Personal Injury FAQ
What is Personal Injury?
Personal injury is a legal term for an injury to the body, mind or emotions, as opposed to an injury to property. The term is most commonly used to refer to a type of tort lawsuit in which the person bringing the suit has suffered harm to his or her body or mind.
Do I Have A Personal Injury Case?
Three Basic Requirements for a Personal Injury Claim
- The responsible party was careless (negligent). For example, if a truck driver crashed into an innocent victim’s car because he ignored a stop sign, the truck driver, under the law, would be considered negligent.
- The negligence caused the personal injury. In the above example, if the innocent victim sustained a broken arm and severe headaches as a result of the crash, the truck driver’s negligence would be considered to have caused the personal injury.
- The injury resulted in harm (compensatory damages). In the above example, if the innocent victim’s broken arm and headaches resulted in medical bills, lost wages, and/or pain and suffering, the injury would be considered to have resulted in compensatory damages (i.e., damages for which an injured party may be compensated).
If So, How Much Is It Worth?
If you have been injured because of someone else’s carelessness and are considering filing a lawsuit, you are probably asking yourself: “How much is my case worth?”
There are two basic types of damages for which injury victims can be awarded monetary compensation – “compensatory damages” and “punitive damages” – and two potential limitations on these damages.
Types of compensation
- “Compensatory” damages. Compensatory damages are damages that compensate you for your injuries and related financial losses related to the accident. Depending on the nature and extent of your injuries, you may be entitled to recover the following compensatory damages:
Medical bills. You are entitled to recover the total amount of your medical bills incurred as a result of your injuries. You are also entitled to recover the cost of future medical care, if any, you require as a result of your injuries.
Lost wages. If you cannot work because of your injuries, you are entitled to recover your current and future lost wages.
Pain and suffering. You are entitled to recover damages to compensate you for your physical discomfort and distress, as well as your mental and emotional trauma. In some states, there are limits on the amount you may recover for pain and suffering.
Loss of normal life. If your injuries prevent you from enjoying the pleasurable aspects of life, such as hobbies, exercise and the like, you may recover damages for what is referred to as “loss of normal life.”
Other damages. In addition to the common categories of compensatory damages listed above, additional damages may be applicable depending on the nature of your injuries. These include property damage, loss of consortium, disfigurement, increased risk of future harm, shortened life expectancy and future care-taking expenses.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages refer to a sum of money, often significant, that goes above and beyond compensating you for your injuries. Punitive damages are intended to punish the at-fault party for their extremely reckless or intentional behavior. Examples include a car company that knowingly leaves faulty brakes in a car rather than issuing a recall or a doctor that intentionally performs an unnecessary surgery. Punitive damages are reserved for only the most extreme cases of reprehensible conduct. An attorney will be able to tell you if your case may qualify for punitive damages.
Potential limitations on the extent of your monetary recovery
Two major factors can affect the extent (maximum or partial) of your monetary recovery:
- Who is at fault for your injuries? The extent of your monetary compensation will depend, in part, on who is at fault for your injuries. If someone else is entirely at fault, then you are entitled to receive all of your compensatory damages. If you are entirely at fault, then you are not entitled to recover any compensatory damages.
But what happens if you are partially at fault and someone else is partially at fault for your injuries? Texas is a “modified comparative negligence” jurisdiction, which means that a judge or jury will examine the facts of your case and assess each party’s relative fault.
As long as you are no more than 50 percent at fault for your injuries, you are entitled to recover compensatory damages. Your damages will, however, be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if you were awarded $1 million in damages, but were found to be 30 percent at fault for your injuries, then your damages would be reduced by 30 percent, or $300,000, and your total recovery would be $700,000.
- Did you attempt to “mitigate” your damages? When you have been injured because of someone else’s carelessness, you have an obligation to “mitigate” your damages, which means you must avoid aggravating your injuries. Generally, an injured party must attempt to minimize their injuries by seeking prompt medical attention and following the medical provider’s instructions.
- The government was at fault. If a local or state government employee is found to be liable for your injuries, there may be a cap on the maximum amount of damages you can recover.
Other than these three situations, there is no limit to the amount of compensation a jury can award you. Unlike many other states, there are no damages caps for non-economic damages. However, the state and federal constitutions require that certain damages awards are not “excessive.”
Do I Have A Case If I Do Not Feel Hurt?
There is a possibility that you can still have a case even if you do not feel hurt. After being involved in a car accident, it’s possible that the adrenaline from the accident is causing you to not feel as much pain which is only temporary. You may start to feel increased pain or other symptoms later on, so it is better to always consult with a doctor even if you do not feel pain.
How Do I Choose a Personal Injury Attorney?
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in an accident caused by another’s negligence, you have the right to bring a personal injury or wrongful death against the at-fault party. If you are successful, your recovery may include compensation for pain and suffering, lost wages, past and future medical expenses, and other injuries that will continue to affect you for months and possibly years to come. An experienced Texas personal injury attorney is a valuable asset who can help you get the compensation you deserve. Having the right attorney on your side can mean the difference between winning and losing your lawsuit. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer will also help to ensure that you receive a full and fair recovery for your injury.
What Are Four Essential Characteristics to Look for When Choosing Your Personal Injury Attorney?
Choosing the right personal injury attorney can mean the difference between winning and losing your case. Make sure that your lawyer has these four essential characteristics:
Experience you can trust
There are several stages to a lawsuit. During a lawsuit, you will rely on your attorney to help you make many important decisions – how much a case is worth, when to settle, when to go to trial, how best to handle an insurance company that refuses to negotiate in good faith, and more – each requiring the kind of decision-making that only comes with years of experience. Experienced attorneys are also up-to-date on legal developments and changes in the law, and they likely have credibility with insurance companies and the respect of the opposing counsel.
Proven track record of success
Many personal injury cases are resolved through settlement, in which your attorney and the opposing attorney negotiate a financial payment for your injury in exchange for your agreement not to pursue the case any further. Claims that cannot be resolved through settlement go to trial, where a jury determines the amount of damages you recover. Experienced personal injury attorneys will not cave-in to opposing counsel or to a big insurance company. Instead of accepting a quick payout or mediocre settlement, the attorney may advise you to push for a better offer or try the case. The attorney you choose should have a successful track record of settlements as well as jury trial verdicts.
Personal injury lawsuits can last from several months to two or more years. So, having a good relationship with your attorney is important. Good attorneys will understand your needs and be responsive to them. When you ask a question, they will listen carefully and answer it. When you are feeling overwhelmed or confused, they will steer you in the right direction. When you are hurt and suffering, they will provide you comfort and support. The personal injury attorney you choose should be committed not only to your case but also to you.
