If you are injured in a serious car accident due to a careless driver, you have the grounds to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party. However, if you have never filed a lawsuit before and only have second-hand knowledge of what happens during a personal injury case, you should familiarize yourself with some of the characteristics that make this particular type of litigation very different from other kinds of lawsuits.
The Adjuster's First Priority Is the Insurance Company, Not You
While an insurance company may not balk at providing enough funds to cover repairs to your vehicle in a personal injury case that involves a car accident, they may not be as magnanimous when it comes to covering your medical expenses, lost income and other costs related to the accident.
The property damage liability coverage of the at-fault party will cover paying for damage to your vehicle. The bodily injury liability coverage of the other driver pays for your medical bills and other expenses.
Insurance adjustors will assess your claim and determine how much they feel you should receive while looking out for the best interests of their employer. As a result, the adjustor will attempt to set the lowest possible payout to close out your claim without a lawsuit. They will always make a low-ball offer to begin settlement talks.
This is one of the major reasons why you need an experienced attorney handling your case and negotiating on your behalf. Hiring a lawyer puts the insurance company on notice that you will not take an offer that is not fair.
You May Not Have to Go to Court to Settle Your Case
Depending on the nature of your case and the progression of your settlement talks with the insurance company, your case may never end up in court. Many personal injury cases are settled out of court after your lawyer successfully persuades the insurance company to pay out enough money to cover all of your expenses.
Sometimes you, your lawyer and the insurance adjustor will participate in a mediation session moderated by a professional or court-appointed mediator. This is common if there is some sort of gridlock in the negotiations. An advantage of mediation is that your case will not have to be decided by a judge and jury.
In Most Cases, Your Settlement Is Not Taxable
No one likes having their paycheck and other types of income decreased because of taxes. In general, the money you receive from a personal injury case settlement is not subject to taxes if you suffered bodily harm.
It does not matter if your case was settled out of court or the result of a court decision. Every cent owed to you will be untouched by federal or state taxes. Fortunately, federal tax law excludes this type of settlement from taxable income.
Be aware that if your case is based on a claim for emotional injury, your settlement will still be taxed.
You Pay Your Attorney Only If You Receive a Settlement
The thought of hiring a lawyer may fill you with apprehension if you are worried about how you are going to pay your legal fees. However, rest easy, as it is general practice for personal injury attorneys to take cases on a contingency basis. This means that you will not be on the clock, paying an hourly fee to a lawyer.
Instead, you will pay the attorney a percentage of your settlement. Some states have laws that determine how much an attorney can charge for a contingency fee in personal injury cases. Furthermore, you will not have to pay any fee if your attorney fails to obtain a monetary settlement.
For more information, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.