Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Personal Injury Victims
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Should I accept a quick settlement of my motorcycle accident claim?
Why the Insurance Company May Offer You a Quick Settlement
The real reason the insurance adjuster may want to settle your claim quickly is to save the insurance company money by settling your claim for less than you deserve. They want you to accept their offer before you know the full extent of your injuries and speak to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney who can tell you how much your claim is really worth.
Reasons Not to Accept the First Offer You Receive
You are entitled to recover compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, property damages, and pain and suffering from the negligent driver and their insurance company under New Mexico law. Here are some of the reasons it would be a bad idea to settle your claim too quickly:
#1: You Don’t Know How Serious Your Injuries Are
First, you should not accept a quick settlement because you can’t know how serious your injuries are or the medical treatments you will need right after the motorcycle accident. You should wait until you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI) to settle your claim. This is the stage in your treatment when you have fully recovered or recovered as much as possible, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis.
You cannot know the cost of your future medical care or how your injuries will impact your ability to work until you reach your MMI. It could take months or more than a year to reach this stage of your medical recovery, especially if you suffered a long-term injury or multiple injuries.
#2: The Offer Is Too Low
The insurance company’s first offer will most likely be for much less than the total value of your claim. They hope you are desperate to settle your claim, even if it is for far less compensation than you deserve.
#3: Settlements Are Final
Once you reach a settlement with the insurance company, they will send you a release of all claims form to sign before they mail you your check. When you sign the release, you agree that this is a final settlement of your claim. You would be unable to reopen your claim later to request more compensation if you discover that your injuries are more severe than you thought or that you can no longer work.
What You Should Do if You’re Offered a Quick Settlement
You should never accept a settlement offer without first consulting with a lawyer. You should retain an attorney immediately if you do not have one and leave negotiating your settlement to them.
The insurance company could send you a check before you agree to settle your case. Do not cash the check. You could give up your right to pursue your right to seek all the damages you are entitled to under New Mexico law.
Were you or a loved one injured in a motorcycle accident in Roswell or Southeast New Mexico? Our experienced personal injury lawyers can explain your rights, collect the evidence you need to win your case, and go up against the insurance company so that you receive the maximum recovery in your settlement. Call our Roswell office at (575) 300-4000 or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation today to learn about our track record of success in motorcycle crash cases and how we can assist you.
How long will it take to settle my dog bite claim?
What Is the General Time Frame for Settling a Dog Bite Case?
There is a broad time range of how long it can take to settle a dog bite claim. Some cases will be settled within a few months, while others can take a year or more to be resolved, especially if the case is litigated and goes to trial.
What Factors Can Affect the Length of Time it Takes to Resolve a Dog Bite Claim?
There are a number of factors that can affect how long it will take to settle a claim with the insurance adjuster. Here are important ones that can impact on how long the process will take.
Seriousness of Your Injuries
If you suffered minor injuries and recover from them quickly, the value of your claim will be lower. The insurance adjuster for the dog owner may be willing to offer you a settlement quickly that fully compensates you.
However, if you suffer a long-term injury, such as scarring or disfigurement, nerve damage, an amputation, or organ damage, you will be entitled to more compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Even if you have a strong case, the insurance company could raise many defenses and fight for longer to deny your claim or pay you less money in your settlement.
How Long It Takes You to Recover
You might not realize that how long it takes you to recover can affect the length of time it takes to settle your claim. However, you should not try to resolve your claim until you fully recover from your injuries or recover as much as possible, and your doctor can give you a final prognosis. If you suffered severe or multiple injuries, it could take months, a year, or longer for this to happen.
You cannot know the amount of damages you are entitled to, especially your future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, or if you will fully recover until you reach this stage in your medical treatment. Once you settle your case with the insurance company, your settlement will be final. You cannot reopen your claim if you later discover your injuries were more serious than you thought.
Your Partial Fault
It could take longer to resolve your case if the insurance adjuster claims you were partially to blame for causing the dog to bite you. They could argue that you provoked the dog—even if it is not true. Your attorney may need to collect additional evidence or file a lawsuit to convince the insurance company of their liability to compensate you.
Your attorney will need to file a lawsuit if the statute of limitations, which is the deadline you have to sue the dog owner, will expire soon or if the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement. It can take over a year to litigate a case, especially if it goes to a jury trial.
Most cases will be settled at some point in the litigation process. However, litigation significantly increases how long it can take to settle a claim.
Did a dog bite you or a family member in Roswell, Carlsbad, or Southeast New Mexico? Our skilled personal injury attorneys can help collect the evidence you need to win your case and go up against the insurance company for the compensation you deserve. Call our Roswell office at 575-300-4000 or fill out our online form to schedule your free initial consultation today to learn more about how we can help you.
