Frequently Asked Questions

If you have been the victim of a personal injury, questions relating to medical bills, loss of income, finding qualified doctors and dealing with insurance companies are all issues, which will confront you. There are also certain time frames that must be followed in order to preserve your claims. Do not lose your rights without contacting our office first for a free consultation. You will find that letting an experienced personal injury attorney handle all of these important issues will assist you in maintaining the quality of life which you deserve and in receiving compensation for your injuries and for your pain and suffering. Also, if your case does not settle with the insurance company, you need an attorney who can successfully argue and win your case in a courtroom. If you have suffered a serious personal injury, contact our office for a free consultation with an attorney. Remember, you will not be charged any fees unless we recover money for you.

Below are some common questions regarding a personal injury case.

Should I get an attorney?

An injured person should at least talk with an attorney before deciding to settle a claim or before deciding that there is no claim. We will consult with an injured person free of charge during the initial consultations and/or meetings. Often, insurance companies will try to get you to settle the claim with them before you talk to an attorney. Insurance companies know that, in most cases, they can get a case settled for a lot less against a person who does not have an attorney. Insurance companies, like all businesses, want to save money, and this is one way of meeting that goal.

If I contact your law firm, will I meet with a lawyer?

Your first consultation will be with a lawyer, not a paralegal, or law clerk.  Although paralegals and clerks may assist with the case, a lawyer will be responsible for the handling of the entire case from start to conclusion.

Will a lawyer from your firm visit me if I am unable to travel?

If your injuries prevent you from coming to our offices, a lawyer from our firm will schedule a time to meet with you at a convenient location, whether that is your home, a hospital, or some other location of your choosing.

How do lawyers at your firm get paid?

We represent our injured clients on a contingency fee basis. This means that we will be paid a percentage of the amount we recover for you, plus any costs and expenses that are necessary to resolve your case. People who have been injured often have medical bills and lost income that make it difficult or impossible for them to pay up front for the costs of investigating and pursuing a personal injury case. Our goal is to handle the case so that you can use your money to take care of yourself and your family while we pursue your claim. The initial consultation(s) and/or meeting(s) with our personal injury lawyers are free of charge.

If I am injured, does a lawsuit always have to be filed in order to receive a settlement?

No. In many cases we are able to negotiate settlements with the other party’s insurance company after investigating your claim but before filing a lawsuit. However, sometimes insurance companies and corporations have to be pushed to trial in order for you to receive compensation that is adequate and appropriate for your injuries and losses.

In a lawsuit, who sues and who gets sued?

In a lawsuit to recover damages for your personal injuries, you would normally file the lawsuit. If the injured person is deceased, under 18 years of age, or otherwise incompetent to file suit, then a personal representative will be named for the purposes of bringing a lawsuit. The person sued is the person or corporation that committed the wrongful or negligent act. That person’s or corporation’s insurance company is not named as a defendant in most instances, although the insurance company is usually responsible for any monetary awards.

What am I able to recover in a personal injury claim or lawsuit?

In most personal injury cases, you would recover money damages from the defendant(s) or their insurance company. The amount you recover will depend upon many variables, including the nature of your injuries, whether or not your injuries are permanent or disfiguring, the amount of your medical bills, the amount of your lost wages, the pain and suffering caused by your injuries, and many other factors, including how much insurance coverage the defendant has available to pay a claim.

How long do I have to decide whether or not to bring a case against the defendant(s)?

You must file your lawsuit within the time period allowed by the statute of limitations that applies to your case. These vary from state to state. In California, the statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury case is generally two (2) years from the date of injury or negligence. However, in some cases, such as cases against governmental entities, you must give notice of your claim within 6 months of the date of injury or negligence.  You should consult a knowledgeable attorney to determine the exact date when your Statute of Limitations will expire.

The insurance adjustor for the insurance company wants to settle with me and says that I do not need a lawyer, what should I do?

The adjustor works for the insurance company. Insurance companies have one goal – to make money. They are in business to make money, not to help injured persons. The adjustor is charged with saving his company’s money, therefore his or her goal is to resolve your claim for the lowest amount possible. Many companies offer incentives and bonuses to adjustors for settling claims quickly and cheaply.  You should always consult with a personal injury attorney before settling any claim.

Will my insurance go up if I make a claim, file a lawsuit, or obtain a verdict or settlement?

No. If you make a claim, file a lawsuit, or get a recovery against a negligent party, your premiums will not go up. However, the negligent party’s insurance premiums will likely increase if you recover against him or her, or “it” in the case of a corporation, for their negligent acts.

What is my case worth?

The value of your case depends upon the amount of your damages or losses.  In a personal injury or car accident case, the value depends upon on the nature and severity of your injuries.  In a business or real estate matter, the value of your case depends upon your quantifiable losses which are supported by witness testimony or documentary evidence.

How long will my case last?

Some cases last a few months; others take longer.  It depends upon the specific facts of your case, the legal issues involved and the realistic expectations of the parties.

Will I have to testify in court?

Most personal injury, wrongful death, vehicle accident, railroad accident, employment harassment / discrimination, business and real estate cases settle before going to trial. However, prior to trial, you may have to give deposition testimony or a sworn statement to support the claims you are making.

When should I contact you?

Right away.  You do not want to be taken advantage of by the other side prior to getting legal advice for your case or lose your rights because you waited too long.  It is important to start working on your case immediately to protect all of your claims and advise you on important legal issues.

In auto accident cases, can I still recover if the other side does not have insurance?

If you have uninsured motorist coverage, you can still recover your monetary damages, payment of lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering even if the other driver is uninsured.

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10.0David M. Boertje, Esq.
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