Frequently Asked Questions
A Personal Injury (PI) is any physical or mental injury to a person as a result of someone’s negligence or harmful act. Many insurance companies refer to Personal Injury as Bodily Injury (BI).
Auto accidents are the most common type of Personal Injury recognized by the general public. Along with auto accidents, Personal Injury law also includes home accidents, boat accidents, airplane crashes, dog bites, defective products, failure to provide adequate security, and malpractice, including the failure to diagnose.
The most important thing is to get well – see your doctor & follow your doctor’s orders.
Do not discuss the accident or give a statement to the insurance company or attorney for the “at-fault” driver. Remember: “What You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You!” Instruct them to call your insurance company or your attorney.
Call JSW Law . We do not charge for an initial consultation in accident cases.
Do not speak with the adjuster.
Refer the adjuster to your insurance company or attorney.
Also, do not speak with the attorney for the “at-fault” driver.
Insurance companies spend a lot of money on ” friendly ” advertising asking you to think of them as a neighbor you can rely on to lend you a helping hand.
The “at-fault” driver’s insurance company is very experienced at handling auto accident claims. The adjuster’s goal is to settle your claim as cheaply as possible.
Unless you are an experienced claims processor, you should always hire an Attorney to represent your interests ( ie – to be your Advocate).
Get the name and phone number of the attorney.
Report the attorney to the Bar Association or licensing authority in your state in your state. It is an ethical violation for an attorney to solicit accident victims.
Get the name and phone of the health care professional.
Report that health care professional to his or her licensing association.
Protect your rights.
Call JSW Law.
Get a professional opinion.
You have nothing to lose. We do not charge for an initial consultation in Personal Injury cases.
Most Personal Injury claims do not become lawsuits. After you are fully recovered from your injuries, your attorney will file a claim with the insurance company.
In most cases your attorney (with your approval) and the adjuster negotiate a fair monetary settlement for your injuries.
Damages are any loses or expenses you incurred as a result of the accident.
Personal Injury Victims are entitled to recover money damages for all losses and expenses they incur as a result of an accident. The following is a partial list.
- Medical bills (doctor bills, hospital bills, surgery expenses, diagnostic charges, physical therapy, personal care nursing fees, prescription medicines, and others),
- Lost Wages, including overtime,
- Pain & Suffering,
- Physical Disability,
- Permanent Scars
- Emotional Trauma,
- Mental Anguish,
- Loss of Enjoyment,
- Loss of Love & Affection,
- Mental Disability,
- Property Damage,
- All out of pocket expenses (transportation charges, house cleaning, grass cutting, and others).
Whether a Personal Injury claim (a “tort”) exists is a matter of law. There are four elements to a “tort” claim:
- The “at-fault” person is under a duty to do or not to do something,
- The “at-fault” person breaches that duty,
- You suffer Damages, and
- Your Damages are the result of the “at-fault” person’s actions.
In fact, most Personal Injury claims are settled with the insurance carrier for the “at-fault” party.
Depending on current state law and the type of insurance coverage in your policy, your medical bills can be paid under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, your Medical Payments coverage (MPC), your health insurance coverage, or your Worker’s Compensation plan, if applicable. Although under most policies providing these types of coverage, the insurance company is entitled to reimbursement from the settlement funds of your Personal Injury claim for the medical expenses actually paid on your behalf. For people with no insurance and who are unable to pay for medical services, if prior arrangements are made, there are doctors, hospitals, and other medical facilities that will agree to be paid out of settlement. Generally, you will be required to sign a lien against your settlement fund
Not prior to settling your claim.
Lost Wages are your responsibility prior to settlement of your claim.
You can argue within the claim for your lost wages to be reimbursed.
Depending on current state law and the type of insurance coverage in your policy, your Lost Wages may be covered under your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Also, if you qualify, you may file a claim for short-term or long-term disability under your employer’s disability coverage. Generally, PIP and disability coverage require reimbursement from your settlement funds. You may also use your employer provided “comp” time, sick time, personal time, or vacation, which generally does not require reimbursement.
