Do I Need An Accident Lawyer?
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
If you’re asking yourself this question, the answer is probably yes.
If you have been injured in an accident — a car, motorcycle, or boat accident, a slip and fall incident, or some other kind of accident — that was caused by the negligence of another, you have the right to file a personal injury claim to recover damages.
While the rules, avenues of inquiry, and litigation strategies will vary depending on the specific kind of accident you’ve experienced, finding a personal injury lawyer to help you understand your options, and what it means to file a claim, is one of the first steps you should take as you are recovering from our injuries.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. is a personal injury law firm that helps individuals and families who have been injured in an accident to receive compensation for these injuries. We can meet with you at your convenience, learn more about your accident and injuries, and make initial recommendations. After this free consultation, if we decide to work together, it will be a contingency fee agreement. This means we only get paid when we win your case and you receive your settlement.
In Michigan, contingency fee agreements are set by statute (MRPC Rule 1.5) and can be up to one-third of the recovery award.
Beware Of Insurance Companies
Some clients tell us that they first contacted us for help when an insurance company presented them with a settlement offer that sounded good, but they weren’t sure. They decided that it might be a good idea if a lawyer looked it over before they signed anything. Excellent decision.
An insurance company never has your interests at heart when they make a settlement offer. They are only interested in paying you as little as they possibly can. The first offer is almost always their lowest settlement offer. Insurance companies also want to settle out of court, if at all possible.
The experienced personal injury attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. will be at your side during any claims process with insurance company attorneys who represent the at-fault driver (or other negligent parties). We’ll be able to explain to you clearly what a settlement offer means, and the pros and cons of signing a release. In complex cases, settlement discussions can happen several times, over a period of months, as different compensation scenarios are proposed and evaluated.
A successful personal injury lawsuit means that you, the plaintiff, can prove the negligence of another person (or entity). Even in situations where negligence seems clear, proving that negligence during settlement discussions with insurance companies — or to a judge and jury in a court of law — takes preparation, experience, and skill.
Proving negligence involves assembling evidence, interviewing witnesses, discovering information from the other side, and planning a solid legal strategy that will persuade a judge and jury.
The team at Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. is extremely familiar with the personal injury claims process in Michigan — as well as with the practices and procedures in the court system throughout the state. Knowing the court — and judge — who will probably be hearing your case often has an impact on the finer points of legal strategy.
Evaluating Your Injuries
If you have been seriously injured, you may not know the full extent of your injuries at first. If your injuries include the spine, neck, or traumatic head injuries, broken bones, or an injury that seriously impairs a body function — then your injuries should be evaluated by an attorney with a legal and clinical understanding of what these injuries represent in terms of reasonable compensation.
Will you be able to return to the same job when you recover? Will you be able to return to work at all? How will you pay your medical bills in the future? Are you facing permanent disability or disfigurement?
Senior Partner Eileen Kroll specializes in such evaluations at Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. Her training as a Registered Nurse is invaluable in helping us evaluate a client’s injuries for legal purposes. If we work together we may, in fact, recommend that you see a particular doctor, or have a certain test conducted, to support your claim and provide expert testimony.
What Damages Can Be Recovered?
When it is time to negotiate a settlement, your damages — or the amount of money you want as compensation for your injuries — is where there is often disagreement.
There are two basic categories of damages awarded in personal injury claims, compensatory and punitive.
Compensatory damages include any expense or loss related to an injury, including medical bills, lost wages, long-term care, household expenses and costs associated with altered plans — like the client who had to cancel her wedding.
General compensatory damages also include your pain and suffering, and other non-medical losses when your injuries have permanently altered other aspects of your life.
Punitive damages are only awarded in cases where the proven negligence on the part of the defendant was particularly reprehensible and/or malicious in nature. This would include aggregated assault and battery, sexual assault, or fraud that caused significant financial harm. In a car accident case, punitive damages could be awarded if the driver of the other vehicle hit you intentionally.
You, as the plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit, become entitled to damages once a settlement has been reached — or after a judgement and award is made in court. Actually collecting the money is a different matter.
If the defendant responsible for paying damages has liability insurance, the insurance company will usually pay a valid settlement or damages award without any further push-back.
However, some defendants may not be able to pay the entire award, and some other defendants don’t want to pay it at all. One of the skilled attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. can help you in the collection process, discover undisclosed assets, and sometimes garnish wages.
Don’t Wait Too Long
The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is three years after an accident, and even though that may sound like a long time, it really isn’t. Depending on the type of injury — and the type of accident — getting sound legal advice as soon as possible after the accident makes a big difference in the ultimate outcome of your case and the compensation you receive.
An attorney from Cochran, Kroll & Associates P.C. can meet with you at a time and place that is most convenient and comfortable for you — including your home or hospital room.
Contact us toll-free (24 hours) at 866-466-9912 or use our convenient online contact form.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.