Smith Jordan Q&A – We answer your common personal injury questions

Have you been injured due to someone else’s negligence? Understanding your legal rights and options is crucial, and that’s where Greenville personal injury lawyers come in. At Smith Jordan Attorneys at Law, you’ll find a team dedicated to supporting and guiding you through the legal maze of personal injury claims.

Keep reading for answers to some common personal injury questions.

common personal injury questions

Do I have a personal injury case?

At its heart, personal injury law involves someone being injured because of another person’s actions. There are three main elements in any successful personal injury claim, whether it’s a car wreck, a slip, and fall, or other types of injuries:

  1. Someone is injured;
  2. The injury was caused by someone else; and
  3. There is insurance or some other source to pay for their damages.

If someone is just negligent you can’t recover. For example, if someone drives down the road drunk, but they don’t injure anyone or destroy any property that’s not a case because there is no injury even though the driver was acting negligently. If you are walking into your house and trip over something you put there and are injured there’s no case because someone else’s negligence did not cause the injury.

Even if you have an injury caused by someone else there may not be any insurance or assets from which to recover. Most normal people don’t have the assets to where you could collect if you won a judgment against them so that’s why you normally have to look for insurance coverage.

How much is a negligence lawsuit worth?

Wondering how much can you claim in a personal injury lawsuit? The answer is not always clear. Because every person’s case is different, the impact of one victim’s losses may be substantially different from another injury victim. Some people will recover more quickly, but others may have long-lasting effects that reduce their ability to work or even function in society.

That’s why one of an attorney’s most important jobs is to look at the totality of their case and explain its strengths and weaknesses so you can make an informed decision. This means looking at the medical side of the case, such as the medical records, their injuries, what you were diagnosed with, what type of treatment you received, how long you were treated, and how long you problems lasted. It also means looking at other factors that can affect value like how the injury happened, how people will present as witnesses, and whether or not there are any issues like drinking or drugs. 

The only way to ensure we seek maximum compensation for your losses is to discuss your specific damages at length with your lawyer. Many motorcycle accident injury victims can recoup their losses in full with a robust legal advocate on their side.

What’s the typical personal injury lawsuit process?

First, you set up an appointment, or we come to you or meet via video or telephone and explain the process and answer any questions you may have. You should make sure you are getting all of the medical treatment you need.

While you’re getting treated, your attorney handles the necessary background work. This consists of background checks on the individual who caused your injury and if it’s a car accident ordering the driving records of the other party. If the case has any special circumstances, like a DUI wreck, then we obtain additional records about that. We also orders all the medical records related to the case. We try to get as much background work and order as many medical records as we can so that when you finish treatment, we can get your final records and put that into a demand package.

The demand package is sent to the insurance company and the company will make an offer and at that point, we discuss it with you. Usually, some negotiations follow, and you get to a top offer. We will take the top offer to you and explain what the insurance company is willing to pay and what you will get in their pocket after all their medical bills and attorney fees are paid. Your attorney should explain all the factors to consider, give you their opinion as to what you should do, and answer any questions you may have.

Then we let you decide whether or not you want to settle or take the case to court. The decision of whether or not to settle should only be made by the injured party.

What are some major mistakes to avoid in a personal injury case?

The two biggest mistakes we see deal with treatment and with trying to handle a case on their own. First, a person will get badly injured, but they hope it will go away and they fail to get medical treatment and the problems keep getting worse. They wait until several months have gone by or until the pain is too great, and then there is a huge gap between when the injury occurred and their treatment.

Another mistake people will make with their treatment is they go and get treatment but fail to comply with the doctor’s instructions so they have a bad injury. After a while, the doctor just throws up their hands and discharges them because they’ve got this problem but they aren’t compliant. Months later, the person still has their injuries because they didn’t follow through with their treatment, and the insurance company says the person wasn’t hurt or else they would have listened to their doctor.

The third big mistake that we see is that people will have a severe injury and the insurance company for the other party gets to them quickly and convinces them to settle. They’ll sign a release and settle their case for way less than their damages. Then they keep having problems with their injuries, but since they signed a release, it’s too late to get their medical bills paid.

How can family members help an injured person?

The first thing is that something really bad has happened and you need to make sure you are with them and taking care of them. Dealing with the insurance company can be taken care of after the fact. Just don’t sign anything, or agree to anything with an insurance company, or give recorded statements. Then, meet with your attorney as quickly as you can. Insurance companies are quick to wave a release and settlement check in someone’s face and pressure them to sign it when they’re not in any state of mind to do so. For example, I remember one case where a young woman over the age of 18 was in a coma after a horrible wreck and the insurance company was trying to get her Dad to sign a release while she was unconscious. Don’t agree to any of that stuff. In South Carolina, you have three years to file suit if it’s a private entity and two years if it’s a governmental entity, so it’s not like anything has to happen that day.

How long do personal injury cases take to settle?

The timeline is mostly dependent upon how much treatment you need. If possible, you want to wait until a person finishes treating before settling a case. It normally takes a month or two after someone finishes treating to get their final records in and send out their demand package to the insurance company. The insurance company normally makes an offer within thirty days of receiving the demand. Some people may be treated for a couple of months, have a good recovery, and have an offer on their case within 3-4 months of getting hurt. On the other end of the spectrum, some people might treat conservatively for a long time but end up needing surgery, which can take a lot longer. It is very dependent upon what type of treatment the injured person needs.

How much does a personal injury lawyer cost?

Our firm does not charge an upfront fee. Our fee is based on what we recover, so whether the case settles after a few months or a few years, or we go all the way to a jury verdict, you don’t owe us anything and we take our fee out of the recovery.

How is Smith Jordan different from other personal injury lawyers in South Carolina?

We always want to meet with people and discuss their specific cases. Once you understand the process, we want you to focus on getting better while we focus on their case. Communication needs to be regular and ongoing throughout the process. We try not to overwhelm you with information, but we also want you to stay in the loop.

We aren’t some face on a billboard that you never meet with personally. Our office is local and you can meet or connect with the attorney handling your case at any time. We never settle a case without you approval. We don’t have clients sign over a power of attorney that says we can settle their case or deposit their settlement checks without their input. You will talk to the attorney handling you case personally and will know what to expect an get an honest opinion and counsel on what you should do.

We try to help you understand everything that is going on and what to expect.

Are there any myths in personal injury law that you have noticed over the years?

I think the biggest myth is that most people who pursue a personal injury claim are just trying to get rich off of nothing. The vast majority of people who come in are genuinely hurt- they don’t want to sue anybody and they don’t want to get involved in the legal system. They just want to be treated fairly and won’t let the insurance company take advantage of them.

We offer hope to these folks and make their lives a lot easier. The legal system creates a sense of stress even when someone is represented. I can’t imagine someone completely unfamiliar with the legal system trying to deal with it by themselves because we are handling everything for them, walking them through the process. Imagine how overwhelming it would be to walk through a case by yourself. One of the biggest problems an unrepresented person has is not knowing whether what an insurance adjuster is telling them is true or not. They don’t have any experience and are at a decided disadvantage throughout the whole process without experienced legal counsel.

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