What should I do if I am involved in an accident?
If you are injured, you should seek medical attention immediately. You should obtain the names and telephone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. Many people involved in accidents take photographs of the accident scene and vehicles. These photos may be very helpful to your claim later on. The responsible insurance companies will likely try to contact you. It is not in your best interest to speak with them. Let your attorney handle any communication with the insurance companies.
When do I need an attorney?
After an accident, you should seek the advice of an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will be able to conduct a full investigation of the accident, including obtaining photographs and statements from witnesses. The information obtained immediately after your accident will be invaluable to your claim. Witnesses are often difficult to find as time goes on. Also, insurance companies often dispute what appear to be clear cut accidents.
How do I select an attorney?
There are several factors that are important when selecting an attorney. First, you want someone who is knowledgeable and experienced in handling injury cases (versus an attorney who is a "jack of all trades, and master of none"). Pavano Dombrowski concentrates solely on personal injury and workers' compensation- nothing else. We have handled and successfully resolved hundreds of personal injury and workers' compensation through trial, arbitration and mediation.
You should also feel comfortable with your attorney and know that you can call the attorney at any time if you have a question or problem. At Pavano Dombrowski, although we have more than one client, we recognize that you only have one case. This means that we will return your calls (and emails) on a daily basis to answer any questions you may have.
How is an attorney paid in a personal injury case?
We are compensated when your case is resolved. We do not charge you for an initial office consultation, or any meeting for that matter. Most accident and personal injury cases are taken on what is called a "contingency" basis. This means that rather than bill you directly for our services, we will take a percentage, typically one-third, of whatever settlement, jury verdict, or result we achieve for you. This means that we don't get paid unless you are compensated.
What am I entitled to recover in a personal injury lawsuit?
You may be entitled to recover the following: (1) medical expenses, (2) property damage, (3) lost wages, (4) pain and suffering, (5) permanent disability or disfigurement, and (6) emotional distress.
How long do I have to make a claim against someone who injured me?
Most accident and personal injury matters are governed by strict time limits and notice requirements that make it important for victims to take action soon after an accident to prevent claims from being restricted or outlawed by the passage of time. Some cases also require that you notify the person or entity who injured you within a very short amount of time. Because of these various requirements, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident.
Who pays my medical bills?
There are multiple ways to pay your accident related medical bills.
Your auto insurance – many people carry medical payment protection or “MedPay” on their personal automobile coverage. If you do carry “MedPay” coverage on your automobile policy, this coverage is primary. Once you use up or “exhaust” this coverage, your personal health insurance will take over.
Is the “at fault” party responsible for paying my medical bills?
In most cases the answer is no. Later on the at fault party’s insurance company will be responsible for reimbursing you for any out-of-pocket expenses you have incurred, such as copays or unreimbursed medical expenses. The responsible party’s insurance carrier may also have to reimburse your health insurance carrier or your workers’ compensation carrier (if the injury occurred on the job).
My car was damaged in an accident. Who pays my property damage?
Property damage arising out of a car accident can be paid by either your insurance company or the other driver's insurance company, depending on the type of coverage each person has. As with the payment of medical bills, how property damage bills are paid depends upon the particular facts of your case. We can help you with these issues after we meet with you.
How do you negotiate a fair settlement on my behalf?
Once you have completed your medical treatment and your doctors have provided us with information regarding your medical condition and recovery, we will meet with you to discuss how you are doing and problems you are still having. We will send a written demand package to the insurance company, and discuss your case with the adjuster assigned to your case. We will provide the insurance company the following information:
- The Police report
- Witness statements
- Scene photographs
- Expert accident reconstruction reports (if necessary)
- Vehicle photographs and damage estimates
- Lost wage/work records;
- A chronology of your medical records, reports and bills
- Information regarding your recovery and current medical status
- Narrative information regarding how the accident and injuries are affecting your everyday activities and ability to work.
Based on this information the insurance company will likely make an initial offer. It is our obligation to communicate to you any reasonable offer. It is your decision whether to accept this offer. In most cases, our clients ask us if we think the offer is reasonable. We will give you an honest answer to this question. To get a full or reasonable settlement offer for your accident, we often have to file a lawsuit in the Superior Court.
If my case is filed in court does this mean that I will have to go through a trial?
No, in fact most cases filed in court settle prior to trial. It is during this phase of your case that the groundwork we completed early on (i.e. investigation photographs, etc.) pays off. Our lawyers have years of courtroom and civil trial experience.
Preparing you and your case for settlement and, if necessary, trial is all we do. Our philosophy is to prepare every case for trial. Our lawyers practice in the courts of this State every day – unlike many of the Attorneys who advertise on television. The insurance companies and their lawyers know and respect us, which also aides in the settlement of your case.
Although we maintain a good relationship with defense or insurance lawyers, we believe in conscientious but aggressive representation.