Orange County Personal Injury Attorneys
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Personal Injury FAQ

Personal Injury FAQ

Your Questions Answered by Our Orange County Personal Injury Attorney

How does the current economic crisis affect your insurance claim?

Insurance companies typically make a portion of their profits from investing the premiums paid by their policyholders. Insurance companies invest in the stock market and other markets that historically offer a good rate of return. Consequently, when the return on their investments suffer, so does their ability and willingness to pay claims. Along with other factors, what this means to the claimant is that insurance companies are now, more than ever, tightening their belts and disputing even more claims. So, when researching what law firm should best represent you, make sure you know that the law firm understands the big picture and is willing and prepared to fight hard to maximize your claim.

How do I select the right law firm?

Not too big, not too small, make sure you find a law firm that is just right for you. Choosing the right law firm is extremely important because not all law firms are created equal. Some of the distinguishing factors to look for include finding attorneys that provide personal attention and do not merely shift the case to someone else to perform the work. Also, listen to your instincts and ensure that the attorneys are honest and upfront with you.

We are willing to provide direct answers to your questions. Finding an attorney can be similar to finding the right physician, it is a relationship that is based on trust, confidence, and open communication. Beware of attorneys that promise specific results and tell you what you want to hear, just to obtain your business. We invite you to meet one of our attorneys in person so we can show you firsthand, the commitment of Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. to our clients.

How does increased vehicle safety affect my claim?

The days of the large, heavy steel cars are quickly coming to an end. Nowadays, cars are being designed and constructed with crush zones, where the car itself helps absorb the energy of a front or rear impact instead of the passengers. Cars also have numerous airbags to further protect passengers. Thus, as a matter of simple economics, it is less expensive for the insurance industry to fix or declare a car a total loss, than it is to pay potentially hundreds of thousands in medical bills alone, thereby saving the insurance industry a tremendous amount of money.

With safer cars, the insurance industry also attempts to categorically argue, often without a medical examination, that your injuries could not be as severe as you claim. This is simply not always true. Make sure the law firm you hire understands the dynamics of an automobile crash and the impact on the passengers, and as with Cohn & Swartzon, P.C., has mechanical experts available to counter the insurance company's arguments against you.

What is a release of claims?

A general release is a written agreement whereby a claimant releases (or gives up) some or all claims he or she may have against another person or entity in exchange for something, usually the payment of money. This is generally a short form that is used to settle property damage or personal injury claims. It is extremely important to read and understand the exact terms of the release before signing, so you do not release or up give claims you may have. For example, in settling your claim for property damage to your vehicle, make sure you are not giving up your rights to pursue a claim for your personal injuries which can be easily included and hidden within the release agreement. When in doubt, always have a law firm such as Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. review the release before signing.

Is a personal injury settlement or judgment taxable?

Sometimes, a personal injury award or settlement can have tax consequences, such as if a portion of the award or settlement is to compensate you for past, present or future loss of earnings. It is important that the law firm you select be aware of these potential consequences and that you seek the advice of a certified public accountant (CPA) and possibly even a tax attorney to understand how an award or settlement may impact you and your family.

Can I change lawyers?

Often, people who are injured or are grieving a loss, retain the first lawyer they see, then later realize they made a mistake. However, attorney retainer agreements are not like normal contracts, clients can switch lawyers at any time, for any reason. At Cohn & Swartzon, P.C., we welcome new clients who might be unhappy with their current lawyer and can make the process fast, easy and embarrassing by contacting the first attorney directly on your behalf.

Am I properly insured?

One of the most important things as a driver or vehicle owner, especially in California, is to make sure you are properly insured. There is a common misconception that car insurance is “one size fits all” and if you have “full coverage” you are totally protected and have nothing to worry about. This is not correct. It is one of those things you just do not think about, until AFTER something bad happens. Insurance is important to protect you and your families assets.

If you’re at fault in an accident that's covered by your policy, and other people (or property) are injured or damaged, Liability coverage helps protect you from the cost of these damages. However, if you are involved in an accident, and the other party incurs monetary damages that exceed your policy limits, you may be held personally responsible to pay for these damages. This may force you and your family into economic turmoil.

You may be forced to sell your home, car, or valuables. With proper coverage, you can guard the valuable assets you’ve worked hard to collect (such as your home, retirement funds, stock or bond investments, etc.). Without proper coverage, these assets could be lost. In cases of accidents involving these factors, it is best to have an experienced personal injury law firm like Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. working with you to protect your legal rights and assets.

Do I need Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

At a minimum, everyone in California should have some Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Generally, Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage should be the same (or similar) limits to your liability coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage will allow you to be covered when you have an accident with someone who does not have insurance but is legally responsible for your injuries.

This type of coverage also applies to hit and run situations as well. An underinsured motorist policy will allow you to be covered when you have an accident with someone who has liability insurance with limits that are lower than your uninsured motorist coverage limits. In cases of accidents involving these complicated types of insurance, it is best to hire a firm like Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. that understand these issues.

What should I do first after an injury?

The first thing to do after an injury, regardless of the cause, is to assess your situation. If there is any doubt, call 911 for help as many injuries may be worse than expected. Regardless of how you feel after the accident, it is always a wise decision to consult with a medical provider to determine the extent of your current injuries and assess possible future injuries. Many people feel fine right after a car accident, slip and fall or other accident. Soon after, however, then realize they are hurt. Waiting can cause further injury which could have been avoided by seeking medical attention. After an injury, you must focus on protecting your health and legal rights.

What are some tactics insurance companies use?