No fees unless you win
Avoid choosing a personal injury attorney who charges you for their services up-front, even if you do not recover a damages award. The best personal injury attorneys work on a “contingency basis,” meaning they only get paid if they successfully get compensation for you and your family. This aligns your attorney’s interests with your own.
How Does The Litigation Process Work?
The litigation process typically has 8 significant milestones.
1) The Incident
2) Selecting an Attorney
3) Pre-Filing Fact Gathering
4) Filing the Complaint
5) Formal Discovery
6) Settlement Discussions or Mediation
Below you may find out more about these specific phases of litigation. We hope this information serves you. If you have further questions, contact us.
The injury or incident
The injury or incident is what initially gives rise to a lawsuit. It can be an accident, legal malpractice or medical malpractice, or other event that has caused harm to an individual.
Selecting an attorney
Once you believe you may have been through an event where you need a remedy, it is important to speak to someone in the legal profession regarding your rights. At this point you should consider selecting an attorney to help you with your lawsuit. Most attorneys who help victims are willing to speak to them about their cases free of charge. You should use that opportunity and speak to an attorney about your case.
Pre-filing fact gathering
Whether or not you have selected an attorney, it is important to gather the materials you need to preserve the evidence in your case. For example, if you have been involved in a car accident, you will want to obtain the police report, information about any other people who were involved in the accident, witness names and contact information, insurance information, photographs of your vehicle, and photographs of the other vehicles. You also want to keep track of the doctors who you have seen, bills that you have incurred, and track how the injury may have affected you. The more material you have and the better organized it is, the more it will help your lawyer assist you. Once an attorney is involved in the case, the attorney will often have an investigator take statements from witnesses, follow up on information related to your incident, and determine what information the attorney will need once a lawsuit is filed. On occasion, particularly strong cases may resolve without the filing of a lawsuit. In certain situations, we will prepare a package for the potential defendant or its insurer to review prior to filing the lawsuit. While these do not always result in settlement, it allows the defendant and the insurer to understand their exposure and what difficulties they may face as the case moves through litigation.
Filing the complaint
At a certain point in the case, once pre-filing fact gathering is done, the time comes to file a complaint. Sometimes these complaints have administrative hurdles that must be exhausted before filing. These hurdles include government claims. All government claims and complaints have strict statutes of limitations (due dates by which they must be filed). Should one miss one of these deadlines, you can be barred from ever filing a lawsuit against those legally responsible for the harm you sustained. In order to preserve your rights, it is always best to speak with a lawyer sooner rather than later. The filing of the complaint is the initiation of the formal lawsuit process. It is the framework through which litigation proceeds. Once the defendant has answered the complaint, the case is ready for formal discovery.
Formal discovery has several aspects, including asking and responding to questions known as interrogatories, seeking and turning over documents related to the action, asking the other side to admit to certain facts, and taking depositions. Depositions are formal question-and-answer proceedings that are taken down by a court reporter, and often a videographer, for use later at trial. Toward the middle portion of formal discovery, depositions are taken of percipient witnesses-those witnesses who have knowledge or have perceived something related to the incident. Toward the end of formal discovery, depositions of experts occur. These are witnesses hired by one side or another to provide opinion testimony on subjects like medicine, accident reconstruction, safety, design, and other areas. The formal discovery process in a case can last quite some time. Depending upon the complexity of a case, formal discovery can last from three months to several years. Once the parties have completed discovery and gathered the evidence they need to prepare their prosecution and defense, the case proceeds towards trial.
The formal discovery period is also the time where parties can make certain types of motions-formal requests that the court take a specific action. These motions include requests that one side or the other respond to specific questions, such as a motion to compel, or they can be motions that seek an end to the lawsuit without trial, such as a motion for summary judgment. While rare, sometimes a court will grant a motion for summary judgment for a defendant, which will functionally end the case against that particular defendant.
Settlement discussions or mediation
At a certain point in the case, the parties will typically sit down to some form of settlement discussions. The most common settlement discussion is mediation. A mediation is usually overseen by a retired judge or an experienced lawyer who acts as a neutral party and who works with the parties to try to resolve the case without a trial. A mediator cannot force any party to settle a case-the client makes that decision. The client does so when an offer has been made that the client feels is an acceptable alternative to proceeding to trial. While we enjoy trying cases, a settlement is frequently better than a trial-a settlement has a certainty that trial does not. While a client may be giving up the possibility of a larger outcome at trial, the client is guaranteed that they will get a result. No one can predict what a jury will do in a particular case. Some cases require several opportunities to sit down and discuss the case before the case resolves.
When the parties have been unable to reach a settlement and the case is fully prepared, the matter proceeds to trial. Trials on catastrophic cases often last several weeks or months. The majority of our trials are jury trials where 8 to 12 jurors make the decision. The client is an active participant during the course of the trial. The trial involves jury selection, opening statements, witness testimony, documentary or other tangible evidence, closing arguments, and jury deliberation. Once the jury or judge returns a verdict, the parties then have the opportunity to appeal the outcome if they believe that the result was unfair in some fashion.
Appeals occur when one side is unhappy with the outcome or decision that has been reached at trial and believe there is a legal basis for the judgment to be set aside. Cases can also be appealed if the judge has made a ruling on a terminating motion such as a motion for summary judgment. Appeals require detailed briefing and analyses of the facts, transcripts from the trial, pleadings from the underlying case, and briefings from all sides. Appeals typically take one to two years from the date the appeal has begun until the appellate court makes a decision on a case. Sometimes parties engage in settlement discussions again during the appellate process. If an appeals court upholds the verdict, then the case is most likely completed unless there are unusual circumstances. The appeals court can also decide that something was unfair during the trial and require that the case be retried
Should I Talk To The At-Fault Party’s Insurance Company?
There is no Texas law that obligates you to speak to the liable party’s insurance company after a car accident. Instead, seek out legal representation from an experienced Houston car accident attorney like The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC.
With our attorneys on your side, we guide you through the process and handle the negotiations on your behalf to pursue your best interests. Let us help you determine when and why it is necessary to speak to insurance representatives.
It is always best to let your insurance company handle all matters directly with the other insurance company involved in an accident claim. You are not required to discuss any details of the claim with the other insurance company. This is especially important when there are personal injury claims. It is easy for something to be taken out of context or misunderstood, which could jeopardize your claim. The other insurance company may attempt to contact you and even pressure you to provide information to process the claim. Politely decline and suggest they direct any questions regarding the matter to your insurance company or attorney.
