How long will my case take to settle?
The insurance company will only be all too eager to offer you a quick cash payout to settle your claim against them. When you have been hurt and are facing expensive medical treatments while out of work, the promise of a quick cash settlement may seem tempting. This is usually not, however, the best way to settle your case. Most experienced personal injury attorneys will not attempt to settle your case until you are medically stationary, meaning you have reached a certain level of improvement from your injury. It may take several months to reach this stage, but it is often impossible to reliably estimate the total amount of your damages before this point.
Settlement negotiations may be ongoing for some time, and meanwhile your attorney is probably preparing your case for trial. Investigating the accident, taking witness statements and gathering evidence will all help determine the value of your case. If the case does go to court, it may take a year or more to get trial in today’s crowded courtrooms. Your attorney may be able to give you an estimate of the time frame in your particular case, but it is good to understand at the outset why it may take some time in order to get you the best result.
How will I pay my medical bills until my case is settled?
Whether your case settles or goes to trial, it may be many months before you receive your check. In the meantime, you may have several sources of income available to you to cover your medical expenses. Your health insurance should cover the bulk of your expenses after you meet your deductible and co-pay, and if you have medical payments coverage (med pay) on your automobile or other insurance, then you may have access to additional money as well. Some doctors will also agree to hold off on their billing and to take their fees out of your settlement when it is finalized.
If the accident occurred on the job, or if your injury has left you unable to work, then you may be entitled to workers’ compensation and/or social security disability payments. At Pisegna & Zimmerman, we are more than just personal injury trial lawyers. We help injured workers and others obtain compensation from all the different sources available to them. We know that you need and deserve every penny to which you are entitled, and we work hard to see that you get it.
What if I am partially to blame for causing the accident?
A common defense tactic is to try to shift the blame for the accident onto the plaintiff. Traditionally, a person’s contributory negligence would prevent them from recovering anything from a negligent defendant. Today, however, California’s comparative negligence law allows an injured plaintiff to recover, even if the plaintiff was also partly responsible for causing the accident. If this is the case, the jury at trial will assign a percentage of the blame to each party, and any recovery by the plaintiff will be reduced proportionately. So a plaintiff who obtains a $300,000 judgment in an automobile accident case but is found to be 40% at fault in the accident will only receive $180,000.
It is just as important at trial to establish the defendant’s negligence as it is to defend against claims that you were also to blame. But even if you think you were partly at fault in an accident, don’t let that keep you from talking to an attorney, because you may be entitled to more than you think. At Pisegna & Zimmerman, we offer a free initial consultation, so it doesn’t cost you anything to discuss the accident with us and let us evaluate the strength of your case.