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Teal & Montgomery
Attorney who is a medical doctor
Part of our Winning Team

Medical malpractice

Kaiser arbitrations

Personal injury/Wrongful Death

Insurance disputes

Disability denials

Birth Injury

Answers to your questions

Medical malpractice

How do I know if I have a case?

Every case is different.

The best way to find out if you have a medical malpractice case is to call us for a free consultation (Santa Rosa: 707-703-4038, Sacramento: 916-472-0003). You will be able to talk to an attorney, or in some cases, a physician who is also an attorney. We will do our best to answer your questions. If you prefer, you can contact us online and tell us about your potential case.

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How much do you charge to evaluate my case?

We never charge potential clients for discussing their potential case with us, whether we do this by phone, email, or in person. If we agree to represent a client in a medical malpractice matter, our office advances all the costs incurred in getting medical records, meeting with experts, etc. These costs are reimbursed to us at the conclusion of the case, assuming we are able to obtain a recovery on your behalf.

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What is a contingency fee?

California law says that attorneys representing clients in medical malpractice cases must do so on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney gets paid for his/her time and effort only if a recovery is obtained for the client. Thus, any attorney fees are contingent on a successful resolution of the case. California law sets the maximum amount of fees that can be charged, with the amount depending on the size of the recovery obtained. Continue for more contingency fee information.

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Are there time limits regarding when I can file suit against a doctor or hospital?

Yes. The specific time limit is a very complicated matter, and depends on the facts of your case. In general, you have one year from the time you suspect that you were the victim of malpractice to file a claim. This time limit is different for those under the age of 18, and in certain other circumstances. In some cases, a claim must be filed within 6 months of the incident giving rise to malpractice.

Failure to meet the applicable time limits may mean you are forever barred from receiving compensation for any malpractice, so it is critical that you obtain legal advice on this issue without delay. Continue for more statute of limitations information.

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How long will it take to get my case resolved?

All cases are different. In general, resolution of medical malpractice cases is time-consuming, and it is not uncommon for cases to take at least a year or more to resolve.

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Will my case go to trial?

The majority of cases we handle are resolved through negotiations, resulting in settlement. Nevertheless, we always proceed on the assumption that every case will proceed on to trial.

One reason we take this approach is that the doctor’s insurance company almost always hires very experienced law firms to represent their interests. These firms are not going to make a quick decision on a case, but rather take the time to have the case evaluated by experts and look carefully at every fact that might help defeat any claim of malpractice. We have found that the only way to obtain the best results for our clients is to approach the case the same way—take the time and spend the money to carefully evaluate every aspect of the case so that we can present compelling evidence in settlement negotiations or at trial.

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I have more questions.

The best way to get answers to all your questions is to call our office for a free consultation (Santa Rosa: 707-703-4038, Sacramento: 916-472-0003). If you prefer, you can contact us online, and we will do our best to answer your questions

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Kaiser arbitrations

Can I sue Kaiser?

In most cases, you cannot sue Kaiser doctors or Kaiser hospitals. Instead your claim will be sent to arbitration. The reason for this is that when you first became a Kaiser patient, you were asked to sign an agreement giving up your right to sue Kaiser for any possible malpractice. This does NOT mean, however, that you cannot recover fair and appropriate compensation for the harm you have suffered.

You will need to hire a medical malpractice attorney who is experienced in handling Kaiser arbitrations. At Teal & Montgomery, we specialize in Kaiser arbitrations, successfully prosecuting many cases to secure the compensation our clients need to deal with their injuries.

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What is Kaiser arbitration?

Unlike a traditional lawsuit, in which a jury hears your case and gives verdict, in a Kaiser arbitration your case will be decided by a panel of one to three experts known as arbitrators.

Selecting a fair arbitration panel is a critical step in the process. You will need to hire a medical malpractice lawyer who specializes in Kaiser arbitrations, and knows from experience which arbitrators are fair so that your matter will get a fair hearing.

At Teal & Montgomery, our medical malpractice lawyers have extensive experience in arbitrating Kaiser medical malpractice cases. We can help you select the best arbitration panel, and present the medical and legal evidence necessary to win your case.

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How do I know if I have a case?

