Frequently Asked Questions
- Page 3
How do I know that the settlement will be satisfactory to me for my personal injury case if you are my attorney?
In North Carolina, Virginia and most other states, an attorney, whether in a personal injury case or any other type of civil case, does not have the authority to act on a settlement offer or accept a settlement offer without the client's express approval so there will no settlement without your approval. As a matter of fact, if any settlement offer is made, attorneys must convey it to a client, and the get the client's permission before responding with a different settlement demand in response. And it is basic law that an attorney cannot accept a settlement from an insurance company or their lawyer without the client's permission.
In personal injury law, what is a contingency fee agreement?
The "contingency" is that the case must be successfully resolved, and the client is in charge of whether to accept a settlement offer or to go to trial and obtain a verdict. Unless the contingency of a recovery occurs, a client does not owe a legal fee or attorney's fee. This essentially helps level the playing field between individuals and large corporations or insurance companies.
Am I required to pay case expenses at the beginning or during the case?
No, our North Carolina personal injury law firm always advances the case expenses (medical record fees, filing fees, expert witness fees if any) on behalf of our clients, and the client is not asked to reimburse the law firm until settlement where the case expenses are repaid from the client's share of the recovery. This is a big advantage for our clients because some law firms do ask clients to contribute toward case expenses at the beginning or during the case.
The person that caused my accident ran from the scene and I didn’t get their information. What can I do?
If you have car insurance yourself, and it is a Virginia policy, then you have something called Uninsured Motorist coverage or (UM) for short. UM coverage is designed to help with this very thing. You should report your accident to your insurance company, and ultimately you will have coverage up to the amount of your UM limits as a source of recovery for your damages.
Who pays for my medical bills that I’ve incurred as a result of the accident?
Your medical bills will always be your responsibility, so if you have health insurance, you should use that insurance when you get medical treatment. If you do not have insurance and cannot pay your bills, you should make arrangements with the medical providers to set up a payment schedule you can afford. We seek reimbursement of any medical bills that you’ve paid, but often times the legal process moves slower than the billing process from the medical providers, so you should not “hold” all medical bills until your case resolves.
How long does it take for a typical case to settle or get decided in court?
Each case is different, but our Norfolk personal injury law firm's default policy is to wait at least until our clients have finished the medical treatment before beginning the negotiation process with the insurance company unless there are extenuating circumstances dictating otherwise. Once the insurance company has received our demand package, it takes between 2-4 weeks to for a review. Almost always, your attorney will be able to tell if you case is going to be one that will settle without the filing of a lawsuit, or will need to undergo litigation to resolve. Either way, your attorney will keep you informed as to the progress of your case. Some cases resolve in a matter of months, other cases take over a year or more.
Why are premises liability cases tough in Virginia?
In order to win a premises liability (slip and fall) case in Virginia (VA), a Virginia Beach personal injury attorney must prove that the premises owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition that caused your fall, and that you as the injured person could not have seen or appreciated the slip, trip or fall risk before you fell. This creates a narrow set of circumstances under which a person can expect to have a successful case, but an experienced attorney can help you understand if your case fits the right criteria.
Are costs and fees the same thing in a contingency basis fee?
No. An attorney’s fee in a contingency contract is a set percentage of whatever is recovered on behalf of the client. The costs are litigation costs advanced to that client in order to process his or her claim, and those costs must be recovered separately from any fee. A client always has the right to pay his or her own costs if preferred.
I was hurt in an auto accident, but what about my property damage? How is that handled?
Most, if not all major car insurance companies have separate departments for property damage (PD) and bodily injury (BI). You want to make sure you’re talking to the PD adjuster if you have questions about the property damage to your vehicle. Damage estimates are performed by someone from the PD department of an insurance company, usually within the first week after an accident. If you disagree with the determination made by the adjuster as to damage, you have the right to file a lawsuit for whatever you believe the damage estimate should have been, but usually those lawsuits are time consuming and most attorneys do not handle that kind of work on a contingency basis.
How much does it cost to pursue a medical malpractice case?
Pursuit of a medical malpractice case can be extremely expensive. The initial review of your medical records by a doctor often will cost between $1500 and $2500, and pursuit of a case all the way through trial may be upwards of $30,000. For these reasons, we have to be extremely careful in the cases we agree to take, because our firm usually fronts the costs of litigation for our clients.