Question: Do I need a lawyer?
Answer: No matter what kind of accident you have been involved in, you should get a competent legal opinion on your rights and responsibilities that were affected by the accident. Legal rights are affected by any accident and it is in your best interest to have a knowledgeable attorney review the facts of your case before deciding what course of action to pursue. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case and tell you what to expect. The attorney can evaluate your case and tell you what to expect. The attorney can recommend appropriate medical treatment, negotiate a replacement automobile, negotiate to have your automobile repaired, and negotiate a fail and full settlement with the insurance company that takes into account all of our damages, including your pain and suffering. The other option is to attempt to negotiate you against the battery of lawyers and claims adjusters employed by the insurance company. Who get paid, praised, and promoted for keeping their sides costs down. Who know the business and know what to look for that might be hidden, waiting to be discovered only after the settlement check has been cashed and your rights to a full and fair compensation for your injuries, to yourself and your care, are irretrievably thrown away.
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Question: What will this cost me?
Answer: Using an experienced attorney can actually increase the amount of money you will be paid to compensate for the accident, so that even after the attorney’s fee is paid you will have more money in your pocket than if you attempted to represent yourself. An experienced trial attorney knows what you are entitled to receive as compensation. He or she knows all that you should receive to put you back in the position you were in immediately before the accident, and the insurance companies know this. Having an experienced trial attorney on your side, representing only you, tells the insurance company that you are serious about protecting your rights. They know better than to try a low-ball offer, misrepresent their obligations or tell you to get back to your life with as few delays as possible and with a settlement that fairly compensates you for the accident.
Question: What is the contingency fee?
Answer: A contingency fee has been called "the poor man’s key" to the courthouse. You agree to pay a percentage of the amount your attorney obtains for you in exchange for the legal representation and expertise of the attorney. The fee is paid from the proceeds of the settlement, so you do not have to pay any money out of your own pocket to get aggressive protection for your rights. If there is no recovery, there is no fee.
Question: Will I have to sue?
Answer: Sometimes a lawsuit is the only option when the insurance company offers an unfair settlement amount. It is then necessary to sue to protect your rights to full and fair compensation. An experienced trial attorney can calculate the value of your case so you will know whether the offer from the insurance company is adequate or not.
Question: Isn’t it better to take the insurance company’s settlement offer instead of risking a trial where I might lose and get nothing?
Answer: Your attorney can advise you, but it is your claim and your injury, so you have to make the final decision of whether to settle or go to trial. Your attorney’s experience can guide you in making your decision. He or she knows the chances of success at trial and how far below a full and adequate settlement the insurance offer is.
Question: What can I expect to get from the insurance company?
Answer: You are entitled to ‘be made whole,’ which is legal language for your right to be put back in the same position after the settlement as you were in immediately before the accident. Some process of making you whole is easily calculated and other aspects are more difficult.
Question: What will I get for my car?
Answer: You will get the amount of money necessary to repair your car to the condition it was in immediately before the accident. At times the amount of money necessary for repairs exceeds the value of the car, in which case the insurance company may opt to declare the car as total loss. You would then be offered the amount the car was worth, based on industry price-setting guides (like Kelly Blue Book), and the car would not be repaired.
Question: What will I get for my injuries?
Answer: You are offered to be fully compensated for your injuries. The amount necessary to compensate you fully obviously causes the most problems in arriving at a settlement figure acceptable to both sides. There is usually little argument over the compensation for time missed from work and lost wages, doctor and hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, and transportation to and from the doctor and therapists. You will have receipts for these expenses. The controversy arises when you attempt to put a dollar value on the more intangible injuries you have suffered, such as loss of consortium, loss of sexual capacity or desire, emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and loss of future enjoyment of life.
Question: What is loss of consortium?
Answer: Your husband or wife has a right to your company that has been damaged by the accident. Based on the time spent in the hospital or disabled, your husband or wife is entitled to recover from the person causing the accident for the loss of your companionship.
Question: You can put a value on the loss of sex?
Answer: Yes. If the accident has disrupted your sex life, the person who is responsible for the accident should pay for what he or she caused. It is your right to enjoy your sex life without interference.
Question: What is emotional distress?
Answer: An accident is a traumatic event that causes emotional distress to those involved. Obviously not every fender-bender causes distress in the persons affected, but major accidents can well cause severe emotional distress. It is a serious problem in some accidents.
Question: How do you know what pain and suffering is worth?
Answer: Finding an acceptable amount for you pain and suffering requires experience with many similar cases. Pain and suffering awards are necessarily subjective and usually are based on similar cases, so the attorney’s knowledge of the community and insurance companies is most important here.
Question: What is loss of future earnings?
Answer: If you have been seriously injured you may not be able to resume the same type of work you did previously or be able to work as hard or as long. Since your decreased ability to work was the result of the accident the person who caused the accident should compensate you for your loss in earning potential. In the same way, you have a right to be compensated for any decrease in your ability to enjoy the things you did before the accident that are now not possible for you (loss of future enjoyment of life).
Question: How do I know how much money I should get?
Answer: Insurance companies count on you not knowing the true value of your claim. They try to tell you what it is worth and settle with you before an experienced attorney reviews the facts of the case. Your attorney reviews the facts of the case. Your attorney knows how much money will be necessary to fully compensate you for your injuries, and the insurance companies know that. Talk with your attorney so that you will know how much is fair in your case.