Answers From Our Experienced Maryland and Washington, D.C., Injury Attorneys
For more than 25 years, the experienced personal injury attorneys at Blank, Moorstein & Lipshutz, L.L.P., in Rockville, Maryland, have helped injured people recover the full amount of compensation they deserve. We answer some frequently asked questions about personal injury lawsuits below.
A client usually pays a contingent fee to a lawyer only if the lawyer handles a case successfully. Lawyers and clients use this arrangement in cases where money is being claimed, most often in cases involving personal injury. By entering into a contingent fee agreement, both you and your lawyer expect to collect some unknown amount of money at the conclusion of the case.
In a contingent fee arrangement, the lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage (usually one-third) of the total recovery, that is, the total amount of the settlement or judgment. If you lose, neither you nor your lawyer will get any money. Also, you will not be required to pay your attorney any fees for the work done on the case. You are responsible for any court filing fees, expert witness fees, the costs related to deposing witnesses and similar charges regardless of the outcome. These expenses, often called "costs," are not part of the legal fee. Your lawyer will usually advance these costs as needed, and are typically repaid out of the settlement or judgment proceeds at the close of your case. The vast majority of cases settle without the need to file a lawsuit, and the costs are generally less than $100 for such things as copies of the hospital records and police report.
Settling a case means that you agree to accept money in return for dropping your claim against the person who injured you. You'll actually sign a release absolving the other side of any further liability. A lawyer will be able to negotiate your claim taking into account the nature and extent of your injuries, the amount of your medical bills and lost income, the present and future pain and suffering you have or will experience, and the nature and extent of any permanent injuries you may have sustained. A lawyer also will be able to assist you in determining whether a lawsuit will likely result in a greater recovery.
Settlement can take place at any point, even after a lawsuit is filed, including before trial or even after a case has been tried. The final decision to accept a settlement offer is, of course, always yours, not the lawyer's.
There is no set rule to go by in deciding whether a particular settlement offer is enough. Some people want to get as much as they possibly can out of a claim no matter how long it takes, and they are willing to argue and negotiate for the best result. Other people want to settle as quickly as possible to put the matter in the past and to move forward. Most people fall somewhere in between.
Deciding when a settlement offer is acceptable depends on your attitude toward the accident, the nature and extent of your injuries, whether any of your injuries are permanent, the amount of your medical bills, the amount of your lost wages/income, and your tolerance for the claims process. An experienced personal injury attorney can assist you in maximizing your recovery and negotiating a fair and reasonable settlement taking into account all of these and other critical factors to assure that you are fairly and adequately compensated for your injuries.
In general, no-fault coverage (sometimes referred to as Personal Injury Protection or PIP) eliminates the need to prove "fault" after an accident. Direct payment of the injured person's medical bills and lost wages — up to certain dollar amounts — regardless of who was at fault for the accident will be met by an insurance company. In most jurisdictions, no-fault does not apply to motor vehicle property damage. Those claims are still handled by filing a liability claim against the one who is responsible for the accident, or by looking to your own collision insurance.
Prompt payment of medical bills and lost wages without any arguments about who caused the accident is the simple part of no-fault. But most no-fault insurance provides limited coverage to the injured person. For example, it provides no compensation for pain, suffering, emotional distress, inconvenience or lost opportunities, and compensation for permanent injuries.
To make up for what PIP benefits do not cover in some jurisdictions, no-fault laws may permit an injured person to also file a liability claim, and lawsuit if necessary, against the driver who was at fault in an accident. The liability claim permits an injured driver to obtain compensation for medical expense, income losses, as well as for past and future pain and suffering, and other general damages such as permanent impairment and disfigurement.
Whether and when you can file a liability claim for further damages against the person at fault in your accident depends on the specifics of the no-fault law in your state. Schedule A Free Consultation To Get More Of Your Questions Answered
Our lawyers offer free initial consultations. We will answer your questions and provide our recommendations for the next steps to take. Call 301-279-2200 or 202-625-7711 in Washington, D.C., or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.