You should be especially wary of a call from the other driver’s insurance company when they ask for your permission to record the conversation. That means they will turn on a recording device and everything you say will be recorded. Generally, you do not get a copy unless you specifically condition your permission on getting a copy. Even so, it is best to consult an attorney before creating any written recordings.
Your insurance company is responsible for gathering information about the accident and negotiating a fair settlement. That is what they are licensed and paid to do. There is only one instance when it is prudent for you to talk to the other insurance company. In what are called “third party claims”, the other party involved is clearly at fault, so the claim is filed with the other person’s insurance company. This is only after they have admitted fault or it has already been determined. Otherwise, it is not advisable to talk to the insurance company of the other person involved in the accident. Even then, it is often advisable to have an attorney do it for you. Remember they handle insurance claims every day. They will have more knowledge and more information than you. It is best to have someone you can rely upon with just as much knowledge and usually much more. At The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC, we request that any questions about pending insurance claims be directed to your attorney or insurance agent. We can suggest the best course of action regarding your claim.
If you’ve been in an auto accident and are looking for representation from a local personal injury attorney in the greater Houston, Texas area, please contact us and we will reach out immediately to discuss your claim.
How Can I Handle My Medical bills Until My Case Is Settled?
During a personal injury claim, your hope is that you will receive compensation for any past and future medical expenses. While you wait, you need funds to pay for those bills. Luckily, you do have options. In most cases, you can defer payments until your case settles, and most providers as well as hospitals have been in these situations enough to know that they can wait for a settlement.
Being in the middle of an injury claim is highly stressful, and the last thing you need to worry about is the medical expenses sitting in front of you while you try to recover from your injuries. Some claims can take months – if not years – to resolve themselves. So, how do you pay for the growing number of medical expenses when you cannot work, and you are waiting for a settlement?
You can still pay your medical bills while you have a pending injury lawsuit. One of the best ways to do so is to speak with your medical providers, the hospitals, and other agencies that send you these bills and create an arrangement. Let them know that you would like to defer payments until you receive your settlement. In most cases, these providers will do so.
Using your PIP insurance
The first option you have, and the first you must use, is your Personal Injury Protection insurance (PIP). All motorists in the state are required to have at least basic PIP coverage ( unless you sign a waiver declining the coverage), which the min coverage is $2,500 per person per accident for medical expenses and lost wages. Before you can use other reimbursement methods, you must first exhaust your PIP coverage.
Signing a letter of protection
Most healthcare providers will allow you to defer payments, but it will not be an oral agreement. Instead, you will need a formal agreement that involves signing paperwork. These letters of promise are between you and the healthcare provider – whether it is a hospital, clinic, specialist, or your family care provider. The agreement states that the provider is offering care upfront, and without payment, in return for receiving payment after your case settles in court (or during private negotiations).
You agree to pay the provider in full for any outstanding medical balances once you receive your settlement when you sign this form. Do not think that once you get payment, you can skip out on paying those providers. They will have those signed forms, and they can seek collections based on the broken agreement. Therefore, make sure you speak with your attorney prior to signing these forms, and have them review the terms and conditions carefully to make sure you are not signing something you should not.
When providers will not allow a letter of protection, you still have alternatives.
Using your health insurance
If you have health insurance, you can use that insurance coverage to pay for medical costs while you wait for an official settlement in your case. Your health insurance provider will pay up to your policy limits, but you will still be responsible for any deductibles or copays as part of your policy.
If you do have a pending personal injury lawsuit, you should note that your health insurance company may file a lien against your settlement. That is because they will want reimbursement for any medical costs they cover as part of the accident. Therefore, they will pay for those costs, but then your attorney will be required to take funds from your settlement to pay them back afterward.
Health insurance is the most common way accident victims pay for their medical expenses while they wait for their settlement.
Using your vehicle insurance’s medpay
If you have medical payments on your auto insurance policy, and your injuries are from a motor vehicle accident, then you may be able to use the medical payment coverage from your policy to cover medical expenses. Just like health insurance, your medical payment coverage may request reimbursement once you receive a settlement.
What If You Don’t Have Insurance and Cannot Pay?
If you do not have medical coverage on your auto insurance, or you have no health insurance, the best option is to speak with your attorney. Your attorney can negotiate with your healthcare providers to ensure that your treatment is not paused or affected while you wait for an injury settlement.
Everyone deserves care, and when you are suffering serious injuries from an accident that was not your fault, you should not have to shoulder the financial burden alone.
How Long Does It Take to Receive a Settlement?
In most personal injury claims, settlements take six months to one year. These, however, are uncomplicated cases that are able to resolve in private negotiations and sometimes trials. If you have a prolonged trial or complicated claim, it may take longer. Regardless, you do not have to worry about filing for bankruptcy, taking out loans, or fearing that you will lose your home over medical expenses.
Your attorney will fight quickly to resolve your case and get the compensation you deserve, but they also will make sure healthcare providers work with you to get you the care you need and not force you into a dire financial situation just to pay them.
If your healthcare provider is unwilling to work with you, or you fear that you cannot pay your medical bills, it may be time to start the claim process. The sooner you file your personal injury lawsuit, the sooner your attorney can work toward getting you the settlement you deserve.
Speak with an attorney
If you or a loved one was seriously injured, do not wait until you are facing insurmountable amounts of medical expenses to file a personal injury lawsuit. When someone else’s negligence leads to your serious injury, you have the right to seek compensation from that party.
An attorney can help you file an injury lawsuit against the at-fault party and not only receive compensation for your medical expenses, but for your lost wages, physical pain, and even mental suffering.
To get started, schedule your case evaluation with The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC. Attorney Boë Bowen understands how stressful it can be to face thousands in medical expenses after a serious accident, and he can help you and your loved ones recover the compensation you deserve.
What Is A Release In A Settlement?
Most personal injury claims result in a settlement, or a payment of an agreed-upon amount compensating you for your injuries. A settlement agreement is a legally-binding document both parties sign, agreeing to end the dispute and dismiss their claims. It’s also customary to sign a release in a settlement agreement.
The release of all claims form releases the other party from liability, meaning that you cannot pursue further legal action after accepting the settlement.
It’s important that you understand how a release of claims form will affect your legal options. Make sure to thoroughly discuss your case with a Houston, Texas personal injury attorney at The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC. It may be beneficial to take your case to court instead of settling with the other party.
Release of all claims
Release of all claims forms are also known as liability waiver forms. As mentioned above, they release the other party from liability and from having to pay additional claims. In other words, you’re signing a document that requires the other party to pay you in exchange for the other party being released from responsibility for the accident.
