A Word From Josh Myers
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Thumbtack Users’ Most Frequently Asked Questions
How much is my case worth?
This is one of the most common questions and probably the hardest to answer at the onset of a claim. Determining your case’s value depends on several things like your injuries, the event that caused them, and insurance policy limits. In addition, your past medical bills, future medical bills, lost wages, loss of earning capacity and pain and suffering all factor in.
There is no simple equation for determining a case’s value, but based on our experience with past cases, we may be able to set reasonable expectations once we have done our homework. If another lawyer puts a huge figure on your settlement without examining your medical records, the police report and the insurance policies in play, consider it a HUGE red flag. There is simply no way to know early on and it is irresponsible to throw out numbers without researching the case fully.
How long will my personal injury lawsuit take?
Each case is unique; therefore, no standard time frame can be established for personal injury cases. Sometimes it may settle in a few months without the need for a trial, while others can take years to complete.
We take pride in working up our cases efficiently and effectively. This means we make sure we have done everything possible to maximize your recovery without wasting your time or money.
How much does a lawyer cost?
At Schultz & Myers, we only offer a contingency-fee contract. This means that we will never collect a fee until your case is successfully resolved. It is our risk free guarantee.
How soon should I file a claim?
We recommend talking over the details of your case with a lawyer immediately after you have sought initial medical treatment and before you talk to the insurance company. Our consultations are completely free. Victims of negligence have only a short period of time to file a claim. Should you fail to file within your case’s statute of limitations, you are forever barred from recovering compensation for your injuries.
What is negligence?
Negligence is the failure to take proper care when doing something. Texting and driving, driving under the influence, failing to maintain a safe vehicle, falsifying commercial driving logs, and hiring unfit drivers are all examples of negligence. To have a viable personal injury claim, the victim must have been injured from the negligence of another individual or entity. When a person fails to act with the same care as any reasonable person would, he or she may be financially responsible for any resulting damages.
Can I still pursue a claim if I was partially at fault for my injuries?
This is a complex question and the answer depends many factors, the most important being where the accident happened. In some places, if for example, you are 20% responsible for your injuries, then you can only recover 80% of what a judge views as “damages.” In some areas if you are 50% or more responsible, you cannot recover anything.
Missouri is a “Pure Comparative Negligence” state, meaning that defendants are only liable for the portion of damages that they are responsible for causing. Because the rules vary from state to state, you should consult with an attorney licensed to practice where you were injured.
Who can be held liable for serious and fatal injuries?
To determine who is responsible, it’s important to consult with a personal injury lawyer who is experienced in catastrophic injuries. In many cases, more than one person or entity may be responsible for your injuries. When this happens, most liable parties go back and forth trying to assign blame to the other. Depending on your type of personal injury, the liability may rest on a driver, employer or vehicle and/or a property owner. You need an attorney to investigate all potentially responsible parties.
Should I sign a release?
Sometimes an insurance adjuster will offer you what sounds like a great settlement right away if only you sign on the dotted line. But in reality, it takes weeks or months to fully recover from common injuries like whiplash, sprain and strains. Many more serious injuries can only be diagnosed after conservative care has been exhausted. If you have signed a release before you are fully recovered, you are responsible for all medical bills incurred thereafter.
A qualified attorney will make sure your rights are protected before you sign anything. It costs nothing to talk through your case facts and we strongly suggest you do so before signing any release.
Why am I not being compensated when I have full insurance coverage?
A insurance policy is nearly impossible to interpret by a lay person. They are written in complex terms to protect the insurance company, not you. It is no wonder that so many drivers believe they have full coverage, but are in fact subject to multiple exclusions. Your insurance agent should make the time to go over your policy until you understand it fully.
At Schultz & Myers, we offer the same service. In Missouri, uninsured motorist coverage is compulsory, but under-insured coverage is an optional endorsement. This type of insurance covers you in the event of an accident where the other party’s policy limits do not cover all of your bills. If you believe that you are getting the run-around from a negligent driver’s insurance or your own, hire an attorney.
What does it mean to “file suit,” and why do we do it?
Only when all other efforts to negotiate a settlement have been exhausted, will your attorney recommend that you file suit. The attorney, with your permission, will file legal papers within the appropriate court system to let a judge and jury decide the value of your case. Fortunately, most cases that are filed with the courts to not get to trial. It is in everyone’s best interest to settle a case. But in certain circumstances, it is critical to let a jury decide and we will fight for you.
What can I do to help my attorney win my case?
An attorney is hired to take the burden of filing a claim off of you while you recover. But you still have some responsibilities.
For example, your attorney needs you to:
- Attend all of your doctors appointment.
- Let them know when you see a new doctor and who it is.
- Update your contact information including cell phone numbers, email addresses and home addresses.
- Tell them about all pre-existing medical conditions.
- Never talk to the insurance companies about your injuries.
- Consider limiting your social media usage while your case is pending.
How do I find a good doctor?
Referrals are the best way to find specialists and you can get them several different ways. Family doctors, friends and even your attorney will have suggestions about whom to see. Whoever you choose, make sure your attorney knows who you are treating with. Some doctors are bias against litigation of any kind and will refuse to relate your injuries to your accident just to avoid getting tied up in the legal process.
In reality, these doctors can be toxic to your case and are not acting in your best interest. Tell your attorney as soon as you see someone new so we can be sure they will help you heal and not hurt your case because of their own personal bias.
I just lost my health insurance. How do I get medical care?
The best thing about hiring an attorney in your injury case is that they can help you get all of the treatment you need with little to no upfront costs. Lawyers can talk to medical billers and even medical collection agencies to get them to wait for payment out of the settlement. Without the word of your attorney, and sometimes even a legal agreement, most business will continue to bill you until you are well into collections and your credit it destroyed.
I only have a few questions and I don’t really want to hire a lawyer. Is the “free” consultation really free?
Thousands of people reach out to us every year. While most of these people take advantage of a free consultation, we only take on a fraction of these potential cases. Why?
- Some people are just like you. They just need a little advice. We are pleased to get helpful information to whomever needs it regardless of your interest in hiring us.
- Some people simply don’t need lawyers. If your case can be more efficiently handled on your own, we will flat out tell you and tell you how to do it. In fact we have a multitude of free information available on our website.
When you call for a consultation, that’s what you get. There is no hard sell, there is no obligation. We will check on you afterwards because we know this is a tough process that no one really wants to deal with. But if you say no thanks, there’s no hard feelings!
Knowledge is power. When you take that power away from insurance companies and use it to benefit yourself, it helps all of us. Its part of how we put YOU first.
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