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For minor injuries, such as a fender-bender, where you’re offered the cost of the repairs and the cost of a doctor visit to verify that you are unharmed, you probably do not need an attorney to receive compensation. However, there are instances when having a New York personal injury attorney represent you is essential to protect your rights and ensure that you receive a fair settlement.
I Cannot Afford An Attorney
Personal injury attorneys generally offer free consultations, where they will determine if you have a case and then explain how they collect their fee out of your settlement or the court award. Since you do not have to put out any money up front, you can afford the best attorney in your community who has experience with personal injury cases.
Won’t My Insurance Company Pay Me?
Insurance companies, whether your own or the negligent party’s insurance company, are interested in maximizing their profits, not maximizing your settlement amount. They will offer you the least amount they feel that you will accept, while an attorney will help you receive the maximum settlement.
A representative from your own or the other party’s insurance company may visit you and request a statement from you or they may ask for a release to examine your medical records. If this happens, consult with your personal injury lawyer first, before making any statement or signing any papers. Your attorney is your advocate, he or she will handle this while you concentrate on your recovery.
Serious or Disabling Injuries
If you are the victim of a car accident, or any other type of accident, caused by another person’s or a company’s carelessness or negligence, you may sustain serious or disabling injuries. You will likely have high medical bills, expenses related to rehabilitation and you will miss time at work. In case of a disabling injury, you may never be able to return to your current employment. You may also be eligible for other types of damages, such as pain and suffering, therefore, you will need an attorney’s expertise to ensure you receive the full amount of money that you are entitled to under the laws in your state.
Technically, you can negotiate the settlement yourself, however, you will be up against a team of experienced lawyers who may dispute fault or the extent of your injuries. An experienced personal injury attorney will have the resources to investigate the accident and he or she will speak to your medical providers and determine if you have severe injuries or if your injuries will disable you for the rest of your life.
Medical Malpractice Injuries
You will almost always need an attorney’s expertise to handle complicated medical malpractice cases. If you believe a medical provider injured you through carelessness or incompetence, speak with an attorney as soon as possible, since there are time limits on your right to file a claim.
Besides the fact that people who hire personal injury attorneys receive larger settlements, you need a person on your side who understands the applicable laws and who have experience negotiating with insurance companies. If you have a serious injury, you do not need seemingly sympathetic insurance representatives constantly calling you, hoping you will say something that will allow them to deny your claim. You main focus should be on your recovery, let your attorney handle everything else.
Here’s a great article from Farar & Lewis LLP – a San Diego personal injury law firm. Car accidents can be frightening, traumatic experiences, especially if injuries are involved. A head-on collision is often the most dangerous type of car accident you can be involved in. Head-on collisions don’t happen often; in fact, only two percent of all car crashes involve head-on collisions. But even with that statistic, head-on collisions still bear responsibility for a disproportionate number of serious injuries and fatalities.
If you have experienced a head-on collision recently, it’s important to get in contact with a lawyer. You might want to receive damages for your lost wages, medical expenses, pain and suffering, and any other damages that you suffered.
But before you even think about a lawyer, you should know how to handle a head-on collision. Certain steps must be taken immediately after any kind of car accident. The first priority is making sure you, your passengers, and the other people involved in the accident are safe. If you’re injured, the injuries are more important than getting insurance information.
After you’ve established that everyone is safe, you’ll need to take down important information to ensure you’re financially and legally safe in the future.
It’s natural to be disoriented, frightened, or experiencing pain following a collision. Before you do anything else, you need to assess your own safety. Do a check for bruises, cuts, and blood. Check the rear view mirror to see your chest, neck, and head. Examine every part of your body. If you note any type of injury, emergency services need to be called immediately.
If you have the ability, you should check with anyone else in your car to assess their conditions. Call the names of your passengers. When they respond, you know they’re conscious. If you don’t get a response, you should call 911 and see if you can visually gauge their injuries. Even if they’re conscious, if anyone has serious injuries, you have to call 911 right away. If your own condition prevents you from calling 911, you can ask a bystander for help.
After you have assessed that everyone is safe, it’s important to gather information about the accident scene and accident itself. Don’t feel pressured to do this if you’re injured, though.
If you have to defend yourself to an insurance company or the authorities, photographic evidence is the best evidence you can provide. Take pictures of all aspects of the accident and scene from as many angles as possible. If you or the passengers have any injuries, take photos of them too. All information relevant to the situation must be photographed.
