Automobile Accident Injury Questions and Legal Advice
Louisville injury lawyer Jim Desmond provides answers to many motor vehicle accident FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):
1. Do I need to hire a personal injury attorney?
Not necessarily but, who is going to sell your house better, a realtor or you? It is the same concept.
Do you deal with car wrecks every day as a legal career and are you licensed to practice law in Kentucky and Indiana? If your answer is no, then respectfully I think I can do a better job as your personal injury lawyer. This week I dealt with a personal injury claim from a car wreck occurring 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 experienced lawyer was ready 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 and one that handles car wrecks and motorcycle accidents on a regular basis.
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.
3. Won’t your attorney’s fee be the majority of any personal injury settlement I recover?
No! Why would you ever hire a personal injury lawyer if their attorney’s fee would eat up the majority of the personal injury settlement? As a personal injury lawyer, my job is not only to recover as much as I can for you to maximize your personal injury settlement 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.
4. What if I don’t think the car wreck injured me?
Please feel free to call me anyway. I don’t mind giving free legal advice on injury claims arising from car wrecks. I am happy to tell you what your legal rights are concerning no-fault insurance, liability insurance or whatever other questions you may have. However, please understand this: A personal injury claim lives and dies on whatever information is contained in your medical records. So get checked out by your doctor if you have any pain or discomfort from the car wreck. Why? Because the hardest injury claims to prosecute are the ones when someone was in a car accident and didn’t seek medical treatment until 30 days after the car wreck. Very simply, it looks like your injuries were not caused by the car accident. If several weeks from now you are pain-free from the automobile accident, great! Let’s make sure we cover all bases now in case problems develop in the future.
5. I am currently represented by another injury attorney but, I can never get hold of him. Should I fire my lawyer and retain you?
Unfortunately, I get this call a lot and since you are represented by another attorney, the ethical rules governing lawyers will not let me give you legal advice. However, I would suggest you contact that injury lawyer 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, meeting with your injury lawyer 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 an attorney’s lien for his/her attorney’s fees. As your new injury 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 practicing law. Further, if necessary, 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.
6. Am I going to deal with you, another attorney or a paralegal?
You will be dealing directly with me. I give out my 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.
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.
8. What if the Personal Injury Settlement is Not Enough!
Plain and simple, when you are involved in a motorcycle wreck or a car accident in Kentucky or Indiana, there will be times when the personal injury settlement is not enough and does not fairly represent the value of your personal injury claim.
I had a personal injury case settle the other day wherein a former client was not happy with the amount we recovered. We had discussed at length the facts of his personal injury claim and that he was one of many people injured in this car wreck by an at-fault driver with limited insurance coverage. Further, I had obtained his legal authority to accept the settlement offer for his personal injury claim. Nevertheless, it was clear that he did not understand why he was not receiving more money from his settlement. The real reason was the lack of underinsured motorist coverage.
There were five people injured by one person, the at-fault driver who is also known as the tortfeasor, who had the state minimum in insurance coverage, $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This meant that while the tortfeasor’s insurance carrier, State Farm, was agreeing that their driver was 100% at fault for the car wreck and was willing to pay their entire insurance limit of $50,000, the five people with personal injury claims had to agree on how to split the $50,000 in coverage. To make matters worse, all these individuals were represented by experienced personal injury lawyers and all of us were arguing that our client’s injury claim was worth more than the next guy’s claim.
If an agreement would not have been reached, the $50,000 would have been deposited with the Court, (the Interpleader part of the case), and a Judge, after hearing evidence, just as if the claims proceeded to trial against the tortfeasor, would have to decide how to split the insurance proceeds. Typically, this ends up being a lot of extra litigation expenses and unnecessary delay. So ultimately, State Farm hired their own attorney to negotiate settlements for each injury claim, thereby resolving these claims in full and all at the same time.
So in this situation, are you, an injured person from a motor vehicle accident, just out of luck and required to take just what you can get? No! The best way to protect yourself in this situation is to have on your own automobile or motorcycle insurance policy underinsured motorist coverage. Had there been underinsured motorist coverage on my client’s vehicle, I could have agreed to the figure State Farm offered and then potentially recovered more funds from his own automobile insurance carrier. The fact that he would not have recovered the policy limit of $25,000 per person would NOT prevent him from making an underinsured motorist claim against his own automobile insurance.
9. 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 injury 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, within 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.
Contact Louisville Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney Jim Desmond Today
I hope you have found these motor vehicle accident FAQ to be helpful. If you have further questions or would like to discuss working together I invite you to call my phone at (502) 609-7657. If you would prefer to email me I will get back to you as soon as possible.