Every case is different. The best way to find out if you have a medical malpractice case is to call us for a free consultation. You will be able to talk to an attorney, or in some cases, a physician who is also an attorney. We will do our best to answer your questions. If you prefer, you can contact us online and tell us about your potential case.

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How much do you charge to evaluate my case?

We never charge potential clients for discussing their potential case with us, whether we do this by phone or in person. If we agree to represent a client in a medical malpractice matter, our office advances all the costs incurred in getting medical records, meeting with experts, etc. These costs are reimbursed to us at the conclusion of the case, assuming we are able to obtain a recovery on your behalf.

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What is a contingency fee?

California law says that attorneys representing clients in medical malpractice cases must do so on a contingency fee basis. This means that the attorney gets paid for his/her time and effort only if a recovery is obtained for the client. Thus, any attorney fees are contingent on a successful resolution of the case. California law sets the maximum amount of fees that can be charged, with the amount depending on the size of the recovery obtained.

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Are there time limits regarding when I can demand arbitration with Kaiser?

Yes. The specific time limit is a very complicated matter, and depends on the facts of your matter. In general, you have one year from the time you suspected that you might have been the victim of malpractice to file a demand for arbitration. This time limit is different for those under the age of 18, and in certain other instances.

Failure to meet the applicable time limits may mean you are forever barred from receiving compensation for any malpractice, so it is critical that you obtain legal advice on this issue without delay.

How long will it take to get my case resolved?

All cases are different. In general, Kaiser arbitration cases proceed somewhat faster than court cases, but resolution still is time-consuming, and it is not uncommon for cases to at least a year or more to resolve.

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Will my case go all the way to an arbitration hearing?

The majority of cases we handle are resolved through negotiations, resulting in settlement. Nevertheless, we always proceed on the assumption that every case will proceed to an arbitration hearing.

One reason we take this approach is that Kaiser hires very experienced law firms to represent their interests. These firms are not going to make a quick decision on a case, but rather take the time to have the case evaluated by experts and look carefully at every fact that might help Kaiser defeat any claim of malpractice. We have found that the only way to obtain the best results for our clients is to approach the case the same way—take the time and spend the money to carefully evaluate every aspect of the case so that we can present compelling evidence in settlement negotiations or at the arbitration hearing.

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Will filing for arbitration against Kaiser result in Kaiser canceling my health coverage with them?

Although we cannot guarantee that there will be no problems in the future, it has been our experience that the Kaiser system does not respond to a member filing a demand for arbitration by terminating that member’s health coverage. The Kaiser system is very large. While an individual physician at Kaiser may not wish to continue caring for a member who made a claim for malpractice, there is almost always another physician who can assume the duty of caring for that member.

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I have more questions.

The best way to get answers to all your questions is to call our office for a free consultation (Santa Rosa: 707-703-4038, Sacramento: 916-472-0003). If you prefer, you can contact us online, and we will do our best to answer your questions.

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Personal injury/wrongful death

I have been in an automobile accident, what should I do?

The most important thing for you to do is seek immediate medical attention for your injuries:

  • If you are taken by ambulance from the scene, medical attention has occurred.
  • If not, you should immediately contact your family physician for the earliest available appointment
  • Or get to your local emergency room, if necessary.

It is important to receive the necessary and appropriate medical attention, and also to document your injuries for the insurance company.

Insurance companies often assume that you either were not injured or that your injuries were insignificant if you did not seek medical attention. People make the mistake of wishful thinking—telling themselves that although they are in pain, the pain is likely to go away in a few days or weeks, and that they should just wait it out. This is a mistake, both in terms of getting the medical care you need and in providing the insurance company with an excuse to ignore or minimize your legitimate injuries.

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How soon do I need to contact an attorney after I have been injured?

The most important thing is to get appropriate medical attention for your injuries. After this, you should immediately contact an attorney to review your case and represent you with the insurance companies involved. Insurance companies often try to take advantage of people shortly after they are injured, attempting to obtain statements from them that can be used to defeat or minimize any claim.

It is not unusual for insurance companies to contact injured parties within 24 hours of the incident, asking them to provide recorded statements and to describe their injuries. You may not even be fully aware of the extent of your injuries so soon after the incident, and in any event, are likely to be tricked into making a common lawsuit error or misled into making statements that can be used against you later.

