FAQs About Personal Injury Claims

COMMON QUESTIONS FOR PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER
What should I do if I’ve been injured in an accident?

If you or a family member has been injured in an accident, you should seek advice from a personal injury lawyer to determine if you have a personal injury claim. Depending upon the facts surrounding your personal injury claim the responsible party may or may not be clear from the outset. An experienced personal injury lawyer will look at the facts carefully to determine who is responsible for your injuries. There are a number of liability theories that individuals that are not trained in this area may overlook. The bottom line is that you should talk to a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident to determine if you have a valid claim; who is responsible; and what financial compensation may be available to you.

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Why is it important to seek advice from a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible?

There are several reasons that make it important to talk to your personal injury lawyer as soon as possible following an accidental injury. For starters it is important that all relevant evidence is preserved and not inadvertently destroyed or lost. Your injury lawyer will have insight into what evidence is important and develop a plan to obtain the evidence and preserve it. Additionally, it is important to speak with your injury lawyer prior to making any statements about your case. For example, insurance representatives will request a recorded statement. Your injury attorney will be able to help you determine what, if any, statements you should provide. Also, depending upon the jurisdiction there may be a limited time to bring your personal injury claim or a certain period of time to place a party on notice of the claim.

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What should I do when I am contacted by an insurance company?

If you were injured and are contacted by an insurance company you should not discuss your injury or any facts about the accident until after you have consulted with your personal injury lawyer. Your personal injury lawyer will try to protect you from situations in which your statements might be incomplete or taken out of context causing harm to your claim. Additionally, it is important that you do not sign any papers or agree to a quick settlement before your injuries have all become apparent and ultimately resolve, as this may affect your right to pursue a claim in the future. Remember, the other party’s insurance company is not on your side no matter how nice they are trying to portray themselves. Insurance adjusters are trained to build rapport with you in order to take advantage of the relationship to further their interests…. not yours.

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How much is the fee for your initial case evaluation?

Your case evaluation and initial consultation is FREE.

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Should I hire a lawyer to handle my accident case?

Generally, the answer is “YES”. I believe it is important to have legal representation for an accident case. However, as a general rule legal counsel is not required as a matter of law. To make it really simple I think that a good bright line test would be the following: If a person is injured in an accident that requires a visit to a doctor or other medical care provider consult with a lawyer free of charge at a minimum. If any additional follow-up medical care is likely, the individual should hire a lawyer to handle the accident case.

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How to determine if I have a valid personal injury claim?

There are different types of personal injury claims, and the process is a little different for each type of claim. For example, if you sustained injuries in a car accident we would investigate the cause of the accident. This might involve contacting witnesses, obtaining reports, or even hiring an accident reconstruction expert if necessary. If the case involves a defective product we might engage an engineering expert to determine the nature of the product failure that caused your injuries. Alternatively, if the case involves potential medical malpractice we would evaluate the medical records, review medical literature, and consult with medical experts to determine if a medical care provider breached the required standard of care thereby causing injury to you. Of course, these are just a few of many examples that explain how we determine if you have a valid personal injury claim.

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How much money is my personal injury claim worth?

The value of a personal injury claim varies depending upon a multitude of factors. Personal injury cases range in value from hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars. Some factors upon which the value depends include: the extent of the injuries sustained; the degree of permanency (if any); the degree of pain and suffering; emotional trauma; degree of disfigurement (if any); the amount of medical and other costs incurred; the amount of past and future economic losses including loss of wages; the jurisdiction where the personal injury lawsuit can be filed; whether you are a sympathetic witness; whether the opposing party would be a sympathetic witness; etc… Determining the value range of your case takes some time for these issues to evolve. If anybody provides an opinion regarding the value of your case at an early stage without a full investigation you should be very wary of any advice that they are providing. After your case has developed more fully and properly investigated we can provide you with our opinion regarding its settlement value. Clearly, this issue will be discussed fully when settlement discussions are initiated by the opposing party or by us. You are the ultimate decisionmaker who will decide whether to settle your case or allow a judge/ jury to determine the value. If we represent you, then your personal injury claim will never be settled without your approval.

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Is it worth it file a personal injury claim?

It depends upon the type of case and the injuries that you have sustained. Medical malpractice and products liability cases are more complicated to prove than a car accident case for example. More complicated cases require a greater number of experts to testify which increases the expense associated with proving a case. For a complicated case to make sense the anticipated economic recovery must justify the expenses of proving your case. However, a simple car accident case, for example, has a much lower threshold. Depending upon the jurisdiction, a car accident case with minor injuries may not require any expert testimony in order to prove the personal injury case.

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Why should I follow a personal injury claim even if all of my medical bills are paid?

Medical expenses are just one part of a personal injury case. Other aspects of a personal injury claim might include compensation for future medical expenses, loss of wage, loss of earning capacity, pain, suffering, scarring, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment, loss of “marital services”/ loss of consortium, and other miscellaneous expenses.

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How much of my time will be required to pursue a personal injury claim?

When you hire a personal injury lawyer to represent you for your personal injury claim very little of your time is required unless your case does not settle and a trial is required. The reason that it will take so little of your time is because your lawyer will handle almost everything for you. Your main job is just to recover from the injuries that you sustained. Of course, a relatively small amount of time may be required to fill out some paperwork that is sent to you; to spend time on the telephone with your personal injury attorney discussing your case and your treatment; and possibly a few hours answering questions in an attorney’s office. If your case is not settled and a trial is required a greater time commitment will be required.

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Will I have to go to court?

Generally, if your case settles prior to trial you will not have to go to court. Whether a case settles depends upon a variety of factors including: the strength of the case, the wishes of the client, the recommendations made to the client by the personal injury attorney, and the desire of the opposing party to make a fair settlement offer prior to trial. Because the Law Office of Barry Helfand screens cases very carefully and only accepts meritorious cases a very large percentage of our personal injury clients wish to accept the settlement offers offered by the opposing party before trial. If a client does not want to go to court other options may also be available, such as, mediation or arbitration.

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The person that caused my injury is a friend (or seemed very nice). Will the person that caused my injury be harmed as a result of my personal injury claim?

Most personal injury lawsuits or personal injury insurance claims are covered by insurance. Up to the insurance policy limits the other party will not have to pay out of pocket for any money paid to an injured person. Generally, if a personal injury lawsuit is filed the person that caused the injury will not even have to hire their own lawyer as the insurance company will hire a lawyer for their defense. Many good people who accidentally hurt a friend or another person would want the injured person to be properly compensated with the proceeds of an insurance settlement. After all, insurance premiums do not only protect the insured from financial loss. The insurance that is purchased helps others if the insured causes another to suffer. Wouldn’t a good person want the insurance premiums that they have paid to go to good use and help somebody that they hurt?

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Why should I file a personal injury claim?

Generally, the law provides that one is entitled to compensation for personal injuries that one sustains as a result of another’s negligence. So, for starters a good reason to file a personal injury claim is because you may wish to exercise this legal right that provides for compensation for items, such as, past and future medical bills, past and future wage losses including a loss of earning capacity, emotional trauma, scarring or other disfigurement, loss of enjoyment, and other losses. Next, when one seeks compensation from another party, the other party will hopefully learn to be more careful which may prevent another from suffering a similar or even worse injury in the future.

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