FAQs

People who have been involved in an accident, or suffered personal injury due to someone else’s negligence, usually have a lot of questions that they need answered in relation to their case. Following are some answers to frequently asked questions that personal injury victims often ask.

Do I Need An Attorney?

Personal Injury lawsuits are very complex, and can take a lot of time. The laws in different fields of personal injury law can vary quite substantially, and no 2 cases are ever the same.

 

Hiring an attorney who specializes in personal injury law is always highly advised. An experienced personal injury attorney can increase the amount and probability of compensation you receive for injuries sustained. Even though insurance companies might cover some of the expenses associated with treatment for your injuries, they will rarely pay anymore than the initial costs. Some personal injuries can cause hardships for many years, and in some cases, a lifetime.

 

You deserve to be fairly compensated for your pain and suffering, as well as medical expenses. An experienced personal injury attorney knows the law, and what you are entitled to. The chances of a fair and reasonable settlement for your personal injuries will be substantially increased when hiring the services of an experienced personal injury attorney.

What Is Negligence?

The law requires everyone to act with “reasonable care” in order to protect the public. When an individual, or individuals sustain injuries due to someone else failing to act with reasonable care in a give situation, that is negligence. When seeking to recover damages in a personal injury case, the onus is on the “plaintiff” to prove that someone else was negligent, and that the negligence cause the personal injury or injuries.

Are Medical Bills Included In A Bodily Injury Claim?

A personal injury claim can also be described as a “bodily injury claim.” Compensation for damages can include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Vehicle rental expenses

 

Other general damages can include:

  • Pain
  • Suffering
  • Distress
  • Humiliation

 

When settling your personal injury claim, it is imperative that it includes all damages that are relevant to your situation, or you will possibly lose your right to recover them.

Can A Health Care Insurer Be Repaid From A Personal Injury Settlement?

The short answer to this is, “Yes.” It is quite common practice for the insurance company to be repaid for the medical bills if the insured individual receives a personal injury settlement. Depending on the law of the state you are filing a personal injury claim in, you may also be able to deduct attorney’s fees from the total amount owed to the health insurer.

What Is The Difference Between A Lawsuit And A Claim?

A claim is typically filed with an insurance company in an attempt to obtain a reasonable settlement for the personal injuries and other relevant losses sustained due to another person’s or company’s negligence. A lawsuit however, is legal action that is filed with the court seeking compensation from the individual, company, government agency or insurance company that was responsible for the personal injuries and other damages sustained by the victim.

Can My Attorney Settle My Case Without My Consent?

If the retainer agreement you signed with your attorney permits them to settle your case without your consent and sign the settlement and release the agreement on your behalf, then yes. In the event that your attorney settled the case without your consent, and you have not yet signed the settlement and release agreement, you should advise you attorney that you do not wish to proceed with the settlement if you are not satisfied with it. In case a check has been forwarded to your attorney in San Ramon, the funds can be returned.

Does My Attorney Receive Their Fee Percentage Before Or After the Medical Expenses Are Paid?

An Attorney’s fee is based on the retainer agreement between you and your attorney. Some agreements provide for an attorney to calculate the fee on the gross settlement, which is before medical bills are paid, while other agreements provide for the attorney to calculate payment for fees on the net amount, which is after medical expenses are paid. Ensure you read the contract carefully, and have your attorney in San Jose explain the agreement to you.

Is There A Minimum Amount For A Personal Injury Settlement?

There is no minimum or maximum amount attached to personal injury settlements. An amount of a settlement in personal injury cases in Oakland, is dependent upon certain factors.

Some of the factors can include:

  • The nature of, and extent of the personal injury or injuries
  • The period of time that the injury or injuries are expected to last
  • The amount of economic damages expected to be incurred IE. lost wages, medical bills etc.

 

An experienced San Francisco Bay Area attorney will be able to assist with a calculation on expected expenses.

How Do I Receive My Personal Injury Award?

When the person or entity against whom you have the judgment has insurance, your attorney will notify the insurance company of the judgment. The insurance company can write a check for damages up to the limit of the insurance policy.

 

If the person or entity against whom you have the judgment is not insured, collecting will not be as easy. A judgment must have been “entered” with the court and then enforcement of the judgment needs to be sought. Speak to your attorney in Martinez and Walnut Creek about collecting your judgment.

