Regardless of the type of accident, there are some standard questions that most clients ask when discussing a potential case. Having a solid understanding of legal options and reasonable expectations in an injury case is a benefit to both client and attorney. Here are the most commonly asked questions in an injury case.
How much is my case worth?
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. There is no minimum or maximum amount when it comes to injury settlements. Every case is different in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Assuming that the liability issue is straightforward, the monetary value of a claim is based on five areas. These areas include:
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. Determining the overall worth of your personal injury claim will depend on the severity of your injuries, the details of the case, insurance limits and the identity of the defendant.
Should I file a lawsuit or settle my case
Each case is different and should be properly evaluated. By talking to an experienced attorney and reviewing the facts of your case, you will be able to determine the best method of recourse for your situation. In many cases, the insurance provider will prefer to pay a settlement amount in return for your agreement not to pursue a lawsuit in court. It saves them the costs of defending the case in court. The insurer may offer an early settlement, which may not fully compensate you, as he or she may still be unaware of the extent and future costs of their injuries. In any case, it is important that you not sign anything until you speak to an attorney who can ensure your rights are protected. If you sign a release, you will not be able to recover future damages.
How soon should I file a lawsuit?
After a car accident, slip & fall (premises liability) accident, or other type of personal injury case, you have the legal right to pursue compensation for your injuries and losses through the court system. You should speak with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible following your accident. Injury victims only have a short period of time to file a claim. Failure to file within this time period, known as the statute of limitations, can bar you from ever recovering compensation for your injuries.
What are "damages"?
In personal injury parlance, 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.
Are my medical bills paid in an injury settlement?
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 is that your health insurance provider may have a lien on part of your settlement. Almost all health plans allow for the insurance company to collect what they paid, or a portion of it, from any settlement award.
How do I pay my attorney?
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. Your lawyer will collect a percentage that was agreed-upon in the initial fee agreement you signed. Typically, this percentage is 33 percent of the settlement amount, but fee agreements can spell out lower percentages.
How long will my claim take?
Much like determining the amount your case is worth, determining how long it will take varies by case and individual factors. A personal injury claim may settle in a few months without the need for a trial, or can take years if a lawsuit is filed.
If a lawsuit is filed, you will likely be deposed.
Some questions that may be asked during a deposition may include the following:
An attorney can help prepare you for a deposition by asking you questions that may be asked during the deposition and discussing your relevant medical records and past medical history.
If you have been injured and have questions about your options, call our offices for a free consulation. At LeBell, Dobroski, Morgan & Meylink, we have more than 40 years experience protecting the rights of our clients and succesfully getting them the money they deserve. Learn more about our firm and our history at LDM-Law.com or call us at 414 276 1233.