Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Personal Injury Victims

It is natural to have questions about your accident, your rights, the legal process, and more after you or someone you love has suffered injuries because of someone else’s careless behavior. Find thoughtful, experienced answers from our dedicated legal team here. If you do not see the information you need, do not hesitate to reach out to us by phone or through our website!
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  • What should I do when an insurance adjuster requests a recorded statement?

    Voice Recorder Sometimes Used by Insurance Companies After a Car WreckAfter 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?

    Injured Victim Sitting on the Couch With CrutchesInjury 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.

     

  • Why You Should Use Your own personal health insurance for medical treatment following an accident

    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.

    Using Your Own Personal Health Insurance

    personal health insurance for medical treatment following a car accidentAfter 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!

    But, determining who the “responsible” party is may not be immediately clear and often times can only be determined after a lengthy investigation.  Many accidents have disputed liability (i.e. who was at fault).  There are also other factors that must be determined, such as whether the other driver carried insurance.

    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 Can Be Reimbursed

    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. 

  • How much is my personal injury case worth?

    When you must make the difficult decision to file a claim for compensation after suffering an injury in a car, slip and fall, or other personal injury accident, it's important to know whether or not it's worth your time to file a claim. To start this assessment, you first have to know the damages for which you can receive a settlement.   

    Types of Compensation You're Entitled to in Personal Injury Cases

    Although each personal injury claim is unique, most people report the same type of damages in order to regain financial stability after suffering an injury. You may be awarded compensation for the following:

    • Medical bills. You're entitled to reimbursement for the cost of doctor visits, hospitalizations, surgery, prescription medications, physical therapy, and any other expenses associated with treatment for your injuries.
    • Wage losses. This includes income you'll lose while you're off work, vacation and sick time benefits, bonuses, and commissions. If you must make a career change or become disabled due to your injuries, you may also be entitled to lost earning capacity, which is the future income and job benefits you might lose as a result of those changes.
    • Pain and suffering. You're entitled to be reimbursed for emotional trauma, pain, and suffering caused by your accident and injury. Since there isn't a set formula for calculating this amount, you'll need the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney to value this part of your claim.
    • Wrongful death. If a family member died as a result of his or her injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for the financial losses you suffered as well as the support, companionship, and advice of your loved one.
    • Punitive damages. When the at-fault party’s actions are grossly negligent, punitive damages may be awarded.

    Factors That Affect the Value of Your Claim

    The exact amount you receive in a settlement is based on a number of factors that affect the strength or weakness of your claim. Some of these factors include:

    • Liability. If the liability of the negligent party is clear-cut, or he admits being at fault, this strengthens the claim and makes it more likely that you'll receive what you are owed. When there are issues about your fault in contributing to your injuries, you may have to accept less when settling the case.
    • Severity of injuries. Your claim will be worth more if your injuries are more severe or cause some permanent injury than if you suffer a minor injury that you recover from quickly.
    • Insurance coverage. The amount of insurance coverage for the negligent party affects the value of your settlement in a practical way. No matter how much the amount of damages, you can only receive the insurance liability coverage in settlement of your claim.
    • Your attorney. Having an experienced personal injury attorney with a track record of successfully settling and trying cases similar to yours can increase the value of the case. He or she will be able to thoroughly investigate your accident, build a strong case against the negligent party, and negotiate a settlement that provides you with deserving compensation.

    Contact a New Mexico Injury Attorney Today

    If you were injured in a personal injury accident, call our office today to schedule a free consultation. We'll discuss the parties who could be responsible for compensating you and the value of your personal injury claim.

     

  • How long do I have to file a personal injury lawsuit in New Mexico?

    If you or a family member suffered a serious injury in a motor vehicle, slip and fall, or personal injury accident, you may need to file a claim for compensation with the negligent party’s insurance company.

    When you do this, it's important to understand the basic process, such as the types of compensation that you may be entitled to, how personal injury claims work, and the evidence that you will need to prove your case.

    In addition, a crucial law to understand is the statute of limitations in New Mexico.

    What Is the Statute of Limitations in New Mexico?

    The statute of limitations is the New Mexico law that sets the time period for you to file a personal injury lawsuit against all negligent parties who caused your accident. If you fail to file a lawsuit within these time periods, you waive your right to do so, and the judge would most likely dismiss your case.

    It is very important that you always consult an attorney to make sure you are filing your claim within the statute of limitations.

    As a general guideline, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury case is:

    • Two years from the date of the accident for a claim against a governmental entity, including a 90-day tort claim notice from the date of the accident
    • Three years from the date of the accident for personal injuries suffered
    • Three years from the date of the victim’s death if a loved one died from his or her injuries and you must file a wrongful death action
    • Four years from the date of the accident for property damage suffered

    Act Fast: Contact an Attorney Soon After Your Accident

    One of the best ways to ensure you receive what you deserve in a settlement is to retain an experienced personal injury attorney immediately after your accident. Even if your accident happened recently and you have a long time to file a lawsuit, you might be making a big mistake that could weaken your claim for compensation.

    If you wait to hire a personal injury lawyer, you limit his ability to promptly investigate the cause of your accident and interview witnesses. If too much time lapses between the incident and his investigation, scene evidence may disappear, or individuals may move or forget important details to help your claim. Your attorney can also handle all communications with the insurance adjuster and help you avoid mistakes, such as agreeing to give a recorded statement or signing the insurance company’s medical release, which could hurt your case.

    Do you need to file a claim following a personal injury accident? Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your legal options, and how we can help you fight to hold the negligent parties accountable.