A release form should contain the following information about your claim:
- Identification of the parties involved
- The details of the accident (when and where it occurred)
- Your claims (bodily injury, emotional damage, property damage, etc.)
- Payment details
- Governing law and enforceability of the agreement
The other person’s insurance company will likely ask you to sign a release form before they pay you. They may even hold on to the settlement check until they receive your signed release form. That may be frustrating, but in many ways, it’s beneficial for you – this gives you and your attorney time to thoroughly examine the document.
Some things to remember before signing a release in a settlement agreement
Before you sign the release form, have your lawyer examine the document thoroughly. They should make sure that all damages are accounted for. If something is left out or if you are still undergoing treatment for your injury, don’t sign the form.
Once that document is signed, you won’t be able to make additional claims, so it’s imperative that you review the agreement several times and make sure everything that should be accounted for is present in the document.
If you do not agree to the settlement offer, don’t sign the release form. Again, if you do so you give up the ability to hold the other party liable, and you’ll have to pay for upcoming or future costs yourself.
Elements of a release form
Of course, not all release forms will look the same or have the same particulars, but most will contain the following elements:
- Identification of releasor and releasee – In the context of personal injury, the releasor is the injured party, and the releasee is the at-fault party.
- Releasing obligation to pay – This part of the agreement states that you will not receive further payments from the other party.
- Giving up the right to sue – By signing the form, you give up your right to sue the other party and their insurance company.
- Non-admission of fault – The document also provides that no party is admitting fault. It doesn’t affect the settlement amount; instead, it simply provides that the parties don’t blame each other.
You may experience serious ramifications by signing a form you don’t fully understand or agree with. By hiring a personal injury attorney at The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC, you can protect your legal right to pursue compensation and prevent significant consequences.
Contact an experienced attorney at The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC today to learn more about your legal options.
How Long Does It Take To Get A Personal Injury Settlement Check?
After a serious accident that results in significant injuries and, in many cases, prolonged recovery time, it’s understandable for victims to want to know when they can expect to receive a settlement check for financial losses. Although the time required for a settlement negotiation process to be finalized can vary considerably from case-to-case, once a settlement is reached a victim can generally expect to receive a settlement check in approximately six weeks. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule, and delays can occur. Please see below for the standard process for receiving a personal injury settlement check, the steps involved from start to finish, and also look at average settlements for personal injury cases.
What Are The Steps Involved In Receiving A Personal Injury Settlement Check?
Personal Injury settlement checks can be issued for various types of cases, including car accidents, wrongful death claims, slip and falls, product liability or defect claims, premises liability claims, medical malpractice, TBI (traumatic brain injury) or spinal cord injuries, and more. When a victim is injured in an accident and suffers expenses from medical care, lost wages or earning capacity, reduced quality of life, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more, financial compensation via a civil lawsuit settlement is a means of helping the injured party recovery and live a productive life following an unfortunate accident.
The process of obtaining a settlement check includes the following steps:
- Signing a release: In order for the defendant’s insurance company (or defendant alone) to issue a settlement check, you will have to sign a release form stating that no further legal action will be taken to pursue additional damages for the incident in question. By signing the release, you effectively protect the liable party from being sued in the future for the same injury or accident.
- Processing the release: After you’ve signed the release, the insurance company processes the document and then issues a settlement check. In most cases, the settlement check is sent to your personal injury attorney, and made payable in both of your names.
- Depositing the check: Once the check is received, your attorney will deposit it into a special trust or escrow account. As soon as the check clears, your personal injury attorney will distribute the settlement money. However, it should be noted that in some cases your attorney might need to put a portion of the settlement money towards any outstanding debts or liens. Be sure to always discuss with your attorney in advance whether or not any unpaid debts or liens exist in your particular case, so you’re prepared accordingly.
- Deducting legal fees and paying you directly: Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing up front, and instead a portion of the final settlement award is deducted and used to pay the lawyer fees. Once your attorney pays off any remaining liens and subtracts legal costs (e.g. hours devoted to your case, court reporting costs, expert witness fees, private investigator fees, etc.), you will receive your settlement money. The contingency fee an attorney charges can vary depending on which attorney you choose to represent you. That’s why it’s important to always discuss fees and an estimated percentage deduction of your final settlement amount in advance. If you find two attorneys with similar experience and past success rates, but one charges a 45% contingency fee while the other charges 33%, it’s in your best interest to confirm those details ahead of time before committing to an attorney.
Potential delays in receiving your personal injury settlement check
Delays, while not a common occurrence, can happen occasionally in personal injury settlements. In such cases, it’s helpful to know what to expect. If a defendant is not represented by an insurance company, it’s possible that he or she may have their own release form that needs to be agreed upon by all parties. In such cases, your attorneys, as well as the legal representation for the defendant, will have to review the release and agree unanimously on the terms. This may add additional time to your settlement check being received, but in most cases the situation can be resolved without issue and in a relatively short period of time. Wrongful death cases and other cases involving estates are two types of claims that tend to take a bit longer and require additional preparation.
Maintaining regular communication with your attorney and asking questions will help ensure you are kept apprised of timelines and any potential setbacks to receiving your personal injury settlement check.
How Do I Pay For A Lawyer In A Personal Injury Case?
Your Texas personal injury attorney may receive the check from the insurance company or responsible party after settling your case or winning an award in court. Then, they will take out expenses and fees before sending you the outstanding funds.
Most Texas personal injury attorneys handle cases on a contingency basis, meaning their clients do not pay anything until after they reach an agreement or receive an award in court. The law firm handling the case covers all expenses during this period and represents them to the insurance company, judge, and jury.
Signing the settlement agreement or getting the award
The process begins when you sign the settlement agreement or there is a verdict in court. The agreement paperwork goes to the insurance company, where it may take a few days to a few weeks to process. We can call and check on an estimated date of your payment if it takes an unusually long time.
Understanding what happens after the law firm has your check
Once the law firm has the check, it will typically pay any liens that are on the settlement or judgment, such as from medical providers. The law firm will also take its attorney’s fees and other expenses encountered during the case.
You can find out the percentage of your attorney’s fees from your agreement with your lawyer you signed at the start of your case. You can expect it to be a third or a little more of your total payout. There may be clauses that allow you to receive more or less of the total amount if your case settled before filing a lawsuit, or if you had to go to court.
The expenses in your case depend heavily on the facts of the claim and how far your attorney had to go to build a strong case to fight for your compensation. Common expenses include:
- Administrative costs including copying, postage, and similar expenses
- Costs of the investigation, including accident reconstructions and survey teams
- Expert witness fees, if necessary
- Other expenses related to gathering information, such as medical record fees
- Court costs, if necessary
What Is A “Contingent Fee”?
