There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Questions
Bob Katz wants Maryland, Virginia and DC accident victims to have all the facts so they can make the right decision when hiring an attorney. Accordingly, this section of our website is meant to provide basic insight into the issues we deal with for our clients on a day to day basis. It is NOT meant to be a substitute for real legal advice or opinion applicable to your particular situation. Please note therefore that the following materials are NOT Legal Advice or Legal Opinion.
All materials provided herein are prepared for a general audience for general informational purposes only. Their sole purpose is to better educate accident victims about a variety of general legal issues so these victims they can become more educated consumers of legal services. Information provided on the Sites should never be a substitute for consulting with a lawyer. Please contact us directly for advice on your specific situation.
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Can I get personal injury legal advice on the internet?
Accurate personal injury legal advice is not provided online. Not by our firm, or any other reputable firm that we know of. Our firm only provides legal advice to our actual clients. These are people we have met with in person, and discussed at length all the details of their particular situation. These are people who have hired us to represent them and with whom we have signed retainer agreements and for whom we have done our own factual and legal investigations.
Every case is unique. That means your case is too.
Any articles, blogs or discussions you read on this site are composed of generalized information or discussions about legal issues, we lawyers deal with, on a daily basis. These articles are posted as as general information for people to educate themselves about the personal injury issues that we lawyers deal with on a day to day basis.
While some of the discussions on this site may be relevant to your particular case, they are not "legal advice," and it should not be assumed they are applicable to your particular case.
The bottom line is: you should not assume anything you read on the internet is legal advice. While information may useful to you, you should not assume it is correct until you can actually speak with a lawyer.
How long will my injury case take?
Cases can take a long time to resolve. Even with an aggressive personal injury lawyer fighting for your recovery. What many clients do not realize is that cases typically cannot resolve until an injured client has recovered or at least achieved a static medical condition. This may take months and in some severe cases, years. The bottom line is, after the client's healing stabilizes, the real bulk of the case begins. Further, while some cases settle without going to court, others may have to go to trial. The time it takes from when a lawsuit is filed, up until a trial date can also vary from months to years depending on the court where the case is filed.
In summary, there is no way to know in the beginning of the case, how long it will take. An experienced attorney can often make a projection based on a variety of factors, but absolute guaranteed timeframes are impossible to project early on.
Why won't the insurance company total my car?
Laws on this issue can vary from state to state. Therefore, you should always consult directly with an attorney to determine the law that applies to your specific situation. Generally speaking, however, the term, "total loss" generally refers to the value of a vehicle being completely diminished due to an accident. Specifically, the term means that according to an insurance company’s estimate, it will cost them more to repair the vehicle than it will to pay you for the fair market value of the vehicle at the time of the loss. Total losses usually occur when the damage to the vehicle exceeds 80% of the car's fair market value. This is true because repair costs usually exceed 20% of the repair cost. Different insurance companies will use different percentages in determining whether a vehicle would be considered repairable. The ratio of damage to the vehicle to the fair market value must usually exceed 70 to 85 percent of the fair market value for the insurance carrier to deem it a "total loss". The insurance companies are only required to give you money for the repair costs or the market value of the car, whichever is less.
An uninsured driver struck me. How can I recover if he had no insurance?
If one is involved in a car accident and suffers injuries but the person causing the accident either runs away or does not have insurance you may not know what to do. Many people have asked whether or not they can get compensation for the car repairs, medical treatment and pain and suffering in this type of situation. They also want to know who is responsible to pay for these damages.
The Short Answer
In this type of situation you may be entitled to get compensation through your own insurance carrier or through uninsured insurance funds , which are established by government. It is always best to have an experienced attorney to help you every step of the way to get you through this process as Uninsured Motorist and Uninsured Motorist claims can be complicated. An experienced attorney will work with you and obtain the police reports, witness statements and photographs of the scene as necessary to try to track down the person who caused the accident if they run away from the scene of the accident or find some alternative source of insurance coverage if the at fault driver cannot be found. The bottom line is, even if the at fault driver is unknown; you may still be entitled to compensation. Call a lawyer today to discuss your rights.
The Long Answer
Uninsured Motorist Coverage is a type of coverage that is separate from collision, liability and comprehensive coverage and is carried on most policies. This coverage is also separate from Medical Payments coverage which provides benefits for medical treatment. This coverage is required by law in most states and part of your premium that you pay gives you that coverage. The coverage exists to protect drivers in scenarios like the one above, where the at-fault driver has no insurance or no ability to pay for damages he has caused.
Each state provides different remedies for victims of an uninsured driver and defines an uninsured driver in a different way. Additionally, each state provides different remedies for victims of this type of accident. For example, Maryland has set up a MAIF Insurance Fund which victims can assert a claim against, if their case meets certain criteria. Whereas, in Virginia, a victim is permitted to sue the uninsured driver even if he cannot find him, by naming him as a John Doe in the lawsuit. In this John Doe situation, the victim, must then serve their own insurance company with a lawsuit that is filed against John Doe and give them the chance to defend the case. The reason their own carrier needs to be served and would even want to defend a case for a John Doe that can't be found, is because if a Jury finds the John Doe to have caused the accident and the injuries, then the victims' insurance carrier would be responsible to pay those damages. So in Virginia, making a claim against the John Doe has the same effect, that suing the insurance company directly for breach of contract, would have in Maryland.
