CANNON HADFIELD STIEBEN & DOUTT, LLC
PERSONAL INJURY FAQs
What is a personal injury?
A personal injury is an injury to your body. It is sometimes called bodily injury. In the context of personal injury case, it is an injury to your body caused by someone else. If only your property suffered damage, you don’t have a personal injury case, but you may have a property damage case. If you have medical bills caused by an accident that was not your fault, you may have a personal injury case.
Do I have a personal injury case?
It’s hard to say whether you have a case without sitting down with you to talk about what happened. Because of that, if you think you have a personal injury case, you should contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case. Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations.
In general though, you may have a personal injury case if you suffered an injury due to someone else’s actions. For example, if you were in a car crash that wasn’t your fault and you were injured, you may have a case. If you fell on someone else’s property because they failed to maintain it properly, you may have a case. These aren’t the only examples of personal injury cases, but they should give you an idea of when you may have a case.
How does CHSD handle personal injury cases?
At CHSD, we believe that success comes from teamwork. The team starts with the client. From the first contact with our firm, we will be making sure we understand your goals. Once we know where you want to end up, we assign personal injury lawyers and paralegals to your case making sure everyone is on the same page about your goals. We then design and execute a unique strategy for your case. That way, we make sure you reach your goals.
How much is my personal injury case worth?
The truth is, it’s impossible to say how much a personal injury case is worth without talking to you at length, seeing your medical records and bills, and talking to your doctors about any care you may need in the future. However, in any personal injury case, the value will depend on three factors: 1) liability, 2) causation, and 3) damages. If someone else is clearly at fault, your injuries were clearly caused by the accident, and your injuries are severe, then your case is worth more. If there are questions about any of those issues, then the case is worth less. Of course, this is only the general rule. Good personal injury lawyers will insist on having a lot more information before telling you what he or she thinks your case is worth.
Do I need a personal injury lawyer?
If you listen to insurance companies, they’ll tell you injured people don’t need personal injury lawyers. But the insurance company doesn’t have your best interests at heart. They’re only looking out for their bottom line. And trust me, they’re pros. If you’re injured, and you want to fight for the compensation the law says you’re entitled to, you need a pro on your side too. After all, you would have lived a very accident prone life if you’ve made as many insurance claims as the Fort Collins personal injury lawyers at Cannon Hadfield Stieben, LLC.
Also, by having a lawyer you let the insurance company know that they can’t lowball you and get away with it. If lowball us, we can file a lawsuit and ask a jury to tell them how much your personal injury case is worth. Although you can file a lawsuit alone, it is not recommended, and an experienced lawyer will make it much easier for you.
How am I going to pay my medical bills?
We all know how expensive medical bills can be. Even if you have health insurance, your deductible might be thousands of dollars. Figuring out how to pay those bills can be exhausting. Personal injury victims do have a few options though.
If you’ve been injured in a car crash, your insurance may have medical payments coverage. This is often called MedPay. This will pay for your medical bills, up to a limit, regardless of who was at fault for an accident. Other types of insurance, like homeowners insurance also may have MedPay coverage.
If you don’t have access to MedPay, your best option might be to set up a payment plan with your medical providers. Very often, if you’re making the agreed upon payments, the provider won’t send you to collections.
In addition, some providers will agree to treat you in exchange for your promise to pay the bill when you settle your personal injury case.
A good personal injury lawyer will be able to talk you through each of these options and help you work out what’s best for you.
What if the other side doesn't have insurance?
Most individuals don’t have enough money to pay a personal injury settlement or judgment without insurance. So what happens when you’re injured by someone without insurance? Well, if this was an auto accident, you may still be covered by insurance. Many auto insurance polices include uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. That means if the person who hit you doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough insurance, your own policy will take effect. Essentially, if you have UM/UIM coverage, you have paid to have your insurance company cover damages in excess of the other person’s insurance up to a certain limit.
Won't the other insurance company pay my bills?
A lot of people think that if you were injured by someone else, their insurance will pay for their bills as they are incurred. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Unless you are covered by the other insurance company’s MedPay coverage (see above), they will usually only pay at the end of your case.
Won't my insurance company raise my rates if I make a UM or MedPay claim?
Our clients are often concerned about making a claim on their own insurance after a car crash. They worry that their insurance carrier will raise their rates because of the claim. While that may be true for claims where you are at fault for an accident, in Colorado, it is not true about uninsured/underinsured motorist claims and medical payments claims.
Under Colorado Division of Insurance regulation 5-2-12, a carrier cannot raise your premiums for making a UM/UIM or MedPay claim.
