Monday, September 30, 2013

Who Pays the Costs in a Personal Injury Case?

One of the more common questions I get asked is who is going to pay the costs in a personal injury case.  The short answer is that von Magdenko & Associates, PLLC, always pays for the costs of the case.  However, not every law firm does this, so when choosing a personal injury lawyer, this should be one of your main questions.

In the more common rear-end car accident, the insurance company of the at fault driver, settles the case relatively quickly after the client has finished treating., which is usually 3 to 6 months after the car accident takes place.  So, the only costs are those with getting the police report and ordering the medical records.  In those cases, almost all personal injury attorneys pay the costs of the case.
However, in cases where the insurance company does not offer a reasonable settlement or no settlement at all, then the costs increase.  Insurance companies generally do not settle for a reasonable amount for a series of reasons, which will be discussed in a future blog.  However, for now, when litigation is needed, many personal injury attorney’s don’t pay for the costs of the lawsuit and instead expect the client to pick up the tab.  
At von Magdenko & Associates, PLLC, the client never pays for costs.  When a lawsuit is filed, immediate costs include the filing fee for the lawsuit itself and the cost to hire a process server to personally serve the lawsuit on the at fault party.  
If the case is more complicated and does not settle immediately after filing of the lawsuit, then depositions, where court reporters and videographers are required and in cases where expert witnesses are needed, costs can and do go into the thousands of dollars.
Please stay tuned for future blogs.  Our next talk will be on reasons by insurance companies do not settle, which is another issue that comes up repeatedly in personal injury cases.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What to Look for in a Personal Injury Attorney in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Interestingly enough, I was just looking at the “news” headlines for the day, right before I was “supposed” to be writing my blog for the week, on what to look for in a Personal Injury Attorney.  Since news is now 24 hours, instead of the one hour evening broadcast years back, what passes for news is debatable. 

However, while I was reading the news, I came across an article on the Nine Beliefs of Remarkably Successful People.  Belief Number 4, was that “Experience is irrelevant. Accomplishments are everything.”  
I believe there is some truth to this statement.  Just because someone has been doing something for 10 or 20 years, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are good at it.  Although in the personal injury field and lawyering in general, if you have been doing something long enough, you will of at least learned something along the way and be mediocre.  
But, when choosing a personal injury attorney, a mediocre attorney isn’t exactly on your top ten list.  Instead, asking your prospective personal injury attorney, what percentage of their practice is devoted to personal injury matters, is important.  An attorney who practices in all areas of the law cannot be great at any of them.
Also, when meeting with a personal injury attorney, getting a feel from their office and staff, as to the level of personal attention your case will get, is extremely important.  Sometimes in the practice of law, certain larger cases may get more attention, while you case sits on the back burner.   
This is because some personal injury law firms take any case that walks in the door and they do not have the time or staff to devote to each and every case.  It then becomes like triage in a hospital: work the more serious and pressing cases first.  At von Magdenko & Associates, PLLC, we only take on a select number of cases, so we can be certain that we have the time and resources to make sure your case is worked properly, which in the end, means getting the highest value for your case.
Next time, we will talk about who pays the costs in a personal injury case.

Treatment after a Car Accident

Last time we talked on the topic of quickly settling with the insurance company without a car accident attorney and why not to do it! This time we will talk about how your body reacts to a car accident and treatment to make your recovery faster and less painful.
Immediately after a car accident, your body’s first reaction is shock. Your auto accident lawyer will tell you that although you may be in shock immediately after the auto accident, if you are injured, later in the day or in the evening, you will start to feel the soreness in your neck or back.

Some clients are hesitant to seek medical treatment, because they are busy enough with work, home and all of the other commitments they already have to deal with everyday. Some clients think that they will just get better in a couple weeks and everything will be normal. However, this can be very detrimental to your body and your case.

Your car wreck lawyer will tell you that she has seen it time and time again, a client thinks they are just a little sore and doesn’t get treatment. Then, a couple weeks go by and your body is not just getting better. Now, the client comes into the car accident lawyer’s office and wants to get medical care. However, by waiting for two weeks, the insurance company can and definitely does argue that the client must have been injured in some other, new accident, otherwise, they would have gotten treatment sooner, if they were really injured.
Your car accident attorney will argue that the insurance company’s reasoning is flawed, but the insurance company will argue this during the entirety of your case. It is your car accident attorney’s experience that an otherwise straightforward case may even end up going to an arbitration hearing or trial because of a two week gap in treatment.

Seeing your auto accident lawyer is always free. Seeing your car wreck lawyer the day of the accident, or at the latest, the next day after the accident, is always the best idea. Your car accident attorney will coordinate immediate medical treatment for you, including prescription, chiropractic and medical doctor care, so you can be on the road to recovery and get the maximum amount for your car accident case. Always remember that there is no out of pocket cost to you to see any car accident lawyer or for your car accident related medical treatment.

Next time, we will talk about what to look for in personal injury attorney!

