Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How does a prior injury affect the value of my claim?
A: Generally, a person who is careless or negligent is responsible only for the harm he or she caused. That means that you have to prove they were negligent and that the negligence caused your injury. If you had a pre-existing condition or prior injury, their negligence did not cause your pre-existing condition or initial injury. However, if you can prove that their negligence aggravated your pre-existing condition or initial injury, you can collect for the degree to which the condition has been aggravated.
Q: What are the issues affecting the damages that can be recovered?
A: Every case addresses four issues:
- Liability — Was someone negligent?
- Causation — Did someone’s negligence proximately cause your damages?
- Damages — What amount will fairly and adequately compensate you for your injuries?
- Source of collection — Is there insurance or other assets from which your damages can be recovered?
Q: What is a normal settlement amount?
A: The proper value of a claim is established when an experienced trial lawyer reviews and interprets the case information, such as:
- The amount of the medical bills
- Loss of past income/wages
- Future medical bills
- How old you are
- Impact on our future earning capacity
- Activities you no longer do
- Activities you do but don’t enjoy as much
- Prognosis for further problems
- Strength of lay witness testimony, and so forth
You must always negotiate from a position of strength. A lawyer begins with: What would a reasonable jury award as fair and adequate compensation?
Q: What is contributory negligence?
A: Your actions may have contributed to the accident and the injuries you received. In some cases, contributory negligence on the part of the injured party may reduce the amount of the settlement awarded.
Q: What is subrogation?
A: Generally, a health insurance plan or policy has a subrogation provision, which says that the health insurance company of the injured party is entitled to be paid back from the third-party wrongdoer’s insurance company. Your lawyer usually handles this, so that two things occur:
The opposing insurance company settles when the health insurance company has agreed to release whatever claim they have against them.
The health insurance company accepts as full and final payment the amount agreed upon for the services received. Sometimes health insurance companies take less than the full amount owed to them because of the costs incurred in going out and getting fair and adequate compensation.