Television shows make personal injury cases look a lot more dramatic than they often are.
If you’ve been injured in an accident in Georgia, then you probably dread the thought of a long drawn out court battle and appearances before judges. Realistically, however, most personal injury cases are settled long before they ever reach the courtroom, and the process is neither frightening or bad for the victim. Listed below are just a few of the most common questions and answers about accident claims and settlements.
1. Why are Settlements so Popular?
While it varies from one situation to another, the vast majority of cases are settled before anyone actually has to go to court. Whether you’ve been hurt in a car wreck, or endured an injury at a business, there is likely insurance put in place specifically to cover just such incidents. If you have a good case and can prove that you’re the victim, then most insurance companies would rather settle outside of court. Preventing a court battle ultimately saves the insurance company money from court costs. This is a win-win for you as well as you can get the compensation you need without the struggles associated with going before a judge.
2.Is Settling Actually Wise?
When you’ve been injured, it is almost impossible to put a price tag on what you’ve endured. Unless you are awarded a million dollars, you will probably always feel slightly ripped off. This is completely normal, and a wise man once stated that a good settlement leaves neither party totally satisfied. When you choose to accept a settlement, you are speeding up the process and getting compensation immediately. If you choose to take it to court, things could drag on for months or even years. In addition, you can’t be positive that you will win. By taking your case before a judge you may be disappointed to find that they rule against you, leaving you to bear the burden of all your lawyer fees and part of the court costs. A settlement is a straightforward way to get exactly what you are offered within a short period of time.
3.Will I Get What I Want in a Settlement?
Most likely, you will not receive everything you feel you deserve when you accept a settlement. Instead of being a win, it is more like a compromise, where both you and the defendant have to provide some give and take. A good attorney can help you determine when a settlement is worth accepting and when you should fight for more.
4. When and Why Will an Insurance Company Offer a Settlement?
When you are hurt in an accident, it’s typically the insurance company that you will deal with, rather than the actual party that caused the damage. Since the insurance company will have experience working with personal injury cases, they understand that court is something they need to avoid at all costs. The ruling of a judge or jury is completely unpredictable, meaning that they could randomly award the injured person much more than they deserve — making the insurer nervous and anxious to settle.
5. Can You Figure How Much Your Settlement will be Online?
Many injured people turn to online settlement calculators to try to determine how much they will get in advance. These calculators work by taking some ballpark figures of the damages and then entering it into the form, leaving you with an estimate on what your compensation might be. While these calculators can help, they are only estimates at best. An attorney is really the only one who can help you understand exactly what your case may be worth by investigating the specifics.
While you can put a price tag on your medical expenses and lost wages, it’s hard to calculate pain and suffering online,” said Marietta accident lawyer Ramiro Rodriguez, Jr.
6. What Damages Should be Covered in My Settlement?
There are two different types of damage that you can receive compensation for: General Damages and Special Damages. Special damages are the costs of the injury that are easy to determine such as your loss of work, medical bills, travel costs, and property damage. On the other hand, General Damages are more flexible and depend more on the way that an injury impacts your life such as long-lasting disfigurement, family issues, and pain and suffering. For instance, if you usually watch your grandchildren but find that they are afraid to stay with you now that you have suffered extensive burns and scaring on your face, you can expect to receive some compensation for this emotional pain as well as your outright expenses.
7. Is Everyone Entitled to Pain and Suffering Expenses?
No injury is going to be pain-free; however, the pain and suffering that you may experience can vary according to the specifics of the accident. Generally, your pain and suffering should be recognized in some way, even if it’s only a small amount of money. If you are enduring serious pain or long-term repercussions from your accident, then you can expect to receive more.
8. Will a Settlement Include Medical Bills?
When your case is settled outside of court, you can still expect to receive complete reimbursement for all the medical bills you incurred due to the accident. The settlement should cover not only what you’ve already paid but also enough money to cover any bills you may have to pay in the future.
9.Will all the Settlement Money be Mine?
