Personal Injury FAQs
The following takes a look at some of the most commonly asked questions about personal injury claims:
- Who makes a good witness? If your case goes to trial (and sometimes, even if it does not), you will need to recruit a witness or witnesses who can testify on your behalf. Those persons who make the best witnesses are those who are reliable, objective, in good health (a person with vision problems testifying about something they saw will not aid your claim), and those who do not have any relationship to you.
- Can I file a lawsuit on a loved one’s behalf? There are three situations in which you may file a lawsuit after a loved one of yours has suffered a serious personal injury: first, the injury resulted in death and you are filing a wrongful death claim; second, the injured person is a child and you are that person’s legal parent or guardian; or third, the person is incapacitated, and prior to becoming incapacitated the individual signed legal power of attorney over to you.
- What is the point of a free case consultation? During a free case consultation, you and your (potential) attorney will have the opportunity to discuss your claim in more detail and learn more about one another. This will give you an opportunity to ask the attorney questions about their background and your claim, and give the attorney the chance to acquire important details about your injury.
- What is a class action lawsuit? When a single accident or product causes injury to multiple people. those people may form a class action lawsuit. A class action lawsuit is a single lawsuit in which a group of people are represented collectively. Common types of class action lawsuits are lawsuits against the manufactures of prescriptions, medical devices, or automobiles. If you are part of a class action lawsuit, you will likely be contacted. You do not have to join a class action lawsuit, and have the right to opt out and pursue a claim on your own. Your attorney can advise you regarding which is best.
- How long does a personal injury claim take? There is no clear answer for how long a claim takes to resolve. In some cases, it may only take a few weeks for an insurance company to offer a settlement amount and for you to get the money that you deserve. In other cases, it may take multiple months, or even over a year, for a claim to be settled. Whether or not your claim will be resolved quickly depends on the details of your case, how clear fault is, the amount of money that you are asking, the effectiveness of your attorney, and more.
How Do I Pay Medical Bills after Sustaining an Injury?
If you are injured in an accident, one of the most important things that you can do is to seek medical care for those injuries. Sometimes, however, a person’s insurance coverage will not cover certain procedures or medical expenses past a certain point, or a person’s deductible is very high, and they do not have the funds to cover it. As such, they are put between a rock and a hard place: should they elect to receive medical care, knowing that they cannot pay for it? Or, should they forego medical care altogether.
In most cases, the latter option is not a good option, or a possible one (many people’s injuries are so severe that receiving medical care is not optional, but mandatory). The question is, then, how will medical bills be paid for?
Options for Paying for Medical Bills
- Car insurance. One of the first sources that you should turn to when paying your medical bills is a car insurance company. Depending upon the circumstances of the accident and type of car insurance policy that you carry, you may be able to seek payment for your medical bills from both the insurance policy of the at-fault driver, as well as your own car insurance.
- Health insurance. Another common avenue for paying for medical bills after an accident is through health insurance. However, one of the common hiccups with health insurance is that the policyholder either has a very high deductible, or does not have enough health insurance coverage to fully pay for the medical treatment that they need.
- Contingent basis. If you cannot afford the healthcare that you desperately need, your personal injury attorney may be able to work with the healthcare provider (doctor, surgeon, etc.) to work out a system where you will pay the healthcare provider after your case is won. For many people, this is the best way to ensure that necessary care is given.
Your personal injury attorney can help you to add up the total of your medical bills and any future medical bills that you may face, and will help you to prove the negligence of the at-fault party in order to recover your full compensation amount.
Do I Have to Go to Court to Get a Settlement?
For most people, going to court is something they dread doing, and is a last resort. This is the case not only for injury victims, but also for their legal representation and the party against whom they are filing suit as well. Going to court is expensive, time-consuming, and can be unpredictable; you never know what a court will decide.
As such, going to court is usually reserved as something that is done only in the event that a settlement out-of-court cannot be reached. Ideally, the two parties will come to an agreement during out-of-court mediations or settlement talks.
In some cases however, a plaintiff’s injuries are so serious, or a defendant is so stubborn, that even the toughest of negotiations are not successful. When this is the case, going to court may be the only option.
What to Expect in Court
Going to court can be an intimidating experience, so it is important to prepare yourself adequately. During a trial, the following will take place:
- Choosing a jury. The judge, your attorney, and the defendant’s attorney will have the opportunity to question a pool of jurors in order to create a jury that is fair for everyone.
- Opening statements. Both you and the defense (or your respective lawyers), will have the opportunity to give opening statements to the court that highlight what will be discussed in the case and why you deserve (or do not deserve, in the defense’s case) compensation for your injuries.
- Testimony. The third step will be giving testimony, and calling any eyewitnesses or experts to the give testimony as well.
- Closing arguments. Again, both parties or their lawyers will have an opportunity to speak before the court and summarize why they believe that the jury should vote in their favor.
- Jury instruction, deliberation, and verdict. The judge will instruct the jury as to what legal standards apply to the case, and then the jury will deliberate. Deliberation may be as short as one hour or as long as multiple days. When the jury has reached a unanimous decision, this decision will be presented to all parties by the court.
Can I Negotiate My Injury Claim Myself?
You have the right to represent yourself during a personal injury trial. However, doing so may not be within your best interest; representing yourself may hurt your case’s chances if you do not have experience in the law.
A personal injury attorney is well-experienced and well-trained at all aspects of a personal injury claim, including negotiations. This means that your attorney will know exactly how much your claim is worth, what to ask for during negotiations, and what is too low of an offer. Your attorney will also know when to back off and give the defense time to think, or when to suggest that litigation is the fairest way to handle things.
Your attorney’s job is to get you the money that you deserve. Forfeiting your right to legal counsel may damage your claim’s outcome.
If you have a question that has not been answered in this guide, do not hesitate to contact a legal professional for answers.