California's Dog Bite Laws and Regulations by county

California's Dog Bite Laws and Regulations by county

Dog bite lawyer John Bisnar presents legal information on California dog bite laws. If you've been bitten by a dog please contact our office for a free consultation. Call 1-800-561-4887.
The laws pertaining to dog attacks and dog bites comprise civil, criminal and administrative laws. Civil laws provide victims the opportunity to seek monetary compensation while criminal laws impose punishments on the dog owner, and administrative laws provide for a remedy against the dog itself - typically euthanization. These laws (if in place at all) vary by city, county and state. As the incidence of dog bites and attacks increases, more local communities are putting dangerous dog laws in place, providing protection and legal recourse for an increasing number of victims.
Some counties have regulations, punishments and fines pertaining to dogs that are deemed vicious or dangerous. We have included the county laws for all of Southern California's counties:
  • Orange County
  • Los Angeles County
  • San Luis Obispo County
  • Kern County
  • Santa Barbara County
  • Ventura County
  • San Bernardino County
  • Riverside County
  • San Diego County
  • Imperial County
The following is the text of California's dog bite law or what is commonly referred to as the "strict liability statute":

Calif. Civil Code § 3342.

  1. The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness. A person is lawfully upon the private property of such owner within the meaning of this section when he is on such property in the performance of any duty imposed upon him by the laws of this state or by the laws or postal regulations of the United States, or when he is on such property upon the invitation, express or implied, of the owner.
  2. Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (a) against any governmental agency using a dog in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was defending itself from an annoying, harassing, or provoking act, or assisting an employee of the agency in any of the following:
    • In the apprehension or holding of a suspect where the employee has a reasonable suspicion of the suspect's involvement in criminal activity.
    • In the investigation of a crime or possible crime.
    • In the execution of a warrant.
    • In the defense of a peace officer or another person.
Subdivision (b) shall not apply in any case where the victim of the bite or bites was not a party to, nor a participant in, nor suspected to be a party to or a participant in, the act or acts that prompted the use of the dog in the military or police work.
Subdivision (b) shall apply only where a governmental agency using a dog in military or police work has adopted a written policy on the necessary and appropriate use of a dog for the police or military work enumerated in subdivision (b).

Calif. Civil Code § 3342.5

  1. The owner of any dog that has bitten a human being shall have the duty to take such reasonable steps as are necessary to remove any danger presented to other persons from bites by the animal.
  2. Whenever a dog has bitten a human being on at least two separate occasions, any person, the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary.
  3. Whenever a dog trained to fight, attack, or kill has bitten a human being, causing substantial physical injury, any person, including the district attorney, or city attorney may bring an action against the owner of the animal to determine whether conditions of the treatment or confinement of the dog or other circumstances existing at the time of the bites have been changed so as to remove the danger to other persons presented by the animal. This action shall be brought in the county where a bite occurred. The court, after hearing, may make any order it deems appropriate to prevent the recurrence of such an incident, including, but not limited to, the removal of the animal from the area or its destruction if necessary.
  4. Nothing in this section shall authorize the bringing of an action pursuant to subdivision (b) based on a bite or bites inflicted upon a trespasser, or by a dog used in military or police work if the bite or bites occurred while the dog was actually performing in that capacity.
  5. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent legislation in the field of dog control by any city, county, or city and county.
  6. Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect the liability of the owner of a dog under Section 3342 or any other provision of the law.
  7. A proceeding under this section is a limited civil case.

Protecting Your Rights

California is one of several states that has a "strict liability statute" when it comes to dog attacks. This means that dog owners are financially responsible for compensating injured victims for the damages and losses caused by their pets. Injured victims may be entitled to damages including but not limited to medical expenses, hospitalization and surgery costs, pain and suffering and emotional distress. The knowledgeable California dog bite lawyers at Bisnar Chase understand the physical, emotional and financial repercussions a dog attack can cause for victims and their families. Please contact us to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.

