We look forward to working with you on your case. We have prepared this Q&A to help you find answers to some common questions we hear from our clients. You may want to keep it with the folder of materials related to your case.
We have prepared this section for general use. Accordingly, it is not tailored to your specific case or type of case. However, we believe that this background information may be useful for most of our clients, regardless of whether they are pursuing a motor vehicle accident claim, a medical malpractice claim, or some other type of claim. If you have more specific questions about your specific type of case, please feel free to ask us.
Time limitations apply to most claims, especially those alleging personal injury. For example, in claims against the State of Connecticut or in claims involving municipalities, there are statutes which require very specific and written notice to be provided within a relatively short period of time from the date of the injury or harm. The same is true when making a "Dram Shop" claim against the seller or purveyor of alcoholic beverages. There are statutes of limitations, which limit the time when a lawsuit may be brought. If a case is filed beyond the statute of limitations time period, the claim will be considered to be barred. The timeliness of an investigation can also be very important to the ultimate resolution or disposition of a case. For these reasons, among others, we encourage people with potential claims to contact us as soon as possible after an injury or an event in order to discuss your rights.
Please do not discuss your incident or claim with anyone, except our attorneys and staff, and your doctors. Sometimes, we may hire investigators to help investigate your case. If so, you may speak with them, but not with any other investigators. Of course, you may be obligated to speak with an investigating police officer.
Anything you say about your case, whether to an insurance adjuster or to friends or acquaintances, might eventually be used by the defendant, or the defendant's insurance company. Let us know if anyone tries to discuss your case with you, and have them call us directly.
Please contact our office immediately if you receive correspondence or forms regarding your case or your injuries. Do not sign anything related to your case or your injuries, without first contacting our office. You may receive a phone call from an investigator or claims adjuster on behalf of an insurance company. Do not discuss your case with them or give them a statement, whether written or verbal, regardless of whether or not they say they are recording the statement. Tell them to call our office so that we may speak with them first. We may decide that no statement is appropriate, or we may decide to allow a statement to be taken only with us present.
Be careful with anything that you may post online. Post nothing that relates to your case. Assume that the defense attorneys and insurance investigators will see any postings that you may have made on Facebook or similar social networking sites.
We may contact you at various times while your claim is pending and as developments occur. If a settlement offer is received, we will want to discuss it with you. We will not bother you with unimportant or routine matters which do not need your input. If, however, you have any questions at any time regarding your case, feel free to contact us. We welcome your questions and are happy to address your concerns.
It is vitally important that we be able to stay in touch with you. We may need to contact you quickly and unexpectedly. If you change your home, business or email address or telephone numbers, please let us know immediately, preferably before the change. If you have email addresses and/or cell phone numbers, or alternate telephone numbers during a vacation, please let us know that, too. The more contact information we have for you, the better.
All of your complaints regarding your injuries should be reported to your doctor immediately. It is usually in your interest, from both a medical and a legal perspective, to be as detailed and descriptive as possible when telling the doctor about your symptoms. It is important to follow your doctor's advice regarding treatments and visits. Of course, if you have some reason to question the medical advice from your particular doctor and desire a second opinion, you should not hesitate to do so. We want you to make the best possible medical recovery from your injuries.
Keep a record of all expenses that you incur in conjunction with your case, even if you are submitting them to some health or medical payments insurance company. You should forward to our office all bills and receipts for medical or hospital care, medicines, medical supplies (as well as any records related to property damage in appropriate cases, such as motor vehicle accidents). It is important that you also keep a copy of the bills for your records. You may need them for submission to your health insurance carrier. If you have medical insurance, be sure to discuss it with your medical providers, so that the proper steps may be taken to maximize the likelihood that the insurance company will pay for your treatment.
If you have been unable to work, and your doctor releases you to return to work, please let us know. We need to document the amount of time you lose from work and the amount of any resulting wage loss. Similarly, if your doctor releases you from further treatment, please call and let us know that, too.
If you have visible injuries, such as bruises, cuts, scrapes, casts, braces, or scars, it can be very helpful to obtain photographs documenting those injuries, both initially, and later. Photos should be dated and may be sent to us electronically.