The bottom line here is UM/UIM claims can be complex especially if they need to be litigated. One should not attempt to navigate these tricky waters without experienced counsel at one's side.
If you want to know more about this subject - continue reading and check out the links below....
How do I pay for medical care if I do not have insurance? Who is going to pay for my medical bills?
Most people do not have the ability to pay for medical care up front. In many cases, an attorney will be able to work with the hospital’s billing department as well as other medical providers so that the client can get the medical care they need without the worry about having to pay for those costs up front. Some doctors will be willing to accept a lien on the proceeds of the lawsuit equivalent to the value of their treatment, in exchange for providing treatment without being paid up front. Other doctors will accept health insurance regardless of who was at fault. Your attorney will work with you to determine the best course of action specific for your case as there are no hard and fast solutions in this regard.
I was involved in a serious accident and may need to be hospitalized. If I need future care, how will that be handled?
When one is seriously injured in a car accident one may be faced with a very large hospital bills and will be facing extensive future care such as physical therapy and rehabilitation. Our office will work with the medical providers to arrange transportation and even home care if necessary. We will work hard to make sure that the responsible party compensates you for your medical bills as well as your pain, suffering, inconvenience and loss of income and other damages you may have sustained.
What if I am involved in a catastrophic or serious accident and its clear that it’s the other person’s fault? Do I still need to hire an attorney?
In a serious accident, there will usually be a lengthy and thorough investigation of the accident. It is important to consult with an attorney right away so that they can be involved in the investigation from the beginning. A good attorney will hire an expert to do an analysis of the crash and the scene of the collision, interview any witnesses, emergency personnel and police to make sure that any evidence pertaining to the accident is properly preserved. Since in an accident case, one does not have to pay any attorney’s fees up front, it is to the client’s advantage to hire an attorney sooner than later. The costs for hiring an expert can be very expensive. The insurance companies for the at fault party have experts on their side from the beginning doing their own investigation and it is crucial that the client has someone fighting for their interests as well.
If I settle my property damage claim, can I still make a claim for “bodily injuries” in Maryland?
Yes. Typically property damage claims are resolved separately. If you settle your property damage claim, it will not affect your ability to later make a personal injury claim unless you waive those rights in the release. Be sure you consult with an attorney or have an attorney review your property damage release to make sure it does not encompass or waive other rights you may have.
Can a health care insurer be repaid from a personal injury settlement?
Yes, this is quite a common scenario. Most health insurance policies have "subrogation" language that allows the insurance company to be repaid for the amount paid out on medical bills if the insured person receives money as part of a personal injury settlement. Varying states have varying laws dealing with this issue. In theory, the person is not allowed to (recover twice); i.e. once from the at fault party and once from the health insurer. The law essentially holds that a tort victim is entitled to be made whole or put back to where they were before the injury. Nevertheless, in Maryland for example, a Maryland Accident Lawyer may be able to obtain a statutory reduction in the amount of your lien when you settle your case. Additionally, depending on the terms of your settlement, a lawyer may be able to, in some circumstances, negotiate with the lienholder to obtain reductions in the amount owed. As many factors go into lien reductions and each case is unique, you will need to contact a lawyer in your state to find out if you are eligible for a lien reduction.
Q: What is a lawyer "contingency fee?"
An attorney's "contingency," fee is a fee that is agreed upon prior to the commencement of the attorney’s representation of the client. Typically, these fees vary depending on the complexity of the type of claim being handled. In Maryland, for example, most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis such that the lawyer is paid contingent upon recovering money for the client. In these types of cases, lawyers are paid out of the money recovered and it usually a percentage of the total recovery.
Many lawyers advertise the phrase, "No Fee, No Recovery," however this can be misleading because prospective clients sometimes equivocate the terms "fee" and "costs." It is important to note that occasionally, a client will be responsible for litigation costs, court costs (filing fees) or other costs, medical expenses incurred, etc. regardless of whether there is a recovery or not. Therefore it is important to discuss with your lawyer whether you will be charged any of these costs, depending on the result of your case.
Depending on what type of insurance coverage’s are available for example, you may or may not be left owing medical expenses if you lose your case and this will depend uniquely on the facts specific to your particular case. You should discuss these fee items with the prospective lawyer before deciding to hire them so there are no misunderstandings down the road.
Additionally, it should also be noted that some lawyers will charge higher fees than others, so it is always a good idea to make sure you are comfortable with the amount of the fee, as well as the experience and reputation of the lawyer who will be handling your case or whatever other factors are most important to you. Sometimes, the fee being charged by the lawyer is commensurate with the difficulty or complexity of the legal matter, the amount of time it will take to handle the legal matter or the experience and reputation of the lawyer.
For further information: Wikipedia has a nice entry on contingency fees.