Category: Personal Injury

9 Things You Should Know About a Free Lawyer Consultation

9 Things You Should Know About a Free Lawyer Consultation

When you have been hurt in an accident, you may hope to file a legal claim to secure a financial recovery. The first step in this process is consulting with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. 

Even if you know that you have a valid California accident claim, you may be uncertain about what to expect during a free legal consultation. In the following post, you will learn about nine of the most important things to understand about initial case evaluations.

1. Statutes of Limitations

Before deciding to pursue a personal injury or accident claim, you should determine whether your claim has expired. 

The “statute of limitations” is a legal time limit. After the statute of limitations has passed, you cannot begin the legal claims process. In California, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases is typically two years.

2. Researching Your Attorney

Before meeting with a lawyer, make sure to research their office or firm online. You should read reviews from former clients to help you anticipate your own experience. 

Do not hire an attorney or firm unless the majority of online testimonials are positive. Also, make sure to read reviews from many different websites.

3. Bring Documentation

The attorney will want to review the facts of your case during the consultation. Because of this, you should bring the following documents and information to your case review:

  • Photographs of the injuries and accident
  • Police accident reports
  • Relevant tickets and citations
  • Medical records and doctor’s notes
  • Insurance information 

This information will allow your lawyer to fully understand the viability of your case.

4. Write Notes

When you attend the initial meeting, bring notes about your experience. Take detailed notes as soon as possible after the accident.

As time goes on, you might forget small details of the accident or injury. That is why you should keep a personal record of your entire experience.

5. Prepare Details About Your Accident

One of the primary purposes of a legal consultation is to provide your lawyer with information about your accident, illness, or injuries. 

The attorney will ask detailed questions to better understand your situation. These questions help the lawyer determine your ability to answer difficult questions about your accident or injury.

6. Bring Questions for the Attorney

During the consultation, make sure to ask the lawyer questions to help decide whether they are right to represent you. Preparing questions before the meeting will ensure that you use your time effectively. 

Some of the most common questions that clients ask include: 

  • How will my medical bills be covered?
  • Do you believe I can win this case?
  • What is the next step after this meeting?
  • What types of damages can I pursue?
  • Who is legally liable for my accident?
  • How do you handle attorneys’ fees?

These are only a few common examples. Make sure to ask any questions that will help you better understand the legal process or your claim.

7. Laws Related to Your Case

A personal injury attorney will explain the specific California laws and statutes relevant to your case. This will help you understand the viability of your accident claim. 

8. Discuss Attorneys’ Fees

Most injury lawyers are paid through contingency fees. With this payment approach, clients do not pay anything unless their case is successfully won or settled. 

You may not want to hire a lawyer or firm that demands upfront payments before your case is concluded.

9. The Next Steps

Once you have signed the hiring documents for your attorney, they will begin building a case for you. Negotiating with the opposing party will be the first step. If negotiations fail, your personal injury lawyer will file litigation on your behalf.

Can You Sue for a Car Accident If You Are Not Hurt?

Can You Sue for a Car Accident If You Are Not Hurt?

Although it might surprise you to learn, you can sue for a car accident if you are not hurt. But in many cases, you will not need to file a lawsuit to recover your damages. The time, effort, and money put into a lawsuit will not justify the damages you recover in these situations.

There are a few narrow circumstances in which you might file a lawsuit without an injury. The decision to file a lawsuit over damaged property will depend on the property in question and the at-fault driver’s assets.

Here is some information about the situations in which you might sue for a car accident, even if you weren’t hurt.

How Car Insurance Works

Car insurance in California includes bodily injury liability (BIL)  insurance and property damage liability (PDL) insurance.

Bodily Injury Insurance

In California, bodily injury liability insurance covers people injured in an accident caused by the insured party. After a car accident in California, all of the accident victims file a claim against the at-fault driver’s BIL policy.

The insurer investigates who caused the accident. As a result, the accident victims may find themselves searching for an “auto accident lawyer near me” early in the claim process because everything hinges on proving liability for the accident.

Property Damage Insurance

Every state requires property damage liability (PDL) insurance. The limits of these policies vary from state to state. For example, California requires every registered vehicle owner to carry at least $5,000 in PDL insurance.

PDL insurance pays for the cost to repair or replace property damaged by the insured. In most cases, the damaged property will consist of a vehicle. But PDL also covers the repair or replacement of your fence or tree if a negligent driver hits it.

You rarely need to search for a “car accident lawyer near me” for property damage only (PDO) accidents. Instead, you will file a damage claim against the driver’s PDL insurance.

How Much Can Someone Sue for in a Car Accident?

Your damages for property damage include the cost of repairing or replacing the property. For example, you may find yourself wondering, “Someone totaled my car. Can I sue?” In short, you can. However, you’ll usually start by filing an insurance claim.

When you file an insurance claim for property damage, the claims adjuster will:

  • Inspect the damage
  • Collect repair estimates
  • Set a value for your vehicle
  • Offer a damage settlement

Even if your car gets totaled, the at-fault driver’s insurer can estimate its replacement value. Because the adjuster bases the estimate on objective sources like Blue Book values, you can usually negotiate a fair payout without filing a lawsuit.

When Could You Sue for a Car Accident Without Getting Hurt?

