The mere fact that you were involved in an accident, or the fact that you have been injured is not sufficient to entitle you to compensation for your injuries. To be entitled to compensation, you must be able to prove that their has been a breach of a legal duty owed to you, and as a result of that breach of duty, you sustained an injury with resulting damages.
In addition to proving that someone breached a legal duty owed to you, you must also prove that there is a direct connection between the accident and the injuries there were sustained. In other words, the law requires that you prove that the accident was the “proximate cause” of your injuries. The damages for which the law allows compensation include past and future medical expenses, past and future loss of earnings, other economic losses, permanent disability, psychological injuries, discomfort, pain, and suffering, and damages for the inability to perform one’s usual activities.
The most important thing for you to do after an accident in which you have sustained an injury is to recover from those injuries. Seek medical help. Go to the hospital if necessary. Schedule an appointment with your family physician. Do what your doctor tells you to do. If your physician prescribes medications, or therapy, or home exercises, or follow up tests or appointments, be sure to follow those instructions. Failure to follow your doctor’s advice may be used against you at the time of settlement or trial.
If you feel that you are not able to perform you regular duties at work, you should discuss this with your doctor and ask for the doctor’s advice as to whether you should go to work. If you miss time from work without a doctor’s orders to stay home, you will most likely not be able to recover your lost wages.
Your attorney will discuss with you the preferred ways to have your bills paid. In general, however, your medical bills can be paid by one or more of the following methods:
Your case is worth either what you agree with the insurance company it is worth, or the amount awarded to you in court by a judge or jury.
At the conclusion of your medical treatment, we analyze the nature of that treatment, the amount of your medical bills and lost wages, and obtain your doctor’s opinions with respect to how the injury may affect you in the future. With this information we are able to arrive at an amount that we believe represents a fair settlement which the insurance company should pay.
If the insurance company agrees to pay what we believe your case is worth, and you wish to settle for that amount, then your case will not go to court. This is what happens in most situations. However, if your attorney is not qualified to take your case to trial, and is not willing to prepare as if the case is going to trial, your claim will probably be worth less. Most cases that are filed in court do eventually settle without going to trial. However, no defendant or insurance company will offer a fair and reasonable settlement unless it is clear that you are ready to take your case to court and have a lawyer that has a winning record. Nothing brings a case to a fair settlement more successfully than the case that is properly prepared for trial.
When the other driver does not have insurance, or does not have enough coverage to pay your damages in full, the UM coverage, or uninsured motorists coverage of your own auto policy will pay your damages. UM insurance coverage covers you, and should be a part of your auto coverage. You may have to request such coverage from your insurance agent, because it is coverage that insurance companies frequently do not like to sell. If it become necessary to make a UM claim, your insurance company will act as if it is the insurance company for the other driver, and pay your damages up to your UM policy limits. Everyone should carry as much UM protection as they can afford.
With personal injury cases, our fees depend upon, or are contingent upon the outcome of your case. The usual fee is one third of the funds obtained on your behalf either by settlement or trial. If there is no settlement or successful verdict, then there is no obligation to pay any attorney fees. The law does require that the client is ultimately responsible for the costs incurred with the litigation. In most cases, our office will advance those costs and you will not have to pay any money up front. The costs are then paid out of the recovery at the time your case is settled.