Transcript: How do you know if you’ve got a case for personal injury? Number one, were you injured? It’s, you know, if you’ve got just a minor muscle cramp you probably don’t have a case that justifies bringing a lawyer on board. But certainly if you’ve got a broken bone, a broken arm, a broken leg, a broken collarbone, if you’ve got severe pain that’s lingering for weeks after the accident you need a lawyer in all of those circumstances.
Clients will often ask me, they will call me and they say well, I was hurt, you know, my cousin Betty Sue just took care of her case, do I need a lawyer? You need a lawyer for two reasons. Number one, insurance companies are in the business of taking money, not paying it out. So if you do not have a lawyer they’re going to try to lowball you to the maximum extent possible. They will try to give you as little money as they possibly can to make you go away. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is personal injury work has become consumed by what are called liens. So your healthcare provider has probably paid for your medical care, your Humana, your Blue Cross, your Blue Shield, they’ve paid for your treatment. Well, they may be entitled for reimbursement for all or part of the medical bills they paid when you were hurt. Your lawyer can negotiate those down and can make sure that’s taken care of.
Likewise, the hospital. Say you’re treated at a hospital. They may accept $100 from your insurance company, but believe it or not, if you were injured in an accident they can come to you and say well, we charged your insurance company $100, but what we actually did for you is worth $500, so you need to pay us the other $400 out of your personal injury settlement. Those type of liens we can reduce sometimes by 90 to 95 percent.
If you do not have a lawyer you’re not gonna have the slightest idea of how to deal with those liens, whether they need to be repaid or not. You’ve got to have a lawyer to help you maximize the amount you get and minimize the amount that you have to return on these medical liens.
It’s very complicated and if you do not repay these liens you will be setting yourself up for a whole world of hurt. Worst case, your insurance company may say well, you know you owed us $10,000 and you didn’t pay it, so we’re not gonna pay for medical care until you’ve used up $10,000 worth of care. Medicare will do that, for example.
So it’s critical. You’ve got to have a lawyer. Your lawyer gets paid on a contingent fee in these type of cases, which is typically anywhere from 28 percent for a simple auto case all the way up to 40 percent if it’s a medical malpractice case. So your lawyer gets a percentage of what they recover for you. You do not have to pay me unless I get a recovery for you. So there’s no money that you’re coming up with out of pocket.
How much time do you have to file a personal injury case or to pursue it? Most cases you have two years from the date of injury. However, if it’s a city or governmental municipality you generally have to file a Notice of Claim with the City within 180 days. So if a City bus hits you, you need to notify the City within 180 days that you’ve got a claim. And if you don’t, you may lose your ability to sue.
But say your doctor messed up in surgery and cut off the wrong leg. You have two years from the date that happened. If somebody rear ended you and you’ve got a fractured cervical vertebra in your neck, same thing, you’d have two years from the date of violation to file a lawsuit.
So if you were to go back to the 70s two to three times the amount of medical bills, lost wages and whatever you were out of pocket would give you a good sense of the valuation.
That does not apply typically to soft tissue cases. Alright, so say you’ve been rear ended and you’ve got a little bit of whiplash, nothing that shows on an x-ray but you’re sore and you’re getting chiropractic treatment. Those cases typically do not get two to three times your medical bills and valuation.
On the other hand, you know, if you’ve been in an auto accident in Peoria and you fractured your femur and you’ve got $50,000 in hospital bills, then, you know, you’re probably talking $150,000 to $200,000 in valuation. But it really, again, depends on the facts of the case, it depends on whether you did anything wrong.
If you weren’t wearing your seatbelt and you were injured because you weren’t wearing your seatbelt the jury is allowed to take that off of your verdict. You know, if you were drinking, if you turned out in front of the other person and helped cause the accident. All of those things are allowed to subtract from what you can get.
So there’s a lot of difference in terms of outcomes, and that’s why you’ve got to have myself or a great competent lawyer on board like myself who can handle your case.