At the scene, you may not feel injured. Many people begin to feel the pain later. Although you may not believe that you were seriously injured, you may feel pain later, including significant pain, when the emergency is over. See your primary care physician for a complete examination and treatment as soon as possible.
If you are “sore”, you are probably hurt. Consult your doctor. If you simply “tough-it-out” and do not see your doctor, you give the insurance company the ability to deny that you were injured in the accident.
You do not have to go to your primary care physician for treatment. You can go to a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or other health care professional.
If you were injured in a motor accident, bicycle accident, tractor trailer accident, animal injury, nursing home, intentional injury, work accident, medical malpractice or any other type of accident, you should not have to reach in your own pocket to get justice. That is why all of our fees are contingent with recovery costs only. There are NO FEES UNLESS YOU RECOVER FROM THE INSURANCE COMPANY.
Get Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney
A fee is contingent when it is conditioned upon your attorney’s successfully resolution of your case. And is often referred to as: “No fee unless you win.” However, the client is generally responsible for the “out-of-pocket” costs of litigation. A Contingent Fee is paid as a percentage of your monetary recovery (either settlement or court award).
There is no set answer. All cases are different. The more complex the case is the longer it takes to settle. If you have substantial injuries, the longer it will take. The more money there is at stake for the insurance company, the longer it will take. In most cases, the settlement process starts when your doctor releases you from treatment. Assuming your attorney has all of your accident-related records, your claim could be filed with the insurance company in five to ten business days. It may take the adjuster two to four weeks to evaluate your claim and make an initial offer.
At this point, it’s a matter of both sides negotiating a dollar amount that is reasonable for your case and acceptable to you. If you receive medical treatment for two to four months, it is possible that your claim could be settled within six months.
Until all the information on your injuries is available and all the facts of your case are known, the value of your claim is unknown. Attorneys are prohibited by state Bar Association rules from promising that they will obtain a certain amount of money for you.
If an Attorney promises you that he or she WILL win a certain amount of money, report the attorney to the Bar Association in your state. It is an ethical violation for an attorney to predict the outcome of a case as an inducement to you to become a client.
You will be required to sign a GENERAL RELEASE which will state that your settlement is a COMPLETE, FINAL AND IRREVOCABLE SETTLEMENT AND DISPOSITION OF ANY AND ALL CLAIMS, RIGHTS OR DEMANDS OR CAUSES OF ACTION, KNOWN OR UNKNOWN, WHICH YOU MAY HAVE AS A RESULT OF YOUR ACCIDENT ( NOTE: both SPOUSES ARE GENERALLY REQUIRED TO SIGN WHEN THE INJURED PARTY IS MARRIED ).
This means that you will no longer have any claim against the “at-fault” driver, or any potential defendant, or their insurance company as a result of this settlement.
The Settlement Check will be made payable to you, your spouse (if applicable) and your attorney. Your attorney will prepare a Settlement Statement. The Settlement Statement will set forth the amount of money collected. From the total collected, your attorney will deduct the agreed upon attorney fee, any unpaid medical bills, any insurance reimbursements (subrogation), and the expenses of litigation. After you sign the Settlement Statement, your attorney will issue a check to you from his or her Trust account in the “net” amount of your settlement.
The fact that you have a “pre-existing condition” will not prohibit you from recovering from the “at-fault” person / company.
Your “pre-existing condition” is merely a factor to be considered in resolving your claim. The question is whether the “at-fault” person / company aggravated your “pre-existing condition”.
The “at-fault” person / company takes you in whatever condition you are at the time of the accident.
The fact that someone else would not have been injured is irrelevant.
A person in a weakened condition may actually recover more than an extremely fit person would recover in the same accident.
