How much is my case worth?
- This is, without a doubt, the most frequently asked question. Often times after an accident, those annoying commercials you’ve seen on TV all of a sudden come to the forefront of your mind and you see that actor that says a certain attorney got them a huge sum of money for their automobile accident. The truth of the matter though, is that your recovery is based on a consideration of the totality of circumstances. If you think another attorney can get you more than what we estimate your case is worth, then go hire that attorney. The attorneys of Fortune & Beard have successfully negotiated thousands of claims and rely on their vast reserve of knowledge to ensure our clients obtain a maximum recovery.
How long will my lawsuit take?
- Every case is different and, depending on the facts of your case, it can take differing periods of time. Most cases take anywhere from 1 ½ years for the least complicated to 3 years for most, from the time a case is filed in court until trial. Although the courts make every effort to keep cases on track, it’s not unusual for specific cases to take longer. However, not every case goes to trial. In fact, most are settled out of court. For these cases, settlement can happen anywhere from the early stages to days or even minutes before trial. When personal injury cases are settled, they are settled for a set lump sum amount. You can’t come back later to get more nor can the insurer come back to get a refund. For this reason, much of the timing depends on the medical status of your injuries. Until there’s some certainty as to the extent of your injuries and whether they’re permanent, it’s often too risky for either you or the insurer to settle. The unknown nature and extent of your injuries make determination of the right amount impossible.
Why do I need a lawyer?
- If you have been injured as a result of the negligence of someone, whether it was a car, motorcycle, truck, or bike accident, or any other type of accident, you are well advised to seek the assistance of a personal injury attorney. It is important to remember that your interests and the interests of the insurance company are not the same. While it is illegal for a non-attorney, such as an insurance adjuster, to provide legal advice, they often do. You should always seek an opinion from a personal injury lawyer to get an unbiased legal opinion regarding your case and your rights.
How much will I have to pay to hire a lawyer?
- We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that if we do not win, we do not get paid. Most people, but especially those recently injured in an accident, cannot afford to pay an attorney at an hourly rate. Our contingency fee is in line with other top-quality lawyers who handle serious personal injury matters.
I was involved in an automobile accident, what should I do now?
- Even the most minor of accidents can cause major stress. It’s important to stay as calm as possible, and follow a few key steps.
- Exit your vehicle if it is safe and you are physically able to do so. Make sure to turn on your emergency flashers.
- If the accident is anything more than minor and/or you or anyone else (another driver, a passenger, a pedestrian, etc.) are injured, call 911 so that emergency medical services can be sent to the scene. Doing this will also bring law enforcement to the scene, in most instances.
- If no one requires medical attention, call the non-emergency number for your local law enforcement agency and report the accident. Depending on where you live, an officer may or may not come to the scene (especially if no one is injured and you are in a larger city, they may not come).
- If you feel well enough and it’s safe to do so, take pictures of the car accident scene and anything that may become important if any claim is made in connection with the crash. That means taking photos of the location of the vehicles when they came to rest; damaged areas of the vehicles; debris on the road; condition and location of traffic signals, stop signs, and other signage; and your injuries, where possible.
- Exchange contact, driver’s license, and insurance information with the other driver and anyone else involved in the accident. If anyone witnessed any part of the accident and is willing to stop and talk with you, make sure you get that person’s contact information as well.
- If you’re able to safely move your vehicle, move it to the shoulder of the road.
- At this point you may want to contact your car insurance company and let them know what happened. They may send an agent to the scene or help you arrange a tow to a local repair shop.
- Get medical attention if you feel even the slightest inkling of injury. Pay particular attention to your neck and back, watching for any pain, stiffness, or just the sense that something is “off.” Car accident injuries are notorious for being late-appearing, meaning you may not be aware of them right away.
If an injury or vehicle damage claim is made after an accident — whether in the form of an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit — documentation will become crucial, especially on issues of fault for the accident, and the extent (and dollar cost) of injuries and other losses.
Here are some records to gather and prepare:
- Vehicle damage inspection reports, repair estimates, valuations, and invoices for work done.
- Any police report generated in connection with the accident, if law enforcement came to the scene.
- All records related to any injuries and medical care you received in connection with the accident, including bills and treatment records (you’ll need to request these) from emergency medical services, the ER, your own physician, specialists, physical therapists, chiropractors, and other health care professionals.
- A personal journal in which you record your recollections about the accident itself, your injuries (including the impact they are having on your emotional health and your daily activities) and any other effects of the accident.
- Employment and income-related records that document your earnings as well as the amount of time you have missed at work because of your injuries, physical limitations, and doctor appointments.
I have health insurance that paid for my medical bills. Do I still have a claim?
- Absolutely, what most accident victims do not realize is they are entitled to the full value of their medical treatment—the actual cost of the treatment, not just their co-pay or deductible. Often times, insurance carriers attempt to reduce an injury victim’s damages by offering to just pay their ‘out of pocket’ expenses, which leaves the injured person less than whole.
Does my health insurance company get paid back for the bills they already paid?
- More than likely, yes. Almost every insurance contract contains what is called a “subrogation” clause. That allows your insurance company to seek repayment from you for medical bills that the insurance company paid out on your behalf. However, the only amount that you are required to pay back to the insurance company is the amount that they paid to the healthcare providers. Oftentimes your doctor/hospital/physical therapist will “charge” a higher fee to the insurance company than they will be paid. For example, if your doctor bills the insurance company for an x-ray that “costs” $2,500.00 but the insurance company only pays the doctor $500.00 for that x-ray, you will only pay the $500.00 to the insurance company.