If you’ve already had some of your bills covered by your personal health insurance company, then you may not actually receive all the money you get from your settlement. Instead, you may have a lien already placed on your settlement, meaning that the insurance company will receive the funds you get to cover what they already paid. You also need to remember taxes, which we will cover later.
10. What’s the Least I Can Expect from My Settlement?
There is no minimum or maximum price for a personal injury settlement. The amount of money you get will be based entirely on the specifics of your case. You can expect your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages to all play a big role in the figure you are offered. You can also expect to be offered more if you can prove that you have no fault in the accident. Lastly, the amount of the settlement is determined by which side plays the more difficult game and sticks to haggling the longest. If you refuse to accept a settlement, you can expect to either get a better offer or to be taken to court, where you could lose it all. An attorney can help you decide when your settlement is large enough to accept it. Read also: Should I take the settlement that the insurance company is offering me?
11. What if I Don’t Like the Offer?
As the one who endured injuries and has had your life changed by the accident, you are free to hold out as long as you want by refusing any settlements. Don’t accept a settlement that isn’t enough to truly cover your expenses. Just because most cases get settled outside of court doesn’t mean that is the best option for you. If you feel like you aren’t being properly represented or just want to have a judge determine what is fair, you are welcome to take the case to court.
12. What Happens When I Reject an Offer?
If you reject a settlement offer, it won’t go immediately to court. Instead, you will be given a chance to provide a professional “demand letter” as a counter-settlement offer. In this letter, you have the chance to tell how the accident happened from your point of view along with the extent of your injuries. You will use your evidence to show why the existing settlement offer is too small and provide them with what you think the right price would be. Remember to set the bar high since the insurance company will likely haggle with you about the compensation costs.
13. How Can I Afford an Attorney?
Following an accident, money is usually tight and the idea of paying an attorney to represent you can seem overwhelming. Thankfully, personal injury cases are most often taken on a contingency fee basis. This means that the lawyer only gets paid after you are paid, leaving you with no bills to cover upfront. While this prevents you from pouring money you don’t have into a case that may not play out favorably, it can come with a high price tag. Generally, attorneys expect roughly 33 percent of your settlement to cover their fees. Depending on the attorney, you may be able to work out a lower price, especially if the case doesn’t have to go to court.
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14. How Will I Be Paid?
If you are battling against the insurance company, the process of being paid tends to be straight forward. Whether you win in court or accept a settlement, the insurance company will just write you a check that you can then cash or deposit. In return for the check, you will have to sign a release form that waives your right to any more money for your injury in the future. On the other hand, if you were unable to deal with the insurance provider and are instead suing an individual, getting your money may be a bit more challenging. Even if a court rules that they owe you money, a private party may not have the funds to pay off the debt, leaving you without the compensation you deserve, despite winning the case.
15. Do I Truly Need an Attorney?
Some people are under the false belief that, if their case is good enough, they should be able to handle it themselves, thus saving the attorney’s fees. While this may seem like a good plan on the surface, it is not reasonable or wise. An attorney has the ability to help you navigate the legal system while standing up for your rights, representing you in the right manner, and haggling with the insurance company. If you aren’t willing to hire an attorney, the insurance providers will likely offer you a lower settlement since they know you have no legal guidance. When you’re facing a personal injury case, an attorney is a must have!
16. Where Do I Go for Help?
The difference between the good and a bad outcome in a personal injury case is typically the attorney representing the injured party. Here at GA Injury Advocates, we are proud to be the team that works to help those that have been hurt in accidents or at the hands of someone else to receive the compensation they deserve. We look over your case and help you fight for the full amount of your benefits. By working alongside you, we can help you navigate the legal system while fighting back against insurance companies. We have the skills to help you settle outside of court but also the capabilities to take it before a judge when needed. If you have been hurt, you deserve to get help. You can contact our offices today to learn more about our practice and how we are standing up for those in Georgia that have suffered at the hands of someone else.
A personal injury claim doesn’t have to be a scary or overwhelming process. As we’ve explained above, you can often receive the compensation needed to move forward in life without every stepping foot in the courtroom. Don’t let fear hold you back from getting the money you need and deserve!