I have never met my lawyer; is that right? Am I allowed to get a second opinion?
At The Law Offices of Gary Bruce, we pride ourselves on personally meeting with every client at the outset of the case. We also strive for lawyers to be available to answer your questions. We have very capable staff that can answer your questions, but there are some questions that only a lawyer can or should answer. If you have never met a lawyer, you should probably try and make an appointment to meet with him or her. Communication is very important, and if you are dissatisfied with your lawyer, you do have the right to a second opinion.
I have a lawyer, but what if I'm dissatisfied with their service?
That sometimes happens. You can try to meet with them personally to discuss your feelings or seek a second opinion. You are entitled to a lawyer of your choosing and care hire or fire a lawyer at any time. There may be some though that firing one lawyer in favor of another is not in your best interest for example due to the initial attorney having handled the case for a lengthy amount of time into a lawsuit or if the initial attorney were to claim an “attorney’s lien” seeking payment for services rendered to date.
Will I be reimbursed for my out-of-pocket expenses?
Reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses is certainly one type of damages that can be pursued. Rarely is there a way to have any reimbursement occur prior to a final resolution of your case though.
Can I get a loan on my case?
Yes, but not from your attorney. Our professional ethics rules do not allow us to be both bank and attorney. It creates a conflict of interest in our ability to represent a client. However, there are many legal funding companies across the country; but we don’t recommend using them. In fact, we strongly recommend against using them.
There is no question that an injury can cause a significant disruption in their life that includes getting behind on bills. While legal loan companies may seem like an easy fix to an immediate problem, the money comes with strings attached such as service charges, incredibly high interest, and a refusal to negotiate. We have seen situations where an individual (against our advice) obtained a $500 loan at the start of a claim and by the time the case resolved, $5,000 was due back from the recovery before the client could directly receive anything. We never want our clients in this position and don’t endorse legal loans or funding.
What is my case worth?
We have heard of many other attorneys telling a new client from the very first meeting or phone call that the case is worth “$XXXX.XX” amount. In reality, an attorney cannot know from the first few minutes of speaking to you exactly what your case is worth. There are countless factors that impact what a case might be worth – many of which have not even happened at the time of a first meeting.
Also, every person’s injuries and facts are unique to them, meaning that only a judge or jury entering a verdict can tell you exactly what your case is worth. However, an experienced attorney will be able to spot patterns with other similar cases and have a general sense of what range that cases similar to yours resolve for either by settlement or trial verdict. Doing so requires investigation and an in depth review of your facts that takes more than an initial meeting.
Do I have to pay back my health insurance company if they pay for my medical bills?
Maybe. It depends on your health insurance plan and where your case is located. This is a very complex and hotly debated area of the law right now. If you have Tricare, Medicare, Medicaid, or some other type of government-funded insurance plan, the general rule is yes, you must pay them back. However, when it comes to other health insurance plans, they will often tell you they have the right to be reimbursed (the technical term is “subrogation”), but this is often NOT the case.
Georgia law favors the injured party over the health insurance company, but Georgia law does not always control, even in Georgia cases. The lawyers at The Law Offices of Gary Bruce are well-versed in this area of the law, and will do everything possible to minimize or completely prevent such a reimbursement claim.
How long will my case take?
As is often the answer with lawyers, it depends. If you have an emergency room visit and two weeks of physical therapy, your case may not take very long. If you have a back injury and go through therapy, injections, and even surgery, your case may take longer. Our usual advice is – don’t rush. Our firm attempts to handle things in a timely manner, but you don’t want to settle your case until you know the extent of your “damages”.
Typically, we attempt to resolve your case without filing a lawsuit. When you are finished with treatment, we order your records and send a demand to the insurer, in an attempt to resolve your case without the time and expense of a lawsuit. After a demand is made, we negotiate with the insurer and attempt to come to an agreement that is acceptable to you. If an insurer is not reasonable, then a lawsuit can be filed.
If negotiations fail, we talk to you about your options for a lawsuit. A lawsuit does take longer. However, we try to resolve your case as quickly as possible with the best outcome possible, and we do our best to give you a realistic time frame as your case moves forward.
Will my case go to trial?
It depends. Most cases in today’s legal system do not go to trial. If a case is filed in Muscogee County, the court often requires mediation. Mediation is when the parties come together and attempt to resolve a case without a trial. Mediation is a useful tool however, if an insurance company is unfair or unreasonable, you have a right to a jury trial guaranteed by the Constitution. Do not let the potential of a trial keep you from pursuing a claim.
How much should I settle for?
It depends. The value of your case depends on the impact that the wreck had on your life; in the form of medical treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other factors. It also depends on what you can prove at trial. This is another reason why good medical care is important. The decision to settle is up to you.
We can and will advise you, but usually the amount for which you may settle depends on what you can prove and how bad the conduct of the other driver was. We have experience in many types of cases, which can help you make decisions relating to settlement.
Should I handle this on my own?
We firmly believe that you should discuss your case with a lawyer before attempting to deal directly with an insurance company, but there are often situations that do not require or justify a lawyer’s involvement. For example, if your entire medical care consists of one emergency room visit, then it is probably something you can handle on your own. However, in all other situations, having a lawyer is usually to your benefit. Our firm does not charge a consultation fee, and we are happy to sit down and discuss your case and all of your options.
How much of my time is involved in pursuing my case?
At first, you will be very involved with providing initial information. Then after the initial meeting and follow up, you will likely be busy attending medical appointments. After your treatment has ended, your involvement will slow down substantially. There will not be much for you to do or worry about until hearing further from your lawyer about trying to resolve the case or if there is a need for a lawsuit.
If a lawsuit is necessary, you may need to participate in the “discovery” process which will involve answering, many written questions about yourself and your case for the other side. After those answers are provided, your deposition might be taken within the next few months. A deposition is when the opposing attorneys have the chance to meet you face to face and directly ask you questions about yourself and case. Once a deposition is complete, your involvement is usually limited until mediation or trial has been scheduled.
How do I know if the offer from the insurance company is fair?
Having experience and knowledge of the laws regarding insurance are the best ways to tell. The internet will never define how much a case is worth, nor will a computer program. Every case is different. We are happy to discuss your case and let you know if we think it is worth the time and money necessary to increase an offer – without an obligation. In fact, if we can’t make things better, there is no point in hiring us. We are happy to discuss with you how to best deal with your situation.
If I have an offer, can I still afford to get a lawyer involved in my case?
We are always happy to review an offer to see if we can improve your outcome. Many times, coverage is overlooked or hidden. Sometimes a lawyer can help by dealing with competing claims and reimbursement. It is always worth a call for an evaluation to see how we can help – if we can’t, we will tell you.
Contact the Law Offices of Gary Bruce by calling 706-596-1446 today for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys serve Columbus, Fort Benning and all of Georgia, as well as clients in Phenix City and nearby communities in neighboring Georgia.