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FAQ about Personal Injury Law

People often have questions about personal injury law, hiring a lawyer, and what to do if they’ve been hurt due to another’s negligence. We know that dealing with an injury can be a stressful and confusing experience, so we’ve collected some frequently asked questions to help you learn more about the topic of personal injury law.

Is It Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If you believe you need to file a claim, or even if you’re not sure if you have a valid claim, it is definitely worth contacting a personal injury lawyer. Most North Carolina personal injury attorneys will offer you a free consultation to determine if you have a case – this won’t cost you anything, and you don’t have any obligation to hire them. They will go over the details of your injury and explain your options for pursuing a claim, as there may be more than you think. Sometimes, people go to a consultation believing they have a claim against one person or entity but find out they actually have potential claims against several parties.

Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, so if you do decide to hire them, you won’t have to pay anything upfront. Instead, they will take their fees from a percentage of the recovery. Once you’ve decided to hire an attorney, they will take care of dealing with the insurance company and seeking compensation for your injuries.

Sometimes, people think they can handle the insurance company on their own. This may seem like a good option, but in reality, there are many pitfalls that you may encounter when trying to get the insurance company to pay for your claim.

At first, the insurance adjuster may seem really nice. Insurance carriers usually try to hire friendly, personable types for this job. They might call and say they’re eager to work on processing this claim for you. Could you just answer a few questions?

This may seem fine, but often it doesn’t turn out well. The insurance adjuster will be looking for excuses to claim that the accident was your fault, so they won’t have to pay anything. (Under North Carolina contributory negligence laws, if you are found to be partly at fault for an accident that led to your injuries, the other party or their insurance company doesn’t have to pay any damages.)

Now, it may seem obvious to you that the accident was entirely the other party’s fault. But the other party’s insurance company is looking for a way out of paying your claim. For this reason, they may seize on any random thing you say and spin it to fit the narrative that you were actually somehow at fault.

Even if this situation doesn’t happen, you may run into other difficulties with the insurance company. Surprisingly, another possible problem may arise when the insurer makes you an offer. Of course, this seems like a good resolution because the insurance carrier has accepted their client was at fault and isn’t trying to scapegoat you for the accident. On the other hand, the offer they make may be much too low to cover all your expenses. 

In a typical car accident case, you might have medical bills, lost wages if you couldn’t work due to your injuries, vehicle damage that needs to be repaired, pain and suffering, and in some cases, even permanent disability or inability to work if your injuries were severe. But the initial offer from the insurance company may not cover all these damages, and you may not even know what they all add up to. It’s extremely difficult for the average person who isn’t an insurance or law expert to know what their total claim is worth. Complicating things further, if you are still in treatment for your injuries, you don’t even know how much your future treatment will cost or how long you’ll be out of work.

A personal injury attorney, however, is experienced in determining how much your total claim is worth. They will recognize if an insurance company’s offer is too low and negotiate to get you the compensation you need. Often they can reach an agreement with the insurer for a fair amount, but if the insurance company doesn’t budge, your lawyer will represent you in court.

There are other tricks an insurance company may use to avoid paying your claim. Sometimes they may choose not to investigate the claim or saddle you with loads of paperwork they say is necessary to process your claim…then never do any processing. In other cases, they might just flat out refuse to pay even though your claim is valid. There are even situations where an overzealous adjuster may mislead the accident victim about their legal rights. Never take the insurance company’s word at face value – contact a personal injury attorney who will be on your side.

What Kind of Cases Do Personal Injury Lawyers Handle?

Sometimes people think that personal injury attorneys only handle car accident cases, but that isn’t true. Car accidents are definitely one of the most common kinds of cases, but any time you’ve been injured due to the negligence of another person or entity, you may have a personal injury case. If you’re not sure, it’s best to seek a consultation with a personal injury attorney to learn your options.

Here are some examples of personal injury cases we’ve worked on:

  • Traffic accidents, including motorcycle, bicycle, ATV, golf cart, and large truck accidents
  • Wrongful death
  • Defective product claims
  • Dog bites
  • Construction accidents
  • Workers Compensation claims
  • Boating accidents
  • Premises liability
  • Dangerous or defective pharmaceuticals or medical devices

When Should A Personal Injury Lawyer Be Used?

