Personal Injury FAQs
If you have been in a car accident, there is certain information that can be very useful to your personal injury attorney in protecting your rights. After the police and any necessary medical help have been contacted, write down the following:
- The full name, address, phone number, driver’s license number and insurance information for all drivers.
- The full names, addresses and phone numbers for all passengers, pedestrians, witnesses and vehicle owners.
- Details on what happened in the accident, including (a) which direction the vehicles were going, (b) what the weather conditions were like, (c) what the time of day was, (d) whether any driver appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, etc .
If you are uncertain about what information to obtain at the scene of an accident, call someone you trust for help, such as a family member or a North Carolina personal injury attorney.
Yes. Contacting the police provides a permanent record of the accident, and allows for an immediate investigation of the scene by the police officer. Even in seemingly minor accidents, it can be beneficial to call the police, as you may need a permanent record of the accident (for an insurance claim or law suit) in the event that you cannot settle matters with the other driver.
If you are contemplating not calling the police after your auto accident, again, call someone you trust to discuss your decision, such as a family member or a North Carolina personal injury attorney.
Well, if you are certain that you have no injuries, then don’t go to the doctor. However, if you are not sure if you are injured, or if you are having aches or pains, then you should go to the doctor. The doctor may recognize injuries, sometimes serious, that are not apparent to you. Too often people ignore aches or pains, and wait to seek medical help after a lot of time has passed. Delaying medical treatment is not only bad for your health, it also makes it more difficult to prove that the injury you suffered resulted from your accident.
If you are not sure whether you should seek medical treatment after your auto accident, call your doctor or talk with a North Carolina personal injury attorney.
Yes, most auto insurance policies require a policyholder to promptly report an auto accident (regardless of fault) to the insurance company. Your failure to report your auto accident, in certain circumstances, could result in a loss of coverage for your accident (in the event that you need to use your own insurance).
If you have questions about whether you should contact your own insurance company, and how calling your insurance company may impact your insurance rates in the future, talk with your insurance agent or a North Carolina personal injury attorney.
Your North Carolina personal injury attorney will generally obtain any information necessary to handle your personal injury claim. However, the more information you can gather, the easier it will be for your attorney to help you. So, if you can, gather the following items:
- Pictures of the vehicles involved in the North Carolina auto accident;
- Pictures of the scene of the accident;
- A copy of your vehicle’s repair estimate;
- A copy of the police report;
- Information about the person who caused the accident, and information about his/her insurance company (policy number, adjuster contact information, etc.); and
- All the bills and records related to your personal injury.
You should avoid accepting blame, or apologizing, for the accident when speaking to the other driver or the other driver’s insurance company. If you need a legal opinion on who is at fault for your accident, then set up a free consultation with a North Carolina personal injury attorney. The personal injury attorney will investigate your claim and give you his/her legal opinion on who is at fault for the accident.
No. The insurance adjuster is seeking information that can weaken your claim (such as you failing to adequately describe all of your injuries), or information that can lead to a denial of your claim. By speaking to you and gathering information about you, the insurance adjuster, and the insurance company, is gaining leverage on you. They are learning about your prior injuries, your prior auto accidents, where you work, where you live, your marital status, your version of what happened in the incident that caused your injury, etc. The flow of information is completely one-sided. The insurance company won’t answer any of your or your attorney’s questions, such as what are the other driver’s insurance limits, whether their policyholder was intoxicated, etc. You are under no obligation to cooperate with an insurance adjuster from someone else’s insurance company (the same is not true if the insurance adjuster is calling from your own insurance company), and you should avoid speaking to an insurance adjuster until you have decided how you will handle your claim.
If you are considering speaking with an insurance adjuster, perhaps consider discussing your case with a North Carolina personal injury attorney first to get some counseling on what types of questions and answers to avoid when speaking with the adjuster.
First of all, regardless of what you say, always be very polite and civil. While we don’t think the insurance adjuster is trying to help you in your case, the adjuster is the one with whom you will ultimately have to try to reach a settlement, so now is not the time to make an enemy. Our suggestion is to simply thank the insurance adjuster for calling, and let him or her know that you (a) haven’t made a decision on whether you’ll hire an attorney, (b) haven’t made a decision on whether you’ll give the insurance adjuster a recorded statement, (c) are focusing on recovering, and (d) will call the insurance adjuster when you have any updates.
If you are receiving calls from an insurance adjuster and are having a difficult time getting the calls to stop, consider asking to speak to the adjuster’s supervisor, or talk with a North Carolina personal injury attorney about how to get the calls to stop.