California Dog Bite Lawyer

We represent the plaintiff in California dog bite and attack cases. If you've been been bitten or attacked by a dog, you should consult with a California dog bite lawyer to determine if you are entitled to compensation to cover your medical bills and damages. Dog bites go much further than broken bones or scarring. The emotional trauma of a dog bite can last a lifetime.
The personal injury attorneys at Bisnar Chase handle numerous dog bite and attack cases each year. We have the knowledge and experience it takes to represent our clients and help them obtain fair and full compensation for all their losses. Please contact us at 949-203-3814 to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights. We are here to help. We'll provide you with a no obligation, free consultation about your dog bite case.
When a dog attacks an individual - regardless of the victim's age, physical build or mental attributes - the incident leaves a mark. This goes beyond the physical puncture wounds and bite marks suffered by the victim. There is a heavy emotional and psychological toll in dog bite cases, which is indisputable. Whether the victim is a 6-foot-tall man or a 2-foot toddler, they both go through a period of intense fear and insecurity. A dog attack is traumatic, period. Dog aggression can leave long lasting anxiety.
Injuries associated with a serious dog bite are typically:
  • Deep contusions
  • Fractures
  • Amputations
  • Serious head and face injuries
  • Long term emotional scars

California Leads the Nation in Dog Attacks

Two recent reports confirmed that California, especially the Los Angeles area, leads the nation when it comes to dog bite incidents. For example, Los Angeles has earned notoriety for the second year in a row as the U.S. city with the most dog attacks on postal workers. According to the U.S. Postal Service, Los Angeles had 69 dog attacks on mail carriers in fiscal year 2012. In 2011, Los Angeles led again with 83 mail carrier dog attacks.
Experts say year-round pleasant weather in Southern California could be one of the reasons why these incidents are so prevalent here. Also, according to a report released by State Farm insurance company, California led the pack when it came to the number of dog bite claims (527) and the payout in these types of cases ($20.3 million) during the year 2012.

Strict Liability Statute in California for Dog Bites

California has what is known as a "strict liability statute" when it comes to dog attacks. What this means is that dog owners are responsible for the actions of their pets, no ifs or buts. The only exceptions may be when the dog attack was provoked by cruelty toward the animal or when a dog bites someone who was committing a crime or trespassing on the owner's property. However, there are very few exceptions in this regard. In a majority of cases, dog owners can be held financially liable in addition to receiving citations or facing other penalties associated with the attack.
California's Civil Code Section 3342 states: "The owner of any dog is liable for the damages suffered by any person who is bitten by the dog while in a public place or lawfully in a private place, including the property of the owner of the dog, regardless of the former viciousness of the dog or the owner's knowledge of such viciousness." There have also been several recent cases in California where courts have upheld personal injury claims against landlords who have allowed a tenant to have a dangerous dog on premises.

Injuries and Treatment in Dog Bite Cases

Dog bite incidents can result in serious injuries including, but not limited to bites, puncture wounds, broken bones and even nerve injuries. Dog attacks also result in permanent scarring and disfigurement, which, needless to say, also causes serious emotional and psychological issues for victims. Often, victims or their families spend thousands of dollars on therapy so that their lives can return to normalcy. Most victims develop a long-term fear of dogs. Many victims also require plastic surgery to treat bite marks and scars. Some undergo several surgeries to repair these scars. Some are unsuccessful and are left with permanent scars.
Victims and their families also struggle with paying for these treatments. Most insurance companies do not cover plastic surgery procedures because they are cosmetic in nature and not something that is needed to save the life of a patient. Patients end up paying out of pocket for these procedures and much-needed psychological therapy sessions to combat issues such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Holding Dog Owners Accountable

It is unfair that victims pay such a high physical and financial price for a dog attack when the incident was not even their fault. Dog owners should be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages and losses suffered by these unsuspecting victims. Injured victims can seek compensation in dog bite cases for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, rehabilitation, cost of surgeries, permanent injuries, pain and suffering and emotional distress. Dog bite attorneys are very familair with the laws in California regarding unwarranted dog attacks and will be able to fight for you against the dog owner.

Dog Attacks and Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners' insurance policies usually cover dog attacks. Most of these policies provide between $100,000 and $300,000 in liability coverage. However, if the dog owner is a renter or lacks insurance, the victim can try to hold the property owner liable for allowing a dangerous dog to live on the premises. In a recent development, Farmers Group notified its policyholders that it would no longer cover bites by pit bulls, Rottweilers and wolf hybrids under homeowners' insurance policies.
Despite sharp criticism from pit bull advocates, insurers say bites from pit bulls and other breeds have risen significantly in recent years along with the cost of settling those damage claims. Farmers said that the three breeds it listed accounted for more than 25 percent of their dog bite claims. Farmers officials also said that these breeds caused more harm than any other breed when they attacked.

