Personal Injury FAQs - Part 1
HOW MUCH IS MY PERSONAL INJURY CASE OR CLAIM WORTH?
There is no precise formula, calculation, or other mathematical equation to determine what your case is worth. Each case has a different set of facts, a different set of injuries, and a different set of issues which all impact the value of a claim or case. If some attorney, after listening to a summary of your case for 30 minutes, tells you your case is worth X dollars, you should be concerned. There are too many factors that impact the value of your case and are usually not known until a full investigation of the facts is performed. Some of the factors that impact the value of your case are: who is at fault, damages (medical bills, lost wages/wage earning capacity, and property damage), pre-existing injuries, reputation of your treating doctor, insurance coverage or assets of at-fault party, jurisdiction/venue, judge, outstanding liens on settlement proceeds.
Carney Law Firm will give you an honest assessment of the merits of your case - this is, whether or not you have a legitimate claim and our opinion as to whether you should pursue the claim or case. We accept cases on a contingent fee basis; therefore it is on our best interest to pursue only legitimate claims or cases that have a good chance of obtaining a recovery for our clients. If you feel as though you have been wrongfully harmed by the negligence of another party, you should contact Carney Law Firm immediately so that we may promptly investigate your claim by obtaining and preserving all evidence relevant to your claim or case. Once we have determined whether or not to pursue your claim or case, our firm will stop at no expense to ensure maximum monetary recovery.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR ME TO GET PAID FOR MY PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
It depends. Many motor vehicle accident claims involving relatively minor injuries (such as neck or back strains) can be resolved within a few months after the injured person has finished all necessary medical treatment without the need to file a lawsuit. Motor vehicle accident claims involving more serious injuries and a defendant with low insurance policy limits can often be settled without the need to file a lawsuit. Most motor vehicle accident claims involving more serious injuries and a defendant with higher insurance policy coverage limits or reachable assets will require the filing of a lawsuit. In cases where filing a lawsuit becomes necessary, resolution of cases typically occur anywhere from 1-3 years, or more, to resolve.
More complex liability cases such as construction site negligence, premises liability, product liability, wrongful death, truck accidents, workplace accidents and medical malpractice will almost certainly require the filing of a lawsuit and take 1-3 years or more to resolve. Plaintiffs always have the burden of proving their claim, and insurance companies will almost always force injured people to litigate their claims in order to receive full and fair compensation.
HOW MUCH MONEY DOES IT COST TO PURSUE A PERSONAL INJURY CASE?
It can cost a substantial amount of money to pursue a personal injury case. However, our attorneys will meet with new potential clients and investigate the merits of their claims free of charge. If after an investigation into the merits of your claim we determine that it is likely that we can ultimately recover money, we will cover all necessary litigation costs. Our clients then repay us out of their settlement proceeds. If we do not recover money for our client, they are not obligated to reimburse us for case related expenses. Our firm bears the risk of the cost of litigation. Because negligence case expenses can be substantial, and certain expenses such as the retention of highly regarded expert witnesses are necessary to the success of the outcome of these cases, it is advisable to retain a lawyer or law firm that has the necessary resources to pursue these claims.
DO I HAVE TO SUE SOMEONE IN ORDER TO GET MONEY FOR MY INJURY?
In certain circumstances it may be possible to resolve a claim without having to resort to filing a lawsuit. However, generally the more serious the injury, the more likely it will be for an injured person to file a lawsuit in order to receive full and fair compensation. Without the threat of a lawyer obtaining a court judgment in your favor, the less likely you are to receive a fair settlement offer from an insurance company or defendant.
IS IT EASY TO GET MONEY FOR MY INJURY?
No. Despite what you might hear in the media, it is extremely difficult to receive fair compensation or an injury. Insurance companies have deep pockets and spend a tremendous amount of money to limit their payouts on claims. In fact, they spend money on media campaigns convincing the public that being a personal injury plaintiff is a lucrative endeavor so that when people sit on a jury, they are less likely to award an injured person the money they may be entitled to. Most personal injury victims are forced to litigate claims that can be dragged out in court for years. Contrary to media reports, frivolous lawsuits are thrown out by courts shortly after they are filed. Only legitimate cases with real injuries are worth pursuing.
AM I ENTITLED TO COMPENSATION EVEN IF I AM PARTIALLY AT FAULT FOR MY ACCIDENT?
Yes, but not always. You can still receive compensation for an injury even if you were partially at fault for your injury so long as your percentage of fault is 50% or less. Massachusetts courts apply comparative negligence which allows a defendant to reduce compensation by the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff. In the event that the plaintiff is deemed to be more than 50% at fault, then the plaintiff is not entitled to any compensation. For example, if someone is involved in a car accident and the total damages incurred by the injured person is deemed to be $100,000.00, but they are found to be 40% at fault for the accident, their compensation will be reduced by 40% and they will receive $60,000.00. If the plaintiff is found to be 55% at fault, he or she shall receive no money.
I GOT HURT AT WORK. IF I FILE A THIRD PARTY NEGLIGENCE CLAIM AGAINST ANOTHER PARTY WILL MY EMPLOYER BE ANGRY WITH ME?
No. In fact they will most likely support your pursuit of a third party negligence claim. This is because after your employer’s workers' compensation insurer has paid you workers' compensation benefits, and then you receive money from a judgment or settlement of a third party claim, you must repay your employer’s workers' compensation insurer back a percentage of the workers' compensation benefits they previously paid you. After your employer’s workers' compensation insurer is reimbursed, your employer’s insurance premiums should be modified which will save your employer money. Because the value of a third party negligence claim often far exceeds the amount of benefits you received in workers’ compensation benefits, injured workers often receive substantially more money from the settlement of a third party claim even after the workers’ compensation lien is paid back.
IF I GET HURT AT WORK, WHAT IS THE FIRST THING I SHOULD DO?
Report your injury to someone in a supervisory or management level capacity, immediately. Even if you do not think your injury is serious or do not think you need medical treatment, you should report the incident immediately. This is because often times injuries do not initially seem serious enough to report it, but can later worsen to the point where medical treatment is necessary or time may be lost from work due to disability. If the incident or injury is not reported immediately, the workers’ compensation insurer and/or defendant(s) in a third party negligence claim will use this against you when attempting to deny your claim.
WHAT IS PERSONAL INJURY PROTECTION (P.I.P)?
P.I.P benefits are “no fault” benefits provided by automobile insurance which pays an injured person up to $2,000.00 in medical benefits and up to $8.000.00 in medical and lost wage benefits if time is lost from work due to the accident. Once the P.I.P. policy limits are “exhausted”, then all medical treatment should be billed to health insurance. If time is lost from work due to injury caused by an accident, P.I.P. will pay 75% of your loss of earning capacity up to a maximum of $8,000.00. P.I.P. benefits are referred to as “no fault” benefits because one does not need to prove that someone else was at fault for the accident in order to receive them. Generally, if someone else was at fault for an accident, and P.I.P benefits have been paid, the insurance company for the at-fault party is entitled to offset the amount of compensation owed to youaq2 by the amount of P.I.P. previously paid. For example, if you are injured in a car accident and your insurance company pays $2,000.00 in P.I.P. medical benefits on your behalf, and you then bring a claim against another at-fault party for damages and the claim is deemed to be worth $10,000.00, the insurance company for the at fault party is entitled to reduce the payment by $2,000.00 which would make them responsible for paying you $8,000.00.