No. These medical authorization forms are very broad, and allow the insurance company to obtain all of your prior medical records (from your visits to the doctor long before you were injured). Giving the insurance adjuster your old medical records is bad because the insurance adjuster may see previous injuries you sustained and suggest that your new injury was not caused by your recent incident (therefore, the insurance adjuster will argue you shouldn’t be compensated for your injuries).
The insurance adjuster does need to obtain all of your medical bills and medical records that are specifically related to your injury, though, so you will have to hand those over. Consider giving the insurance adjuster a medical release that limits their access to specific medical providers and to only medical bills and medical records related to your specific injury.
If you need assistance with revising the medical authorization form, talk to a North Carolina personal injury attorney or talk with your doctor’s office.
First, use your own health insurance policy to pay your medical bills. The last thing you need is for your medical bills to end up in collections. Also, don’t worry that the other driver’s insurance company will not have to pay your medical bills because you had your health insurance pay your medical bills. Either you, or your health insurance company, will typically get reimbursed for the payment of your medical bills.
Second, call your auto insurance company and ask if you have Medical Payments coverage on your own auto insurance policy. If you do, submit your medical bills to your own auto insurance company as well (your auto insurance premiums will not increase due to your using your Medical Payments coverage).
Third, you can try to get your medical bills paid by the other driver’s insurance company. This is difficult to do, though, because the other driver’s insurance company will typically not pay you for your medical bills until you settle your claim (or receive a jury verdict). So, your best route is to use your own health insurance and Medical Payments coverage.
If you are receiving medical bills and are not sure what to do with them, contact your doctor’s office or speak with a North Carolina personal injury attorney about your options.
Sometimes, yes. Many attorney advertisements suggest that you will always get more money if you hire an attorney, but that’s not always true. In some cases, you can get more money by handling your own case, and avoiding having to give 25% – 40% of your award to an attorney.
An example of a case you can do just fine handling yourself is a case where you had very limited medical treatment (e.g., just one visit to the emergency room, one visit to your doctor, and few to no physical therapy visits), were fully recovered upon your release, and there is no dispute regarding who is at fault. Paying an attorney 25%-40% to negotiate on your behalf really isn’t going to increase the amount of money you are able to recover, as the total value of your claim typically isn’t very high and is not in great dispute.
Another example of a case you can do just fine handling yourself is a case where your medical bills will far exceed the amount of insurance coverage the liable party has. For example, if you have $50,000 of medical bills and the liable party only has $30,000 of insurance coverage. In this example, the amount of money you can receive is fixed, and paying an attorney 25% – 40% of your settlement will only reduce the amount of money you receive. If you have underinsured/uninsured motorist insurance, or if the liable party has an umbrella insurance policy, there may be additional money for you to fight for, and an attorney may be helpful. However, in the situation where you are certain that your medical bills and personal injury damages will exceed the available insurance proceeds and assets of the liable party, you are almost always better off just handling the case on your own. It’s not right, but there are plenty of attorneys who will take a full 25% – 40% of your settlement, even though they didn’t have to do anything substantial to get you the settlement.
The more complex your injury, or the more uncertainty around who is liable for the injury, the more value you will get out of hiring an attorney. Now, if you are not comfortable with speaking with an insurance adjuster, gathering your medical bills/medical records, or just don’t want to deal with anything other than recovering from your injury, then choosing to hire a North Carolina personal injury attorney (or a Durham Personal Injury Attorney or Greensboro Personal Injury Attorney if you are located in Durham or Greensboro) makes sense.
So, yes, sometimes you can handle your own personal injury case. Further, if you have the type of case that you’d prefer to handle on your own, we’d be happy to guide you through process should you have any questions (just setup a free consultation and we’ll give you our thoughts on your case).
Like most North Carolina personal injury attorney, our Durham Injury Attorneys and Greensboro Injury Attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that we earn a percentage of your recovery (i.e., we only earn a fee if we get you a winning verdict at trial or a negotiated settlement). Our contingency fee is as follows:
- 25% – if your personal injury case settles before filing a lawsuit.
- 30% – if your personal injury case settles after filing a lawsuit, but before a trial.
- 35% – if your personal injury case is taken to trial.
In addition to our contingency fee, there are certain costs that you may be responsible for, such as court filing fees, fees to obtain your medical records, etc.
If you have any questions regarding our fee structure, please feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.
We believe that the amount of our fee should be related to the amount of work we do. So, if we never have to file a lawsuit, depose a witness, prepare for trial, etc., then we think you should pay us less. A majority of cases settle long before a lawsuit has even been filed, and paying an attorney 33% is way too much in that circumstance. However, the amount of work and time involved in taking a case through negotiation, arbitration, mediation, trial and appeal can be immense, and in those cases it may be totally reasonable to pay your attorney 35% of your settlement.