How can an attorney help me if I am injured in a motorcycle accident?
#1: Communicate With the Insurance Company
One way a lawyer will assist you is to take over all communications with the insurance adjuster. If you try to talk to the insurance company yourself, you could inadvertently say something that could be misconstrued as an admission of guilt or otherwise hurt your case. The insurance adjuster could also take advantage of you and get you to agree to give a recorded statement or sign a medical authorization to get ammunition they can use to deny your claim. You avoid all these problems by letting your lawyer deal with them.
#2: Collect the Needed Evidence
You must prove the other driver’s negligence in causing your motorcycle accident, the seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of compensation you should receive from the insurance company. You do this by collecting evidence that proves your case. A skilled personal injury lawyer will determine what evidence you need and will collect it for you.
While you may be able to obtain some evidence on your own, other types of proof could be difficult to get. Helpful evidence your attorney may collect to establish the motorist’s negligence includes:
- Police report
- Photos and videos of the collision
- Eyewitness statements
- Business surveillance camera footage
- Black box data from the negligent driver’s motor vehicle
- Inspection report about the damage to your motorcycle
- Accident reconstruction expert report
#3: Obtain Medical Records and Doctor Reports
Another way an attorney can help you is to obtain and organize your medical records and medical information from your doctor. Having strong medical evidence is essential to achieving a favorable outcome in your case. A lawyer will do the following for you:
- Get and organize your medical bills and records
- Contact the health care provider for any missing bills or medical records
- Work with your physician to ensure that they provide the information you need to show that your injuries were caused by your motorcycle accident, the seriousness of your injuries, the treatments you need, and your final prognosis
#4: Determine the Value of Your Claim
In New Mexico, you are entitled to recover compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning capacity damages, property damages, and pain and suffering when an at-fault motorist caused your injuries in a motorcycle crash. Determining what your claim is worth can be complicated, especially if you are entitled to future medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer who handles many motorcycle accident claims in their practice can value your claim and advise you on what you can realistically expect to receive in your settlement.
#5: Negotiate Your Settlement
Your lawyer will negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. Unfortunately, since the pandemic, it is even more common for insurance companies to try to delay settling a claim when a victim tries to resolve their claim on their own. Insurance adjusters use many excuses, such as that they are working from home or have been sick, and can take longer to return calls.
An attorney may be able to speed up the time it takes to settle your claim. If the insurance adjuster raises disputes to deny your claim or pay you less money—which is common—your attorney will have strategies to refute their arguments.
#6: Work With Lienholders
You may have a lien placed on your settlement by a health care provider or medical insurance company that must be paid when you settle your claim. Your attorney can negotiate with them to try to reduce the amount of the lien so that you receive more money.
#7: Litigate Your Claim
You will need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to offer you a fair settlement, or the statute of limitations to file your complaint will expire soon. You will need a lawyer licensed to practice law in New Mexico to litigate your case.
Were you injured in a motorcycle accident in Roswell or Southeast New Mexico? Call our Roswell office at 575-300-4000, start a live chat, or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation today to learn how we can help you.
How do I pay my medical bills after a dog bite?
Ways to Get Medical Bills Paid for by the Dog Owner
Under 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?
Compensation You Can Receive in a Medical Malpractice Case
One 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.
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 investigation 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.
Should I settle my personal injury case?
If you suffered injuries in a car, truck, slip and fall, or another type of personal injury accident, you will need to file a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company. At some point, you will need to decide whether to settle your case or take it to a jury trial.
Factors to Consider When Deciding Whether to Settle Your Claim
Making the decision on whether to settle your claim is one of the most important ones you will make, and you may have to consider this more than once if you receive additional offers from the insurance company. You should not decide this without the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Here are some of the pros of settling your case versus taking it to trial that you should consider.
Benefits of Settling Your Claim
Most personal injury cases are settled at some point before a scheduled jury trial. There are benefits in reaching a settlement with the insurance company:
- You will receive the settlement proceeds quicker.
- Your legal costs will be less because you will not incur trial costs.
- You avoid the time and energy that a jury trial takes.
- You have the certainty that you will receive some compensation for your injuries. Even if you have a strong case against the negligent party, there is no guarantee you will win at your jury trial.
Benefits of Taking Your Case to Jury Trial
If the insurance company refuses to make you a reasonable offer or the statute of limitations, which is the deadline you have to sue, will expire soon, you will need to file a lawsuit and litigate your claim. However, you could still reach a settlement at some point down the road.
