Posted on 04/20/2021 at 07:35 AM by The Biker Lawyers

Frequently Asked Questions - Personal Injury

Heads up! There's a ton of info here. Feel free to take the most important stuff with you!

Want a FREE guide to Navigating Your Personal Injury Claim? Click here

A Guide to Navigating Personal Injury Lawsuits

This FAQ is a guideline, it is not legal advice. Every case presents its own unique facts and issues.  Consult an attorney before making any decisions regarding important matters in your own case.  This FAQ is designed to help you understand your case and assist you in making informed decisions when consulting with an attorney, or making a decision to hire an attorney.

What is a personal injury?

A personal injury is a physical injury to a person’s body, caused by someone else’s fault, that qualifies for monetary money compensation. This compensation usually comes from the at-fault person’s insurance policy. Someone who makes a personal injury claim is called a plaintiff. The person or company that harmed the plaintiff is called a defendant.

The plaintiff files a lawsuit. The defendant, well, defends.

Any injury you suffer because of the fault (negligence)of another is a personal injury.  Negligent actions are basically stupid decisions that have no excuse and then result in harm.

For example: if Bob runs a red light crashing into your motorcycle, Bob would be negligent, or at fault, for the injuries he caused.

What is a serious personal injury?

This is a question of degree. Any personal injury that disrupts your life costs you money, saddles you with medical bills, causes you lasting pain and suffering, creates physical or mental disability, or puts you out of work is a serious personal injury. 

What is considered a severe personal injury?

Severe personal injuries typically involve the need for surgery, maybe multiple surgeries, months of complete loss of ability to work, loss of mobility, and isolation. With severe personal injuries, the effects often last for years, perhaps a lifetime. 

How much can you sue for personal injury?

Personal injury lawsuits vary quite a bit in terms of what their value is. We’ve had cases worth less than $10,000 and cases over $5,000,000. The question you’re actually trying to find the answer to is how much your case is worth. 

The amount you ask for in a personal injury lawsuit needs to be realistic, based on the facts of your case. Asking for too little is rarely a good idea, however, asking for too much can actually harm your case. 

The key is to fully evaluate every little bit of your case before putting a dollar amount on it. Our job is to get our clients the most money possible for their personal injury damages, and we take that job very seriously.

Graphic by The Biker Lawyers indicating that 48% of motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle.

Insurance

Unless you happen to be injured by someone wealthy, your road to recovery is pretty much limited to insurance.

Now, in a motorcycle collision where you aren’t at fault, the idiot who caused the crash has their insurance applied first.

So if Bob smashes into your motorcycle with his car by running through a red light, that’s when his insurance policy will apply. However, let’s say Bob lives paycheck-to-paycheck and doesn’t have much in the way of insurance. Now let’s say your hospital bills are over $100,000 already and you’re still actively treating your injuries. What then?

Uninsured Motorist (UM) Coverage

This is why we highly recommend that everyone pick up underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) for every vehicle they own. One in ten motorists has no insurance at all. Most of the rest don’t have enough insurance to fairly pay the personal injury damages they cause. 

UM/UIM coverage will pay for your personal injury damages after you’ve maxed out Bob’s policy limits of $20,000. If you don’t have UM/UIM coverage, your recovery will almost certainly be limited to Bob’s $20,000 insurance limits. If you have $20,000 of UM/UIM, your recovery will likely be $40,000. While this may sound like a lot of money, many personal injury crashes, especially those involving motorcycles, have many times more personal injury damages than $40,000. 

This is why it’s important, not only to haveUM/UIM coverage but to have A LOT OF IT!

We don’t like to think about it, but when we take to the road, especially on a motorcycle, we are taking a risk.  If you become involved in a personal injury crash, you don’t want to rely on the other person to have enough insurance to cover your damages and losses. We recommend having at least $250,000 of UM/UIM coverage on every vehicle you own. 

The next level of self-protection is called “umbrella” insurance. An umbrella policy (usually $1M or $2M) kicks in to pay your personal injury damages if the other driver’s insurance plus your UM/UIM isn’t enough to pay for your losses. UM/UIM is very inexpensive insurance, and umbrella insurance is even cheaper.

