DOING THE MATH

A recent conversation with a person about their expectations on the settlement of their case left me with the concern that many people really do not understand how a settlement or the proceeds of a verdict are to be distributed, so they really don’t have a basis for determining just whether a proposed settlement is a “good” offer to accept.  So here are the facts and realities of your settlement and I will show you the math.   You should understand this process AT THE BEGINNING of your case, so that you know how it will be applied AT THE END.

  1. Usually you and your attorney will have entered into a written retainer agreement with a specified contingency fee, as a percentage of your recovery. If this fee is one-third, then the contingency fee will be calculated on the total amount of the settlement.
  1. There will usually have been costs that your attorney will have expended for you during the life of your case, such as expenses for medical records to be copied, costs for police reports, filing fees for court, deposition costs, expert witness costs and similar expenses necessary to process the claim to get it to the insurance company or to trial. These costs are actually your expenses, so the attorney will expect these to be reimbursed from the settlement amounts.
  1. During the course of your case you will no doubt have had medical treatment and you are ultimately responsible to the medical provider to pay the bills for that care. Some of you may have health insurance or some other source of payment, but if there are remaining balances due to those providers, they should be paid from the settlement so that you don’t have future liability.  Many statutes, such as Virginia, provide the medical providers with a limited lien to protect their ability to collect DIRECTLY from your attorney, and some medical providers have the patient sign a document that gives the provider a broad lien.
  1. Under some circumstances the health insurer that paid your bills, or government health care providers (Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, Military) will have a federal statutory lien that must be repaid from your settlement. Also in the event that your injury occurred while you were on the job, the worker’s compensation carrier that paid you will also have a lien for partial recovery.
  1. Although the bad news seems to be that everyone wants a piece of your settlement, the good news is that almost every element described above IS NEGOTIABLE, and your attorney will usually strive to maximize your net settlement proceeds as part of his responsibility to you as the client.

So here is the math in an ordinary case:

Gross Settlement Proceeds from Insurance Company        $20,000.00

Less Amounts to be Recovered:

Attorney’s Fees (1/3 contingency)                              $6,666.67

Costs:  Hospital Records                                                   24.00

Radiology Records                                                 16.00

Police Crash Report                                                10.00

General District Court Filing fee                              48.00

Service of Suit                                                         12.00

 

   6,776.67

Less Amounts to be Paid To Others:

Hospital Emergency Department                                    2,350.00

Emergency Physicians                                                         85.00

Dr. Primary Care                                                                 400.00

Physical Therapy Center                                                  1,125.00

Medicare Lien Payment                                                   1,485.00

  5,445.00

Total Deductions                                                                       $12,221.67

Net Settlement Proceeds to Client                                           $  7,778.33

Although a client might be “impressed” when hearing the amount of a settlement offer from an insurance company, the ONLY important number for the client is the net settlement.  That sum is what the client receives as compensation for what they went through as a result of their injury, and sometimes, what they might have to go through forever.

Understand the elements of your settlement, make sure your attorney is clear with you about what MUST BE PAID, and what MAY BE PAID, have your attorney secure all available reductions or discounts that may be offered, and THEN, you can make an intelligent decision about what is in your best interests.

That is what we do at SANDLER LAW GROUP, in every case, every time.  It is what you deserve and what you should expect.  If you have any questions about what will happen at the end of your claim, ASK ABOUT IT! Call us toll free at 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial FREE consultation. You may also contact us online atwww.sandlerlaw.net or email us at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net to get star

 

 

Intersection accident

 

This video addresses one of the most often cited misconceptions about civil liability for a vehicle crash.  Shocked clients tell me “The other guy got a ticket, so how can the insurance company say he wasn’t at fault?”.  There are two simple answers to this question.  First, a ticket is only an officer’s opinion of whether someone violated a traffic law, and traffic laws are NOT the same thing as civil responsibility.  The issues are different and the burden of proof is different.  Secondly, civil liability focuses on CAUSATION, what caused the crash.  In this video neither the absent insurance or the expired license caused the crash.  The crash was caused by someone not keeping a proper lookout and whether they had a license or insurance has nothing to do with who caused the crash.

