Questions and Answers

Do I need a Lawyer?
How much is my case worth?
What happens if a non attorney approaches me on behalf of an attorney?
How much is an attorney going to cost me?
Should I speak to the insurance adjuster?
Who is going to pay my medical bills?
What doctor should I go to?
My doctor wants to send me to a lawyer should I go?
I have insurance, but my doctor said I should not use it. What should I do?
I hear about 411 pain and injury helpline should I call them?
Should I sign the paperwork the other insurance company sent me?
Avvo.com Questions and Answers

Do I need a Lawyer?

The quick answer is not always.

Most attorneys spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for advertising. Whether it is posting their face on billboards all over town or running television ads throughout the day and night they are spending big bucks to get you to think you MUST hire an attorney. The truth is that not all cases need an attorney. Don’t be preyed on by untrustworthy attorneys who see dollar signs when they look at you.

If you have an automobile accident that only involves property damages you do not need an attorney.

If you have a simple injury case, which means you treated with a doctor and have no lasting problems, there is no dispute (on the part of the other side’s insurance company) as to who caused the accident, and no medical liens or subrogation issues , you do not need an attorney.

However, in most situations cases are not this straightforward. The more complicated your injury is, the more likely it is that an attorney is going to be able to add value for you. An attorney who specializes in personal injury will have a lot of experience evaluating and handling cases like yours in your geographic area.

Remember insurance companies are not your friends and they will do whatever they can to take advantage of you especially if you do not have a lawyer on your side.

Contact me today to see if you need a lawyer.

How much is my case worth?

The truth is I do not know!Every case is different and each difference affects the value of your case.

I do not care that your friend had an accident and was not even hurt and got a ton of money…

Cases are evaluated on a case by case basis and no two cases are ever the same and no two cases ever settle for the same amount.

The value of your case depends on a number of things including:

  1. How clear is liability.  Does everyone agree as to how the accident happened and who is at fault.  Just because you think it is clear that does not mean the other side will not lie to avoid responsibility.
  2. Did your injuries appear immediately.  If you are injured at the scene and everyone involved knows you were hurt is different than claiming you are injured a week later.
  3. How quickly did you receive medical attention.  Did you tell the cops you were not hurt and did not need an ambulance or did not need to go to the hospital.  The longer you wait to seek medical attention the harder it is to prove that your injuries are from the accident.
  4. Were you consistent in your medical treatment.  Did you go to therapy and follow your doctor’s advice or did you go for treatment every once in a while when it was convenient for you?
  5. Did you exaggerate your injuries?  Nobody likes a complainer.  Are you being realistic in your complaints and in your recovery?
  6. Do you have pre-existing injuries or accidents?  If you have an extensive past history it will affect the value of your current case.
  7. What insurance company/adjuster you are dealing with.  Every insurance company and adjuster values cases differently.  Some carriers are known for making low offers and trying to settle a case for less than its full value.
  8. How old you are.  Age affects your ability to heal and also brings about degenerative changes that affect the value of your claim.
  9. Were you at fault at all for the accident?  Comparative fault (fault on the part of the injured person) will bring down the value of a claim.
  10. How much property damages there is.  Lets face it a minor scratch on your bumper is different than a car that is totaled in an accident.
  11. What are your out of pocket expenses?
  12. What future medical care do you need?  Do you require surgery or will you be fine after a few visits to physical therapy?

These are just a few of the many factors that go into determining how much a case is worth. It is important to work with an attorney that specializes in injury case to make sure you get the full value for your case. That does not mean an attorney that handles thousands of injury cases at a time and is looking to settle your case on the cheap and move on to the next case.

What happens if a non attorney approaches me on behalf of an attorney?

Stay away from them.It is unethical/illegal for a lawyer or someone working on their behalf to to approach you about your case. I don’t care if it is a tow truck driver, someone at the hospital, or someone claiming to be from an insurance company. It is illegal.

A reputable lawyer does not pay people to monitor police reports and hospitals looking for work. Do not end up in the wrong hands with someone who is just trying to pay their giant advertising budget bill.

How much is an attorney going to cost me?

All lawyers who handle injury cases handle them on a contingency fee, meaning you only pay if they recover money for you. This is not something special that the lawyer is doing just for you.The Florida Bar regulates how much an attorney working on a contingency case can charge you.

Typically the fees are 1/3 if the case resolves before a lawsuit is filed and 40% if it after a lawsuit is filed. Fees are capped at 25% when you are suing the government. Fees come off the gross amount before any other bills are paid.

In addition to attorney’s fees you must also pay costs. (These are items like copies of your medical records, hiring an expert, filing fees, court reporters, etc that are advanced by a lawyer to benefit your case) Costs are not included in fees.

Should I speak to the insurance adjuster?

