How long do I have to file my claim?
Each state sets its own time limits, called statutes of limitation, which dictate the maximum time available to file a lawsuit. Making things even more confusing, the limitations periods are different for different types of cases.
Few things in the law are as inflexible as the statute of limitations. If you think you have a claim, consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. More information on the statutes of limitation in our practice jurisdictions, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and the District of Columbia is available here.
How can I afford a lawyer?
Lawyers are typically paid in one of two ways: by the hour or on a contingency fee. We represent primarily individuals. Not big companies. We understand that very few people can afford the $250-$400 per hour that many firms charge. We handle almost all of our cases on a contingency fee. This means that we only receive a fee IF we recover money for you and the fee is proportionate to the total amount we recover for you. Likewise, we will pay all the costs of prosecuting your case and we will only be reimbursed if we are successful. YOU WILL NOT OWE US ANYTHING IF WE DO NOT RECOVER MONEY FOR YOU.
If I meet with a lawyer, do I have to file a lawsuit?
Absolutely not. Our consultations are always free and there is never any pressure to sign up with us. You are the client and you make the decisions about whether to proceed with a claim and when, or if, to settle your claim. It is your case and we see the attorney-client relationship as a collaborative one. We want to work with you and bring our experience, knowledge, and skill to aid you. We will always give you our honest and frank advice but at the end of the day, major decisions are yours to make.
I was injured by someone else. Do I need an attorney?
Strictly speaking, no. Research demonstrates, however, that represented parties are more likely to receive compensation and generally receive larger awards than unrepresented parties. This makes sense. Anyone who has ever finished their own drywall knows there is a difference in doing a job and doing it well. We are litigators. We specialize in helping people investigate, present, and settle or try their claims. Chances are, we have handled a case, if not many cases, just like yours. We take a lot of the stress, weight and headache away from managing your claim. Most importantly, the insurance company will take you much more seriously with a lawyer than without.
What is the typical injury case process like?
While no two cases are exactly alike, there are some definite patterns and similarities. Click here for more information on the process.
How long will it take to resolve my case?
This is dependent on the complexity of the case, the client’s expectations, the court’s docket and more than any of these, the reasonableness of the other side. We understand that our clients want to get on with their recovery and their lives. We will make every effort to resolve your case as expeditiously as we can, but an unreasonable insurance company is beyond our control. When an insurance company is unreasonable we have to make them pay—which can take time. What we can say is that we are able to resolve a good deal of our cases prior to filing suit and that nationally less than 5 percent of the lawsuits filed go to trial.
How much is my case worth?
The value of any claim is dependent on many factors. Any lawyer who gives you a case value in an initial consultation is either inexperienced or disingenuous. We do not casually throw out numbers. What we will do, is thoroughly investigate your claim and give you our best and honest advices as to value, settlement range, and strategy. Click here for a more information on how we value a claim.
I was injured before, but this made it worse. Do I still have a claim?
Absolutely. One of the foundational principles of tort law is that the defendant (wrongdoer) takes the plaintiff (victim) as he finds him. This is also known as the “thin skull plaintiff” rule. It does not matter that a person was predisposed to an injury and therefore was injured when someone else may not have been. Likewise, if you had an injury before but it was made worse by the accident, you can still recover. This is called an exacerbation and if the other driver exacerbated your condition, they are liable to you.
I was injured in a car accident, but I do not want to sue the other driver, what can I do?
We understand. The legal process can be overwhelming and is often adversarial. That is certainly the way it is portrayed on TV. In most of our claims, the at fault party is insured. The claim may be brought against the other driver in name, but the defense of the claim will be handled by the insurance company and in all but the rarest of cases, the insurance carrier will pay any settlement.
I was injured in a car accident by a hit and run driver. What are my options?
Typically, an unknown or hit and run driver is considered an “uninsured motorist.” This means that we can pursue a claim under your uninsured motorists’ insurance, provided you carry uninsured motorists’ coverage. If you think you have a claim, we will be happy to discuss and review the potential avenues of recovery with you.
What is uninsured/underinsured motorists’ coverage? Do I need it?
Uninsured motorists’ (“UM”) coverage protects you if an uninsured or unknown driver injures you. In West Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, UM coverage is mandatory. In Ohio and Pennsylvania, UM coverage is optional and will depend on the coverage you purchased.
Underinsured motorists’ (“UIM”) coverage is optional and protects you in the event someone who does not have sufficient insurance to cover your losses injures you. This is a far too common scenario. State minimum liability policies are only $15,000 per person in Ohio and Pennsylvania; $25,000 per person in West Virginia and D.C., and $30,000 per person in Maryland. This just is not much money when the average new vehicle costs over $37,000 and a single medevac flight can cost upwards of $30,000!!
We advise all our clients to purchase uninsured motorists’ and underinsured motorists’ coverage if they do not already have it. Many of our clients believe that they have UM/UIM coverage because they have “full coverage.” Full coverage typically means your own vehicle is covered in the event of property damage regardless of fault. It does not mean that you have UM/UIM coverage. Check with your agent and be sure to buy UM/UIM if available. It is one of the least costly components of your overall insurance policy cost (in comparison to the collision of comprehensive coverage) and will provide you with additional security if you are injured.
I live in Pennsylvania. Should I buy limited tort or full tort insurance?
Pennsylvania has a unique insurance scheme where drivers can opt for either “full tort” or “limited tort” insurance coverage. Limited tort benefits insurance companies far more than it benefits consumers. The savings on a typical premium are around 15 percent but those savings will cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars if you are injured. Moreover, you are essentially giving up the right to a jury trial, secured to you by the Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 6 of the Pennsylvania Constitution to save $5-$25 a month.
I live in Pennsylvania, have limited tort, and was injured. Do I have any options?
That depends on the nature of your injuries. With a limited tort policy you cannot recover ANY money for your pain and suffering unless you have a “serious injury” as defined by 75 Pa. C.S.§ 1702 as an injury “resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” This is often a high bar to meet, but it is not impossible. We have the experience and medicolegal resources to evaluate your claim and, if appropriate, to make a claim for pain and suffering even if you have limited tort coverage.
Wagoner Desai, PLLC
265 High Street, 3rd Floor
Citizens Bank Building
Morgantown, WV 26505