Category: Client Information

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

  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 email us at GSandler@Sandlerlaw.net to get started.

 

 

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.

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.

Portrait of modern couple looking at real estate agent giving his visiting card

What Is a Reservation of Rights Letter?

Portrait of modern couple looking at real estate agent giving his visiting card

Contracts for auto insurance place certain obligations on both the insurance company and the insured driver. For example, the insurance company is generally required to defend an insured driver in court if that driver is sued due to a “covered” motor vehicle accident. Depending on the details of the crash, however, an insurance company may ultimately decide that the insured driver’s actions are not covered under the policy.

Just after an accident occurs, facts can be fuzzy. It can take the police some time to determine what they think happened. Often, even a driver involved in an accident may not be aware of all the facts that caused or contributed to the accident and to his or her injuries.

Similarly, when a claim is first submitted to a driver’s insurance company, the company does not know very much about what happened. To clear things up, it will assign an investigator to obtain relevant evidence — such as the police report, witness statements, medical records, and photographs — and then determine how to handle the case.

It is important to remember that the insurance company is not interested in anything other than finding a way NOT TO PAY. If they can back out of their obligation under the policy to cover a loss, then they will, because it saves them money, even if it hangs you out to dry. By denying the circumstances of coverage, or by claiming that you misrepresented some face when you applied for the policy, they can try to weasel out of their obligation to cover you if you are the person at fault, or avoid paying you if you are the claimant.

Your insurance company only has to meet certain obligations in its contract with you — such as defending you in a lawsuit — if the accident is “covered” by your policy. Insurance companies sometimes cannot immediately tell whether an accident is covered. When that happens, the insurance company sends its insured driver a “reservation of rights” letter. This means that although the insurance company is going to investigate the accident — or possibly even provide a legal defense in a lawsuit — it may later decide that the accident is not “covered” under your policy and stop defending you at that time. A reservation of rights letter, however IS NOT a denial letter. Rather it is a letter that says that, for the time being, they are going to continue to investigate and defend the claim for your, pending the outcome.

Because a reservation of rights letter puts the insured driver on notice that the company may LATER deny coverage, it is usually a good idea to see an experienced injury lawyer if you receive one of these letters.

At the Sandler Law Group, we believe in preventing or avoiding accidents whenever possible. Unfortunately, even when precautions are taken, accidents occur. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident, ASK ABOUT IT! Call the 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.

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What’s My Case Worth?

 

Client-Interview-Damages-300x232“What’s My Case Worth?”  This is easily the most frequently asked question from a new client who has been hurt and who is often faced with injuries that prevent him from working, mounting medical bills and uncertainty about the case will ultimately end for him. First and foremost you should know that no responsible attorney can tell, at the beginning of a case, what the case is worth. Continue reading “What’s My Case Worth?”

What Is a Negligence Case?

Have you ever called someone NEGLIGENT because they cut you off in traffic? Many people use the word negligence, but under Virginia law, this word has a very specific meaning. In fact, all new law students study negligence because the American civil justice system depends on it.


To win a negligence case in Virginia, the person suing, known as a plaintiff, must PROVE four things:
1. That the person who injured him had a duty to exercise ordinary care toward him;
2. That the person who injured him breached, or violated, that duty;
3. That the person’s acts or failure to act caused the plaintiff’s injuries; and
4. That the plaintiff was damaged in some way. Continue reading “What Is a Negligence Case?”

$18 Million – What Happens When They Really AREN’T On Your Side

The next time that you hear one of the multitude of commercials on television, where the kindly spokesperson tells you that their insurance company wants to be your friend and that they are there to help you like your best buddy, feel free to yell back at the TV, because you won’t want to believe this.

After a 16 year fight, and 2 trials, a Judge in Pennsylvania ruled that Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company had violated the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, and had acted in Bad Faith, when it, get this, dragged out a vehicle property damage claim, for 18 YEARS, and spent $2.5 Million in legal fees to avoid paying a claim of LESS THAN $25,000.00.  No this is not one of those “made up Stella award” cases.  This is the result in the case of Berg v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., PICS No. 14-0999, in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania, issued recently.

BELIEVE IT!!! Continue reading “$18 Million – What Happens When They Really AREN’T On Your Side”