How will I be compensated?
You are entitled to be made “whole” by the insurance company. That means the insurance company is responsible, to the best of its ability, for putting you back to where you were before the accident happened. That includes 1) paying for the your property damage, and also 2)compensating you for your injury. Most insurance policis have separate allotments for the property damage portion of the claim and for the injury portion of the claim.
As it relates to property damage, you are entitled to have your car repaired, or if the vehicle has been declared a total loss, you are entitled to the actual cash value of your vehicle. You may also be entitled to the “diminished value” of your vehicle if it is repairable. Diminished value is the resale value your car loses after your car has been in an accident. Last but not least you’re entitled to a rental car while your car is in the shop, or for the amount of time it takes for your total loss to be assessed and the check to be issued.
Secondly, if you have been injured in a car accident as a result of someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to have your medical bills paid, )that includes both past and future), any lost wages that you have incurred, and also an amount for pain and suffering. The entire settlement is communicated in one lump sum from which the attorney’s fees are deducted, the medical bills are paid, and the remaining monies are paid to you.
What is my case worth?
No one can put an exact dollar amount on your case, and anyone that guesses as to what your case is worth, is doing just that, “guessing.” Each case is different, as several factors go into the evaluation of a claim. The most important thing to remember is that if you are injured, you should not wait to seek medical treatment as it could potentially hurt your claim in the future.
For example, if you were to get into an accident on July 1st, and you feel pain but you put off going to the doctor to say…August 1st. It’s possible that the insurance company could deduce that your injury is unrelated to the accident, thus they don’t want to pay any monies to settle the claim. Of course every situation is different, but that’s just an example of the importance of seeking treatment immediately after your accident if you were injured.
Will I have to go to court?
It’s a possibility. Most claims are settled out of court, however, cases normally go to trial for two reasons. Damages, a dispute in liability, or both. If you’ve been in an accident and the insurance company has accepted liability, meaning that they agree that their insured driver was responsible, it’s possible that you may not agree with them on the amount they offer to settle your case. If you and I discuss the settlement offer from the insurance company, I will give you my opinion of what our chances would be in obtaining a more favorable award if the case was to proceed to trial.
In other instances, there may be a dispute in liability. This means that the insurance company feels that their insured wasn’t even responsible for the accident or that you may have been a contributing cause of the accident. Again, in this situation you and I would discuss the chances of us prevailing at trial, and we would make the decision on the next course of action to take.
What is pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering falls under the non-economic damages portion of any claim. What I mean when I say non-economic, is that pain and suffering is not loss wages and its not payment for medical bills, but compensation for the mental anguish and/or physical pain that the plaintiff has endured. The amount that is given for pain and suffering depends on several things which include, the severity of the injury, the type of medical treatment received, the length of recovery time, and any long term consequences of the injuries that were sustained.
Say for example, you were in an accident and you immediately went to the emergency room and had a follow-up visit with your primary care physician, and that was the only medical care that you received. On the other hand, say someone else was in an accident, and they had to be transported to the hospital by ambulance, missed a few weeks from work, and required several weeks of follow-up care for their injuries to be resolved. The insurance company would most likely award more in pain and suffering in the case in which the individual required more time and treatment to heal from their injury.
Will I sue the insurance company?
A common misconception is that when you go to court you’re suing an insurance company for your damages. That is the case at times, however, in most instances where you’ve been injured by an individual’s negligence you would be suing the individual, and if that person has insurance, his insurance company will provide him with an attorney to defend him in the lawsuit.
Once we file the lawsuit, we would be required to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and summons. If the case does in fact go to trial, and we obtain a favorable judgment on your behalf, the judgment will most likely be paid by the insurance company.
How much are attorney’s fees?
In personal injury cases, attorney’s fees are on a contingent basis. This means that any fee I receive is contingent on me negotiating a settlement for your case. Attorney’s fees for personal injury claims cases are 33 and 1/3% of the total recovery of the case. If there is no recovery, no attorney fee is assessed. Costs are not included in the attorney’s fees, and are normally also deducted at the conclusion of the case. Our office will normally pay the costs for the case upfront, which would include costs to get medical bills and medical records, and get reimbursed for those costs once the case is finalized. Additionally, if our firm has to file a lawsuit on your case, the attorney’s fees increases to 40 percent, of course that excludes costs.