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FAQs about Serious Injuries

Do I really need a lawyer to successfully pursue my case?

Negotiating a settlement for your own personal injury case directly with the insurance company is extremely difficult. Though some have done it, the results are seldom good. You will be pitting your negotiating skills against a professional insurance adjuster whose job it is to settle for the least amount of money the company can get away with. Adjusters do this every day, whereas most accident victims are only in this situation once in a lifetime. So although you do not have to hire a lawyer, it is highly recommended. You will probably end up with substantially more in your pocket if you do.

Are personal injury settlements taxable?

The United States Internal Revenue Service states that such settlements are NOT taxable. The portion of your settlement that was set aside for loss of earnings is taxable, though.

How can I get a copy of the police report?

You can contact your local police department or your attorney. There is usually a small processing fee.

How are attorneys paid?

Personal Injury lawyers typically work on a contingency fee basis. This means that the lawyer works without cost to you until the case is resolved and there is a verdict or settlement. If the lawyer does not win money for you, you owe no attorneys fees.

When should I be seen by a doctor?

When you’ve been in an accident, it is extremely important that you seek medical assistance as quickly as possible and report every injury, however slight it may seem. Many injuries are not obvious at first, such as internal bleeding, closed head injuries, and even herniated discs. But if you fail to go to an emergency room or visit a doctor for too long, the assumption will be that you weren’t really injured.

How long will my case take?

It is hard to give an estimate of how long any case will take before it has started. Typically, the more severe the injuries and the longer the time you need to recover, the longer the case will take. Some minor cases take as little as three to six months. Other can go on for several years, depending on the length of time you remain under treatment, whether many motions are required, the availability of the court for trial, and the schedules of expert witnesses. Most injury cases are resolved within six to fifteen months

Will my case go to trial?

Most cases do not go to trial. In fact, over 90 percent of all cases filed in the court system are resolved before a trial takes place. Trials are unpredictable, time consuming, and extremely expensive. Therefore, it is often in the best interest of all parties involved to settle the dispute before trial. You should know, however, that from the minute you bring your case to our office, we will be preparing it for trial so if a trial does become a necessity, we’re ready and able to present it to a jury. Our attorneys are skilled litigators and will never shy away from trying a case if it is in the client’s best interest.

How am I going to pay for my medical bills?

If possible, have your private or public insurance pay your bills. Some doctors will treat you without being paid, but will place a lien on your recovery. Private insurance companies, Medicaid, and Medicare do have the right of reimbursement, so anything they pay out will be returned to them when the case settles. However, they negotiate reduced rates with doctors, less than a doctor ordinarily bills a patient directly, so you’ll have less coming out of the recovery than if you have to pay off a doctor’s lien. You will pay your own bills in the future, once the case is resolved. The amount of your recovery should include the cost of projected future medical expenses.

Will I be able to recover lost earnings?

Lost earnings in a personal injury case must be proven to the insurance company of the at-fault party. That’s usually no problem if you are a regular employee, but it can be much more difficult if you are self-employed. Keeping good records will make this task easier.

I was not carrying car insurance when my accident occurred. How will this affect my case?

You will generally be able to recover only for your medical bills and lost income. You will not be able to recover anything for pain, suffering, or emotional distress.

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236 North Santa Cruz Ave.
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California, 95030

[P] 408.687.9155

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San Jose, CA 95112

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