Date:December 14, 2015
This list will cover some of the most frequently asked questions that NH personal injury attorneys receive. By covering the basics, you can increase your understanding of the laws surrounding personal injuries and maximize your chances of a successful lawsuit.
Are medical bills covered in a bodily injury claim?
Bodily injury claims are also commonly known as personal injury claims. These claims cover a wide variety of economic damages including, but not limited to, medical bills. You may also receive compensation for lost wages, transportation costs such as repair bills and rental car expenses, and other general damages. General damages may include pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Even if you choose to settle your claim, you should include all relevant damages in your settlement because you may not be able to pursue them later in court. Accordingly, if you receive a favorable outcome in your case (which can never be guaranteed) your medical bills should be covered. However, this could take a long time and, in the meantime, your bills may be sent to collections or other adverse actions taken. An attorney can assist you in understanding the process for using you own health insurance or other insurance benefits which may be available to you so you are able to get the treatment you need while you wait for your case to resolve through settlement or a jury verdict.
Can health insurers be included in a personal injury settlement?
If your personal injury claim is successful, your insurance company may demand to be repaid. Most insurers use language that allows them to be repaid for medical bills if a claim is made. This practice varies significantly from one state to another, and from policy to policy, but it is quite common. If Medicare or Medicaid has paid any medical expenses on your behalf these entities have an automatic lien on your case and it is likely that the insurance company will not even pay any agreed upon settlement until it is known that these liens will be paid.
Can auto accident settlement annuities be broken?
Some cases settle with an annuity – guaranteed payments at set times going forward (this might be monthly, yearly, or in lump sums). In most cases, it is not possible to break an annuity in any settlement. Annuities are designed so that the insurance company can pay out the settlement over a longer period of time rather than one large payment. If you were underage at the time of the settlement, your parents may have elected an annuity as the Courts in New Hampshire will not allow parents to simply hold funds of significant value on their child’s behalf (either an annuity is established or a minor’s estate opened with the probate court which then oversees all subsequent transactions). There are companies that will purchase annuities, but this is generally not recommended as you would usually be taking a substantial loss.
Can parents access their child’s settlement money?
In most cases, parents do not have access to a child’s settlement money. As stated above, when a minor’s case is settled for any substantial sum of money the funds are either put into an annuity that will be paid out after the child turns 18 (at the intervals specified in the annuity) or overseen by the Probate Court which usually requires that the funds be held in a bank account until the child turns 18. Sometimes parents are allowed to withdraw money from such accounts to pay for certain expenses, but these instances are limited and must be approved by the court.
Do lawyers receive a percentage fee before medical expenses are paid?
Most agreements base the lawyer’s percentage fee on the gross settlement before bills are paid.
How is a personal injury award collected?
If you are filing a claim against someone with insurance, the insurance company will pay the negotiated settlement. If you have a trial involving someone who has insurance, the insurance company will have hired an attorney and that attorney will arrange with the insurance company for any required payment to be made. If the person is uninsured or the jury verdict is greater than what the insurance company is required to cover, you may have to go to the court and seek enforcement. Your personal injury attorney will help you understand better the process and the details involved when someone is uninsured or underinsured. Remember, even if you win at a jury trial, there could still be an appeal of your case and you are not entitled to payment until the appeal is completed.
Is there a minimum amount for personal injury settlements?
No, there is no minimum or maximum amount for which you can settle in a personal injury claim. The amount depends on the liability of the defendant (was the other person negligent and di you have any fault), severity of the injury, the extent of economic damages and the time your injury is expected to persist. A lawyer may be able to help you determine an appropriate value for your case.
What is an appropriate contingency fee?
Contingency fees are usually negotiated with the particular attorney you are working with. In New Hampshire, the average fee is 33.33% (one-third) for issues litigated through either trial or arbitration. Some attorneys have fee agreements that are for a higher percentage once a lawsuit is filed.
If you have been injured due to the fault of another person or entity, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit or obtain a personal injury settlement. This process can be difficult, and it may be in your best interest to obtain the representation of a legal professional. Contact the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman PLLC today at (603) 624-7200 for more information on proceeding with your claim.