Answers to Your Questions
What Is the Most Important Thing to Do After Injury?
You must do what is necessary to improve your physical condition and to recover from your injury. To fulfill your obligations under the law, you should:
- NOT miss appointments with your healthcare providers.
- Attend physical therapy sessions as prescribed.
- Follow your healthcare providers' instructions regarding all aspects of treatment including medications, therapy exercises, or limitations on activities.
How Should Medical Bills Be Paid?In order to maximize your net recovery, you should use any other insurance you have access to including your own health insurance, medical payments insurance coverage from your own automobile policy, Medicare or Mainecare, and workers' compensation insurance if your injury occurred while you were on the job and the injury was caused by a third party.
Why Won’t the Insurance Company for the Person or Company Who Caused the Injuries Automatically Pay Medical Bills as They Occur?The insurance company for the person, persons or company who caused your injuries is not required to pay for your bills until the claim settles. They do not want to give an injured person an open checkbook to treat without limitation, thus increasing the exposure of their insured.
In General, How Will the Case Be Handled?
After the initial meeting with you, we will investigate your claim. This involves some or all of the following:
- Talking to witnesses.
- Reviewing police reports.
- Visiting the scene of the incident.
- Ordering and interpreting the medical records and bills frequently and forwarding information to the appropriate insurers.
- Obtaining lost wages information.
- Reviewing and analyzing the statutory law (laws enacted by your legislature) and case law (laws made by judges who interpret statutory law).
In some instances, we may also hire an investigator to follow up on the details of the incident.
We will also maintain contact with you to make sure you:
- Follow the advice of your physicians and other medical practitioners.
- Do your best to recover from your injury.
- Update us as to the status of your recovery.
- Make sure we are aware of all healthcare providers treating you.
- Keep track of potential witnesses.
How Can a Client Help With the Case?
We need your full cooperation to help us to get the most out of your case. This means you should:
- Be truthful and candid to us about everything.
- Return our phone calls promptly.
- Read and respond to (if required) our written correspondence.
- Keep all appointments with healthcare providers.
- Keep a list of witnesses who may testify about the incident, your injuries and your recovery.
- Take pictures if necessary and get the film or the pictures to the office.
- Notify us immediately of any change of address, telephone numbers, marital status, change of employment or significant change in your physical condition.
When Will the Case Settle?Some cases settle in a matter of months after the incident while others can take years to get to settlement or trial. Settlement negotiations usually begin when you finish treatment for your injury. We will usually wait until a healthcare provider indicates you have reached maximum medical improvement before initiating settlement negotiations, because only then will we be able to evaluate properly the value of your case.
How Much Is the Case Worth?
A case cannot be valued accurately until all the relevant information has been collected and analyzed. However, the basic components of case evaluation include:
- The charges you incur for medical treatment.
- The type of treatment you received.
- The nature of your injury.
- The duration of your recovery.
- Your lost income and other employment benefits lost as a result of your injury, including sick leave, vacation time, loss of insurance benefits and retirement contributions.
- How your injury affected your daily life including modifications and limitations of household activities, sports and leisure activities, and social life.
- Whether your injury has permanently impaired your ability to function.
- Any permanent disfigurement such as scars or blemishes.
- The extent of the defendant's liability.
- Whether there is any evidence that you were partly at fault for your own injuries.
- The status of the law as it relates to your case. For instance, Maine is a comparative negligence law state and, as a result, your recovery can be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you. If you are 50% or more at fault, you are not entitled to recover damages at all.
- The quality of your witnesses, including those who will testify about the incident, your medical treatment and your recovery.
- Other factors such as pain, suffering, inconvenience and loss of consortium (how the injury affected your marital relationship).
- The insurance company is involved in the case.
How Does the Settlement Process Work?
Once your lawyer determines that it is time to settle your case, he will evaluate it and send a demand letter to the insurer. The demand letter summarizes the important factors of your claim and requests a certain amount of money to settle this case. After the insurance carrier's claims adjuster receives the letter, he or she will obtain authority from a supervisor to begin negotiations.
While some cases resolve within a few weeks of the mailing of the demand letter, others take much longer. Sometimes insurers send your records out for review. Occasionally they ask that you submit to an examination by a doctor chosen by them, a request to which we may or may not agree depending upon the circumstances of your case. Unfortunately, if we cannot agree on the amount of compensation due, the case will proceed to alternative dispute resolution or to litigation.
Once the Claim Is Settled, When Does the Client Get the Money?
Before you receive any money, a few things need to happen. First, the insurance company will require you (and your spouse if applicable) to sign a document that states that you are giving up your right to sue the party responsible for your injuries in exchange for receiving the agreed upon amount of money.
Then, upon receipt of the check, we will have to pay any medical bills that are still outstanding and may be required to reimburse some or all of any money that has been expended on your behalf by your health insurance carrier, automobile insurance carrier or any other party who paid for your medical bills resulting from your injury. When circumstances are appropriate, we negotiate reductions in the amounts owed.
Next, we will deduct attorneys' fees, actual out-of-pocket expenses, and other costs associated with the claim. After all deductions have been made for medical bills, liens, attorneys' fees, and costs, you will receive the balance in a check drawn from the firm's trust account.
After Attorney’s Fees, Medical Bills, Liens, and Costs, Will There Be Anything Left?In most cases there should be an acceptable sum of money left for you to compensate you for the damages you have suffered as a result of the accident. You must remember that the law allows you to be compensated for your damages. It does not provide that injured parties are entitled to get rich from insurance claims, especially in cases in which your injuries are relatively minor. However, you can be sure that we will do our very best to obtain fair and reasonable compensation for your claim regardless of the nature and extent of your injuries. It is important to us that every client is satisfied with the quality of our work.