The qualified and experienced personal injury attorneys at Teal & Montgomery can assist you at this critical time in your case. We will consult with you free of charge and work quickly to preserve and collect evidence while it is still fresh and available. Continue for more time limit information.

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I have been in an accident, but I feel okay. What should I do?

Never hesitate to get checked out by medical professionals, even if you feel that you escaped serious injury. It is not uncommon for physical symptoms such as pain, stiffness, and numbness to begin hours, or even days, after an incident. The full effects of an injury may take even longer to surface.

Of course, it is important that you get immediate medical attention if you feel any pain or discomfort. Many people make the mistake of hoping that their pain will go away on its own and wait for several days, or even weeks, before finally deciding to go to the doctor.

Waiting to get treatment is a bad idea for your health. It can also hurt your chances of obtaining an appropriate settlement for your injuries because there will be no medical record of those injuries at or close to the time of the incident. Please continue for more information on injuries that may require an attorney.

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Is California Considered a No-Fault State?

Please continue for more information about California’s fault and legal liability laws.

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I told the police and paramedics at the scene that I was okay. Does this mean that I have no case?

It is not uncommon for people who were just involved in a traumatic incident to feel “shaken up,” but otherwise okay. Your body is in shock, and you are likely experiencing the effects of adrenaline pumped into your system at the time of the incident. You may well begin to feel pain or other injuries a few hours or even a few days after the incident. If this happens, you should immediately seek medical care.

The insurance company will certainly attempt to use against you any statement at the scene of the incident suggesting that you were not inured. However, this does not mean you do not have a legitimate case. If you were injured and your doctor can verify this injury, you are entitled to bring a claim even if you were unaware of these injuries until after you left the scene.

You need an attorney skilled in personal injury cases to guide you through the process and to be sure that the insurance company does not unfairly reject or minimize your injuries.

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I have a family member who has suffered a catastrophic injury/death. Who can bring a claim on their behalf?

If a family member has suffered a catastrophic injury and is unable to represent themselves, one of the other family members can be appointed by the court to bring the claim on their behalf. In the tragic case of a wrongful death of a family member, the rest of the immediate family has a right to bring a claim. Family members, such as spouses, children and sometimes even parents or and grandparents, have a right to be compensated for the loss of companionship, society, comfort, and support they suffer when a family member dies because of the negligence of others. Please continue for more information on who can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

These are difficult cases which must be handled with sensitivity and insight by the lawyer, who needs to understand how the incident occurred and the family dynamic that existed before the death. At Teal & Montgomery, our attorneys have extensive experience in bringing claims on behalf of family members who suffered the loss of a loved one due to the wrongful conduct of others. We can help you through this difficult time.

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If I was injured while riding a motorcycle or bicycle, do I have the same rights?

California law treats people who ride motorcycles or bicycles exactly the same as those operating a motor vehicle. You have the same right to be on the road as any other vehicle. If you were injured by the carelessness of another while riding a motorcycle or bicycle, you have a right to bring a claim for reasonable compensation for the harm you suffered.

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I was injured on someone else’s property. What legal rights do I have?

An owner of property is required by law to find, fix, or warn others about unreasonably dangerous conditions on their property. Anyone coming onto their property must, of course, exercise reasonable care for their own safety.

Whether or not you have a right to seek compensation for the harm you suffered will depend on the particular facts of your case.

At Teal & Montgomery, we have represented many individuals who were harmed because of unreasonably dangerous conditions on someone else’s property. We are available to consult with you for free in person, by telephone, or online to determine whether you were harmed because of a property owner’s failure to follow the law.

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I have more questions.

The best way to get answers to all your questions is to call our office for a free consultation (Santa Rosa: 707-703-4038, Sacramento: 916-472-0003), or to submit your questions to us online. You may also continue on for more questions and answers regarding car accident litigation.

Each case is unique, and the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident causing you or your family member’s injury must be carefully examined to determine whether the law was broken and, if so, what kind of claim should be brought.

At Teal & Montgomery, we have represented individuals in personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1975. We have extensive experience in this complex area of the law. We are prepared to help you cope with your injuries and find a way forward at this difficult time in your life.

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Insurance disputes

What limits does the law place on insurance companies when it comes to denying claims?

  • Implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing

By law, each insurance policy includes an “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” which means that the insurance company is required to act fairly and in good faith in handling claims. Over the years, the courts have ruled that in practice, this means insurance companies must promptly and thoroughly investigate all claims that are presented to them, and must fully pay those claims that are covered by the terms of the insurance policy.

  • Insurance laws, rules, and regulations

In addition, there are many rules and regulations issued by the California Department of Insurance which insurance companies are required to follow when dealing with the people of the State of California. These rules cover everything from the types of exclusions and limitations the insurance company can put into its insurance policy to the procedures the insurance company must follow in handling a claim.
If you have an insurance claim that was denied, it is possible that your insurance company failed to follow the law. Only an attorney experienced in insurance claims will be able to determine this and to help you to secure the coverage to which you are entitled.

Our insurance law lawyers at Teal & Montgomery have extensive experience in representing claimants against insurance companies who have wrongfully, and in bad faith, denied coverage. Our attorneys know the insurance industry well, and are able to bring their extensive experience of this industry, and their knowledge of the rules and regulations covering it, to help you get your claim paid.

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If my insurance company wrongfully denies my claim, what are my legal rights?

When an insurance company wrongfully denies a claim, often referred to as a bad faith denial, you have these legal rights:

  • To file a lawsuit against the company
  • To seek compensation for the money owed to you under your insurance policy
  • To seek compensation for any harm you may have suffered because of your insurance company’s refusal to pay the claim.
  • In some cases, to seek punitive damages—money that the insurance company must pay as a punishment for its misdeeds (Punitive damages are meant to create a strong incentive for insurance companies to follow the law and pay claims that are covered by the policies they sell.)
  • To recover a part of the attorney’s fees when bringing a case against your insurance company for a wrongful denial

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How can Teal & Montgomery help me get my insurance claim paid?

Insurance cases are complex and can be confusing. There are many laws, rules, and regulations governing insurance companies and the language of the insurance policy covering your claim may be difficult to understand.

You will need to hire an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in these types of cases. The attorneys at Teal & Montgomery are insurance law specialists who will thoroughly examine your situation to determine whether your insurance company’s denial of your claim was wrongful and in bad faith. We have years of experience in handling these types of cases and have successfully prosecuted many lawsuits against insurance companies who have broken the law and their promises to their insureds.

Often, just bringing us into your case will prompt your insurance company to pay your claim. If not, we are well equipped to file a lawsuit and recover for you the full compensation to which the law entitles you under your policy.

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Disability denials

Who by law is considered to be “disabled” and entitled to disability benefits?

It is NOT the diagnosis that makes someone disabled, but rather, the functional limitations that result from a medical condition.

California law says that a person is disabled if that person is unable to perform in the material and substantial duties of their job with reasonable continuity and in the reasonable and customary way. In other words, if you are unable to perform the key parts of your job day after day, week after week on a reasonable and consistent basis, you are legally considered to be disabled.

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My insurance company has offered to review my claim and may agree to pay it. Do I need to hire an attorney?

You may need a disability attorney even while your claim is being investigated by your insurance company or plan.

Insurance companies rely on the relative inexperience of claimants in order to manipulate the claims process to justify a denial. If you ask your insurance company or plan to review a denial, and you do not thoroughly and fully document your disability, you will simply give the insurance company an opportunity to rubber stamp their original denial and to do so in a way that deprives you of any valid basis to file a lawsuit.

If your disability benefits are part of an employee benefit plan given to you by your employer, it is evenmore critical that you immediately seek the help of an experienced and trusted attorney to represent you.

ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) governs employer disability plans

These employer-provided disability plans are governed by ERISA, a federal body of law which is complex and filled with legal pitfalls. For example, if your claim is denied, and you file a lawsuit, you may be prevented from presenting any evidence in that lawsuit to show that you are disabled—if you did not give that evidence to the insurance company during the claims investigation phase.

You need an attorney, trained and experienced in representing disability claimants, who can:

  • Guide you through the process
  • Collect and present evidence to the insurance company which establishes your disability
  • Set the ground work for a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to pay

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What is an ERISA claim?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that was originally passed to handle issues related to pension fund administration. However, as it stands today, this law has a substantial impact on disability benefits provided by your employer.

If your disability plan is offered through your employer, your disability claim is most likely an ERISA claim, even if another company is handling your claim for your employer.

