MISCONCEPTION #1: I can settle my case without hiring a lawyer.
True. In car accident cases, if you’re happy with just the amount of money the insurance company offers for your car -- and if you’re happy to have only some of your medical bills paid -- then you’re right. You don’t need to hire a lawyer.
Still, it’s important that you understand what you should receive. In most cases, you should receive the money to pay your medical bills and repairs to your property, such as a car, but also to any additional damages you suffer, such as physical pain and suffering. That’s why I urge you to at least talk with a lawyer over the telephone before you accept an insurance company’s offer.
Your lawyer takes the hassle out of dealing with the insurance company. And, in my office, my fee is limited to a percentage of what I recover for your physical and psychological injuries and damages.
MISCONCEPTION #2: An attorney requires a down payment to accept my injury claim.
Not true. In my office, all accident cases are handled on a contingency fee. This means I get paid out of the money I recover for you. If you receive nothing, you pay no attorney’s fee. To start, you can talk with me for free. And if you hire my services, you pay no fee until your case settles and I recover money for you. I will be happy to talk with you about this at our initial meeting.
MISCONCEPTION #3: I’ll have to go to court to get what my case is worth.
False. Most injury cases are settled before the case goes to court. Often, when the insurance company realizes you and your lawyer are ready and willing to go to court, the insurance company starts making reasonable offers for your injury claim. If we don’t like the first offer, we make a counteroffer. Negotiations continue until both sides agree on a certain amount. In most cases, injury claims don’t require a court trial.
MISCONCEPTION #4: Once I settle my claim, I can get more money in the future if I have additional medical bills.
False. With very few exceptions, once your claim is settled, it is over -- forever! No more money for bodily injury, pain or suffering, no matter what.
MISCONCEPTION #5: I have only one year to file a lawsuit.
False. This can be a difficult question to answer. In Texas, in most personal injuries cases, you have two years to file a lawsuit to protect your rights. If your claim is against a governmental entity (such as a city, county or state or their employees), you may have less time to protect your rights to make a claim.
It is important that you know your rights. Otherwise, you may lose your right to bring a claim for your injuries and damages. Ask me and I’ll help you determine the proper time frames.
MISCONCEPTION #6: If I am partly at fault for causing the accident, I am not entitled to any money.
False. Both sides may cause an accident and still you may be entitled to recover money. This is known as comparative negligence. Even if you are, say, 50% at fault, you can recover 50% from the defendant who also caused your injuries. However, if you are more than 50% at fault, you cannot recover.