Frequently Asked Questions for Personal Injury Cases
Personal Injuries can be scary. It’s important to ask questions, a lot of questions, to make sure you understand your rights. Here are some frequently asked questions that may help you gain more understanding about your situation.
When should I hire a lawyer?
Right away. Valuable evidence can be lost if no one takes the necessary steps to preserve it. Witnesses can become difficult to locate as time passes, and memories can fade. Evidence and witness statements need to be preserved as soon as possible. Since there is no upfront cost or fee, you should not wait to call me.
I was injured, what should I do to protect my rights and my claim?
The only thing you can do to be certain that you are taking the steps necessary to protect your rights and your claim is to hire an attorney. You should refuse the insurance company’s request that you give a statement, and you should decline its request that you sign authorization forms which permit them to contact your medical providers.
Can we settle without having to file a lawsuit?
It is always my priority to settle a claim without having to file a lawsuit. That is because most clients want a fast result, and filing a lawsuit slows the process. However, for most cases there is only two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit so please call right away so that I can begin to get to work on your claim.
Can we settle out of court without going to trial?
Yes, not only can we settle out of court, but it is very likely. The vast majority of cases do settle out of court. But they only settle out of court in our favor when we fully prepare the case and make it clear to the insurance company that we will go to trial if the insurance company refuses to reach a fair settlement.
How can you help me?
Your case is as unique as you are. I can help you by identifying exactly what you need to preserve and protect your rights to get the result you deserve. How can I do that? When you call you talk to me. You don’t talk to a paralegal or a case screener. You don’t have to audition in the hopes that I will talk to you like at other law offices. I may not take your case, but I will take your call.
What does it cost to hire you?
I only take cases on a contingency basis. This means that you owe no fee unless I recover money for you. There is no upfront cost at all.
Do you provide a free consultation?
Yes I do. It is always my pleasure and privilege to discuss your case with you and to share with you my opinion, all at no cost to you. There is no risk and no commitment so you should call right now.
What should I expect from my lawyer?
You should expect to be treated like the most important client that lawyer has. You should expect to speak to your attorney when you call, rather than a paralegal or secretary. Paralegals and secretaries are incredibly valuable and deserving of your complete respect and appreciation. However, you are hiring a lawyer. When you call, you should expect to be able to speak to your lawyer. When you have questions, you should expect to have your questions answered by your lawyer.
How much is my claim worth?
If a lawyer tells you what your claim is worth, that lawyer is being less than forthright with you. That is because there are so many factors that affect what your claim is worth that a lawyer cannot possibly give you an honest answer. Some of the factors that need to be considered are (1) the amount of your medical bills, (2) the nature, extent, and permanency of your injury, (3) the likelihood of the need for future medical treatment, (4) the amount of medical treatment you have received – including the number of medical visits and the length of time from the injury until your release from medical care, (5) the amount of income you lost and whether your injury will affect your ability to earn money in the future, (6) how the facts of the incident that caused your injury will be viewed by the jury, and so on. A lawyer cannot carefully consider and evaluate all these factors in the context of an initial consultation or telephone call. If a lawyer does tell you what your claim is worth, you should consider whether that lawyer is more interested in your business than your best interests. To each person who asks me what their claim is worth, I tell them that it is worth my undivided attention.
Do I really need a lawyer?
Yes. Your claim will be handled by an experienced claims adjuster whose goal is to get you to accept the smallest settlement possible or to convince you that you are entitled to nothing. The insurance company has no legal obligation to look out for your interests, protect your rights, or treat you fairly. The insurance company’s priority it to look out for itself and protect its bottom line.
A settlement is about more than what the insurance company is willing to pay. You may have unpaid medical bills that need to be paid. Your auto or health insurer may have paid for your medical treatment and has certain reimbursement rights under Indiana law. You may need additional care at some point in the future. You should not trust that the insurance company is considering all these factors when it makes a settlement offer, and beware, you may be personally responsible for resolving these issues yourself if you accept a settlement.
A client once called me to ask if he should accept the settlement the insurance company was offering. The amount sounded good, but he didn’t know that he was responsible for reimbursing his health insurer for his medical bills, and the claims adjuster didn’t mention that to him. If he had accepted the offer, he would have walked away with nothing because his health insurer would have been entitled to the entire settlement amount.
Another client had been trying to settle with the insurance company herself. Even though she had been done with her medical treatment for 18 months, the insurance company told her it was still collecting a few remaining medical records to evaluate her claim. I filed suit and immediately asked the insurance company what additional medical records it needed. The insurance company’s reply? It already had all the medical records and was prepared to discuss settlement. We were able to settle the case within 60 days of the client’s first call to me.
What damages am I entitled to recover?
Recoverable damages can vary from one case to the next, but generally recoverable damages include medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity (sometimes called future lost wages), pain and suffering, loss of time, and value of ongoing physical impairment.