It’s also vital to get information from the bystanders. You should ask accident witnesses what they observed. Get their contact information, including their full name. When the police respond to the accident scene, get the officer’s full name, along with their badge number. It may be valuable to get the names and contact information of other first responders.
The responding police officer is required to file a police report. As soon as the report is complete, you have the legal right to a copy of it.
The last information to get is from the other driver, assuming they’re well enough to provide it. If they have serious injuries, find out what hospital they’re going to. You can get the rest of the information later. Alternatively, you might ask their passengers about their full name, phone number, and address.
If the driver is able to give it, you’ll need their car insurance information, along with their policy number. They’ll likely want your insurance information as well.
A number of different factors may be behind the head-on collision. One of the drivers may have been extremely fatigued or intoxicated. Distracted driving is also one of the top causes of car accidents. This includes talking on the phone, texting, eating, putting on makeup, or doing anything else other than focusing on the road. Sometimes a collision occurs when one driver disobeys or fails to see important road signs.
The police and insurance companies will compare reports and decide who was at fault for the accident. If you are not the party at fault, you’re entitled to the recovery of damages. Not only should you get an insurance payout for your damaged car, but you should have your medical expenses covered. Basically, every physical problem or financial struggle that occurs due to the accident should be compensated. These things weren’t your fault, and you shouldn’t be punished for them.
This article is from Steve Goldman, a Chicago criminal defense attorney who also practices personal injury. Personal injury cases are settled every day in Chicago. An insurance company’s adjuster or defense attorney and the injured party’s attorney will go back and forth on an amount of settlement, and finally your attorney recommends that you accept an offer at a certain amount. You accept accordingly, but the case isn’t over until such time as you sign a release of claims.
Confirmation of settlement
After a client accepts a settlement offer, the better practice is for his or her attorney to follow up a phone call accepting the offer with a confirmatory letter to the insurer or insurance defense attorney. The letter will advise that the client has accepted the offer of settlement at a specific amount. In that letter, the attorney will ask that the insurer’s release of claims be forwarded to his or her attention.
Who is being released?
The language in a release of claims for personal injury cases varies from insurer to insurer, but the sum and substance of a release is that you’re forever discharging the person who caused your injuries from any and all liability in connection with the accident. The release also operates to discharge his or her heirs, successors, legal representatives and insurers.
No additional sums are payable
Nearly all settlements in personal injury cases are in the form lump sum settlements. You’re releasing the person responsible for your injuries from all known and unknown injuries suffered in the accident. If in the future, you learn that you suffered other injuries in connection with the same occurrence, you can’t come back and seek additional compensation.
No admission of liability
You might think that by virtue of settling your case, the person who caused your accident and their insurer have finally admitted liability. That’s not the case. The insurer will continue to deny liability on behalf of its insured person and recite that the settlement is a mere compromise of a doubtful and disputed claim. Don’t worry about this denial of liability. It would be unusual to see a release without this language. You sought compensation for damages, and by entering into the settlement, that’s exactly what you’re getting.
Your sole claim
Expect to see language to the effect that this is your sole claim against the person who was responsible for your injuries and his or her insurer. By signing the release, you forever waive and relinquish any and all rights that you might have to bring another claim against the responsible party that might arise out of the same occurrence.
No other agreements
By signing the release, you agree that you haven’t made any other agreements with the person who caused the accident or their insurer. Any and all agreements are within the four corners of the release document. Again, they don’t want to return and seek further compensation in the future.
Full and final settlement
Once that release is signed and the original is delivered to the insurance company, a full and final settlement has occurred. When our law firm is involved, it’s not unusual for the insurer to forward a settlement check along with the release. We’ll have a settlement statement prepared for your review and signature, and then we’ll obtain your signature on the release and check. The check is deposited into our client trust account, and we ordinarily disburse a week later. When a check doesn’t accompany the release, we usually receive the settlement check within two weeks of delivering the executed release.
Never try to represent yourself in a personal injury case. Insurance adjusters want to close out claims as quickly and cheaply as possible. Depending on the insurance company, an adjuster might even receive a bonus for procuring a fast and cheap settlement. After being out of work while recovering from accident injuries, both medical and personal bills continue to come in, and the financial pressure increases. Insurance companies are well aware of that fact. Our experienced personal injury attorneys have a strong sense of the value of a case, and that provides us with the ability to maximize the value of your claim.
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