Frequently Asked Questions About Injury and Disability

It is natural to have many concerns and questions as you recover from an accident or injury. Here, the lawyers at the Injury and Disability Law Center, LLC, share their perspective on many of the most common worries. Find out what to expect from the legal system, what compensation may be available, how to protect your claim, and much more.
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  • What should I do if the negligent driver lies to their insurance company?

    If another driver’s negligence was the cause of your car accident in New Mexico, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries from their insurance company. However, Driver Lying to the Police About a Car Wreckyou should not assume it will be easy to settle your claim—even if you have solid proof that they were to blame for the crash.

    It can be even more challenging to obtain the damages you deserve if the motorist lies to their insurance company about how your crash occurred. If you are in this situation, do not give up hope of holding the driver and their insurance company accountable. Here are the steps you need to take to build a winning case against them.

    Five Steps to Take If the At-Fault Motorist Lies About Your Car Accident

    The driver who caused your accident may misrepresent how your auto crash occurred because of worries that their insurance premiums could increase. This is true even if it is the first time they have caused a collision. Here are five steps you can take to protect yourself.

    #1: Don’t Argue

    Avoid arguing with the other motorist if they misrepresent how your auto accident occurred. You will not change what they say by getting into an argument. In addition, you might say something that could hurt your claim and can be used against you by their insurance company.

    #2: Be Honest

    When talking to the police and the insurance company, you need to stick to the facts about how the crash occurred. If you do and are consistent in what you say, you will be a credible witness—unlike the other driver. Even though you may still have to fight long and hard before you can reach a fair settlement of your claim, it is much more likely that you can convince the insurance company to pay you what you deserve.

    #3: Write Down Details

    As soon as you can, you should write down how your car accident occurred while they are fresh in your mind. Some of these details could help you establish that the other driver was the negligent party.

    #4: Collect Evidence

    The building blocks of a strong case are evidence that proves the at-fault driver’s negligence, seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of damages you should receive. Collecting evidence is even more vital if the motorist lies about what happened. Here are crucial types of evidence to obtain to establish how your crash occurred:

    • Contact the police. Call the police at the collision scene. They will conduct an investigation and write a police report. The police report will have helpful information that can help you, such as driver and witness statements, details of how the auto accident occurred, the officer’s conclusions as to who was at fault, and whether any traffic tickets were issued.
    • Take pictures. Use your cellphone camera to take pictures of the crash scene, damage to the cars, your injuries, and anything else you believe could be helpful. Your photos could assist a lawyer or expert in determining the cause of your wreck.
    • Obtain witness contact information. If there were eyewitnesses to your collision, you need to get their written statements while the crash is fresh in their minds and you can locate them. Collect their contact information right away so that you do not lose the chance to get their testimony, which can help win your case.
    • Hire an expert. You may need to retain an accident reconstruction expert to determine who caused your accident and create a computer-generated re-enactment of it.

    #5: Retain a Lawyer

    If the other driver is lying to their insurance company, you should retain a knowledgeable car accident lawyer immediately. They will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your wreck and will collect the evidence that can be used to prove the other driver’s negligence. They will also go up against the motorist’s insurance company so that you receive the maximum recovery you are entitled to under New Mexico law.

    If you or a family member were injured in a car accident in Southeastern New Mexico or Roswell, our experienced car accident attorneys are here to help you with your claim. Start a live chat, call us at 575-300-4000, or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • How do I pay my medical bills after a dog bite?

    You could suffer serious injuries if you are bitten by a dog and may require expensive medical treatments to treat them. You may be worried about how you will pay your mounting medical bills. This is a common worry for many dog bite victims. Here are ways you can get your bills paid without paying them yourself.

