Atlantic City Personal Injury Attorney
If someone else’s negligence injured you in an accident, you no doubt want to put the whole thing far behind you. If it was a car accident, simply accepting the settlement the car insurance company offers may feel like the path of least resistance. Settling for an initial offer, however, rarely serves your best interests. Such offers often fail to factor in the total expenses you’ll face throughout the recovery process. Personal injury claims are complicated, but your rights matter.
New Jersey’S Statute Of Limitations
If someone else’s negligence caused your accident—be it a car accident or any other kind of accident—New Jersey (like every state) imposes a statute of limitations for bringing a personal injury claim. In New Jersey, that time limit is two years from the date you sustained your injury, barring a rare deadline-extending exception.
If you suffered an injury in an accident, don’t take matters into your own hands. The skilled personal injury lawyers at The Levin Firm have the experience and commitment to guide your claim toward its most just resolution.
Atlantic City Personal Injury FAQ
Did you know that accidental injuries are the third-leading cause of death in the United States? Every year, nearly 40 million people seek medical care for unintentional, preventable injuries. Coping with an injury can take a lot out of you, especially when someone else’s wrongful actions caused you harm. It is natural to experience a wide range of emotions, and to have questions about your legal rights.
Accidents can take us by surprise, leaving us unsure how to react. But knowing what to do in the event of an injury and understanding your rights can help speed up recovery and make your life easier. Below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about personal injury that we receive from our clients in the Atlantic City area.
I’m not sure if I have a personal injury case. What is “Personal injury”?
The term personal injury, can confuse anyone who doesn’t work in the legal field. The American Bar Association defines personal injury as an area of law “designed to protect you if you or your property is injured or harmed because of someone else’s act or failure to act.” Essentially, what this means is that you have the right to recover damages if you sustain injuries caused by someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally-harmful conduct.
Personal injury law spans a wide range of injury-causing scenarios, including:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Dog bites
- Slip and fall
- Nursing home abuse
- Birth injury
- Medical malpractice
- Chemical exposure
This is just a sampling, however. Virtually any day-to-day situation you can imagine may result in someone getting hurt. If you have sustained an injury because of someone else’s bad decision or dangerous conduct, speak with an experienced Atlantic City personal injury attorney to learn about your rights.
Will I have to pay for my medical bills out of pocket?
The short answer is, it depends on how you got hurt, who hurt you, and on the insurance coverage and other resources available to pay for your medical costs.
For example, if you are a New Jersey driver who gets into a motor vehicle accident, then your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance will usually serve as the primary insurance coverage to pay for medical costs associated with your injuries, regardless of who was at fault in the accident. Drivers can carry between $15,000 and $250,000 PIP insurance. If you exhaust your PIP coverage or do not have PIP insurance, then you can usually still turn to your personal health insurance to pay for medical costs (subject, of course, to copays, deductibles, and coverage limits). In some cases, however, you may also have the right to seek compensation from the at fault party in the accident. Speak with a lawyer to learn more.
In other circumstances in which you sustain an injury, your personal health insurance (if you have it) will typically cover your medical costs, and (as above) you may also have the ability to seek compensation through legal action.
Do personal injury claims cover emotional distress?
Yes and no. It can depend on whether you have also suffered a physical injury. In New Jersey, the only allows you to sue someone for negligently causing emotional (or mental) distress alone—that is, without an accompanying physical injury—in a few special circumstances. As a general matter, however, you need not have suffered a physical injury to sue someone for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
When a victim has suffered a physical injury, then generally speaking, the victim can always seek damages to compensate for the emotional suffering that accompanied that injury, and for the cost of medical care and treatment of that emotional suffering.
What should I do if I think I may be partially at fault?
As humans, we question everything. After an accident, it is entirely natural to wonder “Did I do something wrong?” Even if you think that you may have helped cause your own injuries, however, you may still have the right to receive compensation for your injuries. Do not admit to anyone that you were at fault (not even offhand comments like “I should have seen him coming”), and instead speak with an experienced Atlantic City personal injury attorney right away to protect your rights.
How much is my case worth?
It probably comes as no surprise, but this question is one that personal injury attorneys hear all the time. While we would love to answer it right off the bat, there are too many factors that can affect the value of your case for us to say what your claim is worth without having looked into it.
Factors that can contribute to the amount of money you ought to receive as compensation for your injuries include:
- Medical bills: In a personal injury lawsuit, victims can seek to recover the full amount of the medical costs associated with their injury. Common medical costs following a personal injury include doctor visits, surgeries, hospital stays, mental healthcare, and rehabilitation. These costs will vary widely depending upon a person’s injury and their prognosis for recovery.
- Lost wages: A personal injury case can also seek compensation for lost wages if an injury prevented the victim from returning to work. The amount a person might recover through legal action depends upon the person’s wage before getting hurt, and the amount of time it might take for the person to return to full work capacity (if ever).
- Pain and suffering: A lawsuit can also seek compensation for the harms that do not have a dollar value associated with them, such as the physical discomfort and emotional trauma caused by an injury. A lawyer can help you determine the appropriate amount of these damages in your circumstances.
In addition, as a practical matter, the value of a claim can also depend on the resources available to pay it. If the party at fault carries lots of insurance or has lots of assets, then a claim may have a higher value than one in which the other side carries only minimum insurance and has no assets.
How long do I have to file a claim?
New Jersey’s statute of limitations outlines how long a plaintiff has to take legal action stemming from a personal injury. For most personal injury cases, the statute of limitations is two years. This includes auto accidents, premises liability suits, and medical malpractice. In most cases, the two-year time frame begins at the date of the injury. However, for medical malpractice, this clock, may not start running until the victim becomes aware of an injury, or should have become aware of it.
A few circumstances that may permit a personal injury victim more time to file a personal injury lawsuit, such as:
- The victim is a minor. The court will generally toll (pause) the statute of limitations until the minor child turns 18. At this point, the two-year clock will start.
- The defendant cannot be found. Sometimes the other party moves or intentionally hides to escape financial responsibility. This is not your fault. If you can show that you made an effort to find the other party, the court will generally allow an extension.
- Fraud. There may be circumstances where the defendant hid details about the case or lied about the details. If facts come to light that may change the outcome of your case, the court may allow you extra time.
Speak with an experienced Atlantic City personal injury attorney to determine whether one of these circumstances applies in your case.
Finally, be aware that although the statute of limitations sets the outside time-limit on taking legal action, you will always benefit by speaking with an attorney as soon as possible about your injury, rather than waiting until the 11th hour.
Should I accept the insurance company’s settlement offer?
In some cases, an insurance company representing the party who hurt you may make you a settlement offer before you have the chance to talk to an attorney. Do not take it without first speaking with an experienced Atlantic City personal injury attorney.
Insurance companies make out-of-the-blue offers when they fear they have large potential financial liability, and want to cut their losses by making a quick deal with an unsuspecting injury victim. They hope you will jump at quick money before you realize they are taking advantage of you. Rest assured: no matter how much money an insurer puts on the table in an unsolicited offer, it will be less than the amount of money you deserve.
Do not sign anything or accept a settlement before discussing it with an experienced personal injury attorney. Agreeing to a settlement offer means giving up important legal rights to seek compensation in the future. Do not risk making a mistake that could leave you with far less money than you need and deserve, and no ability to get more.
Do I really need an attorney?
Practically speaking, yes. Pursuing a personal injury claim on your own, without an attorney, is a fool’s errand. If it yields any money at all, it will be pennies compared to what you can hope to receive with the help of an experienced Atlantic City personal injury lawyer.
Why is this the case?
- First, because now is no time to try to learn about personal injury law. Focus on recovering your health and wellbeing instead, and leave the legal considerations to an experienced professional.
- Second, because law is complicated, and even small mistakes can cost you big dollars; and trust us, you would make lots and lots of mistakes.
- Third, because the reality is that no one will take you or your claim seriously if you try to act as your own lawyer.
Personal injury lawyers spend their careers fighting for client’s right to fair and reasonable compensation. They know how to get you the maximum compensation possible for your situation. You probably don’t have the experience or training to get what you deserve for your injuries.
What should I bring to an initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer?
An initial consultation is an opportunity for you to get to know your potential attorney and for the attorney to kick the tires on your case. The more material you can bring to the meeting to help the lawyer understand what happened to you, the better. Important information can include:
- Your insurance information. Depending on the type of case, this may include your medical and/or auto insurance
- The other party’s name, contact information, and insurance information
- The location and details of the injury
- The names of any doctors you have seen, the treatment you have received, and any diagnoses
- For auto collisions, any repair reports
- Pictures from the accident scene, if any.
Do not worry if you lack some of this information. Do your best. The important thing is to get a consultation. Your lawyer can help you find any missing information or evidence.
How much does a personal injury attorney cost?
Typically, little or nothing at all. Unlike lawyers in other areas of the law (like corporate lawyers or tax lawyers, for example), personal injury lawyers generally do not bill their clients by the hour or by specific legal services performed.
Instead, at the outset of a representation, a personal injury lawyer and client agree on a percentage the lawyer will receive of any money the lawyer might recover on the client’s behalf. This is known as a contingent fee arrangement. It benefits clients by relieving them of the financial burden of paying for a lawyer up front, and by aligning the lawyer’s interests with their own; the more money the attorney can recover for the client, the more money the attorney receives as a fee.
Seek Legal Help for an Atlantic City Personal Injury
Do not wait to seek legal advice for an Atlantic City personal injury. The sooner you begin working with an attorney, the better your chances of recovering the full compensation you deserve for the harm done to you.
To learn about your rights after an Atlantic City personal injury disrupts your life, contact us today.