If you cannot arrange to have a good photograph taken yourself, let us know; and we will make arrangements to obtain photographic documentation of your injuries. Photographs of the damage to your vehicle are also helpful in motor vehicle accident cases.
If you have had other accidents, injuries, medical conditions or claims in the past, please inform us. Tell us about them even if you think they were minor or unrelated. If defendants know of some prior injury but we do not, significant problems can result in your case. Also, if you have suffered a subsequent accident or injury, we need to know that as well.
Information about insurance converge is important. If you are involved in an automobile accident, your insurance coverage may sometimes be obligated to pay you, even if the accident was the fault of the other driver. Thus, in such cases, we usually need a copy of your insurance policy, including not only the declarations page that lists the limits of your insurance coverage, but also the policy language and any amendments. In some situations, we may even need information on insurance policies for other family members or for vehicles in which you were riding.
If you are submitting your bills to some form of health or accident insurance, we may need information about that plan to assess: (1) what bills the insurance company must pay; and (2) whether the insurance or self-insured plan has a right to be paid back from any money you may get in settlement of your case.
Many clients believe that the defendant who caused their injuries is required to pay their medical bills as incurred. Unfortunately, we generally cannot force a defendant to do so at the outset of your case. Although we may ultimately be able to help you obtain compensation from the defendant for your past and future medical expenses, it is rare that a defendant will advance payments for medical bills, as they are incurred.
Your doctor, and other medical providers, will still look to you for payment, even if you were not at fault in causing your injuries. As between you and your doctor, you remain obligated to pay your bills. Generally, if you have medical insurance, you should submit your bills in a timely manner. Similarly, if you are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, you should submit your bills through those programs. If you have no medical insurance, but can afford to pay your bills, you may wish to do so to ensure the continued treatment and cooperation of your physician and to protect your credit rating. If you have no medical insurance, are not qualified for the government programs, and cannot afford to pay your medical bills, we may be able to convince some medical providers to continue to treat you and delay any collection efforts by providing them with a letter of protection, by which you would agree to pay their bills out of any settlement or judgment that you may obtain.
Many clients wonder about the value of their cases. It is a natural curiosity. However, in the early stages of your case, it is usually impossible to know what a reasonable recovery would be. Early guesses as to the possible value of a case are not helpful nor likely to be correct.
It is not possible to evaluate a claim until all of the information has been developed, and the various factors have been assessed. Each case is unique. We need all of your medical bills, records and reports, documentation of lost wages, and other damages to evaluate your claim.
Small factual differences between cases may make very large differences between verdicts or settlements. Furthermore, even if the identical case, with the identical parties, were presented 10 times to 10 different juries, there would likely be 10 different verdicts. In some cases, the plaintiff may win; and in others, the plaintiff may lose. In those cases in which the plaintiff wins, there would likely be a wide range of monetary awards. Ultimately, we try to assess the chance that you will win your case and the likely range of jury verdicts, if you do win. We are then guided by that in our evaluation of any settlement offers, taking into account any benefit which you might realize from obtaining the money sooner, with less costs of litigation.
Whether to accept or reject any settlement offer is ultimately your decision. We will try to give you our advice on the adequacy of any offer, based upon what we think would likely happen at trial, and the amount of time and money that would be spent to prosecute the case through verdict. Our advice to you is based upon our experience in handling these matters.
We always try to get you the best offer possible. However, we cannot force a defendant to increase a settlement offer, or to make any offer at all. Ultimately, you may have a choice between accepting the best offer available from the defendant, or having us try your case to a conclusion. Thus, whether your claim ultimately goes to trial, or is settled, may be in your control.
A lawsuit may not be necessary in every case. However, in many cases, a fair settlement offer cannot be obtained without filing a lawsuit.
Once a lawsuit is filed, your case proceeds on two independent tracks, while awaiting trial. The two tracks are pleadings and discovery.
Pleadings is the process by which the parties establish the issues to be resolved at trial. The first pleading is usually the complaint, by which the plaintiff sues to recover for his or her injuries and explains how the defendant is at fault. In a simple case, the defendant may respond with a straightforward answer, closing the pleadings so that the case can proceed to eventual assignment for trial. In many cases, however, one side attacks the pleadings filed by the other side, through various motions allowed by Connecticut practice. These motions may take time as the issues need to be briefed and argued before the court.
