Personal Injury Claims FAQs
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a personal injury, Proner & Proner can help. Below is a list of common questions about personal injury lawsuits that our lawyers are frequently asked. For further personal injury information, check out our personal injury and wrongful death pages.
Do I have a Personal Injury Claim?
If you think that you or a loved one may have an injury or wrongful death case, contact our New York personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free case review.If you are the victim of another person’s negligence or carelessness, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit. You may be able to collect for medical bills, lost wages, permanent injuries, disabilities, punitive damages, or the death of a loved one. In a strong personal injury case, our lawyers must first prove that an injury (not necessarily physical) has occurred. Also, it must be proven that the defendant is responsible for those injuries, through an act of carelessness, negligence, or maliciousness. In the event of a death within the family, surviving family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Long Should My Personal Injury Case Take To Settle?
Many factors determine whether a case can be settled in a matter of months, or will drag on for years. After choosing a competent law firm you must consider the other factors involved such as the client, the insurance company, and the insurance company’s lawyers.
The client affects the duration of a personal injury lawsuit by the length of medical treatment and his or her decision either to settle or to take a risk on a higher recovery resulting from a trial. The length of treatment is important because normally a case should not be settled until the patient has received the maximum benefit of post accident treatment and a long term prognosis for the injury is possible. A doctor must be able to state the extent of the injury’s permanency. As long as a doctor can state the patient’s needs within a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the patient is entitled to money for damages and medical bills for treatment that he or she may need in the future. Therefore, you may be giving up a lot of money that you may need in the future if you settle personal injury lawsuits before a doctor can determine which injuries are permanent. Once a case is settled, it cannot be opened up again.
Whether a case being handled by our New York City personal injury lawyers settles or not is always up to the client. Any offer that is received on a client’s case is always given to the client to accept or reject. We advise the client as to whether the offer is fair, inadequate, or more than the case is worth. We always strive to get our clients more than the case is worth. Since we work for a contingency fee which is a standard percentage of the net settlement, a higher settlement means that more money goes into our clients’ pockets. A fast settlement benefits us as well as our clients, and consequently we strive to negotiate good settlements as quickly as possible.
Sometimes, however, despite all our arguments, legal motions, correspondence, investigations, and court appearances, the insurance carrier does not offer an adequate amount for settlement. On these occasions our personal injury attorneys are prepared to go to trial. It is always up to the client to choose to go to trial or to accept any amount offered. We are there every step of the way to help our clients make the right decision. Naturally the further along a case goes in litigation, the longer we have to deal with the back log in the courts, and the more time a case will take. Cases that settle without litigation usually do so within six months to a year and a half. With litigation a case can last approximately two to five years. Larger cases usually take longer. Insurance carriers usually won’t give up hundreds of thousands of dollars without a fight. Also, the insurance companies are allowed to draw interest on the money during the fight so they, unlike us, have it in their best interest to cause a delay. We try everything possible to avoid such delays. Usually we succeed at getting our clients the money they so greatly deserve and need in a timely manner.
Lastly, the insurance carrier’s lawyers can have a delaying effect on personal injury lawsuits. The lawyers of Proner & Proner in Manhattan have been litigating for more than 40 years and most judges and defense firms know our reputation of excellence. From our New York office, we provide personal injury litigation for victims nationwide. Nonetheless, occasionally other firms will engage in motion practice that will delay a case needlessly. Sometimes even getting a simple order from a judge, will delay a case to our clients’ unfortunate frustration. Fortunately, this is unusual. Normally personal injury lawsuits move quickly to good settlements, keeping our clients satisfied with our practice and the legal system.
What is My Personal Injury Case Worth?
Many factors go into determining the value of a case. Although it seems like a simple question, as you are probably aware, it is extremely complex. You should probably avoid a lawyer who will tell you during your first conversation what your case is worth. Such a personal injury attorney could not have possibly given adequate consideration to all of the factors that can drastically change the value of a claim. Of course the two biggest factors are who was at fault for the accident and what the extent of the damage is. Also important is the amount of insurance the defendant has. The following are examples of third party defendants that can be held responsible through personal injury lawsuits: the pizza company that sends out a 16-year-old racing to deliver a pizza in less time than would be considered safe, the municipality that designs an unsafe intersection, the manufacturer of the helmet that doesn’t work, the owner of the bar that served the drunk driver after she was visibly intoxicated, etc. Assuming adequate insurance coverage, there are still additional factors that affect value.
