Q: Why should I have a personal injury attorney?
A: Personal Injury attorneys are trained legal professionals who can explain personal injury laws to you; help you evaluate your options; negotiate or mediate conflicts with other people for personal injury suit settlement; prepare letters, court forms or other legal documents for you; and represent you in a court of law. Many personal injury attorneys offer a free (or minimal fee) initial consultation.
Q: Can a health care insurer be re-paid from personal injury settlements?
A: Yes, it’s quite common for a health insurance company to be reimbursed from a personal injury settlement. Most health insurance policies now have language that allows the insurance company to be repaid for the amount paid out on medical bills if the insured person gets a personal injury settlement. However, I ALWAYS negotiate that amount, so that the health carrier receives a fraction of what they paid, which puts more money in your pocket. The reason for this is that when I make a settlement demand, it includes the total lien that the health carrier is asserting, and the insurance company I am going after will pay that lien in full to me. However, before I pay the lien, I will call the lien-holder and negotiate it so they take less, putting more money in your pocket. My clients are always very happy when they see how I can get these liens to an amount that is much less than what it was during negotiations with the at-fault insurance company.
Q: Can I gain access to my child’s personal injury lawsuit settlement money?
A: A parent usually doesn’t have access to a child’s personal injury compensation. The reason for this is to protect children from parents who might use the money to benefit themselves, instead of the child. A court will generally place a child’s personal injury suit settlement money in a “blocked” bank account until the child turns 18. A court will sometimes allow withdrawals from blocked injury award accounts if the awarded funds are needed for the child’s care and well being, and the court is satisfied the funds will be used to benefit the minor. You and your personal injury lawyer should discuss what expenses might be paid for with the injury lawsuit settlement funds.
Q: Can my personal injury attorney settle my injury suit without my consent?
A: It’s possible that the retainer agreement you signed with your personal injury law firm allows a Pennsylvania attorney to settle the injury case without your consent and sign the injury accident settlement and release agreement on your behalf. I DO NOT DO THIS. I will NOT, under any circumstances, settle a case until we have a long talk about the pros and cons of settlement, the amount offered, and the risks of rejecting the offer and going to trial. At the negotiation stage, WE together will decide what is best, and I will never settle without your consent. If your attorney settled the injury suit without your permission, and you haven’t yet signed the injury settlement and release agreement, you should tell your personal injury attorney that you don’t want to proceed with the settlement if you’re unhappy about it.
Q: Will I have to go to court?
A: The majority of personal injury cases (approx. 95%) are settled before they make it to a courtroom. However, a good attorney will prepare the case from the outset as if going to court will be necessary. Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq., takes each case seriously and prepares accordingly. And although a lawsuit may become necessary, it does not mean that we will see the inside of a courtroom—again, most cases settle before getting to that stage.
Q: What are punitive damages in a personal injury suit?
A: Punitive damages, also known as exemplary damages, are awarded to a plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit that arises from “malicious or wanton misconduct” by a defendant. Punitive damages are awarded separately and in excess to compensatory damages (such as lost wages, medical bills, etc.) and are meant to be a punishment for the defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. The potential amount awarded for punitive damages is unpredictable and the process of determining punitive damages is arbitrary. The jury alone determines the amount and there are no maximums and no minimums. Often juries act emotionally when ruling these types of personal injury lawsuits.
Q: How long will it take to settle my Philadelphia personal injury claim?
A: The time it takes to settle a personal injury claim in Pennsylvania depends on many circumstances. It is important to allow injuries to stabilize before beginning personal injury settlement negotiations. By settling too early, important consequences of a serious injury may be missed, such as the need for future medical treatment, scarring, or rehab difficulties. When the treating physician issues a final medical report stating the diagnoses of the personal injuries and their opinion as to the prognosis, the evaluation of the court case for injury settlement can begin. After I submit the demand package, I will call no more than 30 days later to follow up and start settlement negotiations. How long it takes for negotiations to begin depends on several factors, including: the facts, liability, injuries, treatment and medical bills, and of course, our demand amount. This amount depends on all of the above factors, as well as if there are others that were in the same accident who are also making their own injury claims. In those cases, the time that it takes to get compensation may take longer. However, I do not just sit back and wait. I am constantly calling the insurance companies to push them to get the case evaluated for settlement as soon as possible.