Occasionally, you might sue for a car accident without getting hurt. This usually happens because something has gone wrong with the insurance claim process.

Some scenarios where you might sue rather than settle include:

You Were Hit By an Uninsured Driver

If the person who hit you did not have insurance, you must negotiate compensation with the driver. In many cases, you will need the extra leverage of a lawsuit to get the at-fault driver to pay your damages.

Your Damage Exceeds the Policy Limits

If the value of your property exceeds the at-fault driver’s PDL limits, you may need to file a lawsuit to make up the difference. This can happen if you have:

  • Expensive property
  • Vintage property
  • Custom property

Bear in mind that this situation could happen even if you do not drive a Lamborghini. A van customized to include a wheelchair lift could easily exceed California’s PDL minimum of $5,000.

Claiming Compensation Without an Injury

Most injury lawyers will help clients file a PDL claim along with a BIL claim. If the case does not settle, the injury lawyer will include the property damage in the injury lawsuit.

But fewer lawyers are willing to act as your auto accident lawyer without an injury. The damages in these cases rarely justify the lawyer’s fee. Instead, you will often receive a better outcome by negotiating with the at-fault driver’s insurer.

How Much Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth in Boston Massachusetts?

How Much Is My Personal Injury Claim Worth in Massachusetts?

Many factors impact how much you can recover from a personal injury claim. Some are statutory factors that apply in every case; others are case-specific.

Understanding the types of damages available in a Massachusetts personal injury case can help you determine your case’s value.

Types of Damages Awarded in Personal Injury Cases

Generally, you can receive three types of damages when another party causes you injury: economic, non-economic, and punitive. These damages are typically available in all injury cases, including fatal car accidents, medical malpractice, product liability claims, slip and fall accidents, and more.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are divided into two categories.

Special damages, or “economic damages,” represent an injury victim’s financial losses and out-of-pocket expenses related to an accident and injury. 

Examples of economic damages include:

  • Medical bills
  • Therapy expenses
  • Medications and medical equipment
  • Travel expenses to and from medical appointments
  • Loss of income, including a reduction in earning potential

An injury victim proves the value of these damages through receipts, invoices, bills, and pay stubs. Future financial losses are also available in a personal injury claim, including ongoing medical care and future lost income. Medical experts and economists often assist in estimating future financial damages.

General damages, or “non-economic damages,” represent the pain and suffering an accident victim experiences because of an injury or accident. 

Examples of general damages include:

  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Mental anguish and trauma
  • Emotional distress 
  • Psychological injuries, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD
  • Scarring, disfigurement, and permanent impairments or disabilities
  • Decreases in quality of life and enjoyment of life

Non-economic damages are subjective and therefore more difficult to calculate. There is not a statutory formula for valuing pain and suffering. 

Many personal injury lawyers, insurance providers, and juries use the multiplier method to value non-economic damages. Parties assign a number between 1.5 and five to a victim’s case based on the severity of their injuries and other factors. Then, the parties multiply that number by the total amount of economic damages to arrive at a value for pain and suffering losses.

Punitive Damages

These damages are unique as they are not compensatory in nature. Instead, punitive damages “punish” the at-fault party for egregious wrongdoing, such as wanton, willful conduct taken without regard for others’ safety. 

Factors That Impact the Value of Your Personal Injury Claim in Massachusetts

Common factors that impact how much money a personal injury claim is worth are:

Damages Caps

Some states limit the amount of money a victim may receive for non-economic damages. Massachusetts does not cap non-economic damages, except in medical malpractice cases. 

According to MGLA 231 §60H, there is a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in actions against health care providers. 

There is an exception to the rule. The jury may award a higher amount for non-economic damages if the jury finds that there is:

  • Substantial disfigurement
  • Substantial or permanent impairment of a bodily function
  • Other special circumstances that warrant a higher amount for general damages

The jury must find that the imposition of a cap would deprive the victim of just compensation for the injuries incurred.

Comparative Negligence

You must prove that the other party was at fault for the cause of your injury to recover injury-related damages. However, suppose you were partially responsible for the cause of your injury. In this case, Massachusetts’s comparative negligence law will reduce your damages to account for your share of the blame.

However, if you were 51 percent or more at fault for the cause of your injury, you could not recover any money for your damages. This rule is known as a “51% bar.”

Severity of Injuries

Generally, cases involving catastrophic injuries or permanent impairments are worth more than cases involving minor injuries. There are several reasons for this trend.

First, it costs more to treat and care for catastrophic injuries. If a person has a disability, they may require ongoing medical treatment and 24/7 personal care. 

Second, a person with a traumatic injury typically loses more time from work, which increases the amount of lost income. Permanent impairments can significantly reduce the person’s ability to earn an income in the future.

Third, it is generally presumed that a person suffers more when they sustain severe injuries. Therefore, the pain and suffering damages are likely to be higher in these cases.

Your Case Is Unique, So Don’t Base It on Another Case

Other factors could impact the value of your case, such as:

  • The availability of insurance coverage
  • The parties involved in the case
  • The statute of limitations
  • The willingness of insurance providers and other parties to negotiate in good faith

You should consider seeking legal counsel before settling a claim on your own. Most settlement agreements contain waivers of future liability. You cannot demand more money after settling the claim — even if you discover additional damages.

Knowing how much your personal injury claim is worth is essential to protect your best interest.