 

Make sure you tell your insurance agent to have your umbrella insurance apply not just to your liability to others, but also to your UM/UIM. This is the only way you can drive with confidence, knowing that if disaster strikes, you and your family will receive fair compensation.

What are the types of damages?

Personal injury damages categories include:

  • Past medical expenses

  • Future medical expenses

  • Loss of  income

  • Loss of future earning capacity

  • Loss of function of the body and mind - past and future

  • Physical and mental pain and suffering - past and future

Past Medical Expenses 

These expenses are mostly about what your medical bills are by the time of trial.

Future Medical Expenses 

The continued medical care after your case is over. For example, chronic pain that requires continued treatment.  For this category of damages, a doctor’s opinion is often important in determining how much treatment you are likely to need and the expected cost for future treatment.

Loss of Income

The income you couldn’t make because you were injured.  There are many ways to calculate this damages category, as people earn money doing all sorts of different jobs that pay in many different ways.  

The most common loss of income is when somebody can’t report to work because of injuries, and misses several paychecks. Some people have their own businesses, and lose income because an injury prevents them from running the business.  Others may have employment contracts where bonuses are lost for jobs delayed by injury.  

Loss of Future Earning Capacity 

This takes into consideration how much money you could’ve made in the future if not for the injuries you’ve suffered. 

For example, let’s say you used to drive a truck for eight hours a day, but now you have low back pain, and your ability to earn money as a truck driver is gone. If you are no longer able to get a job where you make as much as you did before the injury, that missing income (minus the money you are still able to earn) is your future loss of earning capacity.

Loss of Function of Body and Mind - Past 

This looks at the time you’ve spent from the date of injury until you recover as well as you are ever going to recover,  and places a dollar value on that loss.

This is a category different from pain and suffering because it addresses what parts of you no longer work the same, whether it be physical or mental. 

Typically, an Independent Medical Examination (IME) is used to fully diagnose your loss of full function of body and mind. If you used to lift weights, and now have severe nerve damage in your right arm, an IME would put a number on how much use you’ve lost from your arm.

Loss of Function of Body and Mind - Future 

This considers how your physical/mental impairment from your injuries will define the rest of your life.

Will the impairments (such as headaches) go away with time? Will the injuries (such as a blown disc in your back) be healed in the future? If things haven’t healed, or will never fully heal, this damages category deals with compensation for the parts of your body (including your brain) that no longer work as well as they did before you were injured. 

Physical and Mental Pain and Suffering - Past 

Emotional distress, any physical pain that you’ve endured as a result of your injuries.  This includes lost quality of life.

How bad is the injury?  How long did the pain last?  How has the injury changed your life?

More than just you and your doctor will answer these questions.

Your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors are important too. These are the people who know you, who best understand how you have changed since being injured. 

Physical and Mental Pain and Suffering - Future 

This deals with the problems you’ll have to live with as life goes forward. For instance, if you used to love riding your motorcycle, but now have lasting PTSD or constant sharp pain that robs the joy from riding.

There are many ways a person can experience pain and suffering damages, so each person’s life and life experience is vital to figuring this out for compensation.  In determining the “future” part of this damages category, it is often necessary to consult with your doctor.  Sometimes experts who examine you are able to give evidence on whether a given condition will last, how long it will last, and whether the condition will improve.

Punitive Damages 

Punitive Damages are awarded strictly to punish the defendants who have done more than simply making a mistake. This is for when a person or business selfishly decided to put you at risk, essentially gambling with your wellbeing.  It is rare, but important because it punishes others for ignoring your rights and doing you harm.

Is Pain and Suffering a Personal Injury?

Yes. Pain and Suffering is a personal injury. It also includes loss of quality of life or loss of the ability to do what’s important to you.

Pain and suffering is a category of damages that can result from an injury.

Other damages categories include loss of income, loss of future earning capacity, medical bills, future medical costs, and loss of physical and mental function.  All categories of personal injury damages can be compensated with money settlements or trial verdicts.

Accurately measuring and proving each of these harms, and getting fair compensation, is a complicated process with many pitfalls.  This is why it is important to have an expert working on your case.

What is a fair settlement for Pain and Suffering?

There isn’t an exact answer to this. Each case is unique.  Pain and suffering are based on how bad your injuries are, how long they will last, and how the injuries change your life.  No person’s life is the same as another person’s life, so the answers to this question are different for everybody. 

What counts as Pain and Suffering?

The effects of physical and emotional injuries make up pain and suffering. For example, the pain you feel physically after a car crash, or the emotional suffering you face when you can’t enjoy your life after a truck collision leaves you with a back problem.

Pain and suffering can go on for a lot longer than nearly any other category of damages.  You may end up with chronic pain that lasts a lifetime. Think of the following medical conditions:

  • Migraines

  • Severe nerve damage

  • Arthritis caused by injuries 

  • Blown discs in your back

  • Traumatic injury to the neck, back, or brain

  • Partial or full paralysis

  • PTSD

  • Anxiety 

  • Depression

How much can you claim for emotional distress?

Emotional distress is part of Mental Pain and Suffering damages.  Different injuries can cause different emotional distress for different people.  Who you are, what’s important in your life, and what you do with your time can all be affected by emotional distress.  It is important to consult an expert in personal injury to figure out what compensation is fair for the negative changes to your emotional well-being.

Does personal injury include emotional distress?

Yes. Emotional distress is part of the damages category mental pain and suffering.

Your emotional and mental distress qualifies for compensation in many personal injury lawsuits. 

What is the Value of Pain and Suffering?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer here.  There is no formula, equation, or simple rule to determine the amount of money it takes to fairly compensate a person for pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit.  

Here are some questions that are commonly asked:

  • What kind of pain are/were you in?  

  • From what sort of injury?  

  • How long did the pain last?  

  • Is there still pain?  

  • Will the pain go away, or not?  

  • How does the pain change a specific person’s life?  

  • Is it physical pain, emotional pain, or both?  

  • Where and how is the pain experienced?  

Only an experienced personal injury lawyer can begin to make an accurate analysis for the fair compensation of pain and suffering. This analysis can only be made when you have either reached the point where the doctors have helped you as much as they can, or at least gotten you close to that point.

How do you prove emotional pain and suffering?

The medical evidence of physical injury, treatment with mental health professionals, testimony from friends and family, and changes in a person’s daily life are all examples of what can be used to prove emotional pain and suffering. No person can truly walk in the shoes of another, but the people around us, and the circumstances that lead to emotional pain must all be taken into account.

How much compensation can you get for emotional distress?

In a personal injury lawsuit, emotional distress is an aspect of pain and suffering. Again, there is no formula, equation, or simple rule to determine the amount of money it takes to fairly compensate a person for pain and suffering.  

To consider the complexity of considerations, let’s look at a few common questions that factor into the process of determining compensation.

  • What kind of pain are/were you in?

  • From what sort of injury?

  • How long did the pain last?

  • Is there still pain?

  • Will the pain go away, or not?

  • How does the pain change a specific person’s life?

  • Is it physical pain, emotional pain, or both?

  • Where and how is the pain experienced?  

An experienced personal injury lawyer is in the best position to make an accurate analysis for the fair compensation of pain and suffering. The other driver’s insurance company may lead you to believe they know the correct value to place on pain and suffering, but only an experienced personal injury lawyer working for you can be trusted to predict how much a jury is likely to award under a given set of circumstances.

What kind of damages are emotional distress?

The effects of emotional injuries are pain and suffering damages. For example fear of being in traffic after suffering a traffic-related injury. Think of the following medical conditions:

  • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)

  • Anxiety 

  • Depression

How much can you get for personal injury claims?

A bodily injury claim is a type of personal injury claim. The method used to pursue a personal injury claim is critical. In nearly all cases, an injured person has little or no experience in dealing with insurance and law.  On the other hand, an insurance adjuster deals in bodily injury claims every day, and it is part of the job for an adjuster to pay out the smallest award possible.  

If the injuries and damages are severe, the best thing an injured person can do is consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.  Being represented by a knowledgeable attorney who is an expert in personal injury cases almost always results in much higher money settlement payouts, even after attorney fees and litigation expenses are accounted for.

How much do personal injury cases settle for?

The settlement amount in a personal injury case is influenced by the number of medical bills, or lost wages, intangible damages (such as pain and suffering - things that cannot easily be counted); the degree of fault of each party; the amount of available insurance; the jurisdiction where the suit is filed; the personal and medical history of the injured person; the degree to which a defendant should have known better; the degree to which a plaintiff follows medical advice… the list goes on and on.  

