- Personal Injury:
Personal injury claims arise when someone is injured due to the fault or negligence of another. We handle a variety of personal injury claims but most of the cases we deal with are the result of motor vehicle collisions.
In pursuing a personal injury claim, an injury victim must prove the fault or liability of the wrongdoer and the amount of damages he or she has incurred.
Some questions we are frequently asked on personal injury claims are:
The other driver was cited so they’re liable, right?
Not necessarily. A citation is issued for an alleged violation of a motor vehicle law, but it does not mean the driver is automatically liable for the collision or resulting damages. A personal injury claim is a separate civil action.
If the driver pleads guilty or is found guilty of the traffic violation, evidence of such guilt (if allowed) may be used to prove liability on the personal injury claim but it does not prevent the cited driver from raising arguments or defenses to refute or minimize his/her fault and responsibility.
I gave a statement to the claims adjuster, signed a medical release and I’ve sent them my medical bills. Why aren’t they paying my bills?
Always consult an attorney before giving a statement or signing papers for the other driver’s insurance company. It’s important to remember that the other driver’s insurance company wants to minimize or completely eliminate any payments to you. A good personal injury attorney can help ensure you are treated fairly.
Normally, the insurer for the at-fault party will not pay an injured person’s medical bills, lost wages or other damages up front. Since there has been no determination of the liability of their insured driver, they have no legal obligation to pay.
Most liability insurance companies will not pay any damages until a claim is settled or until after a case is litigated and a verdict and judgment are obtained. Injury victims often struggle to support themselves and their families while their personal injury claims are pending.
Unfortunately, the insurance companies know that financial hardship can drive an injured person’s decision to settle for less than what they are due. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide direction to help his or her client to deal with the financial stresses that are often part of a personal injury claim.
What damages am I entitled to recover?
If proven, you can recover damages for:
- Reasonable and necessary past and future medical expenses.
- Past and future lost wages.
- Reasonably incurred and related out-of-pocket expenses.
- General damages – compensation for pain and suffering, limitation of activity, loss of enjoyment, emotional stress, etc.
How long will it take to resolve my case?
A good personal injury attorney can help you settle your case as efficiently as possible, consistent with getting you everything you deserve. How long it takes depends on several factors:
- Whether liability is accepted or contested. If liability is contested then you need to consult with an attorney to get an assessment on what pursuing your claim will entail.
- Even in cases of clear or accepted liability, formulation of a demand and settlement offer is often delayed until an injury victim has reached maximum medical stability and completed treatment, in order to determine the full extent of damages.
- How long it takes to negotiate with an insurance company and reach a settlement after a demand is submitted.
If a negotiated settlement cannot be reached, your personal injury attorney can explain your options regarding litigation and what is involved in that process.
You also need to be aware that there are laws that require that personal injury lawsuits be filed within certain time limits. Generally speaking, in Idaho a lawsuit for personal injury must be filed within two years of the date of injury. Other time limits may apply, depending on your circumstances.
- Worker’s Compensation:
My claim has been denied. What should I do?
Gather information (time, dates, witness names) and any documents that you believe supports your claim and consult with an attorney. Some denials are valid, while some are not. An experienced legal professional can help with proper case evaluation and assistance in overcoming a denied claim.
The employer’s denial of my claim is wrong. Who decides if I have a valid claim?
Contested claims and issues are determined through a hearing before the Idaho Industrial Commission. A complaint must be filed and there are rules and procedures that must be followed in bringing a claim.
Unfortunately, litigation and legal proceedings can take several months to over a year before a decision is received. Sometimes contested cases are resolved more quickly through a less formal mediation process. If you do go to mediation, an experienced attorney can help ensure the most favorable possible outcome.
My claim has been accepted. What benefits am I entitled to?
The type and amount of benefits paid to an injured worker are defined and set by Idaho’s worker’s compensation laws, and may include:
- Medical Benefits: Payment of reasonable medical expenses for treatment that is related to your work injury. Some restrictions and limitations apply.
- Temporary Disability Benefits: Payment for lost income while you are recovering from your injury. This benefit is usually 67% of your average weekly wage, but subject to certain maximum and minimum amounts.
- Permanent Impairment Benefits: Periodic payment of benefits over a set amount of time if your injury results in permanent physical restrictions or limitations. Permanent impairment benefits are based on a medical impairment rating and computed under a formula set by statute.
- Permanent Disability Benefits: Periodic payment of benefits over a set amount of time if your injury reduces your ability to perform gainful work activity or prevents you from returning to the full scope of your pre-injury work activities. If your injury by itself or in combination with other personal factors (age, limited education, lack of job skills, sparse job openings) renders you unable to work and you are “totally and permanently disabled,” then permanent disability benefits are paid over your remaining lifetime.
- Retraining Benefits: If your injury prevents you from returning to your pre-injury employment, income benefits during a limited period of retraining may be available.
Am I entitled to a settlement on my work comp claim?
There is no legal requirement that a worker’s compensation claim be “settled.” If circumstances allow, you, your employer and the employer’s insurance company can agree to settle your claim for payment of a lump sum amount. Each case is unique.
Any proposed settlement on a worker’s compensation claim must be reviewed and approved by the Idaho Industrial Commission before it is deemed final.
What is an occupational disease?
An occupational disease results from exposure to hazardous conditions or substances in the workplace.
Unlike an accidental injury that can be attributed to a specific event and identified as to time and place, onset of an occupational disease is often gradual with no particular inciting event.
Examples of occupational diseases are Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and “tennis elbow” caused by repetitive motion; asthma and lung disorders caused by airborne contaminates or harmful gases; and poisoning from repeated heavy metal exposure.
Idaho worker’s compensation law regarding occupational disease claims share some of the same provisions as accidental injury claims but there are also specific requirements and criteria that apply only to occupational diseases.
Cooperation and coordination with a worker’s medical care providers is necessary in presenting an occupational disease claim and these cases can be very complex. An experienced attorney can provide needed assistance when dealing with an occupational disease case.