Frequently Asked Questions regarding Motor Vehicle Accident Claims
Q: If the accident was my fault, can I still recover for my damages?
A: The laws of your state will determine if you are able to recover for any damages from an accident that was your fault. States vary on whether they consider fault in recovery of certain damages. In states that do not consider fault; you may be able to be paid for economic losses by your no-fault policy. Even if your state does consider fault, you might still be able to recover damages for your injuries if the other party involved in the accident was also at fault. In some states that consider fault you must prove that the other party's fault was more than your own, while other states simply reduce your damages by the percentage of your fault. Because the laws vary from state to state, it is important to obtain counsel in your state to determine your legal rights.
Q: Who pays for my damages?
A: The most common person responsible for the injuries you sustain in an automobile accident is the at-fault driver and his or her insurance company. If the at-fault driver was uninsured or had inadequate insurance coverage, you might still be able to recover for your damages if you have an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy with your insurance company. See Uninsured or Underinsured Motorists for more information about these claims. Other factors could indicate that third parties are liable for your damages. For example, if the at-fault driver was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, you might have what is commonly referred to as a "dram shop" claim against the establishment that was serving alcohol to the driver prior to the accident despite the at-fault driver being visibly impaired. Depending on the facts, there could also be a claim against another third party such as the manufacturer of the automobile if there is a defect in the vehicle itself, or a construction company if there is a problem with the roadway that caused the accident. If the at-fault driver was in a company vehicle or in a tractor-trailer, you might also have a claim against the at-fault driver's employer.
Q: How much is my case worth?
A: The actual value of your claim is impossible to determine until all the information is gathered regarding the nature and extent of your injuries, the amount of your medical bills, the total lost wages you have incurred, the extent of the damage to your vehicle, and the permanency of your injuries. There is no mathematical formula to determine the value of a case unfortunately. Once all this information is gathered, an experienced personal injury attorney can sit down with you and help determine what amount should be demanded and accepted in your claim.
Q: Will I have to go to court?
A: Not all automobile accident claims end up in litigation. Many claims are settled before suit is even filed. Of those claims that are filed, most end with a settlement without having to proceed to trial. Settlements are beneficial for all parties as they avoid the expensive costs associated with trials and the delay a trial creates in payment on the claim. If your claim is not able to be resolved for an amount satisfactory to you however, litigation may be necessary. Read more about filing automobile claims in court in What to Expect When Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit.
Q: How long will it take me to receive my money?
A: Many factors determine how long it will take to complete your claim. It is difficult to resolve your claim for the maximum amount until after you have completed your medical treatment and you have been released by a physician's care. Only then will the total extent of your medical bills, the amount of any future medical treatment, and the permanency of your injuries be known. Therefore, the severity of your injuries and the length of time you need to get better may determine how long your claim takes. The length of time for your claim also depends on the other party's willingness to settle and the offers they make. If insufficient offers are made, your claim may have to proceed to trial which will increase the length of your claim.
Q: I can't afford to pay an attorney, what are my options?
A: The law firm of Miller and Falkner takes personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis meaning we only collect a fee if we win or settle your case. If for some reason no amount is recovered for you, then we do not take a fee. Our office also pays all expenses related to your case. The amount of these expenses is subtracted from the amount received on the claim as well.
*COURT COSTS AND CASE EXPENSES WILL BE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE CLIENT ONLY IF WE WIN OR SETTLE YOUR CASE
Q: How soon must I bring my claim?
A: A "statute of limitations" is the time period during which an injured party must file their suit in court. This time period and the way it is determined is different in each state. Also within the state, the time period can vary depending on many factors including, whether, the plaintiff is an adult or minor, the type of claim being brought, and whether no-fault insurance coverage is exhausted. Not filing your claim in court before the statute of limitations runs can be detrimental to your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney at Miller and Falkner can determine when your claim must be filed. It is important that you contact an attorney soon after the accident to ensure that all your rights are protected.
Q: The at-fault driver's insurance company has offered a check for my damages; can I accept it?
A: While it is tempting to cash any check you receive from the at-fault driver's insurance company, doing so may preclude you from receiving any further recovery on your claim. By cashing a check sent to you, a court may determine that you have settled your claim entitling you to no further recovery. It is therefore critical that you consult with a personal injury attorney prior to cashing any check received from the insurance company or signing a release. The insurance company may try to lure you into accepting a small amount immediately knowing that your damages will likely be greater down the road. Read Insurance Company Tricks of the Trade and The Dos and Don'ts in Dealing with an Insurance Company for more information.