ERISA claims are complex and filled with legal pitfalls. Many attorneys do not understand this area of the law. Even attorneys who handle disability claims may lack the necessary experience to handle an ERISA claim.

At Teal & Montgomery, our disability lawyers have substantial experience helping people with their ERISA claims.

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Do I need a doctor to say I am disabled?

Your doctor will be asked to provide information about you to your disability plan at regular intervals. Having your doctor’s support for your disability claim is essential. However, it is not enough to simply have your doctor say you are disabled. Your doctor must carefully document the physical and/or mental limitations that you have, and must provide medical evidence that you actually have a disabling condition.

Frequently, your doctor will be provided a form by your insurance company for this purpose. However, many doctors do not spend enough time to properly document your disability in a way that will support your claim.

You may need to hire an experienced disability attorney to assist you in communicating with your doctor to be sure that the medical reports he or she creates are accurate, descriptive, and legally sufficient to support your disability claim.

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Can I get disability benefits because of a mental condition or disorder?

Yes, you can. However, many disability plans pay benefits for a much shorter period of time for a mental disability.

Your insurance company may attempt to improperly classify your condition as “mental” rather than “physical” simply to avoid paying disability benefits beyond this shorter time frame. In some instances, a physical condition may have a mental component, such as disabling pain accompanied by depression.

By working closely with your doctors, an experienced disability lawyer can make sure that you get the full benefits to which you are entitled under your disability policy.

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If I am approved for State Disability Income (SDI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits, am I automatically entitled to disability benefits under my private disability plan?

Getting approved for SDI or SSDI does NOT automatically entitle you to disability benefits under your private plan. This often surprises people who rightly think that if they are found to be disabled by the government, they should be considered disabled by their own disability plan as well. Unfortunately, the law allows your private insurance plan to largely ignore any finding by SDI or SSDI.

Even so, you should apply for these government benefits if you can. Often your private disability planrequires you to do so. If you are denied benefits by your private disability plan, you will need to hire an experienced disability lawyer to help you.

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Can I file a lawsuit if my disability claim has been unfairly denied?

There are certain steps you must take before you can sue. Most disability plans offer an “appeal” or “review” of denied claims. If your plan offers this, you generally must request an appeal before you are allowed to file a lawsuit. If you fail to do so, you may be barred from bringing a lawsuit that challenges the denial of your disability claim.

There are many legal pitfalls involved in this process. There are strict time limits for requesting an appeal. Also, you may be required to present during your appeal all the evidence you intend to rely on to prove your disability. If you do not, you may be prevented from using this evidence to support a later lawsuit.

This area of the law is complex and many attorneys do not understand or have experience in handling disability claims. If your disability claim was denied, you should hire an experienced and qualified disability attorney to represent you during your appeal. Your attorney greatly increases the chance that the insurance company will comply with the requirements of the policy, and if they do not, you will be in a position to bring a lawsuit to force the insurance company to honor its promise to you.

Call us at (Santa Rosa) 707-703-4038 or (Sacramento) 916-472-0003, for a free consultation or submit your questions to us online.

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Birth injury

What are “birth injuries?”

In general terms, birth injuries are injuries to your baby that happened during labor and delivery.

For example, not performing a Cesarean section when indicated can result in your baby not getting adequate oxygen to the brain, causing brain damage. Often this causes permanent damage and lasting problems. Other common birth injuries involve the doctor pulling too hard on the baby during delivery, causing nerve damage and other problems.

Not all babies born with problems are suffering from birth injuries. For example, problems like heart defects, cleft palates, and other problems are significant problems but are not generally related to medical error during labor or delivery.

Birth injuries are always heartrending, and often are complicated. Get the advice you need by calling us for a free consultation. We promise to listen to you and give you the benefit of our experience. Call or email us for a free consultation.

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What can be done for your baby?

Every case is different. Help is always available for a baby born with problems, but the facts of your case will determine what types of help are going to be available to you. If the facts indicate that your baby was the victim of medical malpractice, we can represent you and your baby and work to obtain a fair settlement or verdict for you and your baby.

Even if we cannot represent you, we can give you information about who to contact, and suggest some steps you can take. The first step is to email or give us a call for a free consultation at (Santa Rosa) 707-703-4038 or (Sacramento) 916-472-0003.

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