    Ways to Get Medical Bills Paid for by the Dog Owner

    Stack of Past Due Medical BillsUnder New Mexico’s dog bite laws, dog owners are strictly liable to compensate you for a dog bite if they knew or should have known that their dog was vicious or had a tendency to be vicious. They can also be held responsible if their negligence caused the dog attack. Here are the ways you can obtain the compensation you deserve from the dog owner:

    • Homeowner’s insurance. If the dog owner owns their home and has homeowner’s insurance, their policy will most likely cover dog bite injuries. You could file a claim to reimburse your medical expenses under this policy.
    • Animal liability insurance. The owner may have purchased an animal liability insurance policy. This coverage would cover injuries and other damages a dog caused and would be a way to get your medical bills paid.
    • Car insurance. If you were bitten by a dog while in the owner’s vehicle, or the dog jumped out of it and attacked you, you may be able to file a claim under the owner’s car insurance. There must be a direct connection between the motor vehicle and the dog bite.

    Should You Use Your Health Insurance to Pay Your Medical Bills?

    It could take you months or longer to settle your claim with the owner’s insurance company if they raise defenses to your claim—which is likely. You do not want to go into your savings to pay your medical bills while waiting for your settlement proceeds.

    A better option would be to have your health insurance company pay your medical expense and reimburse them out of your settlement. Your attorney may negotiate an agreement with them to accept less than the full amount paid when they settle your claim with the dog owner’s insurance company.

    What Are Your Options if the Dog Owner Has No Insurance?

    If the dog owner does not have insurance coverage, it can be more complicated to get your medical bills paid. They would still be liable to pay your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

    However, you may need to file a lawsuit against the dog owner to obtain any compensation from them. You would need to understand that they may not have the financial resources to pay you all the damages awarded to you. In addition, depending on their circumstances, they may pay what they owe you in a small payment plan over time that never fully compensates you.

    Using your health insurance to pay for medical bills is essential if the dog owner has no insurance and does not have the financial resources to reimburse you for these expenses. It is also important to pursue claims against all potentially liable parties, such as a dog handler, if they were taking care of the dog when you were bitten.

    How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help You

    If you or a family member suffered dog bite injuries, you should retain an experienced personal injury attorney immediately. They will be able to determine what insurance coverage the dog owner or other negligent party has, collect the evidence you need to win your case, and go up against the insurance company to receive the maximum recovery you deserve. They can also help you explore any other avenues of compensation that you may have if the dog owner has no insurance.

    At the Injury and Disability Law Center, we understand how challenging it can be to pay your medical bills after a dog attack, especially if you are off work recovering from your injuries. We are here to aggressively pursue your claim with the insurance company. We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, so you only owe us attorney fees after settling your claim or winning your case at a jury trial. Start a live chat or contact our Roswell office to schedule your free case evaluation today to find out more about how we can assist you.

     

  • How much is my medical malpractice claim worth?

    If you were the victim of medical malpractice, you will want to know how much your claim is worth before you decide to pursue it. Many factors go into valuing a claim. Here are some of the important factors that an experienced personal injury lawyer would use when determining how much your claim is worth.

    Compensation You Can Receive in a Medical Malpractice Case

    Gavel, Law Books, and a Medical StethoscopeOne of the first steps an attorney would do is determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to under New Mexico law. You can recover your past and future damages. They include:

    • Medical expenses. You are entitled to reimbursement of your medical expenses. If you now have a medical condition that you will never recover from, you may need medical treatments for the rest of your life.
    • Lost wages and lost earning capacity. If you must take time off work, you should recover your lost wages. You would be entitled to lost earning capacity damages if you must take a cut in your salary or have become permanently disabled due to your injuries.
    • Pain and suffering. Putting a monetary value on your pain and suffering, mental anguish, and reduced qualify of life is the most difficult part of your claim to value. You will need the help of a knowledgeable attorney to determine how much pain and suffering damages you should receive.
    • Punitive damages. Punitive damages are not commonly awarded to medical malpractice victims. They are designed to punish the negligent party for their intentional or grossly reckless acts.

    Caps on Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

    In New Mexico, there is a cap on how much compensation you can recover in a medical malpractice case, except for your past and future medical expenses and punitive damages. You can receive up to $750,000 against an individual medical provider and $4,000,000 against hospitals and medical provider clinics.