You should seek the advice of a personal injury attorney when you’ve been hurt in any kind of accident or any situation where another party’s negligence or wrongdoing led to your injuries. It is especially important to seek qualified legal advice in any of the following circumstances:

  • When there is some disagreement about who was at fault. This is common in car accidents and other personal injury situations. No one wants to admit they were at fault, and often both parties will claim the other caused the accident or situation. This is especially true in states like North Carolina with contributory negligence laws. The other party or parties will be desperate to place even a small amount of blame on you to evade financial responsibility. Even if you know you weren’t at fault, it can be incredibly difficult to prove that on your own. You need the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.
  • When there is more than one other party involved. The multi-car pileup is a good example of this, but there are others. Another car crashes into you, sending your car into a third car – now the driver of the third car blames you, even though the first car caused both collisions. Or maybe you got hurt while at work due to a coworker’s improper training or your employer’s negligence, but you were also using a defective product at the time. Situations like these can be complicated and are best handled by an attorney who specializes in personal injury law.
  • If you had a significant injury. The more serious and/or permanent your injury, the harder the insurance company will fight to reduce the amount they have to pay you. Damages will likely go beyond just your current medical bills. You could have future care costs, chronic pain, or permanent disability, to say nothing of your pain and suffering. Some people also develop PTSD or other mental health effects after a traumatic accident. It’s important to consult an attorney who can fight to get you compensation for all your damages.
  • If you’ve already contacted the insurance company and they’re giving you the runaround. We advise people to speak with an attorney before talking to the insurance company, but we often meet people who are already struggling to get compensation from the carrier. If this has happened to you, it’s still better to seek legal advice now than to continue to fight with the insurance carrier yourself.

If you aren’t sure if you need an attorney, it never hurts to have a consultation so you can better understand your current situation and your choices for moving forward.

How Much Are Lawyer Fees for Personal Injury?

As mentioned above, a personal injury lawyer will typically take a percentage of what you receive in your recovery. This is different from other areas of law where a client usually has to pay a retainer to secure an attorney’s representation. The contingency fee structure is beneficial for many accident victims, who may be drowning in bills after an accident and unable to pay anything upfront.

At Auger and Auger, we have a “Zero Fee Guarantee” that we will not charge you any fees unless we win. This allows you to focus on your recovery while assuming any financial risk.

What Qualifies As Personal Injury?

Personal injury encompasses a wide array of situations where a person suffers physical, mental, or emotional harm and economic damages in many cases. Frequently, personal injury cases involve accidents, such as with a car or boat. Still, they can also be about illnesses, like when someone becomes ill after using a dangerous medication or medical device. Medical malpractice, slip-and-falls, and many workers’ compensation cases also fall under the umbrella of personal injury law.

In fact, workers’ compensation claims are one of the most common types of personal injury cases after car accidents. Sometimes these cross over with other types of claims, such as when a worker is driving somewhere for their employer and gets in a car accident. Other accidents may happen at work, such as an employee being hurt when a heavy object falls on them. Again, the injury doesn’t have to occur from an accident – you may also have a claim from a repetitive-stress injury like carpal tunnel syndrome or for an injury caused by workplace exposure to toxic chemicals or materials.

Sometimes workers aren’t sure how to proceed after being injured at work. Although it is not legal for employers to retaliate against workers who make a workers’ compensation claim in good faith, that doesn’t mean employees don’t worry about retaliation. If you have concerns about your job security in relation to a work injury, the best thing you can do is seek a confidential consultation with a personal injury lawyer. In addition to explaining your options, they can advise you about steps to take to protect yourself and what to do if you notice any signs of retaliation.

There may be other reasons that workers have concerns about workers’ compensation claims. The workers’ compensation system was designed to ensure employees could recover damages without having to demonstrate fault. It saves both the employee and employer from spending time and money arguing fault in court and allows the worker to collect a percentage of their regular wages while unable to work. However, it may not provide enough help in some cases, and once you’ve accepted a workers’ compensation settlement, suing your employer is no longer possible. For this reason, we strongly advise people who have been hurt at work to seek legal advice before making a decision about filing a workers’ compensation claim.

What Do Personal Injury Attorneys Cover?

