What’s “underwriting”?

It’s a term used to describe the process insurance companies use to evaluate and assess risks and predict how they will pay claims. It involves statistics, math and data about large numbers of similar people or businesses who have insurance claims (for example: how often hurricanes make landfall in certain areas, how long female smokers live, or how frequently married male drivers have wrecks).
Simply, insurance companies use underwriting to decide whether to insure a business, a driver, a house, or a life. If they chose to “write” the insurance, they underwrite to figure how much premium to charge. Premiums are calculated so  insurance companies can pay claims for accidents, deaths or whatever they insure and still make a profit.

If your lawyer understands underwriting, he can help you evaluate questions about your insurance rights and help you get the best recovery if you have a valid claim your insurer has denied.

What are “punitive damages”?

Sometimes when there is an injury or loss caused by especially reckless conduct (like drunk driving) or fraud, our system provides that compensatory damages are not enough to deter the wrongdoer from doing the same thing and hurting others. In rare cases, the responsible party may have to pay “punitive damages”. Punitive damages are meant to penalize bad behavior and let the rest of society know that reckless, dangerous conduct will not be sanctioned.

Punitive damages are not routine, and there are many limits built into the law to reserve punitive damages to punish very bad practices and conduct.

What are examples of what can be recovered as “compensatory damage”?

For a “personal injury” that’s permanent, you’re entitled to recover one lump sum for: past and future medical costs, past and future lost earnings, physical pain and mental suffering and worry, and permanent loss of function or use of your body.

For “wrongful death”, there are written laws that limit who can recover (the “beneficiaries”) and exactly what they can recover as compensation.

What are “compensatory damages”?

“Compensatory damages” refers to money paid to compensate or replace the value of losses or injuries caused by an accident caused by someone else or a breach of a promise. The law recognizes some things can be replaced and others cannot, and the responsible party should pay for what they caused. Compensatory damages are referred to in the Old Testament; the concept is not new.
What compensation is varies depending on the injury or harm.

Do juries get to know whether the person or company who caused the harm has insurance?

No.  Although insurance policies allow insurance companies to control whether to settle cases, there are laws which prevent juries from being told about the insurance available to pay claims. In fact at a trial, the jury can not even be told there is insurance.

Often insurance company lawyers use tactics to try and fool the jurors into believing individual people or businesses who have insurance will be the ones who will have to pay compensation. I know because I was an insurance defense lawyer. Insurance companies use this tactic in hopes a jury will like the defendant and hold back fair compensation. When that happens the insurance company profits, and it costs all of us because we’ll have to pay for medical care and lost income and productivity.

What’s my case worth?

You are entitled to full, fair compensation. There is no mathematical formula to figure compensation exactly, and it takes time to be sure what losses and harms have been caused. The law about what is compensation depends on the type case you have.

Those who cause injuries and their insurance companies only pay a settlement or verdict one time–there is no such thing as an open-ended result to protect the person or business that’s hurt about future, ongoing costs or harms. If you need more treatment or you can no longer do your job despite your best efforts, you don’t get a second chance.

No matter what type case my client has, I thoroughly investigate and study exactly what they have lost. When the work is done, we meet to go over the value of their case. My clients need to be confident they will get all the law allows–not a penny more, not a penny less.

What’s “wrongful death”?

It’s a term to describe the legal right to recover when someone causes an accident which results in another person’s death.

The are written laws (called “statutes”) which strictly control wrongful death claims. Those laws specify who can make such a claim and limit what can be recovered. For example, if a single person without children dies and they have parents and siblings who survive, only the parents can recover no matter how close the siblings were.

These cases involve many technical and emotional issues. Your lawyer needs to be sensitive to these.

Do you send letters to accident victims or their families?

NO! I never have and I never will. I believe people deserve the respect and decency to chose when they’re ready to talk with a lawyer.

I don’t contact them until they contact me. If I’m not available when you call, leave a message, and I’ll call back when you say it works best for you.

You or your family should call as soon as possible. I can come to meet clients if they can’t come to me, but I need to be called.

Does a lawyer always get paid in a contingency fee case?

No. Not all claims or lawsuits for injuries, death or other losses result in a recovery, and if there is no recovery, neither the client nor the lawyer get paid.
That’s why I carefully study the facts and do research before taking a case. I want to take only cases where I believe my client will recover and I will get paid. Even then there is no guarantee, not all cases result in settlements or verdicts for the injured party.

What’s a statue of limitation?

There are laws called “statutes of limitation” which prevent people with legitimate claims from filing suit because the claims are made too late. The passing of time alone can take away your rights. The cut-off time depends on the facts and the type of claim and when the injury or damage occurs. It’s often very complicated and hard to figure out. Sadly, some folks wait too long before asking and learning their rights.
A free call can help protect you.

Will we have a written contract?

Absolutely. If you chose me as your lawyer, we’ll have a contract to spell out our agreement.
You won’t be pushed into signing a contract. You’ll be able to ask questions about the contract and what it means. It will address fees and expenses and other matters.
When we agree to enter an attorney-client relationship, you and I will both sign the contract, and we’ll both keep a copy.