Answering All Your Personal Injury, Social Security Disability, and Bankruptcy Questions
When a catastrophic event puts your future at risk, anxiety and uncertainty will cause you to have a million questions. What can you do? How can you provide for your family? Will you recover?
Allow the extensive experience and knowledge of the Packard Law Firm put your worries to rest. Come learn the answers to your questions and see how we can help pull you out of the depths of uncertainty.
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I know that there were witnesses to my accident. What do I do?
In deciding who caused an accident will sometimes come down to your word against theirs. Having an independent witness can be instrumental in proving what actually happened during the wreck.If there is a witness, you may contact a witness and ask for information. Although the witnesses are not legally required to participate, they often are more than willing to help.
When speaking with witnesses, first gather their basic contact information such as a name, phone number, and address. If there is time, you will next want to have them give a basic description of what they saw and heard before, during, and after the accident. Write down as much of this information as possible for later reference if the insurance company tries to play games.
There are some other ways you can secure a witness statement. The police officer that arrived at the scene of the accident will create a report containing information relating to the parties involved in the accident. The report will also provide a description of witness statements given at the time of the accident. You can ask the police department for a copy of any witness contact information and give that witness a call.
Finally, video footage is extremely valuable in showing how the accident occurred. Today, cameras are everywhere and the odds that a video camera recorded your accident is more likely than you might think. You can always ask for a copy of the footage but in reality, most business or government agencies are under no obligation to help. That being said, a friendly request can go a long way. If that fails, an attorney can issue a subpoena from the court mandating that the agency release the relevant data.
If you were injured in a car crash, getting a third party to explain what happened is extremely important. Sometimes it will require some extra legwork or maybe even legal action by an attorney. Regardless, securing a third party witness statement is definitely worth the effort and will give yourself the best chance at a successful outcome.
How much does an Attorney cost?
In our firm, the initial consultation costs nothing. If we pursue the case, then we are paid a percentage of the recovery (⅓ of the recovery for cases that settle without a lawsuit.)
I don’t really want to go to court. Can you still help me?
Most cases do not go to court. Here are three reasons why:
- The jury process is full of uncertainty. Often times there is no telling which way a jury will go before trial.
- Experienced lawyers and insurance adjuster usually know how much the case is really worth. They have experience working with one another and can quickly determine the case’s settlement value once your treatment is resolved.This is especially true for a car wrecks claim.
- Trials are time consuming and expensive. Many times there is a lengthy litigation process where experts are hired and evidence is purchased which may end up costing more than it is worth.
Will I have to travel?
No. The exception is when the case does not settle and the accident occurred somewhere that is far away from where you live. If the case does not settle, the lawsuit will typically be filed where the accident happened.
Will I have to testify?
Not if the case settles before trial. However, if you have to file a lawsuit, then many times, the injured person will have to go to his own lawyer’s office and answer questions under oath. This is called a deposition, and it is not too bad if you have the right lawyer.
Is it moral to file suit when you are injured?
This can be a tricky question and many people have strong feelings about this. Some of the concerns come from the Bible such when Jesus said: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you...” Finally, Jesus said: “resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek turn to him the other also.” (All these are from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5.) Similar teachings are found in other sacred texts. These are hard sayings. While none of us ever entirely lives up to these lofty teachings, we at this firm are serious about doing our best. So where does that leave us when we have been wronged or injured? While we can never answer that question for anyone else, we do have the following thoughts:
First, Jesus did say one thing that directly relates to lawsuits when he said: “if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.” (Matt 5: 40). In other words, if you do get sued, Jesus said that you should be generous to the plaintiff, and give even more than he asked.
More importantly, it seems to us that Jesus was very concerned about the rich exploiting the poor. He spoke of it often, calling the rich hypocrites for turning their backs on those that are poor, vulnerable, or needy. Jesus spent his time with the poor and with children, and he repeatedly made it a point to teach that anyone who follows His teachings will try to achieve some measure of social justice. In fact, after His crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus’ followers made sure that there was no poor among them, and took special care to make sure that the wealthy believers gave their money to the Church so that those who were less fortunate would have what they need.
So what about us? We live in a world where insurance companies are multi-billion dollar, for-profit organizations. They take advantage of individuals and families all the time. We believe that Jesus would want us to protect these vulnerable people, to represent them, and to make sure that they have food, clothing, and shelter (and other things they need).
