When it comes to personal injury claims, they all require you to have an experienced attorney who is well familiar with the process and knows the differences from cases involving auto accidents, nursing home abuse or neglect. But what are the main burning questions when it comes to personal injury law?
Is your personal injury claim valid?
If you want to pursue a successful personal injury claim, you need to be able to prove that your injuries are caused by someone else’s negligence. Extensive medical treatments are usually part of every personal injury case. However, not all personal injury claims have physical injuries. Some have non-physical harms or losses. A good example is if someone attacks your professional reputation or invade your privacy. These can all be good grounds for a personal injury claim.
How soon can you file a lawsuit?
This depends from one state to another. To be more precise, on the states ‘statute of limitations’. This statute basically determines how much time you have to file a personal injury claim. Of course the statute of limitation differs from case to case. Some states have a statute of limitation of 4 years for a personal injury lawsuit, but for medical malpractice this statute is only two years.
The best thing you can do is to pursue the lawsuit as soon as possible after your injury. This is because preservation of evidence is very important in these cases. Furthermore, a standard procedure involved in a personal injury case is investigation done by your personal injury attorney, which can take some time.
What is negligence exactly?
Negligence concerns actions taken in a specific situation by a ‘reasonable person’. For example, you would expect a truck driver (or basically any driver) to obey the traffic rules and to drive at full attention in order to avoid putting themselves and others at risk. In the event that they cause a car accident because they didn’t pay enough attention while driving, they can be liable for the accident.
So basically, someone is negligent if he/she fails to act in a way an ‘ordinary reasonable person would’ in a specific situation. Personal injury cases are generally found on negligence.
Will the person at fault be punished?
Personal injury cases are NOT criminal actions. They are civil actions. Jail terms cannot be sentenced to defendants in personal injury cases. The same goes for criminal fines. This is because there was no real malicious intent that caused the injury. The cause of the injury is negligence.
Nonetheless, in some rare cases, there can be punitive damages. Punitive damages have a goal to punish the defendants that were reckless OR didn’t act in the best interest of the public. The end result of punitive damages is to discourage defendants to behave in such way.
If you think that you have a valid personal injury case, because someone else’s negligence caused you harm, contact us today and let’s review your case together!
When someone gets injured due to someone else’s negligence, they assume that they are entitled to receive compensations for the medical bills. And they are right. However, that’s not the only damage available to you.
Sometimes, injuries will prevent you from working so naturally, you can pursue that your lost income be compensated as well. You will be able to get more information from your personal injury lawyer. He/she will provide more details on how to determine lost wages and what is the reasonable amount you should expect in a fair settlement. But before you speak to a personal injury lawyer, here are some tips on how you can calculate the approximate lost wages.
The calculation process starts with you collecting documents that will serve as proof to your claim and support the claim that your injuries are preventing you from working. The most common documents include:
- Tax returns
- Paycheck stubs or paycheck forms
- Settlement sheet for three years prior and every pay period since the accident (if you’re a trucking owner or operator)
- Business records or documents (even CPA letters) if you’re a business owner
- Other documents depending on your unique circumstanced
In order to document that you need to take time off from work, you need to ask your doctor to issue a statement that will describe in detail, how much time you have to take off from work until you are fully recovered from your injuries. This is important as it will act as medical support to justify your absence from work. Your personal injury lawyer can help you secure this information through various reports or depositions.
In addition to all these documents stated above, you should also ask your employer to give you copies of your most recent checks or pay stubs. This will show how much did you earn before you got injured. And as the final document, you need to ask your employer to write you a statement that will confirm the information about your employment.
Calculating your lost wages
Calculating your lost wages, mainly depends on how you’re paid. It will be different if you’re paid by the hour, you receive a salary or you’re paid by some other basis.
When you’re paid by the hour, you will multiple your hourly wage with the total number of hours you missed because of your injuries.
So for example, if you’re paid $20 per hour and you work 8 hours a day and you missed 22 days of work, your lost wages will be:
20 x (8 x 22) = $3,520
In other cases, where you’re paid on a salary basis, the calculation is a bit different. Your annual salary gets divided by 2,080 (the number of working hours in a year). Then you will take that number and multiply it with the number of working hours in a day (so 8) and with the number of days you didn’t work because of your injury (let’s keep it 22 as before). If we assume that your annual salary is $50,000 the calculation will look like this:
$50,000 / 2,080 = 24.04
24.04 x (8 x 22) = $4,231 in lost wages
Of course, lost wages aren’t the only income that you can recover. If you receive other forms of income such as regular overtime, commissions, bonuses etc. these can be recovered too. Your personal injury lawyer will ask you about those as well and he/she will provide more information.
