If you have suffered an injury in an accident in Bend, or other areas of Central Oregon, it is not unusual to have questions. Here are some of the most common questions a personal injury lawyer is asked by their clients.
1. Should I give the insurance company a recorded statement?
Simply put, you should never provide a recorded statement to an insurance company. One of the first things a personal injury lawyer will explain to you is the dangers of taking this action. The problem is, an insurance company will ask victims to provide a recorded statement but, they will then take answers and use them out of context. This can result in a lower settlement offered to the victim.
Keep in mind, insurance company adjusters have a goal which is to ensure the company they are working for pays as little as possible in claims. This means they are trained to ask specific questions of victims with the intent of reducing the final settlement.
2. Should I sign documents that allow the insurance company to access my medical records?
Not without having the documents reviewed by an attorney. When you file an insurance claim, you may get a document asking for a release of medical records. If you are working with a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon following an accident, have your personal injury lawyer review the document. The reason for this is simple. As part of the overall goal of diminishing the value of your claim, the insurance company will not just ask for access to your records pertaining to your current injury.
What will happen is the insurance company will send you a broad medical release. The reason for this is they are looking for preexisting conditions. Let’s say you suffered a back injury in a car accident. If you have a history of back problems which you have received medical care for, the insurance company may then claim your back issue had nothing to do with the insurance company, but the problem existed prior to the accident. This helps them minimize the amount of settlement they offer you as a victim of an accident.
3. Will my medical bills be paid?
Immediately following an injury, if you have insurance coverage, you should only be paying your usual out of pocket expenses such as copayments. As your recovery begins, you may continue to use your insurance to cover those expenses. If you do not have coverage, speak with your medical team, and let them know you will be filing an accident injury claim. In many cases, your medical team will wait for the claim to come in before demanding payment. Should you have any issues with this, contact your personal injury lawyer in Bend and ask for advice on how to handle your medical bills until your claim is settled.
4. Do I have to pay my medical expenses out of my settlement?
Your out-of-pocket costs will be reimbursed to you. However, any costs which are paid by your insurance company will likely be subrogated. What this means is the insurer will probably want to be repaid for the expenses they incurred because of your injury if your settlement includes payments which the insurer made. The legal theory behind this is you should be reimbursed for those costs which you were forced to pay (and uncovered by insurance). However, the insurer will likely put in a claim, or lien, if your settlement amount reimburses you for medical bills which were paid by them, not by you.
5. How long does a claim take?
There is no magic formula for determining how long an insurance claim will take to be revolved. Generally, this depends mostly on how willing the insurance company is to reach a favorable settlement agreement. Keep in mind, most accident injury claims have an “ideal” settlement amount which can be anticipated. Your personal injury lawyer in Bend can explain this to you in more detail.
There are other factors which may impact how long a claim takes to be resolved. For example:
- Number of parties involved — if you were injured in a single car accident there is likely only one other party involved. However, if the other vehicle was a rideshare vehicle, bus, or tractor trailer, there may be other parties who are partially at fault for your injuries.
- Type of injuries suffered — for some victims, the extent of their injuries, and the time to recover may be unknown for several weeks following an accident. Getting a full medical review of the long-term consequences of an injury could potentially hold up a claim.
As a personal injury law firm in Central Oregon, we have seen some claims processed and settled quickly. In other cases, they take a longer period of time, particularly if the responsible party disputes the claim.
6. Will I be able to recover my lost wages?
Part of your claim should include wages you were unable to collect due to being out of work recovering from your injury. Keep in mind, if you collected unemployment compensation, disability payments, or other compensation, those amounts will likely be deducted from the total lost wages.
There is something else you should be aware of and discuss with your personal injury lawyer in Bend which is lost benefits. Some examples could be:
- Overtime losses if you have consistently worked in the months leading up to your injury
- Loss of matching funds for a 401(k)
- Bonuses you may have earned for production goals being met
- Profit sharing losses
- Loss of other fringe benefits
You may also be able to claim these types of losses when filing a claim. Your personal injury lawyer can help you determine which, if any of these claims should be included.
7. What is a fair settlement?
This is one of the most difficult questions to answer without knowing the facts surrounding your case. Keep in mind, even people with similar injuries can face different recoveries. The age of the victim, their employment, and their family status could all have an impact on the amount of a settlement which would be considered fair. You need to discuss your specific case with a personal injury firm in Central Oregon to get a better idea of what a fair settlement would be in based on your specific circumstances.
8. How is a fair settlement calculated?
In general, there are two categories of claims. One is actual financial losses, which are calculated based on:
- Out of pocket medical expenses
- Property damage
- Lost earnings (plus lost benefits)
- Estimated future lost income
- Estimated future medical expenses
- Costs of modifications or special equipment
The other category of claims is considered general damages and often includes damages such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages for which there are no specific dollar amounts. General damages are nearly always calculated based on factors which are unique to each case.
9. Why should I hire a lawyer?
Anytime you suffer an injury which was anyone else’s fault, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. The reasons for this are numerous, but the bottom line is you want someone who will advocate on your behalf and make sure your rights are protected. Insurance companies have no obligation to inform you of your legal rights. Nor are they there to provide advocacy services on your behalf. Working with a lawyer is smart, as they have the experience, knowledge, and skills necessary to get the maximum possible settlement for your injuries.
10. How does a personal injury lawyer get paid?
When you hire a personal injury lawyer in Bend to represent you, they will work on a contingency fee basis. What this means is the lawyer will draw up an agreement between you and them and they will agree to be paid only once a settlement is reached. There may be other costs such as filing fees which may require payment ahead of time, but your legal services will not be paid until, and unless, a settlement is obtained.
11. Will I have to file a lawsuit?
In most cases, no. Typically, insurance companies are reluctant to be forced to take a personal injury case to court. This is because jury verdicts are difficult to predict and they know if they can negotiate a fair settlement, they will likely be better off in the long run.
If you have suffered an injury which was caused by someone else’s negligent behavior, contact The Steele Law Firm, a personal injury law firm in Bend, Oregon for a free consultation. We will help you understand what options are available to help compensate you for your injuries.