Case costs are money that we pay in order to get your personal injury case ready for a trial. A filing fee paid to the court, the cost of a court reporter for a deposition, or the cost of having an expert testify are common examples of cases costs.
The short answer is that the value of your personal injury case depends on the details of your case, such as the severity and permanence of your injury, the type of medical treatment you have received and will receive in the future, and the overall effect your injury has had on your life and will have on your life going forward.
There is no formula for valuing a personal injury claim. The value of a personal injury claim is determined by a jury. When a jury decides how much money to award a personal injury victim, the jury is not given any formula to use. The jury is given evidence, typically in the form of testimony, regarding the harm that has been done to the personal injury victim. Using evidence, without a formula, the jury has to decide on how much money to award a personal injury victim. So, there is no easy way to evaluate your claim.
Just because there is no formula for valuing a personal injury claim does not mean that there is no approach to valuing a personal injury claim for purposes of a negotiated settlement. When an insurance company evaluates your personal injury claim, they compare the circumstances of your injury to injuries that they have previously settled.
Then the insurance company compares the factors in your personal injury case to other personal injury cases that they have settled or taken to trial. Many factors can influence how the insurance company values your claim, such as (i) the severity of your injury, (ii) the type and amount of your medical bills, (iii) whether you have any permanent injuries or scarring, (iv) how the injury affected your employment and lifestyle, (v) whether you will you make a good witness, (vii) whether the driver who caused the accident will make a good witness, (viii) whether your doctor will make a good witness, (ix) whether you failed to follow your doctor’s medical advice, (x) whether you received unnecessary medical treatment, (xi) whether the other driver was intoxicated at the time of the accident, (xii) the speed your accident occurred at and (xiii) the severity of the damage to your vehicle.
If you’d like to talk more specifically about the value of your personal injury claim, consider setting up a free consultation with a North Carolina personal injury attorney.
By hiring us as your personal injury attorney, you can just focus on your medical treatment and recovery. We’ll be staying in touch with you to give you updates on the status of your claim, and also to get updates from you on the status of your medical treatment and your healing process. Otherwise, you won’t spend a lot of time working on, or worrying about, your case.
Most cases take time to resolve; so, unfortunately, you’re going to have to have some patience. In terms of a time frame, we typically split the phases of your personal injury case into three categories: (1) your medical treatment phase, (2) the negotiating phase, and (3) the trial phase.
Once you have finished your medical treatment, with your input we’ll prepare a demand to send to the person liable for your injuries (or their insurance company). Following our demand, we’ll negotiate to see if we can reach a settlement on your case. This negotiating phase can be very quick, if our demand is met or if it becomes apparent that our demand will never be met, or it can take several months.
If we can’t reach a settlement, then we will move to the trial phase. This phase can take about two years from the filing of your lawsuit to the end of your trial, and this time frame can vary depending on your case and the court docket.
Yes. We offer free consultations. If you want to talk to us, just send us an email at email@example.com, or call us at 888-820-5885, and we can setup a time to talk. We do phone consultations, e-mail consultations, or in-person consultations. Our Personal Injury Attorneys handle personal injury cases throughout the state of North Carolina
First, we’ll notify the insurance company that we represent you, and ask them to direct all of their communications to us. Second, we’ll investigate and assess your personal injury claim. We typically call witnesses, visit the scene of your accident, obtain auto repair estimates, medical bills, medical records, wage loss records, etc. Third, we’ll consult with you to evaluate your personal injury claim and decide an amount to demand from the insurance company. Fourth, we’ll send a demand to the insurance company, and attempt to negotiate a settlement of your personal injury claim. Fifth, if we cannot reach a negotiated settlement, we’ll file a lawsuit and start preparing for a trial.
Generally for a North Carolina personal injury case resulting from an auto accident, you have 3 years to settle your personal injury claim or file a lawsuit. However, there are different statutes of limitations, so if you are concerned that you may be running out of time on your personal injury case, you should contact a North Carolina personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
We offer free consultations for all of our prospective clients, so we’ll review your personal injury case for free. If you’d like us to review your personal injury case, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 888-820-5885.
Kreger Thacker’s North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys serve clients with personal injury cases in Durham County, Guilford County (including the cities of Gibsonville, Greensboro, High Point, Jamestown, Oak Ridge, Pleasant Garden, Sedalia, Stokesdale, Summerfield and Whitsett) and Orange County (including the cities of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough).