Why Hire an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?
Should I Even Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?
One of my closest friends made a comment to me the other day. I should let you know that she used to be an insurance adjuster. I know, an odd match of friends. She is now a teacher and I don’t hold her previous career against her. Well, not that much anyway.
A while back, we were at our local rock climbing gym and she commented “Why would anyone hire a lawyer after a car accident?” I am sure you can imagine my reaction. She is one of my closest friends and thinks this? I was shocked at her comment. But, it was a wake-up call to me that other nice, reasonable people might have this same thought.
Based upon her comment to me, I thought I would start the FAQs addressing this question. Why not forgo hiring a lawyer and make a DIY project for yourself?
While this may seem like an easy option, I often get calls from frazzled individuals who are at the end of their rope in dealing with the insurance company adjuster on their own. Common complaints are: that the adjuster never returns their phone calls or emails or that they can’t get the adjuster to offer anything reasonable to resolve their claim.
The great part of hiring a lawyer for your personal injury case is that you don’t have to deal with the insurance company. You put all of the work and stress on to myself and my staff.
FACT: People who Hire Attorneys get More Money in their Pocket, even when you factor in Attorney’s Fees.
Studies by the insurance industry have shown that people who hire personal injury lawyers get more money than people who don’t hire a lawyer. This is even after factoring in attorney’s fees and costs. Why? Because it is the insurance adjuster’s job to offer you the lowest amount possible. It’s your lawyer’s job to get you the most amount possible. When you hire a personal injury lawyer it is a win-win.
Should I Just Wait to See if I Even Need to Hire a Lawyer?
A lot of intelligent people make this mistake. I understand, you feel that you are smart and savy and can handle an insurance adjuster. But, there is one problem when you call my office months after your accident. If you wait to get medical treatment, the insurance company will argue that you weren’t really injured in the accident. Then I can no longer help you and you have made an irrevocable mistake.
The Insurance Adjuster Just Called me and Offered a Quick Settlement, Should I Take It?
Unless the adjuster is offering you policy limits and is providing proof to you of the policy limits, then I do not recommend that you accept the insurance adjuster’s offer. If they are not offering you policy limits immediately after the accident, then it may be better to consult with a personal injury attorney to evaluate your options.
There is no cost to you to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer. So, why not just know what your options are? At least you will walk away with more information in your pocket.
What is Small Claims Court?
There are times when I tell the caller, that given the facts of their case, hiring a lawyer wouldn’t be worth it. An example is when they only went to the doctor once and have only one medical bill to deal with. In that situation, you can file a claim in Small Claims Court on your own. They have easy to follow online forms and it is designed for people to use without lawyers.
What if I am Not Injured, but my Car is Damaged?
If you are not injured, we unfortunately do not handle property damage only claims.
Is there an Up Front Fee in Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer? How Much Will it Cost Me?
This is an easy question to answer: it won’t cost you a dime.
Do you Offer Free Personal Injury Initial Consultations?
Yes, all initial consultations are provided at no cost to you. If I believe that I may be able to help you in your case, then I will take your case on, with a Contingency fee agreement.
What is a Contingency Fee Agreement?
A Contingency Fee agreement, is an agreement that you pay nothing out of pocket for my services. Instead, I only get paid if I am able to successfully resolve your case. My fees and costs come out of any settlement I am able to achieve for you.
What is the Value of my Case? What is My Case Worth?
When you come into my office, I will be completely honest with you. I will never promise you something I cannot deliver. Read my reviews. Happy clients = a successful personal injury lawyer. The value of your case depends on a number of factors.
One major factor is scope and extent of your medical treatment. For example, if you went to the hospital via ambulance immediately after the accident, that will affect the value of your case. Also, the nature of your injuries is a huge factor, When someone suffers a loss of a limb, permanent scarring or requires surgery, these factors affect the value of the case.
How Much Money Will I Get?
This question is really related to the previous question. This is the million dollar question (pun intended). Most people aren’t seeking to become rich after their personal injury claim. All they really want is their car fixed and their medical bills paid, anything extra is a bonus. I will only know how much money you will get during the “wrap up” phase of your case.
First Meeting With Nadia
Can I Speak with Nadia on the Telephone Before I Meet with Her?
I only handle personal injury cases. If you have a personal injury case, myself or a member of my team will have brief a telephone conference with you, to make sure that you have the type of case that I can handle.
For example, if you are calling about a landlord-tenant matter, breach of contract or other non-personal injury matter, you will be referred out to a legal practitioner who may be able to assist you. Sometimes a referral is not always possible, but we will try our best to connect you with the best lawyer for your case.
I know that your time is valuable and I don’t want to waste it by having you drive to my office, only to tell you that I do not handle your specific case.
What Should I Expect at my First In-Person Meeting with Attorney Nadia to Talk About my Personal Injury Case?