Property damage is usually settled in accordance with agreed published values for the property damaged, reduced by the amount that he/she is at fault for his own loss. If you are 25 percent at fault for an accident, the insurance company may try to offer you 50 percent of the value of your loss. Don’t expect them to pay full value without a lawyer arguing on your behalf.
In personal injury lawsuits, a settlement will be reached if you can agree with the insurance company about what the case is worth. If you can’t agree with the insurance company, one of the personal injury lawyers at our New York law firm can present your case to a jury and judge to determine the value. The insurance companies, in evaluating your claim, will look at your medical bills, length of treatment, frequency of treatment, whether or not there is any permanent disability, whether or not you will need any future treatment, and whether or not you will have any future medical bills. Every detail must be studied so you can get the money you deserve.
Insurance companies will also carefully evaluate your loss of earnings claim. Were you employed at the time of the accident? Did you lose significant time from work? Are you able to return to work at all? Are you highly educated or did you leave school before graduating? If you have less education, you are more likely to find work involving heavy manual labor and injuries. A significant injury will then make it harder to find similar work after an accident increasing your lost earnings.
Your future damages are important. How old are you? If you are in your 30s, you have approximately a 50 year life expectancy. That means you are entitled to claim pain and suffering and loss of earnings for a longer period of time than someone who is 50 with the same permanent personal injury and disability. Another issue is where the claim is being brought. Cases in some courts are known to insurance carriers and personal injury attorneys to get bigger jury awards then other courts. These larger awards can go to higher courts and get reduced on appeal. Nonetheless, the county in which your case is brought can affect the value of the case.
Juries evaluating cases also look at other factors. If you have any convictions for misdemeanors or felonies, or have had previous cases, the jury may doubt your sincerity about this claim. If you were engaged in an activity that jurors think involved unnecessary risk when you got hurt, the jury may give you a smaller award because they feel you should not be rewarded for taking such risks. Skilled personal injury attorneys can minimize unfair reductions in an award by dealing with these matters beginning with jury selection all the way through closing arguments and by reminding jurors of their sworn obligation to give fair compensation.
Lastly, a case’s worth often correlates to how much you are willing to trust your attorney. Most personal injury lawsuits settle. Some cases go to trial. You need to feel confident that your personal injury attorney can achieve the right settlement or decision from a judge or jury; otherwise you may never feel that you obtained what your case is worth.
Why Shouldn’t I Negotiate with the Insurance Companies on My Own?
Victims should not go it alone. It is important to seek an accomplished personal injury attorney. Insurance companies are businesses and, as such, do not have your best interests at heart. The insurance company, as a business, collects as many premiums as possible and pays out as few claims as possible. Insurance companies have teams of experts, lawyers, paralegals, claim adjustors, etc. that are trained to minimize or outright deny your claim. At Proner & Proner, our experienced personal injury lawyers in Manhattan know how to work with—and against—insurance companies and have successfully settled many personal injury lawsuits.
In most situations, victims of personal injury benefit from retaining an attorney. Clients should have someone with experience litigating personal injury lawsuits on their side. Our Manhattan-based firm will deal with the insurance company, your creditors, medical providers, and your employer allowing you to concentrate on getting your health and family back in order.
If you or a family member has been injured and would like to know more about filing personal injury lawsuits, contact the personal injury attorneys at Proner & Proner for a case evaluation. Our personal injury attorneys handle lawsuits throughout the nation.
What are Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit that arises from “malicious or wanton misconduct” by a defendant. Punitive damages are awarded separately and in excess to compensatory damages (such as lost wages, medical bills, etc.) and are meant to be a punishment for the defendant.
The potential amount awarded for punitive damages is unpredictable and the process of determining punitive damages is arbitrary. The jury alone determines the amount and there are no maximums and no minimums. Often juries act emotionally when ruling these types of personal injury lawsuits. The Manhattan, New York personal injury lawyers of Proner & Proner may seek punitive damages for their clients in instances of malicious misconduct.
Punitive Damages Laws Differ from State to State
Some states permit insurance for punitive awards while others prohibit insurance on the basis that insuring these damages would be against public policy, believing that punishment should not be transferable. Some states are undetermined on the issue. Our attorneys at Proner & Proner provide nationwide personal injury representation and can help explain the laws that govern personal injury lawsuits in New York or in your area. We are experienced in personal injury lawsuits and are familiar with the various punitive damages laws.
Contact Our Personal Injury Lawyers
If you would like to schedule an evaluation of your case, contact our Manhattan, New York personal injury lawyers today. At Proner & Proner, our attorneys have achieved numerous settlements in a wide variety of personal injury lawsuits and can give you the answers and trustworthy assistance you need. Contact our attorneys today.