CALL SANDLER LAW GROUP FIRST at 757-627-8900 when someone runs into you, NOT THE INSURANCE COMPANY.  You need someone who knows the law to speak for you, so that your right to a full and fair recovery will be protected.

 

Fired for Facebook Comment

Predictably, because this video was seen on Facebook, the responses to whether an employee could or should be fired for expressing their opinions on social media were slanted in favor of the employee.  Whether your termination from work will give rise to a claim is why you should CALL SANDLER LAW GROUP FIRST at 757-627-8900, because your claim is always going to be based on your specific facts.

But in this video, understand a few things:

First, in Virginia an employer may fire a worker without reason, unless there are contractual rights that protect the employee.

Second, the first amendment DOES NOT APPLY, as it only controls the governments restrictions on speech, not private restrictions

Third, just because you HAVE an opinion does not mean you should OFFER IT!.  People today forget that what you choose to say has consequences, and if you choose to say it, be prepared to accept these consequences, both good and bad, because you can’t control the reaction of others.

They Are Not Your Friends

Dealing with the other guys insurance company.

Is there anyone out there that still believes that the insurance company for the person that caused you harm is really going to help you out?  The business model of insurance companies is simple, take in as much money as possible through premiums and pay out as little as they can through claims. It’s how they make a profit.

My video blog explains exactly how to handle this situation.

Large Truck Crashes in Virginia

Large trucks on the highway pose a significant threat to drivers of passenger cars. Although the trucks account for only four percent of registered vehicles nationwide, they account for nine percent of vehicles involved in fatal car crashes.

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In 2013, there were approximately 342,000 accidents involving large trucks, resulting in 3,964 fatalities. In those fatal wrecks, the person killed was an occupant of the other vehicle 71 percent of the time! The truck driver was killed only 17 percent of the time. Injuries from large truck wrecks are very similar. The injured parties are occupants of the other vehicle 72 percent of the time.

In Virginia, there were 1001 vehicles involved in fatal crashes in 2013, 100 of which were large trucks. Of the 89 people killed in these wrecks involving large trucks, 24 were occupants of the truck, while 61 were occupants of the other vehicle, and four were not occupants of either vehicle.

Nationwide, the majority of wrecks involving large trucks occur when the roads are most populated. Sixty-four percent of wrecks happen on weekdays, and 73 percent occur between 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Alcohol is rarely an issue with truck drivers. In fatal large truck crashes in 2013, only two percent of the truck drivers had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. Drivers of passenger cars involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of .08 or higher 23 percent of the time.

Collisions with big trucks are obviously something to be avoided. To do so, it helps to recognize the types of truck driver errors that most often contribute to wrecks. According to Virginia’s 2014 crash statistics, truck drivers were cited for a moving violation in 5,151 of the 9,750 crashes. Sixteen percent of those violations were for improper lane changes, and another 16 percent were for following too closely. Nine percent were for failure to yield the right of way.

These types of actions by truck drivers indicate two defensive strategies for passenger car drivers: 1) assume the driver of a big truck cannot see you due to blind spots, and 2) get out of the way. In a passenger car, you can’t afford to come into contact with a big rig. You might have the right of way, but that is of little consequence when 4,000 pounds goes up against 80,000 pounds! And the trucker might be wrongfully tailgating, but moving over and letting him pass is always the best play.

If you’ve been injured in a car wreck with a large truck, you should consult with an experienced, compassionate personal injury attorney who understands Virginia law. To learn more, ASK ABOUT IT! Call Sandler Law Group – toll free 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial FREE consultation. You may also contact us online at www.sandlerlaw.net or by email at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net.

Chronic Pain Is Hard to Prove in a Lawsuit

Pain remains an unfathomable phenomenon. Even with the advances in technology over the years, a tool that we could call a “pain meter” has not come into full existence. Thus, when someone in pain expresses how he or she feels, no one can perfectly validate the intensity of the pain.

Although pain has long been one of the determinants in awarding damages, it is also one of the most contested components in any personal injury case. There are many factors that may trigger pain, some of which may be related to a prior injury.

Unfortunately, a few people fake pain, not realizing the negative effects of their actions on others, who are validly and badly injured. As a lawyer for injured people, it can be difficult to rip that doubt out of the minds of defendant lawyers.

