Frequently Asked Questions About Accidents
What if I want to make a claim for my injuries?
What if someone sues me?
Should I get physical check-up after the accident?
How can I get help?
What should I do if the other driver does not have insurance?
How does attorney fee structures work?
What is attorney-client privilege?
1) What if I want to make a claim for my injuries?
If the other driver was at fault, you may be entitled to compensation – for your personal injuries, pain and suffering, car damage and other expenses, such as lost wages or the cost of a nurse needed after the accident. You should make a claim with the other driver’s insurance company a.s.a.p . But, if you are not satisfied with the amount they offer, you may want to contact a attorney .
If you plan to sue, do not delay. There are time limits for filing various types of claims – usually one to two year after the accident, but sometimes much less so act quickly, you can sue for $5,000 or less in small claims court. A lawyer can’t represent you in this court, but you can talk with one beforehand.
If you want to sue for a larger amount, you will need your own lawyer. An insurance company lawyer cannot represent you if you are the person who is suing (the”plaintiff”). Many lawyers take accident cases on a contingent “fee” basis. That means you do not pay the lawyer if you lose the case. If you win, you pay the lawyer a percentage of the money you get. Most lawyers charge a smaller percentage if the case is settled before the lawyer does all the work necessary to go to trial. If you and your lawyer agree to a contingent fee, the lawyer must put the agreement in writing and give you a signed copy. The contract should explain what percentage the lawyer will get if you win and how it might vary. It should also state who will pay for any court costs.
2) What if someone sues me?
Contact your insurance agent and/or your lawyer right away. Generally, your insurance company will assign a lawyer to handle your case. But, if you are sued for more money than your policy covers, you may need your own attorney too. Also, insurance company lawyers do not handle traffic citations or criminal cases, such as hit and run charges. If you are charged with a crime and cannot afford a lawyer, call your county’s Public Defender. Depending on your income, you may qualify for free assistance. To find the Public Defender, look in the white pages under the name of your county.
3) Should I get physical check-up after the accident?
A check-up may be a good idea for both you and your passengers. You could be injured and not know it right away. At least call your doctor or another health care provider for help in deciding what your needs may be. Your automobile insurance may pay your health care bills.
4) How can I get help?
As soon as you can get to telephone, call 911. Explain the situation and give your exact locations, so help can arrive quickly. Be sure to mention whether you need an ambulance or a fire engine. Or, flag down a passing car, and ask the driver to go for help. Perhaps the driver will a cellular phone in the car and can make an emergency call on the spot.
5) What should I do if the other driver does not have insurance?
If the other driver caused the accident and is not insured, your own policy will pay for your personal injuries – if you have “uninsured motorist” or medical payments” coverage. If the other driver’s insurance is not enough to pay for all of your damages, your own insurance may pay the difference – if you have “underinsured motorist” coverage. If you do not have these kinds of insurance or if your damages are more than the policy’s limit, you can sue the other driver. However, even if you win the case, you cannot be sure that the other driver has the money to pay. If you have collision insurance, it will pay for damage to your car, no matter who is at fault.
6) How does attorney fee structures work?
Most attorneys charge by the hour. Other fee structures include flat fees, contingent fees or retainer fees. The following provides a simple explanation of how each kind of fee structure works.
The hourly rate primarily depends on the attorney’s experience, although other factors include operating expenses and the location of the practice. An experienced attorney may also be able to give you a better estimate of how much (s)he will end up charging you.
Attorneys will charge a flat fee when dealing with a more common legal matter, such as composing a will or drafting bankruptcy filings. When dealing with a flat fee, ask what it covers.
Another common fee structure includes a retainer fee. Retainer fees involve creating an escrow account into which you pay in advance, and they deduct from this account in accordance with their hourly rate.
Attorneys occasionally use a contingent fee structure. In this kind of fee structure, the attorney does not charge any fees, but instead takes a percentage of the settlement (usually 33%) and fronts all costs related to bringing the matter. Contingent fee structures are usually used in personal injury cases and debt collection cases, but are not allowed in divorce, criminal or child custody cases.
7) What is attorney-client privilege?
Attorney-client privilege means that any legal information or matter that you discuss with your attorney cannot be discussed with anyone else. Aside from a few exceptions and unless you consent to release legal information pertaining to your case, s(he) is required, by law, to keep all of your information confidential