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Frequently Asked Questions
- Do I need a lawyer?
- What kind of lawyer do I need?
- Does experience count?
- How may I benefit from a free consultation?
- What can I not expect from my free consultation?
- Do I want a local or long-distance lawyer?
- Is my lawyer a fighter?
- Is my lawyer prepared?
- How do contingency fees work?
- What compensation may I receive for personal injury?
- What compensation may I receive for wrongful death?
1) Do I need a lawyer?
Insurance adjusters are highly trained and guided by their company claims manuals in dealing with injured people. The claims manual incorporates the instructions of big insurance companies. You will never know what is in the claims manual nor can you trust whether the adjuster is telling you the truth. The reason is simple: the adjuster's job is to protect the financial interests of the insurance company.
You need someone to protect your financial interests.
Insurance companies frequently send mailings telling their customers they will be treated equally well on a claim, with or without a lawyer. The truth is exactly the opposite. Many insurance companies have adopted policies in the past of trying to make contact with the claimant within 24 hours of the time of an injury. This is to make sure the claimant does not have an opportunity to get legal advice before speaking to the adjuster. Why would the insurance company be in such a hurry to reach you if it were to your financial advantage instead of the company's?
2) What kind of lawyer do I need?
If you have been injured in the marketplace, on the job or on the road, or if someone you love has died as the result of another's negligence, first, you need a lawyer who concentrates his practice on personal injury, wrongful death or workers' compensation claims. You should find out about your lawyer's area of concentration before engaging him. Because Charlotte, NC, is known as a business, banking, and commercial center, most of the lawyers in Charlotte confine their practice to corporate, commercial, banking, and real estate development matters. Only a small number of lawyers in our market area concentrate their practice on personal injury, wrongful death or workers' compensation claims.
3) Does experience count?
Experience in handling personal injury and wrongful death cases do count. The large size of an advertisement may give you the impression that the lawyer is an established lawyer with years of experience. Often, the contrary is true. It is important for you to find out how much experience your lawyer has in injury matters.
4) How may I benefit from a free consultation?
Do you know what may be helpful if you have been injured at the hands of someone else? Is insurance jargon confusing to you? Do you know what coverage you have and what is optional? Our firm can help you untangle the web of confusion that makes handling your own injury case not only perplexing, but risky. We'll explain and be certain you understand where you might be at risk.
Your free consultation may give you the ability to protect your valuable rights and maximize the value of your case. You'll be able to have all of your questions answered and move forward with confidence and peace of mind.
During a free consultation we will:
- Review the facts of your case with you, ask you questions, review the police or accident report, photographs, repair estimates, medical records or other documents that you bring with you. Once we have a clear understanding of what occurred in your accident, we will provide you with an opinion of your case, including your possibilities of recovery, as well as any legal or factual problems we see at that time. Each case is different and we will let you know what we believe is best for you, in your specific circumstance.
- Explain your legal rights and obligations. We will tell you what reports and/or papers you need to file. We'll also explain the entire claims process to you so you will know what to expect from start to finish.
- Tell you what you can do to help prove your side of the case. We also will tell you how to protect yourself from aggressive insurance adjusters and investigators.
- Freely and openly discuss with you the facts that insurance companies do not want you to know about your claim.
- Discuss the services that our firm can provide. We will tell you what we believe our firm can do for you and, should you decide to retain us, we will explain how fees and costs are handled. At the conclusion of the meeting, you will know exactly what to expect in the coming weeks and months. No stone will be left unturned. You'll have the information that you need to make an informed choice about your case.
5) What can I not expect from my free consultation?
The only thing that we will not do is give you an opinion as to what your case is worth. It is impossible to evaluate a case until you have fully recovered from your injuries, and the evidence, your medical reports, medical bills, loss of earnings records and other related pieces of documentation have been thoroughly evaluated.
6) Do I want a local or long-distance lawyer?
You want a local lawyer who knows the local courts, the local judges, and the local insurance company adjusters. If you are in the Charlotte, NC, Metro area, find out where your lawyer's primary office is located, and, if he is not located in the Charlotte area on a full-time basis, find a local lawyer. Many law firms that advertise in Charlotte have their primary offices elsewhere, such as the Midwest, South Carolina, Florida, Washington, DC, or somewhere else in the United States.
7) Is my lawyer a fighter?
A lawyer who fights will try cases. Does the lawyer have a reputation for fighting for his clients, or does he send an inexperienced attorney to the courtroom with your case?
If your lawyer has a reputation of being willing to try cases, you can be certain that the insurance adjuster knows that, as well, and the value of your case increases. If your lawyer has a reputation for not trying cases, the value of your case decreases. To know if your lawyer is a fighter, see if his name is on the weekly trial calendar (“docket”), which is public information at the courthouse. Ask people who work at the courthouse what kind of reputation your lawyer has. You owe it to yourself to determine the reputation of your prospective lawyer before you put your case in his hands.
8) How prepared is my lawyer?
You need a lawyer who is prepared to represent your case. If a lawyer hasn't properly prepared his case, the client loses dollars.
For example, in one case a client's residential property was near two major arteries and surrounded on three sides by shopping centers, restaurants and commercial warehouses. The North Carolina Department of Transportation condemned her home and one and a half acres of her land, offering her only a modest sum in settlement. Before coming to see our firm, she retained a lawyer who had tried for a year, unsuccessfully, to negotiate with the DOT to increase the state's offer. We engaged a commercial appraiser, who appraised her property for commercial use, rather than residential use. The commercial appraisal resulted in an immediate settlement that was more than 500 percent higher than the NCDOT originally offered our client. In all types of matters dealing with “damages” (dollars paid to an individual), the client loses if the lawyer doesn't know what he is doing.
9) How do contingency fees work?
There are no fees or charges in advance or up-front if your case is being handled on a contingency-fee basis. This fee arrangement means our firm's compensation is dependent (“contingent”) upon our recovering money on your behalf. In most cases, our office will advance filing fees, postage, court costs, the cost of investigation, the costs of obtaining copies of your medical records and earnings records, and other related expenses. Because of this, our firm will be able to begin work on your case without your paying any out-of-pocket, up-front money. The fees and costs advanced by our firm in the beginning of the case, however, are subject to reimbursement at the time the case is closed.
10) What compensation may I receive from a personal injury?
- Hospital bills
- Emergency lifesaving crew bills
- Doctor bills
- Physical therapy bills
- Prescription expenses
- Chiropractor bills
- Nursing bills
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Property damage loss, including depreciation
- Damages for disfigurement
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Future lost income
- Damage to the marital relationship
- Future medical expenses
11) What compensation may I receive for wrongful death?
In a wrongful death case, damages are available for the family of the deceased person. In addition to economic loss, damages may also include recovery for mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of society, companionship, comfort, protection, marital care, parental care, attention, advice, training, guidance, counsel or education. In short, damages are available for all of the ordinary things in life that family members provide each other. You absolutely are entitled to money damages for all of these items of loss.