Can I Request A Copy Of The Settlement Check From My Attorney?

You should always request a copy of the settlement check from your attorney. Every client has the right to see a copy of the settlement check, and also a copy of the breakdown sheet prior to the check being deposited.

 

Normally, a check from the insurance company will have both your attorney’s name and your name printed on the check. This means you would have to endorse the check prior to it being deposited in to your attorney’s trust account. You can ask your attorney for a copy of the actual settlement check received from the insurance company, as well as copies of any and all checks written by your attorney in relation to your case. The checks written by your attorney should total the full amount of the settlement.

What Is A Proper Contingency Fee?

The complexity of the case, the time at which it settles, and the anticipated costs that may have to be invested will all have to be considered when an attorney’s fee is being negotiated. 40% is the maximum fee normally charged in California if the case is litigated through trial or arbitration.

 

It is always advised to ask your attorney if they are willing to consider a lower fee. It pays to bear in mind however, the skill and reputation of your attorney is very important. A 40% fee ensures a highly skilled and experienced attorney which also means you will probably receive a higher recovery than an attorney charging less due to not having as much experience.

If The Case Is For My Child, Can I Have Access To My Child’s Settlement Money?

In short, a parent does not normally have access to a child’s settlement funds. This is in order to protect the child from parents who may utilize the money for themselves, and not the child. A court will normally place the settlement money for a child in to what is called a “blocked” bank account until the child reaches the age of 18.

 

There are times however, that the court will allow withdrawals from a blocked account if funds are required for the care and well being of the child. The court must first be satisfied that the funds will be being used to benefit the child. Discuss what expenses might be paid for out of the settlement funds, with your attorney.

Can I Break An Annuity From An Auto Accident Settlement?

Normally not. It can be very difficult to “break” an annuity. The main purpose of an annuity is to have the insurance company pay out the settlement funds over a period of time as opposed to paying out in a one lump sum payment. It is not likely that a court will set aside an annuity. The only other option, though highly inadvisable, is to locate a company that purchases structured settlements from personal injury victims. Normally this type of company will only pay you between 20 to 50 cents on the dollar, and purchase your right to all future payments. This option means the personal injury victim will be forfeiting a substantial amount of money.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations On A Personal Injury Case?

A statute of limitations is the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Most lawsuits have to be filed within a specific period of time, otherwise the legal claim will not longer be considered valid. A personal injury lawsuit must be filed with 2 years of sustaining the injury or injuries. In the event that the injury was not discovered right away, you have 1 year from the date that the injury or injuries were discovered.

How Is My Case Evaluated?

Your attorney will document every detail of what you have gone through. This can be quite extensive depending on your case. Such details can include:

  • Fact of the case
  • Liability issues
  • Injuries
  • Treatment
  • Future prognosis

 

We go over every detail with you, and discuss all available options ranging from settlement with the insurance company to going to trial. We will ensure you are aware of the choices available to you as well as any consequences associated with each choice. We will discuss what we believe the settlement verdict range of you case will be, before sending all relevant information to the negligent party’s insurance company. We will then negotiate with the insurance company in an attempt to reach a fair settlement offer. Every offer from the insurance company is discussed with you, including how much money you will have in your pocket. This enables you to evaluate your options and make a decision on the settlement offer.

Negotiations will continue until such time as the insurance company submits what we believe to be their best and final settlement offer. Should you choose to accept the final offer, you will normally have the money from your settlement within 30 days. If you decide that you do not want to settle, the case can be taken to court for a jury to decide the value of your case.

Free Consultation

Here at Chang Law Firm, we provide a free consultation in relation to your personal injury case. If there is no recovery, then you pay absolutely nothing. Our firm advances all of the costs in preparing and setting up your claim. This is our incentive to thoroughly devote ourselves to your case and ensure that you get the compensation you deserve.

 

We represent clients from all over the Bay Area and have 4 conveniently located offices for your convenience. Call the Bay Area’s premier personal injury law firm. Call Chang Law Firm on (408) 288-5008. With over 13 years of experience and expertise, we have the knowledge as well as a proven winning trial record.