Lost income of Self-employed people
Let’s assume that you’re a self-employed person, maybe a web designer working from home. Even through you’re technically not employed by anyone, you can still claim your lost income. What’s different in this scenario is that your lost income consists of your earning AND profit that you would make if you weren’t injured. In this case, you have to gather documents and records that will prove the earning that you expected from the day you were in an accident until the date of judgement or settlement. Useful documents are: 1099 forms, invoices you issue to your clients / customers, records from your bookkeeper or accountant, receipt, communication between you and your clients/customers and so on.
Other income losses
Aside from your past income that you lose because of your injury, you might also be entitled to claim certain future income losses and your lost earning capacity. This will require your personal injury lawyer to work with an economist or vocational expert to establish your lost opportunities in the labor market.
Even through determining lost wages might seem like a pretty straightforward process, it can be rather difficult and complicated in some cases. That’s why you should work with a personal injury who is well informed about this and who can really help you. You can of course do some calculations on your own, but it’s best to let the attorney do the real math and negotiate on your behalf.
Have you even wondered that paying for insurance is a waste of money?
Well, a lot of people have. Especially those who’s claims the insurance company denies. They have given their hard earned money for years and when they need help from the insurance company, they turn the other cheek.
Not sure if you know, but in the U.S. the insurance industry is one of the largest businesses in the world when it comes to revenue. So how do insurance companies deny claims in order to increase their profit?
1. Making your claim as confusing as possible
When you want to get new insurance, the insurance company is giving you a contract to sign. We all know about these and we read them thoroughly and carefully like the Terms & Conditions of our ne Apple iPhone i.e. we don’t. The insurance companies used so many technical terms in their contracts making them virtually impossible to understand for a common citizen who doesn’t have a Law degree. Things were so bad, that some states have passed the ‘plain English’ rule for consumer contracts.
2. Your credit score
You most likely know that insurance companies determine your premium that you’ll pay based on your credit score. Someone, due to a bad credit score can’t even get insurance because, from the insurance company’s point of view, they are a high liability. This type of discrimination is actually affecting the poor and senior citizens, since they have a little credit and also those that had a financial crisis because of someone else.
Insurance companies have also often refused someone a policy because they have no credit score, even though the person is paying his / her bills on time. On the other hand, some car owners have received a rate that is increased by several times, even though they have a clean and perfect driving record.
3. Delaying insurance claims
It’s not uncommon that insurance companies deliberately take a long time to finalize your claim. They do this because they are aware that many policyholders would rather give up than to wait for the insurance to finalize the claim. And it’s not uncommon that this type of ill practice is present at long-term care insurers who take advantage of the policyholder’s age and poor health.
4. Hanging the sick out to dry
As we know, healthcare in the U.S. can be expensive and that’s why we opt in for health insurance. Because of extremely high healthcare costs, some insurance companies have even provided bonuses for their employees that meet so-called ‘cancellation goals’. These situations involve insurance sales reps that target patients that are in the middle of their treatment(s) and when they are most vulnerable. When the healthcare for these patients becomes too high for the insurance company to cover, they cancel the policy retroactively and basically leaving the policyholder without insurance
5. Call and get your policy cancelled
A lot of people even fear calling their insurance provider and asking about for a claim because often, insurance providers quickly after, suddenly decide to cancel their insurance. If not cancelling, the next time they refuse to renew your policy OR even crank up your insurance premiums. Insurance companies often consider an inquiry about the possibility of making a claim as ACTUALLY making a claim and they will spare no resource to quickly ‘drop’ the policy holder, all in order to avoid paying them their insurance.
So what to do?
When an insurance company denies you’re your claim, they are basically leaving you out to dry. In situations like that, you need to have a good legal representative by your side. So if your insurance is denying your claim, make sure to call Schenk Podolsky and let us help you with your insurance claim or if you have a personal injury claim.
Accidents are traumatic enough. But when you’re a victim of an accident, aside from the trauma, you’re also going through weeks and sometimes even months of treatment and rehabilitation, depending on what type of injury you suffered in the accident. Car accidents are painful enough, but then you even have to deal with the insurance company which can also be frustrating and long. Insurance companies serve and work in their best interest and it’s often the case that they reduce or even deny you claim to receive payment for the accident.
Insurance companies are not there to protect your rights, but their interests. They do this my presenting your injuries as small as possible and all that in order to reduce the amount they are owed to pay you as compensation.
What you need to know when working with insurance companies
When you have an insurance claim, the insurance company will give to an adjuster. The adjuster’s job is to take statements regarding the accident. Statements are taken from both drivers and furthermore, the adjuster will also review the accident report.
