Personal Injury FAQs
- What should I do if I am involved in a car accident?
- Who pays if I am injured or my car is damaged in an auto accident?
- The insurance company is offering me a settlement. Should I take it?
- What issues typically come up in trying to resolve an accident claim?
- How will I pay for my medical bills and lost wages?
- How long will my case take to resolve?
- How much is my injury claim worth?
- How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
- What happens if the person at fault has no insurance?
- How long do I have to file a claim?
Below are some answers to questions frequently encountered by attorney Kevin Staples in his Vancouver, Washington law practice, as he represents people injured in automobile accidents and other motor vehicle collisions, or in other instances of negligence, such as premises liability for slips and falls on the unsafe or improperly-maintained property of another. If you have further questions or need to speak with a lawyer regarding representation in a personal injury claim, contact Kevin Staples for a free consultation.
Q. What should I do if I am involved in a car accident?
A. If you are in an accident, first exchange information with any other involved parties, including: driver’s license numbers, addresses, phone numbers, and insurance information. Try to get names and contact information for any witnesses. You should also document any property damage caused by the accident or any visible injuries you have suffered by taking pictures.
Q. Who pays if I am injured or my car is damaged in an auto accident?
A. In a perfect world, the insurance company of the person who caused the damage should pay for the loss. However, it is important to remember that insurance companies will often try to avoid paying. If you have the appropriate coverage, you can make a claim with your own insurance company.
Q. The insurance company is offering me a settlement. Should I take it?
A. You should always seek the advice of an attorney before accepting or rejecting an insurance company’s settlement offer. The insurance company may be trying to get you to accept less money than your claim is actually worth. Our personal injury attorneys in Vancouver will discuss your claim with you for no charge.
Q. What issues typically come up in trying to resolve an accident claim?
A. Who was at fault is often an issue. Insurance companies often try to claim that an accident was your fault or at least partially your fault even when it was obviously the fault of their insured. How badly you were injured is usually contested. Many times the adverse insurance company will claim that your problems were caused by conditions that existed before your accident. Whether or not the adverse insurance company has enough coverage is often a problem. If you have underinsured motorist coverage you may be able to make a claim with your insurance company.
Q. How will I pay for my medical bills and lost wages?
A. Your medical bills and lost wages should be paid by the insurance company of the person who is at fault for the accident. However, this generally will not happen until the end of the case. Until your case settles or is tried, you are responsible for paying your own medical bills and for paying your other living expenses even if you can’t work because of the accident. Your own car insurance policy or your health insurance may pay some of these bills until the case is settled. One of the most important services that an Vancouver automobile accident attorney can provide is to help coordinate payment of these bills through your different insurance policies while your case is pending.
Q. How long will my case take to resolve?
A. This question is difficult to answer because every case is different. Some will be resolved in a matter of months, while some go on for years. This is one of the reasons why it is important to consult with a injury lawyer in Vancouver early in the process in order to get things moving. Once an attorney knows the specific facts of a case, he or she should be able to give you a good estimate of how long it will take to resolve.
Q. How much is my injury claim worth?
A. There is no simple formula for determining how much a case is worth. Generally, in addition to compensation for any property that was damaged or destroyed by the accident, you are entitled to payment for medical expenses, lost wages and lost earnings capacity. You may also be able to receive compensation for things such as pain and suffering, disfigurement and the loss of the ability to do things you previously enjoyed. The difficulty in evaluating the value of these things is one of the reasons why it is important to consult an attorney who handles injury cases rather than simply accepting what an insurance adjustor offers you.
Q. How much does it cost to hire a lawyer?
A. For most people, it would be very difficult to afford to pay an attorney an hourly fee to handle a personal injury case, especially since there is no guarantee of recovery. That is why we charge on what is called a “contingency fee” basis. How it works is that we are paid a percentage of your total recovery at the end of the case. Generally our rate is one-third of the total amount recovered, although there are cases where we will charge less than one-third. If you don’t recover anything, then we don’t receive a fee. In addition to our fee, there are some costs involved in developing your case, including ordering medical and employment records. We will pay these costs as they are incurred and then recover them when the case is over.
Q. What happens if the person at fault has no insurance?
A. Many people are not adequately insured. We can help you investigate other possible sources of recovery and other potentially-liable parties from whom you can be compensated.
Q. How long do I have to file a claim?
A. The law requires that a case be filed with the Court within a certain period of time (the statute of limitations). Exactly how long that period of time is depends on the type of claim involved and the State where the case has to be filed. It is extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as possible in order to determine what the deadline is in your case.