1. How do I know if I have a claim for personal injury?
In order to make a claim for injury you must be hurt or injured; either physically or emotionally by someone else’s negligent conduct. This includes negligence, strict liability or intentional misconduct, commonly referred to as tort liability. In some cases, even if you were partially at fault, the other at-fault party may be responsible for some of your injuries and damages; this is called comparative fault.
2. What will an attorney cost me?
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee, which means their fee is contingent upon him/her recovering you some money for your injury claim and it is a percentage of the amount recovered. Just as with a real estate broker, the attorney earns a percentage of the total amount recovered or “gross settlement.” Unless the attorney can close the deal and keep his client happy, then he/she does not get paid. This means you will not pay anything up front, until there is a settlement or a winning verdict at trial. Typically, after your settlement or verdict, your attorney will receive a percentage fee of the total case recovery, in addition to case costs.
Most people ask themselves this question: will I get more with an attorney then if I handle the case myself? Almost always, hiring an experienced attorney can actually increase the amount of money damages recovered; so the answer is generally yes. So, even after paying the attorney’s fees and costs, the client usually ends up with more money in his/her pocket than if you attempted to represent yourself. An experienced trial attorney knows what you are entitled to receive as compensation, and will fight to get the best possible result for you. Having a personal injury attorney on your side shows the insurance company that you are serious about protecting your rights. Simply put, the insurance adjuster will be less likely to make a low-ball settlement offer.
3. Will I have to sue?
No. The vast majority of personal injury cases are settled before filing a lawsuit. In fact, in less than 20% of all personal injury cases is filing a lawsuit necessary. Of course, every case is different; and depending upon the facts of your case, it is impossible to determine whether your case will settle before filing a lawsuit, before reaching the courthouse steps, or go all the way to a jury trial. A general rule of thumb however is this: “as you get closer to the courthouse steps, the insurance company gets nervous and usually agrees to be more reasonable!”
4. What can I expect to get from the insurance company?
In short: a low-ball settlement offer. If you are dealing with an insurance adjuster, they assume you do not know anything and treat you accordingly. They try to tell you what your case is worth, that you do not need an attorney, and you can trust them to be fair and save attorneys’ fees. At some point, most people learn the exact opposite and call an attorney. In fact, they realize it was all a lie designed to take advantage of you and get you to accept a low-ball settlement offer.
5. What can I get compensated for in a personal injury claim?
There are two types of damages, general damages—pain and suffering and special damages—out of pocket expenses like medical bills, lost wages, co-payments, mileage, etc. The amount of damages you are entitled to depends upon the nature and severity of your injuries (broken bones, surgery, or soft tissue); the duration of your physical and emotional pain and suffering, the amount of your economic hardship or financial loss, the amount of your decreased earning potential and physical impairment. The following is a sample of some of the typical types of damages you can be compensated for in a personal injury case:
- Property damage
- Medical bills
- Lost wages, including overtime
- Out of pocket expenses (transportation charges, etc.)
- Pain and suffering
- Physical disability
- Permanent scars
- Emotional trauma
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of love and affection
- Mental disability
6. How much money can I get for my injuries?
The short answer: a fair and reasonable amount of money to fully compensate you for all harms and losses that you have suffered; or in short, you are entitled to “be made whole.” Although we cannot put you in a time machine and send you back to where you were before the accident, we try and recover all of your damages, past, and future.
This is where the insurance adjuster will try and “nickel and dime” you! Typically, the adjuster gives very little, if any, for pain and suffering. Often times they require ridiculous amounts of documentary proof and then when presented overwhelming evidence, they still refuse to pay for lost earnings and future medical bills. As you can imagine, a dispute will always arise when you attempt to put a dollar value on someone’s pain and suffering endured as a result of the negligent or reckless acts of another driver. The adjusters routinely ignore of minimize this aspect of your claim.
As you go through these frequently asked questions ask yourself who do I trust more to represent me? The adjuster for the other driver, or my attorney?
We will protect your rights and interests, contact us for a FREE consultation.
Don’t go up against the insurance company alone. The Choyce Law Firm will help you maximize your compensation. Call (707) 422-1202 to schedule a free consultation with our experienced accident lawyer. You may also contact us online. With two offices in the greater Fairfield, our lawyer is able to meet with you at your most convenient location. We also offer in-home, after-hours, weekend and video conferencing appointments by special arrangement. There is no fee unless we recover damages for you.
To schedule a free consultation, call us at (707) 422-1202. You may also contact us online using the contact form on this page.