Every personal injury attorney is faced with very similar questions regarding the specifics of their individual cases. Many of these questions are quite simply “I don’t know yet”. This is not because the attorneys you are speaking to are trying to either up your expectations, or lower them, it is simply because every single case is different. There will be different injuries, different circumstances as to the cause of the accident and different values based upon a hundred different scenarios.
Some of the more common questions asked though are:
1) What can I do to get my car fixed/back/replaced? In California a person involved in an automobile accident can get their car repaired at any reputable location of their choosing. Most insurance companies will allow for a rental car during the time the car is being repaired. The insurance company will either pay for the rental outright, or will reimburse the injured person after fault has been determined. If the car is deemed a total loss, meaning that the cost of repairs would be more than what the car is worth, the insurance company will “buy” the car outright and will issue a check to the injured person. This can be as quick as a couple of days to a couple of weeks.
2) I am in pain, and I don’t have medical insurance, what can I do? Many people involved in an auto accident unfortunately do not have health insurance. Fortunately though, many auto insurance policies include a medical coverage. This is a limited amount of coverage to help people injured seek the initial medical care needed at the first stage of the recovery process. Also, there are many medical providers who understand that when someone is in an accident that is not their fault, that they will need medical services. To help this, many providers will treat an injured person on what is called a “lien”. Basically, the provider will provide services and will not ask for any payments until the claim is settled. On a side note, if you do have medical insurance, you will also have to make a reimbursement to the insurance after the claim is settled.
3) How long does it take to settle my claim? The time it takes to settle a claim varies greatly from person to person. Typically a case can be settled without filing a lawsuit about sixty to ninety days after the person is done treating and their injuries are healed. If a lawsuit does have to be filed, settlement can take up to two years, or longer. Most cases though are settled way before this. On average from the time of accident until the claim is settled will be approximately one year.
4) How much is this going to cost me? For most personal injury attorneys cases are taken on what is called a contingency basis. What this means is that the attorney will front all litigation cost, will front all administrative cost and will not charge the client until the claim is settled. Because the attorney will take all of the risk of the cost the attorney will be compensated on a percentage of the gross recovery. The attorney will pay back any money that was paid
5) What are my options if I was a passenger? As a passenger you have possible claims against the third party who caused the accident, much like the driver of the car that you were in. You also have potential claims against the driver of the car you were in. If the driver of the vehicle you were in caused the accident, you have a claim for that driver’s negligence. Now if your driver was not negligent, and the accident was caused by a third party and was the sole fault of the third party, your claim would be limited to the at fault party alone.