Personal Injury Claim FAQ: Common Personal Injury Claim FAQ
Due to physical injuries and emotional distress and financial worries, a personal injury claim can be dizzying to handle and comprehend. We at Legal Chiefs can connect you with a personal injury attorney, but we have also answered some of the most common questions people have about personal injury claims below.
Q: I Don’t Know if I Have a Case. How Do I Know What To Do Next?
A: All parties injured during an accident have the legal right to financial compensation. However, every case may be different, but in the most common cause, the following need to be determined:
1. Is the other party at fault?
2. Have you been injured?
3. Have you suffered financial loss due to the injury (including wages, medical bills, car repairs, etc)
Answering Yes to these questions means you should qualify for a case.
Q: How Soon After the Accident Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
A: Different states have different rules, but in most of the states, you have two years to file your personal injury claim. However, in some states, this period is only a year (Kentucky, Louisiana, Tennessee) but other states have extended the statute of limitations to 3, 4, and even 6 years (the last one goes to Maine).
The period begins not right after the accident but on the day you learn of your injury. However, it would be best if you kept in mind that a single lawsuit may contain multiple claims that are usually subjected to different deadlines.
Q: Can I Represent Myself, and Do I Really Need an Attorney?
A: Here at Legal Chiefs, we recommend that you always protect your rights in the best way you can. Most attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation in personal injury cases, so you’ve got nothing to lose. That is why our advice is to consult a professional attorney immediately.
The insurance company will call you shortly after the accident to request a statement from you, and in most cases, this statement will be recorded, which means it could be used against you in the future. Also, the company will request you to sign authorizations so they can obtain information about you. Having a lawyer that can prepare you for the statement and determine what the insurance company is and is not entitled to obtain and a review can help your future case.
Q: I Decided to Contact a Lawyer, but I’ve Already Taken Steps Independently. Is It Still Worth It?
A: This is a common thing people do, and a lawyer should be able to step in, appropriately. As stated above, it’s best to have some basic grounding in personal injury, and working on your case with a lawyer from the very start is usually the smartest option. Nevertheless, if you’ve already taken steps independently, you will still stand better chances of a reasonable settlement with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney by your side.
Your lawyer should start gathering information and inform the insurance carriers to direct all communication to their office as soon as they are hired.
Q: Why Did My Insurance Company Say I Didn’t Need a Lawyer?
A: Keep in mind that your interest and the interest of the insurance company are not the same. Insurers do everything possible to provide legal advice designed to benefit not you but them. This is why seeking professional advice from other lawyers with experience is your best possible course of action.
Q: What Is a Contingency Fee?
A: A Contingency Fee is a fee that is agreed upon between you and your lawyer, to be paid after a successful lawsuit or reasonable settlement. Also known as “No fee unless you win,” the contingency fee is paid as a percentage of your monetary recovery.
Q: What Percentage Is the Contingency Fee?
A: Most attorneys take between 33 and 40 percent, but you can always try and negotiate a reduced percentage, especially if you are diagnosed with minor injuries.
Q: What Documents Should I Bring When I First Visit an Attorney?
A: You should bring all the documents in possession related to your injury. A typical example includes:
● Copy of police/incident report
● Copy of your automobile insurance declaration page
● Photographs of your vehicle and injuries
● Copies of medical records
● Correspondence from insurance companies
● Estimates and repair records, including receipts for your vehicle
● Receipts for towing or car rental fees
● Any wage loss information
Q: What Damages Am I Entitled to Recover?
A: Generally, you are entitled to recover money damages for all losses and expenses that have occurred as a result of the incident. Here’s a partial list of common damages:
● Medical bills
● Lost wages (including overtime)
● Pain and suffering
● Physical disability
● Emotional trauma
● Permanent scars
● Mental anguish
● Loss of love and affection
● Loss of enjoyment
● Mental disability
● Property damage
● Pocket expenses (transportation charges, house cleaning, grass cutting, etc)
Q: How Long Does It Take to Settle a Claim?
A: Your case starts as soon as your doctor releases you from treatment. This is the perfect time to contact an attorney, and your claim should be filed with the insurance company between 5 and 10 days. The adjuster may need 2 to 4 weeks to evaluate your claim and make an initial offer. From there, it’s only a matter of negotiation and agreeing on a reasonable dollar amount.
Some cases reach a settlement within a few months, some take years, and some lead to a trial. It depends on the complexity and the specifics of your case.
Q: What Would the Value of My Personal Injury Claim Be?
A: Attorneys are prohibited from promising to obtain a certain amount of money for you, and there is no way of knowing the total amount until all the information on your injuries is available and all the facts are known.
Q: Does Filing a Claim Mean I Have To Sue Someone?
A: Not really, as around 80% of the cases will result in a settlement before involving the courts.
Q: Whom Will I Be Suing If Things Escalate to Filing a Suit?
A: If the party at fault’s insurance company is not making an acceptable offer, the next step is to sue that party. However, you will be rarely involved, and your lawyer will mainly deal with the at-fault party’s insurance company.
If you intend to file a lawsuit, a personal injury attorney could be extremely useful to have on your side throughout the case. With the help of Legal Chiefs, getting in touch with an attorney working locally has never been easier.