Frequently Asked Questions
Personal Injury refers to injuries to a person caused by another person who acted negligently or wrongfully. These injuries may include physical injuries, emotional injuries, and financial losses.
We help individuals who are injured in Motor Vehicle Collisions, Pedestrian Collisions, Bicycle Collisions, Boating Collisions, Truck or Bus Collisions, Wrongful Death, Dangerous Premises, Slip & Falls, Trip & Falls, Burn Incidents, Defective Products, Work Place Injuries and other types of events causing injury.
If you are injured or a loved one is injured, or even dies, as a result of the negligence or wrongful conduct of another person, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation from the insurance company for the at-fault party. It can be very difficult and frustrating to attempt to resolve a personal injury claim on your own. Insurance companies want to settle personal injury claims for as little money as possible and will simply not pay you the amount you deserve. By hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN, you can focus on healing while we work diligently to ensure you are fully compensated for your injuries and losses, by:
- Constructing the strongest case for you by investigating the extent and cause of your injuries and the at-fault party’s actions;
- Obtaining, organizing and analyzing your medical records, medical billing and documentation of any other losses;
- Accurately estimating the value of your claim by assessing all of your injuries, suffering and losses;
- Giving you a clear understanding of all the losses you suffered, as well as any wages you may have lost from not being able to work due to your injuries;
- Communicating directly with all insurers and attorneys involved to ensure your claim is accurately and zealously represented; and
- Negotiating with insurance companies and attorneys to ensure you are fully compensated for all of your injuries and receive a fair settlement.
As soon as possible. You should consult with an attorney quickly after you have sustained injuries as a result of another person’s negligence or wrongful conduct.
Promptly securing evidence and communicating with responsible parties can be critical to your case. If you require medical treatment or have been placed under an extended hospital stay, your recovery is paramount. The experienced attorneys at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN can handle all the case logistics so you can focus on getting better.
Also, Vermont imposes a statute of limitations (i.e. legal deadline) for personal injury victims to bring a claim against the at-fault party in court. If you fail to file your complaint before this deadline, you lose the right to ever pursue your claim. For this reason, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible to properly file your claim.
At KAPLAN AND KAPLAN, we handle small, medium, large, and very large personal injury and damage cases. Our personal injury cases range from soft tissue injury auto collision cases to catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases. The personal injury attorneys at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN are experienced, knowledgeable and equipped to handle all sizes and types of personal injury cases. At KAPLAN AND KAPLAN, we are happy to provide free initial consultations to injured persons and their families.
Sometimes our new clients have started the claims process for their injuries on their own and find it stressful, confusing, and/or simply do not have time and means to handle it on their own. That is why they seek our assistance at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN. Once we are retained by a client, we immediately begin gathering the necessary information and records, as well as to immediately contact the insurance carriers and/or other parties involved to notify them that we are handling the claim and to direct all communication to our office. It is our goal to alleviate as much of our clients’ stress as we can and to maximize their recovery.
What damages am I entitled to recover?
The value of a personal injury claim is determined by the nature and extent of the injuries and losses you have suffered as a result of another’s negligence or wrongful conduct.
Damages you may be able to recover include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Medical expenses you have incurred to treat your injuries from the incident;
- Medical expenses you are expected to incur in the future if your injuries are ongoing;
- Permanent damage (e.g. physical disability, disfigurement, and permanent scarring);
- Property damage;
- Lost Wages;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Pain and Suffering;
- Emotional Distress;
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life; and
- Loss of affection or companionship with your loved one.
Will I have to go to trial?
The majority of personal injury cases are settled directly with insurance companies before a lawsuit is even filed. In some cases, however, settling out of court is not an option. Circumstances where you may have to file a lawsuit and go to trial include:
- The insurance provider or at-fault party does not offer a settlement;
- The insurance provider or at-fault party offers a settlement that does not adequately compensate you for your injuries;
- Liability (i.e. legal responsibility for your damages) of the other party is disputed;
- The amount of your damages is disputed; or
- You have not been able to settle with the insurance company or at-fault party and have reached the statute of limitations deadline to file your claim.
Even though going to a trial in a personal injury case is rare, it is always good to be prepared for the possibility. Your right to trial can be a powerful tool in the hands of an experienced attorney.
An important consideration when hiring an attorney for your personal injury claim is the cost. At KAPLAN AND KAPLAN, we believe our clients deserve justice and to be compensated for their injuries regardless of their financial means. For this reason, we work on a contingent fee basis. This means our legal services are provided without any up-front legal fees or charges. We collect a standard percentage of the damages you are awarded only after we successfully resolve your case. KAPLAN AND KAPLAN does not get paid unless you get paid.
Yes. The information you share with us is protected by attorney-client privilege and will remain confidential. Your information will remain confidential even when our legal representation ends or if you choose not to retain our firm in your personal injury matter. Given that your communications with us are privileged, it is important that you share all pertinent facts with respect to your personal injury claim (such as prior similar injuries) so that we can fully access and prepare your case.
You should bring all documents in your possession that relate to your injuries and the incident. For example, if your claim involves a motor vehicle collision, you should bring a copy of the police report, your vehicle insurance declaration page, photographs of your vehicle and of the other driver’s vehicle, photographs of your injuries, your medical records for treatment related to your injuries from the collision, correspondence from any insurance companies, estimates and repair records and receipts for your vehicle, receipts for towing and car rental, any lost wages information, and your medical insurance policy information. During your meeting, we will make photocopies of all of your documents so that you can retain a copy for your records.
