Levine & Wiss has comprised a few of the more common questions here for you to review.
In order to have a case, there must be a third party who is liable to you. This depends in on the facts and what type of claim you are bringing. Usually, if there is a liable person in a personal injury case, they will have committed a negligent action which caused your injuries. In order to prevail on a claim of negligence, the facts must clearly demonstrate: (1) negligence or failure to meet the standard of care; and (2) that the negligence caused you harm or injury. However, having confidence that liability can likely be established is only part of the picture.
The other part of the picture is damages. The harm or injuries you have suffered must be significant enough to justify the expenditure of time, energy, and resources that are required to bring a successful claim.
The chances of success of a claim depend on the individual circumstances of your case. A personal injury attorney can advise you of the possibility of success of your particular case.
Do not discuss the facts of the incident or sign any legal documents until you have come to understand your legal rights. Do not give a statement to an insurance company until you are comfortable it is in your best interests.
You should gather as much information and supporting documentation as possible at the scene of an accident and in the days following, if possible. Try to get as many of the following items as possible:
There is no exact formula for determining the amount of compensation you recover. A variety of factors are considered, whether by your lawyer, the Defendant and insurance companies in negotiations or by a jury in court, in determining fair and just compensation. These factors include severity of the accident, severity of injuries, impact of the injuries on the victim’s employment and day-to-day life, and extent of medical care, just to name a few. Aggravating factors such as drunk driving can both hasten settlement and affect the settlement amount.
Fair compensation certainly includes more than just reimbursement for your medical expenses. A personal injury victim may recover compensation for—
You are entitled to compensation for medical expenses even if those expenses already have been paid by a health insurance plan. The same is true for lost wages, regardless of whether you take sick days or receive worker’s compensation benefits.
This, however, is not a windfall or double recovery. First, under a principle known as “subrogation” your health insurance plan (based on the plan documents) and your company’s workers’ compensation carrier may be entitled to reimbursement from your recovery for what they pay out. Therefore, in order to be adequately compensated you need maximum recovery from insurance in the event your health insurer or workers’ comp carrier makes a subrogation claim against your recovery.
Second, if the Defendant’s insurance company reduces your injury compensation simply because you have paid for health insurance, or paid extra auto insurance premiums for “PIP” coverage (see below), or have accumulated sick days or paid vacation, the adverse insurer is taking unfair advantage of the fact that you are a responsible person and diligent worker. If you use up your sick days because of injuries from the auto accident, those days will not be available for other types of health problems. If you sacrifice to obtain extra insurance, the at-fault driver’s insurer should not get the advantage of your sacrifice.
However, if the driver was uninsured, and if you have “uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage” (“UM coverage”) through your own insurance policy or the policy covering the vehicle in which you were riding, then an uninsured motorist claim will be made to your insurer.