In most cases, personal injury lawyers are retained to collect money, or damages, from one person or entity, for the lawyer’s client. They handle civil or non-criminal cases involving an injury that occurred due to a party’s negligence.

Often when people think of personal injury attorneys, they picture a big courtroom scene from a John Grisham movie. In real life, only a small number of personal injury cases go to trial, and that’s a good thing. Trials can be time-consuming, stressful, and expensive in terms of court costs, and often both the plaintiff and the defendant would prefer to avoid going to trial.

For this reason, most personal injury claims can be settled out of court. Your attorney will make every effort to work out a settlement that’s fair to you by negotiating with the other party or parties involved – in most cases, starting with the insurance company, but also sometimes other parties. Even if your lawyer files paperwork for a lawsuit with the court, they may still be able to work out a settlement. Sometimes the other people involved become more interested in considering a settlement once the possibility of a lawsuit becomes “real” to them.

However, there are occasionally situations where an agreement simply can’t be reached. The other party may not be willing to budge on admitting fault or may not be willing to pay enough to cover all your costs. Sometimes insurance policy limits also come into play, requiring you to directly sue the person or business responsible for your injuries. If you can’t settle out of court, it may be necessary to proceed to trial.

If this happens, your lawyer will represent you in court. This process also takes some time, often with months passing during the “discovery” process. Discovery is a phase where a lawsuit has been filed with the court, and both sides exchange evidence in preparation for a trial. Your lawyer may use this time to request documents or other evidence from the opposing side or depose witnesses they may want to call at trial.

Once the trial begins, your attorney will work to establish the following four essential points:

  • Duty. The defendant owed some legal duty to the plaintiff (you) in the particular situation where the injury occurred. For example, suppose you were injured at your local hardware store. In that case, your lawyer will argue that the retailer had a duty to provide a safe environment for both customers and employees.
  • Breach of duty. The next step is to show that the defendant failed in this duty. So your lawyer might present evidence that the hardware store breached their duty by failing to train employees on safe shelf-stocking procedures, leading to a heavy object falling and injuring you. The legal standard is to prove the defendant didn’t do what a “reasonably prudent” person would have done in the same situation.
  • Causation. After that, your lawyer will work to establish that this breach of duty led to your injury. For example, a heavy object fell on you at the hardware store, leading to you suffering a traumatic brain injury. To demonstrate causation, your lawyer may introduce your medical records and take testimony from expert witnesses, such as doctors or experts in these kinds of accidents.
  • Damages. Finally, your lawyer will describe the damages you suffered due to your injuries. These may be financial, like your medical bills and lost wages. However, you can also seek compensation for non-financial damages, such as pain and suffering, permanent disability, loss of enjoyment of life or ability to do your everyday activities, or loss of companionship if a loved one dies. So your attorney might list your medical bills so far, estimates for future care, travel costs for medical appointments, any permanent difficulty or disability you may have from your injury, the physical and emotional pain you’ve suffered, etc.

If you have questions or concerns about an injury you’ve suffered due to another party’s negligence, please contact Auger and Auger for a free consultation. We’re happy to review your case and explain your options for seeking compensation. You can reach us online or by calling (855) 969-5671.

The list of prior client settlement results and client reviews/testimonials, do not constitute a promise of any particular result in any particular case, as each and every case is unique. Each case was handled on its own merit, and the outcome of any case cannot be predicted by a lawyer or law firms past results.

If a recovery or settlement by trial is made, the client will be responsible for costs advanced in addition to attorney fees. Client remains responsible for costs, expenses and disbursements, including medical bills, within the scope of representation. The attorney’s contingency percentage will be computed prior to the deduction of expenses from the total recovery.

The principal office for Auger   Auger Law Firm is located at 717 S. Torrence St., Suite 101, Charlotte, NC. The attorneys and staff of Auger   Auger Law Firm work and process all of the firm’s files at the principal office location in Charlotte, NC. Other office locations listed on our website are satellite offices that are not staffed daily. Satellite offices are operated for the convenience of our clients and who live outside of the Charlotte, NC metro area and are unable to meet with us at our principal office location. All meetings at our satellite offices must be made by appointment only. Phone numbers for satellite offices forward to our principle office location in Charlotte, NC.

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