Anderson & Travis | Personal Injury FAQs
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Personal Injury FAQs

What is the anatomy of a personal injury case?

There are three components of a personal injury case. First, was there an accident and were you injured? In other words, are there damages?  Second, is there fault? Who caused the accident? This is called liability. If you are partially at fault, your damages may be reduced. Third, how will you be compensated for your injuries or losses? Most times, the person at fault has insurance and the initial payment will come from their insurance carrier.  However, there are times when that person does not have sufficient insurance to pay for all of your damages. When that happens, you will file a claim with your own insurance carrier via your underinsured/uninsured (UIM) policy. Finally, there are times when the person at fault has to pay you more than his or her available insurance. Although realistically, the people who don’t have adequate insurance often don’t have adequate assets. This is why it is important to carry UIM and file a claim with your own insurance company.

Why do you need a personal injury attorney?

Not every case needs a personal injury attorney. If your injuries are not significant, if you don’t need help coordinating your medical care, if you know that the insurance company’s offer is reasonable and fairly compensates you for your injuries/losses, and/or if you know how to maneuver around the insurance and court systems, you may not need a personal injury attorney.  However, if you need someone to guide you through the process, maximize your compensation, negotiate with the insurance company, and represent you through the court process, Anderson & Travis has the experience that will work for you.

What is the risk of communicating directly with the insurance company?

Everything that you say to the insurance company can be recorded and later used against you. They may ask you, “how are you doing?” You may simply say, “I’m fine today.” They will then use your comment to claim you are not injured.  This danger applies to your own insurance carrier when you make a claim under your underinsured/uninsured (UIM). Once you make a claim under UIM, you and your insurance company now become adversaries with a twist. They still have fiduciary duty to you as a policy holder, but unfortunately they do not always follow their duty.  With representation from Anderson & Travis, the attorney deals directly with the insurance company and/or their lawyer, and the attorney’s statements cannot be used against the client, avoiding the risk of saying the wrong thing. When insurance companies have not complied with their fiduciary duty, Anderson & Travis has held them accountable.

How does a personal injury attorney get paid?

There are three ways to pay a personal injury attorney: 1) hourly, 2) a flat fee, and 3) a contingency fee.  Anderson & Travis offers an hourly rate of $350/hour for personal injury cases. With the hourly rate, you provide a retainer of approximately $7,500 and the attorney’s fees and costs are deducted from the retainer. A flat fee is an agreed upon amount that you will pay the attorney regardless of the number of hours that the attorney works. Because this is not necessarily fair to the client or the attorney, we do not offer flat fees.  A contingency fee is a fee based on a percentage of the total recovery. A contingency fee is generally 33% before a law suit is initiated and 40% after a law suit is filed. Under the contingency fee arrangement, clients are not responsible for attorney’s fees until the case has settled. Then the attorney’s fees are paid from the proceeds of a settlement or verdict. Under the contingency fee, we also advance the cost for depositions, medical records, experts, etc. These costs are also deducted from the settlement or verdict proceeds.

Are there time limits on making a claim?

Generally, the injured person has 3 years from the date of the accident to bring a personal injury lawsuit. This time limit is called the statute of limitations. Once it expires, no legal action may be filed.

 

There are various exceptions to the general rule and shorter time limits may apply. For instance, cases involving a fatal injury are treated differently. As another example, in cases where a suit may be brought against a government entity, the injured person must give notice of a possible action no more than 6 months following the accident. The failure to provide due notice forecloses future recovery from the government.

 

Regardless of the applicable time limits for filing a lawsuit, the demand for damages has to be made early enough to allow time for settlement negotiations with the insurance carrier. Thanks to aggressive and smart negotiations by Anderson & Travis, many cases become resolved out-of-court.

 

A settlement demand would usually be made after your condition has stabilized, which allows for a thorough evaluation of treatment options and the formulation of a long-term prognosis. The length of time necessary would depend on the type and severity of the injury. A premature settlement demand may result in an incomplete recovery due to an incorrect and rash assessment of damages.

 

It is to your advantage to contact us at Anderson & Travis and talk to an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as practical following an accident that resulted in bodily injury. Our attorneys will be able to develop a time-frame for handling the claim and advise you regarding any applicable time limits.

What are some of the sources of personal injury compensation?

The sources of compensation depend on the circumstances in which the injury occurred. Anderson & Travis will help you evaluate your recovery options and navigate between them.

For motor vehicle accidents, some of the most common sources of compensation include: the insurance policy that covers the driver at fault, and your underinsured and uninsured motorist (UIM) benefit. In some cases, workers’ compensation may come into play, if the injured person was working at the time of the accident (for instance, making deliveries). In premises liability cases, commercial or homeowners insurance policies would apply depending on where the injury occurred.

In some cases, you may request punitive damages in excess of the policy limits. The circumstances that merit such a request include drunk or drugged driving, a speed contest, or other exceedingly dangerous or criminal behavior.

There may be multiple entities liable for the injury, e.g. individuals, business entities, or government entities. Moreover, even if the driver at fault is unable to produce a proof of insurance, he or she may be covered by the vehicle owner’s, family member’s, or employer’s insurance policy.

When will I be compensated for my injuries?

A personal injury case takes a tremendous amount of time to develop, and generally quick payment means that injuries could be overlooked. Until you have completed treatment or reached your maximum medical recovery, a meaningful negotiation process cannot begin. Depending upon the nature of the accident, whether liability is clear, and whether your damages are clear all affect when you get paid. Some  cases can settle within six months. Other cases involve proceeding to trial and can take two or three years.

What is the accident only involved property damage?

Retaining counsel is not as crucial when the accident caused only property damage. The appropriate compensation for property damage can be calculated based on market prices. Therefore, it is easier to evaluate the insurance company’s settlement offer and negotiate accordingly.

 

Calculating the appropriate compensation for bodily injury is more complicated. Certainly, your economic damages such as medical bills and lost wages should be included in any settlement demand. However, assigning a numerical value to non-economic loss such as pain and suffering or disfigurement is more difficult and requires the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney.

Are there payment options for medical bills?

Even if you were not at fault, you may be required to pay for the initial treatment. However, any settlement or award of damages would serve to compensate you for those expenses as well as cover any prospective medical costs. Moreover, many health care providers have experience with patients who do not have insurance or are otherwise unable to pay their bills immediately. In such cases, these care providers may postpone payment and assert a lien against your settlement or award of damages. This means that any bills will get paid from the money you eventually receive. There are a number of quality health care providers in Colorado who accept this form of delayed compensation. Our experienced personal injury attorneys at Anderson & Travis can assist you with making the necessary payment arrangements.

What documents do I need to provide to my attorney?

You may need to provide the following documents: 1) copy of your insurance policy; 2) copy of the police report if you have it; otherwise, we will get it; 3) copy of your medical records; and 4) a release which we will provide for additional medical records. There may be other documents, particularly if you are claiming loss of income due to the accident. Each case is unique and additional documents may be necessary.