Get Immediate Legal Help

An experienced and seasoned dog bite lawyer is going to be the difference between winning and losing your case. An attorney who spends countless hours in the courtroom fighting for the rights of injured plaintiffs will have a much better grasp on the issues than just any attorney. A dog bite attorney studies these types of cases on a regular basis and understands the laws, courts and local statutes. Be sure to seek out an attorney who has a specialized area of practice for dog bites and animal attacks.

California Class Action Attorneys

California Class Action Attorneys

A class action lawsuit is a type of civil lawsuit in which the claims and rights of many people are combined and decided in a single case. Typically, specific plaintiffs are named in the class action lawsuit to represent the claims of other class members so that everyone with the same complaint or injury does not have to file individual lawsuits. In a class-action suit, all these complaints are consolidated into one case.
Why file a class action lawsuit? There are usually several benefits to filing a class action lawsuit as opposed to an individual civil complaint or claim. First, individuals who have been injured or wronged have the ability to file a claim that may be too small to file individually. Secondly, when there are more class members involved, there is more leverage. And in these types of cases, no legal fees are incurred or owed until the case has been successfully resolved.

Types of Class Action Lawsuits

Consumer Class Actions: These types of actions are generally brought when a group of consumers complains about being harmed by a corporation's systematic and illegal practices. For example, when a credit card company slaps illegal penalties or illicit charges or fails to comply with consumer protection laws, a group of consumers who have been harmed by these types of wrongful practices can band together to file a class action lawsuit. One individual may not have the power, the will or the finances to fight against a large corporation. But, a larger group of individuals can put up such a fight often successfully.
Product Liability Class Actions: These types of actions can be brought about when a defective product such as a car or a drug causes harmful side effects. For example, Toyota Motor Corp. paid out $1 billion to settle a class action lawsuit brought by car owners whose vehicles diminished in value significantly because of mass recalls spurred by sudden acceleration issues. The Japanese automaker recalled more than 10 million vehicles over three years to fix problems involving stuck accelerator pedals and faulty floor mats.
Employment Class Actions:Employment class action lawsuits are typically filed on behalf of many employees of a company for claims ranging from class action lawsuits against workplace discrimination or sexual harassment to unpaid wages or overtime pay. Our law firm recently secured a $650,000 settlement in a class action lawsuit on behalf of two plaintiffs. This case involved more than 100 class members who claimed that their employer failed to pay overtime wages and to provide mandated meal and rest periods.

Filing a Class Action Lawsuit

Here is a list of some of the elements and actions that must be taken as part of the process of filing a class action lawsuit.
  • The Complaint: In order to file a class action lawsuit, the same type of harm must have been done to a group of people. The size of the complaint will not affect whether or not you have a class action lawsuit. What's important is that a group of people suffered some type of loss.
  • Significant number of victims: There must be so many claimants that it is not reasonable for each to file an individual claim.
  • Class action attorney: Make sure you speak with a knowledgeable attorney who has recent experience handling cases similar to yours.
  • Representative: One or more persons must be named to represent all of the claimants in the lawsuit.
  • Demands: You will have to decide what type of compensation you want. In most cases, a class action lawsuit will result in financial compensation.

Damages Covered in Class Action Lawsuits

The compensation sought by consumers through class action litigation varies with each lawsuit. The potential value of your class action suit will depend on the severity of the losses suffered by the victims. Types of losses that will be considered in a class action lawsuit include damages for personal injury, litigation costs and compensation for economic losses. The compensatory damages from a class action lawsuit will often be distributed among the class members based on the damages each member suffered. In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded.

The Important Role of Class Action Lawsuits David v. Goliath

Class action lawsuits are necessary and beneficial to the public good. Often, states, with their budget woes and depletion of resources, do not have the ability to police illegal activities perpetrated by large corporations. However, class action lawsuits empower ordinary citizens who have been wronged to enforce the law and seek justice. Another important goal of these lawsuits is to encourage corporations to comply with the law.
Class action has been the "whipping boy" of business for a long time. That is because corporations detest the idea that consumers have the collective power to hold them accountable through class action lawsuits. Also, without class action lawsuits, consumers do not have a realistic way to fight back against large corporations. Class action lawsuits are powerful tools for consumers because the economics of these cases make sense only if a large group of people joined together to bring these claims.

