By The Accident Injury Law Center
- 1. Do I need a lawyer for my personal injury claim?
No, you do not need a lawyer for your claim, but you should consider how much is at stake and how much you have to lose if you don’t know what you are doing. Without a lawyer the at-fault party’s insurance company will certainly attempt to pay you as little as possible to settle your case. Sometimes the insurance company will keep stringing you along until the statute of limitations is close to running out, so that you become desperate to settle. There are no out of pocket costs for a personal injury attorney to represent you, so you should not have to pay your attorney any money for costs or fees until the case comes to a conclusion. You are much more likely to receive a higher settlement or judgment using an attorney than settling your claim yourself.
- 2. If I obtain medical services on a lien, will I be responsible for paying for those services if I don’t get any money from the other side?
Yes, you will be responsible for those medical costs; however, most medical providers will understand your situation and will work with you on the total amount due. In many cases the medical provider will completely waive their bill, because they take the case knowing the facts of the case and also take a risk, like the attorney, in providing you services on a lien basis.
- 3. Can a passenger in my car make a claim against me if my car was struck by another car?
Yes. This typically happens if you somehow caused the accident or were partially at fault for it, or the other driver does not have insurance and you have uninsured motorist insurance.
- 4. If I get injured during my marriage are the proceeds from the case community property?
Possibly. The general rule is that the proceeds from the case belong to the injured party; however, the court can consider awarding up to 1/2 of the proceeds to the injured party’s spouse depending on both parties’ financial condition and what would be fair.
- 5. Is my lawyer obligated to try to reduce my medical bills prior to paying them from the funds received in the case?
No. Your lawyer is not obligated to attempt to negotiate your medical bills prior to paying them; however, many lawyers will do this anyways to try to put more money in your pocket and to make you a more satisfied client. Some attorneys charge you to do this, but most will do it for free as an added bonus.
- 6. Should I continue to use social media sites after my accident?
Yes, but be cautious about what you post on those sites, because the insurance company’s defense team will look you up online to see if you posted anything about your case or about not being injured or if you have pictures of yourself doing activities that you have said you cannot do as a result of your injuries.
- 7. Is 33 1/3 a typical fee for a personal injury attorney to charge?
Yes. Most personal injury attorneys charge this amount and also charge an increased percentage, e.g., 40%, if the case goes to arbitration, mediation, or trial.
- 8. If my case is taken on contingency, do I need to reimburse my attorney for any of the litigation costs?
Depends on your agreement with your attorney. Most personal injury attorneys will pay the litigation costs and will get reimbursed at the end of the case for those costs; however, in the event that you do not receive any money from the other side for your claim, you typically will not be responsible for reimbursing the attorney for the litigation costs.
- 9. If my friend got a million dollars for their personal injury case does that mean I’m also going to get a million dollars for mine?
No, no two cases are the same. If your friend got a million dollars for their case then they probably were badly injured and had things like broken bones, bad scarring in a visible area like the face, neck or hands, ended up disabled, or some other terrible injury. If the facts of your case match up perfectly to the facts of another case then maybe you can use that other case to determine what you might get, but in most situations there will not be another case exactly like yours.
- 10. What happens if my lawyer is not working hard enough on my case and I want to change lawyers?
You can fire your lawyer at any time; however, keep in mind that your current lawyer might have or take a lien on the case, which will affect the amount of money the next lawyer will be able to get paid on the case. Thus, switching lawyers is very hard to do, because the next lawyer cannot be certain as to what the first lawyer will say they are owed for the work they did on the case. If a switch is going to be made the best way to be able to get a new lawyer is to have your previous lawyer sign something stating that they will not expect to be paid on your case or to provide you a written document stating specifically what they expect to be paid on your case and why.
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