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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  • 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.

     

  • Will moving to another state affect my SSDI benefits?

    Moving Truck and Moving BoxesOnce you begin receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), you may decide to move to a different state. The good news is that your move will not affect your eligibility for SSDI, and you will not have to reapply for benefits in the new state you live in. However, you do need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) of your planned move.

    How to Notify the Social Security Administration When You Move to Another State

    You have a duty to notify the SSA of certain life changes when you are receiving SSDI benefits. This includes a duty to inform them of a new address and telephone number.

    You should contact the SSA before you move. This ensures that you will receive your payments at your new address if they are mailed to you and any future communications from the SSA regarding your benefits. You can change your address in these ways:

    • Online. The easiest way to notify the SSA of your new address is online through your Social Security profile.
    • Local office. You can also go to a local Social Security Administration office and report your address change there.

    What Happens If You Move in With Someone?

    If you move in with a friend, partner, or family member when you relocate, you will need to report your change of address to the Social Security Administration. However, the fact that you will now be living with someone will not affect your right to SSDI benefits. That is because your eligibility is based on your work and income history and not on the income of those you live with.

    Do you need help filing for SSDI benefits? Was your application denied? Our experienced Social Security disability lawyers are here to answer your questions and to assist you in obtaining the disability benefits you are entitled to. To find out more about how we can help you, call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule a free initial consultation today.

     

  • How do I send records to the Social Security Administration?

    Folder With Social Security PaperworkWhen you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), you will need to provide the Social Security Administration (SSA) with documents that prove that you are too disabled to work and otherwise qualify for benefits. You could also need to send them additional documentation while they are reviewing your application or if your medical condition changes after you begin receiving SSDI benefits. Here is how you can submit additional information to the SSA.

    How to Provide the SSA With Your Documents

    One way that you can make the process of getting your application for SSDI benefits approved go faster is to provide the SSA with your complete medical records and other documents you need to support your application. You can provide it to the SSA in the following ways:

    • Initial application. When you initially apply for SSA or have additional documents to include before a claims examiner is assigned to your case, you can mail or drop off the information to your local SSA office.
    • Claims examiner. After you apply for benefits, a claims examiner will be assigned to review your application. You will be notified of the contact information for your claims examiner and will need to provide additional information to them directly.
    • Appeal. If the SSA denies your application, you have a right to appeal the decision. The notice of the denial will advise you of how to file your appeal and how to provide them with additional documentation of your disability.
    • Approval. Once you begin receiving SSDI benefits, you still have a duty to update the SSA if your medical condition improves or worsens. In addition, they may periodically review your file to determine if you still qualify for benefits. The SSA would notify you of where to send your documents in the letter advising you that your application is approved or when they review your eligibility for benefits.

    You should always keep a copy of any documents you send to the SSA for your records.

    What Is the Best Way to Provide Your Records to the SSA?

    If you want to be successful in obtaining SSDI benefits, you should retain an experienced Social Security disability attorney before submitting your application. An attorney can review it to be certain that it is completed properly and can help you collect the medical records and other documents you need to prove your right to benefits. They can also provide the SSA with necessary documents if you must file an appeal. Your lawyer may file many of your records electronically, which can be a safer and quicker way to provide them to the SSA.

    Are you applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits? Was your application denied? Start a live chat or call our Roswell office to schedule your free consultation today.

     

  • How long do I have to file an appeal for a Social Security Disability denial?

    Clock and Calendar on a DeskIf you file an application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, the Social Security Administration will review it and your supporting documents and make a decision on whether you qualify for benefits. If they deny your claim for SSDI benefits, you have a right to file an appeal of their decision. However, you must meet strict time deadlines for filing your appeal.

    How Long Do You Have to File an Appeal If the SSA Denies Your Application for SSDI Benefits?

    There are four levels of appeal of a Social Security Disability Insurance denial of benefits: reconsideration, ALJ hearing, Appeals Council, and Federal Court. Here are the deadlines you have to file your appeals:

    • Reconsideration. Your first step would be to ask the SSA to reconsider their decision. You have 60 days from the date of your denial to ask that another claims examiner review the decision to deny your request for SSDI benefits.
    • ALJ hearing. The next level of appeal would be to request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). You must file this type of appeal within 60 days of the denial of your request for reconsideration.
    • Appeals Council. If the ALJ determines that you are not eligible for SSDI benefits, your next step in the appeal process would be to file a request for a review by the Appeals Council. You would have 60 days from the date of the ALJ decision to appeal to the Appeals Council. They have the ability to grant you an approval of benefits, remand your case for a second hearing, deny your appeal, or dismiss your case.
    • Federal court. Your final stage in the appeal process would be to file a lawsuit in federal court. You would have 60 days from the date of the Appeals Council’s decision to file your appeal.

    What Happens If You Miss the Time Period to Appeal?

    You would lose your right to file an appeal if you miss the 60-day deadline to do so. You would be able to file a new application for SSDI benefits. However, this would be a lengthy process, and you would waste a lot of time and effort.

    If you reapply for benefits, your application may be denied again for the same reasons. In addition, you lose the right to receive some of the back benefits you are entitled to if you are approved for SSDI the second time you appeal.

    Was your application for SSDI benefits denied? You need the help of a knowledgeable Roswell Social Security disability attorney if you want your appeal of the SSA’s decision to be successful. To find out how we can help, call our Roswell office to schedule your free case evaluation today.

     

  • How long does it take to get approved for SSDI?

    Calendar Dates in a PileIf you must apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) because you cannot work due to a disabling medical condition, it can be stressful to wait for the Social Security Administration (SSA) to make a decision on whether you qualify for benefits. While some people are approved in as little as 30 days, others can wait a year or longer before they receive a final decision.

    How Long Could it Take to Get a Decision on Your SSDI Application?

    Understanding how long it will take to get through the different stages of a SSDI claim can relieve your stress and help you know what to expect. Here is how long it could take:

    • Initial application. The average response time for the SSA to reach a decision after you apply for SSDI benefits is three to four months, but this time period could be extended to up to eight months.
    • Reconsideration. If the SSA denies your request for benefits, you will need to file a request for reconsideration of their decision. It could take them three to four months to send you a decision on your initial appeal.
    • Appeal. You will need to file an appeal and have your case decided by an administrative law judge (ALJ) if your request for reconsideration is denied. It could take six months to two years before your hearing is scheduled and the ALJ makes a decision on your claim.

    How to Get a Decision Faster

    You can take steps to speed up the process of receiving a decision from the Social Security Administration. Here are a few tips on what you can do:

    • Fill out your application completely, and list all the doctors you have seen. You should provide their contact information and the dates you were examined by them.
    • Include all of your medical records. This will avoid the SSA having to contact your physicians for this information, which could delay their initial decision significantly.
    • Obtain letters from all doctors who are treating you for your disability. Their letters should explain your medical condition and how it prevents you from working.
    • Check on the status of your application to be certain that the SSA does not need additional information and that they are reviewing your application. You can check this on the SSA website or by calling and speaking to a SSA representative.

    What is the best way to be certain that your claim goes faster? Retain an experienced Social Security disability lawyer immediately. They can help you file your application properly, provide all the documentation needed for you to get a quick decision, and file your appeal if this is necessary. To learn how we can help, call our Roswell office to schedule your free consultation today.