Motor Vehicle Accident FAQ

 

  1. Do I need a personal injury attorney, a car wreck attorney or no attorney at all?
  2. What if you cannot help me with my personal injury claim?
  3. Won’t your attorney’s fee be the majority of any personal injury settlement I recover?
  4. What if I don't think the car wreck injured me?
  5. I am currently represented by another attorney, but I can never get hold of him. Should I fire my attorney?
  6. Am I going to deal with you, another attorney or a paralegal?
  7. I have been in a motor vehicle accident. Should I go to the Emergency Room, my family doctor or a chiropractor?
  8. Do I have to go to court (ie. File a lawsuit)  if I want to recover monetary damages for my personal injury claim?
  9. If the car wreck was my fault, can I still recover compensation for my pain and suffering?
  10. How much is my personal injury case worth?
  11. How soon do I need to bring my legal claim against the at-fault driver?
  12. What if the insurance company for the other driver offers me a settlement check right away?
  13. What if the other driver has no insurance?
  14. Are there parties other the at-fault driver against whom I can take legal action?

 

1. Do I need to hire a personal injury attorney?

Do you deal with motor vehicle accidents every day and are licensed to practice law in your State? If your answer is no, you need a personal injury lawyer.  This week I dealt with a personal injury claim from from a car wreck occuring in Owensboro, Kentucky. Several people were injured so several lawyers were involved.  I had to remind one of the other lawyers that KRS 304.39-070 extinguishes a PIP lien when the insurance company offers their policy limits.  In other words, this other attorney was ready to about to pay a lienholder, out of the proceeds of his client's personal injury settlement, when he did not need to. So yes, you need an experienced personal injury lawyer handling your bodily injury claim.

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2. What if you cannot help me with my personal injury claim?

Then you get some free legal advice to make sure you handle the bodily injury claim correctly.  I may not be able to help you this time but, I am happy to tell you what I know about an area of the law and point you towards lawyers who I trust. 

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3. Won’t your attorney’s fee be the majority of any personal injury settlement I recover?

Why would you ever use me if this was the case?  As a personal injury attorney, my job is not only to recover as much as a I can for you but also, to minimize the amounts that need to be paid out of your injury claim.  I have an unwritten policy that my attorney’s fee will never be more than the net amount of your personal injury settlement, the amount you put in your pocket.  I can only do this policy for pre-litigation cases as the litigation costs to take a matter to trial usually range between $3,000 to $7,000.  However, I will always try to be fair with you in regard to my attorney's fee as I will never let it stand in the way of a good settlement offer.  Also, this is why I will speak to your medical providers and negotiate a reduction with them for any amounts not covered by your insurance. If I can get a medical provider to accept less, it means more money in your pocket and a greater chance I will not have to reduce my fee.

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4. What if I don’t think the car wreck injured me?

Please feel free to call me anyway. I am happy to tell you what your rights are. However, please understand this: A personal injury claim lives and dies on whatever information is contained in your medical records. As a result, I am going to tell you to get checked out by your doctor if you have any pain or discomfort from the car wreck.  Why?  Because the hardest cases I deal with are when someone was in an automobile accident and didn't seek medical treatment until 45 days after the car wreck. Very simply, it looks like you were not hurting for those 45 days.  If several weeks from now you are pain free from the automobile accident. Let’s make sure we cover all bases now in case problems develop in the future.

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5. I am currently represented by another attorney but, I can never get hold of him. Should I fire my attorney?

Unfortunately, I get this call a lot and since you are represented by another attorney, the ethical rules I am bound by will not let me give you legal advice.  However, I would suggest you contact that attorney and tell him you want to sit down with him and go through your file with him for 30 minutes. Why wouldn’t you take this step? If he/she is handling your personal injury claim on a contingency fee, as most personal injury attorneys do, the meeting is not going to cost you any extra money in attorney’s fees. Moreover, if I am going to pay a lawyer thousands in a legal fee, you can be sure that they will take the time to answer my questions about their handling of the injury claim.  If he/she is unwilling to take this step, you are entitled to a copy of your file, but your former attorney is allowed to assert a lien for his/her attorney’s fees.  As your new attorney, it is my job to try and negotiate with them in regard to this attorney's lien.  While legally you could get stuck owing two attorney's fees in this scenario, I have never had that happen in the 20 years I have been practing law.  Further, I would try to avoid that and if necesary, I would walk away from the majority of my fee.  I am happy to meet with you and review your injury claim with you to see what your options are.

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6. Am I going to deal with you, another attorney or a paralegal?

You will be dealing directly with me. I give out my cell phone number, (502) 609-7657, for a reason. I want you to be able to get hold of me. Some clients like to text or e-mail me.  It does not make a difference how you get hold of me.  You can call me in the evenings or on the weekends. I have found that my clients tend to be appreciative of the ability to get hold of me when they need to and are usually considerate of not overly interfering with my time.

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7. I have been in a motor vehicle accident. Should I go to a doctor?

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should see a family doctor, an Emergency Room or a chiropractor right away. The pain from most motor vehicle accidents tends to increase over the days following the car crash.  Get checked out and make sure that you did not suffer an injury more serious than you originally thought.

The first doctor's visit documents the fact that you were experiencing pain, even if just neck or back pain, from the car wreck.  

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8. Do I have to go to court or file a lawsuit if I want to recover monetary damages in a personal injury claim?

 

There are really two phases to the handling of any personal injury claim. The first phase is called pre-litigation.  In this phase, you are getting the medical treatment you need, making sure your medical bills are being paid and gathering the evidence your injury lawyer will need if the claim(s), the pain and suffering claim or the denial of medical benefits, results in a lawsuit.  In other words, there is a lot of gathering information, documents, medical records and statements from witnesses should a lawsuit be required.

At the end of the pre-litigation stage, all your medical records and bills are collected and forwarded to the liability carrier, the insurance carrier for the driver who was at fault, with a settlement demand for your personal injur claim.  That demand letter will generally include a description of your treatment, the total amount of your medical expenses and a first offer to settle your personal injury claim.

The liability carrier reviews the material and comes back with their first offer.I then discuss the settlement offers with my client and we decide if we these settlement negotiations can result in a reasonable settlement offer he/she would want to accept.  If so, we negotiate a settled amount with the liability carrier.  Usually withing two weeks of that acceptance, I meet with my client to execute a release and distribute the proceeds of the settlement to him or her.  However, if we can't reach a fair settlement amount for the personal injury claim, we discuss filing a lawsuit with the client.