Personal Injury FAQs
Automobile accidents and personal injuries
- Should I provide a statement to an insurance company without a lawyer’s help?
- Will I have to go to trial to recover damages?
- What is considered “pain and suffering?”
- What determines the amount I might recover?
- Is there a minimum or maximum amount that can be recovered in a personal injury settlement?
- What is a typical settlement amount?
- How much is my case worth?
- Can the insurance company refuse to pay my medical bills if my car was not damaged?
- What is wrongful death?
- Is there a time limit for filing a wrongful death claim?
- What is the difference between wrongful death and medical malpractice?
- What is medical malpractice?
- Can I sue for medical malpractice?
- Who is liable for medical malpractice?
- How long do I have to bring suit?
- Is medical negligence common?
- Do your firm’s successes mean you will win my case?
- How do I prove my case?
- How long will my case take?
- Will I have to go to court?
- How will I pay for your time and expenses?
- What expenses are involved?
Do you have other questions?
Automobile accidents and personal injuries
It is in your best interests to provide your contact information to an insurance company only until you consult with a lawyer. The more significant your injuries, the more imperative it becomes to seek legal counsel before providing any statement.
About 95 percent of personal injury cases filed settles prior to trial.
Pain and suffering includes harm caused by physical injury and mental anguish experienced through avoiding activities you engaged in prior to your accident and the potential of surgery.
Every case addresses three issues:
- Liability—establishing someone’s negligence
- Damages—the amount that will fairly and adequately compensate you for your injuries
- Source of collection—insurance or other assets from which damages can be recovered
An experienced personal injury lawyer reviews and interprets your case information to determine the appropriate value for your claim:
The goal is fair and adequate compensation for your injury and an experienced attorney knows what a reasonable jury would award. The strength of lay and expert witness testimony may influence the amount.
Many factors determine how much compensation you may receive, including the severity of your injuries, your past medical history, and the amount of insurance coverage that the responsible person or company has. An attorney can assess the potential value of your claim.
No. While the insurance company might try to draw a direct correlation between damage done to your car and the severity of your personal injury, it is possible that the body sustains damage even if the car did not. The reverse may also be true—a car might experience major impact, but the people might only suffer minor cuts and bruises.
The idea behind a wrongful death lawsuit is the wrongful death, in addition to injuring the person who died, also brought harm to the people who depended on that individual for financial and/or emotional support. The wrongful act might be—
- A negligent or careless act (e.g., careless driving)
- A reckless act
- An intentional act such as deliberate murder
New York has a statute permitting a lawsuit to be brought by the decedent’s relatives in the event of a wrongful act.
New York law sets the timeframe for filing a wrongful death claim. The time begins with the time of the incident or when the party became aware of or discovered the injury. The state will not honor a wrongful death claim filed after the legislated timeframe and the opportunity to recover damages for the family will be forever lost.
Wrongful death is a type of damage and malpractice is a type of negligence. Not every wrongful death case involves medical malpractice and not every medical malpractice case involves wrongful death.
Medical malpractice or professional negligence is the failure of a doctor, hospital, nurse, technician, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider to uphold good and accepted medical techniques or principles. In other words, they provide substandard care. Failure to provide at least average, standard care is substandard care, and if it results in injury or death to the patient, it is malpractice.
A patient injured due to medical negligence—or a family member if the victim is unable—can file suit. When someone dies as a result of medical negligence, the patient’s family may sue for wrongful death.
Any medical/healthcare provider—physician, nurse, therapist, etc.—who has caused injury to a patient because of professional negligence or substandard care may be named as a defendant.
Also the patient’s employer—hospital, HMO, Professional Corporation, etc.—can be sued.
An experienced malpractice lawyer must carefully analyze all the facts of the case to determine when the time will most likely run out in any given case. Several factors must be considered, including the age of the patient and if the patient lived. In addition, New York has a statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case that typically begins on the date of the malpractice or from the date when the patient, parent, or guardian knew or should have known of the malpractice. If the patient has died, the timing may be different and could be far less than if the patient is still alive. The rules and laws are complicated and amateurs should not guess what they mean. Experienced malpractice lawyers sometimes need to re-check the rules and the case law concerning the specific facts of the case to decide just when the time runs out. Because it often takes time to obtain all the pertinent medical records and it takes time to have expert physicians review the records and give their opinions, it is always wise to consult experienced malpractice counsel as soon as possible.