Your first meeting with me will be your opportunity to have all of your questions answered. I will explain the entire process with you, so you know what to expect. Your initial consultation will usually take about an hour.
I will personally go over the facts of the accident with you and your injuries. I will discuss your medical treatment options and what to expect at the end of your case. If it was a car accident, I will discuss the damage to your car, as well as the inspection, repair and car rental process. For more on the car repair process, see the car section below.
What Should I Bring with Me to my Initial Meeting with Attorney Nadia?
When you first meet with me, it is important to bring all accident related documents with you to the appointment. This allows me to fully evaluate your case. To make the meeting as productive as possible, bring the following items with you when you meet with me:
- Police or Incident Report Information Sheet
- Photos of the Accident Scene and Vehicles (if applicable)
- Witness Contact Information
- Hospital or Quick Care Discharge Paperwork
- Driver’s License and Health Insurance Card
- Car Insurance Information
- At Fault Driver’s Insurance Information
- Claim Number, if a Claim Has Already Been Opened
- Any Other Paperwork you Have Related to the Accident
Why is My Insurance Involved?
What Happens if the At Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If you are victim of a hit and run or the at fault driver doesn’t have car insurance, then I will explore with you if you have coverage to protect you in the accident.
I Thought I Had Full Coverage?!
There are two types of coverage on your car insurance: car and body protection. The first is the coverage that protects your car, from property damage. Let’s say someone hits your car while it is parked. Car coverage also protects you if you cause an accident, making your liability coverage kick in.
The other type of coverage is for your body. Unfortunately, most people don’t have this type of coverage. They are surprised about this after an accident, because they thought they had “Full coverage”. This is where Underinsured (UIM) and Medical Payments Coverage comes into play.
What Is Underinsured Motorist (“UIM”) Coverage and Why Do I Need It?
Because UIM Coverage is so important, we have an entire page dedicated to this issue. But, basically, if you have liability coverage you are protecting everyone on the road, except you and your loved ones! UIM protects you and the people in your car after a car accident.
What is Medical Payments Coverage?
Medical Payments Coverage is an additional coverage after you have been in a car accident. If you were injured in a car accident and have medical bills, your Medical Payments Coverage will pay those medical bills.
Will My Insurance Go Up if I Make a Car Accident Claim?
As long as you were not at fault for causing the car accident, then your insurance rates will stay the same if you make a claim.
Should I Talk to the Insurance Adjuster?
I never recommend that you speak to any insurance adjuster regarding your personal injuries. Insurance companies like to record telephone conversations.
Once you hire a personal injury attorney, you should let your lawyer deal with the insurance company.
How Soon After a Car Accident Should I go to the Doctor?
If you are in pain, you should go to the doctor immediately. The longer you wait, the more likely the insurance company will argue that you weren’t really injured in the accident, otherwise they argue, you would have sought medical treatment sooner.
Should I Just See my Primary Care Doctor for my Injuries?
Depending on your injuries and facts of your case, I may recommend that you see a specialist, who has experience in treating accident and trauma cases. This is something that can be discussed in more detail, when you come into the office for your initial free consultation.
Preserving and Documenting Evidence
Is There Any Evidence I Should Preserve?
Always take photos of the accident scene. In motor vehicle accidents take pictures of the damage to your car, truck or motorcycle.
Are there any Special Considerations in Slip and Falls?
In slip and falls cases, you should keep the shoes you were wearing at the time of the fall.
Also, if you were wearing any clothing that got wet or had the spill on them, take a photo of your clothing.
How Should I Document My Injuries?
If you were bruised or cut in any way as a result of your injures, then take photos of those observable injuries.
Health Insurance Considerations
How Does Health Insurance Affect my Personal Injury Case?
If you treat with health insurance for the injuries you sustained in the accident, then your health insurance company will want to get paid for any accident related treatment it paid.
Car Damage and Rental Cars
Who is Going to Pay to Fix my Car?
In car accidents, one of the first things I will go over with you, is the extent of the damage to your car. Typically, within 2-3 days from the insurance claim being opened, the at fault party’s insurance company will assign a field or property damage adjuster to come out and take a look at your car. If they have accepted liability on your case, they will prepare an estimate of the amount of damages to your car and approve the repairs.
Will I have to Pay my Deductible to Fix my Car?
If the at fault party’s insurance company accepts liability and approves the repairs to your car, then you will not have to pay your deductible.
However, if the opposing adjuster refuses to fix your car in a timely manner, we can go through your insurance company to fix your car. Once you pay your deductible, your insurance company will attempt to get your deductible back for you. It usually takes a few months for your insurance company to get your deductible back.
When Will I Get a Rental Car?
In a clear liability rear-end car accident, insurance companies are usually good at approving a rental car. I say “usually” because some insurance companies like to drag their feet when it comes to approving a rental car.