Bisnar Chase Class Action Attorneys

The experienced California class action lawyers at Bisnar Chase will be able to help individuals determine if they are eligible for either joining an existing class action lawsuit or filing a new class action lawsuit. If you have questions about class action lawsuits or personal injury claims, please contact us at 1-800-561-4887. We can help you evaluate your options and help you seek compensation for your significant losses.

California Car Accident Lawyers

Have you been injured or suffered a wrongful death loss from a car accident at the fault of another? Our California car accident lawyers have been helping people since 1978. We are Plaintiff's counsel for serious auto injuries. We never represent the at-fault parties and work extremely hard to obtain fair compensation for our clients.
California's sunny weather, gorgeous beaches, and endless entertainment keep the Californian's happy and the tourists wanting more, but an experienced California car accident lawyer will tell you that drivers across the state are in more danger than they might think. Catastrophic injury car accidents, bus accidents, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and drunk driving car accidents run rampant across the state with little help for victims to obtain compensation for their inflicted injuries. Insurance companies deny auto accident claims without a second thought, even if their policy holder is at fault for the accident and caused permanent or fatal injuries.

Times are tough. You will need the best legal representation available to obtain maximum compensation for your auto collision and it is extremely important to have your case evaluated as soon as possible after your accident. California allows a limited amount of time for car collision victims to pursue compensation, sometimes as little as six months following the date of your accident. Call 949-203-3814 NOW to take advantage of our free professional case evaluation. Our Car Accident lawyers in California assist victims throughout the state and have a long history of success utilizing aggressive litigation with honesty and integrity.

Answers From Experienced Car Accident Lawyers

As devastating as a car accident is, the aftermath may be even worse. You must learn the answers to 11 vital questions before speaking with an insurance adjuster. Our experienced California car accident lawyers will help guide you through the difficult initial stages and help you gather essential information.
  1. Do I go through my insurance company or the insurance company for the person who hit me?
  2. Who is going to pay my medical bills and when?
  3. What about my lost time/income from work?
  4. What information is safe to give the insurance adjusters?
  5. Do I allow the insurance adjuster to record my statement?
  6. What if the person who hit me is uninsured or was a hit-and-run?
  7. What if the person who hit me does not have enough insurance to cover my damages?
  8. How do I get my car repaired or replaced?
  9. Do I need to hire an lawyer?
  10. How much will an lawyer cost and do I pay anything up front?
  11. What are my risks?
Car Accident Attorneys in CaliforniaYou need to get the answers to these 11 questions and hundreds of others right away in order to make the best decisions for yourself.

The Best Car Accident Lawyers in California

Most Car Accident lawyers in California will give you a free consultation. However, if you are looking for the best car accident lawyer in California who will give you a free, confidential, no hassle, no obligation consultation with straight talk and clear information call us. Your questions will get answered, your rights and options will be explained and you will get an honest evaluation of your need for a lawyer.
Not every injured person needs a lawyer. Many times, with a few pointers, people are better off on their own.
However, in just a few minutes on the phone, we can let you know if you need a lawyer. We will assess your situation, advise you of your rights and options, and suggest courses of action. In most cases, you can get a telephone consultation with us on the same day you call or at least by the next business day. We represent clients throughout the entire State of California with a staff of qualified car accident lawyers. We will help you, even if your case does not meet our case criteria. If we are not positioned to represent you, we know lawyers in nearly every county of California who we can refer you to. Most of the lawyers we would refer you to we know personally or checked out ourselves.
For A Free, Confidential, No Hassle, No Obligation
Consultation with a California Car Accident Lawyer
Please Call 949-203-3814

More Information on California Car Accidents

Being involved in a California car accident can have a significant and immediate impact on every aspect of your life. In addition to the expense of having to repair your vehicle, you may have to deal with expensive medical bills and costly time away from work. It is important that injured victims of California crashes are provided the support and guidance they need to obtain fair compensation for their considerable losses.

California Car Accident Statistics

According to the 9th annual Allstate America's Best Drivers Report, the safest cities for drivers in California include Visalia, Salinas, Bakersfield, Fresno, Palmdale, Lancaster and Thousand Oaks. Visalia is the only California city to rank within the top 10 safest cities nationwide. In that city, drivers on average are only involved in an accident once every 12.3 years. In more populated cities such as Riverside, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco, the average years between collisions is 9.1, 8.7, 6.7 and 6.5 respectively.
According to the California Highway Patrol's Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System, there were 2,520 deaths and 161,094 injuries involving traffic accidents statewide in the year 2010. During that same year, 972 people were killed and 16,884 were injured in alcohol-related accidents. Major cities in California that had over 2,000 nonfatal traffic-related injuries that year include Los Angeles (24,561), San Diego (5,525), San Francisco (3,649), San Jose (3,646), Sacramento (3,188) and Anaheim (2,069).

Avoiding a Car Accident

Even the most skilled and careful drivers cannot prevent all crashes from occurring, but there are steps you can take to reduce your chances of being hurt in a California car accident.
  • Stay alert and focused. Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of fatal crashes statewide. Sending a text or making a call is extremely distracting, but phones are not the only cause of distracted driving. Make sure you do not play with the radio, read a map, turn to talk to your passengers or attempt to eat food or apply makeup while your car is in motion.
  • Mind your speed. It is not enough to simply obey the speed limit. In order to stay safe, you must adjust your speed relative to the traffic and roadway conditions.
  • Never drive while impaired. Having drugs or alcohol in your system can have a significant impact on your ability to drive safely. Never get behind the wheel after drinking or taking medication.
  • Keep a safe distance. Many rear-end collisions can be avoided by keeping a safe distance. Never tailgate and leave extra room on wet roadways.
  • Stay awake. Fatigued driving can be as dangerous as impaired driving. If you are struggling to keep your eyes open and your mind focused, pull over right away.

If You Have Been Injured

The steps you take immediately following a California car accident can affect your ability to receive fair compensation for your injuries. The first thing anyone should do after a car accident is check to see if anyone has been hurt. If someone has suffered an injury, you are required by California law to contact the authorities and remain at the crash site.
If possible, you should also:
  • Collect contact information from the other drivers involved and from anyone who may have witnessed the accident.
  • Take photos of the vehicles, the crash site and your injuries.
  • Get your account in the police report.
  • Do not admit fault for the crash to the other driver or to the authorities.
  • Write down everything you remember about the crash as soon as possible before you begin to forget details.
  • Seek medical attention that same day to document your injuries and increase your chances of having a full recovery.
  • Research your legal options to ensure that your rights are protected.

The Value of Your Claim

Ideally, the insurance provider of the at-fault driver will offer you a settlement that covers all of the losses you have suffered. It is common, however, for insurance companies to offer inadequate settlements. Many injured victims have their claim denied or are offered a settlement that does not fully cover their medical bills and lost wages. In such cases, it may be necessary to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. A successful injury claim should result in support for pain and suffering, loss of earning potential, property damage, lost wages, medical expenses, the cost of rehabilitation services and all other related damages. No one should accept an offer without first determining the potential value of their claim.

Contacting an Experienced Lawyer

The experienced California car accident lawyers at Bisnar Chase will be able to help injured crash victims and their families obtain fair and full compensation for their losses. It is important to remember during such times that the insurance company is not your friend. You need a passionate advocate who will fight for your rights and look out for your best interests. Please contact us at 1-800-561-4887. We can help you evaluate your options and help you seek compensation for your significant losses.

California Bicycle Accident Attorneys

The California bicycle accident lawyers at Bisnar Chase have more than three decades of experience and a successful track record of helping seriously injured victims and their families get fair compensation for their losses. California Bicycle Accident Attorneys 
We have fought and won on behalf of victims against bus companies, governmental agencies, negligent drivers and large insurance companies. We fight hard for our clients’ rights every step of the way. Please call us at 949-203-3814 for a free consultation with a bicycle accident attorney and to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.
Whether you are in northern, central or southern California, the Golden State is perfect for bicycling because of year-round good weather. Bicycling is a great way for people in California to stay in shape and get from one place to another without spending a bundle on gas. However, bicycling in California is not without its risks. Bicycle accidents result in devastating injuries and fatalities. When a collision occurs between a car and a bicycle, it is often the bicyclist who is seriously or fatally injured. If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident caused by someone else’s negligence, an experienced California bicycle accident lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.

California Bicycle Accident Statistics

According to California Highway Patrol’s 2009 Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System (SWITRS), there were 109 deaths and 11,993 injuries involving bicyclists in California. Although the number of fatalities dropped in 2009 compared to 131 in 2008, the number of injuries increased from 11,683 to 11,993. Also, 1,859 bicycle accident injuries in 2009 involved children between the ages of 5 and 14. The age group with the maximum number of fatalities was between 35 and 44. In 2009, there were 22 fatalities in this age group and 21 among those between the ages of 55 and 64.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents

According to the California Highway Patrol, these are some of the most common causes of bicycle accidents in California:
  • Bicyclist using the wrong side of the road
  • Car driver making unsafe left or right turn
  • Bicyclist riding from driveway or sidewalk into path of car
  • Auto driver opening door as bicycle passes
  • Bicyclist making an unsafe left turn
  • Driver failing to yield the right-of-way while exiting driveway
  • Vehicle entering bike lanes
Other common causes include distracted or impaired drivers, dangerous roadways and defective bicycles or bicycle parts.

California Bicycle Laws

According to California law, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other vehicles. California Vehicle Code Section 21200 states: “Every person riding a bicycle upon a street or highway has all the rights and is subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle.”
California Vehicle Code Section 21212 prohibits persons under 18 from riding or being a passenger on a bicycle without wearing a helmet. California Vehicle Code Section 27400 states: “No person operating any vehicle, including a bicycle shall wear any headset covering, or any earplugs in, both ears.” Riding a bicycle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is also an offense under California Vehicle Code Section 21200.5.

Bicycle Accident Injuries

Bicycle accidents can result in traumatic injuries for the rider. Injuries can range anywhere from minor abrasions or bruises to sprains, strains, bone fractures, head injuries, traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord damage. Treating these serious injuries can take time and money. For example, it can cost several million dollars to treat a bicyclist who has been paralyzed or who has suffered a traumatic brain injury. Injured victims must pay not only for medical expenses but also incur other losses such as lost earnings, continuing treatment and rehabilitation costs.

Damages in Bicycle Accident Cases

Bicycle accident victims in California who have been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing may seek damages including:
  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of wages
  • Hospitalization and surgeries
  • Rehabilitation
  • Loss of livelihood
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress

California Law Regarding Balance Billing

California Law Regarding Balance Billing


California Law Regarding Balance Billing

Frequently, a health insurance plan (especially an HMO) and a health care provider have negotiated terms for payment for the services which the provider renders for the people insured by that company. By this agreement, the provider promises to accept an established amount for the services rendered. These services are first paid for by any co-pay or deductible that the patient owes under the terms of the plan with the rest paid by the insurance company or other entity that sponsors the plan. As a consequence of this agreement, the provider cannot ask the patient for payment in excess of that established rate for service. Putting this another way, the provider cannot charge a patient for the difference between its "full charge" or "usual rate" and what the plan pays -- a practice which is referred to as "balance billing." Balance billing is also illegal for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries.
When a patient seeks care from a provider who does not have an existing relationship with the patient's health plan, or does not follow the plan's rules for using "in network" doctors or for getting a referral from the patient's primary care physician before seeing a specialist, the patient is independently obligated to pay for the care. Sometimes the plan might pay some of the cost (as it were operating under the old fashioned "medical insurance" type system), but there is no promise to pay a going rate to the physician, and the physician has not promised to accept what the insurance company pays under its rate chart. Here, because the patient has decided to operate outside of the rules for his health plan, he does not get the cost protection of the health plan. Payments made by insurance offset but do not satisfy the patient's debt.
What happens when an HMO plan member must obtain medical care in an emergency? The hospital he goes to for service and the doctors on duty there are obligated by law to provide the care needed to stabilize the patient. The HMO is also obligated by law to pay for its members' emergency care. A dilemma arises when the provider and the plan have not already agreed on how payment for services will be handled: how much must the plan pay, and is the provider obligated to accept the amount paid by the HMO as payment in full? Providers claim that plans are setting reimbursement rates unfairly, at sums too low to adequately pay for the services. Plans claim that providers are charging rates that are not fair, that are beyond the usual and customary charges for the location.
The California Supreme Court, in Prospect Medical Group vs. Northridge Emergency Medical Group (2009) 45 Cal.4th 497, ruled that California law requires that the dispute about payment for the out of network provider cannot involve the patient, but is between the provider who must render the care and the plan which is obligated to pay for the care. The provider cannot use balance billing to try to force the plan to pay more by putting economic demands on the patient, and plans cannot pay too little thereby forcing its members to pay the rest of a fair compensation to the provider. As a result, when a plan member in an emergency must get medical treatment from an out of network hospital or physician, his financial obligations are the exact same as they would be under the plan terms for in-network providers. The provider cannot bill the patient but must work out payment with the health plan.

