Connecticut Car Accident Lawyer
Starting a Claim
The most basic requirement of bring a personal injury claim is that there is an injury. If you are not injured, then you have no case, and of course you should consider yourself lucky.
Seek Medical Treatment
The next thing you should do is going to your primary care physician and have yourself checked out, even if you think you think you aren't hurt, sometimes it can take days or even a week or two before an injury sets in. Insurance companies view any delays in treatment to be an indication that you're not injured. That is not always (or even usually) the case. Many insurance companies don't understand that maybe you don't have health insurance or the money to pay for medical bills.
Talk to a Lawyer
The next thing you should do is talk to am experienced car accident lawyer. A lawyer will not only help protect you rights following a car accident, but may be able to get you the medical treatment you need. If you are worried about costs, many experienced injury lawyers know doctors that will treat on a lien basis. This means that they will provide the medical care you need and then will get compensated from the proceeds of your case.
You Pay Nothing Unless We Win
If you can't afford a lawyer that's OK. The typical way a lawyer gets compensated in a bodily injury claim is by a contingency agreement. Connecticut law allows for contingency agreements for an injury case as long as it is in writing and signed by the client. Contingency agreements are great for both the client and the lawyer because it increases access to justice and incentivizes the lawyer to maximize your potential recovery.
The standard rate injury lawyers charge is one-third (1/3) of your overall gross recovery, minus costs advanced. When you consider the fact that a lawyer will (on average) recover 350% more on a bodily injury claim, than if you handled it yourself, the work that lawyers put in and time we save you more than pays for itself.
This means that you do NOT have to pay any up front fees to your lawyer or incidental costs to prosecute you claim. We will advance any costs, i.e. filing fees, investigation or expert fees, or administrative costs to collect medical or employment records, all of which are reimbursed out of your settlement or jury award.
An experienced injury lawyer will not take your case unless he or she thinks there is a good chance of recovery. If there is no recovery, then you do not pay. It's that simple so there's very little risk to you.
Open a Claim with Your Insurance Company
In order to your car repaired and/or get compensated for the damage to your vehicle, you need to open a claim. You can either do this with your insurance company or the adverse driver's insurance. It is generally better to go through your carrier because it is more likely that you will receive fair market value for your car, and can usually have the repairs done at the auto body shop of your choice.
If you go through the other driver's insurance company, you may have to take it to one of their service centers (their people) where they may try to underestimate the cost of repairs so that the car is not “totaled” or give you low-ball offer to replace your car.
Continue Treating Without Interruption
Gaps in treatment are just as unfavorable as a lapse in treatment when insurance companies are evaluating your injuries and how serious you're hurt. From their perspective, if you missed chiropractic or physical therapy sessions, then you must not be that hurt. While there is some truth to that, things do come up, but the important thing is that you're taking your doctor's recommended course of treatment seriously.
The length of treatment depends on the seriousness of your injury. In order to maintain credibility, you should never over-treat or rack up unnecessary medical bills because (a) you lose credibility and (b) the adverse driver's insurance company may not believe you.
Settlement negotiations should not begin until you reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is just a fancy way of saying that you have done everything you can to treat your injury and that further treatment won't improve your condition.
Proving Your Car Accident Case
As with every personal or bodily injury case, there are three major components of every case: (1) fault, (2) causation, and (3) damages.
In every injury case, you need to prove that the person you are suing, the other driver, was at fault. When it is a rear-end accident, fault can rarely ever be disputed, but many other car accidents involve some other scenario where often insurance companies will try to shift the blame to either you or some other driver or third party.
When the facts surrounding your car accident is less straight forward, fault will be harder to prove, but usually are determined by the Connecticut rules of the road. The existence of a police report will be very helpful in determining fault, as a violation of the motor vehicle or traffic codes.
In order to bring a claim for an injury, you need to be able to show (prove) that you the adverse you bear no more than 50% of the responsibility or fault for the car accident. If the adverse driver's insurance company thinks you are more than 50% at fault for the accident, they will take a no pay position, and you will be required to file a law suit to prove you case in court.
‘Damages' is just another term lawyers use to quantify your physical and emotional harm, financial loss, and effect the car accident has had on your quality of life.
They can be economic or non-economic in nature. In either case, the goal of a civil suit is to put you in the same position you would be had the accident never occurred. Some of these numbers are easily quantifiable; some, not so much.
Economic damages are those that are easily quantifiable, i.e. your medical bills, lost wages, and other incidental expenses you've had as result of the car accident. Insurance companies may offer a quick settlement for these expenses and a bit more whether or not you are represented by counsel, or they may not. Insurance companies like to argue that treatment is not medically necessary or that certain injuries are not causally related to the car accident.
One thing is for sure, an insurance adjuster's job is to undervalue your case, minimize exposure or risk, and increase profits by paying out less money. They may also, as a matter of course, delay any settlement negotiations in order to continue to earn interest on the money they are holding in interest bearing accounts.
Non-economic damages account for past and future pain and suffering, whether temporary or permanent in nature, as well as loss of enjoyment of your quality of life or life's activities. If you cannot or have difficulty doing the things you loved to do before the accident, but now cannot do because if it, you are entitled to compensation for these losses. When we first meet with our clients, we ask you to keep a journal of any life activities that have been affected by your car accident, so that your loss or damages are well documented.
In Connecticut, a jury must award you an amount that is 'fair, just, and reasonable'. When you try to negotiate a settlement, both lawyers will be trying to determine what is fair and what a reasonable jury might give based on this concept and then discount that some in exchange for the risk and cost of having to prove up your case at trial.
That said, if adverse insurance company is not offering what we think your case is worth, we will passionately advocate for you and take your case in front of a jury to get you the best result we can.
Contact an experienced New Haven and Fairfield County car accident lawyer today at (203) 518-8010 for a free consultation.
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