If the at fault driver’s insurance company isn’t approving the car repairs, or a car rental in a timely manner, then we will contact your insurance company to see if you have rental car coverage.
Do I Have to Pay Anything to Get a Rental Car?
When we get the insurance company to approve the rental car, you will not have to pay for it. However, sometimes the rental car company will want you to put a fully refundable deposit down via debit or credit card before you giving you the car.
Also, they may want your insurance information, in case you are in an accident in their rental. You don’t want to pay for the rental car company’s insurance, since they charge a high daily rate for that coverage.
Are there any Attorney’s Fees Involved in Property Damage Part of my Case?
Our services regarding property damage and car rental are complimentary. We want to make sure that you can focus on getting better. We only take a fee out of the personal injury portion of your claim and provide all car related representation at no cost to you.
When Do I Have to Give My Rental Car Back after a Car Accident?
We will negotiate with the insurance company to make sure that you have the rental car while your car is being fixed.
Total Loss After a Car Accident
What is a Total Loss?
A total loss means that it would cost more to fix your car, than the actual value of your car. When this happens, the insurance company will pay you for the value of your car.
What if my Car is a Total Loss?
If your car is deemed to be a total loss, you will have to turn over the car keys and title to your car.
What if I Owe More on my Car than it is Worth?
The insurance company is only obligated to pay the value of your car, not what you owe on the car. So, if you have a brand new car and paid $20,000 for it, but it is only worth $18,000, the insurance company is only required to pay the car’s value.
What is GAP Insurance?
When buying a new car, GAP insurance is important, as it pays the “gap” between what your car is worth versus how much you owe it. GAP insurance is the only way to solve this issue.
What if my Car is a Total Loss and I have a Loan on it?
If your car has a loan, then the insurance company will pay the loan company directly, for the amount owed on the car. If there is anything extra, it will go to directly to you.
If my Car is Deemed to be a Total Loss can I Still Keep it?
If your car is deemed a total loss but you still want to keep the car, we can talk to the insurance company for you. You will have “salvage title” on your car. Salvage title can be done once it a car’s lifetime. So, as long as your car has never had salvage title before, you can keep your after a car accident, even if it has been determined to be a total loss.
Time to Close out your Personal Injury Case
How Long Does it Take to Finish my Personal Injury Case?
Your personal injury case cannot resolve until you are done with your medical treatment or have reached a stable status.
How Long Does it Take to Complete my Case Once I have Done Treating?
Once you are done treating, it usually takes about 3 months to wrap up your case. After you let us know that you are done treating, we will request all of your medical and billing records. When we have them, we will prepare your Settlement Demand Package and send it to the insurance company.
We will then negotiate with the insurance company, to settle your case. If we agree on a settlement, then we will pay your medical bills and prepare a full accounting of the settlement proceeds.
Can the Insurance Company Pay My Attorney’s Fees in addition to my Medical Bills and Pain and Suffering?
All settlements are global in nature. This means that the insurance company will not pay for your attorney’s fees in addition to any other settlement.
Will Worker’s Compensation have to be Notified of my Personal Injury Claim?
If you were injured through the negligence of a third party while working, worker’s compensation will have to be notified. They will also want to be paid back for any accident related treatment they provided.
Will I have to Treat with Worker’s Compensation Doctors?
Yes, you will have to see worker’s compensation doctors.
How Does Worker’s Compensation Affect my Personal Injury Claim?
Your case will have two components, a personal injury part and a worker’s compensation component. I am not a worker’s compensation attorney and do not handle worker’s compensation issues. We can discuss whether you need to hire a worker’s compensation attorney to deal with that part of your case.
Do I Have to Pay Taxes on My Personal Injury Settlement?
In most personal injury settlements, you do not have to pay taxes on the settlement proceeds. The only exception to this, is if you are specifically awarded monies for lost wages, by a jury or judge. At the end of your case, if I believe that you may have to pay taxes on your settlement, I will talk to you about it.
What Happens if I am in Bankruptcy and Have a Personal Injury Settlement?
If you are in an active bankruptcy, you must tell me during our initial consultation. Since bankruptcy is a federal issue, I must comply with the federal laws and report your personal injury claim to your bankruptcy trustee.
Although it changes with inflation, at the time of this writing, the current bankruptcy exemption amount is $16,150. What does this mean? If a settlement is reached, and the net proceeds to you would be $20,000, you would only receive the $16,150 amount. The remainder would go to the bankruptcy trustee to pay off your debts.
Does the Bankruptcy Court have to Approved the Settlement?
Yes, the bankruptcy court has to approve any settlement. That means the bankruptcy judge has to approve the payment of your medical bills, attorney’s fees, costs and net proceeds to you.
Still Have Questions?
Call Nadia for your free personal injury consultation. 702.385.1600