In discovery, both sides try to learn about the other's claims and defenses and to develop information which will help them win the case. Discovery can take many forms, but may include written questions, called "interrogatories," requests to produce documents, or depositions, which are sessions of verbal questioning under oath before a court reporter. Our office will work with you in answering written interrogatories. Of course, one of our lawyers will prepare you for your deposition and be in attendance, if it is taken.
There are substantial delays built into the procedures for bringing claims for damages. Some of this delay may actually be beneficial to claimants. Many claims that might have been resolved for less immediately after the incident, become more valuable later, after some permanent effect of the injury is noted. The time may allow us to fully appreciate the permanent effects of your injuries and their impact upon your activities.
However, many clients understandably feel that the wait for trial in Connecticut is too long. This feeling is not necessarily limited to clients who want a trial. Some clients who would rather settle than try their claims may find that they cannot obtain a suitable settlement offer until the case is near trial. Sometimes, insurers will not offer a realistic settlement until the case is near trial.
Most Connecticut judicial districts have delays of several years in bringing claims to trial, after they are filed in Court. We cannot always predict which judicial districts will be the most efficient because that may vary with the presiding judge, the nature of the case, and the amount of court business in the district.
In addition to the court delays, it is not uncommon for there to be rescheduling of depositions or other preliminary matters associated with your case. These occur for a variety of reasons, such as a lawyer being on trial with another case in another location, a witness or expert being unavailable, etc. It will require a degree of patience on your part to see your case through to a successful conclusion.
In many cases, we will make an effort to resolve a claim first, by settlement, without filing suit. Sometimes this works and saves our client considerable expense. Sometimes, it doesn't work; and the case needs to go into suit. Whether we make an initial effort to settle your case before suit will depend on a number of factors, including the time remaining on the limitations period, the nature of your injuries, and the attitude of the defendant's insurance company.
Maybe. Reimbursements from settlement proceeds can arise from various sources but the four most common are probably: (1) unpaid medical expenses; (2) health insurance or health plans; (3) workers' compensation benefits; and (4) government program benefits.
You remain responsible for any unpaid medical expenses, so we normally try to check the balances with your health-care providers at the time of settlement or judgment, so they may be paid from the proceeds. (If the doctors were not paid, they would have the right to sue you to collect the bills.) Furthermore, if you have provided a protection letter, you generally must repay the doctor from the settlement funds.
Whether a health plan has a right to be reimbursed can be a complex question, depending upon the nature of your coverage, the language of your policy, and evolving state and federal law. Sometimes, disputes over the right to reimbursement may be compromised, as an alternative to placing the disputed funds in an account to await years of litigation.
In most cases, an employer who has paid you workers' compensation benefits for an injury must be reimbursed from any judgment or settlement in a liability claim arising from that injury. (Naturally, if you were in the course of your employment when injured, you should let us know so that we can make sure you have taken the proper steps to preserve a workers' compensation claim.)
Medicaid and Medicare may claim a right to be reimbursed for payments made for treatment of injuries sustained in the incident.
If you have been a recipient of state assistance, or if state assistance has been rendered to a minor child of yours through the aid to families with dependent children program, the state may have a right to take a portion of your net settlement proceeds from your case, even if the payments had nothing to do with the incident. In addition, any portion of the net settlement proceeds that you do receive would be an asset which could affect your future eligibility for certain forms of state assistance, at least, on a temporary basis. If you believe that you could be in this situation, please contact us to discuss the matter in further detail. Furthermore, if you owe back child support, please note that a child support enforcement lien may also be asserted against your settlement proceeds.
The law regarding liens and subrogation rights is extremely complex, and this is only a broad guide to alert you to some of the issues.
Of course. Many of our clients are referred to us by existing clients. It is probably the most satisfying source of business for us.
We handle personal injury claims, medical malpractice, product liability, insurance disputes, and some other litigation matters. We don't practice criminal, real estate, or family law. Even if we cannot handle a particular case ourselves, we may be able to make some recommendation.
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