To have a personal injury claim, you must be able to show that you have been injured, either physically or emotionally, by someone else (or a product) under a negligence, strict liability or intentional misconduct theory. In most cases, it may be necessary for you to show that the other party was more at fault for the injury than you were.
Yes. In most cases, accident victims can recover money even if they are partly to blame for the accident.
No matter what kind of accident you have been involved in, obtaining legal consultation is vital before deciding what course of action to take. Most reputable personal injury attorneys provide initial consultations at no cost and no obligation, which means you have nothing to lose.
Furthermore, an experienced personal injury attorney can evaluate your case and tell you what to expect. He or she can recommend appropriate medical treatment, negotiate a replacement automobile or car repair, and ultimately help you obtain a fair and full settlement with the insurance company, that takes into account all of your damages, including your pain and suffering.
Attempting to negotiate a settlement with an insurance company on your own can be risky. Keep in mind that the lawyers and claims adjusters employed by the insurance company get paid, praised and promoted for keeping their side's costs down. They know the business, know what to look for that might be hidden, and are eager for you to settle your case as fast as possible, before any more issues arise that can potentially increase their liability and costs. In fact, dealing with an insurance company without legal counsel could also result in your unknowing waiver of important legal rights, including filing a lawsuit in a timely manner.
When an insurance company is dealing with a lawyer who has a record of success and trial experience, they are much more likely to offer a fair settlement.
Many attorneys are hired on a contingency fee, meaning you will not pay anything upfront, until there is a settlement or a winning verdict at trial. Typically, after your settlement or verdict, your attorney will receive a percentage fee of the total case recovery, in addition to case costs.
Some people are hesitant to hire an attorney, because of the fees they will need to pay. Hiring an experienced attorney can actually increase the amount of money you will be paid to compensate you 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, and will fight to get the best possible result for you. Having a personal injury attorney on your side shows the insurance company that you are serious about protecting your rights. They will be less likely to try a low-ball offer, misrepresent their obligations or tell you that you must take whatever they offer.
Although the majority of personal injury cases are settled out of court, sometimes a lawsuit is
the only option, when the insurance company offers an unfair settlement amount. You may then have 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. He or she can also estimate the chance of success at trial, and advise you accordingly.
Ultimately, although your attorney can provide guidance, it is your responsibility to make the final decision of whether to settle a case or go to trial.
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 for as little as possible, before a knowledgeable attorney reviews the facts of the case. An experienced accident attorney knows how much money will be necessary to fully compensate you for your injuries, and will typically obtain a much higher settlement for you.
Compensation for your injuries depends on several factors, including physical and emotional pain and suffering, economic hardship or financial loss, decreased earning potential and physical impairment. Depending on the type and extent of your personal injury, you may be eligible for compensatory damages, which may include the following:
You are entitled to be fully compensated for your injuries. In legal language, you are entitled to "be made whole", meaning to be put back in the same position after the settlement as you were in immediately before the accident. Part of the process of making you "whole" is easily calculated and agreed upon by both parties, while other aspects are more difficult.
There is usually little argument over the compensation for time missed from work and lost wages, doctor and hospital bills, rehabilitation costs, transportation to and from the doctor and therapists. 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. Estimating and demanding an acceptable amount for your pain and suffering requires experience with many similar cases, as pain and suffering awards are necessarily subjective. The attorney's knowledge and experience are of most importance in this matter.
Your spouse has a right to your company,which may have been affected by the accident. Based on the time spent in the hospital and the affects of your disability on your relationship, your spouse is entitled to recover damages from the person causing the accident for the loss of your companionship (i.e. consortium).
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.