    Other Factors That Can Affect Your Claim’s Value

    Every medical malpractice case is unique, and many other factors can make your claim’s value increase or decrease. They include:

    • Disputes with the insurance company about their insured’s negligence
    • Seriousness of your injuries
    • Your partial negligence in causing your injuries

    Are you the victim of medical malpractice in Roswell or Southeast New Mexico? Do you have questions about your rights or the value of your claim? Start a live chat or contact our Roswell office to schedule a free consultation today to get your questions answered and learn more about how we can assist you.

     

  • Can I file a claim for compensation if I can’t remember how my car accident happened?

    Man With Hand on Head Trying to RememberYes, you still have a right to compensation for your injuries if you cannot remember how your auto collision occurred if a negligent driver caused it. However, you may need to collect additional evidence and fight harder with the at-fault motorist’s insurance company to obtain a fair settlement from them.

    Why You May Not Be Able to Remember How Your Car Accident Occurred

    It is common for auto crash victims to not remember how their collisions occurred. There are several reasons that could cause them to not remember it:

    • Brain injury. If a person suffered a traumatic brain injury or concussion in the accident, this can affect their memory—sometimes permanently.
    • Trauma. If a victim experienced emotional trauma and terror from being in the car crash, their brain could block out memories of how the accident occurred.
    • Substance abuse. Someone who was intoxicated may not remember the details of the auto crash because the drugs or alcohol consumed may have affected their memories.
    • Health issues. If the victim has Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other health problems affecting their memory, this could impact their ability to remember how the wreck happened.

    Evidence That Can Help You Prove Your Case

    If you cannot remember how your car accident occurred, you can collect other evidence that proves that the other driver—and not you—was at fault in causing the crash. It is best to retain an experienced car accident attorney right away. They will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your collision, and they know what evidence is needed to convince the insurance company of their liability to compensate you. Helpful evidence can include:

    • Police report. The police report will contain information on how the accident occurred, the officer’s conclusions as to who was at fault, and whether any traffic citations were issued.
    • Eyewitnesses. Eyewitnesses to the collision can provide written statements and testimony that can help you establish that the other driver was the negligent party. Their statements will be especially persuasive if you do not know the witness and they have no personal stake in your claim.
    • Black box data. The black box in the vehicle could provide you with important information about the vehicle’s speed, acceleration, braking, seat belt use, and airbag deployment at the time your crash occurred.
    • Surveillance video. A security camera from a nearby business or a traffic camera may have recorded your auto accident as it occurred. Your attorney will need to act quickly to obtain the footage before it is taped over.
    • Photos. Witnesses to the crash or the police may have taken photos of the damage to the cars, the crash scene, and your injuries that can be helpful in proving what caused your collision.

    Were you hurt in a car accident that was not your fault? Do not let your memory loss stop you from pursuing the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call our Roswell office or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation today to learn how we can assist you.

     

  • How long will it take to get my check after settling my car accident claim?

    It could take a long time to settle your car accident claim. The insurance company for the negligent driver could use many tactics to deny your claim or try to pay you less compensation than you deserve for your injuries.

    When you finally reach a settlement, you will be anxious to receive your check. Unfortunately, you will not get it immediately because you must complete several final steps before the insurance company releases your payment.

    What Are the Final Steps in an Auto Collision Settlement?

    Understanding what steps must be completed before you receive your settlement check can make the wait easier. You should not settle your claim or sign any legal Calendar and Sand Timerdocuments without first consulting with an experienced car accident lawyer. They will also ensure that the insurance adjuster is doing what they are supposed to do to finalize your settlement.

    It could take up to four to eight weeks before the process is completed. Here are the steps that you can expect to happen:

    • Release. Before the insurance company writes your check, they require you to sign a release of all claims form. In this legal document, you would agree to accept the settlement amount and to waive any claim for future compensation. It could take several weeks for the insurance company to draft the release and revisions proposed by your attorney to be made.
       
    • Check. After the signed release is sent to the insurance company, they will issue your check. Depending on their procedures, it could take a week or two for them to do this and send the payment to your attorney.
       
