12 Important Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Attorney
After being involved in an accident where you sustained personal injuries, you could have numerous questions. You may assume you can trust and turn to insurance companies for help. Yet this could be a big mistake. Insurance companies, whether it is your own, your employer’s, or the other party’s, are in business to make money.
Their goals and objectives are to answer your questions while attempting to get you to settle for the least amount possible. When you have questions relating to your injuries, it is better to consult with your own personal injury attorney. Some of the more common questions you will want to ask during your free consultation include:
- Should I talk directly to my insurance company and the other party’s insurance company?
Our personal injury law firm understands you want to get your claim submitted and resolved as quickly as possible. However, it may not be in your best interests to speak directly to your insurance company or that of the other party. You may inadvertently say or admit something that could be held against you later. It is often better to consult with your own lawyer first, then listen to their advice.
- What type of monetary compensation should be included in my claim?
It will largely depend upon the type of accident, the extent of injuries, the type of claim, and other such factors. Insurance companies often have monetary caps for various types of injury claims, so this, too, could be a factor. Taking these into account, you claim could include items such as:
- Payment for current and future medical bills.
- Payment for current and future loss of wages.
- Compensation for pain and suffering.
- Compensation for loss of limbs or life.
- How much could my claim be worth?
In Texas, it will depend upon what is called comparative negligence. This is where a percentage of fault is assigned to those involved in the accident that resulted in your injuries. If the other party is at least 51% or more at fault, then you could have grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
The actual amount of your settlement will take into account the percentages assigned under comparative negligence. For instance, if the other party is found to be 100% at fault, then you would receive the entire settlement amount. On the other hand, if you were 20% at fault, then you would only receive 80% of the entire settlement amount.
In regards to the monetary value of your claim, again, it depends upon the type of accident, the extent of injuries, and other factors. This is why we recommend scheduling a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers.
- How long do I have to file?
All personal injury claims have an established statute of limitations. Currently, in Texas, you have two years from the date of the accident and injuries to file a lawsuit in court. However, your insurance company could also have its own deadlines for filing the initial claim.
Ideally, you will want to talk to an injury lawyer as soon as possible so you do not miss these deadlines. If you are hospitalized and cannot come to our law firm, let us know, and we would be happy to come to you to answer your questions and offer legal advice.
- Is this something I can settle on my own?
If you only sustained minor injuries and have no long-term treatment issues, then it may be something you can settle on your own, although you will want to speak to an injury lawyer first before making this decision. Your lawyers will be honest and let you know upfront whether you can handle the claim on your own or if you should consider retaining their services and why.
- How long will it take to settle the claim?
Reaching a settlement in a personal injury lawsuit can take a short period of time. In some cases, if the other party’s insurance company is motivated to get the case resolved, it may only be a few months. On the other hand, if the insurance company is being difficult or does not want to offer a fair and reasonable amount, it could take longer.
The main thing to keep in mind is your personal injury attorney is doing his or her very best to reach a settlement as quickly as possible. If you have financial concerns, talk to your attorney as he or she will offer advice or could present some options that can alleviate these concerns while you wait.
- Can I reopen the claim later if there are additional expenses related to my injuries?
Once a personal injury claim is settled, either on your own or with help from your lawyer, it is very difficult to reopen the claim. Granted, there are a few exceptions, but these are rare— like your initial claim was denied. This is why your lawyer will seek damages for the maximum amounts allowed under law.
- What is the reputation of your law firm?
You want to feel comfortable with your lawyers and their law firm. Your goal is to achieve a fair and reasonable settlement. So you need to be able to trust your lawyers and their reputation to deliver results. If you are uncomfortable with the lawyers or their reputation, it never hurts to get a second opinion from our injury law firm.
- Can you provide me with examples of your results?
Experienced injury attorneys and law firms should be able to provide you with examples of their recent successes similar to your own accident and injuries. Keep in mind, these cases are what the lawyers did for their clients and may not be reflective of the monetary settlement you receive.
For instance, some of the recent successes our personal injury lawyers achieved at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. include:
- $1.1 million for a child with life-threatening injuries after a display fell on her at a local Metro PCS store.
- $1.8 million for a father of a deceased 8-year old, who was electrocuted while sitting on a fishing pier.
- $2.9 million for an injured railroad worker, after rejecting a $20,000 settlement offer.
- $1.192 million for an injured worker against Chevron Phillips Chemical after rejecting an initial $250,000 settlement offer.
- $1.1 million for a worker injured on a dredge ship in Louisiana after the employer initially refused to settle the claim before going to trial.
- Do you have support staff I can also speak to?
Experienced law firms will have entire teams of lawyers and legal professionals that will assist in your case. You should be able to talk to anyone at your lawyer’s law firm to get answers to your questions at any time. In addition, support staff members could include forensic experts, medical professionals, and other experts, all who are there to lend their aid to your case.
- The other party’s insurance company is demanding I see their doctor—do I?
You lawyer will let you know whether you have to comply with this request. In some cases, you may have to comply. However, your lawyer or their own medical expert may accompany you to ensure your rights are protected.
- What are the potential consequences of a “DIY” settlement?
In order to make informed decisions, you need to know the consequences of pursuing a “DIY” settlement on your own. We already mentioned that once your claim is closed it is impossible to reopen it, in most cases. Aside from this reason, other possible outcomes could include:
- Getting a much smaller settlement than you are legally entitled to receive.
- Only being reimbursed for current lost wages and medical bills.
- Not being paid for pain and suffering and other such compensation.
- Being misled by the insurance company or their lawyers to admit partial fault for the accident.
As you can see, these are all important questions you should ask your injury attorney during your free consultation. Do not hesitate to ask any others you might have. To arrange a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers, either in our office, at the hospital, or in your home, please feel free to contact Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. at 713-364-0723 now!