For those who are planning on hiring an attorney for the first time, the idea of fees, meetings, requirements and confidentiality can sound overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be, as long as you know what to expect. For further questions about how a specific attorney-client relationship will work beyond this basic primer, there’s no better person to ask than the attorney you’re considering hiring.
When hiring an attorney for the first time, you may not know what to expect and how things will work. What follows is a short guide covering the basics of the attorney-client relationship to help you navigate communications and meetings with lawyers as well as to understand their fees and services.
Communications and Services
First and foremost, the attorney-client relationship is based on trust and is sacred in the eyes of the law—that is, a client can expect that the attorney, once hired, will keep communications confidential, and, in all but extreme circumstances, a court will protect disclosures of a client to an attorney as well.
Accordingly, in dealings with an attorney retained for representation, a client should be honest and forthcoming and always keep the lawyer updated on any changes in circumstances.
In return, the client should expect that the attorney will do the following:
- Make sure he or she has no conflict of interest
- Behave ethically according to the applicable Rules of Professional Conduct
- Not abuse the justice system
- Advise the client of the payment structure and fee schedule
- Listen to the client’s version of events and ask questions when appropriate to elicit pertinent information
- Keep client matters confidential
- Advise the client of his or her legal rights and responsibilities
- Perform any necessary research to answer questions and support the client’s cause
- Represent the client’s interests competently, professionally and diligently
- Propose a legal course of action to resolve the client’s problem based on an independent professional analysis of applicable facts and law
- Assess the client’s chances of winning a case honestly
- Inform the client of settlement offers and other possible resolutions
- Respect and deliver the client’s decisions regarding the trajectory of the case, including whether to accept settlement offers
- Write and submit legal documents in a timely fashion
- Provide copies of important documents to the client
- Answer the client’s questions and phone calls promptly
- Keep the client updated on case progress
In addition to being open and honest about the case, a client should also inform the attorney immediately if he or she is unhappy with the attorney’s representation, has a question or problem about fees or billing, or has moved or changed phone numbers.
The client should also pay the lawyer as agreed, not ask him or her to perform illegal or unethical activities, and respond to the attorney’s communications and requests for information promptly.
Expectations for Meetings
Meeting with an attorney for the first time can be stressful, but the client can minimize anxiety levels by being well-prepared. When meeting with an attorney, the client should bring any and all documents and other items that may be helpful to the attorney as he or she presents the case—it’s better to bring too much than to have insufficient documentation. Depending on the legal issue, this may include copies of medical bills and records, accident and other police reports, photos, legal documents prepared by other attorneys, and more. When in doubt, ask the attorney what you should bring to the meeting.
Be aware that in some law offices, legal assistants or paralegals may be involved in the fact-gathering process and thereafter. This is not uncommon, particularly in larger law firms, and if this is the case, the attorney may inform the client as such, which will also help him or her know who to contact with questions or concerns.
When hiring a lawyer, the client should find out the fees and fee schedule up front and get them in writing. This information will vary based on the type of case, location, experience of the attorney, complexity of the case, and many other factors.
Some lawyers charge hourly rates, while others charge a flat fee for certain services . In other situations, such as worker’s compensation cases, the fee may be set by statutory law.
IMPORTANT : The two “fee” terms clients should be familiar with are “contingency fee” and “retainer fee.”
In personal injury or wrongful death cases, lawyers often work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only collect money IF they win the case or a settlement is reached; a client should find out how this fee is calculated beforehand. A “retainer fee,” on the other hand, is an amount set by the lawyer that a client must pay to “retain” his or her services before he or she will work on the case. Typically, the attorneys’ fees are paid out of that money as work is completed.
CITED SOURCE : Michelle Fabio, Esq.
Do you have questions we didn’t answer? Give us a call or send us an email.
We’d love to talk with you and answer your questions in more detail!
JSW Law, LLC.
5855 Medlock Bridge Pkwy.
Suwanee, GA 30024
Tel: (1) 678-638-0110
Fax: (1) 678-638-0115
CALL NOW FOR PERSONAL ASSISTANCE !