Delay, Deny and Defend. Insurance companies are in business to make money and please its shareholders. These companies systematically deny coverage of valid claims in order to boost their bottom line, often rewarding employees for denying valid claims. People often make the mistake of thinking they can simply handle claims with insurance companies on their own. What they don’t realize is that insurance companies attempt to delay even dealing with claims in hopes that the average person will give up and just go away.

These companies systematically deny coverage of valid claims in order to boost their bottom line, often rewarding employees for denying valid claims. Insurance companies (even a claimant's own insurance company) routinely take advantage of unrepresented claimants with falsehoods, false promises, and false facts. These companies use “insurance speak” to confuse consumers.

They improperly provide “advice” and use strong-arm tactics to get claimants to go away or to agree to a settlement for pennies of what the claim is worth. Even if you think you are successful at dealing with insurance adjusters, they may simply be setting you up to defend a case against you, even if the other person is 100% at fault. You need a law firm like Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. who understand the insurance company tactics and will properly handle your claim to maximize your recovery and fight for you.

Should I accept the insurance company's first offer?

Even if you are able to get a settlement offer from an insurance company for your injuries, pain or even your property damage, they might be trying to settle quickly because they know that you are entitled to additional recovery. If you settle too early, you may be forever barred from any additional recovery, even you have additional injuries, pain or have discovered more damage to your property related to the same accident. Have lawyers like Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. make sure you receive every penny you deserve.

What is a contingency agreement?

A contingency fee is an agreement whereby the client pays no fees unless and until there is a recovery in the lawsuit. Such fees are usually based on a percentage of the proceeds. Such agreements may also be dependent upon various factors including the nature and complexity of the matter, the risk involved, the cost in pursuing the matter, and the likelihood of success. The benefit of a contingency agreement is two-fold. First, you don’t receive a monthly bill from your attorney for the time spent on the case. Second, if there is no recovery, there is no fee! At Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. you will never pay any fees if there is no recovery.

Should I replace seat belts and car seats after an accident?

Many people have no idea that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that any seat belts that were in use (either by a passenger or installed car seat, occupied or not) should be replaced. In fact, many automobile manufacturers recommend (review your manual) replacing all seat belts in their cars after an accident, whether they were utilized by a passenger or not.

Seat belts, like car seats and airbags, are considered by NHTSA to be single‑use items and should be replaced after a crash. These are damages that the responsible party should be responsible for paying (or your insurance company if the at-fault party was uninsured) pursuant to Insurance Code sec. 11580.011 and Vehicle Code sec. 27362.. At Cohn & Swartzon, P.C., we realize that there are many important recoverable costs, such as costs for seat belts and car seats, that our clients are entitled to receive.

What is GAP insurance?

Gap insurance insures a person for the difference between what you owe on a vehicle and what an insurance company determines is the vehicle’s fair market value. This insurance is a must for someone who is considering purchasing a new vehicle since a new vehicle depreciates right after it is driven off the dealer's lot. Depending on the policy, Gap insurance usually covers accidents and thefts, but not all policies are the same, so it's a good idea to evaluate the coverage being offered before purchasing Gap insurance.

Have more questions? Don't hesitate to contact Cohn & Swartzon for expert legal representation!

Read Reviews 
From Previous Clients

  • I would highly recommend them to anyone in need of honest, knowledgeable, and hard fighting attorneys.

    “It was such a pleasure to be represented by Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. recently. I would highly recommend them to anyone in need of honest, knowledgeable, and hard fighting attorneys. After a car accident which involved numerous injuries, I couldn't handle the stress of dealing with the insurance companies. They completely took over for me. They negotiated with the insurance companies and as a result of their determination, I received a very fast and fair settlement. All during this process, they kept me updated on all the proceedings, always returned my phone calls promptly and answered any questions I had the entire staff at Cohn & Swartzon, P.C. were always courteous and helpful. Thank you ever so much!”


  • They certainly took the stress away in settling my claim

    “It is a real pleasure to recommend Cohn & Swartzon! For personal, prompt and excellent service they can't be beat. They certainly took the stress away in settling my claim. I am so thankful to them.”

    Barbara M.

  • They stayed true to their word

    “Let me begin by saying that I would recommend Cohn & Swartzon to anyone in need of legal advice. Both Jason and Saar are very personable and they provided a high level of service to me as their client. In addition to Jason and Saar, the entire staff always provided the utmost in service. One of the things that I liked was the fact that they stayed true to their word. They told me that they personally would take calls, if necessary. It was not very often that I needed to speak directly to them; but when I did, they were accessible. I appreciate the great lengths that they went to in working with an uncooperative doctor, who took a very long time getting a key report to them. They worked with the insurance companies and the adjusters, which took all of the unnecessary stress off of me. The Firm went to bat for me and we were successful in settling my personal injury case without going to trial. Saar was able to negotiate and reduce my medical bills, thus putting more cash into my hands. I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome, and the timing of the settlement couldn't have come at a better time.”


  • I am very happy with the level of service Cohn & Swartzon provided!

    “I am very happy with the level of service Cohn & Swartzon provided me with during my time of need. I truly did not expect my insurance to cover my legal fees, but I am sure that Attorney Cohn and Attorney Swartzon wrote a great letter to them. I hope that I don't need an attorney ever again; but if I did, I would go back to Cohn & Swartzon. And I would definitely refer my family and friends.”

    Maria S.

  • If ever any type of accident happens to a friend or family, you would be at the top of my list to recommend.

    “If ever any type of accident happens to a friend or family, you would be at the top of my list to recommend.”