An injury in a car wreck can lead to frustration, anger, worries over medical bills, and a lot of uncertainty. But it doesn’t have to be that way, particularly if you have knowledgeable and experienced people advocating for you and helping you through the recovery process.
Here are some of the most common questions we get from new clients, and some basic answers. Every case is different, of course, but it’s our hope that taking a little mystery out of the subject with this FAQ can make the journey a lot less painful.
1. Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
Many people think that because the accident was “minor,” they can obtain a fair settlement on their own. But it makes sense to consult with a personal injury attorney before signing your rights away–especially if the consultation is free and doesn’t obligate you in any way. Even in what may seem like a simple case, many factors—such as a dispute over liability, the involvement of multiple parties, serious injuries or disability requiring costly treatment, or an insurance company operating in bad faith—can present challenges that are best handled by an experienced personal injury attorney.
2. Does it make sense financially to hire a personal injury lawyer?
A study of insurance payouts in 6000 accident cases showed that claimants who hired an attorney received settlements that were, on average, 40 percent higher than those paid to people who didn’t have an attorney. In a comparison of settlements received by accident victims for the same type of injury, people represented by an attorney recovered approximately 3.5 times more money than those without an attorney. That’s after deducting the fees paid to the attorney.
3. How do I pay for a personal injury lawyer?
Most firms that specialize in personal injury cases proceed on a contingency basis; they don’t get paid unless you do, and that means they have no incentive to mislead you about whether you have a legitimate claim or not. The costs you are responsible for are outlined in the fee agreement you sign. At Franklin D. Azar & Associates, we offer a free, no-obligation initial consultation, so there’s really no downside in having your case evaluated by an experienced accident attorney.
4. What should I expect in an initial meeting with a personal injury lawyer?
You should take time before that meeting to gather as much relevant documentation as you have available, such as the accident report or photos taken at the scene. An attorney will want to review your insurance coverage, medical bills, any X-rays or other assessments of injuries, invoices or estimates for car repair and other property damage, witness statements, and so on. Your attorney will also want to learn how the accident has impacted your ability to work and your daily life, or any prior medical condition that an insurance company might “blame” for complications experienced after the accident. Your attorney needs to know the whole story so that he or she can represent you effectively and help in the process of obtaining appropriate care for your injuries.
5. Will my personal injury case go to trial?
More than 90 percent of personal injury cases don’t end up in a courtroom. The parties, their attorneys, and their insurance companies usually reach a resolution without a lawsuit ever being filed. Even if the case does result in litigation, the matter is often settled before trial, saving time and expense for everyone concerned. But if there are ongoing disputes about who caused the accident, conflicting witness accounts, or other factual issues, the competing claims may have to be thrashed out in court. A trial might also result if there’s an unresolvable dispute with an insurance company over what constitutes fair compensation for injuries resulting from the accident.
6. How long will it take to reach a settlement in my personal injury case?
There is no simple answer to this question. A settlement could take a matter of weeks, or months, or even years, although most cases settle in a year or less. The severity of the injuries involved plays a role, since it may take considerable time and various treatments or surgeries to determine the extent of the patient’s recovery and the long-term prospects for recovery. Accident victims should be wary of accepting an insurance company’s initial offer of settlement without first consulting an attorney.
7. How do I pay my medical bills while waiting for the settlement?
Ultimately, the at-fault party is responsible for compensating you for the injuries you’ve suffered. But it can take months to reach a settlement with that party’s insurance company. In the interim, your treatment providers expect to be compensated immediately. Your first line of defense should be the insurance you already carry. If you have private health insurance or Medicare, it’s likely that coverage will be available for at least some of the medical costs associated with the accident. If you have medical payments coverage (also known as MedPay) as part of your auto insurance, that can cover health provider copays and deductibles that your private health insurance doesn’t. In many cases, health insurers will seek reimbursement for medical costs they’ve covered through a process known as subrogation; essentially, money that is awarded to you for medical costs as part of your settlement is then assigned to them. Or a medical lien might be filed by a doctor or a hospital involved in treating your injuries. Your attorney can help you find the treatment providers you need and address how these providers will be paid — and may be able to negotiate the release of a medical lien for less than the total amount sought.
THE CAR ACCIDENT LAWYERS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, Fort Collins, Greenwood Village, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 800-716-9032, or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.