However, there are benefits to taking your case to trial. They include:
- Finality. Presenting your case to the jury and receiving a decision—which will hopefully be favorable to you—can give you a sense that your case is truly over and that you received justice.
- Larger award. A settlement would most likely be for less than what you may receive at trial. While there is no guarantee that you would win your case at trial, you could receive much more money in a jury award.
Proving your right to damages after a personal injury accident is complicated. You need the help of a skilled personal injury lawyer to collect the evidence you need, go up against the insurance company, and decide whether it is in your best interests to settle your case. Call our Roswell office or start a live chat to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist you in pursuing your claim.
What should I do when an insurance adjuster requests a recorded statement?
After you’ve sustained injuries in a vehicle accident, you may be contacted by an adjuster from your own insurance company, as well as the adjuster from the other driver’s insurance company. Your response to requests from these adjusters can have a huge impact on your vehicle accident claim.
Responding to the Insurance Company
Regardless of whether you are contacted by your own insurance company or the other driver’s insurer, the insurance adjuster’s job isn’t to help you. The adjuster works for the insurance company, with the goal of saving the insurer as much money as possible. The insurance adjuster will likely ask you for a recorded statement. The appropriate response to this request depends on whether you are being contacted by an adjuster from:
Your Own Insurance Company
If the adjuster from your own insurance company asks for a recorded statement, you must either comply or risk denial of your claim. This is because you, as the insured, are contractually obligated to cooperate with your insurance company. While you are required to comply with your insurer’s request for a recorded statement, you should only do so under the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney.
The Other Driver’s Insurance Company
The other driver’s insurance company will likely contact you and request a recorded statement. However, you are under no obligation to provide a statement to someone else’s insurer—and you shouldn’t. Insurance adjusters are experts at asking leading questions, and they will attempt to make you admit that the collision was partly your fault. If you say anything that can be interpreted as an admission of guilt, the other driver’s insurance company will likely use your statement to reduce or deny your claim. Instead, you should have an experienced personal injury attorney speak with the insurer on your behalf.
Don’t Jeopardize Your Claim
If you’ve been injured in a vehicle collision, a personal injury attorney can help you avoid making mistakes that jeopardize your claim. To learn more, contact the Injury & Disability Law Center by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
How are damages calculated for pain and suffering?
Injury victims frequently cope with high medical bills, loss of income, and long recovery periods. In addition, they sometimes endure pain and suffering. Pain and suffering is a legal term that encompasses the physical and emotional pain stemming from accidental injuries.
Special Damages Versus General Damages
A personal injury claim has two primary types of possible compensation, special damages and general damages. Special damages include economic losses, such as property damage, medical bills, and loss of income, while general damages include pain and suffering. Special damages are typically relatively easy to value, since they are based on bills for vehicle repairs and medical expenses. However, calculating general damages, such as pain and suffering, is far more challenging.
Pain and Suffering Calculation Methods
While there are a number of approaches that insurance companies may take when calculating pain and suffering, the two most common are the multiplier method and the per diem method. The following is a brief overview:
- Multiplier method. The multiplier method is the most frequently used approach for calculating pain and suffering. An insurance company totals all of an accident victim’s special damages and multiplies them by a number of the insurer’s choosing. This number, called a multiplier, depends on many factors that may include: the extent of a victim’s injuries, the prospects for a full recovery, the impact of a victim’s injuries on his life, and the degree of the other party’s fault for the accident.
- Per diem method. The per diem method requires payment of a fixed dollar amount, or daily rate, for every day an injury victim must live with the pain caused by an accident. While this daily rate may be calculated using a variety of methods, the victim’s actual, daily earnings are frequently used.
An Attorney Can Help You Get the Compensation You Deserve
If you’ve been injured in a vehicle collision, or any other type of accident that was someone else’s fault, you deserve compensation for the physical and emotional pain you’ve suffered. An experienced personal injury attorney can prove the extent of your injuries and demand that you receive fair compensation. To learn more, contact us today by clicking the Live Chat button on this page.
Should I Use My Personal Health Insurance After an Accident in New Mexico?
After an accident, you should seek immediate medical attention. The most important thing is to get the treatment you need and do not let issues of insurance and payment prevent you from getting the proper treatment. Your safety and health will always be top priority!
If given the option, you should insist on using your own personal health insurance for all of your medical treatment, even if the accident was caused by another person.
Understandably, many people are hesitant to use their own health insurance to pay since their injuries were caused by someone else—shouldn’t the responsible party’s insurance have to pay? The answer is yes, they should!