Simply put, a contingency fee means that a lawyer works in return for a percentage of a settlement, verdict, or a jury award: not for an hourly charge. When a lawyer works for a contingency fee, it means the attorney gets paid only if their client recovers damages. There is no upfront charge for the attorney’s services. In fact, you never make an out-of-pocket payment. The contingency fee simply comes out of the compensation the attorney recovers on your behalf.
Contingency fees are deducted from the settlement or award that is recovered by a lawyer on the client’s behalf. If an attorney settles an injury claim with an insurance company, the contingency fee is deducted from the settlement. If the claim goes to a trial, the lawyer will represent the victim in court. If the verdict or jury award is in the victim’s favor, the contingency fee will be deducted from that when the judgment is paid.
It’s important to understand that with contingency fees, no recovery of damages means no legal fees. The lawyer only gets paid when you recover compensation.
Why Use Contingency Fees?
Contingency fees are common in personal injury claims. Quality legal representation can be expensive. Contingency fees are a way for people who may not be able to afford a, attorney’s hourly rate to pursue a claim. Contingency fees allow injury victims to hire a lawyer without having to worry about legal bills on top of the medical bills and other injury expenses that may be piling up.
Limited client resources shouldn’t produce limited results. Contingency fees work for both clients and lawyers. That’s because the lawyer’s interests are aligned with the client’s. An attorney will accept only cases that have a strong chance of success. The more money the lawyer recovers for the client, the more the lawyer gets paid. That gives the lawyer a big incentive to maximize the client’s recovery.
In other fee agreements, a lawyer is hired to perform work at a set hourly rate. The client often has to pay an amount of money upfront called a “retainer.” If the retainer runs out, or the client is not able to pay their legal bill, the lawyer may stop representing them. Contingency fees help ensure that if a lawyer takes a claim, that lawyer will work on that claim until it’s finished.
Contingency fees allow clients to have their claims evaluated by a lawyer at no cost. A legal claim evaluation can be expensive, and many clients don’t have the resources. For a lawyer, it takes time, training, and experience to understand the strengths and weaknesses of a claim. The contingency fee model allows clients to get a lawyer’s consultation without spending money out of their pocket.
Contingency Fee Agreements
If you’re working with a n attorney on a contingency fee basis, you may have to sign a contingency fee agreement. The contingency fee agreement will discuss the time and work a lawyer will put into the claim. It will also let you know if there are other costs that may arise with your claim.
The agreement will outline what costs are covered and what costs are not. The agreement will depend on the facts of your case and your situation. In most situations, clients will have no out-of-pocket costs.
Many costs may be discussed in a fee agreement including:
- Expert analysis. If your claim requires an expert to study the record, there may be related costs.
- Court fees. If a claim goes to trial, there may court fees incurred.
- Costs for certified records. Hospitals, insurers, and authorities may charge fees for official copies of records. These records can be vital to a claim.
Often, these costs can be deducted from a settlement or verdict, leaving clients with no out-of-pocket expenses. Our attorneys will work to craft a contingency fee agreement that works for you.
How Much Is a Contingency Fee?
The amount of a contingency fee depends on a few factors:
- Time and effort. The amount of time and effort a lawyer puts into a case can affect the contingency fee. There’s no crystal ball that can tell a lawyer how difficult a case can be. However, experienced attorneys may be able to estimate how much time and effort a case may require.
- Some claims have a strong set of documents and evidence to support them. Others do not. In cases where outcomes are uncertain, the attorney is risking their time, effort, and even their own resources to move a claim forward. Risk can impact the contingency fee amount.
- Settlement and trial. Most personal injury claims are settled before a trial. If a settlement takes place, it may result in a quicker and more cost-effective finish to the claim. If a claim goes to trial, there may be a significant amount of preparation and research that attorneys will have to do. Again, there is no crystal ball to know whether a claim will go all the way to a trial, but experienced attorneys may be able to estimate.
If you’ve been injured, contact us for a free consultation. We can discuss your claim and any questions you may have about contingency fees.
We have represented injury victims throughout the Virginia Beach area and beyond. We understand the challenges of personal injury claims and we fight for our clients and their families. In many claims, we’ll work on a contingency basis so that you can get quality representation without out-of-pocket expenses.
If you have been injured in an accident, get the help you need. We’ll work for you to get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.
What If The Accident Happened On The Job?
What should you do if you are injured at work? Many companies have specific programs aimed at avoiding work related injuries. Safe work practices and efforts to avoid accident are important for employers and employees alike. They create a safe working environment while saving money for the employer. However, once an accident happens, you are not doing yourself or your employer any favors by failing to report it.
If you suffer an injury while working, one of the most important things you can do is to report it. This might seem fairly obvious. However, there are many times a person is injured without requiring immediate medical attention, so it might seem like a good idea to take a wait and see approach and not mention the incident. When an accident is not reported, an employer can deny you medical treatment and benefits for missed time from work. Reporting an accident properly will prevent many potential problems.
Failing to report an accident can lead to several problems. If you do not report an accident on time, your employer can deny you medical treatment and out of work benefits. The workers’ compensation insurance carrier will also question why your employer did not report the accident on time. Your private health insurance carrier will not pay for treatment for work related injuries.
If you do not report an injury when it happens, your employer can deny the accident occurred or may claim it happened outside of work. Many employers also impose strict internal deadlines for reporting accidents, for instance, within 24 hours of an incident. If you fail to report the incident on time, you can receive a formal reprimand and/or suspension without pay. You can actually find yourself in the position of receiving a formal reprimand for not reporting an accident that your employer denies happened.
If you injure your back lifting a heavy box or twist your knee climbing off a piece of machinery, you may not require immediate medical treatment. It might also seem like a good idea not to mention this to your supervisor unless it reaches the point that you’ll need to see a doctor. Then, if you wake up the next morning with severe pain or stiffness at the site of the injury your or your back starts to act up weeks later, your employer can deny medical treatment because you did not report the injury when it first happened.
What should you do? Report the accident to your employer, even if you think you are not seriously hurt. By reporting the accident, you protect yourself against the employer who might claim that you were injured away from the workplace. If possible, report the accident in writing or in the presence of a reliable witness. If you are a union member, you should also report the accident to your union representative in addition to your employer. Using an accident report form provided by your employer or union is best.
It is also important to know your co-workers. In the event of an injury, your co-workers are your best witnesses as to the happening of an accident as well as the cause. They may also be in a position to verify the happening of the accident if your account of what happened to you is challenged.
