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Questions and Answers About Your Personal Injury Case

The purpose of this article is to inform you about personal injury law and to explain how the different parties involved will handle your case. A thorough understanding of the details of your personal injury case and the medical expenses you've incurred can help promote a fair and adequate settlement offer.

What's the most important thing to do after my injury?

The most important thing for car accident victims to do is to prioritize their well-being. The law requires injured people to mitigate their damages. In other words, the law requires you to do that which is necessary to improve your physical condition and recover from your injury.

You may feel fine at the time of the accident or in the moments afterward. However, it will be in your best interest to seek immediate medical care, regardless of the extent of your injuries. Doing so will ensure that you get on the road to improving your health. It also establishes a paper trail, documenting the progression of your injury, which is generally helpful in a personal injury case.

How will a personal injury lawyer handle my case?

After initial meetings with you, your lawyer will investigate your claim. This may involve your lawyer getting expert testimony from a relevant source like a doctor or other medical professional, but it often requires a review of some or all of the following:

  • Witness statements
  • Police reports
  • A possible visit to the scene of the auto accident
  • A review of appropriate laws
  • A review of all medical reports
  • All other evidence that points to the at-fault driver such as photos, documents, first response records, etc.

What is a contingent fee agreement?

In almost all personal injury cases, such as after a car crash, your attorney will be paid by keeping a percentage of the final settlement or court award resulting from your case. The percentage will be discussed with you and will be the subject of what is called a contingent fee agreement. For your protection and that of your car accident attorney, the law requires a written contract that specifies the fee they will charge so there will be no misunderstanding about how much your car accident claim will cost.

It is worth noting that state laws often ensure that the fee or contingency rate in a case is negotiable between the client and the attorney and isn't set in stone. It's uncommon for personal injury attorneys to request any money upfront and/or out of pocket, especially in car accident cases.

How can I convince the insurance company that my claim is valid?

As stated above, the most important thing you can do to convince your own auto insurance and the other driver's insurance company that your claim is valid is to prioritize your health through medical treatment, and to document all activities relevant to your case. 

Insurance company personnel tend to believe those people who actively try to recover from their injuries. Also, insurance carriers find people more credible when they can document their injuries through medical bills, credible medical records, and accurate lost wage information that is neither exaggerated nor subject to dispute and interpretation.

When will my case settle?

It is impossible in the early stages of a personal injury claim to predict when that particular claim will settle. Some motor vehicle cases settle in a matter of months, while others can take years to get to a settlement or to trial.

The time span of a case depends on various factors, such as the complexity of the accident and resulting injuries, the quality of the evidence, the bargaining position of each party, the medical costs incurred, and the skill of the car accident lawyers involved.

How much is my case worth?

This question is one of the most common and difficult-to-answer questions in a personal injury case, particularly in the case's early stages. It is almost impossible to predict the value of a case until all of the information has been collected and you have recovered, or almost recovered, from your injuries to the most reasonable extent possible.

Many factors will impact the value of a case and the reasons for settling. Some include:

  • The actual amount of all of your past, present, and future medical bills
  • How much income and other employment benefits were lost and may be lost as a result of your injury
  • Whether or not any aspect of your injuries is permanent. This would also include permanent disfigurement — scars, blemishes, etc. — and permanent immobility/incapacity.

How long will it take to get my money?

After an agreement has been reached between the insurance company and you through your lawyer, it usually takes between two to six weeks to complete the settlement process. There may be exceptions to this range, but the average time to sign all documents, receive the check, and figure out the exact proceeds for each party often requires at least a month.

What has to be done before I get the money?

First, the insurance company will require that you and perhaps your spouse sign a release. This is a document that settles your claim. In the release, you will read language stating that you are forever giving up your right to sue the person(s), company, and/or party who was allegedly responsible for your injuries. In exchange for giving up your claim, you will receive a certain sum of money after the insurance company receives the release.

Second, your lawyer will have to pay medical bills/medical liens that have not been paid and may be required to reimburse any insurance company that has covered those expenses.

Third, your lawyer will deduct attorney's fees, out-of-pocket expenses, and other possible costs associated with the claim, such as court filing fees or clerical costs. After all deductions have been made, you will receive the balance in a check processed from your attorney's office.

What would cause my case to go to litigation?

There are several reasons why a case may not settle, including the following:

  • The insurance company believes that you and your lawyer have asked for more money than they are willing to voluntarily pay for the claim
  • There isn't enough evidence to substantiate your claim without a more thorough discovery process in litigation
  • Complexity due to the involvement of multiple parties and various levels of claims between them
  • Liability — who is at fault — is either being denied by the insurance company, or the insurance company believes that you and/or some other party bear some responsibility for your own injuries
  • The insurance company does not believe that you were injured or that you were injured as badly as you claim

Should I get legal advice for my personal injury case?

Yes. Accident and injury lawsuits are often complex, especially when involving the wrongful death of a family member or issues like uninsured motorist coverage. These cases require medical attention for your bodily injuries, expert testimony, and a detailed knowledge of negligence law.

In order to ensure that your case is as well-prepared as possible, it's important to seek out a skilled personal injury attorney from a law office in your area. They can help you recover lost income and hold the at-fault party accountable for your accident injuries.

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