Important Reasons to Use Your Personal Health Insurance After an Accident
One of the most common questions that I get asked in my personal injury practice is whether I should use my personal health insurance to pay for medical treatment after I've been in an accident that was caused by someone else.
The answer is, yes, every time. and here's why.
Anytime you've been in an accident, one of the main goals is going to ensure you don't have any lingering bills or ongoing debts after the accident. Using your personal health insurance is the best way to do that.
#1 – There could be a dispute as to who was at fault.
After an accident. you may think the other person was at fault. But you never quite know if there is going to be a dispute as to who caused the accident. It is not uncommon for there to be an argument as to who actually caused the accident. And since most of your medical treatment is going to take place soon after the accident. You should never assume that there's going to be that insurance to cover you because that may not be determined until a much later time. If you use your personal health insurance you eliminate the risk that that bill could go unpaid.
#2 - The other driver could be uninsured or underinsured.
You don't know if the accident was caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver. This is true even if the police report shows the other driver has insurance. Often times those listed policies have expired, so you can’t rely on the insurance provided to the police at the scene. Even if the other driver caused the accident, they may not actually carry the minimum insurance required because in New Mexico we have a very high rate of uninsured drivers – in fact, the third-highest in the United States. So you never quite know if there is insurance to cover your injuries, even if the other person was clearly at fault. You also don't know if they're going to have enough insurance to cover all of your bills. So again, use your personal health insurance to completely eliminate that as a possibility.
#3 - Health insurers pay discounted rates.
Your personal health insurance company – for instance, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medicaid, Medicare, and virtually all health insurers—have contracts with medical providers that allow them to pay a reduced rate, called a “contract rate” for your medical treatment. This means it is in your best interest for your health insurer to pay those bills at a reduced contract rate, as opposed to the other drivers auto insurance company paying your medical bills, because the auto insurer will pay the full amount of those charged bills. This will help put more in your pocket when your claim is finished.
#4 – You can negotiate with your health insurer.
If you do ultimately receive a settlement and your health insurance has paid out on your behalf, you will have a legal obligation to pay them back. That's part of your contract agreement with them. But there are also some benefits under the law that allow you to negotiate down what you potentially have to reimburse to your health insurance company. Therefore, it will be in your best interest to negotiate the reimbursement owed to your health insurance company versus getting stuck with an unpaid medical bill.
IMPORTANT BONUS TIP - Don’t be surprised if the medical provider does not want to bill your personal health insurer and they instead want to bill the auto insurance for the person that hit you. This has to do with the economics of how much they make off of that medical treatment. My advice is to be persistent and insist the provider bill your health insurer—it may be the single most important step you can take to maximize your take-home pay from a settlement.
A Note of Caution: Do Not Delay Medical Treatment
Since medical treatment is typically required immediately after an accident, you do not want to delay medical treatment while the legal issues of the accident are sorted out. This is where New Mexico law provides the appropriate remedy.
Medical Payments Paid By Your Insurance Must Be Reimbursed
Keep in mind: New Mexico law provides reimbursement rights to your health insurer for benefits paid out on your behalf that were caused by another person’s negligence. That means if your health insurer pays for your medical expenses for treatment caused by someone else’s negligence, and you ultimately recover monetary damages from that negligent person, your health insurer has a right to be reimbursed (these are called rights of subrogation) from you out of the accident money you received.Quick Example:
You are driving and a negligent driver runs a stop sign and hits you. An ambulance arrives and transports you to the hospital. You remember reading something from The Injury and Disability Law Center that said to use your personal health insurance if you are in an accident. The hospital bills your personal health insurance for payment for your treatment. It is later determined that the other driver was at fault for causing the accident, and carried auto insurance. The negligent driver’s insurance company then pays you for your bodily injury damages from the accident, which include your medical bills. Your receipt of payment from the responsible party’s insurance for your damages triggers the legal right of your health insurance company to be reimbursed what they paid out for your treatment caused by the negligent driver.
Financial Burden is on the Wrongdoer
As you can see in the example, the law ultimately is designed to place the financial burden on the wrongdoer. In this example, the negligent driver. Even though your health insurance paid out initially, the wrongdoer paid for those damages through a settlement with you, and you are then able (and required) to pay your health insurer back. This process ensures there is no improper shifting of the financial burden unfairly to your health insurer, while at the same time allowing you to receive the timely medical treatment you need.
Contact Our Roswell Injury Law Office for Help
Our team would be happy to talk with you if you have additional questions about using your personal health insurance, ensuring your medical bills get paid, or any other questions you may have following a car wreck or other accident in New Mexico. Give us a call at (575) 300-4000 or fill out our contact form so we can discuss the details of your specific situation in a free consultation.