Car Accident Attorney Frequently asked questions
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For most of our legal practice areas (personal injury, negligence, workplace law, etc…), our recommended attorneys work on a contingency basis. Meaning, there’s no legal fees unless you win. For other legal matters, there may be fees associated with your case. Your attorney will discuss the specifics of the costs directly with you over the phone BEFORE you decide to engage them as your counsel. Regardless, your initial call and consultation with an attorney is completely FREE.
Insurance companies are notorious for “low-balling” compensation from car accidents.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s a good idea to work with a personal injury lawyer — and get in touch with one as soon as possible.
You have the legal right to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses through the court system. Without a lawyer, insurance companies don’t have to worry about being sued, and will try to pay as little as possible — typically well below the actual cost of vehicle damages and medical care.
Settlement with a lawyer involved typically produces 3.5X the results in settled cases.
When you’re injured, an insurance policy almost always comes into play, especially in the context of an accident where someone else may be at fault.
So, you might file a claim under your own insurance coverage (and your insurer might turn around and seek reimbursement from the insurance carrier of the person who was at fault), or you might file a third-party claim directly with the insurance company of the at-fault party.
In either case, for an insurance company, handling a claim is all about doing two things: minimizing costs and managing risk. The insurer will do everything it can to resolve the claim before it gets to court — meaning reach a settlement agreement in which you receive a sum of money and the insurer and/or the defendant are released from any further liability in connection with your injuries.
An insurer is not going to let a personal injury case go to trial, where it can be put in the hands of an unpredictable jury, one that could just as easily award the plaintiff millions of dollars as it could absolve the defendant (and the insurer) of any liability.
In personal injury language, the different kinds of compensation you can receive are divided into two main groups: general damages and special damages. General damages are also sometimes called “non-economic” damages, and special damages may be referred to as “economic.”
Basically, general damages are the kinds of harm and losses that stem from the underlying accident or injury, but are not easily quantified and can be more subjective. This includes compensation for any pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, lost companionship, disfigurement, and similar harm caused by the accident and resulting medical treatment.
Special damages are losses that are easy (or easier) to quantify (put a dollar figure on, in other words). This includes compensation for medical treatment, lost wages, lost income opportunity, property damage, and other economic losses resulting from the accident, medical treatment, and any resulting disability or limitation.
If you were injured in an accident, and you were not at fault – or at least, not “mostly” at fault – you should receive some amount of money for your pain and the impact the injury has had on your daily life. In accidents with minor, short-term injuries, it may be a small “token” amount. When injuries are more serious, painful and/or long-lasting, the settlement of the pain and suffering portion of your claim increases sharply.
Yes, payment (or reimbursement for payment) of medical bills will be a component of any settlement that is reached in an injury-related insurance claim or lawsuit. The plaintiff/claimant will be compensated for all medical treatment necessitated by the accident. That includes reimbursement for medical bills already paid, and a plan for payment of all future medical treatment that will be necessary.
One thing to be aware of when it comes to getting compensation for medical bills that have already been paid: Your health insurance provider may have a lien on part of your settlement, if your provider already paid some or all of the bills that you later get compensated for.
No, there is no minimum or maximum amount when it comes to injury settlements. Every case is different in terms of strengths and weaknesses, and what is at stake. The amount of a settlement in a personal injury case depends on a whole host of factors, including:
– the nature and extent of the plaintiff/claimant’s injuries, including “pain and suffering” and the long-term impact of the injuries
– the clarity of who was at fault for the underlying accident, and
– the willingness of one side or the other to play “hardball” and let the case go to court if need be.
Absolutely. If you’ve filed an injury claim with an insurance company, or brought a personal injury lawsuit against the person who caused your injuries, you’re free to reject any settlement offer you receive.
It’s true that most injury cases settle before going to trial, and a large number of claims even get resolved before a personal injury lawsuit is filed. But there are a number of valid reasons to reject a settlement offer and take the case to court. Maybe you and the other side are too far apart on key issues like who was at fault for the accident, or the extent of your injuries. Maybe you just want your “day in court.”
Having said that, it’s wise to take a reasonable approach to any settlement offer, and to formulate a strategic response. Talk to your attorney about the best course of action. Most often, when an injured person rejects a settlement offer, settlement negotiations continue. The injured person (called the “claimant” or “plaintiff”) typically makes a counter-offer, usually as part of a methodical and professional demand letter.
The demand letter is your chance to tell your side of the story. How did the accident happen? What evidence points to the defendant bearing the blame for what happened (police reports, witnesses, etc.)? How badly were you injured? What has been the course of your medical treatment so far, and what is the prognosis for future treatment?
In your demand letter, you’ll present detailed evidence that will show why the other side’s initial settlement offer is too low, and you’ll end your letter with your own “demand”– a dollar amount you’d be willing to accept to settle the case.
In most personal injury cases, if you decide to retain a lawyer to handle your case, he or she will represent you under a contingency fee. This means that you do not pay anything “up front”, and your lawyer will only be paid if your case reaches a favorable solution for you — either through an agreed-upon settlement or after a civil court trial.
Then, your lawyer will collect a percentage that was agreed-upon in the initial fee agreement you signed. Typically, this percentage is around 33 percent of the settlement amount, but many fee agreements spell out that the percentage is lower if the case resolves before a lawsuit is filed, then the lawyer’s cut increases gradually the further along the case progresses.