Personal Injury FAQ


How do I know if I need a lawyer?

Perhaps you do need a lawyer, because you have contacted my web site! Obviously the best course of action is to call me to discuss your case. Normally during the first 5 minutes of our discussion it will be apparent whether you have a problem which requires my services. In that case I will let you know and if appropriate suggest that we schedule an appointment. There is no charge for this initial telephone consultation. Should a face to face meeting be necessary, no fee will be charged if your case involves bodily injury or legal malpractice.

What if I am in a car crash or fall and get hurt?Why do I need a lawyer? Won’t the insurance company of the other driver or landowner take care of my bills?

As your lawyer my job is to protect you and get you fair treatment. The insurance adjuster for the other parties may tell you that you don’t need a lawyer and that your bills will be taken care of. However, the adjuster works for the insurance company covering the other parties, and is interested only in protecting the insurance carrier. Experience shows that injury victims who represent themselves – putting themselves at the mercy of the insurance adjuster – receive far less in settlement than if a personal injury lawyer had been hired. It costs you nothing to find out what kind of personal injury case you have. Why wait until the medical expenses and other bills are piling up? Call me so that we can discuss your case together.

How much is my personal injury case worth? When can I find this out?

Clearly these are the two most important questions in any case involving bodily injury. Your case cannot be valued until you reach a “medical end result”, when i.e. you have completed all medical treatments for your injury and your doctor is able to advise whether your injury is permanent, to what extent, whether future treatment is necessary (and at what cost), and what impact your injury will have on your ability to earn a living, care for your home and family, and continue with leisure and social activities. This process often takes years from the date of your injury. If your ability to work has been permanently disrupted, I will call in a vocational rehabilitation specialist to determine your physical capacity to perform other types of work. An economist will then be hired to calculate the value of any lost earnings due to injury over the course of your work career and his opinion will be factored into the overall value of your case. I will research the value of your case through comparison with Statewide settlements and verdicts, as well as my own experience, and then recommend to you a settlement range of values. With your understanding of evaluation and approval, settlement negotiations will then begin.

How do you set your fees?

In personal injury and legal malpractice claims, I charge a 33 1/3% contingency fee, meaning that my fee is payable only if you collect a settlement, verdict or award. In that situation my fee would then be deducted from what you recover; if no recovery is obtained, there is no fee.

What if I am not able to come to your office?

In the event your injury prevents you from traveling to my office I can meet with you at your home, the hospital, or any meeting place you wish.

Will I have to go to court?

If the insurance company for the person who caused the injury is willing to pay a fair settlement, you will not have to bring a lawsuit in order to obtain a recover. I am skilled at negotiating settlements without filing a lawsuit. Should the insurance company for the other side not be willing to negotiate fairly, I will file a lawsuit if you so desire. We will discuss whether or not it is necessary for you to go to court when the issue comes up.

How long do I have to bring a case?

In Vermont you have 3 years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit for your injuries or else your claim will be barred by the Statute of Limitations.

I was injured in a car crash and the other driver does not have insurance. Now what?

If you are injured by someone who does not have insurance, or only the $25,000.00 minimum required by Vermont law for auto insurance, you can still recover even if your damages exceed the amount of insurance the other driver has, or even if the other driver is not insured. This is called an Under Insured or Uninsured Motorist Claim, which means that we would bring a claim under your own auto insurance policy, provided that your uninsured/under insured coverage exceeds the amount of insurance coverage the other driver has. For example, if you have $50,000.00 in Uninsured/Under Insured Motorist Coverage, and the driver who caused your injuries only has $25,000.00, assuming that your injuries are worth $50,000.00, you can recover $25,000.00 from the other driver and $25,000.00 under your own insurance policy. This is in addition to medical expenses and property damage losses. When we first meet, I will advise you about this as we will review your own auto insurance policy to see the amount of your available coverage.

An insurance adjuster wants to settle and says I do not need a lawyer. Should I get one?

Remember whom the adjuster works for: the insurance company. They have one goal: to settle your case for the least amount of money possible. What may seem like a fair offer to you could fall far short of the true value of your case, including the amount of money that I could recover for you. It is a good idea to speak with me before accepting any offer made to you by an insurance company.

Will my insurance rates go up if I pursue a claim or obtain a recovery?

No. Based on the information insurance agents and insurance carriers provide, simply because an injured person pursues a claim does not mean that their insurance premiums will be increased. Usually when an insured persons negligent or wrongful acts cause injury to someone else that their own insurance premiums are increased.