Until your case is thoroughly investigated and evaluated, it is difficult to estimate how long it will take for your personal injury claim to settle. Each claim is different and the estimated time frame depends on many factors such as the insurance companies involved, if a settlement can be reached, if a lawsuit needs to be filed, the extent of your injuries, your medical prognosis and treatment, and other factors specific to your case. Our goal is to resolve your case for its full value, as quickly as possible.
It is impossible for a lawyer to give you a dollar value of your case right away. In order to know what kind of settlement to expect, a thorough investigation must be conducted into the incident causing your injuries, the extent of your injuries, past and future medical costs, lost wages, lost earning capacity, the impact your injuries have had on your enjoyment of life, and your pain and suffering. The value and circumstances of each case are different and the best way to learn about what compensation you may be entitled to is to speak with one of the personal injury attorneys at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN.
By filing a claim with the responsible auto insurance carrier – typically the at-fault party’s auto insurance carrier is responsible for paying car repair costs. This process is not always straightforward though and can be complicated by circumstances including whether fault has been determined or is disputed, the at-fault party is uninsured, or your vehicle was totaled in the collision. The attorneys at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN are experienced in all aspects of personal injury claims and can answer any questions you may have at your free initial consult.
In Vermont, insurance companies offer what is called uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (aka “UIM coverage”). UIM coverage provides protection for personal injuries caused by the negligence of a person with insufficient insurance to cover the costs. In order to be protected by this type of insurance, you have to carry UIM coverage on your own policy. UIM claims operate in a similar manner as a normal personal injury claim filed with the other driver’s insurance company, with the difference being that you are recovering from your own insurance carrier. It is important to remember, that the representatives from your insurance carrier are no different than representatives from an at-fault party’s insurance carrier, your insurance carrier will also want to settle your personal injury claim for as little money as possible.
If you are injured in a motor vehicle collision or other accident, one of the most important things you can do is seek medical treatment of your injuries right away and as instructed by your doctors. Injured persons often worry about how they will pay their medical bills and, depending on their case, the answers may differ. Your health insurance may cover your medical expenses and is usually the best option. Your auto insurance policy may also cover your medical costs if you have medical payments coverage (aka “Med Pay”). It is important you know whether your Med Pay coverage must be exhausted before your health insurance will cover any of your medical costs. The best course of action is to speak with an attorney at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN, we will discuss your options with you and answer all of your questions.
Medical Payments insurance coverage, commonly referred to as “Med Pay”, is a special type of insurance that helps cover your medical bills from a collision regardless of who is at fault. Med Pay coverage is offered to help you and any passengers in your car get the help needed to recover from a collision. Not all insurance companies offer Med Pay, and it is usually added upon request as an additional benefit that you must pay for. Most Med Pay coverage limits are fairly low and can from range from as little as $1,000 and up to $10,000 in coverage on a single policy.
While policies differ, Med Pay can generally cover your medical expenses (e.g. ambulance fees, emergency and hospital care, dental care, chiropractic care, and physical therapy) up to your coverage limit when you have been involved in a collision. Covered collisions generally include those that happen while driving your vehicle, walking, riding a bicycle, riding public transportation or taking a trip in your friend’s car.
When a personal injury case is settled, all medical treatment costs and expenses relating to the injuries underlying your personal injury claim must be reimbursed from the settlement proceeds. Clients are often surprised when their health insurance provider makes a claim for a portion of their settlement payment. Often, your health insurer will be entitled to reimbursement for the medical payments they made on your behalf relating to medical treatment of injuries underlying your personal injury claim. This is referred to as “health insurance lien” or subrogation interest. Additionally, if you received any Med Pay benefits from your auto insurer for treatment of injuries, your auto insurer will also have a subrogation interest and be entitled to reimbursement upon settlement of your personal injury claim. The experienced personal injury attorneys at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN will handle all of medical liens when your claim has settled and will likely be able to negotiate your health insurance lien and/or Med Pay lien amounts down in order to maximize your settlement recovery.
If you are covered under Vermont’s Medicaid program and/or under Medicare, you may be able to receive and/or have already received medical benefits to treat your injuries underlying your claim. If you have received medical benefits from Medicaid and/or Medicare relating to your injuries, Medicaid and Medicare, like private health insurance carriers, will also have a medical lien / subrogation interest on your personal injury claim and will be entitled to reimbursement of the benefits it paid for on your behalf when your claim is settled. experienced personal injury attorneys at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN will work to negotiate your Medicare and/or Medicaid lien amount down in order to maximize your settlement recovery.
If you receive proceeds from a personal injury settlement, you may have questions about whether you must report your settlement proceeds as income in your tax return. The attorneys at KAPLAN AND KAPLAN can answer these questions during your free initial consult. In general, if you receive a settlement for your personal injury claim and did not take an itemized deduction for medical expenses related to the injury in prior years, the full amount is non-taxable and does need to be reported as income in your tax return. However, if you did claim a deduction involving the same injuries that gave rise to the settlement, then you will most likely need to report the settlement as “Other Income” to the IRS. Any portion of your settlement for emotional distress or mental anguish that originates from your physical injuries are treated the same as settlement proceeds received for physical injuries as described above.
Other income tax rules applicable to personal injury settlements include: any portion of your settlement that is meant as an interest payment is taxable; and any punitive damages included in the settlement will be taxable.
Insurance companies will scour your social media accounts for evidence to use against in your personal injury claim, so you must be mindful about what you post. Even if your social media accounts are private, your accounts we still be accessible to the at-fault party’s insurance company if your case goes to trial.