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Afiate, Law Ofces of Chua Tinsay
& Vega www.ctvattys.com
by Atty. Andrew Agtagma, Esq.
Read Atty. Agtagma’s previous articles by visiting ourwebsite at
(Continued on page 23)
Pitfalls in Handling a PersonalInjury Case without an Attorney(Part 1)
by Atty. Andrew Agatagma, Esq.
There is a legal adage that a personwho represents himself has a fool for a client. On the other hand, in rela-tively minor cases, the cost of legalrepresentation can easily outstrip theamount the person hopes to recover.In small personal injury cases, then,when is it agood ideato hire anattorney,and whenis it bestto go italone?If legalfees werethe onlyconsid-eration,arguably itwould be better for an injured partyto represent himself. But having
been in practice for over fteen
years, I have seen many ways inwhich unrepresented clients “leavemoney on the table.” To handleone’s own personal injury claimeffectively, here are some common pitfalls to keep in mind.
1. Know the Value of Your Case.
A prospective client who had beeninjured in a car accident decided torepresent himself after the insur-ance claims adjuster said that theinsurer would “pay for everything.”Like him, many injured parties whohandle case themselves assume,rather naively, that the adjuster willassign a fair value to the case.What they overlook is that theadjuster’s job is to minimize theamount the insurer ultimately pays.And when it comes to unrepresented parties, there are many ways for aninsurer to “cut corners.” Unrepre-sented parties are most vulnerable innot knowing what items to includewhen submitting a claim. And it’sunrealistic in most circumstances toexpect the adjuster to be forthrightabout this information.Similar to buying a used car, it’simpossible to know if the asking price is fair unless you know whatfeatures the car has, the mileage,and the year it was made. Once youhave that information, you can look up the “Blue Book” value and com- pare it to the asking price. Withoutit, estimating the value is little morethan rank speculation or wishfulthinking.
2. Settling a Case Early UsuallyMeans Settling the Case For Less.
Settling a case early is related to the
rst pitfall because it usually takes
time for the full value of a case tomanifest itself. Another prospective
client came to my ofce years ago
wanting to hire me because she wasexperiencing ongoing pain severalmonths after her accident.She forgot to mention, however,that she had already accepted $1,000to settle all her claims a week or two after her injury. And once shesigned the release accepting the offer and cashed the check, there was nogoing back.This cli-ent fell into“early settle-ment” pitfall because theadjuster appealed toher desireto settle thecase quickly.The adjuster dangled aseeminglyattractiveamount to resolve the case, even before the client knew the extent of her injuries. What appeared to bea generous offer in the beginningturned out to be woefully inadequatein hindsight.In California, most personal injury
cases need to be led in court within
two years from the date of the ac-cident. This deadline is called astatute of limitations. (The deadlineis usually shorter where the party being sued is a government entity,e.g., state and county agencies,municipalities, public transporta-tion districts, and the like.) Becausethose with minor personal injuryclaims almost always fully recover before the statute of limitationsexpires, this client could have waited before deciding to accept the insur-ance company’s settlement offer.In Part 2 of this article, I will con-tinue the discussion of the pitfallsthat self-represented clients encoun-ter. I will also discuss consider-ations in selecting an attorney, for those preferring to seek professionallegal help.
Atty. Andrew Agtagma is a gradu-ate of U.C. Berkeley (Boalt Hall)School of Law. He works closelywith the Law Firm of Chua Tinsayand Vega (CTV) and its clientsto provide counsel in his areas of expertise, which include employ-ment law, personal injury, and general civil litigation. He can bereached by phone at: (650) 589-5700, or e-mail at: HYPERLINK “mailto:email@example.com” firstname.lastname@example.org.
CTV is a full service law rm withofces in San Francisco, San Diego
and Manila. The information pre- sented in this article is for general information only and is not intended as formal legal advice, or to serveas the basis for an attorney-client re-lationship. CTV can be reached at:(415) 495-8088; (619) 955-6277.
put in the global spotlight this time.Danica May is one of severalchildren in countries around the world being declared a symbolic seven bil-lionth human.It was hoped she would arrive at ex-actly midnight, but she was deliveredtwo minutes early.Ona said the arrival of the world’sseven billionth baby also presentedthe Philippines with an opportunity toassess population related issues.Other countries launched similar celebrations. Zambia is throwing aseven billion song contest; Vietnamis staging a “7B: Counting On EachOther” concert; Russian authoritiesare showering gifts on selected new- borns and the Ivory Coast is puttingon a comedy show.
Call to action
“It is a symbolic event, a call toaction for everyone that we’re nowseven billion in the world and wehave responsibilities,” Daniels saidof the birth of the seventh billion
baby. She claried that the issue is not
about overpopulation.“It’s not about counting people, butit’s about making people count, ensur-ing that they have access to education,access to health and to employment.That they have access, particularlyfor women, to reproductive informa-tion and services so that they can plan when they’re going to have kids,how many kids they’re going to have,and what is the spacing going to be,”Daniels added.She said that while the Philip- pine population remains young,with people under 25 making up 54 percent of the total, they needed to betaught proper “life skills” and aboutsexual issues.She said that while women werehaving fewer children globally, theoverall population continued toincrease.“While our world of seven bil-lion represents a complex picture of trends and paradoxes, there are someessential global truths we observe,”she said. “Conversely, there is no oneglobal population outlook.”The UNFPA, in its “2011 State of the World Population Report,” said10 percent of girls in the Philippinesaged 15 to 19 have started child bearing, with many of the young alsoincreasingly vulnerable to HIV.Also based on the report, the Philip- pines is the 12th most populous na-tion, with 94.9 million inhabitants.But according to Commission onPopulation executive director TomasOsias, the country’s population isactually not 94.9 million but 95.8million based on National StatisticsCoordinating Board data.“You need to plan for your popula-tion, provide services they need tolive productive lives. It’s not justfor countries with large population.Meet the needs of your people. Everyindividual has a responsibility. If you