It’s likely that the adjuster will find that you had prior injuries or he/she might even deem that you’re the one responsible for your acceded which will surely further reduce your compensation. It’s also very common that the adjuster disagrees with your medical report and present your injuries as less severe that they really are. All these thing, make negotiations with the insurance company extremely difficult and very complicated.
Resolving an insurance claim
More than one factor influences how long it takes to resolve an insurance claim. If the outcome is favorable for the insurance company, they will tend to wrap up the process and quickly as possible. But it’s typical that tan insurance claim takes several weeks before it’s complete. And since the process can sometime be long and not to mention stressful, it’s beneficial to have a personal injury lawyer who can help with negotiations. Having a personal injury lawyer that knows the system can make things pretty straightforward. And in case the outcome of the insurance claim is not favorable for you, the matter needs to be handled by a court.
The insurance company denied my claim. What can I do?
Let’s assume that the insurance company denied your insurance claim or gave you a compensation that it’s not really what you deserve. In cases like these, there are a few things that you can do. The first thing is that you don’t sign any release or settlement check before you have a consult with your personal injury lawyer. Once you do speak to him/her, you have the right to waive taking any further legal action. Your personal injury lawyer will review all the details of the accident report and try to work with your insurance company in order to get you a better settlement. Proving your injuries are severe as claimed (if the insurance company presents them as not so severe) might require further medical documentation from your doctor. And in order to further support your case, accidents reconstruction can be used which will prove how the accident occurred. Your personal injury lawyer will send a demand package to your insurance company and in the even that they don’t agree / accept then you may sue and take the matter to court.
Working with insurance company is complicated and can be stressful if you don’t know how the system works. That’s why, in order to ensure best results and highest compensation, we recommend that you work closely with a personal injury lawyer.
When dealing with a personal injury case, it’s nice to know what’s going on. This allows you to have confidence in what’s occurring during your case and not just trusting an attorney blindly. Although it’s important to pick an attorney that’s good at what they do and whom you can trust, it’s still important to be prepared and knowledgeable yourself. Having tabs on your own case and understanding the steps as they come allows you to make an informed decision when presented with one. Below covers some topics on personal injury cases when you are the one who has sustained the injuries.
What Does a Typical Personal Injury Case Look Like?
When an injury occurs at the negligence of another party, most states have laws that allow the person injured to recoup costs. This can include emotional trauma connected to the injury. Negligence can be from a workplace being unsafe or not kept up to code which resulted in an injury. Negligence can also include careless driving, malpractice by a doctor, and more. A typical case will have an injured party and a negligent party seeking to prove whether negligence was indeed the issue.
What Happens After Filing a Case?
The assumed negligent party is then served papers of the notice and becomes the defendant while you become the plaintiff. The next step is called “discovery” as lawyers on both sides gather evidence, ask questions, and build a case. Once this mode has ended, offers can be made before the case is taken to trial. If the offer is refused, it will go to trial and be decided by a judge. However, it’s common for personal injury cases to be settled outside the courtroom.
What Happens if I Win?
A judge or jury will decide an amount for damages and you will be rewarded this amount of money. Those deciding the amount will take into account the injury, grief caused by the injury, future wages lost, etc. All angles will be considered in order to fully cover the plaintiff. This is why cases like this are often settled outside of court.
How Long Do I Have to File a Case?
Each state differs on the length of time following an injury that you have to file a claim. This is referred to as the “Statute of Limitations.” Your attorney should be able to help you with this amount of time for your state. However, it’s always best to file a claim as quickly as possible following the injury. This often helps with evidence trails and the case in general.
Some other important notes to consider are that the defendant of the case isn’t punished. Other than paying out what’s rewarded to the plaintiff if they lose the case, a defendant won’t have to worry about aspects such as probation, jail time, etc. Further, if you decide to settle a case outside of court, this is when you and the defendant agree on a specific outcome of the case without a judge or jury. Your lawyer will handle the details.
You may have heard of an umbrella policy when discussing insurance. However, many people are unaware of what it actually is and how to utilize it. Because of this, umbrella policies may not be purchased or even used. When it comes to personal injury cases, it’s important to know what your umbrella policy will cover. After all, there’s no sense in having the policy if it’s not going to be of some use to you down the road. Keep reading for the basics of personal injury coverage with an umbrella policy.
What Does an Umbrella Policy Cover?
An average umbrella policy is basically an add-on to the policies you already have. This means it covers above what your normal policy covers. Bodily injury, personal injury, property damage, and landlord liability is what an umbrella policy more commonly covers. Umbrella policies don’t cover things like business losses, written or oral contracts, personal belongings, etc.
How Does an Umbrella Policy Work?