Every case is different, and only an experienced lawyer who specializes in personal injury is able to weigh the many factors that determine how much a case should settle for.

How much do insurance companies pay for pain and suffering?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer here.  There is no formula, equation, or simple rule to determine the amount of money it takes to fairly compensate a person for pain and suffering in a personal injury lawsuit. 

Here are some common pain and suffering questions you may be asked if you are thinking about filing  a personal injury suit:

  • What kind of pain?  

  • From what sort of injury?  

  • How long did the pain last? 

  •  Is there still pain?  

  • Will the pain go away, or not? 

  • How does the pain change your life?  

  • Is it physical pain, emotional pain, or both?  

  • Where and how is the pain experienced?  

You don’t want to rely on the other guy’s insurance company to tell you how much is fair payment for your personal injury damages. You should never commit to accepting an amount from the insurance company without at least having a trusted personal injury lawyer review the facts and numbers with you. 

An experienced personal injury lawyer will shoot straight with you, because in the highly unlikely situation where an insurance company has made a fair offer, the attorney will be unable to help you achieve a significantly better result, and he or she will tell you that. 

How do I maximize my personal injury settlement?

This is a simple response: when dealing with serious or severe personal injuries, you almost always need an experienced personal injury lawyer who has a track record of going to trial working for you. By not hiring a lawyer who is working only for you, you tip the scales in favor of the insurance company. 

There are steps you can take on your own to maximize the compensation you eventually receive from your motor vehicle accident. Here is what to do after an accident:

  1. Contact the police after your crash to ensure a police report is filed.

  2. Take pictures or video of the scene of the accident.

  3. Ask for and keep track of all medical bills and records.

  4. Contact a personal injury lawyer early.

What is the value of my personal injury claim?

No surprises or shortcuts here.  Only after much information is known about medical treatment, the extent of recovery from injury, amount of medical bills, the size of the loss of income, the pain and suffering from injury to the time of being released by the doctors, and how much the injuries will affect the rest of your life can the value of your personal injury claim be determined.  

Without an experienced personal injury lawyer, this is a crapshoot, and you place yourself at the mercy of an insurance company that is not looking out for your best interests. 

What is a good settlement offer?

A good settlement offer is one that fairly compensates you for ALL of your losses. Insurance companies thrive on making lowball offers and getting people to settle quickly before they know the full extent of their losses and damages. A good settlement offer is one that leads an experienced personal injury lawyer to conclude that the chances of getting more money at trial than what has been offered are not very good. 

Should I accept the first offer of compensation?

Probably not, certainly not without speaking to an experienced personal injury attorney first. 

It’s important for you to know where you stand so that you don’t get less compensation than you deserve. We can help. If you’ve been offered money by the other guy’s insurance company, we’ll take a look at your case for free. If the offer is fair, we’ll tell you. 

The last thing we want to do is take you through the long litigation process and not get you significantly more money than you were already offered.

How do I get money from a bodily injury claim?

You have to start by making a claim. The personal injury claim process is complicated, and insurance companies are in the business to pay injured people as little as possible. The more information and knowledge you have about the workings of personal injury claims, the more likely you are to get a good result. 

A good personal injury lawyer will almost always get you far more money for your personal injury damages than you could get yourself. The chances of getting a fair settlement without the help of a personal injury lawyer are slim. It can happen, but in our experience, rarely. If you don’t know if an offer is fair, you need to take all steps necessary to figure it out, and this almost always starts with having a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. 

What happens if you refuse a settlement offer?

Refusing a settlement offer means that the insurance company no longer has to keep the offer open to you in the future.   In the majority of cases, the first offer an insurance company makes for settlement is far from the best offer the insurance company is willing to make to settle your case.  The best way to get a top-dollar settlement that pays out the most money to you is to consult an experienced personal injury attorney.

How long does a personal injury lawsuit take?

Typically, a personal injury lawsuit resolves in settlement or trial within 1-3 years.  Some rare cases settle in just a few weeks, while other cases can take far longer than the usual 1-3 years for a variety of reasons. Most of the time, you must be patient to get at the top dollar to repay you for your personal injury damages.

