Q: Do I need a lawyer?
A: Yes. It makes no sense to go it alone if you have a legal issue. Personal injury cases involve complex calculations of your losses. If you have any questions regarding a personal injury claim, you can either try to go it alone or hire an experienced attorney to fight on your behalf. A skilled personal injury lawyer can compile the evidence of your medical damages and injuries, hire expert witnesses, identify possible legal claims, interview witnesses, and advocate for you in court. Ideally, that means a substantially larger recovery for you.
Q: How long do I have to take action?
A: In most cases, two years. However, it is always best to start building your case early.
Q: Who exactly am I suing? I don't want to sue the lady who hit me. She seemed so nice!
A: It's unlikely that she is going to be the one that will personally pay you. That's why everyone is required to carry insurance.
Q: Should I talk to the other driver's insurance company?
A: No! Make sure that you have a clear understanding of your legal position. The other driver's insurance company is not your friend. Anything you say to them could be used against you (and probably will).
Q: How much money can I expect?
A: The concept of an “average” personal injury settlement, in terms of a dollar amount, is a myth. There are too many different types of personal injury cases, and a potential settlement will always depend on the unique facts of each case. “Average” numbers aren't typically helpful in trying to determine what a case is worth. When negotiating a settlement, both sides start out by independently determining what they think the case is worth. Typically, this is accomplished by researching similar cases in the same jurisdiction and seeing the awards that juries have granted in the past, and then considering the unique circumstances of the current case. Once both sides have determined an estimate of an acceptable settlement amount, they begin the process of negotiating a potential settlement. As both sides conduct discovery and analyze the case, they will determine how likely they believe it is that the plaintiff will win or lose if the case goes to trial. Based on these conclusions, the amount of an acceptable settlement may go up or down. Once an offer is made upon which both sides agree, the parties will sign a settlement agreement and the plaintiff will sign a release and drop the case.
Q: What are Special Damages?
A: Special damages are a legal term for the money won in a lawsuit for out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to the harmful actions of the defendant. Also known as economic damages, special damages cover only tangible harms that can be easily translated into a specific dollar amount. Special damages are calculated according to fair market values at the time of the injury. A typical example of special damages would be an award for lost wages or medical bills.
Q: What are General Damages?
A: General damages are a legal term for the money won in a lawsuit for injuries suffered, specifically for intangible losses that may be difficult to calculate. General damages typically include the loss of reputation, a loss of companionship, pain, and suffering or emotional distress.
Q: What are liens?
A: A lien is a legal term for a “demand for repayment” which may be placed against your personal injury case. If you have health insurance, your insurance company may issue a lien to recover any money it spends on your personal injury accident treatment. You may be required to pay back such medical expenses to the insurer.
Q: Should I go to the doctor?
A: Yes! Your health is the most important thing of all. We care about you and want you to get the treatment that you need. In addition, the opposing party is much more likely to be held responsible for compensating you for injuries that are documented. In other words, ambulances, hospital bills, rehabilitation, prescriptions, and other documented costs are used to calculate the value of your case. If you skip out of necessary treatment, you are unlikely to be compensated for it.
Q: Will I be compensated for time I took off work?
A: We will fight to make sure that you are compensated for any missed work or lost future earnings.
Q: What if the other driver doesn't have insurance?
A: That can present a challenge in obtaining compensation for your injuries, but there are still many ways in which we may be able to recover, including uninsured motorist insurance. Uninsured motorist insurance is an additional form of coverage that you can obtain with your vehicle policy. You pay a separate premium for it. In the event of an accident in which the other party does not have insurance or is under-insured, uninsured motorist insurance may protect you.
Q: Will this go to trial?
A: Statistically speaking, very few of these cases (less than 2%) go to trial. However, every case is different, so your case could be more or less likely to go to trial.
Q: Will I have to pay you if we can't settle with the other party?
A: Generally speaking, no. But make sure to pay attention to the specific language of the retainer agreement, as it will specify who is paying the costs.