Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
Whether you were injured on the job, in a car accident, by a vicious dog, or by a defective product, you are facing a swamp of confusion, delay, and deception by insurance companies. Trying to handle a claim on your own against the insurance companies is the long, slow road to nowhere. Ask yourself this question: would you sign up for do-it-yourself surgery? Of course not, and the same applies to personal injury, car accidents, dog bites, etc. A licensed attorney can ensure you get the best outcome and the least hassle.
What are normal personal injury attorney fees? Won’t the fees reduce my settlement?
This is exactly what insurance companies want you to think. In reality, insurance companies don’t make serious offers unless a lawyer is involved. They know that if you reject their final offer, you will not be able to file a lawsuit on your own. That is, without a lawyer, you have no leverage to use in negotiations. Many major insurance companies don’t even have the same employees handle the claim when an attorney gets involved. Instead, the claim goes to an adjuster who has access to more money to settle your claim.
I went to the hospital after an accident. They do not want to bill my health insurance company and want to bill the other driver’s insurance company instead. Why?
Like insurance companies, hospitals are businesses that want to make money. If you are injured, particularly in automobile accidents, for-profit hospitals want to be reimbursed dollar for dollar. Your health insurance usually only pays for a fraction of the hospital bills. Hospitals would prefer to be reimbursed in full out of your settlement money, so that is why they hesitate to bill your health insurance company, whose health coverage you have already paid for. They have no business asking you about the other person’s insurance coverage. Tell them to bill your health insurance! You already paid for the coverage, after all.
The police officer did not cite the driver who hit me, even though that driver admitted fault. Why is this and what is the impact on my injury claim?
A police officer’s primary focus is safety. They have the discretion to write a summons for a traffic violation. You should not worry if the other driver did not receive a traffic citation. But, if the other driver has been cited and you receive a summons to be a witness, go to court and tell the judge what you went through and why the other driver should be found guilty.
My child was injured. What should I do?
First and foremost, get the child medical attention immediately. Legally, special issues come into play when a child is injured. Insurance companies may seem like they are being reasonable when they offer to pay for the child’s medical bills. They may even have one of their lawyers set up an infant settlement hearing before a judge. As in virtually every personal injury case, the result will be better for you and your child if you consult an attorney immediately. Not only can bills be paid for. It is not unusual for a court to order that injured children receive money to be paid into a savings account until they are 18. This could be money for college, a vehicle, or a down payment on a first home.
What is pain and suffering?
If you are injured by the negligence of another person or corporation, the law requires them to “make you whole.” That means they must pay for your medical bills, lost wages, etc. In addition, the law understands that being injured is very unpleasant. Therefore, the negligent person or corporation is typically required to pay something more than just your medical bills and lost wages. This is commonly called “pain and suffering.” It varies greatly depending on the type and severity of the accident and injuries, their permanency, and many other factors. Insurance companies rarely offer anything for pain and suffering of injured people who are not represented by a lawyer. If you accept a settlement from an insurance company without contacting a lawyer, you are almost certainly throwing away the money owed to you. And, you’re giving it to an insurance company.
The insurance companies keep calling me. What else should I know about how insurance companies work and the role of a personal injury attorney?
Insurance companies are in business to make money, not pay it to you. Their employees frequently have a salary and bonus structure that encourages them to pay as little as possible on each personal injury claim. If you are injured and have no attorney, insurance adjusters see you the way a fox sees a chicken: as lunch. The more cheap settlements an adjuster can get unrepresented, injured people to accept, the closer she is to a bonus check and a pat on the back from the boss.