Even if you are reporting an accident late, you should still follow the above recommendations.
In Texas, injured workers are allowed up to 30 days in most situations to report an accident, however, employers can impose much shorter internal deadlines. You may eventually be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits, but if an accident is not properly reported, you will face more hurdles along the way.
If you are injured at work, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. You should consult with an attorney to inform you of your rights and obligations under the law and strongly recommend that you call an attorney today if you have been hurt at work.
Do I Need A Lawyer For A Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury claims cover a wide variety of situations and different types of accidents. You may have been injured in a car accident, by slipping and falling on someone’s property, or bitten by a neighbor’s dog. All these things are considered personal injury and the level of your injury can make big a difference in processing your claim.
In some situations, you may be capable of handling a claim through insurance or Small Claims Court against the other party on your own. Other times, you may want to seek the advice and assistance of a qualified legal professional. It all depends on the severity of your injuries and the legal elements of the accident.
Managing your own case
Attempting to handle a claim on your own only to hire a lawyer later may complicate the claim process, so it’s important to understand what you’re capable of and what’s at stake if you mishandle your case. If you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a claim, you may consider contacting an attorney immediately after your injury for a consultation to find out if an attorney is worth the cost.
Here are a few examples of cases that you may be able to handle without an attorney:
What Happens If You Were In A Car Accident With No (Or Very Minor) Personal Injuries?
One of the most common types of case involves injuries caused in auto accidents. Someone might rear-end you at a low speed and cause minor damage to your vehicle. The injuries to yourself or your passengers might result in a few visits to the doctor’s office. Filing a claim with your insurance, or the other person’s, will often be efficient and enough compensation to cover the costs of repair to your car and the medical expenses incurred because of the accident. If this is the case, and you are satisfied with the coverage and service you receive from the insurance claim, there could be no need to call an attorney or seek further legal advice.
You’re already receiving the maximum amount available
Insurance companies will only pay out to their policy limits. This means if the defendant who injured you has a $30,000 maximum insurance policy and you’ve been offered a $30,000 settlement, even getting a larger verdict may not be useful to you. Any additional dollars over what the insurer is offering would have to be collected from the defendant directly. If the defendant has assets or money, then it may be worth it to try to collect additional damages if you believe you deserve them. However, if the defendant has little in the way of assets, then accepting the settlement is probably the best move.
You are confident you can negotiate effectively with an insurance adjuster
You wouldn’t necessarily need to seek a lawyer’s advice if you are confident and comfortable enough to negotiate with the insurance agent on your own to reach a settlement amount which you consider fair and equitable. In the case that your situation is something where you decide to take the other party to Small Claims Court, you can represent yourself if you feel confident in the evidence you have gathered and your knowledge of the legal process.
You’re comfortable researching the law and settlement process
Ensure you learn about the most important issues, including fault and legal liability that affect your case, and the various compensation available for different types of damages.
This can involve a lot of time and research in order to understand the particulars of the law. Many people do not have the energy to put into this research and there are professionals who have already undergone that training and have intimate knowledge of the law: attorneys. If you find yourself spending more time than it’s worth, and getting frustrated by the complications of the details, it could be time to consider consulting a legal professional.
How Do I Pay For A Lawyer In A Personal Injury Case?
Personal injury lawyers make money by winning personal injury cases in court or by settling personal injury case out of court. For the majority of personal injury cases, a personal injury lawyer will charge a contingency fee. In a contingency fee arrangement, the fee is contingent on the outcome. It is only paid if the case is successful.
If the lawyer wins the case, he or she will take a percentage of the final settlement in a case or from the final verdict at trial. When a person becomes a client of a personal injury attorney, he or she signs an agreement with the attorney agreeing to pay the percentage.
If no money is recovered from a judgment or settlement, the client does not owe the lawyer’s fees. The contingency-fee arrangement balances the interests of both the client and the attorney.
This percentage varies by state, case type and individual attorney. In general, it ranges from 33% to 45% of the settlement amount.
Contingency fees may appear high, however, when a person hires a lawyer on a contingency fee basis, that lawyer is taking a gamble on the case. During the course of litigation, some cases will settle, some will go to trial, and some will be appealed and perhaps tried multiple times. In other words, an attorney has little idea as to how much time a case will take at the time they take it. The case may make lots of money, or it could get nothing, and the lawyer will get no money for his or her time.
A client should always discuss a fee arrangement with the attorney at the start of the case, and it’s best to get the final agreement in writing.
It is common practice for the settlement check to be sent to the lawyer. When the settlement check is received, the lawyer will contact the client. The lawyer should also explain the amount he or she will be deducting from the settlement check to cover fees and expenses.
Most personal injury lawyers will also deduct any expenses that were covered by the lawyer. “Fees” and “expenses” do not mean the same thing.
Fees charged by lawyers are the charges for their time. Expenses are out of pocket expenses that lawyers pay in the furtherance of a case and may expect to be reimbursed for. Many personal injury lawyers will cover these costs and expenses and then deduct them from the client’s share of the settlement or judgment. Make sure it is understood whether the lawyer’s percentage is calculated from the total settlement, or whether costs are deducted before the calculation is made. In most cases, the lawyer fees are calculated based on the total settlement and then the costs are taken off after fees are deducted. Other lawyers charge for expenses as they become due. During an initial consultation with a personal injury attorney, be sure to inquire about all related fees and potential expenses.
Costs and expenses in a personal injury case may include:
- Court costs, such as filing and deposition fees
- Fees for investigators and expert witnesses
- Research service fees
- Trial exhibit preparation
- Copying, fax, postage and other office expenses
- Legal research costs
- Medical and police reports
- Travel costs
Some lawyers may charge lower fees, but keep in mind that a lower fee may mean a less experienced lawyer with less capital to fund a case. This means a higher percentage fee may be better if the lawyer obtains a higher settlement or verdict.
Some lawyers charge a tiered contingency fee that depends on how far a case goes before concluding. If the case settles before a lawsuit is filed, the contingency fee is lower than if the case goes to trial or beyond.
Most personal injury lawyers do not charge an hourly fee for their time. A number of lawyers will agree to take a personal injury case on an hourly basis, but a client needs available cash. A typical personal injury lawyer may charge anywhere from $250 to $500 or more per hour, plus expenses. This is why contingency fee arrangements are so attractive.
How Long Do You Have To Get A Lawyer After An Accident?
After going through a car accident in Texas, filing a claim for it might be the last thing on your mind. However, the statute of limitations in Texas means that you’ll need to think about filing your claim sooner than later. A statute of limitations (SOL) is a law that determines how long a person has to file a lawsuit in civil court.
