Guide to Handling Personal Injury Cases
When you or a family member gets hurt in an accident, thereâ€™s a lot to process. How did this happen? How can I heal? How long until things go back to normal? How do I pay my medical bills? How do I recover lost wages? How does one move on from the emotional and physical pain? Eventually, you may realize that the accident occurred because of someone elseâ€™s negligence, and then the question is: How do I obtain compensation for my pain and suffering?
Personal injury can be a complex legal area. If your accident happened in Delaware, the first step is finding the right Delaware personal injury lawyer to help you handle your claim. They can walk you through the rest of the steps. A personal injury lawyer can help you get your medical bills handled properly, get your lost wages covered, determine if you have a case, determine the potential value, determine how long it might take to settle your claim, and advise you of when and who to file suit against if itâ€™s necessary.
Unfortunately, many injured victims feel intimidated about pursuing an injury case. Some may decide not to pursue their claim, simply because it seems like too much hassle or they worry about the legal fees. If an injured party hesitates to move forward, however, they may be losing out on money they need and deserve.
Thatâ€™s where this guide may be helpful. We hope these tips help you find the right attorney and help you understand some of the issues to think about when pursuing compensation for your injury.
Read on to learn whether your personal injury case is worth pursuing.
Should I Bring a Claim for Personal Injury?
Thereâ€™s been an accident and you or a loved one has been hurt. Whether it was a car accident, a spill on an icy sidewalk outside the mall, or a dog bite and you believe someone is at fault for your injury, itâ€™s time to consider whether you or your family member is entitled to recover.
Liability is one important aspect of your claim. There may be more than one theory of liability, and there may be more than one defendant involved. There may be more than one policy of insurance applicable. The personal injury attorneys at Rahaim & Saints will help you evaluate the validity of your claim and discuss your options of compensation recovery.
Another important aspect is the valuation of your potential claim. This will require not only consideration of liability, but you should also consider the damages and injuries themselves. Evaluation will include reviewing past medical records for pre-existing medical conditions or injuries. Evaluation will also include reviewing the injuries caused by the current accident or event.
How long did the medical care last? How consistent was the treatment? How extensive was the treatment needed? How invasive was the treatment â€” were there injections or surgery? Were there fractures? Did an MRI document an accident-related abnormality, such as a herniated disc? Will there be scars? Did the injury cause permanent impairment? Will treatment be needed in the future? Was there emotional trauma? Was psychological treatment needed?
The value and your recovery are based on such variables and each case differs for that reason. These and other matters will be evaluated by the injury lawyers at Rahaim & Saints to assist you in evaluating your particular case. Our attorneys will explain your case to you in detail and will answer any questions you have. Weâ€™ll help you make the appropriate decisions to best protect yourself and your family. We have two convenient locations and handle claims in Wilmington, Newark, New Castle, Newcastle County, Kent County and Sussex County, Delaware.
How to Choose an Attorney: Connecting with the Right Delaware Personal Injury Lawyer
Youâ€™ve decided to go ahead with your claim. The next step is finding the right personal injury attorney in Delaware for the job. You will want a firm that has experience making personal injury settlements and representing people in similar situations.
Itâ€™s also important to know your personal injury attorney will listen to you. Establishing a rapport is important, because you will need to trust each other to ensure the case is handled correctly. You should feel comfortable asking questions of your injury lawyer.
Searching out a Personal Injury Lawyer in Wilmington, Delaware
To find an attorney, you could ask around for friendsâ€™ input. Perhaps they have used a reliable personal injury lawyer in Wilmington, Delaware and are happy to pass on a name.
You can also do a basic Internet search but make sure you research the lawyers you find. Look on Google, Avvo.com, Lawyers.com, legal sites, or even social media sites to get a feel for their reputation.
You can use the Yellow pages to obtain the names of firms and lawyers who handle injury claims. You can contact the Delaware Bar Association for a lawyer referral. You can likely obtain the contact information of more than one law firm to interview.
Make sure the firm has handled this type of case before. For example, at Rahaim and Saints, we have a proven track record of handling injury claims, and our partners have been practicing for more than 30 years. We are longstanding members of the National American Association for Justice, the Delaware Trial Lawyers Association and other related legal associations. That sort of experience is invaluable because we know how to navigate a personal injury case.
We also pride ourselves on a personable staff that will answer your questions quickly, rather than pushing them aside. When you call our office, we can schedule your appointment quickly so you can get your questions answered when you need help fast.
How Can I Help My Personal Injury Lawyer Determine if I Have a Case?
Once you have found the right Delaware personal injury lawyer, you will begin discussing your case. Information must be gathered. Be honest with your attorney. Be accurate when you discuss any prior injuries, treatment or accidents â€” the insurance companies can obtain this information from databases, and you want your attorney to have this information as well.
If your claim involves a car accident, your attorney will send for the police report to help determine the facts of the collision, the identity of the parties involved, and some information about the insurance coverage available. If the injury involves a slip and fall, there may be an injury report compiled by the business where the injury occurred. If the injury involved a dog bite, there may be an animal control report your attorney can obtain.
Take photos, or have someone take pictures of the damage to your car before itâ€™s repaired. Take pictures of the scene of the accident if you can do so safely. Take pictures of your abrasions, cuts and bruises immediately and during your course of recovery. Be sure to note the date and time of the pictures if possible. If you or the photographer uses a cell phone, be sure to email the pictures to yourself in case the phone is later damaged or lost.
Seek medical help.