Back problems and human backache pain with an upper torso body skeleton showing the spine and vertebral column in red highlight as a medical health care concept
Back problems and human backache pain with an upper torso body skeleton showing the spine and vertebral column in red highlight as a medical health care concept

This puts people who are honestly and badly hurt in a quagmire. You could just imagine how someone truly debilitated by pain struggles in court to prove that the experience is real and not just a product of mental fabrication. Take, for instance, the case of a truck driver named Carl Koch.

In a work-related accident in 2005, Koch sustained first-degree and second-degree burns on his face down to his right arm. Koch was standing close to his truck’s tanker of molten tar when the connection of a hose suddenly broke. Splashes of 300-degree tar caused his burn injuries.

Intensive treatment had successfully alleviated the onset severe pain. Unfortunately, about two years later, Koch complained of unresolved pain to his right arm. It was established by his pain manager that he had “chronic neuropathic pain” due to damaged nerves—a long-term effect of the tar accident.

When he filed a lawsuit against his employer, he was accused of fabricating or exaggerating the intensity of his pain. The accusation was like another blow, literally adding insult to his injuries.

Determined to prove his case, Koch’s team resorted to a brain scan called fMRI, or functional magnetic resonance imaging. The technology is believed to capture specific brain locations that become activated when the body experiences pain. While on the verge of losing after several turndowns by laboratories, the fMRI was performed by a physician who advocated herself as a neuroscientist. Although the defendant strongly questioned the admissibility of the fMRI as piece of evidence, both parties eventually agreed to an $800,000 case settlement.

The technology used in Mr. Koch’s case likely played a vital role leading to the case settlement. But this is cutting-edge technology that is expensive and not accessible to everyone.

If you have been injured in a car wreck, you need an attorney who is skilled at fighting for your right to compensation. With The Sandler Law Group, you can always ASK ABOUT IT! Call us toll free at 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial FREE consultation. You may also contact us online at www.sandlerlaw.net or by email at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net.

What Happens in an Accident Reconstruction?

Auto accident involving two cars on a city street
Auto accident involving two cars on a city street

Accident reconstruction involves using investigative, engineering, and physics to attempt to determine the cause of an accident. The reconstructionist uses evidence to draw conclusions about what might have caused or contributed to an accident. Reconstruction is typically used for severe crashes or accidents involving fatalities. In Virginia, testimony of accident reconstruction experts is severely limited, and in most cases it will not be allowed, as the Court has been very reluctant to find that the circumstances upon which the experts base their opinions are EXACTLY like the real circumstances. Assumptions or reliance upon “averages” are not generally allowed, so the role of the reconstruction expert is limited.

Some evidence is physical — things you can see or touch — such as the cars themselves, skid marks, traffic signals, and medical records. Other evidence is testimonial, such as statements given by the drivers, passengers, and other witnesses.

In an accident reconstruction, all of the evidence is pieced together much like a puzzle. The reconstructionist uses principles of physics, engineering, and mathematics to determine issues like the following:

  • The speed of each vehicle at the time of impact;
  • Whether brakes were applied and, if so, the distance;
  • Whether the brakes of the vehicles had been properly maintained or might have failed;
  • The angle of impact;
  • Driver steering input;
  • Whether the roadway surface was slick, due to factors such as oil or ice;
  • Whether either driver was violating federal or state laws when the crash occurred.

The uses of accident reconstruction are not limited to lawsuits. Car manufacturers sometimes use reconstruction to identify potential vehicle safety issues and to improve car safety. State and federal highway agencies also use accident reconstruction to improve the safety of roadways and related devices, such as guardrails.

Modern-day accident reconstructionists and their clients benefit from computer technology. There are many programs that help reconstructionist by performing computations, testing theories of the crash, and re-creating accidents.

At The Sandler Law Group, we believe in avoiding accidents whenever possible. However, if you or a family member were injured in an accident and you’re considering hiring a lawyer, ASK ABOUT IT! Call us toll free at 800-9-THE-LAW or (757) 627-8900 to schedule an initial FREE consultation. You may also contact us online atwww.sandlerlaw.net or email us at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net to get started.