Types of Personal Injuries We Handle

Types of Personal Injuries We Handle

The experienced California personal injury lawyers at Bisnar Chase handle cases involving personal injuries caused by:
  • California Auto accidents: Negligent drivers can be held accountable for the damages and injuries they cause. For example, a number of auto accidents are caused by drivers who are under the influence, distracted, speeding or otherwise breaking the law. We have helped numerous seriously injured car accident victims seek compensation for their significant losses.
  • Brain and spinal cord injuries: These are catastrophic injuries or permanent injuries that can have a lasting impact on the lives of not only the victims, but their families. Our law firm has helped victims of these types of injuries obtain compensation for not only medical expenses, but also for continuing treatment and care costs, which could add up to millions of dollars during the individual's lifetime.
  • California Premises liability: It is the responsibility of property owners to provide reasonably safe conditions for all visitors, guests, workers and tenants. For example, an individual who has suffered injuries as the result of dangerous and defective conditions on a property can file a personal injury claim.
  • Defective auto: Not all California car accidents are the direct result of driver negligence. Some crashes result from a mechanical malfunction or defective auto part. In such cases, the auto manufacturer or the maker of the defective auto part can be held liable.
  • Dog bites: Under California's strict liability statute, dog owners can be held accountable for the injuries caused by the pets. Dog attacks often result in debilitating injuries, disfigurement and significant emotional trauma.
  • Workplace accidents: These include construction accidents or just any type of injury or illness suffered by an individual on the job.

Compensation for your Losses

Financial compensation may be available for all or most of your losses. For example, if you required medical treatment because of someone else's negligence, financial compensation should be available for:
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost current and future income
  • Hospitalization and surgery costs
  • Rehabilitation
  • Permanent injuries
  • Disabilities
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship or consortium

Avoiding the Pitfalls in an Injury Claim

The extent of compensation in your California personal injury case will often depend on various factors such as who was at fault, who is liable and what avenues of compensation are available. It would be in victims' best interests to refrain from talking to insurance companies. If you have been involved in a car accident, your insurance adjuster will try to get as much information as possible from you. He or she may talk or act like your best friend and well wisher. However, that's what they are trained to do. Their job is not to help you. Their job is to make a profit for the insurance company, which is usually accomplished by denying or reducing the value of your claim.
This is why it is crucial that you consult an experienced California personal injury lawyer before you talk to an adjuster or accept a settlement from the insurance company. Do not rush into a settlement without consulting your lawyer. Once you do so, you have shut the door on your claim. The case will be considered closed. Also, remember not to sign any documents that provide insurance companies or other parties access to your personal information such as health or financial records. If you are active on social networking sites, it would be in your best interest to suspend or curtail such activity until your claim is settled. Insurance companies or defense lawyers can use what you post on these sites against you.

Choosing the Right California Personal Injury Lawyer

It can be challenging to find the right personal injury lawyer in California. There are many law firms that claim to have the experience and expertise to handle your personal injury claim, but few have the proven track record it takes to help you succeed. It is important to seek referrals, to conduct online research and to meet with the lawyer personally to determine if he or she can help you.

Why Bisnar Chase?

Our injury lawyers are among the best-rated personal injury lawyers in California. Since 1978, our law firm has served more than 10,000 clients and recovered hundreds of millions of dollars. Our success rate is more than 97 percent. We provide superior customer service - the kind we would want ourselves or our family members to receive - should we be placed in a similar position. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you don't pay anything until after you have been compensation. What's more, our initial consultations are always free of charge. If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, please contact us at 949-203-3814 for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.