How can I pay for a personal injury lawyer?
Personal injuries can be financially devastating. You have medical bills, you may be off work, and you could be without a vehicle. In addition, you may be forced to pay someone to look after your children or clean you home while you recover. How can injured people pay for a personal injury lawyers then? Well, that’s what contingent fee agreements are for. If your case qualifies, we may be able to be paid at the end of the case after you’ve settled with the insurance company. That way, we’re only taking a percentage of the money we make for you. Although you may have to pay for the costs of the case, we may be able to help out further by advancing all or a portion of the costs of your case. Of course, even if we can do that, you would have to pay us back when we resolve you case.
What is a contingent fee agreement?
At the most basic level, a contingent fee agreement is one where you pay your lawyer out of what you receive from your claim. While there are any number of details that may be different from agreement to agreement, here are the basic terms that need to be decided.
- How much of any settlement or judgment will be paid to the lawyer. Often this depends on what stage the case resolves.
- Who will pay for the costs of the case as it goes on.
- What happens if the attorney and/or client want to end the agreement.
These are just a few of the important issues that have to be included in a contingent fee agreement. If you’re thinking of entering a contingent fee agreement, you should make sure you understand the entire agreement. Your personal injury lawyer should be able to explain it to you before you sign it.
How much does it cost to bring a personal injury claim?
Every case is different. So every case costs a different amount. But every personal injury case has some costs in common.
First, in every case, you have to collect records. These records include medical records and police accident reports. Most people who keep these records charge for copies. Usually these costs are relatively small, but if you have had a long hospital stay, they can add up.
Next, there are court fees. In Colorado, it costs $420 to file a district court case and request a jury. Each time you need to file something in your case, you also have to pay a filing fee and a fee to serve the other side with the document. These fees can add up fast.
Expert witness fees are the biggest cost of a personal injury case. In any case, if you go to trial, you’ll need doctors to support your case. They charge large fees to testify. Your attorney might also need to meet with your doctors to make sure he or she understands what the doctor thinks about the case. This also costs money.
Even the simplest personal injury case costs money. If you settle your case before filing a lawsuit, it may only be a few hundred dollars. But if you go to trial, it could be tens of thousands. Most personal injury lawyers are prepared to invest the money it takes to litigate these cases effectively. If you have more questions, you can set up an appointment with us today.
Who pays for the costs of my case?
Ultimately, you will have to pay the costs of your case. However, most personal injury lawyers understand that our clients aren’t usually in a position where they can pay for their cases. You have medical bills to pay, and the last thing you need to worry about is paying for a case. Because of that, most personal injury lawyers will advance the costs of a case. That way, you can concentrate on getting better while your lawyer concentrates on your compensation. There may be limits to the amount your lawyer will advance though. Also, at the end of the case, you’ll have to pay back your lawyer for any costs that he or she has advanced on your behalf.
How long will my personal injury case take?
Longer than you would like is the most accurate answer here. Most people would like to get their case behind them as soon as possible. But that’s usually not the best option. With a few exceptions, you only get to make a personal injury claim once. Because of that, you need to make sure you know the extent of your injuries before you settle your case. Otherwise, you might settle your case then discover you need a surgery that you can’t pay for.
So most personal injury lawyers wait until their clients are at maximum medical improvement before finalizing a claim. That can be frustrating as it means you have to pay medical bills until your case is resolved. But it’s often for the best.
Because of the need to wait, these cases go on for a long time. Some are faster and some are slower, but average is approximately 18 months. Most personal injury lawyers will be able to estimate how long your case will take if you set up an intake meeting with them.
How much work is a personal injury case?
Personal injury cases are a lot of work. You have to get medical records together, send them to the insurance company, and argue with them about the value of the case. After that, you may have to go to court. That all takes work.
If you don’t hire a lawyer, you have to do all that work. But if you hire a lawyer, your lawyer can do a lot of it.
Even if you hire a lawyer, there are some things you will have to do. You will have to communicate with your lawyer so that he or she can make your best case to the other side. If you file a lawsuit over your case, there is more work. You will have to answer written questions from the other side. And you’ll likely have to sit for a deposition, which is an interview under oath. You may also have to undergo medical examinations by doctors hired by the other side.
in the end, personal injury lawyers do this kind of work professionally. We are usually in a better position than you to put in the work required to present the best case to the insurance company.
What if the accident was partly my fault?