Yes, more than you know. If official estimates of 98,000 deaths a year from malpractice in hospitals alone, plus the hundreds of thousands of malpractice deaths outside hospitals, are added to the many hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of injuries from malpractice per year indicate malpractice is common, the answer is yes — medical and hospital negligence is common.
But only a tiny percentage of malpractice victims or their survivors ever make a claim or file a lawsuit for the injuries or deaths.
Nothing is guaranteed in life or in malpractice litigation. To assure as best we can that the case will be successful for our client and the law firm, we investigate the case thoroughly before agreeing to proceed with it to claim and suit. We never ever knowingly take so-called “frivolous” cases or “junk” cases. The case has to be solid and substantial if the client is to receive a financial recovery and the law firm is to be compensated for our expenditure of work and expenses we need to advance to prepare and prosecute the case. The bottom line is we do everything we can to make the case successful.
A plaintiff in a medical negligence case must establish through evidence that:
- The defendant was negligent (rendered substandard care)
- The negligence was a proximate cause of injuries
- The plaintiff suffered damages as a result
All three elements must be proven.
Expert testimony is almost always required to prove negligence and causation of damages. Licensed physicians familiar with the standard of accepted medical care for the medical specialty involved are required as witnesses to prove the case. The experts must establish what the standards were, how the defendant violated them, and what damage was caused by the substandard care.
It depends. Usually it takes several months to gather all the necessary medical records and obtain expert opinions from specialists willing to testify under oath. Then, if the extent of the injuries is fairly obvious, at that point, notice of claim must be given. In New York, an expert’s report and certificate must also be filed. Once the notice is filed, a lawsuit cannot be filed until it has expired.
If there is no prompt settlement, the court gives a scheduling order and “discovery” begins. This means the parties provide documents to one another, answer written interrogatories under oath and take “depositions”—oral questioning under oath of parties, fact witnesses and expert witnesses by the lawyers before a “court reporter” who produces a written (and usually electronic) transcript, plus video may be used. Then, under New York court rules, a compulsory mediation is held to try to settle the case. If not settled, a pre-trial hearing before the judge is held followed by the trial. Either side can file post-trial motions to seek a different result than the jury’s verdict, and either side can file an appeal to a higher court.
So how much time does this take? Our experience is that if the case is not settled before suit, it will take about 18 months to two years to go from the time suit is filed until trial. The time can be a little more or a little less. Our experience is that most of our cases usually settle somewhere along the way to trial. We believe the reasons we can settle—which eliminates the considerable gamble of a jury trial—are that we evaluate and select our cases carefully and we work them up and prepare them carefully so the defendants are willing to pay to eliminate their gamble.
You will have to attend your own deposition, usually in a lawyer’s office or a court reporter’s office. Your lawyer will always be with you. Sometimes your lawyer will want you to attend a defendant’s deposition also. You will have to attend any mediation(s). You will have to attend the pretrial. You will have to attend the trial. Of course, if the case is settled along the way that will end your requirement to appear.
Most malpractice cases are handled on a contingency fee agreement. Our firm receives a percentage of the financial recovery made by the client as a result of the prosecution of the case. We generally do not expect the client to pay any of the expenses of developing the case until a recovery is made. Expenses are reimbursed from the settlement or trial verdict award.
The prosecution of a malpractice case is expensive. Our attorneys must obtain all the medical records and hire experts. They must conduct depositions, usually across the country, with substantial court reporter fees required. Time must be dedicated with our paid experts to creating strategies and preparing for court. The investment also includes costs for exhibits and technology to fully demonstrate our clients’ devastating injuries. These are the major expenses.
When the same defective product injures a large number of people, they may join in a class action lawsuit to hold manufacturers and sellers liable for the injuries caused by their product.
If you fell while working, your injuries may be covered by your employer’s workers compensation insurance.
If your injury occurred in a store or a building, you can sue to recover damages to compensate you for your injuries. Be aware, however; that a building owner is not liable for every injury that occurs on the property. To recover for an injury, the owner or operator of the business must have breached his duty to keep the premises reasonably safe and to warn of known dangers. An NYC personal injury attorney can provide you with additional details about premises liability.