Do I need an Attorney?
You do not have to hire an attorney after you have been injured; however, an accident often causes great mental stress and frustration. At times, there may even be severe physical injury and pain. Under those circumstances, it is often advisable to retain a professional who is experienced and knowledgeable in the related legal proceedings. Most people do not have the background and/or experience to be able to negotiate with an insurance company. The combination of inexperience and delay can cost you thousands of dollars in potential compensation. Proving to another driver’s insurer that its policyholder caused the accident might require the service of an attorney. Negotiating alone or waiting for the insurance company to make an offer can be time-consuming and costly. If your injury is serious, an experienced attorney is in a much better position to fight for your case, especially because the insurance companies come equipped with a team of attorneys as well.
Do I have a good case? How much is it worth?
A “good case” meets the following basic criteria:
- An accident that was caused in part or in whole by another party’s negligence
- Injuries sustained as a result of the accident
- Timely request for legal action made within legal statutes
How much a case is worth depends upon many variables: whether the negligent party was partially or entirely at fault; whether you bear any responsibility for the occurrence of the accident; the nature of your injury; and whether the negligent party has enough assets or insurance to provide the funds needed to settle or pay a judgment in your favor.
No attorney can tell you exactly what a case is worth on your first visit. Even if you have all the necessary elements to make your case, if the matter cannot be settled and proceeds to trial, the outcome is always uncertain due to the variable of the judge and the jury system. Should you choose to obtain our services, we promise to put in our best effort and attention to produce the best outcome for your case.
What is your legal fee?
We offer free initial consultations for all cases. All fees are paid on a contingency basis—we only get paid, if you get paid. If you receive no compensation, there will be no attorney’s fee. The contingency is generally one-third (1/3) of the recovery. This will be clearly expressed in the written retainer agreement when you retain our services.
How are litigation expenses handled?
The preparation and litigation of a lawsuit necessarily involves monetary expenses. The costs may include court filing fees, document service charges, investigation expenses, deposition expenses, charges for medical records and reports, expert witness fees, and mailing expenses, among others. Customarily, attorneys in New York State advance such expenses on behalf of the clients. The expenses are reimbursed to the law firm at the conclusion of the case.
How long will my lawsuit take? What processes are involved in a lawsuit?
We prosecute all of our clients’ cases in the most efficient and expedient manner; however, the answer to this question is unique to each case. During the preliminary stages, we undertake investigatory tasks which may include obtaining accident reports and gathering medical records. If the facts warrant, we formally begin a lawsuit immediately. During the lawsuit, we exchange medical information, wage records, expert witness information, and other documentation with the adversaries.
The deposition testimony of all parties and witnesses must be taken and the injured plaintiff must undergo medical examinations performed by a physician hired by the adversary. We complete all pre-trial discovery process as vigorously and rapidly as possible. As a result, your case is usually ready for trial in less than one (1) year; however, due to court congestion, there is a waiting period before the trial date is set and the lawsuit may take additional money to resolve due to this delay. In addition, cases against municipalities and cases which require complex litigation usually take longer.
What does it mean to settle a case? Will my case settle or go to trial?
Settling a case means that the client decides to take the amount of money the defense insurance company offers in compensation for the pain and suffering resulting from the negligence accident. In most cases, it is more advisable for a case to settle rather than go to trial; going to trial, while beneficial in its own merit, often involves unpredictable factors, such as, the jury system and the judge’s character.
Whether or not the case will settle or go to trial depends on factors unique to each case. The negotiation between the plaintiff and the insurance company continues throughout the duration of litigation; therefore, we are able to inform our clients of any such opportunities whenever we believe that there is a reasonable chance of reaching a fair settlement for our clients. Most of our settlement discussions are with the insurance companies, and they generally have little incentive to settle early; thus, the resolution of the case often occurs in the later stages of the lawsuit. For an accident in which injuries are minor and quickly resolved, a settlement could be obtained as quickly as six (6) months after the accident. For a case in which injuries are severe involving multiple parties, a trial may be required, which can take several years to schedule on the court’s calendar. Nevertheless, we will always advise you of any settlement offers and you will always have the option to accept the offer or reject the offer and proceed with litigation.
What is a supplemental uninsured motorist (sum) insurance policy?
Also referred to as “underinsurance,” supplemental uninsured motorist insurance provides additional insurance in the event of an accident; with this coverage, you and your household family members will be protected up to the bodily-injury limits of your policy. We strongly recommend purchasing a supplemental uninsured motorist insurance policy. Another type of coverage that you can purchase for additional protection is “umbrella insurance.”
What is no-fault?
The State of New York and New Jersey are No-Fault states. No-Fault insurance covers monetary costs incurred from an accident whether or not you cause the accident. Basic No-Fault covers your medical expenses and a portion of lost earnings. It does not cover property damage to your car or the other vehicle.
What is a medical lien?
In a personal injury case, the plaintiff’s attorney is responsible for taking the proper steps to ensure that all liens against the settlement or judgment proceeds have been satisfied. If Medicare pays medical expenses arising out of an injury from the negligence of another, Federal law requires that Medicare be reimbursed for those expenses out of any recovery from the negligent party. Under the Federal law, if Medicare paid any bills and there is a lawsuit or claim filed, Medicare is entitled to be reimbursed for the amount they paid.
What is renter’s insurance?
If you live in an apartment or a rented house, renter’s insurance provides coverage for both you and your possessions. A standard renter’s policy protects your personal property in certain cases of theft or damage and may pay for temporary living expenses if your rental is damaged. It can also protect you from liability. We strongly recommend that anyone renting an apartment or house purchase renter’s insurance.
Renter’s insurance is relatively inexpensive and can usually be obtained for only a few hundred dollars a year or sometimes less, depending on where the renter lives. This is well worth the price for protecting your personal property and protecting you from liability; generally your landlord’s insurance will not protect you. The property owner’s insurance covers the building itself and usually does not cover the possessions or liability of the tenant(s). This should be clarified with your landlord before signing a lease.
A renter’s insurance policy provides coverage for all named disasters or occurrences. This means your property is protected from all disasters or occurrences that are specifically listed on your policy: these usually include, fire, lightning, windstorm, hail, explosions, riots, aircraft, vehicles, smoke, vandalism, malicious mischief, theft, falling objects, weight of ice, snow, sleet, overflow of water or stream, etc.