    • Check Deposit.  Upon receipt, your lawyer will deposit the check into a client trust account (required by law). Once the check clears, the funds are ready for distribution in which your legal and medical expenses will be paid from the settlement amount. Here is how it works:
       
    • Attorney fees. First, the attorney fees will be calculated on the total (gross) settlement amount. The attorney fees and litigation costs are paid from the settlement amount. 
       
    • Expenses. Next, your attorney will pay any medical liens and other bills you owe.
       
    • Your payment. The last step in the process of settling your claim is to send you your check for the balance, which represents your client proceeds (i.e. take home amount). Along with your check, you will receive an itemized statement showing each expense, and exactly what was paid out of the settlement.  This will include invoices paid so you have a complete record of everything.  Once you receive your check and itemized statement, your case will finally be completed.

    Were you injured in an auto collision in Roswell, Carlsbad, Artesia, or Southeast New Mexico? Our knowledgeable and dedicated car accident legal team is here to explain your options to you and go up against the insurance company so that you receive all the compensation you deserve in your settlement.

    We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you owe us no attorney fees until we win your case. To schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation, call our Roswell office or fill out our contact form today.

     

  • What’s the difference between filing a claim and a lawsuit?

    If a negligent driver caused you to suffer injuries in a car accident, you could be entitled to compensation from them. You have two options for obtaining the damages you deserve: filing a claim and filing a lawsuit. While the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are very different processes, and it is important for you to understand how they differ.

    What Is an Auto Collision Claim?

    The first step you will take to seek compensation from the at-fault motorist would be to file a claim with their insurance company. While you can file your claim on your own, it is best to retain an experienced car accident lawyer to file it for you. This process is an attempt to reach an out-of-court settlement of Man Comparing Claim and Lawsuit Paperworkyour claim.

    Your lawyer would send the insurance company a demand letter advising them of your claim, how the other driver’s negligence caused the crash, the seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of compensation you should receive. An insurance adjuster would be assigned to investigate your claim and determine how to respond to your attorney’s demand for compensation.

    Unfortunately, even if you have a strong case, the insurance company will most likely try to deny your claim or offer you less money than you are entitled to in order to save money. Your attorney may need to collect additional evidence or hire expert witnesses to refute the insurance adjuster’s arguments. Your lawyer may go through a series of offers and counteroffers with the insurance company before negotiating your settlement.

    What Is an Auto Accident Lawsuit?

    If the insurance company refuses to be reasonable or the statute of limitations, which is the deadline you have to file your complaint, will expire soon, your attorney would file a lawsuit in court on your behalf. Here are the steps involved in litigating your case:

    • Complaint. Your lawyer would file a civil complaint in court. Your complaint would contain the same basic information as in the demand letter and ask the court to award you the damages you deserve under New Mexico law.
    • Answer. The negligent driver would be served with your complaint and would file an answer to it admitting or denying the allegations. They would most likely deny everything and raise defenses as to why they are not liable to pay you.
    • Discovery. The longest stage in your case will be the discovery phase. The attorneys for the insurance company and you would obtain information from each other and third parties to support their case and defeat the other side’s arguments. Written questions, referred to as interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and depositions are the common types of discovery used in car accident cases.
    • Negotiations. When your lawyer believes it would be productive, they will engage in negotiations with the attorney for the insurance company. It is likely that you will reach a settlement of your case at some point in the litigation process.
    • Trial. If your case is not settled, it would be decided at a jury trial where you would have the opportunity to present your evidence and testify about how the accident occurred, the seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of compensation you should receive. After both sides present their arguments, the jury would decide how much damages, if any, to award you.

    If you or a family member were hurt in an auto collision in Roswell, our dedicated car accident lawyers are here to explain your options and go up against the insurance company so that you receive your fair settlement. To find out more about how we can assist you and our track record of success in these cases, start a live chat or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free case evaluation today.

     

  • Should I sign a medical authorization for the insurance company after a slip and fall accident?

    Obtaining the compensation that you deserve for your injuries in a slip and fall accident can be difficult. You do not want to make mistakes that weaken your case. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what could happen if you agree to sign the insurance company’s authorization for the release of your medical records.

    What Is a Medical Release?

    A medical release is a document that allows the insurance company to obtain your medical records directly from your health care providers. It will most likely be a blanket authorization that allows them to obtain all of your medical records—not just the ones related to your slip and fall accident.

    Four Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Sign the Insurance Company’s Medical Release

    The insurance adjuster may try to convince you to sign their medical authorization by telling you that they need your medical records as part of the Medical Release Form From the Insurance Companyinvestigation of your claim. While it is true that you will have to provide these records to prove the seriousness of your injuries and the cost of your medical care, you do not have to allow the insurance company to obtain them directly. Here’s why you should not sign their medical release:

    • Ammunition to dispute your claim. The insurance company wants you to sign their medical release so that they can search your medical records for information they can use to deny your claim or pay you less than you deserve. For example, if they discovered a prior injury or accident, they could argue that your current injuries were caused by another incident other than your slip and fall accident.
    • Incomplete records. If you provide the insurance adjuster will your medical records soon after your slip and fall, these records will not provide a complete picture of the seriousness of your injuries or the treatments you may need. It is best to wait until you fully recover or recover as much as you are able to and have a final prognosis to provide your medical records and settle your claim.
    • Confidential information. The insurance company’s medical authorization would give them access to your private medical history that they do not need to know to settle your claim.
    • Value of your claim. If the insurance adjuster finds information in your records to raise disputes about your claim, this could hurt your case. You may feel forced to accept less compensation than you deserve in your settlement.

    Were you injured in a slip and fall accident in Roswell? Our experienced personal injury lawyers can file your claim for you, provide the insurance company with the medical they truly need, and negotiate your settlement with them. To learn more about how we can assist you, start a live chat to schedule a free consultation today.

     

  • How soon after my accident should I see a doctor?

    Calendar and a StethoscopeThe steps you take after an auto collision can have a direct impact on the amount of compensation you receive from the negligent driver’s insurance company. One of the most important things you can do is to obtain prompt medical treatment. Here’s why you should be examined by a doctor within 48 hours—even if you do not believe you were hurt.

    How Getting Prompt Medical Care Protects Your Health

    You may not see the need to go to your primary care physician if you did not suffer an obvious injury. Unfortunately, you may not realize that you suffered a serious injury, such as a traumatic brain injury, internal bleeding, or a back or spinal cord injury, until days or longer after the crash when symptoms develop.

    You protect your health and will heal faster if your injury is diagnosed sooner. In addition, you avoid a potentially life-threatening emergency by seeing a doctor right away.

    How Obtaining Immediate Medical Treatment Strengthens Your Car Accident Claim

    You also make your auto collision claim stronger by being examined by a physician within 48 hours of the crash. You cut off common arguments that the insurance company could make to deny your claim or try to pay you less than you deserve if you don’t delay getting medical treatment. Here are the disputes that insurance adjusters love to raise when accident victims do not receive medical treatment right away:

    • Different cause. It is harder to prove the causal connection between your injuries and the car accident if you wait to get medical care. One argument the insurance company could make is that the injury was caused by another incident that occurred before or after your collision.
    • Prior injury. If the insurance adjuster discovers that you were treated for the same injury caused in the accident in the past, they may claim that your injuries were caused by a prior medical condition or accident.
    • Not serious. If you wait to seek medical treatment, the insurance company could dispute the seriousness of your injuries. They may claim that you would have gone to the doctor sooner if you were really hurt as badly as you claim.
    • Faking your injury. The insurance adjuster could also argue that you are not hurt at all and are making up your injury and pain in an effort to get money from the insurance company.

    Were you hurt in a car accident in Roswell? You need the help of an experienced car accident lawyer to collect the evidence you need to win your case and to fight with the insurance company so that you receive the maximum recovery in your settlement. To learn about your options and to get answers to your questions, start a live chat to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • How long do SSDI appeals take?

