According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety there were over 30,000 fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2013 – there were 276 auto accident deaths in Connecticut alone. That does not even count all the injuries which do not result in death.
In our practice the top question we get is “what is my case worth,” followed closely by “will you take my case” and “what happens in an injury accident”? Our answers are below.
What Is My Case Worth?
When you are injured in an accident, you may be entitled to recover for your injuries, as well as the property damage caused to your vehicle.
The legal term for this money is “damages”. In Connecticut, an injured person may be entitled to two types of damages – economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are for those things we can basically put an exact dollar amount on. For instance, lost work, sick days, medical bills, future medical bills, repairs, medicine, all have pretty precise dollar amounts and are all called “economic damages.”
Non-economic damages are what you might commonly call “pain & suffering.” There are no precise numbers on what you deserve for pain & suffering; it is up to the jury, or whatever we feel you can fairly settle for.
Everyone wants to know what their case is worth, and the truthful answer is, “I have no idea.” Every case and the injuries are specific to that person. For instance, a broken leg for a young marathon runner, may be worth more than a broken leg for a person who lives a sedentary life. A person with no prior injury might be entitled to someone who already had a bad back. But, remember, it is all on a case-by-case basis.
We can figure out, pretty early on, what a good range of recovery might be, although that evaluation might change from time to time, as your case develops.
Will You Take My Case?
We have three answers to this question:
- You don’t really have a case
- You have a case, but you need to settle it yourself, and
- We will take your case
We will look at any case, for free, and give you a free consultation regardless, but here are some guidelines to consider:
- Did the accident happen in Connecticut?
- Did you have serious injuries, broken bones, cuts, or bruises?
- Did you go to the hospital after the accident?
- Did you get proper medical treatment for your injuries?
- Did you lose work because of the accident?
- Was the other drive more than 50% at fault?
The more of those you said yes to, the more likely we would take your case. Even if we don’t take your case, if it looks like you have a good case that you can settle on your own, we will let you know that as well. (No, we will not tell you what to settle for, or whether an offer is “good” or not, unless we represent you in the case.) And if it looks like you have no case, we will tell you and encourage you to get a second opinion from a good Connecticut accident lawyer.
What Happens in My Case?
Most accident cases go something like this:
Investigation & Pre-Litigation
This is where we gather information, records, and interview witnesses and analyze your case. We will make recommendations for strategy, and if it looks like we can settle the case out of court, we will let you know. This phase can take anywhere from a month to six months.
This is where we file a lawsuit, and the other driver has a chance to respond. This takes a month or two.
This is where each side in the lawsuit has a chance to learn about the facts and evidence that the other side has. You will have your deposition taken, which is your testimony under oath. Other depositions may be taken and you will have to answer questions in writing and share your medical records. (We do all this for you.) We also get to learn the facts that the defense will rely on. This process may last several months.
Mediation & Settlement Attempts
After discovery, we may attempt to settle the case or engage in voluntary mediation. Settlement is just a direct, person to person, attempt to resolve the case. Mediation is where we engage a private, neutral third-party to help us reach a settlement. It is voluntary, but often helps in the settlement of cases before trial. This process is often ongoing, and may last for months, although mediation usually lasts less than one day.
If we can not settle the case, we will go to trial. A trial may be before just a judge (called a bench trial) or in front of a jury. Trials usually take a week or so in simple auto cases; longer the more complex the accident and the injuries.