Would we benefit from a personal injury attorney?

by Pam
(South Elgin, IL)

My college age son was a passenger in a car that was involved in an auto accident. He had multiple injuries and was admitted overnight in the hospital. He is expected to make a full recovery but is on restriction for 6 weeks. He does have a facial scar from getting stitches.

He is in college and doesn't have the time or knowledge to deal with all the medical bills and insurance issues. He also has lost wages, cost of phone replacement, and is uncertain about his navy ROTC future. I know he can get pain and suffering and with the face scar maybe more.

We have no clue what to ask for in damages or how to hold off the medical bill collectors until we are ready to settle. He is concerned about his credit if he can't pay the bills before settlement. Would he benefit from getting a personal injury attorney, or would he be better off handling the case himself? Any tips and information would be appreciated. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Would we benefit from a personal injury attorney?":

Pam (South Elgin, IL):

Your son is obviously very busy with his college studies. He certainly doesn't have the time to become involved in a complex medical injury claim or a lawsuit. Even if you assist him, the insurance company will require him to be involved in medical evaluations, and possibly litigation which could involve pretrial depositions, interrogatories, and other legal procedures.

Fortunately his injuries were not serious. This of course excludes the scar on his face. The location, size, and general appearance of the scar will determine the complexity of the claim and the time it will take to finalize it.

If the scar is noticeable, he will need the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. You can be quite sure the insurance company will not offer a settlement amount appropriate for the injury he sustained.

Insurance companies know victims of personal injury claims have little or no leverage in settlement negotiations. Once the insurance company gets to a certain amount, and they say they won't pay any more, the victim has no leverage. In other words, it's the insurance company who controls the negotiations, and not the victim.

That why having an attorney in a serious injury claim is so important. Attorneys have the ultimate leverage. If an attorney doesn't believe the settlement offer from the insurance company is appropriate for the injuries sustained, the attorney can file a lawsuit. That's something insurance companies don't want.

In most cases, the amount of a settlement demand can be anywhere from 1½ times to 4 times the amount of medical bills (or higher). The demand amount is intended to cover your son’s medical bills, his out of pocket expenses, lost wages (if he had to miss work while treating or recovering) and for his pain and suffering.

Your son can call the creditors and explain his dilemma. Unfortunately the creditors may not be empathetic. Instead, if your son was represented by an attorney, the attorney could negotiate with the creditors and offer them what is referred to as "Letter of Protection."

This letter forms a contract between the attorney and your son’s creditors where the creditors will agree not to pursue your son for his medical and related bills, including refraining from contacting the collection agencies while the claim against the driver proceeds.

However, once your son’s personal injury claim is settled or won in court, your son’s attorney will be legally required to pay your son's creditors before paying your son the balance of his settlement.

Gather your son's medical bills and seek the advice and counsel of several personal injury attorneys in your area. Fortunately, most injury attorneys do not charge for initial office consultations, Once you've visited with several attorneys and they have had an opportunity to view the scar, you will have a better idea of the viability of your son's claim and the likelihood of success.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION