Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some answers to questions frequently encountered by the trial lawyers at The Cochran Firm Los Angeles. If you have further questions or need representation in a civil litigation matter, contact The Cochran Firm California today to speak with an attorney.
Civil Litigation FAQs
Q. What should I do if I am in an accident?
A. First, you should seek emergency medical treatment for yourself and anyone else injured in the accident. Exchange personal information with the other drivers involved, including names, addresses, and insurance information. When the police arrive, provide them with a detailed account of how the accident happened. In the meantime, collect the names and contact information of any witnesses. If you can, take pictures of the accident scene and the damage to the vehicles. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after the accident.
Q. If the other driver was uninsured, can I still collect?
A. All insurance companies are required to offer uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you have this coverage, your own insurance company will compensate you when you are injured by an insured driver or one who doesn’t carry enough coverage to fully compensate you.
Even if the negligent driver is uninsured, he or she is still responsible for causing your injuries, and you may sue that person and obtain a judgment in the amount you are owed. Your attorney can then help you with different post-judgment remedies to collect from the person’s financial assets which are subject to judgment.
Q. If I’m only dealing with an insurance company, do I really need a lawyer?
A. Whether you are dealing with the negligent defendant’s insurance company or your own, having legal representation is key to obtaining a fair settlement. Insurance companies and their claims adjusters want to pay out as little as possible, and they will not necessarily give you the true value of your claim. An experienced attorney knows how to properly evaluate a claim and negotiate for what your case is really worth. When an insurance company is dealing with a lawyer or law firm that they know is willing to go trial and has a record of success in court, they are much more likely to come to a fair settlement out of court. Also, dealing with an insurance company without legal counsel could result in your unknowing waiver of important legal rights, including filing a lawsuit in a timely manner.
Criminal Law FAQs
Q. Do I need a lawyer if I have only been charged with a misdemeanor?
A. The penalties for a misdemeanor conviction can include fines and imprisonment up to one year in jail. Penalties notwithstanding, a criminal conviction on your record can damage your reputation and hamper your ability to gain employment or keep your job. Also, a misdemeanor conviction may result in the suspension of your driver’s license or other privileges. Even minor charges can have major consequences. A qualified, experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential to protecting your rights.
Q. Is it only the guilty who exercise their right to remain silent?
A. Anyone who is arrested or held in a custodial interrogation has a constitutional right to remain silent, and the fact that you refused to answer questions cannot be mentioned to the jury or used against you at trial. However, if you do answer questions, anything you say can be used against you by the prosecution. The wisest choice is to remain silent and request an attorney immediately. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be able to advise you on whether and how you should respond to questioning.
Q. If I think I’m guilty, should I plead guilty rather than risk a trial?
A. A plea bargain may be preferable to either an uncertain or predictable outcome at trial, depending on the evidence against you, any mitigating factors, and whether any police or prosecutorial misconduct may have occurred during the investigation, arrest or subsequent proceedings. Even if you are guilty of a crime, it may be a less serious crime than the offense you are charged with violating. It is the prosecutor’s job to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which can be a heavy burden. Also, pleading guilty can have serious consequences aside from just criminal punishment. For instance, non-U.S. citizens could be subject to deportation or denial of naturalization. Whether to plead guilty, accept a plea bargain, or go to trial is ultimately your decision, but it should only be made after thorough consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.