Frequently asked questions
Frequently Asked Questions by Clients of Law Offices of Jennie Levin P.C.
At Law Offices of Jennie Levin, we get lots of inquiries from potential clients asking to help them understand the process and the world of personal injury. This is to be expected! Having to cope with pain and navigating through the insurance system can be confusing and often frightening.
We have put together a list of some of the frequently asked questions to help guide you through the process. Fortunately, in most cases the answers are quite straightforward, and we hope this list will help you.
How much do you charge for your services?
We work on what’s called “contingency basis.” Jennie Levin is a Berkeley graduate and is big firm trained. She wants to help the injured. That is why she chose to work on percentage, rather than charge upfront by the hour. This makes her services more affordable and accessible to anyone who has a good case. A contingency basis means—the more money we make for you, the more money we make. So we have the same interest, which is to make as much money for you as possible. It also means that if we do not make any money for you, we would make nothing. As you can see, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. IF WE DON’T WIN YOUR CASE, WE DO NOT CHARGE YOU. But by retaining Law Offices of Jennie Levin, you will have Ms. Levin and our capable team on your side watching out and fighting for your best interest.
When can I talk to you or someone about my case? Is it okay for me to call you?
We are always there for our clients – that means 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
You should contact us at any time with your concerns, including after business hours or on weekends. If it is an urgent matter, we will get back to you immediately.
In addition, we strive to treat our clients like kings, and that means contacting you around three or four times every month with updates regarding your case. Keep in mind, there are some periods during a personal injury case where there may be little to report… but rest assured, we are working for you tirelessly even in the periods when it may seem like nothing interesting is happening.
Do you speak Spanish? What about other languages?
Yes, many of our office staff speak and write fluent Spanish.
Our attorney, Jennie Levin, not only speaks fluent Spanish, but also Portuguese, Russian, and Hebrew (in addition to English, of course).
Other staff members in our firm speak additional various languages. We might have a few linguistic blind spots but we can accommodate a broad array of clients from a multitude of different backgrounds.
How much money can I expect from my case?
The amount, as you might expect, varies from case to case.
We strive to get the maximum compensation available on the different insurance policies at play on a given case. There are a number of factors that go into the formula of compensation. Things such as your age, whether or not you had pre-existing conditions, the size of the impact, the size of the available policy limits, and importantly the nature of your injuries all play into the equation.
The simplified formula for compensation is: The more pain you have, the more diagnoses and injuries you have, the more treatment and procedures you do, the more your case could be worth.
The exact value of the case is determined based on the combinations of the above mentioned factors. Hence, beware of attorneys who tell you or even worse guarantee how much your case is worth and how much money they are going to get you. That is simply inaccurate.
Determining case value is very similar to going to a doctor to get your diagnosis. A good doctor has to examine you and run some diagnostic tests before coming up with a definitive diagnosis. Similarly, in a personal injury case, an attorney has to wait for you to complete the diagnostic studies and treatment, in order to determine the case value.
By way of an illustration, imagine you were injured in an accident but only eneded up needing chiropractic treatment and then got better. That would put the case value in one category. But now imagine that you ended up needing spinal surgery for your injuries. Surely you can see that that would change the value of your case dramatically.
The more important question is what you can do to help maximize your case value. We covered this subject in the “What can I do to increase my case value.” So please feel free to read and inform yourself on the important role you play in your own case.
How long will my case be? How much time do I have to wait?
The duration of your case will vary. Some cases can be settled in a matter of days or weeks, other may take years, and most are somewhere in between.
We alluded to this in Question 4. The severity of your injuries and the extent of your treatment are major factors in determining the value of your case. Property damage and bodily injuries are treated separately and there are typically different adjusters handling those claims and even the statute of limitations (i.e. the time period within which you may file your claim) is different in California. The statute of limitations for bodily injury is 2 years, while the statute of limitations for property damage is 3.
Property damage claims can usually be resolved rather quickly. As to bodily injuries, you want to take the time to make sure your injuries are fully diagnosed and treated and that nothing is missed. Keep in mind, that once a case is settled, that door will be closed and you will no longer be able to get your treatment on a lien basis or get compensated for the treatment that takes place post settlement. That is why it is so important to take your time and be thorough with your treatment and make sure that nothing is missed.
While most clients will (understandably) want their cases wrapped up quickly, most would also agree that it is important to get the full amount of damages you deserve, and see the treatment to the end.
Can I bring my case to you if my current attorney is not doing anything and not calling me back?