After time passes as dictated by a SOL, a person loses their ability to file a claim, no matter how negligent the other party was to cause the accident. So, knowing the SOL could make a difference between recovering losses or having to pay for them on your own. Keep in mind that a SOL does not dictate when a claim needs to be settled. It only determines how long a person has to file their claim with a court.
Texas’ statute of limitation on car accident claims
In Texas, the statute of limitations (SOL) for car accident claims is the same one the state uses for most personal injury claims. So, the SOL for car accident claims regarding injuries in Texas is two years from the day of the accident. This limit also applies to those who want to make a claim for property damage resulting from an accident. However, you should always talk to an attorney about your case, even if you think that the SOL has passed for your claim.
If a person wants to file a claim on behalf of someone who was killed during an accident, this is known as a wrongful death lawsuit. While wrongful death claims have the same two-year limitation, they do not begin on the date of the accident. Instead, the “timer” for a wrongful death claim starts on the date of the person’s passing.
Statute of limitations for accidents caused by Texas government workers
There is one important exception to the statute of limitations on car accident claims in Texas. If a person working for the state of Texas caused your accident, they’ll only have six months to file a claim. Filing this claim can also have more steps because it requires an injury claim to be submitted to the department of the Texas government that the person was working for when they caused the accident. This report should detail when and where the accident happened, who was involved with it, and other details that will help the state address your claim.
Should You Settle with An Insurance Company Before Filing A Claim?
No one should ever settle with an insurance company before speaking with an attorney. At the core of every insurance company is a business that’s looking to protect profits. So, low settlement offers, delays, and denials are all strategies used by insurance companies to try and lose as little money as possible to a claim. Speaking with an attorney will help you determine if the insurance company is offering a fair settlement or if you should file a claim before the statute of limitations passes.
At The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC, we’re prepared to help you recover losses after a Texas car accident. We’ve helped obtain billions of dollars for customers, and we’re ready to fight for you. Car accidents can trigger years of struggle caused by medical issues, debt, and the loss of the ability to work. Our Texas car accidents can look at your claim and help you obtain the full compensation you deserve instead of just a small portion of what’s fair.
What Is The Average Settlement For A Minor Car Accident?
Depends some estimates put the average car accident settlement for a minor to moderate collision at $20,000 to $30,000. Severe cases could be worth much more depending on circumstances. Some victims in Texas have obtained six- and seven-figure settlements for their car accident damages.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, your insurance or the other driver’s coverage might be responsible for compensating you for injury and damages. Or you have collision coverage on your own vehicle and the crash was your fault, the insurance company will pay a certain amount to fix your car. If the cost to repair the damages is more than the value of your vehicle, the insurance company may consider your car totaled and give you a lump sum based on how much it’s worth.
When the wreck was caused by another driver’s negligence, his or her insurance company should compensate you for any losses, damages, pain and suffering. The sum that the company offers may be much lower than you expect. It’s easy to get reimbursed for funds that you’ve paid out. First, let’s be clear. We cannot give you an exact answer. It’s challenging to put a fair price on pain and suffering.
Average auto accident settlement amounts
It is difficult to determine average settlements, as each case is unique. However, this is a basic guideline to expect, based on various circumstances.
- $10,000 to $25,000 for minor injuries (soft tissue damage or whiplash)
- $50,000 to $75,000 for long-lasting injuries that require surgery or physical therapy
- $75,000 to $100,000 for spinal injuries (not resulting in paralysis)
- $100,000 and $250,000 for brain injuries (cognitive impairment, loss of brain function, requiring surgery)
- For debilitating injuries such as paralysis or severe brain injuries requiring daily assistance, settlements can cost well into the hundred-thousands or millions
Unfortunately, some insurance policies have limits. While the other driver may have had insurance, their company may not compensate the full amount you are due because of their limit. They will give you as much as they can to a point. If your settlement should be worth $20,000 but they will only give up to $10,000, that may be all you’re granted. You would have to sue the other person directly for the other portion of your due settlement.
Factors that affect how much your car accident settlement is worth
The settlement amount you receive for your car accident could vary based on several factors. Depending on
- what or who has been harmed in the accident
- damage solely to the car, if you sustained physical injuries
- if you experienced further pain and suffering after the immediate event
You could either receive a settlement that only covers the cost of your vehicle’s damage or you could be granted a higher settlement due to long-lasting injuries and/or compensation for the time you could not work due to your recovery.
How Do you Calculate Pain And Suffering?
Pain and suffering involves the emotional distress brought on after you’ve been injured in an accident. Several facets of distress fall under the pain and suffering umbrella:
- Physical pain, both temporary and long-lasting
- Emotional and psychological disorders (depression, anxiety, insomnia, etc.)
- Physical limitations (disabilities)
Calculating pain and suffering can be done through several means. The simplest option: Total your bills, between medical expenses, therapy bills, lost wages, and vehicle damage. These are considered Special Damages. However, this is not the only method you can use, as those bills are separate from your personal pain and suffering, which are General Damages.
To accurately calculate your pain and suffering, you must determine what category your pain and suffering falls under: Current pain and suffering, or current and future pain and suffering. The first includes your pain and suffering until the conclusion of your medical treatment. The second extends into the foreseeable future. As would be expected, your claim will be higher for current and future pain and suffering.
Lawyers and insurance adjusters calculate your pain and suffering by using the multiple method. In this case, they take your Special Damages and multiply it anywhere from 1 to 5 times, depending on the seriousness of your case. In a case involving whiplash, your multiplier may fall between 1 and 3. With broken bones, the multiplier would be 3 to 5. Severe injuries like brain damage warrant a multiplier of 5 or even higher.
Should I Get A Lawyer After A Minor Car Accident?
While there is no requirement to hire a car accident lawyer for a minor accident, you should think about doing so to cover your bases.
Consider this scenario: While heading to work or leaving the grocery store parking lot, the unexpected happens. Another driver hits your car. You think, should I simply exchange insurance information with the other driver, and both of us can be on our way? Should I hire a car accident lawyer for a minor accident?
Depending on how the crash happened, the damage to the vehicles, and any possible injuries, it might be in your best interest to hire a lawyer—even for a minor accident.
The damages may be more than you think
When another driver hits you in a minor car accident, you might think that you will just file a claim with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurer, get a check to repair the vehicle damage, and put all this in the rearview mirror.
The truth is, however, that it is not always that easy. What may seem like a minor car accident can turn into a major legal battle you may not feel equipped to fight on your own if you suffered an injury that does not present itself immediately after the crash.