    Desk Calendar

    Your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits could be denied even if you fill out the paperwork completely and are clearly eligible for benefits. Unfortunately, many residents in New Mexico who apply for SSDI are not approved for benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

    It could take you a long time to successfully appeal the SSA’s denial of your application. Here, we explain how long each stage in the process could take.

    How Long the Stages in an SSDI Appeal Takes

    The length of time it will take you to complete your appeal will depend on how far in the appeals process you need to go to win your case. Here is how long it could take for each stage:

    • Reconsideration. You have 60 days to file a request for reconsideration after receiving a denial of your application. It will take the SSA three to four months to reach a decision. Most requests for reconsideration are denied in New Mexico.
    • Appeal. The second stage in the process is to file an appeal. You have 60 days to file your appeal after you receive the reconsideration determination. It will take you approximately one year to have a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). It will take them 45 to 90 days after your hearing to notify you of their decision.
    • Appeals Council. If you did not win your appeal, you have 60 days to request that the Appeals Council review the denial. If they agree with you, they could overturn the ALJ’s decision or send your case back to the ALJ for further review. This process could take up to one year.
    • Federal Court. The final stage is to file an appeal in Federal Court. You must file it within 60 days of the Appeal Council’s decision. It can take anywhere from months to up to a year for the review of your case in Federal Court to be completed.

    Are you applying for SSDI benefits? Do you need to file an appeal? Our experienced social security disability lawyers are here to help you every step of the way so that your application for SSDI benefits is approved as quickly as possible. To get started, call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule your free initial consultation today.

     

  • How much is my claim worth?

    If you were injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, it is important to understand how much your claim is worth when deciding whether to file a Wooden Block With Value Textclaim for compensation with their insurance company. This can help you know what to expect and how to spot the warning signs that the insurance company is unfairly trying to pay you less money than you deserve. Here’s what you need to know to get a sense of what you should receive in your settlement.

    What Compensation Can You Recover in a Car Collision Claim?

    The first consideration in determining the value of your claim is to determine the amount of compensation you can recover under New Mexico law. In our state, victims of an auto collision can recover their past and future damages. Types of compensation you are entitled to include:

    • Medical expenses
    • Lost wages and lost earning capacity
    • Property damages
    • Out-of-pocket expenses, such as towing and car rental fees
    • Pain and suffering
    • Wrongful death damages if a loved one was killed in the collision

    While it may be relatively straightforward to determine your past medical expenses, lost wages, and property damages, it can be much harder to figure out your future expenses if you suffered a long-term injury or one that makes it impossible for you to return to work. In addition, it can be hard to put a monetary value on the compensation you should receive for your pain and suffering and emotional distress. You need the help of an experienced car accident lawyer who has a track record of success in settling and litigating these cases to accurately value what damages you should recover.

    Other Factors That May Affect the Value of Your Claim

    Many other factors can impact how much your claim is worth. Four important factors that a lawyer will consider are:

    • Seriousness of your injuries. If you suffered a long-term injury that takes you months or longer to recover from or that is permanent, the value of your claim will be higher. This is because you will have additional medical expenses, will need more time off work, and will suffer more pain and suffering than if you suffered an injury that healed within a few months.
    • Disputes with the insurance company. If there are legitimate disputes with the insurance company about their driver’s liability or the seriousness of your injuries, this could weaken your case and the value of your claim. The key issue is whether the arguments are valid or excuses made up by the insurance adjuster to pay you a lower settlement.
    • Your fault. If you were partially at fault for causing your auto collision, this would reduce the value of your claim. New Mexico follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine, which provides that the amount of compensation you are entitled to would be reduced by your percentage of fault in causing the crash.
    • Insurance policy limits. No matter how seriously you were injured, the insurance company is only responsible for paying you up to their driver’s insurance policy limits. The amount of insurance coverage the motorist has will have a practical impact on the value of your claim.

    Were you injured in a car accident in Roswell? Our dedicated and knowledgeable legal team will thoroughly investigate the cause of your collision and the seriousness of your injuries so that we can accurately value your claim. We will also aggressively fight with the insurance company to ensure that you receive all the money you deserve in your settlement. Start a live chat to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.