It seems to us that Jesus was concerned with His family’s financial well-being. Early in His ministry, when his mother ran out of wine at a wedding, Jesus made sure she had it. Also, just before His death, he assigned to John the responsibility to take care of His mother. Likewise, many parents (and grandparents) feel the important moral obligation to care for, protect, and provide for their family. And, when you have your ability to work and provide taken, even in part, by someone else, your moral obligation to provide does not go away. So there is a good argument that your moral obligation to your family is to now do your best to recover compensation for that loss so your family can have the things they need.
In terms of the process of seeking compensation, Jesus said that we are to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God. This suggests that Jesus was OK with us using civil processes to achieve justice. Significantly, the Apostle Paul used his rights as a Roman citizen to have his day in court, and even appealed to Caesar himself.
To us, the particular process you use to seek compensation (filing a claim out of court or using the court system) is not the real issue. The real issue lies in your heart and in your actions -- the way you treat people. Perhaps you can ask the following questions before you decide whether to file a lawsuit:
Am I using this claim or lawsuit to get even or exact revenge?
Am I honest with everyone involved?
Do I treat others, even the people on the other side, with dignity and respect?
Do I wish evil on the people who caused my injury?
If I win my case, am I going to use the money to bless my loved ones or do something else worthy?
If you can answer these questions with a clear conscience, then we see no problem with seeking justice at the courthouse. In fact, as lawyers who represent real people with real problems, we feel that it is our sacred duty to protect individuals, including the poor and vulnerable, from wealthy forces that have so much power.
In short, we believe that you can love your enemies and bless them that curse you while, at the same time, seeking fair compensation for your injuries.
What happens if I am on the job and am injured by another driver?
Some delays are unavoidable. For example, you would ideally be done with your course of medical treatment before you settle because once you settle, then your claim is done forever and you cannot go back and get more money later. So if you settle and then discover that you need surgery, you are on your own. For that reason, you want to wait until you are done treating or at least until you are sure how much future medical care you need. If your medical treatment drags on, then your settlement will be delayed.
However, other delays can be avoidable. Most of these delays come from poor communication between a client and the lawyer. For example, suppose that you are done treating with the lawyer, but you don’t let your lawyer know. The staff at the office will not order the records if they do not know that it is time to start that process. Likewise, if the lawyer has a settlement offer but does not communicate it to the client, then that would delay the case.
Of course, the thing that delays a settlement the longest is litigation. We almost always try to settle the case without litigation, but if the insurance company will not make a fair offer, then we have to file suit. That takes time but the delay is better than taking a bad offer.
We try really hard not to delay the case unless there is a really good reason (such as filing a lawsuit). It takes long enough without any delay on our part and we are sensitive to the need to get fair compensation for you soon as possible.
What happens if the person who caused the accident has no insurance?
The law requires every driver to carry liability insurance, but more and more often, people drive and cause accidents when they are uninsured. It is a bigger problem than you might think. One study shows that 1 out of 5 drivers in Texas is uninsured. Some indications suggest that the number is even higher in San Antonio. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you are going to be OK if you have uninsured motorist protection on your own auto policy. This is known as UIM, and if you have it on your own car insurance policy, then your insurance carrier steps into the place of the uninsured driver, and pays you what you would have received if the at-fault driver had carried insurance.
If you are hit by an uninsured driver and you don’t have UIM or related coverage, then you are left going after the uninsured driver personally, which is usually an exercise in futility.
The insurance adjuster said that I did not need to hire a lawyer. Is that true?
Of course the adjuster told you that! Why would the insurance adjuster want you to hire a lawyer? If you have counsel, then you will know to push back when they make a low offer. If you have counsel, then you will be advised on a whole host of issues that will protect and help your case. Taking advice from the adjuster about what is best for your case is like letting the foxes guard the chicken coupe. We try very hard not to take any case where we think that the client can do just as well on their own, and in all but the most simple cases, we believe that the clients will do better with counsel -- frequently much better.
What should I bring with me when I meet with a lawyer?
Bring all documents, police reports, photos, medical bills and witness information you have that relate to the case. Bring everything and we will decide what we need. It is better to take some information back home than to leave it home only to find out that it was important to the evaluation of the case. But at the same time, don’t delay talking to a lawyer because you don’t have or can’t find something listed above.