Personal Injury FAQ
Answering All Your Accident Injury Law Questions
WHAT EXACTLY IS A PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
Personal injury cases arise from such a wide range of circumstances that it is impossible to list them all here. Some of the most common are car accidents, slip-and-fall injuries, motorcycle accidents, and work injuries, but any time someone is harmed by the negligence of another person or company, there might be a personal injury claim.
In fact, personal injury lawyers often handle negligence claims that don't actually involve personal injuries at all—negligent destruction of property, for instance. A lawyer will be able to tell you whether or not you might have a personal injury case.
WHAT IS NEGLIGENCE?
The law requires that people act within “reasonable care.” The specifics of what constitutes reasonable care vary somewhat from state to state and from situation to situation. When someone fails to act with the reasonable care required by a given circumstance, that's negligence.
That is important to you because, in order to recover from most personal injuries, you will have to prove (with your personal injury attorney's help, of course) that another person or a business was negligent and that the negligence caused your injury.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
The best way to find out whether or not you have a viable personal injury claim is to talk to a lawyer.
In general, you and your attorney will have to prove three things in order to recover in a personal injury case:
- That you suffered damages,
- That the defendant was negligent, and
- That the defendant's negligence caused your damages.
Even if you have a valid claim, though, your attorney will have to investigate whether you would be able to collect on your claim. If the other party does not have insurance and does not have other assets that could be used to compensate you, then it may be that you have a valid claim but will be unable to collect compensation for it.
HOW MUCH IS MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE WORTH?
Several factors figure into the monetary value of your personal injury claim.
For instance, the value of your case is impacted by:
- The nature and extent of your personal injury
- The cost of your medical bills, lost wages, property damages, and other financial losses
- Pain and suffering you endured
- Present and future disability
Even when those factors are considered, there are significant variations in the value of a personal injury claim based on the amount of insurance involved or the assets of the defendant, any partial fault on the part of the injured person, the victim's willingness/ability to invest a long period of time in litigating the claim versus the need for a relatively quick settlement, and more.
Assessing the value of your personal injury case isn't an exact science, and your attorney won't be able to give you a definite value upfront. However, an experienced lawyer will know how to weigh the various factors to give you an overall picture of the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I'M HURT IN AN ACCIDENT?
First and foremost, get medical attention. At the same time, if you are able, you should create a record that will help protect your claim. File a police report, either at the scene or as soon as possible afterward. Try to get names and contact information from any witness. If you are able, write down exactly what happened as soon as possible after the event. Accident scene photographs often provide valuable evidence that cannot be duplicated after the fact. And, of course, talk to a lawyer as soon as possible so that you can get advice about how to proceed, what kind of records you should keep, and how to handle the inevitable phone calls from the other party's insurance company.
WHAT SHOULDN'T I DO IF I SUFFER A PERSONAL INJURY?
Do not sign anything without consulting a personal injury attorney. Do not attempt to negotiate with an insurance company (your own or the other party's) without consulting an attorney. Do not make any kind of statement, even one that the insurance company rep or another party tells you is “off the record” without consulting an attorney. Do not downplay your personal injuries before you know the extent of them—it's not always immediately apparent how serious your personal injuries are, and if you've said you were “fine” at the scene, that may come back to haunt you.
The bottom line is that it is best to get advice from a attorney before taking any kind of action outside of seeking medical attention.
WHY SHOULDN'T I DEAL WITH INSURANCE COMPANIES ON MY OWN?
No insurance company has your best interest at heart. The business of an insurance company is to take in as many premiums as possible while paying out as few claims as possible. Their representatives are trained to minimize or outright deny your claim, and they employ a variety of tactics to accomplish that—sometimes even pretending to be on your side and want to help you get your claim resolved quickly. An experienced personal injury attorney knows how to work with and against insurance companies in your best interest.
WHEN SHOULD I CALL A LAWYER?
Immediately after your injury would be ideal. If it is past that point and you haven't already contacted a personal injury attorney, the second-best time is now. Simply fill out the free case evaluation form on the Contact page or contact the office by phone at (386) 223-1651, and a free consultation will be set at your convenience.
WHAT IS THE LIKELIHOOD THAT MY CASE WILL GO TO TRIAL?
Less than 25% of personal injury cases go to trial, and most of those settle before the trial ends. Whether or not your personal injury case goes to trial isn't dependent just on the odds. It's dependent on a variety of factors like the value of the claim, the insurance company involved, the certainty of the evidence, and whether or not yours is a case that will likely go to trial, but just like case evaluations, the analysis is not an exact science.
WILL YOU GUARANTEE THAT MY CASE WILL BE WON?
It is unethical for a lawyer to guarantee success. Any lawyer who does should be doubted merely for making such a claim. You will, however, be given a realistic estimation of the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Mr. Warnock will be candid about what he thinks can be accomplished for you. The promises made will be kept. Your case will be handled in keeping with the highest ethical and moral standards. The representation provided will be aggressive and highly skilled.
HOW MUCH DO YOU CHARGE FOR A PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
Unless there is a settlement or a winning verdict at trial, you will not pay anything. Typically, if the case is won, you will be charged on a contingency fee basis, meaning the fee is a percentage of the total case recovery, in addition to case costs.