Is it worth hiring a personal injury attorney?

Nearly always, the answer is “yes.” Since most personal injury attorneys offer free case evaluations, your best bet is to meet with an experienced personal injury attorney and discuss the facts of your case.  Each case is different, so making use of free expert advice is the wisest course of action. 

If you decide to hire a lawyer to help you get a fair settlement of your personal injury case or to take your case to trial, it will not break the bank. Personal injury attorneys usually charge a percentage of the money they recover for you, rather than hourly fees. This means the lawyer is unlikely to take your case unless that lawyer is convinced he or she can get you more money than is already available to you.

Who is the best personal injury lawyer near me?

There is no correct answer to this question. Everybody thinks they’re the best, or if not, they’re in the wrong line of work. Yes, it’s crucial to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer who has a proven track record of getting people great results. There are a number of personal injury lawyers who can meet this description. 

Another very important factor is to find a lawyer you are comfortable with. After all, chances are, the lawyer you select will be representing you for over a year, maybe closer to two. If you’re not comfortable with the lawyer you select, the time it takes to get to the end of your personal injury lawsuit will not be pleasant, in fact, it may be just the opposite. 

Your lawyer should not only be a competent personal injury lawyer; your attorney should also treat you with respect, and be responsive to the questions you have. Remember, when you hire a personal injury lawyer, the lawyer is working for you! 
 

Here are some other frequently asked questions, and what they actually mean:

  1. What is considered to be a personal injury?

This question is actually asking “What is a personal injury?” which we’ve answered in the linked FAQ.

  1. What is included in a bodily injury claim?

This question is a variation of “What is included in a personal injury claim?” which is broad. Call the best personal injury lawyer near you for a free meeting during which they can break down what steps your particular claim will go through. Check out our linked FAQ.

  1. How much can you get for bodily injury claims?

This question is actually asking “What is my personal injury claim worth?” to which there is no easy answer. Each case is different, and evaluating what your case is worth is why you should take advantage of a free meeting with the best personal injury attorney near you. Check our FAQ for more information.

  1. How do you win a settlement?

This question is attempting to ask “What is a fair settlement?” to which there is no one correct answer. Each case is different, and evaluating how much money is fair for your case is one of many reasons you should have a free meeting with the best personal injury attorney near you for straight answers. Check out our linked FAQ.

  1. What is fair compensation for pain and suffering?

We’ve discussed pain and suffering compensation under the question “What is the value of pain and suffering?” in the linked FAQ.

  1. How much is a neck and back injury settlement?

This question, while specific as to the type of injury, is still too broad and has too many potential answers to say a specific amount. We recommend reading through the earlier parts of our blog to see why.

If you have a neck and/or back injury, contact the best personal injury lawyers near you for advice.

  1. How much money can you sue for pain and suffering?

This question is answered earlier under the linked FAQ “What is the Value of Pain and Suffering?”

  1. Should I accept the first offer on a personal injury claim?

There are too many variables with each claim to say yes or no to this question. Contact the best personal injury attorney near you to discuss your first offer, as they will be able to properly discuss what level of settlement makes sense for you.

  1. Is emotional distress a personal injury?

This question is answered earlier under the linked FAQ “Does personal injury include emotional distress?”

  1. How is pain and suffering compensation calculated?

This question is answered with more detail under the linked FAQ “What is the Value of Pain and Suffering?”

  1. How much money can you get for suing for emotional distress?

This question is answered under the linked FAQ “How much can you claim for emotional distress?”

  1. How much personal injury protection should I get?

This question is actually just asking how much insurance you should get for every situation. Personal injuries apply different insurance policies depending on how the injury occurs. 

For example: a car crash would apply car insurance, not homeowners insurance.

We can’t tell you what to get for insurance, as everyone leads different lives with different financial restrictions. However, we can tell you that it is always a good idea to have underinsured/uninsured coverage for any vehicle you’re driving, so that if someone crashes into you, and they don’t have insurance, you still have a way to recover money.

See our linked FAQ on “Insurance” and “Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)” for more details, and call the best personal injury attorney near you if you’ve been in a crash.

  1. Can I claim a personal injury on my own insurance?

This question is really asking when it’s correct to sue your own insurance company for your personal injury damages. Please see our linked FAQ “Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM)” for more information about this. If you still have questions after, call the best personal injury lawyer near you for answers to your questions.

  1. How long does a personal injury claim take to settle?

There is no broad answer that applies to all cases. Each case takes a different path. Some settle quickly, others never do and end up in trial.

Your best move is to call the best personal injury lawyer near you to discuss your case. 

  1. What is the difference between personal injury and bodily injury?

Bodily injury is a subsection of personal injury. See our linked FAQ on “What is a personal injury?” for more information.

  1. What does bodily injury pay for?

Bodily Injury is addressed in our linked FAQ “How much can you get for bodily injury claims”, but if you have additional questions please contact the best personal injury attorney near you to discuss your case.

  1. What does Geico pay for bodily injury?

This question has no correct answer, as they pay different amounts for every case. Contact an experienced personal injury attorney near you if you’ve been injured and are dealing with Geico insurance.

  1. What falls under personal injury law?

This question is most likely trying to figure out what type of injuries are personal injuries, which we’ve answered under the linked FAQ “What is a personal injury”.

  1. What can you sue for in a personal injury case?

This question is actually trying to figure out what categories of damages can be involved in a personal injury lawsuit, which we’ve answered under the linked FAQ “What are the types of damages”.

  1. When should you file a personal injury claim?

This question is likely trying to figure out when you should file a lawsuit over your personal injuries. For this, it’s best to talk to the best personal injury lawyer near you first. The field of law is complex, and it’s best to get help from an experienced attorney while pursuing your claim.

  1.  What do personal injury lawyers cover?

This question is actually asking what types of cases personal injury lawyers will take. There is no set answer to this, as each law firm operates using different standards.

Contact the best personal injury law firm near you today to talk it through, they’ll let you know if your situation is one they’ll be able to help with.

  1. What is a personal tort?

A personal tort is a wrong done to someone. Personal torts include injuries of all kinds, ranging from reputation, to emotions, to the body itself.

  1. What is personal injury liability?

This question is trying to figure out who is “at fault” for an injury and to what extent they are. The liability that someone has for the injuries of another is a question that requires legal analysis.

Contact the best personal injury lawyers near you for a consultation about your case today.

  1. Are you liable if someone falls on your property?

Sometimes. You might be liable if you knew there was a dangerous condition on your property and you didn’t warn anyone that it was there. Or you knew or should have known of the condition, but failed to fix it.

For example, if you knew your kids dug a hole in the yard and covered it with sticks and leaves because they’ve been watching too many Discovery channel documentaries, and you forgot to warn your guests about it, you can be liable for them falling into the hole.

The safest thing you can do is think about your property and imagine any kind of injury that could happen, and fix whatever could cause that injury. For example, if your sidewalk is uneven and someone could trip on it, hire somebody to come level it out. If your driveway has a crack that someone could catch their heel in and fall, get some cement patch and fill it in.

There are a lot of things that can change your liability, such as the type of property you have or who is on it and why, so the best way to know if you’re liable for someone falling on your property is to ask a lawyer.

  1. What insurance covers personal injury?

This question is trying to figure out what insurance applies in which situations. As there are too many situations to cover, we’ll give you a couple of examples you might find helpful instead:

Situation One: 

You’re the victim of a car crash, the defendant has no insurance, you have insurance but no under-insured/uninsured motorist coverage (UIM coverage).

Your insurance would not be used for the lawsuit, surprising as that might be to hear. You need UIM coverage in order to apply your insurance to lawsuits where you’re the victim.

Situation Two: 

You’re the victim of a car crash, the defendant has $100,000 in insurance, you have $50,000 in UIM Coverage on your insurance. 

The defendant’s insurance is responsible for all damages up to $100,000. After that, your insurance would come into play for up to an additional $50,000. 

Situation Three: 

You’re the victim of a car crash, the defendant has no insurance, but you have $100,000 in UIM Coverage.

Your insurance would be the first to cover your damages, up to the policy limits of $100,000.

Contact the best personal injury lawyers near you to discuss your case if you’re in any of the above situations. Get started by filling out the contact form below.

Comments
There are no comments yet.
Add Comment

* Indicates a required field