FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – AND THEIR ANSWERS!
Here at the Reyes firm, we try our absolute best to ensure our clients understand every step of their case. Instead of leaving them in the dark, we want to answer every and all of your doubts.
Depending on the nature of your case, your medical bills may be covered by one or more of the following:
If you have no insurance coverage, you and your lawyer will save your medical bills so that they can be paid at a later date, when and if your case settles. If you are unable to pay your bills as they are incurred, many doctors, hospitals and other medical facilities will wait to receive payment until your personal injury case is resolved by way of a settlement or a verdict in court. It is important to let your medical providers know, early in the process, if you have no insurance or financial means to pay your medical bills as they are incurred. Many doctors and medical facilities will require that you sign a form (usually called a “subrogation” or “lien” form), which allows your attorney to withhold enough money from any settlement or verdict to pay your medical bills directly from the insurance settlement proceeds.
Most insurance companies for the person, persons or company who caused your injuries (in legal terms, the “tortfeasor”) will not automatically pay medical bills as they occur for two primary reasons. First, the insurance company does not want to spend a substantial amount of money for medical bills up front, only to be faced with an unreasonable or excessive demand at the time of final settlement. Put another way, the insurance company does not want to expend a substantial sum of money on medical bills and then be faced with the possibility of defending a lawsuit. Second, most insurance companies want to conclude or settle the claim with one sum of money. Therefore, most liability insurance companies will wait for the letter of demand from your attorney and then try to conclude the case all at once with one payment.
You may choose to handle your personal injury claim on your own, but having an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side will improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome. An attorney is trained in the law, and understands the rules of evidence and procedure. Perhaps more importantly, an attorney can rely on the wisdom gained from hard-earned experience in dealing with adjusters and defense attorneys. Here are just some of the ways a personal injury law- yer can help you resolve your claim:
You may be able to do some or all of these tasks on your own, but a personal injury attorney will do them more efficiently and effectively.
Most personal injury cases are handled on a “contingency” basis, which means that you do not have to pay attorney’s fees unless you receive a favorable settlement or verdict. In other words, your attorney’s fee is “contingent upon” a settlement or successful court award. Your lawyer’s fee will be calculated as a percentage of your recovery.
It is important to distinguish between “attorney’s fees” and “costs.” Your attorney’s fee is based upon his or her work, time, effort and expertise, as well as certain fixed expenses (e.g., secretarial time, rent). Other costs associated with handling a personal injury cases include:
These costs are your responsibility, regardless of the outcome of your case. Your attorney may ask you to pay these costs as they are incurred. As a general rule, it is not economically feasible for a law firm to “finance” personal injury cases. For this reason, the law provides that out-of-pocket expenses, like those itemized above, are the client’s responsibility, even if the case does not settle.
One of the best ways to help your case is to be honest and forthright with your lawyer, from your very first meeting. A successful outcome to your case depends upon mutual confidence and cooperation between you and your attorney. A surprise during settlement negotiations or, worse, at trial can derail your case. That won’t happen if you are truthful with your lawyer from the outset. Other ways you can help your case include:
This question is impossible to answer with certainty because the facts of each case are unique. In general, though, it will take several months to settle a personal injury claim, and may take several years to resolve a case through the court system. This is so because:
In legal terms, the value of your case is measured in terms of “damages.” If you have been injured by the negligence (that is, the unreasonable carelessness) of another person or entity, then you may be entitled to recover damages to compensate you for the losses you have suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence. Compensatory damages are meant to cover your economic losses, as well as non-economic losses, as the following chart illustrates: