We believe it is important for our clients to get honest and professional advice before making a claim.
The attorneys at Levine And Wiss, PLLC answered some of the most common questions for you to review.
If you have been injured after an accident, call our office at (888) 468-4878.
An injured party is referred to as the plaintiff. The Plaintiff has the burden of proof. This means, you will have to establish the legally required facts in your case, or you will not be entitled to any recovery. Each case can be thought of has having three main areas in order to be successful: liability, causation, and damages. Only a competent personal injury attorney can accurately help you evaluate the likelihood that you have a case and can assist you in reaching a decision as to whether you want to pursue a claim. In order to have a case, there must be a third party who is liable to you. This depends in on the facts and what type of claim you are bringing. Usually, if there is a liable person in a personal injury case, they will have committed a negligent action which caused your injuries. In order to prevail on a claim of negligence, the facts must clearly demonstrate: (1) negligence or failure to meet the standard of care; and (2) that the negligence caused you harm or injury. However, having confidence that liability can likely be established is only part of the picture.
The other part of the picture is damages. The harm or injuries you have suffered must be significant enough to justify the expenditure of time, energy, and resources that are required to bring a successful claim.
The chances of success of a claim depend on the individual circumstances of your case. A personal injury attorney can advise you of the possibility of success of your particular case.
First and foremost you must ensure your own safety and that of those with you. Obtain the medical attention necessary to ensure the health and safety of your loved ones. Do not discuss the facts of the incident or sign any legal documents until you have come to understand your legal rights. Do not give a statement to an insurance company until you are comfortable it is in your best interests. You should gather as much information and supporting documentation as possible at the scene of an accident and in the days following, if possible. Try to get as many of the following items as possible:
- Name and insurance company of the at fault party
- Identity and contact information of all possible witnesses
- If a vehicle was involved, the make, model, year, color and license plate number of other vehicle.
- Photos of damage to your person and property, and other property which was damaged as a result of the at fault party.
- Police report, if applicable.
Most people simply want fair compensation for their injuries from an auto accident. They are not trying to get rich or get something for nothing. However, what is “fair compensation?”
There is no exact formula for determining the amount of compensation you recover. A variety of factors are considered, whether by your lawyer, the Defendant and insurance companies in negotiations or by a jury in court, in determining fair and just compensation. These factors include severity of the accident, severity of injuries, impact of the injuries on the victim’s employment and day-to-day life, and extent of medical care, just to name a few. Aggravating factors such as drunk driving can both hasten settlement and affect the settlement amount.
Fair compensation certainly includes more than just reimbursement for your medical expenses. A personal injury victim may recover compensation for—
- Medical expenses already incurred,
- Medical expenses to be incurred in the future,
- Lost wages,Loss of earning capacity,
- Physical pain,
- Mental or emotional suffering,
- Physical impairment,
- Property damage, and
- Other losses.
In some cases, the injured person’s family members may be entitled to compensation, depending on the severity of the injuries and their dependence on the injured person.
You are entitled to compensation for medical expenses even if those expenses already have been paid by a health insurance plan. The same is true for lost wages, regardless of whether you take sick days or receive worker’s compensation benefits.
This, however, is not a windfall or double recovery. First, under a principle known as “subrogation” your health insurance plan (based on the plan documents) and your company’s workers’ compensation carrier may be entitled to reimbursement from your recovery for what they pay out. Therefore, in order to be adequately compensated you need maximum recovery from insurance in the event your health insurer or workers’ comp carrier makes a subrogation claim against your recovery.
Second, if the Defendant’s insurance company reduces your injury compensation simply because you have paid for health insurance, or paid extra auto insurance premiums for “PIP” coverage (see below), or have accumulated sick days or paid vacation, the adverse insurer is taking unfair advantage of the fact that you are a responsible person and diligent worker. If you use up your sick days because of injuries from the auto accident, those days will not be available for other types of health problems. If you sacrifice to obtain extra insurance, the at-fault driver’s insurer should not get the advantage of your sacrifice.
The proper procedure for bringing an injury claim completely depends on the circumstances of each case. Variables such as the type of injury, nature of the at fault party, and the nature of insurance coverage can drastically effect the method by which a victim must bring a claim. Also, different types of claims are subject to distinct time limits. So it is important that you take action without delay. A personal injury attorney can advise you as to the proper method and timing to properly file a claim in your particular case.
When you settle a case, this means that you agree to accept money in return for dropping the legal action against the person who is at fault for your injury. Our attorneys can help you decide whether or not accepting a settlement is the right solution for your individual case.
Fortunately, most claimants are not subjected to the stresses of litigation, and many cases are settled out of court. However, when the defendant’s or insurance company’s offer of settlement is too low or questions of liability remain, the facts and damages of a case may need to be decided by a jury or a judge. The decision to settle a case or file a lawsuit is one of the key decisions a lawyer can assist you in making.