What are typical case costs in Personal Injury claims? How are they paid? Will I be given advance notice? Does the insurance company have to pay my expenses? How about my attorney’s fees?
These are important questions that injured persons ask every day. While every Personal Injury case is different, there are certain costs that typically arise in representing an injured plaintiff. The insurance company defense lawyers are paid hourly. So, the longer the case takes, the better for them.
Insurance defense lawyers like to take the Deposition of the injured plaintiff. This is an out-of-court interrogation, under oath, for use later in court. They often ask a lot of nosy questions in order to nail down the plaintiff’s story, and see if there is information that would be helpful for the insurance company. Because the Court Reporters at Depositions charge by the page, and can take up to 8 hours, these typically run several hundreds of dollars. The insurance defense lawyers will also Subpoena all of the injured plaintiff’s medical records but this is an expense that the defense will bear.
However, in cases where the Abrams Landau law team needs to send a Subpoena so that the sheriff can get records from the employer, or other important source (i.e., another employer, OSHA, the police, someone in possession of important evidence, etc.), they will send the subpoena request and the check for payment so that the information can be received. Subpoenas are inexpensive, but sometimes they need to be served by someone other than the sheriff’s department, especially during the time of Covid. The cost for a private investigator to serve a subpoena can be several hundreds of dollars, and Abrams Landau has used private investigators to assist in cases where the circumstances warrant. The insurance industry frequently uses surveillance and private investigators, and where witness statements are needed, or other investigative work is necessary, Abrams Landau will invest resources.
Another expense that we see in nearly every single Personal Injury claim is for copies of medical records and bills. Some hospitals and doctors do it in-house, others have outside companies that charge money for sending lawyers the patient’s medical records. This can add up to several hundred dollars, but it’s dependent on the size of the records and the complexity of the case.
In a majority of cases, Herndon Personal Injury lawyer Doug Landau will reimburse a doctor for a narrative report, a permanency evaluation, or for their time for a Deposition, in preparation for that testimony. The cost of narrative reports can be several hundreds of dollars, to several thousands, and the charges by doctors for their Deposition testimony are usually several thousands of dollars. Depositions of the treating doctor are infrequent, but it is important to know that the doctors cancel appointments to clear the time to respond to the questioning, so they are entitled to be reimbursed for this lost revenue.
Having a client evaluated for permanency, or a Functional Capacity Evaluation (“FCE”) is something that can cost between $600-$2,000, and it helps establish the permanent disability (“PPD”) rating such that future economic costs/losses can be accounted. In cases where the permanency is likely minimal, that expenditure may not make sense.
The Abrams Landau law team has also hired a nurse or other specialist to accompany clients to the Insurance Medical Examination (“IME”) when the circumstances warrant such an investment. Because these IMEs are very often adversarial, and the insurance company doctor will write a report that will likely not be favorable to the injured plaintiff, spending several hundred dollars for a medical professional to accompany the client, in Landau’s words, “is money well spent.” That nurse can then be a witness at trial, and the nurse can also help assist the Abrams Landau personal injury team in preparing for court. The Abrams Landau team counsels clients regularly that they should never go to an Insurance Medical Exam, without a family member or other persons present. Having a witness reduces the likelihood of mischief or inaccuracies in the written report.
Personal Injury attorney Doug Landau has taken the Deposition of key witnesses on the other side of the case when it made sense to do so. Frequently, the at-fault driver, premises owner, products manufacturer or witnesses to the event which led to the plaintiff’s injuries. The expenditure of several hundred dollars for a witness Deposition is money well spent.
Under Virginia law, the injured plaintiff is responsible for his or her own attorney’s fees and case expenses, unless the Court (Judge) orders the defendant (at-fault party) to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees as part of the judgment ordered at the completion of the case.
WHEN ARE EXPENSES AND COSTS EXPECTED TO BE PAID?
People ask lawyer Landau WHEN costs and expenses are to be paid. Sometimes they are paid after a successful trial before an appropriate Virginia Circuit Court. Oftentimes, expenses are paid when the case settles. In some cases, where the Abrams Landau law firm has an adjacent case for the same client, the firm would seek to be reimbursed at that time. In other words, where a client settles their work-related car crash (personal injury) case first, the firm would seek to get reimbursed at that time. Then, when the Workers’ Compensation case settles, there would be likely very little in the way of additional expenses, meaning a greater net recovery for the client. It is not uncommon for the Abrams Landau law team to be working on several cases for an individual client who is injured, on the job, and also has a third-party personal injury case and/or Social Security disability claim.
Bottom line, while Doug Landau cannot tell you at the beginning of the case exactly how much your expenses will be, the team does counsel clients as to expenses as they arise. Any time there will be an expenditure of more than $100, a team member will reach out to the client. Landau notes, “No one likes surprises after a trial or at the end of a case when it is settling, so while we do not call every time we lick a stamp or send a fax, if a doctor wants $3,000 for their Deposition, we call the client!” In a typical case where there will be medical records needed, evidence required, a deposition and possibly a permanency evaluation, expenses are typically several hundred dollars up to several thousands of dollars.
If a personal injury case cannot be settled, that a lawsuit must be filed. In Virginia, it is generally within two years of the injury, whether by car crash, trip and fall, dog attack or other unsafe conduct. In order to file a lawsuit, a complaint must be filed with the court, within the legal time limit, and a filing fee, sometimes several hundreds of dollars, must be paid at that time. In other words, you do not get to stop the clock, until the required numbers of lawsuit papers are filed with the clerk, and the filing fee is paid in full. Then, the injured person, or their lawyer, must have these papers “served” on the other side, as well as their insurance company in certain instances. During the Covid pandemic, the ABRAMS LANDAU team has also paid for private investigators to serve lawsuit papers, as the Sheriff’s Office, which often serves the Summons and Complaint, is not always successful in finding the Defendant and properly serving the paperwork. Serving the Defendant, whether by the Sheriff or via private process server, then starts the clock for the time with in which they must respond with their Answer to the lawsuit. Depending on how many parties must be served with the lawsuit paperwork, and where they are located, this can cost another several hundreds of dollars.
The Abrams Landau law firm does not try cases without evidence. We understand there are some law firms that will try a case “on the cheap.” They do not subpoena necessary records, nor defend or take depositions, and do not invest in getting copies of the medical evidence, a permanency evaluation, an FCE, or other steps to help the client get full and fair compensation. Abrams Landau has the resources, staffing and assets such that if we take on the case, we can use the tools to prepare the case for a favorable result. Clients and their families appreciate the fact that by fronting the costs of their Workers’ Compensation claim, as allowed under law, Abrams Landau is, in effect, giving them an “interest free loan.” After a catastrophic accident, no banker would be so generous as to give any loan, let alone an interest-free loan, to an injured person!