Following an accident, what is the first thing I should do if I’m injured?

The first thing you should do following an accident if you are injured is get the medical attention you need. If you went to the emergency room from the scene of the accident, be sure to follow up with your physician if your condition does not improve. Always follow the advice of your physician. If you don’t agree with a recommendation, get a second opinion.

Once you are able, you should call your insurance carrier. Insurance companies require that you notify them immediately following an accident. To the extent you are able, you should call the same day, or as soon thereafter as possible.

It is helpful to have photos of your injuries whether they are photos of a casted part of your body, bruises, lacerations, cuts or scrapes. As appearances change over time, take more photos. The cliché, “a picture is worth a thousand words” proves invaluable during settlement or at trial.

The same holds true for photographs of any damage to your vehicle. Take photographs before any repairs are made. Our office can assist you in this regard.

How long does it take to resolve a personal injury case?

It is nearly impossible to predict the length of time it will take to resolve a case, in that each case is different, varying in factual issues, complexity and damages. Unless the injuries are minor, you can count on at least a year for a case to resolve.

Why does it take at least a year to settle a personal injury matter in most cases?

Sometimes injuries will drastically improve, or pain may significantly or completely disappear over time. But it is not unusual for pain to reappear or difficulties to resurface with time as well. Most doctors require that at least a year pass from the date of the injury before the physician will make a determination as to whether you have reached maximum medical improvement. Once your physician has ascertained that you have reached maximum medical improvement, the doctor must then determine whether you suffer from a permanent partial disability. Without the benefit of this information, your attorney cannot settle your case.

How does one determine the value of a case?

There are many factors that go into determining the value of a case. Both economic and  non-economic damages are assessed. Some, but not necessarily all, considerations are: whether or not the injury was soft tissue or a fracture, the total amount of medical bills, the type of treatment needed (orthopedic, chiropractic, surgical, etc.), whether any injury is permanent in nature, pain and suffering, wage loss, impaired earning capacity, liability.

If I am partially at fault in an accident, how does it affect the value of my case?

In Connecticut, we have comparative liability. That means that in a case where a plaintiff is less than 50% percent at-fault, he can recover damages against an at fault defendant who is at least 51% percent at fault or more. If the plaintiff is 51% percent at fault or more, he cannot prevail and will not recover any damages. Therefore, the court must apportion liability among the parties. In a situation where a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault (less than 50%), then the total value of plaintiff’s damages will be reduced by his/her share of the liability. For example, where a plaintiff is found to be 20% percent liable for an accident and defendant is found to be 80% percent liable, if damages total $100,000, the defendant would only have to pay $80,000 ($100,000 less 20%).

How likely is it that my case will go to trial?

Statistics show that most cases settle. However, some settle sooner than others. Whether a case settles depends on several factors, such as how clear or ambiguous liability is in the case, the complexity of the injuries and medical treatment and the reasonableness of the parties.

There are alternative dispute resolutions that the parties may choose in an effort to attempt to settle or resolve a case.  These alternative methods are binding arbitration,  non-binding arbitration or mediation.

How is an injured party compensated for pain and suffering?

Pain that one feels from cuts, lacerations, broken bones, soft tissue injuries and/or internal injuries, is known as pain and suffering. One can also be awarded money for a different type of pain and suffering such as embarrassment caused by disfigurement and scars or psychological pain such as depression or post-traumatic stress.

While awarding compensation for pain and suffering is subjective, there are specific factors to be considered. They are:

  • Degree of pain associated with the plaintiff’s injuries
  • Degree of pain associated with the medical treatment and procedures that the plaintiff had to undergo
  • Whether the plaintiff has a high tolerance for pain
  • Impact of the injuries on the plaintiff’s life and daily activities
  • Whether the injuries require the plaintiff to take pain medications or receive pain management treatment
  • Whether the plaintiff followed the physician’s recommendation with regard to medical treatment in order to minimize pain and suffering
  • Whether the plaintiff’s abilities are consistent with those of a person who is in pain
  • Severity of plaintiff’s injuries
  • Likelihood that the plaintiff will fully recover from his/her injuries
  • Whether the pain and suffering is likely to lessen over time, or whether it will linger for years or a lifetime
Can I represent myself in a personal injury claim?

Whether you can or should represent yourself in a personal injury claim are two different things. Before you decide to represent yourself in a personal injury claim, you need to realize that insurance companies hire insurance adjusters whose job it is to deny or settle insurance claims for the least amount possible.

If any of the answers to the following questions are “no,” it would not be wise to represent yourself.

  • Do you know all the elements of damages for which you are entitled?
  • Do you know how to calculate non-economic damages?
  • Do you realize that if you sign a release, you forfeit your rights to make further claims against the insured/defendant for which you might be entitled?
  • Do you know what evidence you need to make your case stronger?
  • If your case goes to court, do you feel qualified to represent yourself in court?
  • If your case goes to court, do you feel qualified to prepare the appropriate legal documents necessary to effectively pursue your claim?