Personal Injury & Car Accident FAQs
Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injury & Accidents in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Q: Is there a minimum personal injury settlement amount?
A: No, there is no minimum or maximum settlement amount. The amount of a settlement in a personal injury case depends on a lot of factors, including:
- The nature and extent of the injury
- The amount of economic damages (such as lost wages and medical bills)
- The amount of time the injury is expected to last
One of the reasons it is important to hire a talented auto accident attorney, is because he can help you to judge the value of your case. A good lawyer will need to review all related medical records and other information to help you determine what your case might be worth. Be sure to check with a lawyer near you so you can make certain you receive a fair settlement for your injuries.
Q: Are medical bills included in a bodily injury claim?
A: Yes, medical bills are part of the claim filed during an auto accident suit.
The term “bodily injury claim” usually refers to a “personal injury claim”. “Economic damages” would include, but aren’t limited to:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Rental car expenses, etc.
Q: What are the other kinds of damages I might be able to recover from for a car accident?
A: Aside from the specific items noted above, in some cases, victims of an auto accident can recover for:
If you settle your bodily injury claim, it must include all the types of damages available to you, you cannot seek to recover for different kinds of damages once you have settled your claim. As a result, it is extremely important that you understand what you can seek due to injuries suffered during a car accident.
Q: How do I collect my personal injury award?
A: Once you win a lawsuit against a person who caused a car accident, if the person against whom you have the judgment has insurance, the easiest thing to do is simply to notify the insurance company of your judgment (if they’re not already aware of it). The insurance company will usually just write a check for the damages up to the limit of the insurance policy. If the person against whom you have the judgment is uninsured, collecting won’t be as easy. You must have the judgment “entered” with the court and then seek to “enforce” the judgment. There are actually attorneys who specialize in collecting judgments, and it would be a good idea to consult with one.
Q: Can I ask my lawyer for a copy of the personal injury settlement check?
A: Yes, and you should. As a client you have an absolute right to see a copy of the settlement check, as well as to review a copy of the settlement breakdown sheet before the check is deposited. Usually, the insurance company check has both your name and your attorney’s name on it, so you would typically have to endorse the check before it could be placed in your lawyer’s trust account. Ask your lawyer to provide you with a copy of the actual settlement check forwarded to him by the insurance company, as well as a copy of all checks written by him (which should total the full amount of the settlement).
Q: What is a proper contingency fee?
A: An attorney’s fee is usually negotiated, and depends on the complexity of the case, the time at which it settles, and the anticipated costs that may be invested. Some attorneys will charge different fees based upon whether a case settles or has to go to trial. The only way to know if your attorney is willing to consider a lower fee is to ask. If there isn’t much of a fault (“liability”) issue, you may be able to find a less expensive lawyer. The skill and reputation of your lawyer is very important, though. A 40% fee to a highly skilled, well-respected lawyer will in all probability yield a higher overall recovery to you than a 33 1/3% fee with less experienced counsel.
Q: Do lawyers receive their fee percent before or after the medical expenses are paid?
A: The attorney’s fees paid will be based on the retainer agreement between you and your lawyer. Read the contract carefully. Some retainer agreements provide that attorney’s fees are calculated on the gross settlement (before the medical bills are paid) and some provide for payment of fees after medical expenses are paid (the “net” amount). If you have any questions about the fee agreement, be certain to ask your attorney for an explanation.
Q: Can my lawyer settle my personal injury case without my consent?
A: It’s possible that the retainer agreement you signed with your lawyer allows him to settle the case without your consent and sign the settlement and release agreement on your behalf. If your attorney settled the case without your permission, and you haven’t yet signed the settlement and release agreement, you should tell your lawyer that you don’t want to proceed with the settlement if you’re unhappy about it. If a check has already been forwarded to your lawyer, it’s a simple matter to return the funds.
Q: Can a health care insurer be repaid from a personal injury settlement?
A: Yes, it’s quite common. Most health insurance policies now have language that allows the insurance company to be repaid for the amount paid out on medical bills if the insured person gets a personal injury settlement.
Q: Can I gain access to my child’s personal injury settlement money?
A: A parent usually doesn’t have access to a child’s settlement funds. The reason for this is to protect children from parents who might use the money to benefit themselves, instead of the child. A court will generally place a child’s settlement money in a “blocked” bank account until the child turns 18. A court will sometimes allow withdrawals from blocked accounts if the funds are needed for the child’s care and well being, and the court is satisfied the funds will be used to benefit the minor. You and your lawyer should discuss what expenses might be paid for with the settlement funds.
Contact our Pennsylvania and New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys and we will advise you of your rights and legal options after you are injured in an accident.