In most states, Colorado and Wyoming included, you can still receive compensation for personal injuries if you were partly at fault. So long as you are less than 50% responsible, you can receive compensation for your injuries, but the amount will be reduced by the amount you are responsible. For example, if you suffered $10,000 in injuries and are found to be 10% responsible, you would be entitled to $9,000. While personal injury lawyers are familiar with these issues, cases like this are difficult to handle on your own. So it’s usually best to contact a lawyer early if you think the accident may have been partly your fault.
What if I had a preexisting condition?
If you had a preexisting condition, you still may have a case. If the accident aggravated your condition, you can recover for the increase in damage done by the accident. In addition, if you had a condition that made it more likely for you to be injured in an accident, you can recover for the injuries that you suffered even if a person without that condition would not have suffered the same injuries. This is called the thin-skull doctrine. Most personal injury lawyers are familiar with these issues and can give you good advice.
What evidence is required for a personal injury suit?
It will be important to provide specific evidence to your attorney prior to filing the lawsuit. This will help the attorney to evaluate your evidence and determine if you have all that is needed for a victorious claim. This should include:
- Specific details regarding the scene where the accident took place. For example, if there was a car accident or an injury sustained on someone’s property, having a sketch or photograph detailing the scene will be useful in explaining to the courts how you were injured.
- Medical documentation of your injuries
- Photographs of the injuries you sustained
- Testimony from people who saw the incident occur
- If the police were at the scene, any reports that were filed by them should be included.
- Clear documentation detailing out the expenses you incurred as a result of your injury. For example: medical expenses, hospital bills, co pays, medication costs, time missed from work, and personal items that may have been damaged from the accident
Talk with a personal injury lawyer Fort Collins, CO trusts to determine what information may be valuable to your case.
Can I file a personal injury claim if I’m partially at fault for the accident?
If you’ve been involved in an accident, sometimes fault can be difficult to prove. Whether a car accident, a slip and fall accident, medical malpractice, a workplace accident, or any other personal injury case, injuries and/or property damages may result. In most cases, the injured party is entitled to claim compensation for damages from the at-fault party. If you are partially at fault for the accident, however, the situation becomes complicated. You may still be entitled to compensation for your injuries or damages, but this will likely depend on the laws of the state where the accident occurred, as well as the part you played in the accident. For this reason, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer Fort Collins, CO turns to, to determine the options for your case.
What is an attractive nuisance in a personal injury case?
Landowners or tenants may be liable for maintaining anything on the property that is attractive to children. If children are injured by a swimming pool for example, because they are drawn to its attractiveness, the owner can be held liable for that injury. Attractive Nuisance Doctrine is meant to protect children primarily who aren’t able to understand the dangers such hazards could present to them.
The laws regarding the doctrine are changing. Before, the nuisance had to be the reason the child entered the premises in the first place, but now, in most states, a property owner or tenant is responsible even if the child entered the property for another reason. Now the requirement is that the owner or tenant could have reasonably predicted that something on the premises could be potentially harmful to the child. In these cases, it is almost always best to talk with a personal injury lawyer Fort Collins, CO relies on.
What is a “release of claims?”
A release of all claims form releases the responsible party (i.e. an at fault driver, if the injury is a result of an auto accident, or his or her insurance company) from any liability or obligation to pay out further damages associated with the accident. After you have suffered a personal injury, most insurance companies may ask you to sign a release of claims before they payout your claim. While this will often prompt the compensation of a claim, by signing this form, you give up your rights to sue the at-fault person or their insurance company. It’s best to be caution when presented this form, as insurance companies are not always vested in your best interest. A personal injury lawyer may be able to assist you in determining your best course of action.
I'm being offered a structured settlement. What's that?
I’m being offered a structured settlement. What’s that?
While a majority of personal injury settlements are paid in a lump sum, a structured settlement is a legal settlement paid out as an annuity — over time — rather than in a lump sum. The typical structured settlement follows this format: An injured party comes to a negotiated settlement of a tort suit with the defendant or the defendant’s insurance carrier, where in which the defendant makes a series of periodic payments, in exchange for the claimant’s dismissal of the lawsuit.
If any of the periodic payments are life-contingent (i.e. the obligation to make a payment is contingent on someone continuing to be alive), then the claimant is named as the annuitant. In some instances, the purchasing company may purchase a life insurance policy as a hedge in case of death in a settlement transfer.
Usually this kind of settlement comes with certain tax advantages for the recipient and a savings for the payer. To determine which kind of settlement format works best for you, speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer Fort Collins relies on, today.
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We founded Cannon Hadfield Stieben & Doutt, LLC to help people who have been hurt by the wrongdoing of others. If you’ve been injured by someone else or you need to use the legal system to enforce your rights, contact us today to see what we can do for you.