If they are from your insurance company then Yes. If they represent the other side then No.Under all insurance policies you have an obligation to cooperate with your own insurance company. So yes you must talk to your own insurance company or they can legally stop providing you benefits.

However, you have no such obligation to talk to the other side’s insurance company and in most cases should not talk to them unless your attorney is present and even then I do not recommend it. The reason is that these adjusters are trained in questioning and they’re seeking to diminish or do away with your entire claim. You certainly don’t want to talk to them while you’re under the influence of any medication while you’re still in a hospital or anything like that. That does not mean be rude, just politely tell them that your still treating and you have not decided if you are going to hire a lawyer or not.

Remember that the insurance adjuster for the other side will be looking to protect their insured by hurting your case. Do not let them pressure you into thinking you must help them.

Who is going to pay my medical bills?

It depends on what type of case you have, but most typically you will pay have to pay them and then try to get reimbursed by the other side’s insurance company at the end of the case.Florida is a No-fault state, meaning in an automobile accident your own insurance company is primarily responsible for your medical bills no matter who is at fault for the accident. $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance is required in Florida. It is responsible for paying 80% of your medical bills, 60% lost wages or $5,000 death benefits minus your deductible if any. You are responsible for paying the remaining 20% of your medical bills and anything after the $10,000 PIP is exhausted.

If you have health insurance it can be used to cover the medical bills that PIP does not pay (assuming you follow your companies requirement’s for submitting claims). However, at the end of the case you will have to pay your health insurance company back out of the money you recover.

In some cases there is Medical Payment (med pay) Insurance which will pay your medical bills regardless of fault assuming they are timely submitted (generally within one year).

Future medical bills, when necessary, will be bargained for in the settlement and then paid by you as they are required.

What doctor should I go to?

Whatever doctor you are comfortable with.Don’t let a lawyer or insurance adjuster force a doctor on you.

I tell people to use a doctor that is convenient for them to get to. Most likely you will have to undergo numerous office visits, physical therapy, and diagnostic testing. So chooses someone that is close to you home or to your work because if your doctor is not easy to get to you will not go.

It is also important to always choose a doctor on your health insurance plan if you have health insurance. That way if you do not recover money from your case you will not be stuck with tons of outstanding medical bills. Never go with a doctor who tells you they will not bill your insurance but instead wants you sign an LOP and will wait until the end of the case to get paid.

My doctor wants to send me to a lawyer should I go?

It depends.Never go to a lawyer blindly just because someone recommends them to you. Always do your research and make sure they are the right lawyer for you.

Links that are useful in reseraching lawyers:

It is important to get a lawyer that specializes in personal injury. It is even more important to get a trial lawyer that specializes in personal injury. Do not end up at a large volume case mill jus because your lawyer has a personal relationship with some chiropractor.

I have insurance, but my doctor said I should not use it. What should I do?

Find a new doctor.Do not get fooled, your doctor is only looking to take advantage of you and make more money off of your case. If you have insurance always use your insurance. Otherwise, you run the risk of not recovering anything from your case but still having to pay the medical bills out of pocket. If you do not have insurance (auto, health, Medicare, Medicaid) then and only then should you see a doctor who agrees to work on a Letter of Protection (LOP)

I hear about 411 pain and injury helpline should I call them?

Absolutely not!To start with these are not lawyers they are owned by referral services that make money by sending you to a clinic that makes money by running through your PIP insurance. Most of these clinics do not provide the best medical care and they certainly do not have your best interests at stake.

In addition to sending you to one of these clinics you will also get sent to a “lawyer” at a mill that will pawn your case of to a secretary who will try and settle your case as quickly as possible regardless of your needs or what is best for you.

Make sure that you meet with qualified experienced lawyers and only see doctors that are truly interested in your healthcare.

Should I sign the paperwork the other insurance company sent me?

Do not sign anything unless you fully understand what you are signing.There are generally three set of forms that the other side’s insurance company may send you.

Typically an insurance adjuster will be sending you medical authorizations. These authorizations tend to be very broad and give the insurance company the power to obtain whatever records they want regardless if they are related to your accident or not. Sometimes these records go back 10 – 15 years and contain private information you do not want to share. I suggest getting your own records first making sure they’re accurate and then giving those records to the insurance company.

The second form they’ll I often ask you to sign is a release. They may send you a check along with the release. If you accept the check and sign the release you are ending your case forever. If you discover further injuries or need more care the other side will no longer be responsible for paying for it once you sign a release.

The third set of forms that you may receive can be related to your property damage claim. These forms typically tend to be straight forward and can generally be read and signed by clients without needing an attorney to review them. But again never sign anything unless you fully understand it.

If you have any questions about what the insurance company has given you or wants you to do contact an attorney who specializes in injury work to help you.