Q: What do I do in an automobile accident?
Answer: Assist the injured, call police, do not move the vehicle, identify eyewitnesses, seek medical treatment if injured, insist on a written police report, consult your attorney before giving statement adjusters.
Q. Should I talk to an insurance adjuster?
Answer: Do not discuss your case with anyone else other than your lawyer and medical providers. If you are contacted by an insurance adjuster, advise him/her that you would be pleased to have your attorney speak with them, and then have him/her telephone my office.
Q. Should I try to settle my own claim?
Answer: If you sustained an injury requiring medical attention, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. Experience shows that an attorney will generally obtain substantially more compensation for you than you would be offered by the insurance adjuster, even after payment of your attorney's fees and medical expenses, without an attorney.
Q. My car is totaled. What are the obligations of the insurance company for the at-fault motorist?
Q. Answer: The insurance company is required to pay you the fair market value of your vehicle before it was damaged in the crash. You may check the average fair market value of your vehicle at NADA.com. Most insurance companies will provide you with a rental car or pay you for loss of use of your car until you are offered a property damage settlement. We can assist you in obtaining a property damage settlement at no additional charge.
Q. What do I do if I am injured?
Answer: First, seek medical attention and photograph all of your injuries. I would recommend you keep a diary of your pain and suffering. Do not include any personal information unrelated to the case, since it may be used as evidence. If you are self-employed, keep a record of all time you were unable to work or perform your duties.
Q. What should I tell the doctor when I seek medical attention?
Answer: Tell the doctor all about prior accidents and similar injuries. Your failure to do so may damage your credibility at trial or in negotiations.
Q. Should I sign any documents?
Answer: Do not sign anything dealing with your claim without consulting an attorney.
Q. Do I have to pay costs up front?
Answer: In most cases we will advance all your costs upfront, prior to filing a lawsuit. We will reimburse ourselves at the time of settlement or judgment.
Q. If I hire you, what can I expect?
Answer: At our first meeting, we will obtain information about the accident, your injuries and damages. We will also discuss the strengths and weaknesses of you case and make a recommendation on how to proceed. In this meeting, I will talk about the fee for my services. I represent clients on a contingency basis. This means if there is no recovery, there is no charge for my legal services. However, you will be responsible for out-of -pocket expenses of preparing or litigating your claim. Any out-of-pocket expenses we incur on your behalf will be reimbursed from the proceeds of your settlement or award.
Q. How much are my attorney fees?
Answer: In most cases you will pay 33.3% of any amount recovered in settlement, or 40% of the amount recovered in the event a lawsuit or demand for arbitration is filed. In the event of an appeal, the charge is 50%.
Q. How long will it take to settle my case?
Answer: Your case is typically not ready to be settled until you have completed all of your medical treatment.
Q. How are my medical bills paid?
Answer: If you have purchased personal injury protection (PIP), your bills are submitted to the insurance carrier. Most policies in Washington have limitations of $10,000.00, but some policies provide for $35,000.00. If you don't have any PIP insurance, your bills are submitted to your medical insurance carrier. If you don't have personal injury insurance or medical insurance, you can still obtain medical treatment and your bills will be paid at the time of settlement of your case.
Q. I can't work on account of my injuries. Who will pay for my lost wages?
Answer: If you have PIP coverage, your insurance company will pay $200 to $700 per week, depending on your coverage, after a 14 day waiting period. If you don't have PIP coverage then you may qualify for income loss payments through a disability insurance policy through your job.
Q. What is included in my settlement?
Answer: A settlement or verdict may include money for lost and future wages, impairment of future earning capacity, vocational retraining costs, past and future medical bills, and money for past and future suffering that can include mental and physical suffering, disability and disfigurement.
Q. What can I expect if my case goes to trial?
Answer: If settlement is attempted and a reasonable offer from the insurance company is not obtained, it may be necessary to initiate a lawsuit. A lawsuit is commenced by filing a Summons and Complaint with the defendant. From the time the lawsuit is filed until the time of the actual trial depends upon the county where the lawsuit is filed. In King County, Washington, that time is approximately 18 months.
Q. How can I help my attorney?
Answer: In many cases, you will be provided a questionnaire which requests that you furnish information about your medical condition and how you have been getting along. This is one means of keeping track of your progress. Promptly completing these forms and returning them to our office is extremely helpful. In addition, please notify our office of the following: change of address and/or phone number, change in employment-i.e. raises, reduction in salary, or loss of job, if you receive any new information regarding your case, if you are leaving town for more than one week, if you miss work due to your injuries and/or when you return to work; or if you are required to return to the hospital due to your injuries. You should check your e-mail daily for attorney communications. Please return our phone calls promptly as your schedule permits. Mail in all letters, medical bills, and other matters as soon as you receive them. Respond to attorney communications promptly.