As mentioned above, an umbrella policy kicks in when your normal policy isn’t enough. It acts as a band-aid of extra coverage just in case your usual policy isn’t enough. For example, if you were in a car accident that was your fault, and the other party was injured in the incident, your normal car insurance will cover up to a certain amount. However, if something happens and the case ends up calling for more than your car insurance will cover, the umbrella policy will begin covering the amount that went beyond the coverage of your normal car insurance.
Many people think having an umbrella policy isn’t worth it. However, here is a scenario to put it into perspective. Car insurance policies will only cover so much and you can’t purchase any more than their highest limit. Therefore, the only way to get extra coverage is to go for an umbrella policy. When personal injury cases are presented, aspects such as lost wages, grief, etc. are covered outside of the cost of medical bills for the injury itself. Say you hit a doctor and he sues you for lost wages on top of everything else. You could be looking at a million-dollar payout for damages with your car insurance only covering $500,000 of that. If your insurance doesn’t cover it, the judge and jury won’t care. You will still have to find a way to put the leftover damages amount. This can result in garnered wages, loss of property, home, other belongings, and more.
Umbrella policies aren’t necessary or required by law. However, they can prove to be quite the backup in such a sue-happy world. Umbrella policies commonly can be purchased in one million increments for up to five million in coverage.
Even if you have been involved in a car accident that apparently did not result from your fault, you have to understand that when it comes to compensation, your insurer is going to try very hard to get away without paying the full amount you are entitled to. Their plan is to complicate the claim settlement process, get you worn out, and force you to settle for as little as possible. The aim of this article is to equip you with the necessary information with regards to the car accidents claim process, how you could make your claim stronger, and how the claim is eventually settled.
Car Accident Claim Process
When car accidents happen, it is tough times for the parties involved. The accident claim against the insurer for the damages only make the bad situation worse. There are a number of issues that the victims or their loved ones have to deal with. These include litigation, medical expenses, claim adjuster, and repairmen among others. However, a proper understanding of the car accident claim process can reduce significantly the amount of anxiety that comes with such unfamiliar events.
The affected party has to understand several aspects of the claim process to reduce the unease during the hectic process. It is imperative to appreciate the fact that apprehension is almost natural when car accidents occur. If you ask any American motorist how good they are at driving, the answer is most likely going to be “very good.” On the other hand, if you ask them how others drive, you are likely going to get negative answers. All in all, statistics show that about 20% of all motorists in developed countries have been involved in car accidents in the recent years, but in almost all the cases, the drivers are a pain to absolve themselves of any wrongdoing. Thus, it is essential to go thoroughly into the causes and then proceed with maximum caution throughout the car accident claim.
Once the insurer is notified of the occurrence of a car accident, a representative of the insurance company is assigned the task of handling the claim. The first thing the investigator does is to find out if the insurance policy is valid and whether the loss or the damage is covered under the policy. The next step involves the interviewing of the parties involved and preparing a comprehensive report covering all witness statements. This step is critical because it establishes the party that is responsible for the losses incurred. Once the liability is fixed and it is established that the insurance company is responsible, the claim adjuster will evaluate the
damages on the car (or the damages that the car has caused) and the extent of bodily injuries if any. However, it is important to note that the insurance company is only responsible for the covered losses. Any damages beyond the purview of the accident will not be covered. It is also essential to know that medical information will play an important role in determining the amount that the insurance company will pay in settling a car accident claim.
How to Make your Car Accident Claim Stronger
As noted above, insurance companies will stop at nothing to ensure that the amount they pay you for car accident claims is as little as possible. To make sure that the claim is strong, you have the responsibility to prove that the accident happened due to the negligence of another party. Thus, the burden of proof lies squarely on you. It is, therefore, important that you collect as much information about the accident as possible. For instance, you have to get the details of the other party; record their address, their car number, their phone number, their insurance policy number, and even the type, the color and the plate number of their car. Also, get the contact information of the eyewitnesses. You can also take photographs of the accident scene. In case you are injured, get a medical report from your doctor. In a nutshell, the more facts you have to support your claim, the higher the payoff you are likely to get.
How the Claim is eventually settled
Most insurance companies are using complicated computer programs to calculate what they should pay for a given car accident claim. Their idea is just to legitimize the meager amounts they are willing to pay. It is, therefore, imperative to get the assistance of a car accident attorney in Mesa who understands car accident claims settlement properly. Remember that if you accept what an insurer is offering, there is no way to reverse the decision. Thus, if you are not satisfied with what your insurer is offering, it advisable that you file a lawsuit, and go to court for a legal determination as to how much what you are entitled.
Additional Resources For Car Accident Settlements & Claims
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