If I have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, what should I do?
First, if you are injured, you should seek medical care for your injuries without regard to any potential lawsuit. If you are injured due to the fault of another person, you may well have the right to pursue a claim for injuries or losses against that person, probably through their insurance company. Because every case involves individual facts, your best course is probably to contact an attorney who can help advise you of the particular claim. Before you speak to any insurance personnel, you may want to at least engage in some sort of initial consultation with an attorney to ensure that your rights are protected. You should also take photographs of the damage to the vehicles before they are repaired.
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What compensation am I entitled to?
If you are injured in an accident due to the fault of another, you are entitled to the following types of damages:
- Lost wages, profits and future earnings
- Medical costs
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Mental and emotional injuries
For damages like pain and suffering, disfigurement, etc. that do not usually involve specific dollar amounts, compensation for those damages is based upon what constitutes fair, just and reasonable compensation. The amount of that compensation is an amount that can be agreed upon in settlement discussions, or ultimately, determined by a jury.
What is a contingency fee?
Most of our cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. A contingency fee agreement means that we are paid only if we are successful in obtaining a monetary recovery in the pursuit of your case. We typically will be paid 1/3 of the monetary amount awarded if your case involves personal injuries, including medical malpractice. With this type of arrangement, if the case is lost, and no money is awarded, you do not owe us any legal fees for our time.
See also, our Glossary of Legal Terms
Am I responsible for costs and expenses for bringing a personal injury case?
For cases handled on a contingency fee basis for personal injuries, we only require our clients to reimburse our firm for costs and expenses associated with litigation if we are successful in recovering money either by way of settlement or trial. In some circumstances, we do negotiate with a client who wants certain experts retained or cases investigated before we agree to accept the matter. However, in most instances, we only require costs and expenses for personal injury cases to be paid back out of the proceeds of the case.
Will I have to go to Court or testify?
Many personal injury cases settle before a case actually goes to trial. However, if the defendant or insurance company is unwilling to offer money towards settlement or the amount is not reasonable, the case will go to trial. If so, the person bringing the personal injury case needs to be present and involved in the case. If any other testimony is required before the trial, the attorney will prepare you for that process.
What is medical malpractice?
When a patient is harmed or suffers serious illness due to the negligence of a health care provider, he or she is a victim of medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a complex area of law that requires experienced attorneys. Oftentimes until medical records are fully reviewed and investigated, it is impossible to know whether someone truly has been subjected to medical malpractice. Please see the practice areas or contact us directly for further information.
See also, our Glossary of Legal Terms
If I am injured, how long do I have to bring a claim?
The answer to this question depends on many factors. For your particular case, you should consult with an attorney to get an accurate answer to this question. In general, injuries for negligent drivers causing an accident must be filed within two years of the date of accident. Medical malpractice cases have a similar time frame, although there are certain circumstances that allow for extensions of the two year time frame. However, in some instances you may need to provide certain notice to the wrongdoers well before the two year time period. Therefore, if you are contemplating a claim, you should discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible after the event to preserve your rights.
Is money received for personal injuries taxable income?
In general, damages paid for compensation for personal physical injures or physical sickness is generally excluded from taxable income. However, if a component of your settlement is for lost wages, or emotional distress not tied to physical injury or sickness, or punitive damages, those items can be taxable. We are not tax attorneys and would always recommend that any compensation you receive be discussed with your tax advisor. However, in general, settlements or verdicts that are compensation for physical injures and physical sickness caused by the negligence of another person are excluded from income. For the most recent regulation from the IRS, please see the regulation at 26 C.F.R I§I.I04-1(c).
Glossary of Legal Terms
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