Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Injuries
Should I settle my claim or is it better to file a personal injury lawsuit?
Following a car accident, premises liability accident or any other type of personal injury case, the injured party has a legal right to file a claim and pursue compensation through the courts. From a practical standpoint, there is typically an insurance policy in place to can cover your losses. The insurance provider will be the one to settle for a certain amount, in exchange for your agreement not to pursue damages in court. This saves the insurance company money and is also beneficial for you since you won't have to wait for your case to be settled in court to receive compensation. Also, if your case is taken to trial, you run the risk of not receiving any compensation if you lose your case.
How does the insurance company make its decision on offering to settle?
The insurance company's main goal is to its minimize costs while managing its risks, so they will focus on doing everything possible to resolve the claim before it is brought to court. This means they will try to reach a settlement by offering a sum of money and the defendant can't be held liable.
What are "damages" and which should be included in the amount of my settlement?
In a personal injury case, there are difference types of compensation that can be awarded. They fall into two main groups: general damages and special damages. General damages include non-quantifiable things such as pain and suffering or loss of life enjoyment. Special losses are more measurable and include lost income, property damage and similar economic losses.
Should my settlement include "pain and suffering"?
In the event that you were harmed in an accident and were not at fault, you are entitled to some financial compensation for your pain and the way the injury has impacted your daily life. Accidents with minor, short-term injuries may only result in a smaller "token" amount. More catastrophic injuries will dramatically increase the claims.
Are my medical bills paid for in an injury settlement?
Yes, or they are reimbursed in the settlement. Payment of medical bills is a component of any settlement reached in an insurance claim or suit. All medical bills will be reimbursed, including bills which have already been paid or need to be in the future. In the event that your bill was already paid, your health insurance provider may have a lien on part of your settlement.
Is there a minimum amount for personal injury cases?
There is no minimum or maximum amount when it comes to injury settlements. Each case is different and the amount awarded can vary based on a variety of factors. Some of these factors include the type and extent of injury, the willingness of one party to let the case go to court and the "pain and suffering" experienced.
Can a settlement offer be rejected?
Yes, in the event that you have filed a claim and brought a lawsuit against the negligent party, you can reject any settlement offer presented to you. Some reasons to reject a settlement include being unable to decide on who was at fault or differ on the extent of your injuries.
How is my lawyer paid?
In the majority of personal injury cases, an attorney will represent you under a contingency fee, which means that no money is paid up front. Your lawyer will collect a percentage of the amount that was agreed to in the initial fee agreement that was signed. This is usually around 33 percent. However, you lawyer's cut can also increase as the case progresses.
How do I collect my personal injury settlement?
This depends on the specifics of your case. In the event that the defendant had a policy that covered the accident, the insurance company will typically write a check for the amount that was agreed upon. If the defendant was sued directly, and there is no insurance involved, the time of payment could be longer if the defendant does not have many assets.
Do taxes need to be paid on my settlement money?
The IRS has offered some guidance on this issue but it depends on what the settlement covers. If the settlement is to be used for "physical injuries or sickness," then the compensation will not be considered taxable income. If no medical deductions were claimed in relation to these expenses, they do not need to be counted as income for tax purposes.
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