they think caused the crash. This situation happens when both drivers try to blame the other and no eyewitnesses come forth to give an unbiased outside perspective.

What Do I Do About My Car If the Police Report Isn’t Ready Yet?

There is a good chance the traffic collision report won’t be ready the first moment you want it. If this happens, how you proceed depends on if you have collision coverage or not.

If you purchased collision coverage from your insurer, then you can pay a deductible to the shop to get your car repairs started. In case your car is totaled, your own insurer will deduct that deductible amount when calculating total loss payments to provide you or any lender that gets involved. Hopefully, the other driver has adequate insurance, so you can get that deductible back later. The good news is that your policy and premiums will remain unaffected by property damage claims if you aren’t liable.

If you haven’t purchased collision coverage from your insurer, then there could be some complications when dealing with getting your car back. Assuming your car was towed to the pound, you will have to pay for it to be released. You can choose to leave your car in impound for the time being if it is damaged to the point that it is not safe to drive. But you could end up paying massive fees, including about $50/day storage fees, when you do retrieve it. Although, impound lots will lien sell unclaimed vehicles if you decide you don’t want your totaled car back.

What Do I Do About Medical Treatment If the Police Report Isn’t Ready Yet?

You should see a doctor as soon as possible after being in a car accident. Delaying treatment is a sure way to get the opposing insurance company to say your injuries are exaggerated because, under their logic, you would have seen a doctor immediately if they were serious.

After you get a copy of the police report, you will be ready to file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. Your policy won’t be impacted just because you used this type of coverage.

Without uninsured motorist coverage, you will be in a rough situation if the other driver hit you, whether you have a convincing police report or not. You will have to pay for your bills yourself because there is a high chance that the driver also has no assets or finances to pay for them if they seemingly could not afford insurance. Lawyers need to save their time for cases that can feasibly be won, so you probably won’t be able to find an attorney who has the time or interest in working on a no-insurance/no-UM car accident case.

Ultimately, you should always plan on reaching out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after being in a crash. Usually, people who contact our firm do so after seeing the doctor but before getting a police report. We are happy to help them figure out their options without signing any sort of contract with us. We can give you free advice to guide you to the best decision, even if that means working with another law firm entirely. As an honest legal team, we will tell you straight if we think it is not worth pursuing your case, such as if you have no UM coverage and the other driver had no insurance at all.

What’s the Process If I Hire McGee, Lerer & Associates?

Most personal injury claims will follow these steps:

  • Call our firm: Start by calling our Pasadena personal injury attorneys to tell us what happened during an initial no-cost consultation. Together, you and our attorneys decide if the case is a good fit for our firm. If it is, then we can send you a digital retainer to complete via email, or invite you to our Pasadena office to sign one.
  • Deal with property damage right away: If your car was damaged, you need it repaired or replaced ASAP. You may need a rental in the meantime. We know that lack of transportation after a car accident is just added stress to your situation. So we handle this right away. And we charge nothing for helping with your property damage claim.
  • Schedule immediate medical treatment: It’s important to treat right away after an accident. We can connect you with a medical provider near you who can treat you on a medical lien. A lien means the doctor agrees to wait to be paid until your claim resolves.
  • Gather evidence: We gather all evidence right away, like police reports, witness statements, and video surveillance footage.
  • Send demand letter: We send a settlement demand letter to the insurance company as early as possible. Timing is critical and depends on the documentation we have of your injuries, and what we know about the other driver’s policy limit.
  • Negotiate settlement: The insurance carrier will respond to our demand letter with an offer. A negotiation process begins. We will demand maximum value for your claim.
  • Finalize settlement: Once a settlement is agreed upon, you sign a release and they send the check. We deduct our fees and costs and pay the doctors (after negotiating down their bills), and the rest goes to you. A full explanation of how our fee works is here.

Serious injuries. My claim’s value exceeds defendant’s policy limit. They’ll just pay it. Why hire you?


The most common policy limit that drivers have is $15,000. If you were seriously injured, $15,000 is not enough.

You may already know the defendant’s policy limit. Maybe the driver told you at the scene, or the driver’s adjuster has already disclosed the limit to you.

If your claim is worth substantially in excess of the defendant’s policy limit, then under certain circumstances, our firm will waive a fee entirely, so that all of the money goes to you. Why would we do that? Because it’s the right thing to do. We put our clients’ interests first.

Call our firm to find out more. Consultations are free.

Why We're the Right Choice

  • Personalized Attention

    We deeply care about each of our clients and will be here for you every step of the way.

  • No Fee Unless We Win

    Our fee is a percentage of what we collect for you. If we recover nothing, you pay us nothing. Learn more here.

  • 24/7 Availability

    We offer appointments on weekends, evening, and also at the hospital or your home.

  • Four Convenient Locations

    We have 4 offices in Southern California - Los Angeles, Pasadena, Santa Monica and Long Beach.

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