Frequently Asked Personal Injury and Car Accident Questions
Should you hire an attorney who specializes in accident cases?
Yes. You definitely should hire an attorney like myself who only handles car accidents and other types of accident cases. General attorneys who practice in other areas of law do not have the knowledge nor keep up with the changing accident laws like specialists do.
How much do car accident attorneys charge?
Most car accident or personal injury attorneys charge between 33%-40% of the total settlement obtained. All personal injury attorneys charge a contingency fee. I charge about the lowest contingency fee in Colorado. This puts more money in your pocket.
What is a contingency fee?
A contingency fee is what car accident and accident attorneys charge their clients. For example, if the lawyer does not recover any money for you, then the contingency has not been met so you owe the lawyer nothing. If the lawyer does meet the contingency by successfully settling your case with the at-fault party’s insurance company, then he or she is entitled to his contingency fee. In my case, I would receive a percentage of the total settlement as my fee.
What is the value of my car accident case?
No attorney can tell you the value of your case when you first meet with him. If an attorney says your case is worth such and such, then find another attorney. Value is something that an attorney negotiates at the end of your case, with your permission. I usually start negotiations at a number that is higher than expected. If you start too low, then you cannot change your mind and go higher. So, after a complete discussion about strategy and negotiation tactics, I will offer a settlement to the insurance company that is higher than the true value of your case.
How long do I have to settle my case?
In Colorado, you have 3 years to settle your case (3 years from the date of your car accident). Depending on what type of accident you have, the statute of limitations may be longer or shorter than 3 years. I can tell you how long you have left to settle your case based on your type of case.
What type of medical treatment should I have?
Normally, those who have been injured in a car accident, immediately go to the ER or a ER type walk in clinic. Some people will call their family physician. I do not recommend going to your family doctor as they are not really trained specifically for the needs of accident victims. I recommend contacting a doctor or chiropractor who handles a lot of car accident injuries. Of course, if you have fractures or broken bones, then you should immediately see an orthopedic surgeon or go to your local ER. After that, you can see a chiropractor for your soft tissue injuries and/or see a physical therapist.
If I have questions about my case, who do I call?
If you have any questions whatsoever, no matter how big or small, you can contact me on my personal cell phone anytime and any day of the week. I will make myself available to you every day of the week.
When should you hire a car accident or personal injury attorney?
You should hire me or any other accident attorney right away! I can steer you in the right direction from the beginning and keep you from making crucial mistakes. For example, many injured victims like yourself get injured in a car accident and the other car’s insurance adjuster calls you and asks you to give them a recorded statement about what happened. You should never give recorded statements and you should never talk to the other guy’s insurance company/insurance adjuster. The adjusters are trained to ask you questions that will help their insured. They are not there to help you as they claim, they are there to minimize your damages as much as possible. You need a well experienced accident attorney to handle things for you.
Should I fill out an accident report?
Yes, you should always make sure that there is a filed accident report. If the police or sheriff come to the accident scene, they will go back to their offices and fill out a detailed police or accident report. The accident report will normally show who is at fault for the accident and they will normally be listed first on the accident report. Usually, the at-fault party will be given a ticket for say Careless Driving, improper left turn, reckless driving, drunk driving, etc. If there is no law enforcement on the scene, you can file a report yourself online.
Should I go in the ambulance to the ER?
Normally, yes. If you are injured or feel pain in your body or head, then you should take a trip to the ER. An ambulance can get you there faster than anyone else and can provide any care that you may need while driving to the ER.
What if I do not know any doctors in my area?
If you do not have an accident type doctor, then I can give you a list of doctors that treat injured people as a result of motor vehicle accidents. Not every doctor will get involved in a car accident case, so you need to know who will properly treat your injuries.
Does the amount of car damage equal the amount of damage to my body?
Not necessarily. If you car was a total loss, then it is easier for me to prove and demonstrate your injuries. I have seen a lot of injuries where there is very little damage to a vehicle. So if there is not much damage to your car, that does not mean you were not injured or do not have a case.
How do I know which attorney to hire?
You should hire an attorney who only handles car accident cases, like myself. I have 27 years of experience handling car accidents from both the insurance company side and the injured victim’s side. I have seen all personal injury cases from both the plaintiff and the defense side. That makes me, as your attorney, more knowledgeable in dealing with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Every attorney seeks to settle your case for the most money possible, and I know how to do that better than most.
Do you handle the case involving damage to my vehicle?
Not usually as this is a very straightforward procedure. You will be allowed to get repair estimates at the body shop of your choosing and the insurance company on the other side, will normally pay all the damage sustained by your vehicle. If your car is a total loss, then the other side’s insurance company will pay you the market value of your car so that you can go out and find a replacement vehicle.
What if the at-fault driver does not have any insurance?
If the at-fault driver has no insurance, then that driver is considered to be uninsured. In that situation, I will make a claim against your own Uninsured or Underinsured motorist coverage. So, your insurance company basically steps into the shoes of the at-fault driver (and will more or less defend and try to minimize your claim and injuries). It seems strange that you have to fight against your own car insurance company, but that is what will happen when you are involved with an uninsured or underinsured motorist. I can fight against the insurance company to obtain the damages that are required.
Are soft-tissue injuries as valuable as more serious injuries like head injuries or fractures?
Generally, a whiplash injury will bring the lowest personal injury settlements as you cannot see soft-tissue injuries and they are the most difficult to prove. It is easier to prove a head injury, concussion, fractures and broken bones, facial lacerations, amputations, etc. It takes a very good attorney to get you a settlement for a whiplash and/or soft-tissue injury. These soft-tissue injuries are the most difficult injury cases to settle, but I have a lot of experience with these types of injuries.
When will you attempt to settle my case?
Normally, it is at least 6 months after your accident before I can engage in settlement negotiations. It really comes down to the status of your medical treatment and injuries. Some injuries are more serious than others and take longer to get under control. This decision is made by you and your treating doctor. As soon as your doctor releases you from further treatment, then I can begin the settlement process.
What if the insurance company will not settle or does not like my settlement offer?
If you are having a hard time with the other side’s insurance company, then you have the final option of filing a lawsuit. Some cases will not settle pre-suit, for one reason or another. At that point, after exhausting all settlement options, one can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver and the insurance company will hire an attorney to defend against your lawsuit. Lawsuits can be long and expensive. So this step needs to be considered very carefully.