Settling with the Insurance Company Immediately

Last time we talked about why it is a bad idea to get a cash advance on your car accident case. Today, we will talk about a related topic of quickly settling with the insurance company without a car accident attorney and why not to do it!

With unemployment in Las Vegas, Nevada, still higher than the national average, you may be feeling pinched for cash. You are in a car accident, you are in pain and your car is damaged. You may not personally know an auto accident lawyer. Instead, the insurance company calls you and tells you that you can get your car fixed and $1,500 cash in your pocket right now! The insurance company tells you if you just sign a small piece of paper, you will get your cash and be on your way. You wonder what the right thing to do is.
The “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is” saying applies to this situation. Your car accident attorney has seen this countless times before. You’re in a car accident, feeling a little sore, but you think it will go away in a few days. You are not a person who likes to sue, you just want your car fixed and the extra cash in your pocket seems like a good bonus for your troubles.

What you don’t realize, but something your car wreck lawyer will tell you, is that once you sign that piece of paper from the insurance company, you are forever barred from making a claim for the injuries you suffered in the accident.
A couple weeks go by and your soreness has not gone away. In fact, it has become bothersome pain and you need treatment. At this time you think it is a good idea to call a car wreck lawyer. You meet with the car accident lawyer and show them what you signed. It is only after your auto accident lawyer has looked at the piece of paper you signed that you realize just exactly what you signed.

Your car accident attorney tells you that although you thought you were just signing a piece of paper relating to your property damage, you actually signed away all of your rights in the car accident.

It is always a good idea to consult a car accident attorney before you sign a legal document. Consultations are always free with your car accident lawyer, so you can only gain by speaking to someone about your rights.
Next time we will talk about how your body reacts to a car accident and treatment to make your recovery faster and less painful.

Should I “Get a Check” Immediately?

Times are tough out there. You’ve heard the ads, where a car wreck lawyer claims that they can get you quick cash if you were injured in a car accident. What people don’t realize is that you will get a lot less money when your case settles.

Your auto accident lawyer has seen it many times. A client hires a lawyer who promises immediate cash. You are in a vulnerable position. You were just injured in an accident, probably missed a few days of work due to the pain and doctor’s visits. The flashy and fast talking auto accident lawyer says you can get money now. Sounds good, right? Not really.
What your car accident lawyer isn’t telling you, is that there are a lot of strings attached to that money you are getting. It is basically a high interest loan shark cash advance. The interest goes up so fast and so high, before you know it, you owe much more than you received.

I have seen a client get $1,500 in cash. But, the loan shark rates are so high, they ended up owing over $10,000! The smooth talking car accident attorney doesn’t tell you this. The car accident lawyer just wants you to sign you up with them, no matter what the cost.
Be careful when you see or hear some car wreck lawyer promise something that sounds too good to be true. You’ve heard the saying, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This could not be any more true than in the lawyer setting. This practice may contribute to why used car salespeople and lawyers are sometimes lumped together!
Your car accident lawyer will tell you that there are many benefits to waiting until your case settles to receive your check. Most importantly you will end up with more money in your pocket when you case ends. You will also not have to worry about how much interest is being added to the money you now owe! You have a enough to worry about, getting the doctor’s office, feeling better and taking care of you and your family. You don’t need any added stress in your life after a car accident.

Next time we will talk about a related topic of quickly settling with the insurance company without a car accident attorney and why not to do it!

When a Lawsuit is the Only Option: Nevada’s Special Arbitration Program for Whiplash Car Accident Cases

A lot of people wonder what the process is if the insurance company will not come to a reasonable settlement on their case. If you have been injured in an accident, and have suffered whiplash or some other related injury, at our law firm, your car accident lawyer will file a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to settle for what your case is worth.
Your auto accident lawyer will tell you that when we file a lawsuit, the insurance company may decide to increase their settlement offer and your case may settle. This happens frequently, since many car wreck attorneys do not file lawsuits and the insurance companies are surprised when our office actually does file a lawsuit.

However, if your case does not settle after we file the lawsuit and serve it on the other driver, then your case may go into a special Nevada program for whiplash type car accident cases. In Nevada’s special program, we will be assigned to a private judge, called an arbitrator, who will coordinate the transfer of information and documents between the parties, which is called “discovery”.

You may have to submit to a deposition (it is simply a statement under oath), where the insurance company’s attorney asks you questions about the accident. Your car accident attorney will of course be there for the deposition. The insurance company may also ask you to sign and review a document, where you answer written questions from the insurance company on your background information, what happened in the accident and your injuries. Your car accident lawyer will be with you every step of the way during this process.
Should the case not settle before then, the arbitrator will conduct an informal mini-trial in a conference room, where you will say what happened to you and the treatment you received. Your car accident lawyer will provide all of your medical records to the private judge, so they have a full understanding of what is going on in your case.

The private judge/arbitrator will issue a written decision on the case. The private judge’s decision is not binding on the parties, but usually the parties accept the private judge’s decision. The whole process takes about 6 months. We will of course take it one step at a time and you will be informed as the process continues.