Absolutely. We get lots of inquiries by clients who are not happy with the way their case is being handled and attorney Jennie Levin gets approached for a second opinion a lot. We do not charge for case evaluation. It is your right as the client to change your attorney at any time. You are also entitled to get a copy of your file. If we determine that your case is right for us, we will get in touch with your former counsel directly, so you would not have to reach out to them and deal with the unpleasantries of switching over.
You have nothing to lose by getting a second opinion on your case. For our office to evaluate whether we would be a good fit for your case, contact us at (310) 951-1188. We would be happy to talk to you and provide what resources we can.
Do you have parking onsite?
Yes. There is a parking structure at our office that provides plenty of free parking for our clients. Just make sure to park in the spaces marked for visitors and remember to check in with the guard on duty and with our receptionist to get validation.
Are you going to sue the person or insurance company?
Litigation is not our first resort. Litigation is often emotionally difficult for clients and it does come with a lot of expenses and costs that could diminish the amount the client can potentially take home with them.
Hence, we always try to settle a case in an amicable manner prior to taking out the heavy artillery. The vast majority of cases are settled out of court, so we do not have to sue anyone: the person or the insurance company.
However, the insurance companies know that we are very much prepared to do that and have been doing it in cases where litigation is warranted. We always consult with our clients prior to resorting to litigation and going to court to make sure our clients are comfortable with the decision and the process involved.
Either way, however, in most cases, the insurance company will be the one we would be dealing with throughout the entire process and it will be the one to pay out the damages our clients incurred.
Should I talk to my insurance company or to their insurance company?
You do have a duty to report the incident and make a claim with your insurance carrier in a timely fashion. However, we prefer to do that for our clients. That is because insurance companies are not your friends, not even your own insurance company. People often make the mistake of thinking that if the insurance company is insuring them, they would have their best interest at heart. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. The insurance companies have their own interest, and that is pay as little money as possible, that interest is often times in conflict with the interest of the client.
The only person who may have the same interest as you is your attorney—your advocate assuming he or she is on a contingency retainer. In that case, the attorney is getting a percentage of the money they get for you and more money they make for you, the more money they make. That makes your interests aligned.
We always advise our clients to refrain from talking to anyone about their case. You may be getting calls from investigators, adjusters, attorneys, and others. It is important to let your attorney know right away about the calls you are receiving, so they can advise you what to do.
Remember, insurance adjusters are trained to trick you and ask questions designed to lessen your case value. It takes a lot of training and expertise to know how to avoid those pitfalls. In light of that, it is best to avoid communication with anyone but your attorneys about your case altogether.
Can you recommend a doctor if I don’t have one?
If you do not have doctors, we have a wide array of excellent doctors that work on a lien basis. That means they typically do not charge you until the case settles and you do not have to pay anything out of pocket.
My car is a total loss. Will I get a lot of money?
Every car has a different value, and the compensation received for a total loss will be based off of the vehicle’s fair market value. If your vehicle was worth a lot, then you can expect a lot of money, and vice versa. Insurance companies have to pay for your vehicle’s fair market value. If you had done extra work on your car outside of ordinary maintenance, that should be covered too, so keep your receipts handy.
If you are wondering about the value of your vehicle, a good resource to check is Kelly Blue Book.
Another thing to keep in mind is gap insurance. When leasing or financing a car, people often end up owing more than the fair market value of the car due to the interest rate. In those cases, the total offer insurance company is making may fall short of your pay off amount. That is why it is important to get gap insurance on your car. Gap insurance would cover the gap between the fair market value payment the insurance company will make for your total loss and the amount you still owe to the bank.
What is my statute of limitations? How much time do I have to file a claim?
In California, the statute of limitations (the period within which a case must be filed after an accident) is two years for bodily injury and three years for property damage. The one exception is if the claim involves a government entity. In that case, the statute of limitations is only six months. If you do not file a case within this time period, you will lose your ability to file at all!
That’s why time is of the essence in a personal injury case. If you were in an accident, call us TODAY.
My car has been deemed a total loss and the insurance company took it away and paid me for it. Can I cancel my car insurance?
Transferring ownership to the lienholder or the insurance carrier is similar to selling the car to a private party. Once ownership changes officially, you are no longer responsible for the car. Hence, you may stop your insurance coverage on that particular vehicle.
My leased car is not drivable after the accident, I can’t use it. Do I still have to keep making payments to the lienholder?
Yes, you do. You are under a contract with the lienholder. The accident is a separate event that does not cancel your contract. You are still under a duty to make your payments on time. You need to keep your monthly payments current until the insurance company pays off the lienholder.