If you have been injured and need medical care, you should seek treatment for your injuries. You should be sure to accurately describe your injuries to emergency personnel and doctors. Be honest about your symptoms. Do not exaggerate, of course, but do not minimize your pain levels or leave out areas of symptoms either. Itâ€™s understandable that people are busy, but try not to miss scheduled appointments or visits. You may hurt your own recovery, and your absence can be interpreted as you not needing additional medical care. You should keep a record of what injuries you incurred and what dates you visited a physician or attended physical therapy. This record might be helpful in ensuring that all pertinent medical records have been obtained.
Keep track of lost wages.
Keep track of your lost wages or overtime if related to your injuries. Many times your attorney can recover your lost wages from the PIP carrier if your injury is vehicle accident related. If your PIP policy becomes exhausted â€” or in cases of injuries from slip and falls â€” the lost wages can be recovered as part of the liability (pain and suffering) out-of-pocket loss claim against the party at fault.
Document medical bills.
If you are sent medical bills by any of your doctors, be sure to save them and present or mail them to your lawyerâ€™s office. They can copy and forward the bills to the appropriate carrier.
When you have completed your injury-related treatment, your attorney should discuss the liability and damage aspects of the case. At Rahaim & Saints, our injury attorneys always meet with the injured client to discuss case evaluation so that you are kept educated and informed about the valuation process and the settlement negotiation progress. If negotiations are not successful, our attorneys will discuss your options, including filing a law suit to further your claim and protect your rights.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim or Law Suit?
There are clear restrictions on how long after an injury occurs that you can file your case. These state laws vary.
In a Delaware bodily injury claim such as a car accident, slip and fall, or dog bite case, you have two years from the date of injury to settle the claim, or file a law suit against the person or business at. If you donâ€™t complete the process in the two-year timeline, you will be forever barred from recovering for pain and suffering.
Relatedly, oneâ€™s medical bills from a car accident will be covered for two years from the date of accident if the applicable PIP auto policy is a Delaware policy. (There are some exceptions such as with surgery that a doctor opines cannot be performed within two years, but this should be discussed in more detail with your attorney).
You should note, however, that you or your loved one has three years from the date of acceptance â€”or denial of a PIP, uninsured or under-insured motorist claim â€” to file suit against their own insurance company or be thereafter barred from such recovery.
While the state statute provides for a two year statute of limitations to sue a defendant, local ordinances such as those applying to city or County defendants may have strict notice requirements of less than two years. Itâ€™s important to understand that two year statutes of limitations are applicable in medical malpractice and workers compensation cases, but there are some exceptions in these types of claims that you should immediately discuss with your attorney.
As you can see, itâ€™s very important that you meet with and choose an attorney as soon as possible after an injury. This will help you protect your right to pursue a claim or file suit! Our injury attorneys at Rahaim & Saints are ready to advise you on these matters at your earliest convenience.
Cost of an Attorney: Paying Your Injury Lawyer
Most injury attorneys handle injury claims on a â€ścontingency feeâ€ť basis. That means that you do not normally pay a retainer and you are not charged an hourly fee for work performed on your behalf. Generally, law firms charge a contingency fee of 1/3 of the recovery (33.33%).
With some exceptions, law firms will most often â€śfrontâ€ť or cover the costs involved in pursuing your case, though they will be reimbursed from the insurance recovery at the end of the case. Costs will include the doctorâ€™ offices charges for copying and mailing medical records and the cost of the police report. Costs can also include the charge by your doctor to write a detailed report about your diagnosis, treatment and prognosis to help support your claim. Costs can also be incurred for court filing fees and litigation expenses should suit need to be filed.
The injury attorneys at Rahaim & Saints will discuss these matters with you at our free initial consultation, and throughout the handling of your case, so you remain completely informed.
Writing a Demand Letter for Personal Injury
Once your attorney has compiled the documentation of liability and injury treatment, your attorney will start to write a demand letter for personal injury. This is basically a request to settle the case out of court for an amount determined by you and your attorney.
In most cases, a demand letter is not written until you are largely healed from your injuries, or have completed treatment stemming from the accident. The reason is that you want to make sure you have accrued the bulk of your medical expenses before deciding on how much in damages to request. You want to cover all your medical bills and not ask for too little money.
A â€śdemand letterâ€ť for personal injury often consists of five main parts: explaining why the defendant is legally responsible; the nature and extent of your injuries; the loss of income due to those injuries; the cost and details of your medical treatment; and how much in additional damages, such as pain and suffering, you expect. At the end of the demand, the request for the entire sum for these five issues is made.
It is possible that your lawyer will need to send a demand letter to more than one insurance company if there were several that could be held liable for your accident. You may also find yourself in a situation where multiple people were injured in an accident.
Before any demand letter is completed and mailed to the insurance company, the injury attorneys at Rahaim & Saints always meet with our clients to ensure the demand letter is accurate. They also ensure that both the client and attorney understand each otherâ€™s expectations in the process of negotiation.
Personal Injury Settlements
A personal injury case will often be settled out of court before it goes to trial. Trials can be costly for both the defendant and the injured party. It is often hard to predict the outcome of a jury trial and verdicts in Delaware can be disappointing. Our injury attorneys at Rahaim & Saints can help you evaluate whether your case should be settled or litigated.
Though some people believe they can handle their case on their own without enlisting personal injury lawyers to work for their personal injury settlement, this method is often a mistake. Dealing with insurance companies to get fair compensation for your pain is often not easy. Insurance companies are in business to promote profit and keep injury compensation amounts as low as possible. It helps to have experience on your side. You could be pushed into taking a settlement thatâ€™s lower than what you deserve because you do not know how to push back or protect yourself.
Rahaim & Saints can help you get the protection you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.