Possible injuries you may have suffered
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that motor vehicle-related injuries send more than 2.3 million people to the emergency room annually. However, after a minor car accident, you may still feel an adrenaline rush, and you may believe you are not hurt, so you do not see a doctor right away.
Following a minor car accident, you might have suffered injuries that do not present until days or even a few weeks later. These injuries can result in chronic pain from disorders that might require long-term treatment and rehabilitation.
Soft tissue injuries
A soft tissue injury causes damage to muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Even low-speed accidents can generate a lot of force. Drivers may hit the brakes, causing the vehicle to come to a sudden stop that can jerk the neck back and forth in a forceful manner. This motion could cause a condition called whiplash. The Cleveland Clinic explains that symptoms may not manifest for several days after an accident and may include:
- Neck swelling and stiffness
- Neck pain with movement
- Muscle spasms
- Shoulder pain
- Tingling or numbness in arms
- Memory loss
When the other driver hit you, you may have bumped your head on the steering wheel but barely noticed. If this happened during your car accident, you might have suffered a concussion. Concussions can be severe, although the symptoms may not show up right away. The Mayo Clinic describes the symptoms of a concussion as:
- Ringing in the ears
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Blurry vision
See a doctor after your car accident
Both soft tissue injuries and concussions are common ailments following even a minor car accident. Either may eventually require a hospital stay, doctor visits, imaging tests, rehabilitation, prescription medications, and more.
These medical expenses can quickly add up. That is why it is essential to seek medical attention after your car accident, even if you do not think you were injured. If you quickly settle an insurance claim and accept an initial payment, you might waive your legal right to pursue compensation for your accident-related injuries in the future.
It is best to have a doctor document your injuries as soon after the accident as possible if you want to hold the at-fault driver responsible with an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
Economic and noneconomic damages
If another driver caused your injuries or vehicle damage in a minor car accident, you should not incur these expenses on your own. You may be eligible to receive compensation for your losses through an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit. You may be entitled to economic damages such as, but not limited to:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Loss of earning capacity
You may also receive compensation for noneconomic (less tangible) damages such as, but not limited to:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life activities
Keep in mind, if you choose to hire a car accident lawyer for a minor accident and file a personal injury lawsuit, you have a limited time to do so. Every state has its statute of limitations, or deadline, for filing a case. If that time limit runs out, you might miss your opportunity to pursue compensation for your losses and injuries in court.
If you suffered injuries or property damage in a minor car accident, you should not have to take on the financial burden alone if it was not your fault. At The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC, you do not pay anything upfront or out-of-pocket unless we secure a settlement on your behalf. Call today to speak to a member of our team for a free case evaluation.
What Percentage Do Personal Injury Attorneys Get?
It is standard practice for a lawyer to charge a reasonable contingency fee percentage from the top of all money recovered in your case minus expenses. Most charge between 33.3 and 40 percent in a Texas personal injury lawsuit. The average rate is typically 33.3 percent.
Why you should hire an attorney if your in an accident
- Working with a car accident lawyer can help you receive reasonable compensation that may exceed the amount that the insurance company would offer you on your own. An automobile injury attorney will help you present every detail about your case to the insurance company or a judge. He or she might bring up information that you would have missed if you did the negotiations yourself.
- Reimbursement for your car repairs and medical bills will almost always be determined by the amount that you paid. The lawyer will help you negotiate an adequate settlement for pain and suffering.
- It’s the insurance company’s job to offer you the lowest acceptable amount for a settlement. That’s how the organization makes the most of their own income and profits. An insurance adjuster may try to prove that you underwent unnecessary treatment. They may attempt to say that you were able to go to work.
- If you want to maximize your settlement, you’ll need to do more than submit a claim through an insurance company. An attorney will help persuade the insurance company that they should look into the matter further. A lengthy investigation may be initiated, and the personal injury lawyer will negotiate the settlement with the insurance company.
- You don’t always have to file a lawsuit to get a settlement payout for whiplash or another auto injury. The insurance company and your attorney may reach a suitable agreement. If they don’t, you may need to take the matter to court. A car wreck attorney can answer your questions about suing after a car accident.
How long Will My Case Last?
If you have been injured because of someone else’s carelessness and are considering filing a lawsuit, you are probably asking yourself: “How long will my case last?”
Each case is different. However, several factors can affect the length of your case. Generally, straightforward cases can be resolved in as little as six months, while complex cases can take two or more years to resolve. At The Bowen Law Firm, PLLC, we do not rush to accept the first settlement offer an insurance company makes because an insurance company’s first offer is typically inadequate to fully cover the damages you sustained. We are prepared to dig in our heels and negotiate a more fair settlement or try the case before a jury.
What Factors Affect The Length Of A Case?
1. The nature of your injury
It is essential to understand that you only have one opportunity to sue for your pain and suffering, medical bills, and other financial burdens you have experienced. Once a settlement is accepted, or a verdict is issued at trial, your case is over. If you settle too early and your condition worsens, and other medical bills pile up months or years down the road – from surgery, hospitalization, physical therapy and medical treatments – you will not be able to go back and sue for more money. Based on the nature and extent of your injury, an experienced attorney may advise you to wait before filing your lawsuit. While frustrating and potentially burdensome, this delay may prove critical in obtaining maximum compensation for your injuries. Filing a suit or settling your case too soon can cost you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.
2. The opposing insurance company’s level of cooperation
During the various stages of a lawsuit, your attorney will be interacting frequently with an insurance company, either directly or through opposing counsel. If the insurance company responds to your attorney in a timely fashion, your case will move along at a quicker pace. At times, however, insurance companies are less than fully cooperative, taking weeks, if not months, to respond to your attorney. This will delay your case. A skilled personal injury attorney will keep your case moving forward through the legal process as quickly as possible and keep you abreast of significant developments in your case.
3. Whether your case can be resolved without a trial
Most personal injury lawsuits are settled and do not go to trial. Should your case go to trial, it can sometimes take months to get the trial date set in court. Trials typically take two days to two weeks, depending on the complexity of the case. On occasion, an appeals court will be asked to review the trial proceedings, adding to the length of your case.
4. The complexity of your case
Simple, straightforward lawsuits can often be resolved within six months or so. An example is a car accident case in which one party admits fault, and the insurance company readily agrees to pay the other party fair compensation for their injuries but cannot agree to the amount of damages. On the other hand, complex cases can take two or more years to resolve. An example of this is a multi-car collision involving many injured parties, disputes over who was at fault, complicated insurance issues, and lengthy court battles. Most personal injury lawsuits involving medical malpractice, wrongful death, slip and fall, and defective products, involve some degree of complexity and may take an extended period of time to resolve.