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Answers To Commonly Asked Personal Injury Questions

Q. I was in an accident and intend to make a claim. How soon should I see a lawyer?

A. Accident victims should get legal help as soon as possible. One reason for this is there are time limits for making claims. If you wait too long and the deadline passes, you won’t be able to make your claim — which means you will have lost the chance to obtain money you otherwise might have received.

Another reason why it’s vital to get legal help quickly is that delay can hurt your case. As time passes, witnesses’ memories fade, evidence gets harder to find and people move. So seeking legal help faster can help your lawyer prepare the strongest case so you get the maximum recovery.

Q. I was in an accident. How do I know if I have a good case?

A. There are several factors to look at when evaluating the strength of an accident victim’s claim. They include:

• Fault. For you to recover compensation, generally a person or business must have done something wrong or failed to do something. In most states, you can still make a claim even if you are partly at fault for the accident.

• Damages. To receive money, you must suffer damage. This can cover many things, like medical bills and lost wages.

• Can you collect? Before making a claim, you will want to make sure there’s a source for recovering your damages, such as the other party or an insurance company.

• Is your claim timely? As noted above, the law requires accident victims to make their claim within a certain period of time after the accident. Waiting too long can cause you to lose an otherwise valid claim.

Q. I was in an accident but I’m not the type of person who likes to sue other people. If I make a claim, will there be a lawsuit?

A. Most personal injury claims don’t become lawsuits. In most cases, a claim is filed with an insurance company. Your lawyer negotiates with the insurance adjuster to get you the best settlement offer. The vast majority of personal injury claims are resolved this way, by a settlement. Rarely is there an actual lawsuit and trial.

Q. If I make a claim, how long will my case take?

A. The answer depends on many things, including the nature of your injuries and the other side’s willingness to resolve the matter. Many claims are resolved quickly, while others — sometimes because the extent of the person’s damages are not known for a while — take longer. Every effort will be made to resolve your claim quickly, with the goal being to obtain the maximum compensation for you.

Q. Do I need a lawyer ‘s help after my accident?

A. After almost any type of accident, you should contact a lawyer. You have important legal rights and responsibilities, and a lawyer can explain them to you. A lawyer can also evaluate your claim and tell you how much money you may be entitled to receive.

You also need a lawyer’s help dealing with insurance companies. After an accident an insurance adjuster will likely try to convince you that you don’t need a lawyer or that a lawyer won’t help you get more money. But remember that the adjuster works for the insurance company, not you. Only your lawyer is truly fighting to get you the maximum recovery.

Q. I was hurt in an accident and the other side told me to go see their doctor. I would rather be treated by my own doctor. Can I do this?

A. Yes. Accident victims have the right to choose their own doctor. Don’t let the other side or an insurance company pressure you to see their doctor. Choose the doctor you think is best for you.

Q. I was hurt in an accident and want to make a claim, but I’m concerned about legal fees. How will I be charged?

A. Most personal injury claims are handled on a contingent fee basis. This means there’s no fee unless there is a recovery (there may, however, be court and other costs). The fee is a portion of the recovery. Because of contingent fee arrangements, people who have been in an accident can make claims against big businesses and insurance companies even if they could not afford to do so for other matters.

Q. How can I protect myself against uninsured drivers?

A. The best protection is to carry the maximum amount of uninsured motorist insurance. This lets you collect money from your own insurance company in the event you’re in an accident with an uninsured or hit-and-run driver. You should also carry underinsured motorist insurance. This pays you benefits if the other driver does not have enough insurance to pay for all your injuries and losses.

Q. My accident occurred a fairly long time ago. Can I still make a claim?

A. Your claim might be barred by the “statute of limitations.” This is the time limit to start a lawsuit against the person or business liable for your injuries and losses. Statutes of limitations have exceptions, so you should consult your lawyer. There may still be time to make a claim.

Q. I was in an accident. What are my legal rights?

A. Accident victims have many rights. Generally, you have a right to receive fair compensation for your injuries and losses from the party responsible for paying. This includes lost wages, medical expenses, costs to fix or replace damaged property, and compensation for pain and suffering.

You also have many other rights if you are in an accident, including:

• the right to consult your lawyer before answering questions;

• the right to choose your own doctor;

• the right to decide who will fix your car (if it was an auto accident); and

• the right to decide whether to accept settlement offers.

Q. I was a passenger in my friend’s car, and we got in an accident. Can I make a claim to recover damages for my injuries?

A. Passengers injured in car accidents have the right to make a claim. Rules vary from state to state, but generally you can make a claim against the driver of the car you were in (if the accident was his fault), or the other driver (if he caused the accident). If the other driver has no insurance, you may be able to get money from your own insurance company or your driver’s insurance company.

If you are a passenger hurt in an auto accident, your lawyer can tell you about possible sources for recovering damages for your situation.

Q. We have a family member who was killed in a car accident. What are our rights to make a claim?

A. Family members of a person killed in an accident have the legal right to make a claim. This is called a “wrongful death” action. Rules about the types of damages family members can recover vary from state to state. Some states let family members recover for grief caused by the death, while others allow recovery for income lost due to the death. Still other states prohibit recovery for grief, but allow it for lost companionship and support.

Wrongful death actions can usually be brought by immediate family members or representatives of the deceased. People who lost a loved one in an accident should seek legal help to determine their rights.

Q. I was in an auto accident. Can any lawyer help with my insurance claim?

A. Though lawyers can handle different kinds of cases, after a car accident, it’s usually best if your claim is handled by lawyers experienced in personal injury claims, such as our office. Accident claims are complex, and a lawyer’s training, skills, experience and resources can pay off for you in the form of a higher financial recovery. Personal injury lawyers who have successfully handled many accident cases are often the best suited to handle complicated issues, tough negotiations with insurance companies and, when necessary, trial of your case.

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Our Practice Focus
Injured hospital patient

Personal Injury

When you have been injured because of the carelessness or negligence of another person, you want an experienced and aggressive lawyer to ensure that your rights are protected.
Doctor & patient

Medical Malpractice

When you seek medical attention, you anticipate that at a minimum your condition won’t worsen because of the carelessness or negligence of physicians, nurses or other medical personnel.
Co-workers in building lobby

Workers’ Comp

In most instances, in the aftermath of a work-related injury you have the right to seek monetary benefits under state workers’ compensation laws, so that you can recover lost wages and medical expenses.

Family Law & Divorce

We understand that family law matters can be highly emotional, and that different solutions work for different clients.

Many people have the idea that when we file a lawsuit, we are suing the person. We are not. We are suing the insurance company that the person has been paying to protect them against a loss like this. The insurance company that this person has been paying for quite some time.

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